Matthias, a religious impostor, whose real name was Robert Matthews, born in Washington co., N. Y., about 1790, died in Arkansas. He kept a country store, failed in 1816, and went to reside in New York. In 1827 he removed to Albany, where he became excited by the preaching of the Rev. Messrs. Kirk and Finney. He engaged in the temperance cause, and, claiming to have received a revelation, took to street preaching. Failing to convert Albany, he prophesied its destruction and fled to New York, where he involved several respectable families in his delusions, and was tried and acquitted on a charge of poisoning a wealthy disciple in whose family he lived. His impositions having been exposed, he disappeared. - See "Matthias and his Imposture," by W. L. Stone (New York, 1835).
Matthias, emperor of Germany, born Feb. 24, 1557, died March 20, 1619. His mother was a daughter of the emperor Charles V. His father Avas Maximilian II., who died in 1576, and was succeeded by his eldest son Rudolph II., whose jealousy of his brother's participation in affairs at home had early impelled Matthias to espouse the cause of the revolted Nether-landers; and he was their nominal ruler from 1577 to 1580, when he withdrew before the superior influence of the prince of Orange. The death of his brother Ernest, archduke of Austria (1595), brought him into prominence, Rudolph intrusting him with the administration of that archduchy. He was notorious for his persecution of the Protestants. Commissioned by the emperor, he restored tranquillity in 1606 among the Hungarians, who had invoked the aid of Bocskay of Transylvania and of the Turks against the house of Hapsburg; and in 1608, having formed a confederation of the Hungarian, Moravian, and Silesian estates, he forced Rudolph to cede to him Hungary, Moravia, and Austria, and to secure to him the succession to the kingdom of Bohemia. He now sought to propitiate the Protestants in order to obtain this concession; and subsequently, when Rudolph manifested a preference for the archduke Leopold as future king of Bohemia, Matthias joined the disaffected Bohemians against his brother, and secured from him the cession not only of Bohemia, but also of Silesia and Lusatia. His brother leaving no issue, Matthias was unanimously elected (June, 1612) to succeed him as emperor.
He was unable to grapple with the Turks in Hungary, whose advance on Vienna was only arrested by his suing for peace in 1615. He was equally unfortunate in his attempts to arrest the religious strife to which he had not a little contributed by countenancing his brother's support of the Jesuits. After failing to transfer the Catholic league (formed in 1609) from Bavarian to Austrian control, he issued a decree (April, 1617) against this as well as the rival Protestant association established in 1608 under the lead of the count palatine Frederick IV. Both disregarded his decree, and his failing health offered a convenient pretext for substituting" the archduke Ferdinand as king of Bohemia (1617) and Hungary (1618). But the bigotry of this prince (the future emperor Ferdinand II.) resulted in the outbreak in Prague (May 23, 1618), which kindled the flames of the thirty years' war. His death took place at a time when the revolted Bohemians had gained considerable advantages.