Ladislaus: Duke of Austria

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Ladislaus was Duke of Austria and King of Bohemia, Croatia, and Hungary for many years in the 15th Century.

ladislaus, Duke of Austria

He was born on Feb. 22, 1440, in Komárom, in what is now Slovakia, the son of the reigning King of Germany, Albert II, and Elizabeth of Luxembourg. Albert was fighting against the Turks in 1439 when he died. He knew that his wife was pregnant with their third child (having had two daughters, Anne and Elisabeth, a few years beforehand). Albert had had the foresight to stipulate that his yet-to-be-born child, should he be a son, should inherit the lands of the realm, and so Ladislaus was Duke of Austria and King of Croatia and Hungary from the moment he was born.

The new King of the Romans was Frederick III, and it was he who emerged from a powerful struggle over the right to serve as the regent of the young Ladislaus. The boy grew up at the German king's court, a place he increasingly called home after his mother died, in 1442.

When Ladislaus was of an age to fight, he took up arms on his own behalf. He had been crowned King of Bohemia in 1453, but opponents of his rule still existed there and elsewhere in the lands over which he was nominally the ruler. Ladislaus had to content with an invasion of Hungary by the Ottoman Sultan Mehmed II, in 1456.

Still only 17, Ladislaus fled in 1457 to Prague, where he died suddenly, on November 23. He was unmarried and had no children. The situation was so tenuous that Frederick III stepped in and assumed control, in the process naming himself Archduke of Austria. Thus, Ladislaus was the last Duke of Austria.

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