Charles VII. (Karl Albrecht), emperor of Germany, born in Brussels, Aug. 6, 1697, died in Munich, Jan. 20, 1745. His father was Maximilian Emanuel, elector of Bavaria, and governor of the Spanish Netherlands. Joseph I., having taken possession of the elector's possessions in Bavaria, outlawed him, and detained his son as prisoner at Klagenfurt and Gorz, where the young prince, however, enjoyed every advantage of education. Liberated in 1714, after the conclusion of the treaty of peace of Rastadt, Charles Albert was sent as commander of the troops against Turkey in 1716-18. In 1722 he married a daughter of Joseph I., Laving previously renounced all rights arising from this marriage to the Austrian dominions, and adhered to the pragmatic sanction. Four years afterward he succeeded his father as elector of Bavaria. His first act now was to protest against the pragmatic sanction, and after the death of Charles VI. in 1740 he put forth his claims to the Austrian succession, which had already been urged by his father, immediately on the accession of Maria Theresa. In the midst of the general opposition to which this accession gave rise, he succeeded in forming an alliance with France and Spain, at Nymphenburg, May 18, 1741. With the assistance of French troops he captured Linz, where he was proclaimed archduke of Austria; and advancing further, surprised and captured Prague, where he caused himself to be proclaimed king of Bohemia. Almost immediately afterward he was unanimously chosen German emperor, and proceeded to Frankfort, where, on Feb. 21, 1742, he was crowned by his brother, the elector of Cologne. The Hungarians, however, rose in favor of Maria Theresa, whose army occupied Munich, reconquered Upper Austria and Bohemia, and compelled Charles to resort to flight.
The efforts of his general, Seckendorf, enabled him to return to Munich, April 19, 1743; but in June he was again expelled by the victories of Maria Theresa's troops. About the same time his allies, the French, were defeated near Dettingen by the English allies of Maria Theresa. Only by his alliance with Frederick of Prussia (May 22, 1744), who invaded Bohemia, and by the exploits of Seckendorf, was he enabled to turn the tide and regain his capital; a success which he accomplished just before his death.