Habsburg Dominions 1282–1815

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Map Code: Ax01832

The Habsburg dynasty originated in the canton of Aargau, Switzerland, and the first notable Habsburg is Rudolph, who was crowned emperor of Rome in 1273, and moved the family’s power base to Austria. A series of conquests, alliances and strategic marriages meant that Habsburg family territories had soon expanded into Austria and Bohemia and beyond. In 1530 Charles V became the last person to be crowned as Emperor by the pope the Habsburg Empire not only dominated central Europe, Burgundy and Spain but also extended into Mexico, Peru and Africa. By then the House of Habsburg had split into the junior branch of Austrian Habsburgs, who held the title of Holy Roman Emperor, and the senior branch of Spanish Habsburgs. The Spanish Habsburgs controlled a colonial empire, possessions in Italy and the Low countries. The Austrian Habsburgs controlled the hereditary lands of Bohemia and Hungary, where they came into conflict with the Ottoman Turks. Attempts to consolidate power had led to generations of consanguineous marriages, which had depleted the gene pool and led eventually to disabilities and infertility. The last of the Spanish line, Charles II, died childless in November 1700, leading to the War of the Spanish Succession. The Austrian line became extinct in 1740 with the death of Charles VI; a new successor house, called the House of Habsburg-Lorraine emerged from the marriage of the last female Habsburg heiress, Maria Theresa, to the Duke of Lorraine. After the turmoil of the Napoleonic Wars the Congress of Vienna (1815) Austria held hegemony in northern Italy, but it lost much of this territory during its ill-fated intervention in the Italian Risorgimento (unification).

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