Portrait of Maximilian II Emanuel (1662-1726), Elector of Bavaria (1679-1726), Governor of the Spanish Netherlands (1692-1706), 1726
Maximilian II (11 July 1662 – 26 February 1726), also known as Max Emanuel or Maximilian Emanuel, was a Wittelsbach ruler of Bavaria and a Prince-elector of the Holy Roman Empire. He was also the last governor of the Spanish Netherlands and duke of Luxembourg. An able soldier, his ambition led to conflicts that limited his ultimate dynastic achievements. He was born in Munich to Ferdinand Maria, Elector of Bavaria and Henriette Adelaide of Savoy. His maternal grandparents were Victor Amadeus I of Savoy and Christine Marie of France, daughter of King Henri IV. Maximilian inherited the elector's mantle while still a minor in 1679 and remained under his Uncle Maximilian Philipp's regency until 1680. By 1683 he was already embarked on a military career, fighting in the defense of Vienna against the attempt of the Ottoman Empire to extend their possessions further into Europe. He returned to court for long enough to marry Maria Antonia, daughter of Leopold I, Holy Roman Emperor and Margaret Theresa of Spain, on 15 July 1685 in Vienna, Austria. This marriage was very unhappy since the couple disliked each other, but it was successful in producing a desired heir for both Bavaria and the Spanish monarchy. Maximilian Emanuel's fame was assured when, in 1688, he led the capture of Belgrade from the Turks, with the full support of Serbian insurgents under the command of Jovan Monasterlija. In the War of the Grand Alliance he again fought on the Habsburgs' side, protected the Rhine frontier, and, being the Emperor's son-in-law and the husband of the King of Spain's niece, was appointed governor of the Spanish Netherlands in late 1691. His Netherlands adventure catalyzed Maximilian Emanuel's dynastic ambitions. One year after his appointment as governor, Maria Antonia died in Vienna, having given birth to a son, Joseph Ferdinand, who was appointed heir to the Spanish monarchy, but died before acceding thereto in 1699. An alternative avenue for Maximilian Emanuel's ambition was offered by his marriage on 12 January 1694 to Theresa Kunegunda Sobieska. The unsuccessful siege and bombardment of Brussels in 1695 during the Nine Years' War by French troops and the resulting fire during Max Emanuel's rule were together the most destructive event in the entire history of Brussels. Maximilian Emanuel was one of many who sought to claim the Spanish throne pending the death of Charles II of Spain. In 1699 Maximilian Emanuel's first son, Joseph Ferdinand, died. By the outbreak of the War of the Spanish Succession in 1701, he had developed a plan for the Wittelsbachs to supplant the Habsburgs as Holy Roman Emperors. Allying himself with the French against the Habsburgs, his campaign against Tyrol in 1703 did not have success and his plans were then frustrated by the disastrous defeat at the Battle of Blenheim in 1704. In 1704–05, following the evacuation of the Bavarian court to the Spanish Netherlands after the defeat at the Battle of Blenheim, Bavaria was partitioned between Austria and Johann Wilhelm, Elector Palatine. Maximilian Emanuel was again forced to flee the Netherlands after the Battle of Ramillies on 23 May 1706 and found refuge at the French court in Versailles. The war was finally ended in 1713 in the Treaty of Utrecht which restored Maximilian Emanuel. Only in 1715 was the family re-united in Munich. Back in Bavaria, Maximilian Emanuel focused on architecture projects to balance the failure of his political ambitions. Maximilian Emanuel then supported the new wars of the Habsburg against the Turks with Bavarian auxiliary forces. In 1724 he created a union of all lines of the Wittelsbach dynasty to increase the influence of his house. In 1726, Max Emanuel died of a stroke. He is buried in the crypt of the Theatinerkirche in Munich.
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