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(both: hăps`bûrg, Ger. häps`bo͝ork), ruling house of AustriaAustria
, Ger. Österreich [eastern march], officially Republic of Austria, federal republic (2015 est. pop. 8,679,000), 32,374 sq mi (83,849 sq km), central Europe.
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Rise to Power

The family, which can be traced to the 10th cent., originally held lands in Alsace and in NW Switzerland. Otto (d. 1111) took the name Hapsburg from a castle near Aargau, Switzerland, when he was designated count. Vast estates in Upper Alsace, Baden, and Switzerland were inherited (1173) by his grandson Count Albert III (d. 1199) and passed to Rudolf II (d. 1232) and Albert IV (d. c.1240). The extinction of the houses of Lenzburg, ZähringenZähringen
, noble German family. It took its name from a now ruined castle near Freiburg im Breisgau, Baden, and can be traced to the 10th cent. The family held extensive fiefs in Baden and W Switzerland, and Duke Berthold V, one of the most powerful nobles of his era,
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, and Kyburg facilitated family acquisitions.

The election (1273) of Count Rudolf IV as Rudolf IRudolf I
or Rudolf of Hapsburg
, 1218–91, German king (1273–91), first king of the Hapsburg dynasty. Rudolf's election as king ended the interregnum (1250–73), during which time there was no accepted German king or Holy Roman emperor.
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, king of the Germans, provoked war with King Ottocar II of Bohemia. Ottocar's defeat and death at the Marchfeld (1278) confirmed Hapsburg possession of Austria, Carniola, and Styria; these lands and the Austrian ducal title were declared hereditary by Rudolf in 1282. In 1335 Carinthia too was claimed. Possession of these dominions marked the rise of the Hapsburgs to European significance. Held in common by the sons of Albert I and of Albert II, the many lands were divided, after the death (1365) of Duke Rudolf IV, between the Albertine and Leopoldine lines (named for his brothers).

Hapsburg Ascendancy

The Hapsburg lands were reunited under Maximilian I at the end of the 15th cent. In the meantime, Tyrol (1363), NE Istria (1374), and Trieste (1382) were added to the Hapsburg domain. Albert V of Austria, married to a daughter of Holy Roman Emperor SigismundSigismund
, 1368–1437, Holy Roman emperor (1433–37), German king (1410–37), king of Hungary (1387–1437) and of Bohemia (1419–37), elector of Brandenburg (1376–1415), son of Holy Roman Emperor Charles IV.
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, succeeded him as king of Bohemia and Hungary and was chosen (1438) German king as Albert IIAlbert II,
1397–1439, Holy Roman Emperor, king of Hungary and Bohemia (1438–39), duke of Austria (1404–38). He was the son-in-law of Holy Roman Emperor Sigismund, whom he aided against the Hussites of Bohemia.
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. Henceforth, with one exception, the head of the house of Hapsburg was elected German king and Holy Roman emperor (see Holy Roman EmpireHoly Roman Empire,
designation for the political entity that originated at the coronation as emperor (962) of the German king Otto I and endured until the renunciation (1806) of the imperial title by Francis II.
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 for a complete list of emperors).

Though Holy Roman Emperor Frederick IIIFrederick III,
1415–93, Holy Roman emperor (1452–93) and German king (1440–93). With his brother Albert VI he inherited the duchies of Styria, Carinthia, and Carniola.
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 raised (1453) Austria to an archduchy and acquired (1471) Fiume, he had to struggle to maintain the Hapsburg realms during his constant warfare against Matthias Corvinus, king of Hungary and Bohemia. Under Frederick and his son, Maximilian IMaximilian I,
1459–1519, Holy Roman emperor and German king (1493–1519), son and successor of Holy Roman Emperor Frederick III. As emperor, he aspired to restore forceful imperial leadership and inaugurate much-needed administrative reforms in the increasingly
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, a series of marriages greatly increased the hereditary holdings of the dynasty and gave rise to the saying "Let others wage war; thou, happy Austria, marry."

Most of the Low Countries (see Netherlands, Austrian and SpanishNetherlands, Austrian and Spanish,
that part of the Low Countries that, from 1482 until 1794, remained under the control of the imperial house of Hapsburg. The area corresponds roughly to modern Belgium and Luxembourg.
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) were acquired by the marriage of Maximilian to Mary of BurgundyMary of Burgundy,
1457–82, wife of Maximilian of Austria (later Holy Roman Emperor Maximilian I), daughter and heiress of Charles the Bold of Burgundy. The marriage of Mary was a major event in European history, for it established the Hapsburgs in the Low Countries and
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. The marriage of their son, Philip I, to Joanna of Castile, brought Philip's elder son, Holy Roman Emperor Charles VCharles V,
1500–1558, Holy Roman emperor (1519–58) and, as Charles I, king of Spain (1516–56); son of Philip I and Joanna of Castile, grandson of Ferdinand II of Aragón, Isabella of Castile, Holy Roman Emperor Maximilian I, and Mary of Burgundy.
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, to the throne of SpainSpain,
Span. España , officially Kingdom of Spain, constitutional monarchy (2015 est. pop. 46,398,000), 194,884 sq mi (504,750 sq km), including the Balearic and Canary islands, SW Europe.
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. The marriage of Charles's younger brother, Ferdinand, to Anna, daughter of Louis II of BohemiaBohemia,
Czech Čechy, historic region (20,368 sq mi/52,753 sq km) and former kingdom, in W and central Czech Republic. Bohemia is bounded by Austria in the southeast, by Germany in the west and northwest, by Poland in the north and northeast, and by Moravia in the
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 and HungaryHungary,
Hung. Magyarország, republic (2015 est. pop. 9,784,000), 35,919 sq mi (93,030 sq km), central Europe. Hungary borders on Slovakia in the north, on Ukraine in the northeast, on Romania in the east, on Slovenia, Croatia, and Serbia in the south, and on
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, strengthened the Hapsburg claim to these possessions after the death (1526) of Louis at MohácsMohács
, town (1991 est. pop. 20,325), S Hungary, on the Danube. It is an important river port and railroad terminus and has metallurgical and timber industries. Mohács is best known for the crushing defeat (Aug.
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. Hapsburg power reached its zenith under Charles V.

The reigns of Maximilian I and Charles V, while encompassing the height of Hapsburg power, also witnessed the emergence of the enduring struggles that eventually sapped Hapsburg strength. These included the defense of Central Europe against the Turks; the support of the Catholic Church against the Protestant Reformation; and the defense of the dynastic position against the rise of France.

Shifting Fortunes

Charles V divided his dominions between his son, Philip IIPhilip II,
1527–98, king of Spain (1556–98), king of Naples and Sicily (1554–98), and, as Philip I, king of Portugal (1580–98). Philip's Reign
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 of Spain, and his brother, Ferdinand of Austria, Bohemia, and Hungary, who succeeded Charles as Holy Roman Emperor Ferdinand IFerdinand I,
1503–64, Holy Roman emperor (1558–64), king of Bohemia (1526–64) and of Hungary (1526–64), younger brother of Holy Roman Emperor Charles V.
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. The Spanish and Austrian branches of the dynasty cooperated in the Thirty Years War (1618–48) and opposed the French in the Third Dutch War (1672–78) and in the War of the Grand Alliance (1688–97). The division of the family holdings, the acquisition of the royal crowns of Bohemia and Hungary, and the wars against the Turks in the 17th cent.—these factors transformed the dynasty into a polyglot monarchy, interested more in extending the family power in the Balkans than in purely German affairs.

The Hapsburgs lost Alsace, Franche-Comté, Artois, and part of Flanders and Hainaut during the wars against Louis XIV. In the War of the Spanish SuccessionSpanish Succession, War of the,
1701–14, last of the general European wars caused by the efforts of King Louis XIV to extend French power. The conflict in America corresponding to the period of the War of the Spanish Succession was known as Queen Anne's War (see French and
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, caused by the extinction of the Spanish Hapsburgs at the death (1700) of King Charles IICharles II,
1661–1700, king of Spain, Naples, and Sicily (1665–1700), son and successor of Philip IV. The last of the Spanish Hapsburgs, he was physically crippled and mentally retarded.
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, the family lost their claim to Spain. However, they retained the Austrian Netherlands and Lombardy and reconquered Hungary from the Turks. By the pragmatic sanctionpragmatic sanction,
decision of state dealing with a matter of great importance to a community or a whole state and having the force of fundamental law. The term originated in Roman law and was used on the continent of Europe until modern times.
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 (1713), Holy Roman Emperor Charles VICharles VI,
1685–1740, Holy Roman emperor (1711–40), king of Bohemia (1711–40) and, as Charles III, king of Hungary (1712–40); brother and successor of Holy Roman Emperor Joseph I. Charles was the last Holy Roman emperor of the direct Hapsburg line.
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 guaranteed the indivisibility of the Hapsburg domains and the succession of his daughter, Maria TheresaMaria Theresa
, 1717–80, Austrian archduchess, queen of Bohemia and Hungary (1740–80), consort of Holy Roman Emperor Francis I and dowager empress after the accession (1765) of her son, Joseph II.
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In the War of the Austrian SuccessionAustrian Succession, War of the,
1740–48, general European war. Causes of the War

The war broke out when, on the strength of the pragmatic sanction of 1713, the Austrian archduchess Maria Theresa succeeded her father, Holy Roman Emperor Charles VI, as ruler
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 (1740–48) and in the Seven Years War (1756–63), Maria Theresa lost Silesia to Prussia but successfully defended the rest of her inheritance. On the death of Charles Albert of Bavaria, Holy Roman emperor as Charles VII (1742–45), the imperial title was bestowed on Archduchess Maria Theresa's husband, Francis, grand duke of Tuscany and former duke of Lorraine, who became Francis IFrancis I,
1708–65, Holy Roman emperor (1745–65), duke of Lorraine (1729–37) as Francis Stephen, grand duke of Tuscany (1737–65), husband of Archduchess Maria Theresa.
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Maria Theresa inaugurated the bureaucratic centralization that was carried forward by her son Holy Roman Emperor Joseph IIJoseph II,
1741–90, Holy Roman emperor (1765–90), king of Bohemia and Hungary (1780–90), son of Maria Theresa and Holy Roman Emperor Francis I, whom he succeeded. He was the first emperor of the house of Hapsburg-Lorraine (see Hapsburg).
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. With him began the line of Hapsburg-Lorraine. An enlightened despot, Joseph II instituted reforms that included abolition of serfdom, revision of the penal code, religious toleration, and reduction of the power of the church. Leadership in the Hapsburg empire was given to the Germans. TuscanyTuscany
, Ital. Toscana, region (1991 pop. 3,538,619), 8,876 sq mi (22,989 sq km), N central Italy, bordering on the Tyrrhenian Sea in the west and including the Tuscan Archipelago.
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, separated (1790) from the main family holding, was held until 1860 by a junior branch of the dynasty (except during the French Revolutionary and Napoleonic eras). The duchy of ModenaModena
, city (1991 pop. 176,990), capital of Modena prov., Emilia-Romagna, N central Italy, on the Panaro River. It is an agricultural, commercial, and major industrial center. Manufactures include motor vehicles, cast-iron, machine tools, and leather.
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, acquired (1806) by marriage, was also possessed until 1859 by a junior branch.

The senior line was continued by the brother of Joseph II, Holy Roman Emperor Leopold IILeopold II,
1747–92, Holy Roman emperor (1790–92), king of Bohemia and Hungary (1790–92), as Leopold I grand duke of Tuscany (1765–90), third son of Maria Theresa.
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, who repealed many of the reforms of Joseph II. Leopold's son, Francis II, assumed (1804) the title Francis I, emperor of Austria, and abdicated as Holy Roman emperor in 1806. Though repeatedly humbled by Napoleon I, Francis emerged at the Congress of Vienna (1815) as one of the most powerful European monarchs. Giving up the Austrian Netherlands, the Hapsburgs regained Dalmatia, Istria, and Tyrol. They were compensated with Salzburg and in N Italy with Lombardy and Venetia, which, with Tuscany, Modena, and Parma, made the Italian peninsula virtually a Hapsburg appendage.

Final Decline

In the 19th cent. the Hapsburg position was challenged in Germany by Prussia, in Italy by Sardinia, and in the Balkans by Russia. During the revolutions of 1848revolutions of 1848,
in European history. The February Revolution in France gave impetus to a series of revolutionary explosions in Western and Central Europe. However the new French Republic did not support these movements.
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, Francis's son Ferdinand abdicated in favor of his nephew Francis JosephFrancis Joseph
or Franz Joseph,
1830–1916, emperor of Austria (1848–1916), king of Hungary (1867–1916), nephew of Ferdinand, who abdicated in his favor.
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, whose long rule (1848–1916) saw Austria lose (1859) its dominance in Italy and surrender (1866) leadership in Germany to Prussia.

In 1867 the Hapsburg lands were reorganized as the Austro-Hungarian MonarchyAustro-Hungarian Monarchy
or Dual Monarchy,
the Hapsburg empire from 1867 until its fall in 1918. The Nature of Austria-Hungary

The reorganization of Austria and Hungary was made possible by the Ausgleich
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. Buffeted by the twin forces of liberalism and nationalism and torn by the fratricidal hostilities of the polyglot national groups, the Hapsburg monarchy failed to create any ideological basis for its existence, failed to curb the domineering national groups (Hungarians, Germans, and Poles), and failed to satisfy the demands of the rising middle and industrial classes.

The assassination of heir apparent Francis FerdinandFrancis Ferdinand,
1863–1914, Austrian archduke, heir apparent (after 1889) of his uncle, Emperor Francis Joseph. In 1900 he married a Czech, Sophie Chotek. She was made duchess of Hohenberg, but because she was of minor nobility their children were barred from succession.
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 precipitated World War I; the death (1916) of Francis Joseph left his grandnephew, Emperor Charles ICharles I,
1887–1922, last emperor of Austria and, as Charles IV, king of Hungary (1916–18); son of Archduke Otto and grandnephew and successor of Emperor Francis Joseph. He married Zita of Bourbon-Parma.
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, to witness the defeat of Austria-Hungary, which was dissolved immediately after Charles's abdication in 1918. Charles's son, Archduke Otto (see Hapsburg, Otto vonHapsburg, Otto von,
1912–2011, Austrian archduke and former pretender to the Austro-Hungarian throne, son of Emperor Charles I and Empress Zita. After World War II began, he went to the United States and made an unsuccessful attempt to form an Austrian legion to fight
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), succeeded him as head of the Hapsburgs. The unresolved problems of the Hapsburg monarchy remained to torment the Balkan successor states. After World War I, members of the family who refused to renounce the throne were exiled from Austria; the exile was repealed in 1996.


See R. A. Kann, The Habsburg Empire (1957) and Multinational Empire (1950, repr. 1964); H. Kohn, The Hapsburg Empire: 1804–1918 (1961); A. J. May, The Passing of The Hapsburg Monarchy, 1914–1918 (2 vol., 1966) and The Hapsburg Monarchy, 1867–1914 (1951, repr. 1968); E. Crankshaw, The Hapsburgs (1971, repr. 1983); V. L. Tapié, The Rise and Fall of the Hapsburg Monarchy (1971); R. J. Evans, The Making of the Hapsburg Monarchy: 1550–1700 (1979); A. Wheatcroft, The Habsburgs (1996).

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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.



the dynasty that ruled in Austria from 1282 to 1918, in Bohemia and Hungary from 1526 to 1918 (Austria-Hungary from 1867), and in Spain and its possessions from 1516 to 1700; emperors of the Holy Roman Empire (continuously from 1438 to 1806, except 1742-45).

The founder of the Hapsburg dynasty was probably Guntram the Rich (mid-tenth century) from Upper Alsace. In 1090 the Hapsburgs became counts, and in 1135, landgraves on the Upper Rhine and in central Switzerland. (The Hapsburg castle, from which the name of the dynasty was taken, was built in the Swiss region of Aargau in about 1020.) In 1273, Rudolph Hapsburg was elected emperor of the Holy Roman Empire (Rudolph I, 1273-91); he made the duchies of Austria and Styria part of the Hapsburg possessions (1282). These two regions and Carinthia, Kranj (Carniola), and the Tirol, which were added in the 14th century, became the nucleus of the hereditary Hapsburg possessions. From 1438 the Hapsburgs, who were then among the strongest German territorial princes, were continuously elected German kings and Holy Roman emperors. As a result of the marriage of Maximilian Hapsburg (Emperor Maximilian I, 1493-1519) to Maria of Burgundy, the Netherlands was added to the Hapsburg possessions.

In the 16th and 17th centuries the Hapsburgs, supported by the Catholic Church and pursuing a policy of counterreformation, were the standard-bearers of plans for creating a universal all-Christian empire. These plans were reactionary and hostile to rising national states. Under Charles V (the Spanish king Charles I from 1516; Holy.Roman emperor from 1519) the Hapsburgs held an enormous territory, including Germany, Austria, the Netherlands, part of Italy, and Spain with its American colonies. Under the treaties of 1521-22 between Charles V and his brother Ferdinand I, the Austrian hereditary lands of the Hapsburgs went to Ferdinand (separation of the Austrian branch of the Hapsburgs). After the death of the king of Hungary and Bohemia in the Battle of Mohács (1526) the Hapsburgs acquired Bohemia and Hungary. In 1556, Charles V relinquished the Spanish crown; Spain and its possessions went to his son Philip II (definitive separation of the Spanish branch of the Hapsburgs), and the imperial title went to the Austrian Hapsburgs.

As a result of the War of the Spanish Succession (1701-14), which began after the death of Charles II (reigned 1665-1700; last Spanish king of the Hapsburg dynasty), the Austrian Hapsburgs acquired the southern Netherlands (Belgium) and the Italian possessions of the Hapsburgs. (The northern Netherlands had liberated itself from Hapsburg rule in the 16th century as a result of the Dutch bourgeois revolution.) The Austrian line of the Hapsburgs became extinct in its male line with Emperor Charles VI (reigned 1711-40); the marriage of his daughter, Maria Theresa (reigned 1740-80), to Duke Francis Stephen of Lorraine laid the foundation of the house of Hapsburg-Lorraine. During the Napoleonic Wars, Francis II (reigned 1792-1835) was forced to renounce the title of Holy Roman emperor in 1806, retaining the title of Austrian emperor, which he had adopted in 1804.

Under Francis Joseph I (reigned 1848-1916) the Austrian Empire was transformed into the dual Austro-Hungarian Empire (1867), headed by the Hapsburgs as Austrian emperors. The dual monarchy of the Hapsburgs was a prison for the numerous nationalities forcibly retained by the Hapsburgs within Austria-Hungary. On Nov. 11, 1918, with the defeat of Austria-Hungary in World War I and an upsurge in the revolutionary and national liberation movement, which had led to the collapse of the Hapsburg Monarchy, Emperor Charles I (reigned 1916-18) abdicated. On Apr. 3, 1919, the Constituent Assembly of the Austrian Republic adopted a law depriving the Hapsburgs of all their rights, banning them from Austria, and confiscating all their property. (This law was incorporated in the state treaty on the restoration of an independent, democratic Austria in 1955.)

The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.


a German princely family founded by Albert, count of Hapsburg (1153). From 1440 to 1806, the Hapsburgs wore the imperial crown of the Holy Roman Empire almost uninterruptedly. They also provided rulers for Austria, Spain, Hungary, Bohemia, etc. The line continued as the royal house of Hapsburg-Lorraine, ruling in Austria (1806--48) and Austria-Hungary (1848--1918)
Collins Discovery Encyclopedia, 1st edition © HarperCollins Publishers 2005
References in periodicals archive ?
"It is a Hapsburg emblem, not a Croat, Hungarian or Italian one," a local ethnic-Italian writer, Giacomo Scotti, explained to me.
Scientific, artistic, any other cultural achievements under Hapsburg rule are too numerous to mention here.
With this book, Professor Bennett provides scholars with an important tool for understanding the context in which cantatas were composed and performed, and in which the Hapsburgs' important music collection (especially that of Leopold I, the so-called Schlajkammerbibliothek) was created.
Add to that 40 years in a Communist comma, the retribution for the 1954 Hungarian Revolution, laboring under the Hapsburgs and Turks and battling the Mongols.
However, though the Hapsburgs intended to fortify their present rule by endowing it with an idealized, ancient history, that same history provided the public with a means of criticizing the monarchy.
On the Hapsburg side, the program will have excerpts of Camilla de Rossi's Santa Beatrice oratorio and Maria Teresa Agnesi's opera Ulisse.
First, the author reiterates several times that the devastating losses by December 1914 had reduced the Hapsburg army to a militia.
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The Veneto was reunited to Italy in 1866 after more than a half century of administration by the Hapsburg Empire.
Enjoy the breathtaking Bohemian capital of the Czech Republic, the beautiful Pearl of the Danube and the great Imperial capital of the Hapsburg Empire, and visit the striking Slovakian capital Bratislava, one of the most beautiful cities on the Danube.
An afternoon stop in the Hapsburg capital means a tour of the city in a traditional horse-drawn fiacre followed by coffee and Sachertorte in one of Vienna's many cafes.
In a book about the inheritors of the Hapsburg Empire, she spares no time for the hapless people of the Balkans, be they Romanians, Croats or Serbs.