Habsburg or Hapsburg
Perhaps the most dominant and influential ruling families of Europe during
the last 1000 years. Named after its first castle (Habichtsburg, "Hawk's
castle") in the (now) Swiss canton Aargau, where the family can be
traced back to the 11th century.
The name Habsburg was taken by Otto (died 1111) when he
was made count. In the year 1273 Count Rudolf IV (1218-1291) of the Habsburgs
was elected emperor of Germany, and thus became Rudolf I of Germany. Soon he
expanded his territory to include Austria, Steiermark(Styria) and Krain(Carniola).
The family acquired and partitioned land throughout Alsace and
The family had an interesting system where not one, but all male members of
the family governed together. This led to confusion and intrigues at times, and
led to several partitions of the land under the family rule.
At this time the royal German title was declared hereditary, and when Rudolf
died, his son Albert I (Albrekt II) (died 1308) picked up the mantle in
Germany and Austria, while his brother Leopold III took Styria, Carnolia and Tirol.
Albert I was followed by his son, Frederick III (Fredrik III) (1286-1330)
and later Fredrik's nephew's grandson Albert II (Albrekt II) (1397-1439).
Albert II also had the Hungarian and the Bohemian crown. The
latter had also been in the hands of Albert I's son Rudolf III for a short time.
The German kingship had at this time once again become elective, while the
Austrian still was hereditary.
In 1457 Albert II's son Ladislas Posthumus died, ending the Albert I of
Austria line. The Leopold III line was healthy and Frederick V had stepped
forward to be elected as German king Frederick III in 1440. He was also the
last to be crowned Holy Emperor in Rome as the Roman Empire had lost much
of its formal power. Under Frederick's govern the Habsburgs lost Bohemia,
Hungary and their Swiss territories. Seeing that the family was in trouble, he
managed to pull off what was now a trademark of the Habsburgs; marry rich.
Frederick III's son Maximilan was married in 1447 to the heiress of
Burgundy; Mary, daughter of Charles the Bold. Their son, Philip I, by
blood a Habsburg, would inherit Luxembourg and the Netherlands in addition
to some French territories. Philip I went on to marry the heiress of Spain,
securing not only that country itself, but also its vast holdings in Sicily,
Sardinia and Naples and pending colonies in America. Philip I died in
1419 and his son became Charles V with a grand kingdom in his
Charles V let his brother Ferdinand I have the Austrian possessions, while
he concentrated on the new lands in Spain and France. Ferdinand by marriage
managed to be elected king of Hungary and Bohemia. In addition to this,
Portugal was now also in the hands of the Habsburgs. This was when they were
at the peak, in late 16th century.
The 16th century was one of great religious turmoil in Europe, especially in
Germany. The catholic Habsburgs found themselves in trouble with the protestants
and even the Vatican. Also, the war between Hungary and the Turks, caused the
Habsburgs trouble politically not only there but all over the continent. In
addition to this, the over-protective marriage policy of the Habsburgs led to
several cases of inbreeding that ended the male line of Charles V in 1740
with Charles VI.
Trying to save the empire, Charles VI declared that his daughter would
inherit his titles, and so she did; Maria Theresa became queen the same year
he died. She had difficulties to say the least in keeping the land, but managed
to hold on to most of it. With her marriage to Holy Roman emperor Francis I of
Lorraine (Lothringen), she started a new line, referred to as
Habsburg-Lorraine. Their daughter Marie Antoinette married to French king
Louis XVI to from some kind of peace with France who'd been an enemy ever
since Philip I acquired parts of France. Their son Joseph II became regent
together with his mother when Francis I died in 1765.
During the 18th century the enemy was Prussia in the north. The
Habsburg-Lorraine tried expanding into Poland and Bavaria, which led to
several wars. When the Roman Empire officially dissolved in 1806, it ended the
long line of Roman Emperors from the Habsburg family.
At the time of the French Revolution, political consciousness had grown and
it became harder for the royal families to withhold their power. The family lost
lands to Napoleon Bonaparte, but most of those were reclaimed when Napoleon
was overthrown. The Congress if Vienna (1814-1815) redrew the maps of
Europe and actually expanded Austria further in the hands of Habsburg.
In 1867 Habsburg Francis Joseph declared the dual monarchy
Austria-Hungary. At the same time his brother Maximilian was emperor of Mexico
for a short time before he was executed. The family still had a few duchies in
Tuscany and France. In early 20th century Bosnia-Herzegovina was annexed to
Austria-Hungary and when visiting in Sarajevo in 1914, Habsburg Francis
Ferdinand, heir to the dual monarchy, was assassinated. This event triggered the
World War I
The last Austrian Habsburg emperor, Charles, didn't abdicate but in 1918 declared that
he didn't intend to take any part in Austrian or Hungarian affairs of state.
Austria answered by kicking all of Habsburg out of Austria unless they withdrew
all of their claims to the monarchy. The same happened a few years later in
Hungary, and with that the Habsburgs were without land and power for the first
time in almost a thousand years. It took until 1966 before a Habsburg were
allowed to enter Austria again. Even today there's a fair amount of
animosity against the family that once were the most powerful in Europe.
Reference: ne.se, Encyclopedia Britannica