Frederick I: Duke of Austria

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Frederick I was the third Duke of Austria, ruling for three short years at the end of the 12th Century.

Duke Frederick I of Austria

He was born in 1175, to Duke Leopold V and Helena of Hungary. He was his parents' oldest child; he eventually had a younger brother, Leopold.

Leopold V was much involved in things in foreign lands. He had gone on a pilgrimage to the Holy Land in 1182 and then met with the Byzantine emperor, Alexios II Komnenos. Henry returned to the Holy Land in 1190, as part of the Third Crusade. His arrival delayed by bad weather, he arrived just as the Siege of Acre was winding down, in spring 1191. When the emperor's son Frederick, Duke of Swabia died, Leopold took control of the imperial troops besieging Acre.

Actions taken by fellow Crusader King Richard I of England created an enmity between Richard and Leopold, and the latter captured the former, holding him for ransom. Leopold died in 1194, after the ransom had been paid. At that point, Frederick became Duke of Austria. He did not inherit the entirety of his father's lands, however, because Leopold decided to divide his holdings, giving Styria to his younger son. Frederick still ruled the Duchy of Austria, but that duchy was smaller than it had been.

Leopold had also insisted that marry Richard's niece Eleanor. She was on her way to Austria when Leopold died; Frederick canceled the marriage agreement, and Eleanor did not complete the trip.

Pope Celestine III had excommunicated Leopold for taking another Crusader prisoner. Frederick had inherited that enmity, which was enhanced by the fact that Richard demanded the ransom money back but Frederick couldn't provide all of it because Leopold had already spent a part of it. To make amends, Frederick offered to go on another Crusade. He joined the forces of Holy Roman Emperor Henry VI, leaving in 1197. These Crusaders had rather more success than many of their predecessors, taking Sidon and Tyre and marching on Damascus. The sudden death of Henry VI ended the Crusade, however, as a large number of the German force returned home. Frederick was in Acre on April 16, 1198, when he died.

Frederick had not married and had no children. His brother Leopold succeeded him as Duke of Austria.

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