Joseph I: Holy Roman Emperor, King of Germany

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Joseph I was Holy Roman Emperor and King of Germany for a time in the late 17th Century and early 18th Century.

Joseph I of Germany

He was born on July 26, 1678, in Vienna. His father was the reigning Holy Roman Emperor, Leopold I, and his mother was Eleonore Magdalene of Neuburg.

Joseph's mother was Leopold's third wife, and Joseph was Leopold's third son. However, neither of the first two boys survived long after their birth, and so Joseph became the heir apparent from a very early age. His father named him Archduke of Austria when the boy was 6 and King of Hungary three years later. Young Joseph achieved the coveted title of King of the Romans (Germany) in 1690, taking a throne that had been vacant for some time.

By the time that the War of the Spanish Succession began, in 1700, Joseph was 22. He was with the army at the Siege of Landau, in 1702.

Leopold I died on May 5, 1705, and Joseph ascended to the imperial throne. He took a heavy hand in putting down uprisings in Hungary and continued his father's policy of outlawing the Romani within the borders of the empire. He largely left the war efforts to his commanders, who had a modicum of success, including a strategic victory at the Battle of Malplaquet, in September 1709, by which time the war had spread to North America, where it was known as Queen Anne's War.

In the midst of the fighting, Joseph contracted smallpox, during an epidemic in 1711. He died on April 17 of that year in Hofburg Palace. He had married Wilhelmine Amalia of Brunswick-Lüneburg in 1699; they had had three children, two of whom (Maria Josepha and Maria Amalia) survived. His brother Charles succeeded him on the imperial throne; the German throne returned to vacancy.

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