Adolf von Nassau was a member of the minor nobility, born about 1255 as son of count Walram II von Nassau and his wife, formerly Adelheid von Katzenelnbogen.
He had neither influence nor power, and was elected to become Holy Roman Emperor because of the Electors' preference for a weak Emperor. His election was largely secured through the influence of the Elector-Archbishops of Mainz and Koln.
He was crowned King of the Romans (Emperor-Elect) 2 June 1292 at Aachen. He was never crowned by the pope in Rome, which would have secured him the title of Emperor.
He married Imagina von Limburg an der Lahn; they had eight children, among them Mechthild, who married Rudolf I. "der Stammler", Duke of Upper-Bavaria, Rupert, Adolf and Gerlach I. who succeeded his father as count of Nassau-Wiesbaden-Idstein.
He founded the convent of Clarenthal near Wiesbaden in 1296.
His pursuit of territorial claims in Thuringen turned his supporters against him, and they elected Albrecht von Habsburg in his stead. Adolf refused to accept this decision and entered battle against Albrecht, at which battle, on, 2 July 1298 at Gelnheim near Spiers, he died.