No. 44, The Mysterious Stranger Historical Context

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Austria in the Fifteenth and Sixteenth Centuries

For many centuries, Austria was not a nation, but a duchy within the Roman Empire. Beginning in the thirteenth century, the Austrian region was ruled by the hereditary House of Habsburg, which lasted until the early twentieth century. The history of Austria in the fifteenth century, when Twain's story takes place, was dominated by the Habsburg ruler Frederik III. Frederik inherited the position of archduke of the Austrian lands in 1424. In 1440 he was elected king of Germany, and in 1452 he was crowned Roman Emperor. Like the magician in Twain's story, Frederik had a strong interest in studying astrology and magic, as well as alchemy.

Upon his death in 1493, Frederik was succeeded by his son, Maximilian I. Like his father, Maximilian I eventually ruled as emperor of Rome, king of Germany, and archduke of Austria. During the sixteenth century, under Maximilian I...

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This section contains 515 words
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