Leopold V, Duke of Austria

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Leopold the Virtuous
Duke of Austria, Duke of Styria
Herzog Leopold V. Babenberg.jpg
Leopold the Virtuous receiving the banner from Emperor Henry VI, Babenberger Stammbaum, Klosterneuburg Monastery, 1489–1492
Duke 1177–1194
Predecessor Henry II
Successor Frederick I
Spouse Helena of Hungary
Family House of Babenberg
Father Henry II
Mother Theodora Komnene
Born 1157
Died 31 December 1194(1194-12-31)
Graz, Austria
Buried Heiligenkreuz Abbey

Leopold V (German: Luitpold, 1157 – 31 December 1194), known as Leopold the Virtuous (German: Luitpold der Tugendhafte), was the Duke of Austria from 1177 and the Duke of Styria from 1192 until his death in 1194. He was a member of the House of Babenberg, the son of Henry II Jasomirgott and his Byzantine wife, Theodora Comnena, a daughter of Andronicus Comnenus, the second eldest son of the Emperor John II Komnenos.[1]


Leopold succeeded his father as Duke of Austria upon his death on 13 January 1177. Soon after becoming Duke, Leopold lent his support to Frederick of Bohemia in his struggle against Duke Soběslav II, who had campaigned in the Austrian duchy, and in 1179, Leopold reached a peace agreement with Bohemia. On 17 August 1186, he negotiated the Georgenberg Pact with Ottokar IV of Styria, by which Styria and the central part of Upper Austria were amalgamated into the Duchy of Austria after 1192. This was the first step towards the creation of modern Austria.[2]

Leopold is mainly remembered outside Austria for his participation in the Third Crusade. He arrived to take part in the siege of Acre in spring 1191, having sailed from Zadar on the Adriatic coast. He took over command of what remained of the imperial forces after the death of Frederick VI, Duke of Swabia in January. According to legend, his tunic was blood-soaked after the fights and when he doffed his belt, a white stripe appeared. Emperor Henry VI granted him the privilege to adopt these colours as his new banner, that later would become the flag of Austria.[2]

After Acre had surrendered, the banners of the Kingdom of Jerusalem, Richard I, King of England, Philip II, King of France and Leopold's ducal flag were raised in the city by Leopold's cousin, Conrad of Montferrat. However, Richard removed Leopold's colours (see Siege of Acre) and the duke wrathfully left for his Austrian home, where he arrived by the end of 1191. Richard was also suspected of involvement in the murder of Conrad, shortly after his election as King of Jerusalem in April 1192.[2]

On his journey back that winter, Richard, travelling in disguise, shortly before Christmas 1192 had to stop near Vienna, where he was recognized (supposedly because of his signet ring) and arrested in Erdberg (modern Landstraße district). For some time the King was imprisoned in Dürnstein, and in March 1193 was brought before Emperor Henry VI at Trifels Castle, accused of Conrad's murder. A ransome of 35,000 kilogrammes of silver was paid to release Richard.[3] Leopold's share became the foundation for the mint in Vienna, and was used to build new city walls for Vienna, as well as to found the towns of Wiener Neustadt and Friedberg in Styria. However, the duke was excommunicated by Pope Celestine III for having taken a fellow crusader prisoner.[2]

In 1194, Leopold's foot was crushed when his horse fell on him at a tournament in Graz. While advised by his surgeons to have the foot amputated, none declared competence to do so. He ordered his servants to chop it off with an axe, after three swings succeeding.[4] Nonetheless he succumbed to gangrene, still an excommunicate, and was buried at Heiligenkreuz Abbey.[2]

Marriage and children[edit]

In 1172, Leopold married Helena, a daughter of King Géza II of Hungary. By her, Leopold had at least two children;


See also[edit]


  1. ^ Lingelbach 1913, pp. 91–92.
  2. ^ a b c d e Cawley, Charles. "Austria". Medieval Lands Project. Retrieved 2 January 2013. 
  3. ^ Horst Fuhrmann (9 October 1986). Germany in the High Middle Ages: C.1050-1200. Cambridge University Press. p. 182. ISBN 978-0-521-31980-5. 
  4. ^ Howden 1871, pp. 276-78.
  5. ^ Fastlinger 1920, p. 112.
  • Beller, Steven (2007). A Concise History of Austria. New York: Cambridge University Press. ISBN 978-0521478861. 
  • Brooke, Z. N. (1938). A History of Europe: From 911 to 1198. London: Methuen & Company Ltd. ISBN 978-1443740708. 
  • Dopsch, Heinz (1999). Österreichische Geschichte 1122-1278. Vienna: Ueberreuter. ISBN 3-8000-3973-7. 
  • Howden, Roger (1871). William Stubbs, ed. Chronica (4 volumes). 
  • 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. 
  • Rickett, Richard (1985). A Brief Survey of Austrian History. Vienna: Prachner. ISBN 978-3853670019. 
  • Wegener, Wilhelm (1965). Genealogischen Tafeln zur mitteleuropäischen Geschichte. Vienna: Verlag Degener. 

External links[edit]

Leopold V, Duke of Austria
Born: 1157 Died: 31 December 1194
German royalty
Preceded by
Henry II
Duke of Austria
Succeeded by
Frederick I
Preceded by
Ottokar IV
Duke of Styria
Succeeded by
Leopold II