Emperor Ferdinand II confers the Palatine electoral title and the pledged territory of the Upper Palatinate on Duke Maximilian of Bavaria at the Regensburg Diet of Princes in January of 1623. A long-awaited Bavarian political goal seems to have been achieved.
The wounds from the imperial tribunal are still open in Prague at that time: executions, expulsions, forced conversions, extensive loss of Bohemian autonomy. A thin line divides triumph and bitter defeat. They are all consequences of the 1618 “Defenestration of Prague” and the 1620 “Battle of White Mountain” where the Bavarian general Tilly sealed the demise of the Bohemian corporate state with the Bavarian and Habsburg army. The war that would devastate Central Europe for thirty years had started here in the lands of Bavaria and Bohemia, which had abundant ties to each other.
In the midst of times of war with devastation on an unprecedented scale, in the midst of times of famine and pestilence, secular and religious builders begin undertaking major construction and decoration projects in the Baroque style. Monastic houses and noble palaces, parish churches and, soon, even secular buildings are being built or at least renovated in cities and villages, especially after the conclusion of peace. An unprecedented construction boom swept both lands, begetting a shared cultural region unique throughout all Europe.
It is the celebration of the century – with an impact throughout Europe. Habsburg Emperor Charles VI and his consort Elisabeth Christine are crowned king and queen of Bohemia in Prague. This demonstration of Habsburg power consolidates their power over the Lands of the Bohemian Crown. Above all, however, it is intended to repudiate rival dynasties’ claims to the throne – the Bavarian Wittelsbachs’ too. And this unbridles unparalleled Baroque splendor: worship services, processions, banquets, a ceremonial opera in a specially built theater for 4,000 people. The Baroque world is a stage with a clear message: everything to the greater glory of monarchs by the grace of God. Crisis and a new beginning – that is the somber as well as the heartening background of this era.