Episode #7 of the course “Most powerful families in history”
The House of Habsburg (also spelled “Hapsburg”), also known as the House of Austria, refers to a family synonymous with European royalty and politics for over 500 years. Their influence spread from Spain to Turkey, and the Habsburg family were kin to aristocracy in England, Italy, France, Bohemia, Hungary, Russia, Ireland, and many more European countries. As noblemen, they did not have many family members acting as high-ranking officials in the Catholic Church, and there has never been a Habsburg Cardinal or Pope.
A strong and fearsome centralized power, the Habsburg family sat on the thrones of Germany and Austria as individual countries, and they also ruled during the time of the Holy Roman Empire. Today, several important members of European aristocracy claim Habsburg heritage, and the family’s influence continues throughout Bavaria, Hungary, Spain, Germany, and elsewhere.
Founded as far back as the 11th century, the House continually grew more powerful until Albert V, who ruled Bohemia and Hungary, was crowned King of the Romans in 1437. With his later coronation as Holy Roman Emperor, the Habsburg House came into the height of their reign. The death of Charles VI in 1740 was the end of the direct male line of Habsburg rulers, and the death of Maria Theresa, Empress of Austria in 1780 was the end of the major House. However, the minor House of Habsburg continued ruling most of central Europe until 1918.
Among her many accomplishments, the last Habsburg Empress Maria Theresa bore 16 children, including a daughter whose German name Maria Antonia was changed to Marie Antoinette when she married the French dauphin. One of many famous Habsburg daughters, Marie Antoinette became Queen of France and Navarre in 1774 and was famously beheaded in 1793 after the French Revolution.
Share with friends