Power and Glory of the Habsburgs

Out of the Darkness of Time

A Documentation by Gernot Stadler

Documentation, 52 min, 2023
GS Film
Written by
Gernot Stadler, Björn Kölz
Directed by
Gernot Stadler
Gernot Stadler
Production Management
Monika Orsini-Rosenberg, Raphaela Loigge

The multi-part documentary series “The Habsburgs in Europe” is a tour of European history and the most beautiful and important workplaces of the Habsburgs.

The House of Habsburg was one of the most influential dynasties and a central shaper of European history for centuries. Alsace and Aargau in Switzerland are home to the oldest traces of this dynasty: picturesque castles, monasteries and ruins.

The rise of the Habsburgs from a regional German ducal family in present-day Alsace to the most powerful ruling dynasty in Europe is also reflected in the many architectural testimonies that still bear witness to their rise and their former power. The starting point of the cinematic journey to those countries and places that are still influenced by the Habsburgs is the Vienna Hofburg. Starting from the former centre of power of the German-Roman Emperors, the journey takes us westwards, to Alsace and the Swiss canton of Aargau, where the Habsburg family enters the light of history some 900 years ago.
The Abbey of Odilienberg in Alsace, where the relics of St. Ottilie from the 7th century are kept, remains of particular importance to the Habsburgs. The Habsburgs consider the noblewoman of the Franconian family of the Etichones as the ancestor of their dynasty. Also high above the Rhine valley is the ruin of Hohlandsbourg Castle, which was built many centuries later by order of Rudolf von Habsburg. It bears witness to the impressive political rise of the Habsburgs to a German royal dynasty in the 13th century. The election of Rudolf as King of Germany in 1273 meant an enormous increase in power and prestige, which was also manifested in a lively building activity.
A detour to the south leads to the Swiss canton of Aargau, where there are the remains of the Habsburg family, which gave the family its name. Here, the medieval archaeologist Peter Frey researched for years on the construction history of the castle, of which only a part has survived.

Just as Rudolf once moved east to the Duchy of Austria to defeat his rival Ottokar of Bohemia, the first part of the documentary series follows in his footsteps to Dürnkrut, and thus to the scene of one of the greatest battles of the Middle Ages. The significance of symbols for the consolidation of claims to power and status in the Middle Ages is also discussed. In the cathedral of Speyer Rudolf I was buried alongside the German kings of former noble families, thus underlining the new status of his family. You will also visit the Treasury in the Hofburg in Vienna, where the imperial insignia of the Reich Crown, Sword and Scepter have been kept for around 200 years.