Austrian History 976 - 1300


The Babenbergs



The Babenbergs ruled over Austria between 976 and 1246 during which time they gradually acquired provinces roughly corresponding to today’s provinces of Upper Austria, Lower Austria, Styria, and Carinthia. They expanded the lands eastward toward the Hungarian border and southward into Styria and Carinthia.
The name “Ostarrichi” (Eastern Empire) was first mentioned in 996 before the duchy of Austria was detached from Bavaria in 1156.


Leopold III

Margrave of Austria

Saint Leopold of Austria  


Leopold III, or Saint Leopold, was married to Agnes widow of Duke Friedrich I of Swabia and was the stepfather of the German King Konrad III and the father of Otto of Freising and of Duke Henry II of Austria. Leopold was canonised in 1485 and is the patron saint of Lower and Upper Austria.
Leopold succeeded his father as Margrave of Austria in 1095 at the age of 23.


Concordat of Worms      

In 1122 Leopold III helped to arrange an agreement between the Pope and the Holy Roman Emperor that ended the battle over Imperial versus Ecclesiastical investiture and guaranteed the free election of bishops and abbots.
The compromise that this concordat achieved was thereafter the basis of relations between Holy Roman Emperors and the Pope.
In 1125 Leopold refused an offer of the Imperial Crown. During his reign Leopold founded numerous monasteries such as Heiligenkreuz, Klosterneuburg and Klein-Mariazell. 


Heinrich II          



In 1156 Heinrich surrendered his claim to Bavaria, and Austria was raised to the status of a duchy.

Privilegium minus            


Heinrich II increased the Babenberg dynasty’s power by obtaining the “Privilegium minus” which granted special privileges and a reduction of obligations toward the empire.
These privileges included succession from either the male or the female line, and the right of the Duke to appoint his own successor if there was no heir. In addition, the Austrian duke was only obliged to attend diets when they were held in Bavaria, and was only liable for supplying military support to the Holy Roman Emperor in campaigns against Austria’s neighbours.


The Treaty of Georgenberg  (Georgenberger Handfeste)         


The Treaty of Georgenberg between Otto IV of Styria and Leopold V of Austria dated 1186 made the Babenbergs the future princes of Styria, and Otto also ensured that all of his sovereign rights would pass to Leopold after his death.  
Otto died in 1192 and Styria, together with the Upper Austrian Traungau region, were accordingly ceded to Leopold V of Austria.



Ottocar II of Bohemia


The Babenberg line died out in 1246 and their lands passed to King Ottocar who failed to be elected Emperor of the Holy Roman Empire in 1273, and refused to acknowledge the election of Rudolph von Habsburg.
The Bohemian King met Rudolph I on the battlefield and was defeated and killed in 1278.
The Habsburgs took over the former Babenberg lands and added them to their extensive lands in Aargau (Switzerland), south-western Germany and eastern France.


Wenceslaus II    

King of Bohemia - r. 1278-1305

King of Poland - r. 1300-1305


Wenceslaus gained Prague in 1283 making way for the rise and fall of Zavis of Falkenstein, whose hostility and intrigues against Rudolph I led to his downfall.
In 1290, Wenceslaus (Rudolph’s son-in-law) had Zavis executed, but soon adopted Zavis’s anti-Habsburg policies to extend his power.
In 1291, he gained the Duchy of Krakow and in 1300 was crowned king of Poland. In 1301 he accepted the crown of Hungary for his son Wenceslaus III
Albert I of Habsburg and Pope Boniface VIII demanded that Wenceslaus give up Poland and Hungary and the rights to the rich silver mines of Kutna Hora the key to Bohemian prosperity.
Albert then invaded Bohemia in 1304, but Wenceslaus managed to repulse the invasion.


Wenceslaus II