Leopold I, Duke of Austria

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Leopold I, Duke of Austria

Leopold I (4 August 1290 – 28 February 1326) from the House of Habsburg was Duke of Austria and Styria – as co-ruler with his elder brother Frederick the Fair – from 1308 until his death. Born at Vienna, he was the third son of King Albert I of Germany and Elisabeth of Gorizia-Tyrol, a scion of the Meinhardiner dynasty.

Life[edit]

A stained glass portrait of Leopold I of Austria, Königsfelden Monastery, Windisch, Switzerland

After the death of his eldest brother Duke Rudolph III in 1307 and the assassination of King Albert in 1308, Leopold became head of the Habsburg dynasty and administrator of the Swabian home territories, where he started a retaliation campaign against his father's murderers. The energetic man converged with the royal House of Luxembourg and accompanied King Henry VII on his Italian campaign. In 1311 he helped to suppress a Guelph revolt at Milan under Guido della Torre and to lay siege to the city of Brescia.

Upon Emperor Henry's death, he strongly supported his brother Frederick in the 1314 election as King of the Romans. Despite all efforts (and bribes), the Habsburgs only gained the votes of four Prince-electors, while Louis IV of Wittelsbach, with support of the Luxembourgs, was elected by five. In the following armed conflict between the rivals, the forces of Leopold were supportive of his brother's claims. In his ancestral homeland however, he incurred a decisive defeat by the Swiss Confederacy at the 1315 Battle of Morgarten.

When Frederick and their younger brother Henry had been captured at the Battle of Mühldorf in 1322, Leopold struggled for their release. He entered into negotiations with King Louis IV and even surrendered the Imperial Regalia he had kept at Kyburg castle. The parleys failed and Leopold continued to attack the Bavarian forces of Louis, who unsuccessfully laid siege to the Swabian town of Burgau in 1324. After the king had failed to reach the approval of his election by Pope John XXII and was even banned, he released Frederick in 1325. The captive however had to promise to swear his brother to acknowledge Louis as his suzerain, which Leopold refused. Frederick as a man of honour voluntarily returned to the Bavarian court, where he and Louis finally agreed upon a joint rule.

Leopold died in Straßburg shortly afterwards, aged 35. His remains were buried at Königsfelden Monastery in the Swiss town of Windisch in the Aargau.

Marriage and issue[edit]

In 1315 Leopold married Catherine (1284–1336), daughter of Count Amadeus V of Savoy. They had two daughters:

  1. Catherine (1320–1349), who married Lord Enguerrand VI of Coucy
  2. Agnes (1322–1392), married Duke Bolko II the Small of Świdnica.

Ancestry[edit]

Preceded by
Albert I
Duke of Austria and Styria
Co-ruler with Frederick III

1308–1326
Succeeded by
Frederick III

Popular Culture[edit]

Main character in the book series The Forest Knights.