Leopold VI, Duke of Austria
|Death||28 July 1230, Cassino, Province of Frosinone, Lazio, Italy (aged 54 years)|
Leopold VI (German: Luitpold VI. von Österreich, 1176 – 28 July 1230), known as Leopold the Glorious (German: Luitpold der Glorreiche), was the Duke of Styria from 1194 and the Duke of Austria from 1198 to his death in 1230. He was a member of the House of Babenberg. He was also a member of the Chapter of the Cistercian Order. Like his predecessors, he 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 is arguably one of the greatest of the Babenbergs.
Leopold VI was the younger son of Duke Leopold V of Austria and his wife, Helena of Hungary (daughter of Géza II of Hungary and Euphrosyne of Kiev). His service is known to be recorded under Henry's Second Italian Expedition (May 1194 - Summer 1195).
When his father died in 1195, it had surprised him, like many other Lords of Austria and Styria, when he had received the news that he would receive the Duchy of Styria. This act was in contravention of the provisions found in the Georgenberg Pact, yet none objected. His older brother, Frederick I, was to take the Duchy of Austria (which corresponded roughly to modern Lower Austria and eastern Upper Austria). As Leopold was with Emperor Henry VI, at the court in Palermo, whether by word or deed, he had pleased the Emperor enough to be elevated to the rule of Styria. So much so, that by June 1194 he had now begun styling himself Duke of Styria. Leopold had spent 1195-6 acquainting himself with his new duchy and its people. It did not surprise him when his brother entrusted him with Austria on the eve of his Crusade. The honor of the Babenbergs had been damaged in the eyes of the Catholic Church because of the capture of Richard I of England, the ransom money for him and the still imprisoned hostages. Despite the release of the hostages and the return of the unspent portion, Frederick took upon himself the penance of another Crusade and set off on the German Crusade of 1197 to redeem Babenberg honor.
Suddenly, Andrew II of Hungary had come to Leopold asking for an alliance against his brother, King Emeric of Hungary. Andrew had recently lost his inheritance, the Principality of Halych and was refused by his brother on having any more titles. Leopold felt compelled to aid his cousin and insist Emeric grant Andrew land for his own. Yet Emeric remained unwavering. Then the news of Emperor Henry's death on 28 September 1197 had reached Leopold's ears at this time. Leopold expected a Reichstag would be announced, but first he would deal with Emeric. So Leopold and Andrew rode on to Hungary at the head of their forces and defeated the Hungarian King at Mački in Slavonia in December 1197. Leopold finally mediated with King Emeric to grant Croatia and Dalmatia as an appanage for Andrew in early 1198, yet the conflict was still not over. Finally, a Reichstag was announced in Mühlhausen in Thuringia on 8 March 1198. There in council with a great many lords, Leopold refused to persuade Philip of Swabia to drop his advocacy of his nephew, Frederick as many other princes had done. And he had even stood against the ruling to divide the Empire between Otto IV of Brunswick and Philip. Yet he still presented himself on the side of Philip, which earned his recognition and that was enough. He returned home. It was during this time that the Austrian and Styrian duchies were reunified under Leopold VI when Frederick died while returning from the German Crusade on 16 April 1198. He would not learn of the event until exactly one month after, before the end of June 1198.
Then, an economic issue would begin growing into an economic war, as Bishop Wolfger had bought Wildberg in Haselgraben (the western boundary of the Riedmark): thereby cutting off trade through heavy tolls and other obstacles from its easiest route to Bohemia. To counter this, Leopold went to Plattling in Bavaria (which at the time belonged to the Counts of Bogen) to grant the Bavarian monasteries of Osterhofen Abbey and Metten Abbey tariffs and toll liberties.
During the summer of 1199, King Emeric had defeated Andrew at Lake Balaton, which caused him to flee to Austria. Leopold had immediately responded by readying his forces to march against Emeric, but the conflict ended when a Papal Legate named Gregory had arrived in Hungary to reconcile the brothers and resume their treaty, in which Andrew would receive Dalmatia and Croatia. It went back into effect in summer 1200. Leopold remained in good relations with King Emeric to the end of Emeric's days. This peace between brothers would be celebrated and marked by Leopold's Schwertleite ceremony of the ducal sword on 28 May 1200 with the Archbishop of Salzburg Eberhard II of Regensburg and the Archbishop of Mainz Conrad of Wittelsbach present.
Leopold entered into an engagement at an unknown time to a daughter of Ottokar I of Bohemia and Adelheid of Meissen—possibly their daughter Margaret of Bohemia or Božislava. After Ottokar divorced Adelheid, Leopold saw an opportunity to gain favor with both Ottokar and King Emeric, as the former was poised to marry Constance of Hungary, and withdrew from the marriage of Adelheid's daughter. This further aided the annulment of Ottokar and Adelheid.
In November 1203 Leopold, without receiving papal confirmation, but still dispensed by Archbishop Eberhard II of Salzburg, married Theodora Angelina in Vienna, because of her family-ties to the now-ruling Angelos dynasty in Constantinople during the Fourth Crusade. It's possible Walther von der Vogelweide was present at the wedding. This marriage became politically meaningless when the Crusaders sacked Constantinople and erected a new Latin Empire on 16 May 1204.
The year grew darker when on 30 November 1204, King Emeric of Hungary died, making his five-year-old son Ladislaus III king of Hungary. Leopold had assumed that Andrew, being regent over the boy, would take this role with honor. But when, unexpectedly, Ladislaus and Constance of Aragon, his mother, along with various Bishops and magnates, had arrived at his court in Vienna, asking for sanctuary, Leopold was more than horrified by their pleas. Andrew had been a tyrant. A monster that had been abusing the boy at every instance. The Austrian could not turn them away, and so called forth his doctors to care for the boy. Matters grew worse, as Andrew had sent ambassadors to Vienna demanding the return of the King of Hungary and the Hungarian Crown — making their threats of war especially known. Duke Leopold refused and summoned his vassals to restore Ladislaus by force of arms in his kingdom. Ladislaus only grew weaker and, overexhausted and frail, had died unexpectedly on 7 May 1205.
Another more urgent issue suddenly began to present itself within the courts of Vienna. Two heresies had invaded Austria at the time, one was of the Waldensians and other of the Patarians, whom both desired to uproot the established order. Seeing how the current Diocese of Passau had been negligent of Austria and their inability to properly quell the rise of these heretics, Leopold, in the name of Christian purity, sent an embassy to Rome in Winter 1206-07 to request for the foundation of a bishopric in Vienna. This act angered Manegold of Berg, Bishop of Passau. Thus both sent their representatives to Rome to stand before Pope Innocent III for arbitration. The Austrian ambassador began by explaining that ordinations, confirmations, dediction of churches, other episcopal functions and even combating against the heretics was left entirely on traveling Bishops. This act of neglect was corrupting their holy Catholic faith in Austria and leaving it in a frail state. If unattended, it could lead to a heretical rampage. The ambassador then went on to explain that Austria was a wealthy city, second only to Cologne. His Majesty, the Duke of Austria & Styria would offer 1,000 marks annually from his own coffers and from his burghers' property for a third or fourth of the Passau Diocese's territory in Austria, which, the ambassador argued, was not a great loss. Passau would still hold rights over its old enclaves and landed property and merely lose its diocesan rights over the parishes. The Passau ambassadors then spoke, and stated that Passau has rights that cannot be ignored. If the duke of Austria is allowed this bishopric, the Bishop of Passau would lose his influence over the duke and he would impose control over the church in Austria. Despite Passau's claims, Pope Innocent III was very impressed by the arguments of the Duke and even acquainted Bishop Manegold with Leopold's proposals on 14 April 1207. The Pope charged Eberhard, Metropolitan of Salzburg with reporting on the whole plan. But Eberhard had shown no haste in fulfilling his task that Leopold VI had to press the matter in 1208. Leopold then sent back his ambassadors with a new plan. To hand over the Scottish Abbey in Vienna to the new Bishop and move the monks elsewhere. The income would be drawn from St. Stephen's Cathedral in Vienna and an estate in Krems. Then he claimed half of Austria and a corner of Styria—the Pitten-Wiener-Neustadt District, which, aside from Passau's property of Payerbach and Gloggnitz, belonged to the Archdiocese of Salzburg. The new proposal had been brutally denied, as now, not only was the Diocese of Passau against Austria, but even the Archdiocese of Salzburg and the Scottish monks. The Pope, thinking it best to temporize, turned the proposals over to his legates, Hugh of Ostia and Leo of Santa Croce, for consideration. They sided with Austria's enemies and ignored the matter altogether. But Duke Leopold VI refused to surrender Austria to its state. He intended to see his country rise to greatness and set about to earning papal favor, in the hopes that Austria and Styria receive the Bishop they so desperately needed. His intentions, then, became exceedingly clear, for God and for Austria.
Then, as if a hammer had fallen over Germany, Emperor Philip of Swabia was announced dead. He had been murdered by Count Palatine Otto VII of Wittelsbach on 21 June 1208. It shocked Leopold and he suspected that Ekbert of Andechs, Bishop of Bamberg was also responsible for Emperor Philip's assassination, on the grounds of connivance. Thus, to maintain his position as Duke of Austria and Styria, he, along with Wolfger of Erla, Patriarch of Aquileia, Eberhard II of Regensburg, Archbishop of Salzburg, Manegold of Berg, Bishop of Passau and Ludwig I, Duke of Bavaria went immediately with them to Otto's court in February 1209 and did him homage. He dutifully attended his court at Würzburg in May 1209 and, acting on behalf of the princes of the Empire, had betrothed King Philip's eleven-year-old daughter, Beatrix, to Emperor Otto. Leopold did not, however, attend Otto's coronation in October 1209 in Rome. He had been angered by the new Emperor's excessive demands for money. And therefore, took no part in Otto's campaigns in Sicily.
In the year 1210, Duke Leopold had had enough of the non-law-abiding heresies in his lands, and grew weary of the poor abilities of the Bishop of Passau and the Archbishop of Salzburg to handle the situation. He organized a persecution that forced the heretics out of Austria and Styria. "With God's help," one chronicler writes, "the pestilent heresy of the Paterines, as it was devilishly corrupting many Christian folk, was brought to light and many were put to death with various torments." This act, Leopold hoped, would convince the Pope of allowing the establishment of a bishopric in Austria, as he wanted for some time. But for naught, as the Pope still had the Diocese of Passau and the Archbishopric of Salzburg turning His Holiness against the Duke. Leopold then believed that more proof was needed of his piety, to receive what his dear land needs. And it began with taking the cross.
Then, in 1211, the economic answer that was long overdue from Passau's impositions finally came when Leopold the Glorious had convinced Gottschalk of Haunsberg to sell him Linz.
Yet early in 1211 Leopold met Eberhard and decided to take sides against the Emperor, and in September he took part in the meeting of Princes in Nuremberg to elect Frederick II, Holy Roman Emperor and called on him to come to Germany. In spite of his part in the Nuremberg Assembly, Leopold followed Ludwig of Bavaria's example, and had by April 1212 rallied again to Otto's side, partly because of Otto's return to Germany and partly because of his promise to bestow Bohemia on Vratislav, King Ottokar's rejected eldest son and nephew of Leopold's friend, Margrave Dietrich of Meissen. Leopold had found in Dietrich a useful ally on Ottokar's northern frontier. He had betrothed his baby son Leopold to Dietrich's daughter and appointed Dietrich guardian over his Duchies before Duke Leopold VI left for Crusade.
He left Vienna in August or late 1212 for the Albigensian Crusade with his contingent of German Crusaders. Leopold's army would arrive by mid- or late September at Carcassonne, where he met with a fellow crusader Enguerrand III de Boves who conducted him to Pamiers. Once there, Leopold heard reports that the Pro-Cathar Counts Raymond VI of Toulouse and Raymond-Roger of Foix were camped at Saverdun and rushed there immediately to battle. But they had fled and Enguerrand took Saverdun without opposition. Leopold then returned to Pamiers to await instructions. Some time later, the leader of the Albigensian Crusade Simon IV de Montfort met with Leopold at Pamiers and there joined forces. Next, Leopold followed Simon to siege Foix, the capital of the Cathar-allied Raymond-Roger, while Simon joined his army at Auterive on his way to the capital of the heretical Raymond VI, Toulouse. Suddenly, Simon de Montfort was approached by Garcias de Lorte, Bishop of Comminges and Sanche, Bishop of Couserans to take command of Gascony. Simon had gone to Saint-Gaudens to receive homage from many lords and vassals; from there he took an army and laid waste to the County of Foix, aiding Leopold's siege. But the Count of Toulouse had fled Toulouse in late September to his cousin, King Peter II of Aragon, for help in recovering his lands. Then de Montfort had called for a General Council at Pamiers of Bishops and Nobles in the land, as one chronicler says, "to develop good customs in the territories he had won and brought under the Holy Roman Church and ensure the establishment of a sound set of customs to promote both the observation of the Christian religion and the maintenance of peace and order in civil life." The Count of Montfort wanted to impose a set of customs on his vassals and set boundaries on their holdings of land so knights could live honorably from sure and legitimate revenues while the common-folk would live under their protection. Twelve men were chosen who swore on the Holy Gospels, to the best of their knowledge and ability, to establish the customs called the Statutes of Pamiers. It's possible Leopold had already left by late October or early November after serving the 40-days requirement. The Duke of Austria and Styria looked on for other fields for his service. He had met Arnaud Amalric who had blessed and instructed him toward Spain's Moors. Seeing the threat there, he prepared his troops to strike at Muslims in Spain.
As for the Albigensian Crusade, the Pope had ordered the cessation of the Crusade, by intercession of King Peter II of Aragon and the summoning of a synod in early 1213.
He led his forces as far as the recaptured fortress of the Knights of Calatrava in La Mancha. By this point in the Reconquista, the Muslims had shown little disposition to battle, thus, Leopold returned home with his Austrians by winter 1212. When Leopold returned from Spain during the winter, he found all his neighbors—Bohemia, Carinthia, Bavaria and the Bavarian Bishops—already on Frederick's side. To this side he also now turned. At Candlemas (2 February) 1213 he did homage to the young king at Regensburg and on 12 July 1213, together with Ottokar of Bohemia, Ludwig of Bavaria, Eberhard of Salzburg, Manegold of Passau, and many other princes and prelates, he appended his signature at Eger (Cheb) to the Golden Bull of 1213 by which Frederick offered his obedience to the Pope and pledged himself to the principle of free canonical elections by the chapters, unhampered liberty of appeal to Rome on ecclesiastical issues, and abandonment of the traditional rights of the Crown to the personal estate of deceased bishops (Spolienrecht) and the revenues of vacant sees (Regalienrecht).
Then in August 1213, Leopold was with Emperor Frederick II in his fruitless siege of Aachen and at his court in Metz. Yet he was recalled home, partly by an injury to his foot and partly because he had to deal with a new dispute with his difficult neighbor, Manegold of Berg, Bishop of Passau. Passau had growned alarmed by Vienna's economic bloom and the Bishop had sought for years to open fresh markets in Bohemia, which was connected by two great trade routes: The Golden Ascent and the Via Regia connected from Linz, through Ottensheim, Sankt Martin, Altenfelden and Oswalder Sattel. Manegold had purchased castle Waxenburg from the house of Wilhering and the Große Mühl from Otto I, Duke of Merania. To counteract these policies from Passau, Duke Leopold, to secure a trade route to Bohemia, bought in 1213 Freistadt from Count Ulrich of Klamm and developed it into the economic centre known as the Mühlviertel.
By autumn 1213, Leopold VI had paid a visit to King Andrew II of Hungary. But the king had gone away to war in Halych, and the duke decided to spend time with Queen Gertrude, her brother Berthold, Patriarch of Aquileia and his nephew, Béla IV of Hungary in the Pilis Mountains. As they went on through the forests, Leopold and Berthold set off on their horses hunting game, until suddenly, a group of Hungarian nobles, whose hearts grew dark with germanophobia, led by Peter, son of Töre, ambushed the Queen and her retinue and murdered her on 28 September 1213. By the time Leopold and Berthold came back, it was too late. So Duke Leopold valiantly fought his way to Bela IV and carried him away to safety. It's possible that this situation convinced Duke Leopold and King Andrew to take up the Crusade.
Finally, the old Bishop of Passau, Manegold of Berg, had died on 9 June 1215 in Vienna. And while the Duke had been unsuccessful in achieving his long desired dream of a Viennese diocese, he had the satisfaction of knowing that his former Chancellor, Ulrich II, would become Bishop of Passau. Ulrich did not receive his consecration until 1216, possibly because of suspicions of loyalty to the good Duke. The following year, in 1217, the Abbot of Kremsmünster became the subject of disloyal ministeriales. Leopold rode onwards and meeting them, restored the abbot's authority over them and immunized them from interference by any secular jurisdiction. Their allegiance was restricted by forbidding them to accept fiefs from anyone but the abbot or emperor. And were only allowed to marry amongst themselves or amongst imperial ministeriales.
The Fifth Crusade
Then, King Andrew II of Hungary and Duke Leopold VI of Austria left for the Holy Land in 1217 for the Fifth Crusade. Setting sail over the Adriatic Sea in August 1217. Leopold's ships were faster, thus, he rendezvoused with King Andrew on Cyprus on 8 September 1217. By mid-September they had reached Acre. In the following spring, Duke Leopold took an active part in the Siege of Damietta, especially distinguishing himself by his gallantry on St. Barthalomomew's Day (24 August 1218) when the Muslim's fortress in the Nile was taken. At the beginning of May, he left Egypt with his Austrians and Styrians. He paid a visit to Pope Honorius on his way back, where the Pope told him of all the difficulties Emperor Frederick II had caused him. And then finally reached his home by the end August 1218. He was regarded by all to have played his role well. Oliver of Cologne writes of him,"For a year and a half he fought valiantly for Christ."
He elevated Enns to the status of a city in 1212, and Vienna in 1221, the territory of which was nearly doubled.
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.
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.
In 1220, Duke Leopold VI of Austria selected a Burgundian master architect to build the Capella Speziosa chapel beside the convent.
When Emperor Frederick II sought a marriage for his son, Henry (VII) of Germany, King Ottokar of Bohemia had stepped forth and offered the hand of his daughter, Agnes, for the dowry of 30,000 marks, with the addition of Ottokar's ally, Ludwig of Bavaria's 15,000 marks. When the Emperor rejected the offer, Ottokar and Ludwig appealed to the good offices of Duke Leopold VI.
Leopold had married his daughter Agnes to Albert I, Duke of Saxony with great pomp in Vienna in 1222, where five thousand or more knights were present. He also had sought another marriage for his son, Henry, favoring the sister of Henry III of England. His support of the English match had annoyed his neighbors to active hostilities. It came to nothing, because the English king had no dowry to pay; Leopold had heard this when Walter Mauclerk had arrived in Cologne as penniless as the first disciples. Little came of the conflicts and peace was made almost at once. That same year, the Duke granted Wels city rights.
Austro-Bohemian War of 1226
The Duke then felt compelled to urge the Bohemian match at the Imperial Court in Italy. He set out in June 1225. Trusted by both Ottokar and Ludwig, since they committed Agnes of Bohemia to his charge, as soon as he arrived in San Germano (Cassino) he dropped all pretence of supporting the match with Agnes and allowed Bishop Konrad of Regensburg to urge the claims of Margaret as bride for Prince Henry of Germany. This act may have been influenced by Emperor Frederick II policies of maintaining a balance of power between the Imperial Princes and informing Leopold of the ambitious Premyslids. So despite being eleven years his senior, Henry and the Emperor agreed to the match, which was a fateful one for Austria.
On 29 November 1225, the double wedding of King Henry and Margaret and young Prince Henry of Austria and Agnes, daughter of Hermann I, Landgrave of Thuringia, took place at Nuremberg. Nearly all the imperial houses, except for King Ottokar of Bohemia, were present, and great were the festivities. Although, the feast ended tragically as there was brawling in the city, where forty people lost their lives.
The growing indignation of the Holy See with the Emperor's delays, which culminated in Pope Gregory IX excommunicating the Emperor in 1227, became a source of trouble to Duke Leopold. Leopold was loyal to the Church and Emperor, despite the growing difficulties.
On 10 June 1229 Emperor Frederick II landed once more in Apulia. This in turn caused the Pope, Gregory IX, to give Leopold a vehement appeal to join him on avenging on the Emperor for his crimes against Christendom. Leopold gave no such response, for he was unmoved by the invasion of Frederick II's son, Henry, of Ludwig of Bavaria's dominion. Emperor Frederick II had so much influence, even many Austrian monasteries sided with him. So Leopold, together with the Patriarch of Aquileia, the Archbishop of Salzburg, the Duke of Merania, and others, welcomed the Emperor's invitation to arbitrate the quarrel with the Pope. He arrived in Italy by Easter 1230. After protracted negotiations, on 23 July 1230, the Pope and the Emperor swore to uphold the peace of San Germano, with Leopold and other princes pledging to the Emperor's observance of it. Leopold died at San Germano on 28 July 1230. The peace of San Germano was Leopold's last official act.
Quotes from contemporaries
His life had been a symbol of chivalry for generations to be inspired from. No truer testimony is given than those of his contemporaries.
The Emperor wrote of him as "a man who loved peace and was zealous for harmony."
The Pope, Gregory IX, wrote to Leopold's widow:"We had such confidence in his uprightness that in the peace negotiations we followed his counsels."
Pope Gregory IX wrote again to Frederick II of Austria four years later in 1234:"We are convinced that he attained the crown of everlasting life, because he was a mirror and pattern of the virtues, by his integrity found favor with the Roman Church, gloriously obeyed the commands of the Redeemer to protect the Holy Land, honored the reverend German Order, and by his pious donations made plenty."
Even the Austrian monasteries to whom he lavishly donated to united to sing in praise of Leopold, calling him "Patrie decus, unicum cleri solacium" -- (Ornament of his Fatherland, Unique Solace of the Clergy).
Leopold and Theodora Angelina had seven children:
- Margaret, Duchess of Austria (1204 – 28 February 1266), married Henry, elder son and presumptive heir of the Holy Roman Emperor Frederick II, then after he died, married King Ottokar II of Bohemia.
- Agnes of Austria (19 February 1205 – 29 August 1226), married Albert I, Duke of Saxony
- Leopold of Austria (1207–1216) died when he climbed a tree and fell at Klosterneuburg
- Henry II, Duke of Mödling (1208 – 28 November 1228), 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 Raspe, Landgrave of Thuringia
- Frederick II, Duke of Austria (25 April 1211 – 15 June 1246)
- Constantia of Austria (6 April 1212 – 5 June 1243), married Henry III, Margrave of Meissen
|Ancestors of Leopold VI, Duke of Austria|