The Pattern of Empire

  • Paula Sutter Fichtner
Part of the European History in Perspective book series (EUROHIP)


The Habsburgs were not supposed to amount to much in central Europe. When the princes of the German Holy Roman Empire named Rudolph of Habsburg (1218–91) their king in 1273, they thought that they had a sovereign who would respect their territorial freedoms, not one who would advance his family’s fortunes through his office. They badly misjudged the relatively obscure count from southwestern Germany. Though never crowned emperor, a title that the German kingship allowed him to claim and that in theory made its holder the secular champion of Christendom, he proved himself to be ambitious, energetic, and resourceful. Beating back Přemysl Otakar II (1233–78), the aggressive Bohemian king who had invaded Austria above and below the River Enns and Styria, today in eastern Austria, Rudolph endowed his family with these provinces. Rudolph’s heirs added the county of Tyrol, along with an assortment of lands in southeastern Europe along the Istrian coast, to the Habsburg central European patrimony. The family also retained ancestral holdings in southwestern Germany into modern times.


Sixteenth Century Fourteenth Century Local Estate Charles Versus Territorial Complex 
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© Paula Sutter Fichtner 2003

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  • Paula Sutter Fichtner

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