Unfortunately for the dynasty, the last Babenberg died childless. Into this vac uum, hands bloodied, rushed Rudolf of Habsburg. Six centuries of Habsburg rule proved the wedding vow an able companion to the sword; receiving The Nether lands from his wife, Maximilian I is credited with the adaptation of Ovid’s couplet: “Bella gerant alii, tufelix Austria nube” (“Let other nations go to war; you, lucky Austria, marry”). His son Philip married into Spanish lines, endowing his grandson, Charles V, with an empire that encompassed Austria, Burgundy, The Netherlands, Spain, Spanish America, and Italian possessions.

Despite this breadth, Martin Luther’s Protestant Reformation shook the Habsburg base in the 16th and 17th centuries. Peasants left the Catholic Church en masse, and Protestant nobles doggedly fought the Habsburgs in the Thirty Years’ War (1618-1648). Soon after, the Ottoman Turks besieged Vienna until Prince Eugene of Savoy drove them out. The plucky Eugene came through again when he triumphed over the French in the War of Spanish Succession.


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