Ernst the Iron

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Ernst the Iron Man with his sons

Ernst I , called Ernst der Eiserne (* around 1377 in Bruck an der Mur ; † June 10, 1424 ibid) from the family of the Dukes of Austria from the House of the Habsburgs was Duke of Styria, Carinthia and Carniola . He was the first Habsburg since Rudolf IV to officially hold the title of Archduke of Austria and is considered one of the ancestors of his dynasty.

Origin, marriages and children

Duke Ernst of Austria was one of the younger sons of Duke Leopold III. from Austria (1351-1386) from his marriage to Viridis Visconti , a daughter of Bernabò Visconti , the city lord of Milan and his wife Beatrice della Scala .

Duke Ernst was married twice. On January 14, 1392, his first marriage to Margarethe (1366-1407), a daughter of Duke Bogislaw V of Pomerania from his marriage to Adelheid von Braunschweig-Grubenhagen, was concluded in Bruck an der Mur . Margaret's older half-sister Elisabeth (around 1345; † 1393) was the fourth wife of Emperor Karl IV and mother of the later Emperor Siegmund , who after Margaret's death, due to relatives, although without any actual legal claim, repeatedly returned her dowry to his person demanded. Duke Ernst's first marriage was childless.

In his second marriage, he married in 1412 in Bruck an der Mur Cymburgis (also Cimburka, Zimburg or Zimburgis) of Mazovia (1394–1429), a niece of the Polish king Władysław II Jagiełło and daughter of Duke Ziemowit IV of Masovia from his marriage Grand Duchess Alexandra of Lithuania . Duke Ernst's second marriage resulted in nine children:



After the death of his father, Duke Leopold III, who fell in the battle of Sempach in 1386 . Ernst was initially under the tutelage of his uncle Albrecht III. After his death in 1395 Ernst's older brother Wilhelm took over the guardianship. In 1402 Ernst became co-regent in Wilhelm's dominions, with the exception of the Duchy of Styria.

In 1401 he accompanied the German king Ruprecht on his train to Italy against the Milanese Visconti.

Disputes after Wilhelm's death

The death of Wilhelm in 1406 led to disputes between Ernst and his older brother Leopold IV about his successor and about the guardianship of their relative Albrecht V , which Wilhelm had exercised since the death of his father Albrecht IV . During the division in the autumn of 1406, which was achieved through the mediation of the provincial estates, Leopold received rule over the duchies of Carinthia and Carniola and Ernst the Duchy of Styria , for which he was initially in favor of Leopold on the guardianship of Albrecht V and thus on the rule the Duchy of Austria renounced. However, since Leopold did not succeed in stabilizing the situation there, he, with the support of part of the Austrian estates, claimed again the guardianship of Albrecht in 1407, whereupon a military conflict began between him and Leopold in November, which is usual in literature referred to as a civil war . The city of Vienna was also involved in this; its city ​​council, ruled by the patriciate , was on the side of Ernst, while the craftsmen supported Leopold. One consequence was the executions of Vienna's mayor Konrad Vorlauf and councilors Konrad Ramperstorffer and Hans Rockh on July 11, 1408 . The dispute between the two dukes was only ended on March 13, 1409 by an arbitration ruling by the later Emperor Siegmund, according to which Leopold and Ernst should jointly lead the guardianship. When the Austrian estates declared Albrecht V with his consent on June 2, 1411, who was of age and capable of governing, and Leopold IV died unexpectedly the following day, Ernst ultimately had to give up his claims to rule over the Duchy of Austria. As Leopold's successor, he took over rule in the duchies of Carinthia and Carniola.

Appointment as Archduke

In the Privilegium maius , the Habsburgs' authorization to hold the title of Archduchy was derived from their rule over the Duchy of Carinthia, since the Duke of Carinthia, according to the Chronicle of Johann von Viktring and an inset in the Schwabenspiegel, as Reichsjägermeister, allegedly also owned a Reichszamt . On March 18, 1414, Duke Ernst received homage as Duke of Carinthia on the Fürstenstein in Karnburg am Zollfeld . This homage was the ritual of an establishment of power in the Slovene (historically " Windisch ") language according to an old tradition to which some of his predecessors, such as the dukes Albrecht II and Otto IV , had already submitted. Ernst was the last Duke of Carinthia to undergo this ritual. From that point on he referred to himself as Archduke of Austria. The traditional reactions of contemporaries were different. The subjects, even those who were considered opponents, used the title of archduke. Recognition by one of the popes, however, has not been proven. While several ecclesiastical and secular princes, and occasionally his younger brother Friedrich, dubbed Ernst Archduke, King Siegmund did not recognize the title, which was probably the case with Albrecht V as well. Countermeasures or at least their announcement by Siegmund or Albrechts have not been passed down, it seems that they limited themselves to not using the title.

Ernst was the first Habsburg to have had the title of Archduke in his diplomas since Rudolf IV . There he described himself after accepting the title as: "Ernst von gotes genaden Erzherzog ze Osterreich, ze Steyr, ze Kernden and zu Krayn, count zu Tyrol, ze Habspurg, ze Phyrtt and ze Kyburg, gentlemen on the Windischen Marich and ze Portnaw , marggraf ze Burgaw and lantgraf in Alsace and in Brisgaw " . His minor title was limited to naming the main areas, including the archducal dignity: Archduke of Austria, Styria, Carinthia, Carniola, Count of Tyrol, etc. He not only used the archduke title in documents, but also had this insignia depicted , so z. B. in a miniature by Heinrich Aurhaym from around 1415 and on his grave slab.

Pilgrimage to Jerusalem

In 1414 Ernst went on a pilgrimage to Jerusalem. The route led through Venice , Tarvisio and Portenau . In Jerusalem Ernst was made Knight of the Holy Sepulcher in Jerusalem . His cousin Albrecht IV had already made a pilgrimage to Jerusalem many years earlier. In 1436 his eldest son Friedrich also made a pilgrimage to Jerusalem.

The late years

Ernst is considered one of the opponents of King Siegmund . When his youngest brother Friedrich, who had been declared eighth with the empty pocket by King Sigismund in 1415, Ernst first tried to seize the territories of Friedrich himself, but then equalized himself with his brother around 1416/17 and defended Tyrol in particular against the claims of the king and forced him through his threatening attitude to renounce most of his claims. As regent of Inner Austria he handled his sovereign rights with firmness, and as a member of the Leopoldine-Inner-Austrian line , which in his first-born, Friedrich V, later III. When Kaiser survived the other two, the Albertine-Austrian line and the Tyrolean branch line , he inherited the House of Habsburg.


Ernst died in Bruck an der Mur in 1424 . He was buried in the Rein Cistercian Abbey near Graz, where his first wife had already found her final resting place. The guardianship for his underage children and thus also the regency for his duchies took over Duke Friedrich IV. In agreement with the local estates.

Figure of Duke Ernst on his grave slab

Ernst the Iron

Ernst's nickname "the Iron" is usually related to his physical appearance and character. As with other rulers of the Middle Ages, it is not clear how his epithet came about and what it actually refers to. The nickname of the Iron is only proven after his death.


See also: List of Margraves and Dukes of Austria in the Middle Ages


Lexicon article

Secondary literature

  • Monika Schellmann: On the story of Duke Ernst the Iron (1386 / 1402-1424) . Dissertation (unprinted), University of Vienna, 1966.

Literature on partial aspects

  • Eva Bruckner: Forms of representation of power and self-portrayal of Habsburg princes in the late Middle Ages , phil. Dissertation, Vienna, 2009, pp. 178–198
  • Alois Niederstätter : Austrian History 1278-1411. The rule of Austria. Prince and country in the late Middle Ages. Verlag Ueberreuter, Vienna 2001, especially pp. 197-200

Web links

Commons : Ernst der Eiserne  - Collection of images, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. Monika Schellmann: On the story of Duke Ernst the Iron (1386 / 1402-1424) , p. 241f.
  2. ↑ It is not entirely clear whether the marriage was actually childless or whether none of the children in this marriage survived, cf. Monika Schellmann: On the story of Duke Ernst the Iron (1386 / 1402-1424) , p. 245
  3. ^ Eva Bruckner: Formen der Herrschaftsrepresentation, 2009, p. 178
  4. Alois Niederstätter: Austrian History 1278-1411 , p. 197
  5. Alois Niederstätter: Austrian History 1278-1411 , p. 197ff. and Felix Czeike: Historisches Lexikon Wien . 1993, Volume 2, p. 206
  6. ^ Alois Niederstätter: Austrian History 1278–1411 , p. 150
  7. cf. Felix Czeike: Historical Lexicon Vienna. 1993, Volume 2, p. 206
  8. cf. Eva Bruckner: Formen der Herrschaftsrepresentation , 2009, p. 183f. A detailed description can be found in Monika Schellmann: On the story of Duke Ernst the Iron (1386 / 1402-1424) , pp. 203ff.
  9. Quoted from Eva Bruckner: Formen der Herrschaftsrepresentation , 2009, p. 183
  10. ^ Eva Bruckner: Formen der Herrschaftsrepresentation , 2009, p. 183
  11. ^ Eva Bruckner: Formen der Herrschaftsrepresentation , 2009, p. 184
  12. ^ Eva Bruckner: Formen der Herrschaftsrepresentation, 2009, pp. 179 and 188
  13. ^ Eva Bruckner: Formen der Herrschaftsrepresentation , 2009, p. 193f.
  14. cf. z. B. Eva Bruckner: Formen der Herrschaftsrepresentation , 2009, p. 184
predecessor Office successor
Wilhelm Duke of Steier (mark)
Friedrich V (1424 – approx. 1436 as regent: Friedrich IV. )
Wilhelm Duke of Carinthia Friedrich V (1424 – approx. 1436 as regent: Friedrich IV. )