King Rudolf I, ledger in the cathedral at Speyer, lithograph, 1820

Reigns and Rulers I

Top-quality Swiss Family, Exported to Austria


The beginnings of the house of Habsburg are shrouded in mystery. The difficulty of conducting research into its rise in the medieval period is exacerbated by the lack of sources and by the numerous myths and legends that have grown up around the historical facts. What we do know for certain is that the Habsburgs moved into the territory of present-day Austria from their original seat at the ‘Habichtsburg’ (‘hawk castle’) in the Aargau district of Switzerland and that in the early modern period they rose to become one of the most powerful dynasties in the entire history of Europe. However, they had another dynasty to thank for having paved their way: before the Habsburgs came to power in Austria, the Babenbergs had been working away for three centuries at making the area into a single and coherent territory. In 1273 Count Rudolf of Habsburg became the first member of his dynasty to be crowned Roman-German King. Numerous members of his family were to follow him in this office in the centuries leading up to the dissolution of the Holy Roman Empire in 1806.

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