But this attempt to found a great Slavic empire between the Alps and the Sudetenland was to be short-lived. On 1 October 1273, the princes electors elected Rudolph, of the major branch of the Habsburgs, king of the Romans (v.). The newly elected king re-established sovereign authority and immediately set about regaining the territories of the eastern borders. In a first expedition to Vienna, in 1276, he forced Ottocaro II to accept the fiefdom from the Empire; and when the Bohemian king tried to escape from it, Rodolfo inflicted on him a terrible defeat on 26 August 1278 at Dürnkrut, on the Austrian Marchfeld. Ottocaro fell on the field: thus the first dynastic union between the countries of the Alps and the Sudetenland was dissolved. Ottokar’s son, Wenceslaus II (1278-1305), obtained only Bohemia and Moravia as a fief from Rodolfo. But Rodolfo tried to unite the Austrian and Bohemian countries, giving his daughter Guta to Wenceslaus II and marrying Wenceslas’s sister, Agnes, with her own son Rodolfo. These and his elder brother, Alberto, came to Augusta in December 1282 invested with the fiefs of Austria, Styria and Carniola; Carinthia was granted by King Rodolfo to Count Mainardo of Gorizia-Tirolo (who died in 1295), to whom, even before the expedition against Ottocaro, it had been given as a pledge. Thus began the Habsburg rule in Austria, destined to last 636 years (until 1918; while, from 1526, the house will also reign over Bohemia and a part of Hungary, and from 1687, but officially only with the Peace of Karlowitz of 1699, over all of Hungary). In establishing and strengthening their dominion, the Habsburgs were favored by the fact that the imperial power remained almost subsequently in the hands of two of their house: Rodolfo and Alberto. This could provoke a disinterest on the part of Rodolfo and Alberto towards other parts of the Empire, such as Italy; and give rise to Dante’s invective against Albert the German and his father, regardless of the “giardin dello imperio” (Purgatory, VI, 97 ff.). But it unquestionably served to give greater strength to the political organism which, dissolved from its connection with Bohemia, then resumed its autonomous life; it served to lay solid foundations for the dynasty’s fortune.
According to MCAT-TEST-CENTERS.COM, the ambitions of the Habsburgs, from the beginning, were not small. In fact, just then, the question of the succession to the throne in Bohemia and Hungary arose, due to the extinction of the national dynasties of the Přemyslids and the Harpades, the Habsburgs also entered the race, albeit without success, for the crowns of St. Wenceslas and of S. Stefano. In 1306 Wenceslaus III died; and Rodolfo, eldest son of Albert I of Habsburg and husband of the widow of Wenceslaus II, Elizabeth of Poland, obtained Bohemia. But for a short time: because his death (1307) allowed the Duke Henry of Carinthia to be elected and crowned king of Bohemia. However, when the hopes of an enlargement towards the north vanished, those of an enlargement towards the south and south-east remained – and were more fortunate. In 1335, in fact, Albert II of Austria obtained from Emperor Ludwig the Bavarian Carinthia; and he could receive on the Zollfeld, according to the ancient custom, the homage of the representatives of the Carinthian states. In 1364, Rudolph IV induced the daughter of Duke Henry of Carinthia, nicknamed Margherita Maultasch (who had lost his only son Mainardo III in 1363), to ensure his succession in the county of Tyrol. Thus all the countries of the Eastern Alps, Austria, Styria, Carinthia, Carniola and Tyrol were united in the hands of the Habsburgs. The fate of the family, and with it that of the Austrian countries, was by now marked: the Habsburgs would, from then on, have carried out all their work in strengthening and expanding the state that they had acquired in the turn of half a century, from the end of ‘ 300 to the mid-1400s. The contemporary, progressive and fatal decay of their dominion in the Swiss countries could only strengthen them in their turning towards the east: from an Alsatian-Swiss family, they became an Austrian family, laying the new foundations.