Ferdinand, the name of several European sovereigns, arranged below under the heads of Germany, Naples, Spain, and Tuscany; Austria being included under Germany, Sicily under Naples, and Aragon and Castile under Spain.
Ferdinand I., emperor of Germany, son of Philip I. of Spain and younger brother of Charles V., born at Alcala, Spain, in 1503, died July 25, 1564. After the death of his grandfather, the emperor Maximilian I., he received as his share of the dominions of the house of Hapsburg the duchy of Austria and other German possessions. In 1521 he married Anna, sister of Louis II., king of Hungary and Bohemia, who in 1526 fell at the battle of Mohacs and left no issue. Ferdinand claimed the right of succession in the name of his wife, and by right of previous family compacts. The states of Bohemia acknowledged him, but in Hungary a strong party declared for John Zapolya, waywode of Transylvania. Ferdinand marched against Zapolya, and his general Nicholas von Salm defeated him near Tokay; but the latter soliciting the aid of the Turks, Sultan Solyman espoused his cause. Ferdinand was forced to retreat to Vienna, where he was besieged by the Turks in 1529. After a long and bloody war a treaty was concluded, by which it was agreed that Zapolya should preserve the title of king of Hungary during his life, together with the districts then in his possession, after which they were to pass to Ferdinand. This treaty, however, owing to the prevailing influence of the Turks in Hungary, was not carried into effect, and the eastern parts of the country remained in possession of Zapolya's successor, as prince of Transylvania. In 1531 Ferdinand was elected king of the Romans; and on the abdication of Charles V. in 1556, he succeeded him in the empire.
Pope Paul IV. refused to acknowledge him, on the ground that Charles V. had not ob-tained his permission to abdicate. Paul died before serious consequences had resulted from his refusal, and his successor, Pius IV., recognized Ferdinand. The electors, both Protestants and Catholics, met and decided that thereafter it should no longer he required of the emperors of Germany to receive the crown from the pope, thus putting an end to the many controversies and wars of which the dependence of the German emperor on the see of Rome had been the cause. In Bohemia Ferdinand arbitrarily declared the crown hereditary in his family without the sanction of the states. A portion of the population opposed him by force of arms, but the insurrection was suppressed. He was tolerant to the Protestants, and tried to effect a union between them and the Catholics by inducing them to send deputies to the council of Trent. He also endeavored to obtain from the pope the use of the cup for the laity in the communion, and the liberty of marriage for the priests.
He was succeeded in the empire, as well as in Hungary and Bohemia, by his son Maximilian II.