The Habsburgs were one of the principal dynasties of Europe from the 15th to the 20th century.

The dynasty of the Habsburgs began when Pope Gregory X, in order to find support for a new crusade and to secure a counterweight to the king of Sicily, persuaded the German princes to elect the Count Rudolph of Habsburg emperor in 1273.

The real ascendancy of the Habsburgs began when Frederick V, the Habsburg king of Germany from 1440, was crowned Holy Roman emperor as Frederick III in 1452; this title remained in the family until 1806.

Some families have fought, others have intrigued their way to world power; the Habsburgs married their way. They began with Austria and then married - the lady's name scarely mattered - the Netherlands, Burgundy, the duchy of Milan, Sicily and finally Spain including all her dominions on the American continent.

The highpoint of Habsburg power came under Charles V (1500-58) who ruled over an empire over 'which the sun never set'.

The dynastic division at Charles death initiated the Spanish Habsburg line (until 1700) and the Austrian line which ruled the Habsburg posssessions in central Europe until 1918.

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