One of the Greatest of the Sacretemporal (Medieval) Hapsburgs, Rudolf I was the eighth Count of Hapsburg, and the son of Count Albrecht IV, born on May 1, 1218. Upon his father’s death on Crusade in 1239, he inherited the Hapsburg lands in Aargau and Alsace. A just count and a holy man, he had a personal devotion to the Holy Eucharist, which would be passed on to his descendants. A faithful Catholic, he was nevertheless briefly excommunicated for supporting his godfather the heretical Emperor Frederick II and Frederick’s son Conrad IV, however the excommunication was soon lifted upon Conrad’s death in 1254
Upon the death of Conrad’s son Conradin, the Holy Roman Empire fell into a state of chaos and lawlessness known as The Great Interregnum, which lasted for nineteen years. Then in 1273 all seven of the Electors (with the Duke of Bavaria replacing the King of Bohemia) chose Rudolf as the Holy Roman King, which had been prophesied many years before. Upon his coronation, Rudolf took a cross as his sceptre and immediately began a process of governmental reform.
Not everyone was happy with the idea of reform, however, and in 1274 Ottokar II, the Iron King of Bohemia, refused the Imperial summons, and after refusing to return the lands which he had stolen upon the death of Frederick of Babenburg, the Bohemian King was placed under the Imperial Ban. In 1278, Ottokar raised an army in direct violation of the Ban, and forced the emperor to meet him in arms. Although he was almost killed, Rudolf and his ally the young King Ladislaus IV of Hungary defeated the Iron King at the Battle of Marchfield on the 26 August 1278, and the Austrian Duchies were granted to Rudolf’s sons.
In 1289 the Emperor rode against the Robber Barons in Thuringia, and defeated them, though the region of Thuringia would continue as a place of unrest in the reign of the next Emperor. On July 15, 1291, he died at the age of 73, having saved the Empire from internal chaos and division.