Leopold VI, Duke of Austria


Leopold VI, Duke of Austria

Leopold VI (1176 – 28 July 1230), called the Glorious, from the House of Babenberg, was Duke of Austria from 1198 to 1230 and of Styria from 1194 to 1230.

Leopold was the younger son of Duke Leopold V. In contravention of the provisions of the Georgenberg Pact, the Babenberg reign was divided after the death of Leopold V: Leopold's elder brother, Frederick I, was given the Duchy of Austria (corresponding roughly to modern Lower Austria and eastern Upper Austria), while Leopold himself became Duke of Styria. Both duchies were reunified when Frederick died after only four years of rule.

Leopold VI participated in the Reconquista in Spain and in two crusades, the Albigensian Crusade in 1212 and the failed Fifth Crusade from 1217 to 1221, and—like his predecessors—attempted to develop the land by founding monasteries. His most important foundation is Lilienfeld in the Lower Austrian valley of the Traisen river, where he was buried after his death. Besides that, he supported the then highly modern Mendicant Orders of the Franciscans and Dominicans. He elevated Enns to the status of a city in 1212, and Vienna in 1221, the territory of which was nearly doubled.

Under Leopold's rule, the Gothic style began to reach Austria - the "Cappella Speciosa" in his temporary residence of Klosterneuburg is known as the first building influenced by it in the Danube area - a reconstruction of it can be seen today in the palace gardens of Laxenburg.

Babenbergian Austria reached the zenith of its prestige under Leopold's rule. Evidence of this is given by his marriage to the Byzantine princess Theodora Angelina and his attempt to mediate between Holy Roman Emperor Frederick II and Pope Gregory IX, which he was working on when he died in 1230 in Italy.

Leopold's court is known as a center of the Minnesang, e.g., Walther von der Vogelweide, Neidhart von Reuental and Ulrich von Liechtenstein were active here. Also, the "Nibelungenlied" may have been written in his court.

Leopold died at San Germano in 1230.

Children

Leopold and Theodora Angelina had seven children:
# Margaret, Duchess of Austria (1204-February 28, 1266). Married firstly with Henry, elder son and presumptive heir of the Holy Roman Emperor Frederick II, and when he died, she married with the King Ottokar II of Bohemia.
# Agnes of Austria (February 19, 1205-August 29, 1226). Married Albert II, Duke of Saxony.
# Leopold of Austria (1207-1216).
# Henry of Austria (1208-November 28, 1228), Duke of Mödling. Married Agnes of Thuringia; their only daughter, Gertrudis, was the general heiress of the House of Babenberg after the death of her uncle.
# Gertrude of Austria (1210-1241). Married Henry IV Raspe, Landgrave of Thuringia.
# Frederick II, Duke of Austria (25 April 1211-June 15, 1246).
# Constance of Austria (April 6, 1212-June 5, 1243). Married Henry III, Margrave of Meissen.

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