- Gertrude, Duchess of Austria
Gertrude of Austria (also named "Gertrude of Babenberg") (b. 1226 – d.
24 April 1288), was a member of the House of Babenberg, Duchess of Mödling and later Titular Duchess of Austria and Styria, she was the niece of Duke Frederick II of Austria, the last male member of the Babenbergdynasty. She was, according to the Privilegium Minusthe first in line to inherited the Duchies of Austria and Styria after the death of childless Frederick, but these claim were disputed by her aunt Margaret.
She was the only child of
Henry of Austria, Duke of Mödlingby his wife Agnes, daughter of Hermann I, Landgrave of Thuringia. Henry was, in turn, the second son of Duke Leopold VI of Austria, but in 1216, after the death of his older brother Leopold, he became in the heir of his father.
Henry died on
26 September 1228, with only twenty years and without male issue. Two years later ( 28 July 1230) Duke Leopold II died and was succeded by his third son, Frederick II. Because the Babenberg Austria was inheritable by females according to provisions of Privilegium Minus, she claimed the inheritance first -on basis of she was the only child of the eldest son- against her uncle, but she was finally bypassed in Frederick's favor.
Gertrude inherited his father's Duchy of Mödling and was placed under the guardianship of his uncle. After two unhappy marriages, Frederick II remained childless. This made Gertrude the primogenitural heiress of the entire Babenberg line of Dukes of Austria and Styria now as heir of both her father and uncle.
Duke Frederick had a long quarrel with
Emperor Frederick II, during which he had even been under imperial ban. In 1245, in a spectacular change in imperial politics, Duke Frederick however became one of the emperor's most important allies. Negotiations about the elevation of Vienna to a bishopric and of Austria (including Styria) to a Kingdom were initiated. However, a condition for those were that the 19-years-old Duke's niece Gertrude would have had to marry the 51-year-old and three times widowed Emperor. But at the same time, the King Wenceslaus I of Bohemiaclaim the validity of the old engagement of Gertrude with his eldest son and heir Vladislaus, who was never broken.
Gertrude, by the other hand, refused a marriage with the old Emperor, apparently, because he was excomunicated by the Pope. Other sources claimed the fact she truly in love of Vladislav since many years ago. On June 1245 in
Verona, the contract of marriage between Gertrude and Vladislaus was signed.
Wenzel wanted by all costs that wedding; that is why even sent an army to Austria in order to presure Duke Frederick; however, he suffered a difficult defeat near
15 June 1246Duke Frederick II was killed in battle. King Wenceslaus quickly arranged the formal marriage ceremony of Gertrude and Vladislaus. "Per hoc Wladislaus habebat Austriae ducatum" cheered Bohemia and, supported by the rights of his wife and the prospective to inherited some day the Bohemian throne, Vladislaus was quickly recognized as Duke by the Austrian aristocracy. Now Gertrude had become in the ruling Duchess of Austria. However, after a short disease, her husband died on 3 January 1247.
The then 22-year-old Duchess married again in 1248 with
Herman VI, Margrave of Baden; the next year (1249) Gertrude gave birth her first child, a son, in Alland; he was called Frederick after his mother's uncle. From joy at the happy birth, she gave 30 people of that town extended farm lands, which are to this day, a basis of the agrarian community of the "Allander Urhausbesitzer". In 1250 Gertrude had a second child, a daughter, called Agnes after her maternal grandmother.
Herman was able to hold some control in the duchies; however, he can't defeat the opposition of the aristocracy; for this, Gertrude and her children fled to
Meissenin Saxony. The relationship between Gertrude and Herman fell out after this; apparently, she was involved in the alleged poisoning of her husband on the 4 October 1250.
Gertrude lost the favour of the curia and with it the chance of recover her dominion over Austria and Styria when she refused to marry with the brother of the Count
William II of Holland, Floris, who was also the wish of Pope Innocent IV.
In the meantime, her aunt and competitor for the duchies of Austria and Styria, Margaret, married with Prince Ottokar of Bohemia -the second son and new heir of King Wenceslaus-; the aristocracy accepted the newlyweds as the rulers of Austria. Having lost all support, Gertrude formed an alliance with the King
Bela IV of Hungaryand married on 12 July 1252with his relative, Prince Roman Danylovichof Halicz, member of the Rurikiddinasty. In 1253, their only daughter, Maria, was born.
However, after unsuccessfully attempts to established himself as Duke of Austria, Roman left Gertrude and their daughter to return to Hungary. The marriage was formally dissolved soon before.
Finally, in 1254 Gertrude received as a consolation parts of Styria, 400 silver marks annually, and the towns of
Voitsbergand Judenburgas her residences. However, because neither she or ther son Frederick never give up their legal right to the duchies Styria and Austria, King Ottokar II (who now wanted to remarry into the Hungarian royal house because he could expect no successor with the several years older and barred Margaret) dispossesses her in 1267 from his lands. That year, the death of her aunt made Gertrude the only and general heiress of the Babenberg dinasty.
Her son Frederick, who accompanying
Conradinon his Italian expedition, was captured on 8 September 1268at Asturato the south of Anzio. Handed over to Charles of Anjou, he remained in degrading imprisonment in the Castel dell'Ovoin Naplesuntil publicly beheaded in the Piazza del Mercatoin Naples on 29 October. One year after (1269), Gertrude was exiled and lost also that her state of Windisch-Feistritz. Again, she found refuge with her family in Meissen.
Their rights were ultimately lost quite fully as
Rudolf I of Germanygranted her duchies to his own sons in 1282. Six years later, Gertrude died as an Abbess of the Poor Clareconvent of Saint Afranear Seusslitzin Meissen.
Her daughter Agnes of Baden became in the general heiress of her mother and brother, but in 1279 she renounced to her rights over Baden and the Duchies of Austria and Styria. From her second marriage with Count Ulrich III of Heunburg she had five children, two sons (Frederick and Herman) and three daughters (Margaret, Elisabeth and Katharina), who continued her line.
Gertrude's youngest daughter, Maria Romanovna of Halicz, born from her third marriage, married with a son of Ban Stephan IV of Zagreb. The date of her death of she left any descendants is unknown.
List of rulers of Austria
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