Babenberg

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Babenberg

(bä`bənbĕrk), ruling house of Austria (976–1246). It possibly descended from, or succeeded, a powerful Franconian family of the 9th cent. from whose castle the city of Bamberg probably took its name. Holy Roman Emperor Otto II created Count Leopold of Babenberg margrave of the Eastern March (i.e., Austria). Among Leopold's successors were Leopold IIILeopold III
or Saint Leopold,
c.1073–1136, margrave of Austria (1095–1136). By his marriage (1106) with Agnes, widow of Duke Frederick I of Swabia (see Hohenstaufen), he became the stepfather of German King Conrad III and the father of Otto of Freising and
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; Leopold IV and Henry II, also dukes of Bavaria (1139–56); and Henry II, called Jasomirgott ("if God will") for his favorite phrase. Henry II became (1156) the first duke of Austria. In 1192 the Babenbergs inherited Styria. Duke Leopold V took part in the Third Crusade and later made Richard IRichard I,
 Richard Cœur de Lion
, or Richard Lion-Heart,
1157–99, king of England (1189–99); third son of Henry II and Eleanor of Aquitaine.
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 of England a prisoner. Leopold VI, called the Glorious, brought the house to its greatest power. His son, Frederick II, called the Quarrelsome, died childless in 1246, and Austria passed (1251) to Ottocar IIOttocar II
or Přemysl Ottocar II,
c.1230–1278, king of Bohemia (1253–78), son and successor of Wenceslaus I. Ottocar shrewdly exploited the disorders of the great interregnum in the Holy Roman Empire to build an empire reaching from Bohemia to the
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 of Bohemia, who married Frederick's sister. Under Babenberg rule Austria was extended through eastward colonization, and relative peace was maintained through intermarriage with the ruling families of Bohemia and Poland. As a result the Babenbergs were in part responsible for the multinational character of the later Hapsburg empire.