Holy Roman Emperor Rudolf II was a great and important Renaissance patron and follower of the occult arts, including astrology and alchemy, but reputedly a poor ruler. His greater legacy is as a patron of the arts; his great failures were as a political leader. He was forced to abdicate in 1611.

A little background:

“Rudolf II of Austria (July 18, 1552–January 20, 1612), Holy Roman Emperor as Rudolf II (1576–1612), King of Hungary and Croatia, as Rudolf (1572–1608), King of Bohemia as Rudolf II (1575–1608/1611) and Archduke of Austria as Rudolf V (1576–1608). He was a member of the House of Habsburg.

Rudolf’s legacy has traditionally been viewed in three ways: an ineffectual ruler whose mistakes led directly to the Thirty Years’ War; a great and influential patron of Northern Mannerist art; and a devotee of occult arts and learning which helped seed the scientific revolution.”

….

“Astrology and alchemy were mainstream science in Renaissance Prague, and Rudolf was a firm devotee of both. His lifelong quest was to find the Philosopher’s Stone and Rudolf spared no expense in bringing Europe’s best alchemists to court, such as Edward Kelley and John Dee. Rudolf even performed his own experiments in a private alchemy laboratory. When Rudolf was a prince, Nostradamus prepared a horoscope which was dedicated to him as ‘Prince and King’.

Rudolf gave Prague a mystical reputation that persists in part to this day, with Alchemists’ Alley on the grounds of Prague Castle a popular visiting place.”


Pasted from <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rudolf_II,_Holy_Roman_Emperor>