Frederick II, Duke of Austria

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For other people named Friedrich of Austria, see Friedrich of Austria (disambiguation).
Frederick II
Duke of Austria, Duke of Styria
Herzog Friedrich II. Babenberg.jpg
Frederick the Quarrelsome killed at the Battle of the Leitha River, Babenberger Stammbaum, Klosterneuburg Monastery, 1489–1492
Duke 1230–1246 (Austria)
1230–1246 (Styria)
Predecessor Leopold VI
Spouses Sophia Laskarina
Agnes of Merania
Family House of Babenberg
Father Leopold VI
Mother Theodora Angelina
Born (1211-04-25)25 April 1211
Died 15 June 1246(1246-06-15) (aged 35)
Buried Heiligenkreuz Abbey

Frederick II (German: Friedrich, 25 April 1211 – 15 June 1246), known as Frederick the Quarrelsome (German: Friedrich der Streitbare), was the Duke of Austria and the Duke of Styria from 1230 to his death in 1246. He was the fifth and last Duke of Austria from the House of Babenberg.[1]


Frederick the Quarrelsome was born on 25 April 1211, the second surviving son of Duke Leopold VI of Austria and Theodora Angelina, a Byzantine princess. The death of his elder brother Henry in 1228 made him the only heir to the Austrian and Styrian duchies. Two years later, his father died and Frederick succeeded him.

His first spouse was Byzantine princess Sophia Laskarina (daughter of Theodore I Laskaris and his first wife Anna Komnene Angelina), and his second wife was Agnes of Merania. Frederick called himself a "Lord of Carniola". However, the couple divorced due to childlessness in 1243. Frederick had no surviving children.

Proud of his Byzantine descent, the young duke soon was known as the Quarrelsome because of his harsh rule and frequent wars against his neighbors, primarily with Hungary, Bavaria and Bohemia. Even the Austrian Kuenringer noble family, which had so far been faithful to the ruling house, started an insurgency as soon as his reign began. But most dangerous were his disputes with the Hohenstaufen Emperor Frederick II in the course of the rebellion of the emperor's son Henry (VII), husband of Frederick's sister Margaret. Not only had the duke refused to appear at the 1232 Reichstag diet in Aquileia, appealing to the Austrian Privilegium Minus, and displeased the emperor by picking quarrels with King Béla IV of Hungary, he furthermore seemed to be involved in his brother-in-law Henry's conspiracy. When he again refused to attend the 1235 diet in Mainz, Emperor Frederick II finally ostracized him and gave permission to King Wenceslaus I of Bohemia to invade the Austrian lands. Vienna opened its gates for the united Bohemian and Bavarian forces and during the years of Frederick's ban became an imperial free city, where the emperor had his son Conrad IV elected King of the Romans in 1237. However, the expelled duke managed to maintain his position as the ruler of an Austrian rump state at Wiener Neustadt. In the same year, Frederick enacted the Landrecht Law, which required all subjects to defend the country in the case of invasion.[2]

In 1239, in a spectacular change in imperial politics, Duke Frederick became one of the emperor's most important allies. The conflict with Bohemia was settled by the engagement of his niece Gertrude of Babenberg with King Wenceslaus' eldest son Margrave Vladislaus of Moravia. Negotiations with the emperor about the elevation of Vienna to a bishopric and of Austria (including Styria) to a kingdom were initiated, however, on condition that the duke's niece Gertrude now would have to marry the fifty-year-old emperor, who moreover had recently been banned by Pope Gregory IX and needed allies. In 1245 the terms were arranged, but the willful young girl, then in her late teens, refused to appear in the consummation ceremony at the diet of Verona. In the year before his death, Duke Frederick finally succeeded in gaining the March of Carniola from the Patriarchal State of Friuli, but upon his death it fell to the Carinthian duke Bernhard von Spanheim.

Duke Frederick's ambitious plans were dashed when he died at the Battle of the Leitha River, in a border conflict he had picked with the Hungarian king Béla IV Árpád. He is buried at Heiligenkreuz Abbey.


As the last Babenberg duke, Frederick the Quarrelsome signifies the end of an era in the history of Austria. With his overambitious plans, which were frequently foiled by his erratic character, he somewhat resembled his later Habsburg successor Duke Rudolf IV. According to the 18th century historian Chrysostomus Hanthaler, Frederick was the first Austrian duke utilizing the red-white-red coat of arms after his accession—an attempt to prevail against the reluctant local nobles and to stress his autonomy towards Emperor Frederick II. The triband is first documented in a seal on a deed issued on 30 November 1230, confirming the privileges of Lilienfeld Abbey. The medieval chronicler Jans der Enikel reports that the duke appeared in a red-white-red ceremonial dress at his 1232 accolade in the Vienna Schottenstift.

As the Austrian Privilegium Minus also allowed women to inherit, his sister Margaret and his niece Gertrude would have been entitled to the throne. Shortly after the death of her uncle, Gertrude first married her fiancé Vladislaus of Moravia, who nevertheless died in the next year, then Margrave Herman VI of Baden, who did not manage to maintain his position in Austria, and finally in 1252 Prince Roman Danylovich, a younger brother of Kynaz Lev I Rurik, son-in-law of the Hungarian king.

In the same year the Bohemian Přemyslids made a second attempt to confirm their claims to Austria by arranging the marriage between Gertrude's aunt Margaret of Babenberg and King Wenceslaus' son Ottokar II, more than twenty years her junior. Subsequently, Austria became of field of conflict between the Přemyslids and the Hungarian Árpád dynasty, in which Ottokar at first would prevail defeating King Béla at the 1260 Battle of Kressenbrunn, until finally being overthrown by the German king Rudolph of Habsburg at the Battle on the Marchfeld in 1278.


See also[edit]


  1. ^ Lingelbach 1913, pp. 93–94.
  2. ^ Gravett 1997, pp.13
  • Beller, Steven (2007). A Concise History of Austria. New York: Cambridge University Press. ISBN 978-0521478861. 
  • Fastlinger, Maximilianus, ed. (1920). Passau Necrologies, Volume 2. Berlin: Böhlau. 
  • Gravett, Christopher (1997). German Medieval Armies 1000-11300. Oxford: Osprey Publishing. ISBN 978-1-85532-657-6. 
  • Lechner, Karl (1976). Die Babenberger: Markgrafen und Herzoge von Österreich 976–1246. Vienna: Böhlau. ISBN 978-3205085089. 
  • Leeper, Alexander W. (1941). History of Medieval Austria. London: Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0404153472. 
  • Lingelbach, William E. (1913). The History of Nations: Austria-Hungary. New York: P. F. Collier & Son Company. ASIN B000L3E368. 
  • Pohl, Walter (1995). Die Welt der Babenberger. Graz: Verlag Styria. ISBN 978-3222123344. 
  • Previté-Orton, C. W. (1937). A History of Europe: From 1198 to 1378. London: Methuen & Company Ltd. ISBN 978-0416435207. 
  • Rickett, Richard (1985). A Brief Survey of Austrian History. Vienna: Prachner. ISBN 978-3853670019. 
  • Vaníček, Vratislav (2000). Velké dějiny zemí Koruny české II. 1197-1250. Praha: Paseka. p. 341. ISBN 80-7185-273-2. 
  • Verber, Václav (2002). Dějiny Rakouska. Praha: Nakladatelství Lidové noviny. p. 107. ISBN 80-7106-491-2. 

External links[edit]

Frederick II, Duke of Austria
Born: 1211 Died: 1246
Regnal titles
Preceded by
Leopold VI
Duke of Austria and Styria
Title next held by