Leopold V, Duke of Austria


Leopold V, Duke of Austria

Leopold V (1157 – December 31, 1194), "the Virtuous", was a Babenberg duke of Austria from 1177 to 1194 and Styria from 1192 to 1194.

Leopold was the son of Henry II Jasomirgott and his Byzantine wife Theodora Comnena. In 1172 he married Helena, daughter of King Géza II of Hungary, and their sons were Frederick I and Leopold VI.

On August 17, 1186 the Georgenberg Pact was negotiated, by which Styria and the central part of Upper Austria were amalgamated into the Duchy of Austria after 1192. This was the first step towards the creation of modern Austria.

Leopold is mainly remembered outside Austria for his participation in the Third Crusade. He arrived to take part in the siege of Acre in spring 1191, having sailed from Zadar on the Adriatic coast. He took over command of what remained of the imperial forces after the death of Frederick VI, Duke of Swabia in January.

After Acre surrendered, the banners of the Kingdom of Jerusalem, Richard I of England, Philip II of France and Leopold were raised in the city by Leopold's cousin, Conrad of Montferrat. However, Richard removed Leopold's flag (see Siege of Acre). Richard was also suspected of involvement in the murder of Conrad, shortly after his election as King of Jerusalem in April 1192. On his journey back that winter, Richard, travelling in disguise, had to stop in Vienna, where he was recognized (supposedly because of his signet ring) and was arrested in the Erdberg district (modern Landstraße). For some time the king was imprisoned in Dürnstein, and was then brought before Emperor Henry VI, and accused of Conrad's murder. The immense ransom, supposedly six thousand buckets of silver, became the foundation for the mint in Vienna, and was used to build new city walls for Vienna, as well as to build Wiener Neustadt. However, the duke was excommunicated by Pope Celestine III for having taken a fellow crusader prisoner.

In 1194 Leopold's foot was crushed when his horse fell on him at a tournament in Graz. He died of gangrene, still under excommunication.

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