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Albrecht I (1255-1308)


Albrecht I of Habsburg (July 1255 – May 1, 1308) was King of Germany, Duke of Austria, and eldest son of German King Rudolph I of Habsburg and Gertrude of Hohenburg.

The founder of the great house of Habsburg was invested with the duchies of Austria and Styria, together with his brother Rudolph II, in 1282. In 1283 his father entrusted him with their sole government, and he appears to have ruled them with conspicuous success. Rudolph I was unable to secure the succession to the German throne for his son, and on his death in 1291, the princes, fearing Albrecht's power, chose Adolf of Nassau-Weilburg as king. A rising among his Swabian dependents compelled Albrecht to recognize the sovereignty of his rival, and to confine himself for a time to the government of the Habsburg territories.

He did not abandon his hopes of the throne, however, which were eventually realised. In 1298, he was chosen German king by some of the princes, who were dissatisfied with Adolf. The armies of the rival kings met at the Battle of Göllheim near Worms, where Adolf was defeated and slain. Submitting to a new election but securing the support of several influential princes by making extensive promises, he was chosen at Frankfurt on the July 27, 1298, and crowned at Aachen on August 24.

Albrecht married Elizabeth, daughter of Meinhard II, count of Gorizia and Tyrol, who was a descendant of the Babenberg margraves of Austria who predated the Habsburgs' rule. The baptismal name Leopold, patron saint margrave of Austria, was given to one of their sons. Elisabeth was in fact better connected to mighty German rulers than her husband: a descendant of earlier kings, for example Emperor Henry IV, she was also a niece of dukes of Bavaria, Austria's important neighbors.

Elisabeth bore him seven sons, including Rudolph III of Austria, Frederick I of Austria, Leopold I of Austria, Otto of Austria and Albrecht II of Austria, and five daughters. Although a hard, stern man, Albrecht had a keen sense of justice when his own interests were not involved, and few of the German kings possessed so practical an intelligence. He encouraged the cities, and not content with issuing proclamations against private war, formed alliances with the princes in order to enforce his decrees. The serfs, whose wrongs seldom attracted notice in an age indifferent to the claims of common humanity, found a friend in this severe monarch, and he protected even the despised and persecuted Jews. Stories of his cruelty and oppression in the Swiss cantons did not appear until the 16th century, and are now regarded as legendary.

Albrecht sought to play an important part in European affairs. He seemed at first inclined to press a quarrel with France over the Burgundian frontier, but the refusal of Pope Boniface VIII to recognize his election led him to change his policy, and, in 1299, he made a treaty with Philip IV of France, by which his son Rudolph was to marry Blanche, a daughter of the French king. He afterwards became estranged from Philip, but in 1303, Boniface recognized him as German king and future emperor; in return, Albrecht recognized the authority of the pope alone to bestow the imperial crown, and promised that none of his sons should be elected German king without papal consent.

Albrecht had failed in his attempt to seize Holland and Zeeland, as vacant fiefs of the Empire, on the death of Count John I in 1299, but in 1306 he secured the crown of Bohemia for his son Rudolph on the death of King Wenceslaus III. He also renewed the claim made by his predecessor, Adolf, on Thuringia, and interfered in a quarrel over the succession to the Hungarian throne. His attack on Thuringia ended in his defeat at Lucka in 1307 and, in the same year, the death of his son Rudolph weakened his position in eastern Europe. His action in abolishing all tolls established on the Rhine since 1250, led the Rhenish archbishops and the count palatine of the Rhine to form a league against him. Aided by the towns, however, he soon crushed the rising.

He was on the way to suppress a revolt in Swabia when he was murdered on May 1, 1308, at Windisch on the Reuss River, by his nephew Johann Parricida, afterwards called "the Parricide," whom he had deprived of his inheritance.

Family and children

He was married Vienna 20 December 1274 Elisabeth of Tirol, daughter of Count Meinhard II of Gorizia-Tyrol. They children were:

1. Rudolph III (ca. 1282–4 July 1307, Horazdiowitz), Married but line extinct and predeceased his father.

2. Frederick I (King Frederick III of Germany and Duke Frederick III of Austria) (1289–13 January 1330, Gutenstein). Married but line extinct.

3. Leopold I (4 August 1290–28 February 1326, Strassburg). Married but line extinct.

4. Albrecht II (12 December 1298, Vienna–20 July 1358, Vienna).

5. Heinrich (1299–3 February 1327, Bruck an der Mur). Married but line extinct.

6. Meinhard, 1300 died young.

7. Otto (23 July 1301, Vienna–26 February 1339, Vienna). Married but line extinct.

8. Anna (1275/1280, Vienna–19 March 1327, Breslau), married:

1. in Graz ca. 1295 to Margrave Hermann of Brandenburg;

2. in Breslau 1310 to Duke Heinrich VI of Breslau.

9. Agnes (18 May 1281–10 June 1364, Königsfelden), married in Vienna 13 February 1296 King Andrew III of Hungary.

10. Elisabeth (d. 19 May 1353), married 1304 Frederick IV, Duke of Lorraine.

11. Katharina (1295–18 January 1323, Naples), married 1316 Charles, Duke of Calabria.

12. Jutta (d. 1329), married in Baden 26 March 1319 Count Ludwig VI of Öttingen.


Text source: Wikipedia