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William IV
Duke of Bavaria
DH-Wilhelm von Bayern.jpg
William IV, Duke of Bavaria
(portrait by Hans Wertinger)
Reign 18 March, 1508–7 March, 1550
Born November 13, 1493(1493-11-13)
Birthplace Munich
Died March 7, 1550
Place of death Munich
Predecessor Albert IV (Bavaria)
Successor Albert V
Consort Jakobaea of Baden (1507-1580)
Offspring Theodo of Bavaria
Albert V of Bavaria (1528-1579)
William of Bavaria
Mechthild of Bavaria
Royal House House of Wittelsbach
Father Albert IV
Mother Kunigunde of Austria

William IV of Bavaria (German: Wilhelm IV, Herzog von Bayern), (13 November 1493 – 7 March 1550) was Duke of Bavaria from 1508 to 1550, until 1545 together with his younger brother Louis X, Duke of Bavaria. He was born in Munich to Albert IV and Kunigunde of Austria, a daughter of Emperor Frederick III.


Political activity

William IV of Bavaria

Though his father had determined the everlasting succession of the firstborn prince in 1506, his younger brother Louis refused a spiritual career with the argument that he was born before the edict became valid. With support of his mother and the States-General, Louis forced William to accept him as co-regent in 1516. Louis then ruled the districts of Landshut and Straubing, in general in concord with his brother.

William initially sympathized with the Reformation but changed his mind as it grew more popular in Bavaria. In 1522 William issued the first Bavarian religion mandate, banning the promulgation of Martin Luther's works. After an agreement with Pope Clement VII in 1524 William became a political leader of the German Counter reformation, although he remained in opposition to the Habsburgs since his brother Louis X claimed the Bohemian crown. Both dukes also suppressed the peasant uprising in South Germany in an alliance with the archbishop of Salzburg in 1525.

The conflict with Habsburg ended in 1534 when both dukes reached an agreement with Ferdinand I in Linz. William then supported Charles V in his war against the Schmalkaldic League in 1546. William's chancellor for 35 years was the forceful Leonhard von Eck.

Cultural activity

William was a significant collector and commissioner of art. Among other works he commissioned an important suite of paintings from various artists, including the Battle of Issus by Albrecht Altdorfer. This, like most of William's collection, is now housed in the Alte Pinakothek in Munich. In 1546 he ordered to upgrade Dachau Palace from a Gothic ruin into a renaissance palace.

On 23 April 1516, before a committee consisting of gentry and knights in Ingolstadt, he issued his famous purity regulation for the brewing of Bavarian Beer, stating that only barley, hops, and water could be used. This regulation remained in force until it was abolished as a binding obligation in 1986 by Paneuropean regulations of the European Union.

Family and children

In 1522 William married Jakobaea of Baden (1507-1580), a daughter of Margrave Philipp I. of Baden and his consort Princess Elisabeth of Palatinate; they had four children:

  1. Theodo of Bavaria (10 February 1526 — 8 July 1534)
  2. Duke Albert V of Bavaria (1528-1579)
  3. Wilhelm of Bavaria (17 February 1529 — 22 October 1530)
  4. Mechthild of Bavaria (12 July 1532 — 2 November 1565), married in 1557 Philibert of Baden (1536-1569)

Also he had two illegitimate children: A son Knight Georg v.Hegnenberg (c.1509 - 1590) with Margarete Hausner v.Stettberg and a daughter Anna (died 1570) with an unknown woman

William is buried in the Frauenkirche in Munich.

External links

Hofkleiderbuch (Abbildung und Beschreibung der Hof-Livreen) des Herzogs Wilhelm IV. und Albrecht V. 1508-1551. (Court and Coat of Arms Book of Bavarian Dukes: William IV and Albert V) at the Bavarian State Library


William's ancestors in three generations
William IV, Duke of Bavaria Father:
Albert IV, Duke of Bavaria
Paternal Grandfather:
Albert III, Duke of Bavaria
Paternal Great-grandfather:
Ernest, Duke of Bavaria
Paternal Great-grandmother:
Elisabetta Visconti
Paternal Grandmother:
Anna of Brunswick-Grubenhagen-Einbeck
Paternal Great-grandfather:
Erich I of Brunswick-Grubenhagen
Paternal Great-grandmother:
Elisabeth of Brunswick-Göttingen
Kunigunde of Austria
Maternal Grandfather:
Frederick III, Holy Roman Emperor
Maternal Great-grandfather:
Ernest, Duke of Austria
Maternal Great-grandmother:
Cymburgis of Masovia
Maternal Grandmother:
Eleanor of Portugal, Holy Roman Empress
Maternal Great-grandfather:
Edward of Portugal
Maternal Great-grandmother:
Leonor of Aragon
William IV, Duke of Bavaria
Born: 13 November 1493 Died: 7 March 1550
Regnal titles
Preceded by
Albert IV
Duke of Bavaria
Succeeded by
Albert V


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