Archduchy of Austria

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Banner of the Holy Roman Emperor with haloes (1400-1806) .svg
Territory in the Holy Roman Empire
Archduchy of Austria
coat of arms
Bindenschild Privilegium maius 1512.svg

Alternative names Lower Austria, Archduchy of Austria above and below the Enns
Arose from Duchy of Austria
Form of rule Duchy
Ruler / government Archduke / governor, land marshal and state government
Today's region / s AT- 3 / 4
Parliament Reichsfürstenrat , clerical bank
Reichskreis Austrian Imperial Circle
Capitals / residences Vienna (Linz, Wiener Neustadt)
Dynasties Habsburg ,
Denomination / Religions Roman Catholic
Language / n German

Incorporated into Archduchy of Austria above the Enns , Archduchy of Austria below the Enns

The Archduchy of Austria , until 1453 Duchy of Austria , was a fiefdom of the Holy Roman Empire (imperial fief ). While the feudal unity persisted until the end of the empire in 1806, in the 13th century there was a legal division in Austria over the Enns and Austria under the Enns , from which the current Austrian states of Upper Austria and Lower Austria emerged .


The Duchy of Austria was created in the sense of land and feudal law at the Reichstag of Regensburg in 1156, when the Mark of Austria was separated from the Duchy of Bavaria and raised to the status of an independent territorial duchy . The document issued about it by Emperor Friedrich I. Barbarossa in the Kreuzhof Chapel (Regensburg) , later called Privilegium minus , contained a number of special rights, partly especially for the first duke couple to be enfeoffed with this territory , Heinrich II. Jasomirgott from the house of the Babenbergers and his wife Theodora , partly for their successor, with which they were compensated for the simultaneous renunciation of Bavaria.

In 1192 the Babenbergers also acquired the Duchy of Styria named after the town of Steyr in Traungau , but died out in the male line in 1246. Styria briefly fell to Hungary, while Ottokar II of Bohemia acquired the Duchy of Austria and the Traungau. This was the reason why the western parts of Austria were separated from it and merged with the Traungau to form an independent country, Austria ob der Enns, while the countries east of the Enns were referred to as Austria nid der Enns.

Both countries continued to form a fiefdom under imperial law. With this in 1282 were the Habsburgs to the entire hand invested so that all the Habsburgs, not only the respective ruling led the Duke title. In 1358/59, Duke Rudolf IV of Austria made a large-scale attempt to improve his position in the empire on his own initiative, for which he had a number of forged documents, including what was later called the Privilegium maius , made. This provided for the title of “Palatinate Archduke” for the Austrian sovereign. The documents were initially presented to Emperor Charles IV , but he did not recognize them. In 1442/1453, however, it was recognized by Emperor Friedrich III. who was also the Austrian sovereign and in 1453 assumed the title of "Archduke", which from then on all Habsburgs ruled.

The Archduke of Austria maintained the first rank in the empire after the electors . At the Reichstag he led the directorate in the Reichsfürstenrat during the deliberations (directorium agens) ; his claim to lead the secular bank failed because of the resistance of Bavaria, which maintained this position for itself, which is why the Austrian archduke curiously led the spiritual bank, although he was a secular imperial prince.

The unity of the two countries whether and not the Enns was preserved even during the various Habsburg territorial divisions (see Habsburg Monarchy ). In this context, the two countries formed the Lower Austrian group of countries and were subject to a joint regiment. In the course of the Theresian administrative reforms this administrative unit went under; With the end of the Holy Roman Empire in 1806, the Austrian fiefdom also ended, with which the last special connections between the land above the Enns and the land below the Enns were lost. The Archduchy of Austria above the Enns and the Archduchy of Austria below the Enns formed two independent crown lands within the Habsburg Monarchy, in which they remained until the end of 1918.

See also


  • Wilhelm Brauneder: Austrian constitutional history. 11th edition. Manz Publishing House, Vienna 2009.
  • Richard van Dülmen : World history: emergence of early modern Europe 1550-1648. Vol. 24, Weltbild Verlag, Augsburg 1998.
  • Günter Barudio : World History: The Age of Absolutism and the Enlightenment 1648–1779. Vol. 25, Weltbild Verlag, Augsburg 1998.

Historical monographs:

  • Ignaz de Luca: The Archduchy of Austria. 1. Volume of the Geographical Handbook of the Austrian State. Verlag Joseph V. Degen, Vienna 1791 ( Google eBook, full view ).


  1. ^ After Heinrich Koller: Kaiser Friedrich III. Wissenschaftliche Buchgesellschaft, Darmstadt 2005, p. 135, was the confirmation (and extension) of the "Austrian Letters of Freedom" in 1453 by Emperor Friedrich III. not the elevation of the country or the Duchy of Austria to the Archduchy. It was only about the house or family of the dukes of Austria and their elevation to archdukes. The assumption, which is also widespread in serious secondary literature, that the land (duchy) of Austria was already elevated to the archduchy at that time, may be the result of a confusion of the term Austria, which in the late Middle Ages meant not only the land (duchy) of Austria, but also the Was the name of the dynasty known today as the Habsburgs.
  2. This opinion, which is also widespread in serious secondary literature, has now been scientifically refuted. The fact is that Charles IV did not confirm all of the "Privilegium maius" documents, but parts of them did. The title "Palatinate Archduke" was one of those parts that he refused to recognize. See the very informative summary at