Teaching Students About The Habsburgs

The Habsburg Family

If you have heard of this royal family, you have likely heard of something called the ‘Hasburg Jaw.’ This notable physical characteristic resulted from many strategic intermarriages, which were very popular amongst royal families at the time. This intermarriage, designed to protect the royal bloodline, resulted in the Habsburgs having distinctly sharp, protruding jaws, bulbous lower lips, and large noses.

Habsburg Family Tree

Let’s dive into the details of the Habsburg family tree to learn more about this fascinating but ultimately tragic royal family.

Humble Beginnings: From Dukes to Emperors

The Habsburg family had pretty humble beginnings as dukes serving to protect the border of Germany in Austria. From this station, they rose to become Austria’s emperors and the German Nation’s Holy Roman Empire. In addition, the Habsburg family made several strong connections through marriage and succession to other European ruling houses and beyond.

The Habsburg family tree is expansive and would take too long to look at. So instead, here is a list of the Habsburg rulers who reigned from 1508 to 1918.

  • Frederick III (1452-1493)
  • Maximilian I 1493–1519
  • Charles V 1519–1556
  • Ferdinand I 1556–1564
  • Maximilian II 1564–1576
  • Rudolf II 1576–1612
  • Matthias 1612–1619
  • Ferdinand II 1619–1637
  • Ferdinand III 1637–1657
  • Leopold I 1657–1705
  • Joseph I 1705–1711
  • Charles VI 1711–1740
  • Maria Theresa 1740–1780


The rest of the Habsburg family tree comes from the descendants of the marriage between Francis III, Duke of Lorraine and Bar, and Maria Theresa of Austria. The Habsburg-Lorraine descendants are:

  • Joseph II (1741–1790)
  • Leopold II (1747–1792)
  • Francis II (1768–1835)
  • Ferdinand I (1793–1875)
  • Francis Joseph I (1830–1916)
  • Charles I (1887–1922)
  • Otto von Habsburg (1912-2011)
  • Karl von Habsburg (1961 – present day)

Women of the Habsburg Family Tree

As mentioned before, to detail the Habsburg family tree would be lengthy and arduous, so let’s focus on one specific aspect. But first, let’s have a look at the women of the Habsburg family tree:

  • Maria von Burgund (1457-1482)

First up is Maria von Burgund. Maria was born on the 13th of February 1457 in Brussels to Duke Charles the Bold. As the Duke’s only child, Maria automatically became Duchess of Burgundy after her father’s death in January 1477.

As a young and powerful woman, suitors queue up to ask for Maria’s hand in marriage. Ultimately, it was decided that Maria would marry the Archduke Maximilian I of Austria, who became Maximilian I, Holy Roman Emperor. The two married on the 19th of August 1477, forming a powerful union.

Unfortunately, Maria did not enjoy married life for long, as she died in a riding accident at just 25 years old.

  • Kunigunde (1465-1520)

Kunigunde was born on the 16th of March 1465 in Wiener Neustadt, Styria, in modern-day southern Austria and northern Slovenia. Kunigunde is the fourth of five children born to Emperor Frederick III and his wife Eleanor, the daughter of King Edward of Portugal. However, three, three of Kunigunde’sdid do not make it past infancy, sly

As she was a daughter of the house of Habsburg, much like Maria, Kunigunde had many suitors looking to marry her. Her father, Emperor Frederick, saw the opportunity to use his daughter in his political affairs and so took great care in deciding on her husband. After much deliberation, with the emperor even considering the sultan of the Osman empire as a potential suitor for his daughter, Kunigunde married Albert IV, the duke of Bavaria. Together, Albert and Kunigunde had seven children.

  • Joanna von Kastilien (1479-1555)

Joanna von Kastilien was born on the 6th of November 1479 in Toledo, Castile. Joanna was the daughter of Ferdinand of Aragon and Isabella of Castile and, throughout her reign, was widely known as ‘Joanna the Mad.’

When Joanna came to marry, she was wed to ‘Philip the Handsome,’ as it was hoped that the alliance would create a strong link between the royal houses of Spain and Austria-Burgundy. As you can probably guess by his name, Philip was a beautiful young man. He got the name ‘Philip the Handsome’ from his fair hair and grey-blue eyes. Philip was the only surviving son of the Holy Roman Emperor Maximilian I and Mary of Burgundy, the daughter of Charles the Bold of Burgundy.

Throughout their marriage, Joanna and Philip had six children. The exact details of the wedding are unknown, but when Philip died, Joanna is believed to have had his body embalmed and taken with her wherever she went. Therefore, we can assume that Joanna was in love at least.

As you’ve probably guessed from the name, ‘Joanna the Mad,’ this woman of the Habsburg family was widely believed to be insane. As a result of her suspected lunacy, Joanna was removed from her position as queen and confined to a castle by her father.

  • Margaret (1480 – 1530)

Margaret was born on the 10th of January 1480 as the daughter of Maximilian I, Holy Roman Emperor, and Mary, Duchess of Burgundy. Like many royal women, Margaret’s life was filled with strategic, political marriages. Throughout her relatively short life, Margaret was married three times.

Their first marriage for Margaret was to Charles VIII of France when she was eleven. The union did not last long, however, as Charles VIII of France soon divorced her once he found a more ‘suitable’ wife in Anne of Brittany.

Margaret’s subsequent marriage was to John of Asturias. Unfortunately, their union was not much more successful than the last one. John died six months after they married, and Margaret gave birth to a stillborn daughter.

Margaret’s third and final marriage was to Philibert, the Duke of Savoy. Thankfully, this marriage is believed to have been much happier than Margaret’s previous ones. However, it still ended in tragedy, as Philibert died at a young age in 1504 of a disease called pleurisy. Margaret was so overcome by grief that she threw herself out of a window but survived the fall. After this, Margaret returned to her homeland of Burgundy and spent the rest of her life caring for the education of her late brother, Philip’s six children.

  • Isabella (1501-1526)

Isabella of Austria was born on the 18th of July 1501 in Brussels, the daughter of King Philip I and Queen Joanna of Castile and the heiress to the Spanish kingdoms of Castile and Aragon. Isabella was the third child of Philip, known as Philip the Handsome, the ruler of the Burgundian Netherlands, and Joanna the Mad, listed above.

Isabella had two older siblings, Eleonor and Charles, and three younger siblings, Ferdinand, Mary, and Catherine. The children of Philip and Joanna were highly regarded around the world, with all of them going on to hold influential positions across Europe. For example, Isabella’s brothers became Holy Roman Emperors, making them the most powerful men in Europe, and her sisters became queens in Portugal, France, Bohemia, and Hungary.

Just shy of her 13th birthday, Isabella married Christian II, the king of Denmark. This marriage made Isabella Queen of Denmark and Norway, and when Christian took the throne of Sweden, Isabella became Queen of Sweden.

Christian continued to have a relationship with his mistress throughout their marriage, but Isabella remained faithful. She followed her husband when he was sent into exile after being overthrown as king in 1523.

  • Anna Jagiello (1503-1547)

Anna Jagiello was born on the 12th of March 1476 as the fifth daughter of King Casimir IV of Hungary and Bohemia and Archduchess Elisabeth of Austria. Anna was a Polish princess and member of the Jagiellonian dynasty by birth and the Duchess of Pomerania by marriage.

When she was still a young girl, Anna married Ferdinand I, Philip the Handsome’s younger son and Maximilian I’s grandson.

  • Mary Tudor (1516-1558)

When we think of the Habsburg family, our minds seldom go to the Tudor dynasty, but, believe it or not, Mary Tudor is part of the Habsburg family tree. Mary was the first daughter of Henry VIII and the only child he had with his first wife, Catherine of Aragon. Mary Tudor went on to marry Philip II of Spain, the son of her mother Catherine’s nephew, Charles V.

The Habsburg family had hoped that this union between Philip and Mary would benefit their dynasty, but it was largely fruitless. The marriage was an unhappy one, and Mary had no children.

  • Anna (1601-1666)

Anna was born on the 22nd of September 1601 as the eldest daughter of King Philip III of Spain and his wife Margaret of Austria. Anna was born the Infanta of Spain and Portugal, as her father was the King of both countries and the Archduchess of Austria. Anna is often referred to as Anne of Austria, despite being born in Spain; this is because the Spanish royal family belonged to the senior branch of the House of Austria, later known as the House of Habsburg.

Anna married King Louis XIII of France in the year 1615, which made her the Queen of France. She was also the Queen of Navarre until the kingdom was incorporated into the French crown in 1620. Anna is not believed to have had an overly happy marriage to Louis, and her relationship with her son was also famously troubled. When Louis died in 1643, Anna became the Queen Regent of France in place of her son, Louis XIV, who was only four years old.

  • Marie Antoinette (1755-1793)

Perhaps the most famous name on this list is Marie Antoinette, also known as Maria Antonia. Marie is the youngest of Maria Theresa’s sixteen children and was sent off to marry the heir to the French throne when she was fourteen years old.

Marie married the French dauphin, Louis XVI, and became the last Queen of France before the French Revolution. However, she was widely despised by the French people, who felt that she was out of touch and had little sympathy for their dire, impoverished living conditions.

Marie Antoinette died on the 16th of October, 1793, when she was beheaded as part of the French Revolution.

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