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Global Prague: Renaissance and Reformation Crossroads

Introduction: Golden Prague—Beyond Rudolf

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  08 April 2021

Howard Louthan
Affiliation:
Department of History, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis and St. Paul, Minnesota, USA
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Extract

Reading these articles in our AHY Forum brought back a flood of memories to my last days as a university undergraduate at Emory University when I first encountered Emperor Rudolf II and Renaissance Prague in a course taught by the late James Allen Vann. What captivates us about the past? What prompts naive undergraduates to take that fateful step and pursue a PhD in history? For me, it was simply Rudolf. I was not alone. The quizzical emperor ensconced in his castle high above the city has intrigued the imaginations of many. There is certainly irony in this, for Rudolf as an emperor was no success. He ended his reign an ineffective ruler browbeaten by his own brother to abdicate as king of Bohemia. But if he failed politically, there were lasting triumphs elsewhere. Rudolf's contemporary, the Flemish painter and theoretician Karel van Mander, famously pointed to Prague and the emperor as the “greatest art patron in the world.” And what emperor can boast that his most acclaimed “likeness” was a collage of fruits and vegetables, a portrait executed by a student of Leonardo da Vinci?

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Copyright © The Author(s), 2021. Published by Cambridge University Press on behalf of the Center for Austrian Studies, University of Minnesota

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References

1 Mout, M. E. H. N., Bohemen en de Nederlanden in de zestiende eeuw (Leiden, 1975)Google Scholar.

2 Kaufmann, Thomas DaCosta, The School of Prague (Chicago, 1988)Google Scholar.

3 See for example Hausenblasová, Jaroslava and Šroněk, Michal, Urbs Aurea: Praha císaře Rudolfa II (Prague, 1997)Google Scholar; Konečný, Lubomír, Bukovinská, Beket, and Muchka, Ivan, eds., Rudolf II, Prague and the World (Prague, 1998)Google Scholar.

4 Evans, R. J. W., Rudolf II and His World, 2nd ed. (Oxford, 1997), 7778Google Scholar.

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