Austria History - The March of Austria under the Babenberg Dynasty

Austria History – The March of Austria under the Babenberg Dynasty

According to MATERNITYETCHIC.COM, Leopold I, mentioned for the first time in a document of 976 as a margrave of the eastern marque, is the first of a series of twelve margraves which created a powerful dominion and gave rise to a cultural, moral and political nucleus from which the history of Austria. The Germanic name itself Ostarrichi (hence today’s Österreich) is found for the first time in a document of 996. The task entrusted to the Babenbergs was essentially military, of protection of the Empire against the Hungarians and the Bohemians, who were also consolidating their national organization at the time and, if they sometimes recognized the supremacy of the Empire and sought friendship, while at other times they assumed openly hostile attitudes. This explains how the seat of the Babenbergs is rather towards the East: Leopold I and his son Henry I (994-1018) probably resided in Pöchlarn, mentioned in the Nibelungs as the residence of the Margravîs; Adalbert I (1018-1055) establishes the course of the Thaya as a border towards the Bohemian kingdom of the Přemyslids (and remained so for centuries), while the eastern border was presumably the Leitha. With the Empire, relations were not always the same. For if the first three Margrave remained faithful to the emperor if Adalbert I fought with Conrad II and Henry III against Ungheri and Boemi, if still the Margrave Ernesto (1055-1075), son of Adalbert, fell fighting in favor of Henry IV against the Sassoni, then the struggle for investitures broke out, the new Margrave Leopoldo III (1075-1095) abandoned Henry IV instead. It was therefore deposed and the marque was given to Duke Vratislao II of Bohemia. But with Leopold III, the Saint (1095-i136), we returned to friendship with the head of the Empire: on the contrary, ties became very close due to the marriage of Leopold II with Agnes, daughter of Henry IV and widow of Frederick of Staufen. Thus, the fortunes of the Babenbergs were combined with those of the Willow emperors and with those of the Swabians (Staufen): naturally, to the great advantage of the Babenbergs themselves. Leopoldo IV (1136-1141) was in fact invested with the Duchy of Bavaria; and even when this was reconquered by Frederick Barbarossa to Duke Henry the Lion, of the Guelph house, Henry II of Babenberg (1141-1177) retained his title. Austria was in fact raised to a duchy and had very important rights for the formation of territorial sovereignty. The so-called Privilegium minus (1156), a document that we do not possess in the original, but only in the chronicle of Otto of Freising, obliged the Duke of Austria to intervene only with the placid royals in Bavaria and to participate only in the wars on the borders of Bavaria. In Austria, the only jurisdiction had to be that of a duke or his delegate.

In this way, not only the power of the Babenbergs, but the fate of the country they dominated, which by now had become a solid political nucleus, was on its way to a higher destiny. At the end of the century, a lucky event was added to the imperial favor to strengthen the state of Austria. In 1186, in fact, the Ottocaro IV of Styria, who had no heirs, assured Leopoldo V of Babenberg (1177-1194) the succession of the Duchy of Styria, territorially formed in the century. XI (see Styria). The sale took place with the Georgenberg treaty on Enns, for which Ottocaro had to request and obtain the approval of his numerous ministerial, which we see now appearing for the first time in the history of the country and which can be considered as precursors of the delegates of the states provincial (Landstände). With 1192, Ottocar IV having died, the united life of the Duchy Austria-Styria began; later the last of the Babenbergs, Frederick II (1230-1246), still increased the power of the house through his marriage to Agnes, daughter of Otto IV last duke of Andechs-Merania. This meant adding to the Austro-Styrian possessions the vast possessions of the Andechs in the Inn valley and in Pusteria; in addition the county of Istria, purchased from the Andechs in 1173.

Rapid, fortunate enlargement process: with it, a remarkable flourishing of chivalric and cultural life around Vienna, which Henry II Jasomirgott had chosen as the residence of the court from 1156. The city began to acquire, under the last Babenbergs, that character of moral center which will then constitute a fixed point also in the later Habsburg monarchy (see vienna) and the court, especially under Leopold VI (1198-1230), became the center of the maximum flowering of medieval German poetry (written version of the Nibelungenlied, lyric by Walther von der Vogelweide). That is, the state lives more intensely. The same growing demands of the ministers or minor vassals to participate more actively in the government of the country are a sign of greater vitality and wealth of strength.

Except that, as it had rapidly consolidated, the Babenbergs’ fortunes must have collapsed so quickly. Just the last duke, who had so much increased the possessions of the house, also encountered serious difficulties: first he had to put down a serious revolt of the minor vassals, led by the powerful Kuenringer family; then rebelling against the emperor, the duke was banned from the Empire, while Vienna obtained from the Swabian Frederick II the privilege of immediate dependence on the Empire, a privilege later lost under the Habsburgs. Federico regained the dukedom; he also had in pledge, to support King Béla IV of Hungary against the Mongols, some committees bordering on Austria. But since he refused to return the pledge, war broke out: and Frederick fell on the field, in the battle of the Leitha, on June 15, 1246. A dynasty was waning; the territorial bond already established between Austria and Styria was not broken. Indeed, for a moment the territories of the Babenbergs became part of a large domain in which the fundamental lines of the future Austrian Empire are already recognized. This time however, the center was not in Austria. In fact, the great domain was that of Ottokar II, king of Bohemia, whose wife, Margaret, was the sister of the last Babenberg, and who had succeeded victorious against the Harpades of Hungary in the struggle for the inheritance of the Babenbergs themselves. Taking advantage of the dissolution of the Empire, after the death of Emperor Frederick II, he united the countries of the Alps and the Sudetenland under a single dominion. But it was also aiming higher: it seems, in fact, that it has toyed with the project of a great Slavic-Germanic empire extending from the Baltic to the Adriatic. In the peace of Buda, he had to give Styria to King Béla IV of Hungary; but, after the victory of Kroissenbrunn, on 12 July 1260, he took it back from him with the peace treaty of Vienna. Furthermore, Duke Ulrich of Carinthia, last of the Sponheim family, had also linked his duchy to Ottocaro, who in this way united for the first time under a single dominion that group of countries Styria, Carinthia, Carniola, which later will be named Innerösterreich (Inner Austria).

Austria History - The March of Austria under the Babenberg Dynasty

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