The Cardinals of the Holy Roman Church

Biographical Dictionary
Pope Gregory XIII (1572-1585)
Consistory of March 3, 1577 (IV)


(4) 1. AUSTRIA, Albrecht von (1559-1621)

Birth. November 11 (1), 1559, Wiener Neustadt, Austria. Son of Emperor Maximilian II and Infanta Maria of Spain. Brother of Emperors Rudolf II and Mathias. Cousin of Cardinal Andreas von Austria (1576).

Education. He was educated for an ecclesiastical career at the court of his uncle, King Felipe II of Spain.

Cardinalate. Created cardinal deacon, ex peculiari gratia because he was 17 years old, in the consistory of March 3, 1577; received the red hat and the title of S. Croce in Gerusalemme, because he was presbyter destinatus, February 12, 1580. Legate a latere in Portugal, with faculties of apostolic nuncio, January 24, 1583 for two years. Viceroy of Portugal, 1585-1595. Did not participate in the conclave of 1585, which elected Pope Sixtus V. Did not participate in the first conclave of 1590, which elected Pope Urban VII. Did not participate in the second conclave of 1590, which elected Pope Gregory XIV. Did not participate in the conclave of 1591, which elected Pope Innocent IX. Did not participate in the conclave of 1592, which elected Pope Clement VIII.

Sacred orders. Did not receive any of the sacred orders.

Episcopate. Elected titular archbishop of Filippi and appointed coadjutor, with right of succession, of Cardinal Gaspar de Quiroga y Vela, archbishop of Toledo, November 7, 1594; Cardinal Quiroga died five days later, November 12, 1594. Never received the episcopal consecration and remained as archbishop-elect. Resigned the cardinalate and the benefices of the archdiocese of Toledo on July 31, 1598, to marry Infanta Isabel Clara Eugenia, sister of King Felipe III of Spain. Pope Clement VIII celebrated the nuptials in Ferrara on December 17, 1598. Became governor and sovereign prince of the Low Countries and ruled the Spanish Netherlands jointly with his wife from 1598 to 1621 (2). They did not have any children.

Death. July 13, 1621, Brussels. Buried in front of the main altar of the major church of St-Michel et Ste-Gudule, Brussels (3). The tomb was destroyed during the French Revolution.

Bibliography. Cardella, Lorenzo. Memorie storiche de' cardinali della Santa Romana Chiesa. Rome : Stamperia Pagliarini, 1793, V, 157-159; Chacón, Alfonso. Vitæ, et res gestæ Pontificvm Romanorum et S. R. E. Cardinalivm ab initio nascentis Ecclesiæ vsque ad Vrbanvm VIII. Pont. Max. 2 volumes. Romae : Typis Vaticanis, 1630, cols. 1740-1742; Eubel, Conradus and Gulik, Guglielmus van. Hierarchia Catholica Medii et Recentioris Aevi, Münich : Sumptibus et Typis Librariae Regensbergianae, 1935; reprint, Padua : Il Messagero di S. Antonio, 1960, III, 45, 62, 273 and 315.

Webgraphy. His genealogy, A1 B2 C1 D7, Genealogy EU; brief biographical data, in English; his portrait by Frans Pourbus, Museo Municipal de Vigo, Spain; portrait and brief biographical data, in English; portraits and biography, in Spanish; his portrait by Peter Paul Rubens, Museo del Prado, Madrid; his tomb in the church of Saint-Michel and Sainte-Gudula, Brussels; his portrait, attributed to the studio of Peter Paul Rubens, The National Gallery, London; portrait of Infanta Isabel Clara Eugenia, attributed to the studio of Peter Paul Rubens, The National Gallery, London; and thirteen pictures of the cardinal.

(1) This is according to his brief biographical data in the The Encyclopædia Britannica, linked above; his genealogy, also linked above, indicates that he was born on November 15, 1559; the second brief biographical data in English and the biography in Spanish, both linked above, indicate that he was born on November 13, 1559.
(2) King Felipe II named him governor-general of the Netherlands in February 1595; at the king's repeated requests, he reluctantly obtained a papal dispensation from the cardinalate (he had not received the sacred orders) and permission to marry Philip's daughter. He received joint sovereignty of the Low Countries in 1598 as dowry for his marriage to Infanta Isabel Clara Eugenia; there was a condition that the throne would go back to the Spanish crown if they died with no children. The seven northern provinces, the United Provinces of the Low Countries, were effectively independent; Albrecht and his wife only controlled ten southern provinces of the Netherlands. They tried, both by diplomacy and by force, to reunite all the provinces but failed. After several years of warring, an armistice was agreed in April 1607; two years later, a twelve-year truce began. During the peace, he strengthened Catholicism in the provinces and was a great supporter and promoter of the arts. After his death, sovereignty reverted to Spain, and she ruled as governor of the country for her nephew, King Felipe IV, until her death in 1633.
(3) This is the inscription placed on his lead coffin, transcribed by Andrea Vittorelli in Chacón, Vitæ, et res gestæ Pontificvm Romanorum et S. R. E. Cardinalivm, II, col. 1741: ALBERTI. ARCHIDVCIS. AVSTRIÆ. BVRGVNDIÆ. BRABANTIÆQ. DVCIS. BELGARVM. DOMINI. ET. IMPP. MAXIMILIANI. II. ET FERDINANDI. I. AVGVSTORVM. FILII. NEPOTISQ. ISABELLÆ. CLARÆ. EVGENIÆ. PHILIPII. II. HISP. INDIARVMQ. MONARCHÆ. FILIÆ. MARITI. PIETATE. IVSTITIA. CLEMENTIA. MAGNI. ET. ÆTERNVM. MEMORANDI. PRINCIPIS. EXVVIÆ. MORTALITATIS. GLORIAM. BEATA. RESVRRECTIONIS. IN. SPE. HIC. EXPENCTANT. VIXERAT. ANNOS. LXI. MENS. VIII. DIEM. I. REXERAT. RELIGIOSE. PRVDENTERQ. ANNOS. XXV. OBIIT. VERVM. CHRISTIANI. PRINCIPIS. EXEMPLAR. ANNO. CHRISTIANO. MDCXXI. III. ID. IVLII. Also transcribed in the same place is the inscription of his cenotaph in that church: Serenissimo Principi ALBERTO Pio, Sapeinti, Prudenti, Austriæ Archiduci &c. Neapoli in Austria MDLIX. Idibus Novembris patre Maximiliano II. Cæsare. feliciter nato, Madriti Carpentanorum a teneris, in aula, & oculis avunculi Philippi II. Reges Catholici, sancte educato, qui primum Lusitaniæ Prorex ab eodem constitutus regnum recens partum, ac fluctuans sua prudentia firmavit  -----  Ernesto fratre e vivis sublato, Belgicæ, ac Burgundiæ primum Gubernator, post Princeps publico dono datus.  -----  Quod sera posteritas vix credes, Imperii Romani coronam a VII. Viris bis delatam respuit.  -----  Provinciæ Belgicæ, ob religionem, pietatem, prudentiam, fortitudinem, constantiam, iustitiam, prudentiam, aliasq; virtutes vere regias ; quibus toto vitæ decursu clarissimus hostibus etiam gratur existet, in pientissimum patriæ parentem, affectus testandis gratiæ, P. P.

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