The years of political friction between the emperor Maximilian and Frederick the Wise must not cloud the real personal relationship between the two men. The emperor Maximilian was the first cousin of Frederick the Wise’s father Ernst, but the emperor was less than four years older than Frederick. Maximilian and Frederick had known each other since childhood, even tested each other in the joust as devotees of knightly ways. Through all the years Maximilian remained openly, almost wildly, fond of Frederick.
Maximilian by Dürer 1519
courtesy F. Sigurski (Flickr)
George Spalatin, Frederick’s private secretary and biographer wrote, “Thus I Spalatin at the Reichstag in Augsburg in 1518 have seen my miracle, how his imperial Majesty resplendent in walking and standing before all electors, princes and estates, recognized him [Frederick the Wise] more then all other electors and princes. Such waving, such hand gestures, such behavior from his Majesty if he [Frederick the Wise] stood too far from his Majesty causing delay, that certainly, if the waving did not help, his imperial Majesty stepped from his throne and drew this elector closer to him.”
One can speculate the two ‘cousins’ thought alike, probably even sparked new ideas off each other, on how a prince should present himself. Regardless of political differences, which a prince was obligated to champion if the welfare of his subjects was at stake, they admired each other. What Frederick later told Spalatin was surely an indication of Maximilian’s charm and courteous behavior.
Spalatin wrote. “Oh indeed so polite was emperor Maximilian that this Elector [Frederick the Wise] said to me Spalatin, at Colditz after a Communion, how his Grace thought so highly of this Roman emperor that during his entire life he would meet no man on earth more gracious.”
Reference: Georg Spalatin, Friedrichs des Weisen Leben und Zeitgeschichte von Georg Spalatin (Georg Spalatins historischer Nachlaß und Briefe 1), ed. Christian Gotthold Neudecker and Ludwig Preller (Jena: 1851), 32. Quotes translated from the German by this blogger.
Q: What is more ‘real’ between the two ‘cousins’: the political animosity or the display of social friendship?