A hundred and thirty years had come and gone since a Hapsburg, Albert I, sat upon the throne. Now, with Albert II, once more the crown came to the House of Hapsburg.
Albert, Duke of Austria, had married Sigmund's only daughter, Elizabeth. In dying, Sigmund left to his son-in-law the crowns of Hungary and of Bohemia, and the hope that he should receive also that of the Empire. And as Albert was the most powerful of all the German princes, he was chosen as Emperor.
But many of the Bohemians were unwilling to accept Albert either as their King or as Emperor. He was a stranger, and he could not even understand the language which most of them spoke. They refused to agree to the choice of the Electors, and some of them chose a rival King.
But with the help of some of the German nobles, and chiefly with that of Albert, Marquess of Brandenburg, called Achilles because of his strength, Albert succeeded in driving the rival King out of the land. Then in order to win them over to his side, he granted the Bohemians several things they asked, and was at length received by the most of them as King.
But before the trouble with Bohemia was really at an end, Albert was called away by a still greater danger.
For some years the Turks had been attacking the borders of the Empire in Hungary and elsewhere. In the summer of 1438 they made a sudden descent. They wasted the land, burned the villages, killed the people, and carried away many into captivity.
Albert made up his mind now to gather an army and march against these infidel foes. But such was the Hungarian hatred of Germany that very few Hungarians joined his banner. It seemed as if they chose rather to be overwhelmed by the Turks than saved by the Germans. So with an army far too small, Albert marched against the Turks.
The campaign was an utter failure. Plague broke out in the Imperial army, and disappointed and crushed Albert turned homeward. On the way he fell ill. Still he hurried homeward. For he believed that if he could only reach Vienna he would be well. But in spite of all his great longing and his haste, he died before he reached the city.
He had reigned scarcely eighteen months, and he had never been crowned. His death was a great loss to the Empire, for he was wise and brave, and during his short rule he had done all he could for the happiness of his people. He was a big handsome man, but very grave and stern; and his large bright eyes were so fierce that many feared to look upon him. He could not gain the love of his people, but he gained their respect. "In spite of being a German," said an old Bohemian writer, "he was good, brave, and kindly."