The Early Babenbergs (2 minutes)
The first Babenberg Margrave was Leopold I (976-994) who extended the eastern frontier to the Vienna Woods after defeating the Magyars of Hungary. The next in the line was Heinrich I
(994-1018) who resided at Melk and made some territorial expansions. The next ruler Adalbert (1018-1055) also resided at Melk and fought against the Hungarians and Moravians (inhabitance of Moravia one of the Czech lands in today’s Czech Republic) parts of Lower Austria both sides of the Danube were temporarily lost, after these territories were retaken they were referred to as the Neumark (New March). At this point the Babenbergs territory was still quite small and the power within their own territory was diminished by several towns, such as Passau (in modern Lower Bavaria in Germany), Salzburg, Regensburg and Freising (both in modern Bavaria in Germany) having ecclesiastical immunities. Also numerous monasteries owned large territories that included some of the best land.
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The margraves were often drawn into the Investiture Controversy involving
Pope Gregory VII and King Henry IV King of the Germans were fighting for the control of the church in Germany. The margrave Ernst (1055-1075) was killed in the Battle of the Urstrut
fighting on Henry’s side who in 1084 had become Holy Roman Emperor. The next margrave Leopold II (1075-1095) abandoned Henry’s cause and was temporarily dispossessed of the march for opposing Emperor Henry. Leopold III, the Saint (1095-1136) managed to end up on the good side of both the church and empire by supporting the rebellion of Henry IV’s son Henry V As a reward Leopold won the hand of the emperor’s sister which increased the prestige of the Babenbergs. He restored the Klosterneuburg Monastery then gave it to the Augustinians and established the Cistercians at Heiligenkreuz Monastery. He was canonized in 1485 and eventually became Austrian patron saint.
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The Babenbergs were drawn into a conflict between the leading dynasties of Germany: the Hohenstaufen and the Welfs. The Babenbergs took the side of the Hohenstaufen due to family
connections. Conrad III bestowed Bavaria on Leopold IV (1136-1141) his half brother in 1139. Heinrich II the Jasomirgott (the meaning of this nickname is unclear) (1141-1177) succeeded Leopold IV and in 1156 when he was forced to surrender Bavaria he achieved the title of Duke.
The Later Babenburgs (3 minutes)
The next Babenberg ruler Duke Leopold V the Virtuous (1177-1194) participated in the Third Crusade and became involved in a dispute with the English King Richard I (the Lion-Heart).
According to legend when he was removing his blood soaked tunic after battle he removed his belt to reveal a white strip against the rest of the blood soaked tunic. Emperor Henry VI granted him the privilege to adopt these colors as his new banner which would became later be adopted into the flag of Austria. When these new colors were raised Richard removed them.