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Archduchess of Austria

For other uses, see Austria (disambiguation).

Template:Infobox former country/autocat
Archduchy of Austria
Erzherzogtum Österreich
State of the Holy Roman Empire (until 1806)

Flag Coat of arms
Alles Erdreich ist Österreich untertan
"All the world is subject to Austria"[1]
The Archduchy of Austria (orange) in 1477.
Capital Vienna
Languages Austro-Bavarian
Religion Roman Catholic
Government Feudal monarchy
 -  1358–1365 Rudolf IV (first)
 -  1792–1804 Francis II (last)
Historical era Middle Ages
 -  Privilegium Maius 20 July 1358
 -  Treaty of Neuberg 9 September 1379
 -  Treaty of Teschen 13 May 1779
 -  Empire proclaimed 11 August 1849
Currency Conventionsthaler
Today part of  Austria
^a The title "Archduke of Austria" remained part of the official grand title of the rulers of Austria until 1918.
Part of a series on the
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The Archduchy of Austria (German: Erzherzogtum Österreich), one of the most important states within the Holy Roman Empire, was the nucleus of the Habsburg Monarchy and the predecessor of the Austrian Empire. Over nearly 700 years, it evolved from a margravate to the centre of an empire.


With its capital at Vienna, the archduchy was centered in the Danube basin of the current Austrian federal state of Lower Austria and included most of what is now Upper Austria as well.

Located in the southeastern periphery of the Holy Roman Empire, it bordered on the Kingdom of Hungary beyond the Leitha river. In the south it was confined by the Duchy of Styria, with the border at the historic Semmering Pass, while in the north the Bohemian Forest and the Thaya river marked the border with Bohemia and Moravia. In the west, the Upper Austrian part bordered on the Duchy of Bavaria, whereby the historic Innviertel belonged to the Bavarian dukes until the 1779 Treaty of Teschen, as well as on the Archbishopric of Salzburg in the Salzkammergut region.

King Ottokar II of Bohemia, the Austrian duke from 1251 to 1276, was the first to separate those Austrian lands west of the Enns river, which had belonged to the Bavarian stem duchy since the establishment of the Imperial March of Austria in 976. It stood as the administrative unit of Austria superior (Upper Austria) — a tradition adopted by the later Habsburg rulers.

Margraviate of Austria under the Babenbergs

Main article: March of Austria

In the 9th century, the core of territory that would become the Archduchy of Austria was known as the march(i)a orientalis or "eastern march". In 788 Charlemagne had finally incorporated the Bavarian stem duchy into the Frankish Empire. Thereafter he established the Avar March in the adjacent eastern territories along the Danube, which after several campaigns against the Avars was extended to the March of Pannonia, a part of East Francia after the 843 Treaty of Verdun. The Franks however lost most of these territories to the Magyars after the defeat of a Bavarian army at the 907 Battle of Brezalauspurc.

German King Otto I finally terminated the Magyar incursions at the Battle of Lechfeld in 955. In the regained marcha orientalis, German migrants displaced earlier Slavic populations. The territory became one of the marches of the Holy Roman Empire and was given a margrave around 960. In 976 Emperor Otto II appointed Leopold I from the House of Babenberg margrave for his support in the conflict with the insurgent Duke Henry II of Bavaria. In a deed issued by Emperor Otto III in 996, it is noted that the march was referred to as Ostarrîchi in the local dialect. This name is the ancestor of the present-day German name for Austria, Österreich. Modern Austria recognizes the issuance of this document as the founding of the nation.

Privilegium Minus

Main article: Privilegium Minus

In 1156, the margravate was raised to the status of a Duchy through the Privilegium Minus issued by Emperor Frederick I Barbarossa. In 1138 Frederick's uncle German King Conrad III of Hohenstaufen had deprived his Welf rival Henry X the Proud of the Bavarian duchy and granted it to the Austrian margrave Leopold IV of Babenberg. Emperor Frederick however wished to settle the dispute with the Welf dynasty and restored the Duchy of Bavaria to Henry the Lion. In compensation, Leopold's brother Henry II of Babenberg, who had inherited Austria and Bavaria in 1141 and now had to resign as Bavarian duke, was raised in his margravate to a "Duke of Austria".

With the death of Duke Frederick II of Austria in 1246, the Babenberg dynasty became extinct. In the course of the following inheritance dispute, the Bohemian prince Ottokar II Přemysl invaded Austria in 1251 and was proclaimed duke by the local nobility. The next year he legitimated his succession by marrying Frederick's sister Margaret of Babenberg, then about thirty years his senior. His rule however was not acknowledged by the Swabian count Rudolph of Habsburg, who after his election as King of the Romans claimed Austria as a reverted fief. He finally defeated Ottokar at the 1278 Battle on the Marchfeld and secured the duchy for the Habsburg dynasty for 640 years.

Austria together with the Duchy of Styria formed the "hereditary lands" bequested to Rudolph's sons Albert and Rudolph II, again enlarged with the acquisition of Carinthia and Carniola by Duke Otto IV the Merry in 1335.

Privilegium Maius

Main article: Privilegium Maius

Though the Habsburgs already ruled a significant territory by then, their claims were not considered in the Golden Bull of 1356, when Emperor Charles IV, a member of the rivaling Luxembourg dynasty, determined the seven Prince-electors to vote for the German king. In 1359, deprived Duke Rudolf IV of Austria therefore forged the Privilegium Maius to elevate the status of his duchy to that of an "archduchy", making it equal-ranking with an electorate including the right of primogeniture, though the action was not recognized by the Emperor. Rudolf's efforts laid the foundation for the rising of the Habsburg dynasty, and he also gained Tyrol from Countess Margaret Maultasch in 1363. However, after his death in 1365, his brothers quarreled about their heritage and by the 1379 Treaty of Neuberg finally split the Habsburg lands into Austria proper and an Inner Austrian territory consisting of Styria, Carinthia and Carniola. The partition again weakened the position of the House of Habsburg in favour of the Luxembourgish.

Among their successors, Duke Ernest the Iron of Inner Austria was the first to adopt the title of archduke in 1414. The archduchy however was not formally recognized until Ernest's son, Frederick V, was elected Holy Roman Emperor and the Habsburgs gained control of the office to legitimate their usurpation in 1453. Upon the death of his cousin Ladislaus the Posthumous in 1457, Frederick again united the Austrian lands under his rule. Nevertheless he had to deal with the claims of his younger brother Albert VI. In 1458 he could secure his rule in the territory "above" (west of) the Enns river around Linz, later known as Upper Austria. After Albert's death in 1463, the lands ob der Enns and unter der Enns (later Lower Austria) remained separate entities, both ruled by Frederick who, in 1489, set up his Imperial residence at Linz after his long-time rival Matthias Corvinus of Hungary had conquered Vienna.

Austria remained the only state ever to be designated an archduchy and never held a vote in the electoral diet, a problem which was finally solved for the Habsburgs when Archduke Ferdinand I inherited the Bohemian kingdom in 1526. From the 16th century, members of the House of Habsburg held the title of archduke or archduchess, similar to "princes or princesses of the blood" in other European royal houses. From 1512, the archduchy was also the center of an Imperial Circle of the Holy Roman Empire, the Austrian Circle, which mostly consisted of the Habsburg hereditary lands.

Habsburg Empire

Main article: Habsburg Monarchy

Archduke Frederick V had already promoted the rise of the Habsburg dynasty into European dimensions with the arrangement of the marriage between his son Maximilian I and Mary the Rich, heiress of Burgundy in 1477. After Maximilian's son Philip the Handsome in 1496 had married Joanna the Mad, Queen of Castile and the Kingdom of Aragon, his son Charles V could come into an inheritance "on which the sun never sets". Nevertheless his younger brother Ferdinand I claimed his rights and became Archduke of Austria in 1521, whereafter he, by marrying Princess Anna of Bohemia and Hungary, inherited both kingdoms in 1526. Ferdinand, King of the Romans from 1531, is the progenitor of the Austrian branch of the House of Habsburg (Habsburg-Lorraine from 1745 on), which as Archdukes of Austria and Kings of Bohemia ruled the Holy Roman Empire until its dissolution in 1806.

In 1804, Emperor Francis II of Habsburg promoted his territories within the Holy Roman Empire together with his Kingdom of Hungary to the Austrian Empire in reaction to Napoleon I's proclamation of the French Empire; two years later Francis formally dissolved the defunct Holy Roman Empire. The Archduchy of Austria continued to exist as a constituent crown land (Kronland) within the empire, although it was divided into Upper and Lower Austria for some purposes. The title of archduke continued to be used by members of the imperial family and the archduchy was only formally dissolved in 1918 with collapse of Austria-Hungary and the creation of the separate federal states of Lower and Upper Austria in the new Republic of German Austria.

See also


Template:Provinces of the Austrian Empire

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