In 1477 the Holy Roman Empire, a multi-ethnic jigsaw of principalities, duchies, counties, Free Imperial Cities and other domains within central Europe, was under the rule of the Habsburg Emperor Frederick III, and was poised on the brink of a conflict with Hungary. Frederick III had proved a weak but tenacious ruler, more concerned with his dynastic lands in the Tyrol, Styria, Carinthia and Carniola, and the acquisition of power for the ‘House of Austria’. Matthias Corvinus, the ambitious king of Hungary aimed to unite Bohemia, Hungary and the Austrian lands. In 1477 he declared war on Frederick, attacking Habsburg territories. In 1485 Frederick capitulated and Corvinus entered Vienna. Faced with this crisis, Frederick was forced to turn to the dukes and electors in the much-neglected heartland for support, and their demand for participation in the Imperial Court led to the formation of the Imperial Diet, shifting the balance of power within the Empire. Frederick outlived his adversary, and Hungarian power in Austria collapsed, enabling Frederick to secure his claim on Hungary, enlarging the Habsburg territories. 1477 was also a critical year for the west of the Empire, as it brought the death of Charles of Bold, Duke of Burgundy, who died fighting Swiss mercenaries who were backing the Duke of Lorraine in a succession dispute. Charles was the last member of the house of Valois and his huge Burgundian possessions, lying to the west of the Empire, were fated to be disputed between the growing power of France and the Holy Roman Empire for centuries.
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