I think the government attempting to rebuild their middle class would make sense too, if the correct policies allow the peasants to get the money needed to become middle class citizens. That is especially true due to the decline of Italy as time goes by.
Not overtaxing the peasants to fight a bunch of wars all the bloody time might be good for Spain.
Juan would also focus much more on fostering unity between castile, aragona nd navarre sinc ehe's ruling all three. Making focus on the spanish identity and focusing more on the colonial endeavors while also makign sure to not get too involved in european affairs except when France is beign aggresive again
He definitively have that to work on too.
Chapter 39 - The Holy Roman Empire in 1513 to 1516
Chapter 39 – The Holy Roman Empire in 1513 to 1516

The Imperial court was all abuzz with the preparations for the arrival of the new archduchess in the autumn of 1513. Heavy rolls of tapestries were brought up from the storerooms, carpets inspected and replaced if they were deemed unsuitable, and objects of gold and silver had been polished until they shone with mirror-brightness. New banners with the Hapsburg crests had been ordered and attendants at the court of Vienna all wore clothes of new fabric. Nothing would be missed or faulty when the Spaniards arrived a mere weeks later, as decreed by Emperor Maximilian, who was most eager to make a great impression on them, used to the grandness of the court of John III, now sovereign of all Spanish kingdoms. Normally the empress would have been in charge of the preparations, but as his wife’s illness had become even more severe at this point, the Queen of the Romans oversaw everything. And Anne of Burgundy certainly made sure it lived up to the greatness of an Empire. No imperial marriage had been celebrated since her own nearly twenty years ago, as only one of Maximilian’s three daughters had been wed in splendour; Elizabeth of Austria to the Duke of Lorraine in 1493.

The eldest one, Eleanor of Austria had never had much to look forward to in matrimony, as she had been born with a several deformities in her shoulders and left arm and a limp that had persisted from birth. The Empress had been ashamed of her firstborn from the start and gave her other children all attention she denied Eleanor. The invasion and defeat of Vladislaus of Hungary and Bohemia in 1490 had proved to be her salvation however, as Maximilian needed to make peace with Bohemia and thus Eleanor became the key to the solution. No doubt she herself had lobbied her father, as Eleanor had been blessed with a fierce intelligence and a great astuteness in spite of her crippled body. A marriage to Vladislaus was the only option she had, as the other one was the one desired by her mother: a nun’s veil in a convent far from her sight. The captive, now tarnished with his previous wife’s suicide, the bigamist attempt to wed Beatrice of Naples and suffering the loss of Hungary had been very consoled by his intelligent and compassionate niece and had readily agreed to the match, as he had little in fortune otherwise. Maximilian had obtained the papal dispensation necessary for the marriage, thus Bohemia would receive its new Queen when he returned in 1491 with Eleanor at his side. To Maximilian the marriage had advantages, as it kept Vladislaus from another potential bride who could bring a strong ally against the Hapsburgs, and given his eldest health, there was little chance of any living children to secure Bohemia’s independence in the long run. Moreover, his daughter being queen put her in the centre of the Bohemian court, and gave the emperor an ear to the comings and goings of his neighbours. Bohemia itself was a highly prestigious kingdom and a prince-elector for the Empire, allies that Maximilian keenly wished to keep. Thus, he offered Eleanor a imperial dowry, on the condition that Vladislaus swore to elect him as Emperor when that day came, which he did in 1493. Like Maximilian had predicted, no children ever came of the union and the queen had steadily laid the groundwork for her brother, whom had been proclaimed heir to Bohemia in 1512.

Barbara Jageillion.jpg

Eleanor von Hapsburg, Queen of Bohemia

As for the Emperor’s youngest daughter, Hedwig of Austria had forsaken a match with the Elector Palatine to elope with her Báthory husband, an act that had shamed her family. Thus, Maximilian had decided to look for a prestigious match for his grandchildren, now consisting of Archduke Maximilian, his disabled twin Leopold, Frederick and their sisters Elizabeth and Margaret. Maximilian’s marriage to Infanta Eleanor was imminent, as her entourage had just reached the County of Tyrol. No doubt she would have been given luxurious chambers in the city of Innsbruck, where the imperial palace of the Hofburg awaited her.


The city of Innsbruck in 1495

The Prince-Bishop of Trent would be the first to greet her in as she passed into Trentino on her way to the empire. Bernardo Clesio served as chancellor to Maximilian in addition to being a Cardinal and diplomat, he was also a keen humanist with a great interest in botany. No doubt this experienced Italian bishop would have been a familiar presence to Eleanor, as he had been one of the negotiators in the marriage negotiations. Clesio and his entourage of imperial officials and Austrian lords and ladies would ensure that their future empress reached her husband in Vienna safely.

Maximilian had also permitted his daughter and her family to return to court in order to celebrate the marriage and the Bathory family came in splendour. The marriage of Hedwig von Hapsburg and Stephen VII had been one of blesses contention for over a dozen years now and Erzsébet would become one of Eleanor’s ladies upon her wedding, as benefited her standing as an imperial grandchild and the daughter of a great magnate of Hungary. At the age of twelve she would finish her education under the watchful eye of Queen Anne. Her brother Istvan would also have a position in Archduke Maximilian’s household, but their younger siblings remained in Hungary, still to young to be sent away.

Infanta Eleanor of Spain.jpg

Infanta Eleanor of Spain in 1520

The marriage of Maximilian and Eleanor turned out to be a splendid affair, with several days of feastings, jousts and celebrations. The archduke seemed to get along with his Spanish bride, even if she found her solemn at times. Eleanor seemed somewhat unsure of herself in this foreign court, but the company of Archduchess Elizabeth aided her as they shared similar personalities. Maximilian however were a very outgoing young man, with a fierce drive to excel and keenly intellectual and while he appreciated his placid wife, they had very different passions. Eleanor preferred reading, card games and the traditional occupation of religion, as she became a generous giver of charity in Vienna. Eleanor’s first pregnancy ended in a stillborn daughter in 1514 and it would not be the only loss the imperial family endured. Empress Hedwig passed away on a bitter cold day in February. On her deathbed, she and the emperor finally reconciled in the final days, having been estranged ever for nearly ten years. She also begged for the forgiveness of Queen Anne, as she had treated her harshly in the first years of her marriage and asked her to be a better mother to Eleanor then she had been herself to Anne. To her only son she left the simples of words: to uphold the empire against all enemies and to ensure it’s splendour. She also besieged her husband to ask the two daughters she had cast aside out of pride and anger to pray for her soul, “if their compassion for me is strong enough to forgive my arrogance.” She also asked that some of her priced possessions would be given to Elizabeth, Duchess of Lorraine.

To her modern contemporaries the final days of Hedwig Jagiellon seemed to strip away the imperial haughtiness that she had been noted for and reveal a human woman, seeking to atone for her flaws. In her own time, she was noted as the very model of an Empress, and her death was greatly mourned in Austria and Hungary. If her tenderness as a mother was questioned at times, her tenure as empress never was. With the Jagiellon grandeur and the Hapsburg tenacity, the combined efforts of Maximilian and Hedwig laid the foundation for an even greater empire. Hedwig might not have brought the dowry of the Low Countries as Mary of Burgundy would have had, she remained the heiress to the Duchy of Burgundy, but her family connections proved to be vital for the conquest of Hungary in 1490, even more so, as she sided with Maximilian against her own brothers in the fight. Hedwig exposed the plans of Beatrice of Naples, a move that tilted the favour to the Hapsburg and she spent just as much time establishing imperial rule in Hungary as her husband. Her efforts to mediate between Austria and her own family was one of great success and partly the reason there was no more strife over Hungary after 1493. Like all of her family, she was greatly concerned at the threat of the Ottomans at the doorstep of the Empire and encouraged the match with Castile as she saw them as natural partners in driving them out. Her son Frederick was greatly motivated by his mother in that regard, even at the end of his life. Like her, he saw the Empire as the primary defender of Christian Europe from the eastern infidels and it would be him that landed the most devastating blow to the ottomans many years later.

Hedwig, Holy Roman Empress.jpg

Hedwig Jagiellon, Holy Roman Empress in 1500

Hedwig might not have been the kindest or humblest of women, but she proved to be exactly the empress Maximilian needed during his reign and her legacy proved to be a sturdy foundation to stand on for the turbulent decades that were to come after her death.

The mourning for Hedwig had barely been finished before another death reached the imperial court. The king of Bohemia had died, mere months after his sister. That left the Crown of Bohemia open to the Hapsburgs, especially King Frederick as designated heir, but he would not acquire the kingdom completely unchallenged, as his Jagiellon family also had designs on the realm.

However, the Jagiellon did not occupy the same position of strength as they had during the 1490s. Of Frederick’s many uncles, only Sigismund remained alive. Vladislaus, John and Alexander had died childless, while Casimir and Frederick had turned to the religious life and died in 1484 and 1503 respectively. Moreover, his marriage to Barbara Zápolya had only been less then two years old and had yielded one infant son, Casimir so far. That worked in Frederick’s favour, as he had both an adult heir and a spare to secure the Bohemian succession. Not to mention the imperial allies of Lorraine, Brabant and Spain to come to his aid. The dowry of Eleanor came in handy now, as Frederick could afford a military campaign if necessary.

No campaign turned out to be necessary however, as his sister Eleanor had spent over twenty years working on her family’s behalf in Bohemia. Sharp and astute, she carefully orchestrated a growing pro-Hapsburg faction from the castle of Prague, where she spent most of her married life. At Vladislaus death, many nobles, clerics and merchants desired Frederick as their king and the commoners shared their sentiment. While Sigismund was seen as many as a good option, the Austrians ultimately won out. The option of joining with Hungary again held a great appeal to many and the culture of the emperor’s court was almost the same as theirs. Bohemia had also been the seat of the empire many times over the centuries and the citizens of Prague wanted their city to become an imperial capital again, hoping for a second golden age like the one that had flourished under Charles IV in the 14th century.

Sigismund’s baby heir did not help him much and in the late summer of 1514, the Bohemian Diet unanimously elected his nephew as king Frederick I of Bohemia. The coronation took place in spring of 1515 in the Saint Vitus cathedral and Frederick was crowned along with Anne in the most magnificent ceremony, attended by lords and ladies from all over the empire and delegates from other royal houses in Europe. The joint coronation was the first since the 1458 crowning of George of Poděbrady and his queen Joanna of Rožmitál.

In attendance were also two lords from England, who had come far from their homeland. Not only to represent their king at this imperial, but to begin negotiations for a marriage between the Holy Roman Empire and England. Henry Parker, 10th Baron Morley and Thomas Darcy, 1st Baron Darcy of Temple Hurst had been entrusted with a mission of finding the new Princess of Wales in the empire and the eldest daughter of Frederick had just turned fourteen years old. While her sister Margaret was also a potential bride, she was still barely out of toddlerhood and thus not as interesting to the king. Both Frederick and Anne knew the secondary reason why the lords had arrived to the coronation and ensured they had a prominent place in the festivities. The young archduchess would be highly visible at the feasts for the foreign delegations, for those seeking a bride for their eligible heirs and the english took the bait. The queen showed a particular enthusiasm for the match, as her late mother, Margaret of York had been a sister to the english kings and aunt to the current one.

The negotiations went on for nearly three months until both parties signed the agreement and Elizabeth of Austria was proclaimed as the Princess of Wales in the end of July in front of the court in Prague. Her departure from Vienna would take place once she had turned sixteen years old. With his oldest daughter’s future in place, Frederick turned his attention to his uncle’s court. As his second daughter was just a few years elder than his little cousin Casimir, it would be a good time to bind the Hapsburg and the Jagiellon families together again. And a few weeks later an imperial envoy left for Krakow to begin negotiations between the Empire and the Kingdom of Poland. Emperor Maximilian had approved of his son’s aim, as his health began to decline during the winter of 1515. Feeling his mortality, Maximilian began to put his affairs in order and drew up his testament wherein all of his dynastic possessions would be entrusted to his only son, the King of the Romans.

As for the empire itself, the electors held the power to declare the new Emperor and while Frederick was the clearest successor to the imperial crown, other candidates could throw their hats in the rings.

Death arrived for the Emperor in the Hofburg Palace in Vienna on a clear and cold day on the 23th of February. It would be nearly the same day of his empress’s passing two years earlier when Maximilian breathed his last as the winter sunlight filtered through the windows of his chamber. His death started the countdown to the imperial election of 1516 that drew the eyes of all kingdoms in Europe to the electors in charge of deciding who would wear the crown of Charlemagne.

Author's Note: So we bid Maximilian I a fond farewell and enter a new Imperial Election. And the Jagiellons got a hail Mary with Barbara Zápolya surviving and having a little Casimir. And our new Princess of Wales is here! First imperial bride for England since Anne of Bohemia. Coincidentally she's also gonna wed a Richard Plantagenet. Make of that what you will.
Sorry Blue, I like this TL but I'm gonna have to drop it for now. Max is dead and that affects me a lot....
Hey, he got a much better life in this tl. Isn't that enough?
Yep, and the Last Knight has done all he could to ensure his family's legacy, may his son have the patience of Frederick III and the indomitable spirit and talent of Frederick II.

He's not elected yet!
We know girl, he's best boy.
*offers soothing tea*
It's hard to read about him dying over and over when I like him so much.
How do you think I feel about Catherine of Aragon?
And I loathe Hedwig Jagiellon.
What did she do wrong? Aside from not being your precious Emma?
Damn, Maximillian left quite the legacy, hopefully the new King of Bohemia succeds him as Holy Roman Emperor..
He truly did. And Frederick is the best clairmant to the throne.