Rudolph I of Germany

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Rudolph I (also known as Rudolph of Habsburg) (German: Rudolf von Habsburg, Latin Rudolfus) (1 May 1218(1218-05-01) – 15 July 1291(1291-07-15)) was King of the Romans from 1273 until his death. He played a vital role in raising the Habsburg family to a leading position among the German feudal dynasties; he was the first Habsburg to acquire the duchies of Austria and Styria, territories that would remain under Habsburg rule for more than 600 years and would form the core of the present-day country of Austria.


Early life

Rudolph was the son of Albert IV, Count of Habsburg, and Hedwig, daughter of Ulrich, Count of Kyburg, and was born at Limburg Castle near Sasbach am Kaiserstuhl in the Breisgau. At his father's death in 1239, Rudolf inherited the family estates in Alsace and Aargau. In 1245 he married Gertrude, daughter of Burkhard III, Count of Hohenberg. As a result, Rudolph became an important vassal in Swabia, the ancient Alemannic stem duchy.

Rudolph paid frequent visits to the court of his godfather, Frederick II, Holy Roman Emperor, and his loyalty to Frederick and his son, Conrad IV of Germany, was richly rewarded by grants of land. In 1254, he was excommunicated by Pope Innocent IV as a supporter of King Conrad, due to ongoing political conflicts between the Emperor, who held the Kingdom of Sicily and wanted to reestablish his power in Northern Italy, especially in Lombardy, and the Papacy, whose States lay in between and feared being overpowered by the Emperor.

Rise to power

The disorder in Germany after the fall of the Hohenstaufen afforded an opportunity for Rudolph to increase his possessions. His wife was an heiress; and on the death of his childless maternal uncle, Hartmann IV, Count of Kyburg, in 1264, he seized Hartmann's valuable estate, the County of Kyburg. Successful feuds with the bishops of Strassburg and Basel further augmented his wealth and reputation, including rights over various tracts of land that he purchased from abbots and others. He also possessed large estates inherited from his father in the regions now known as Switzerland and Alsace.

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