Albrecht III: a teenager as ruler



Albrecht III: a teenager as ruler
Albrecht III: a teenager
as ruler
The life of Duke Albrecht III was initially marked by the
crisis within the family and the lack of political
orientation following the early death of Duke Rudolf IV.
Duke Albrecht III was the third son of Duke Albrecht II and Joan
of Ferrette. After his father’s death in 1358 the young boy
came under the authority of his eldest brother, Duke Rudolf IV,
who involved him in his ambitious plans. In 1362 – Albrecht was
then twelve years old at the most – he was betrothed to
Elizabeth of Anjou, the niece of King Louis I of Hungary. The
reason behind this proposed union was the hope of
rapprochement with the House of Anjou, which had ruled
Hungary from 1308. The Anjous were here in competition with
the Luxembourg dynasty, who had been kings of Bohemia
since 1311 and were also launching attempts to gain the
Hungarian crown.
Emperor Charles IV of the Luxembourg dynasty thus forced
the dissolution of this betrothal following the death of Rudolf IV
in 1365, and instead married his eight-year-old daughter
Elizabeth to Albrecht in 1366. Charles made this the condition
for the proper enfeoffment of Rudolf’s younger brothers with
the Austrian lands. The sudden death of Rudolf was a setback
for the House of Habsburg: the regency was now in the hands
of the teenage brothers Albrecht and Leopold, who needed the
protection of Charles IV as their authority was weak.
This showed itself in the threat of losing dominion over Tyrol, a
territory gained only a short while previously in 1365.
Exploiting a local revolt against the Habsburg overlords by a
number of nobles in Carinthia, Bavarian troops invaded Tyrol in
support of Wittelsbach claims: the second marriage of the
heiress to the Tyrol branch of the Meinhardin dynasty,
Margarete Maultasch (Margaret, Countess of Tyrol), had been
to a member of the House of Wittelsbach, Margrave Louis of
Brandenburg. The marriage had also resulted in a son, but like
his father he had died before Margaret. The widow had
subsequently contracted Tyrol to the Habsburg Rudolf IV
during her own lifetime in 1365.
With the support from the bishop of Brixen (Bressanone), the
conflict over Tyrol between the Habsburgs and the
Wittelsbachs was brought to a conclusion in the Peace of
Schärding in 1369. The Habsburgs successfully defended their
claim against ceding territory to Bavaria.
Albrecht’s quest for a suitable bride following the death of his
first wife, Elizabeth of Bohemia, in 1373 was also conducted
with a view to gaining allies in order to consolidate Habsburg
rule in the eastern Alpine region. Albrecht’s suit to win the hand
of Violante Visconti, whose family ruled over Milan and
Lombardy (she was a cousin of Viridis, later wife of Albrecht’s
brother Leopold), was unsuccessful, as was his bid to marry
one of the daughters of the Hungarian king. In 1375 Duke
Albrecht eventually chose Beatrice of Zollern (1360–1414), the
daughter of Frederick V, burgrave of Nuremberg. The marriage
resulted in a child, Albrecht IV, born in 1377.
Martin Mutschlechner
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