Leopold I., * 1640
Emperor Leopold I, anonymous painting
Leopold I, b. Vienna, June 9, 1640, d. Vienna, May 5, 1705, Emperor 1658-1705, 2nd son of Emperor Ferdinand III. Originally intended for the Church, had to take control over the lands he inherited after the death of his brother Ferdinand IV in 1654 and 1658 became Emperor despite France's intrigues. Led several wars against France, (1673-1679, 1688-1697) but could not stop her advance towards the River Rhine. R. Count Montecuccoli won a battle against the Turks in 1664 near the village of Mogersdorf -St. Gotthard, but the Peace of Vasvár which followed and attempts to bring about a counter-reformation outraged the Hungarians and led to the Magnates' Conspiracy (a plot) in 1671 and war with the Kuruc rebels lead by E. Thököly von Késmark. 1683 the Turks started a war (Turkish Wars) in support of the Hungarians but were unsuccessful, which led to the Habsburg occupation of almost all Hungary by 1699 (Peace of Karlowitz). In 1703 towards the end of L.'s reign war with the Kuruc rebels broke out, led by G. Rákóczi II.
In 1700 when the main line of the Habsburg family in Spain died out, L. claimed the heritage lands there; in accordance with the "Pactum mutuae successionis" (pact of mutual succession) of 1703 his younger son Karl was entitled to succeed to the lands in the War of the Spanish Succession which followed. L. lived long enough to see the victory at Höchstädt in 1704 and the occupation of Bavaria. L. strengthened absolutism in his empire, chose his counsellors from the aristocracy, saw himself as head of dynasty, loved music and was a good composer as well. (Church music, numerous arias for operas, serenades, oratories etc.) From his 3rd marriage with Eleonore Magdalena von Pfalz-Neuburg he had two sons, who became emperors, Joseph I and Karl VI.
Literature: J. P. Spielman, L. Not Born for Power, 1967 (original English version), (German: Zur Macht nicht geboren, 1981); NDB.
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