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Friedrich IV (1382 – June 24, 1439) a member of the House of Habsburg, was Duke of Austria from 1402 until his death. As a scion of the Habsburg, Leopoldian line, he ruled over Further Austria and the County of Tyrol from 1406 onwards.

Friedrich was the youngest son of Duke Leopold III (1351–1386) and his wife Viridis (d. 1414), a daughter of Bernabò Visconti, Lord of Milan. According to the 1379 Treaty of Neuberg, his father ruled over the Habsburg Inner Austrian territories of Styria, Carinthia, Carniola, as well as over Tyrol and the dynasty’s original Further Austrian possessions in Swabia.

After the early death of Duke Leopold in the 1386 Battle of Sempach, Friedrich and his elder brothers Wilhelm, Leopold IV and Ernst initially remained under the tutelage of their uncle Duke Albrecht III of Austria.

As an inheritance dispute arose upon Duke Albrecht’s death in 1395, the young Leopoldian dukes insisted on their rights: the next year, Wilhelm went on to rule the Inner Austrian lands and Leopold IV ascended as Count of Tyrol.

When Friedrich came of age in 1402, he was formally assigned to administrate his father’s inheritance in the scattered Habsburg territories in Swabia, referred to collectively as Further Austria (Vorderösterreich) and took his residence in Freiburg im Breisgau.

Another division of the Leopoldian territories took place after Wilhelm’s death in 1406: Duke Leopold IV, now eldest heir, ceded Tyrol to Friedrich, however, he did not become sole ruler in Further Austria until Leopold’s death in 1411.

The early years of Friedrich’s reign were marked by external and internal conflicts. He had to overcome the opposition of Tyrolean nobles (who gave him the title “of the Empty Pockets”) in 1406/1407 and a rebellion in the Bishopric of Trent.

He also had to deal with the independence movement in the Swabian Appenzell lands, where the conflict with the Prince-Abbots of St Gall had escalated in 1401, sparking the Appenzell Wars. Friedrich had to withstand in a series of longstanding military conflicts, until a peace was concluded in 1410.

However, the Appenzell area became a protectorate of the Old Swiss Confederacy in 1411. Back in Tyrol, he had to face the invading forces of Duke Stephen III of Bavaria, whom he defeated in the Lower Inn Valley.

Upon the death of Duke Leopold IV in 1411, the surviving younger brothers Friedrich and Ernst again divided the Leopoldian possessions. With Further Austria, Friedrich IV became undisputed ruler over the Habsburg territories in the Alsace region and of the Burgau margraviate.

In 1417 he also inherited the former Kyburg estates from the extinct comital Habsburg-Laufenburg branch. Several border conflicts with the Republic of Venice led to the loss of Rovereto in the Lagarina Valley.

Under the terms of the Western Schism, Duke Friedrich IV sided with Antipope John XXIII, whom he helped on his flight from the Council of Constance in March 1415. The Luxembourg king Sigismund had Johann arrested in Breisgau and placed Friedrich IV under the Imperial ban.

Thanks to the support of the local populace he managed to keep Tyrol, though he lost the western Aargau, the Freiamt and County of Baden estates, in the old homeland of the Habsburgs, to the Swiss.

In 1420, Friedrich IV also moved his Tyrolean court from Meran to Innsbruck. After several rebellions by local nobles, his rule over Tyrol had stabilized, partially due to the successful beginning of silver mining that brought an increase in prosperity to the region.

After the death of his brother Ernst on June 10, 1424, Duke Friedrich IV also took over the regency over Inner Austria for his minor nephews Friedrich V (the later Holy Roman Emperor Friedrich III) and Albrecht VI. In his later years, however, he again had to cope with another rebellion against his Tyrolean rule, instigated by Prince-Bishop Alexander of Trent.

Friedrich IV died at his court in Innsbruck, a rich man. His son and heir Sigismund was called der Münzreiche (“Rich in Coin”). Frederick was buried in the Cistercian abbey of Stams, Tyrol.

Marriage and issue

On December 24, 1407, Friedrich married Elisabeth of the Palatinate (1381–1408), daughter of King Rupert of Germany, in Innsbruck. They had one daughter, Elisabeth, but both mother and child died shortly after the birth on December 27, 1408.

On June 11, 1411, Friedrich married Anna (d. 1432), daughter of the Welf duke Friedrich I of Brunswick-Wolfenbüttel; they had four children:

Margaret (1423 – 1424)
Hedwig (1424 – 1427)
Wolfgang (1426)
Sigismund (1427 – 1496).

Only Sigismund survived until adulthood. He succeeded his father in Tyrol and Further Austria.