The Habsburgs were one of the most famous extinct bloodlinesin human history and in their day, they were a family ofrobust power.  Besides, with its  dominance in much of European history, the house itself remainslegendary. Today, I’d like to tell you about the Habsburg family and the reason for the family’s extinction.

The oldest Habsburg known is Radbot of Kllettgau, who was born in the tenth century. However, the Habsburg’s success started in the 1200s when Rudolf I was elected as king of the Holy Roman Empire. This was the start of the Habsburg’s gaining of power, along with Rudolfbeing given the title Duke of Austria. In order to gain more land, the Habsburgs sarranging marriages between their own royalty and members of the nobility ofother countries. Soon the Habsburgs expanded land stretching across from Austria to Germany and Spain. Though it may seem like the Habsburgs only gained success, the Habsburgs also suffered in many ways. The Habsburgs were under threat of the Mongols just after Rudolf I  sucessfully led led an invasion by the Mongolian empire on the Habsburgs. Thus, while the Mongols weren’t able to take over Austria, this destroyed towns and villages of Austria and many Habsburg soldiers were slaughtered after both supporting other allied countries, and during its defense of Austria. Also, clashing ideas between families of the Habsburg’s empire (Holy Roman Empire) divided it into two (west and east), weakening the power of the Habsburgs. Eventually, Austria (part of the Holy Roman Empire) was attacked once more by the Ottoman Empire during the reign of Suleiman I. Austria was home to most Habsburgs, andthe capital of the Holy Roman Empire was located there. The silk road stretched across the area and was the main base of the Habsburgs as the house’s declined. Suleiman’s army, with its robust power, plundered villages one by one heading to the heart of the Habsburgs: Vienna. This started the siege of Vienna which not only was a crisis for the Habsburgs, but also was the start of the military revolution during the 15th-17th centuries. As soon as part of the star fortress (built by architect and general Gustaf Adolf) had been bombarded, the high ranked officials of Vienna decided to call for help from Poland, Sweden, the Netherlands, and other countries.

 The Netherlands sent their best army, the Teutonic Knights, which were the best cavalry in Europe during the medieval ages. The Knights, along with Poland’s winged hussars and Black Riders, who were light cavalry, only being equipped with light armor along with pistols and swords, largely destroyed the Ottomans, slaughtering and plundering the main bases of the Ottomans, killing thousands. This started a military revolution in Europe, which challenged the Habsburgs’ military power. The Habsburgs even suffered severe losses against the Swiss Confederacy, who didn’t even have proper armor. The Habsburgs, who suddenly were under threat by the once-weak nations who started the military revolution, started hiring mercenaries and reorganizing its army. Especially, the Genoan crossbowmen and Swiss mercenaries became the starting point for the reorganization of the Habsburg’s military. As soon as they’ve hired enough mercenaries, the Habsburgs started to mimic their military just as the mercenaries hired. For instance, the Landsknecht used long spears similar to ancient phalanx and the Swiss mercenaries. This let the Habsburgs (both west and east) regain their power from the hardships that followed. In addition, the western Habsburgs (or Spanish Habsburgs) who controlled areas of Spain, invented new military tactics, and started gaining power through trade during the Age of Discovery. On the other hand, the last Austrian Habsburg died in the late 17th century: Charles VI of the Holy Roman Empire. The Spanish Habsburgs didn’t survive much longer either. The Spanish Habsburg were wiped only a decade or more later, dying out in the next century.

The early extinction of the Habsburgs was because of sibling marriage. This kind of uncommon sibling marriage was done in order to preserve and protect the family’s power from other families who could take power through marriage just as how the Habsburgs succeeded. This kind of strategy did let the Habsburgs dominate Europe for centuries, but according to research, this could easily cause genetic defects and could even threaten the lives of the descendants more at each sibling marriage. This made the Habsburgs share similar congenital conditions, such as protruding lower jaws, which is one of the greatest similarities between the Habsburgs caused by genetic defects.

To this day the Habsburgs, are a symbol of power and its flag of two falcons later was mimicked by many countries such as Prussia and Flanders. The ambitious success and bitter end of the Habsburgs leave both awe and disappointment to many people. This story of the Habsburgs is from my perspective, a true lesson of history.