Louis IV, Holy Roman Emperor

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Louis IV of Bavaria (also known as Ludwig the Bavarian) of the House of Wittelsbach (April 1, 1282October 11, 1347) was duke of Bavaria from 1294/1301 together with his brother Rudolf I, also count of the Palatinate until 1329 and, German king since 1314 and crowned as Holy Roman Emperor in 1328. Louis died on October 11, 1347 when he suffered a stroke during a bear-hunt in Puch near Fürstenfeldbruck. He is buried in the Frauenkirche in Munich.

Louis was a son of Louis II, Duke of Upper Bavaria and Count Palatine of the Rhine, and Mechthild (Matilda), a daughter of King Rudolph I.

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Early reign as Duke of Upper Bavaria

Though Louis was partly educated in Vienna and became co-regent of his brother Rudolf I in Upper Bavaria in 1301 with the support of his Habsburg mother Mechthild and her brother King Albert I, he quarrelled with the Habsburgs from 1307 over possessions in Lower Bavaria. A civil war against his brother Rudolf due to new disputes on the partition of their lands was ended in 1313, when peace was made at Munich.

In the same year Louis defeated his Habsburg cousin Frederick the Handsome. Originally, he was a friend of Frederick, with whom he had been raised. However, armed conflict arose when the tutelage over the young Dukes of Lower Bavaria (Henry XIV, Otto IV and Henry XV) was entrusted to Frederick. On November 9, 1313, Frederick was beaten by Louis in the Battle of Gamelsdorf and had to renounce the tutelage.

Election as German King and conflict with Habsburg

Holy Roman Emperor
Bavaria Arms.svg Holy Roman Empire Arms-single head.svg

After the death of Holy Roman Emperor Henry VII, the Luxemburg party among the prince electors set aside Henry's son, the Bohemian king John of Luxemburg, because of his youth and chose Louis as rival king to Frederick the Handsome. Louis was elected in October 1314 upon the instigation of Peter of Aspelt, the Archbishop of Mainz, with four of the seven votes. Louis then was quickly crowned by the Archbishop of Cologne, in Bonn instead of Aachen. In the following conflict between both kings Louis recognized in 1316 the independence of Switzerland from Habsburg.

After several years of bloody war, victory finally seemed within the grasp of Frederick, who was strongly supported by his brother Leopold. However, Frederick's army was in the end decisively beaten in the Battle of Mühldorf on September 28, 1322 on the Ampfing Heath, where Frederick and 1300 nobles from Austria and Salzburg were captured.

Louis held Frederick captive in Trausnitz Castle for three years, but the determined resistance by Frederick's brother Leopold, the retreat of the King of Bohemia John of Luxembourg from his alliance, and the Pope's ban induced Louis to release Frederick in the Treaty of Trausnitz of March 13, 1325. In this agreement, Frederick finally recognized Louis as legitimate ruler and undertook to return to captivity if he did not succeed in convincing his brothers to submit to Louis.

As he did not manage to overcome Leopold's obstinacy, Frederick returned to Munich as a prisoner, even though the Pope had released him from his oath. Louis, who was impressed by such nobility, renewed the old friendship with Frederick and they both agreed to rule the Empire jointly.

Since the Pope and the electors strongly objected to this agreement, another treaty was signed at Ulm on January 7, 1326, according to which Frederick would administer Germany as King of the Romans, while Louis would be crowned as Holy Roman Emperor in Italy.

However, after Leopold's death in 1326, Frederick withdrew from the regency of the Empire and returned to rule only Austria. He died on January 13, 1330.

Coronation as Holy Roman Emperor and conflict with the Pope

Despite Louis' victory, Pope John XXII still refused to ratify his election, and in 1324 he excommunicated Louis, but the sanction had less effect than in earlier disputes between emperors and the papacy.

After the reconciliation with Habsburg in 1326, Louis marched to Italy and was crowned King of Italy in Milan in 1327. Already in 1323 Louis had sent an army to Italy to protect Milan against the Kingdom of Naples which was together with France the strongest ally of the papacy.

In January 1328 Louis entered Rome and had himself crowned emperor by the aged senator Sciarra Colonna, called captain of the Roman people. Three months later Louis published a decree declaring "Jacque de Cahors" (Pope John XXII) deposed on grounds of heresy. He then installed a Spiritual Franciscan, Pietro Rainalducci as Antipope Nicholas V, who was deposed after Louis had left Rome in early 1329. In fulfilment of an oath, on his return from Italy Louis founded Ettal Abbey on April 28, 1330. Philosophers such as Michael of Cesena, Marsilius of Padua and William of Ockham were now protected at the emperor's court in Munich.

The failure of later negotiations with the papacy led in 1338 to the declaration at Rhense by six electors to the effect that election by all or the majority of the electors automatically conferred the royal title and rule over the empire, without papal confirmation.

Louis also allied in 1337 with Edward III of England against Philip VI of France, the protector of the new Pope Benedict XII in Avignon. Philip had prevented any agreement between the emperor and the pope. In 1338 Edward III was the emperor's guest at the Imperial Diet in the Kastorkirche at Coblence. In 1341 Louis deserted Edward but came only temporarily to terms with Philip. The expected English payments were missing and Louis intended to reach an agreement with the pope one more time.

Imperial privileges

Louis IV was a protector of the Teutonic Knights. In 1337 he allegedly bestowed upon the Teutonic Order a privilege to conquer Lithuania and Russia, although the Order had only petitioned for three small territories.[1] Later he forbade the Order to stand trial before foreign courts in their territorial conflicts with foreign rulers.

Louis concentrated his energies also on the economic development of the cities of the empire, so his name can be found in many city chronicles for the privileges he granted.

Dynastic policy

In 1323 Louis gave Brandenburg as a fiefdom to his eldest son Louis V. With the Treaty of Pavia the emperor returned the Palatinate to his nephews Rudolf and Rupert in 1329. The duchy of Carinthia was released as an imperial fief on May 2, 1335 in Linz to his Habsburg relatives Albert II, Duke of Austria and Otto, Duke of Austria.

With the death of duke John I in 1340 Louis inherited Lower Bavaria and then reunited the duchy of Bavaria. John's mother, a member of the Luxemburg dynasty, had to return to Bohemia. In 1342 Louis also acquired Tyrol for the Wittelsbach by voiding the first marriage of Margarete Maultasch with John Henry of Bohemia and marrying her to his own son Louis V, thus alienating the house of Luxemburg even more.

In 1345 the emperor further antagonized the lay princes by conferring Hainaut, Holland, Zeeland and Friesland upon his wife Margaret of Holland. The hereditary titles of Magaret's sisters, one of them was the queen of England, were ignored. Due to the dangerous hostility of the Luxemburg Louis had increased his power base ruthlessly.

Conflict with Luxemburg

The acquisition of these territories and his restless foreign policy had earned Louis many enemies among the German princes. In the summer of 1346 the Luxemburg Charles IV was elected rival king, with the support of Pope Clement VI. Louis himself obtained much support from the Imperial Free Cities and the knighthood and successfully resisted Charles, who was widely regarded as a papal puppet ("rex clericorum" as William of Ockham called him). Also the Habsburg dukes stayed loyal to Louis. In the Battle of Crécy Charles' father John of Luxemburg was killed; Charles himself also took part in the battle but escaped.

Louis' sudden death in October 1347 avoided a longer civil war. The sons of Louis supported Günther von Schwarzburg as new rival king to Charles but finally joined the Luxemburg party after Günther's early death in 1349 and divided the Wittelsbach possessions among each other again.

Part of this article consists of modified text from Wikipedia, and the article is therefore licensed under GFDL.

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