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Holy Roman Revolt of 1313
Holy Roman Revolt of 1313
Date: 2 January 1313-29 January 1315
Place: Holy Roman Empire
Outcome: Rebel victory

Austria coat Duchy of Austria

HRE Holy Roman Empire


Austria coat Frederick IV

HRE William II

The Holy Roman Revolt of 1313 (2 January 1313-29 January 1315) was a revolt led by Duke Frederick IV of Austria against Wilhelm II, Holy Roman Emperor


The Austrian House of Habsburg, destined for future greatness, once ruled the small Duchy of Austria in the southeastern Holy Roman Empire. From 1273 to 1291, the Habsburgs ruled Germany, with Rudolf I of Germany being the first Habsburg holder of the title "King of the Romans". His grandson Frederick IV of Austria harbored similar ambitions, seeking to reclaim his grandfather's title. In 1311, he expanded his duchy to include parts of Lower Bavaria, and he also took part in the campaign against King Philip IV of France in 1312, sending a large mercenary army to assist Emperor Henry VII of Germany with his war. 

However, a plague outbreak in 1312 would change the history of the empire. Henry VII died of the dreaded plague on 24 December 1312, and the Imperial Diet hastily convened to name a successor. The Diet voted to elect Margrave Henry of Brandenburg, the ruler of a large margraviate in northern Germany, to become the new Holy Roman Emperor. Henry died just three days after inheriting the throne, the shortest-lived emperor. The Diet again convened, electing William d'Avesnes, Count of Hainaut, to become Wilhelm II, Holy Roman Emperor. The Dutchman's election was met with uproar from many conservative German nobles, who were not willing to accept a new royal family in Germany. The liberal faction of German politics was willing to accept a new ruling family, even if the family was Dutch and not a member of one of Germany's entrenched royal families.

Duke Frederick IV was a staunch conservative, believing that he had the right to inherit the throne due to his Habsburg blood. Frederick decided to pour thousands of florins into hiring massive mercenary armies to assist him in his quest to become Holy Roman Emperor, and he rebelled against William just a week after William became emperor.


To Frederick's surprise, his uncle Henry of Bohemia did not side with him during his rebellion against the Holy Roman Emperor, leaving the small Duchy of Austria alone to fend for itself. Frederick started the war at the head of a 27,857-strong Imperial army in Flanders, having been besieging French cities in the region during the empire's war with France. Now, Frederick no longer had to worry about France; instead, he had to worry about invading the Holy Roman Empire and claiming the crown for himself. Frederick led his army in Flanders and the Low Countries, hoping to conquer William's home turf, while he hired large mercenary armies back in Austria with the goal of defending his own realms and expanding against the Holy Roman Emperor's loyal territories.

On 30 June 1313, the army in the Low Countries defeated Jan Janszoon's smaller army at Leuven, and that mercenary army proceeded to attack small Imperial forces across the region and seize cities when it could. Frederick hired mercenary companies such as the Company of the Hat, the Company of St. George, the Company of the Star, the Company of the Rose, the Catalan Company, and the Navarrese Company to bolster his forces, forming a large army back in Austria as his main force plundered Flanders and Brabant. On 1 December 1313, a 26,507-strong Imperial army led by William II and Grand Mayor Thietbald of Switzerland defeated Gilen de Alava's 28,604-strong mercenary army at Duermberg, although the Imperial army suffered greater losses. On 7 February 1314, the Imperial army won another victory against the Austrian mercenaries at Melk, but the tide was turning elsewhere.

On 23 October 1314, Friedrich's 29,217-strong mercenary army in Belgium (commanded by Gilen de Alava), which had succeeded in taking over several Imperial cities, attacked Thietbald's 20,198-strong Imperial army at Cambrai. The Imperial army suffered 7,943 losses, and it was badly mauled. Soon, the mercenary army in Austria moved out of Austria and began overwhelming small Imperial forces in eastern Germany, and it met up with the larger Austrian army in central Germany. The mercenaries in the Low Countries, having already conquered Brabant, proceeded to jointly capture Nassau with the mercenary army from Austria. On 29 January 1315, the 35,021-strong combined mercenary armies under Hildebert d'Astarac and Werner von Veringen met Thietbald of Switzerland's 14,699-strong Imperial army at Brauwiler in Rhineland-Palatinate, and the mercenary army inflicted 7,947 losses on the Imperial army, again mauling it; the mercenaries suffered just 2,147 losses.

After the Battle of Brauwiler, the Imperial Diet deposed William II, who had failed to convince them that he was strong enough to fight off Frederick's forces. Frederick was crowned the new Holy Roman Emperor, and he disbanded the majority of his mercenary forces. The war came to a close in a rebel victory, and Habsburg rule was ensured.