FREDERICK III. (c. 1286-1330), surnamed "the Fair," German king and duke of Austria, was the second son of the German king, Albert I., and consequently a member of the Habsburg family. In 1298, when his father was chosen German king, Frederick was invested with some of the family lands, and in 1306, when his elder brother Rudolph became king of Bohemia, he succeeded to the duchy of Austria. In 1307 Rudolph died, and Frederick sought to obtain the Bohemian throne; but an expedition into that country was a failure, and his father's murder in May 1308 deprived him of considerable support. He was equally unsuccessful in his efforts to procure the German crown at this time, and the relations between the new king, Henry VII., and the Habsburgs were far from friendly. Frederick asked not only to be confirmed in the possession of Austria, but to be invested with Moravia, a demand to which Henry refused to accede; but an arrangement was subsequently made by which the duke agreed to renounce Moravia in return for a payment of 50,000 marks. Frederick then became involved in a quarrel with his cousin Louis IV., duke of Upper Bavaria (afterwards the emperor Louis IV.), over the guardianship of Henry II., duke of Lower Bavaria. Hostilities broke out, and on the 9th of November 1313 he was defeated by Louis at the battle of Gammelsdorf and compelled to renounce his claim.
Meanwhile the emperor Henry VII. had died in Italy, and a stubborn contest ensued for the vacant throne. After a long delay Frederick was chosen German king at Frankfort by a minority of the electors on the 19th of October 1314, while a majority elected Louis of Bavaria. Six days later Frederick was crowned at Bonn by the archbishop of Cologne, and war broke out at once between the rivals. During this contest, which was carried on in a desultory fashion, Frederick drew his chief strength from southern and eastern Germany, and was supported by the full power of the Habsburgs. The defeat of his brother Leopold by the Swiss at Morgarten in November 1315 was a heavy blow to him, but he prolonged the struggle for seven years. On the 28th of September 1322 a decisive battle was fought at Miihldorf; Frederick was defeated and sent as a prisoner to Trausnitz. Here he was retained until three years later a series of events induced Louis to come to terms. By the treaty of Trausnitz, signed on the 13th of March 1325, Frederick acknowledged the kingship of Louis in return for freedom, and promised to return to captivity unless he could induce his brother Leopold to make a similar acknowledgment. As Leopold refused to take this step, Frederick, although released from his oath by Pope John XXII., travelled back to Bavaria, where he was treated by Louis rather as a friend than as a prisoner. A suggestion was then made that the kings should rule jointly, but as this plan aroused some opposition it was agreed that Frederick should govern Germany while Louis went to Italy for the imperial crown. But this arrangement did not prove generally acceptable, and the death of Leopold in 1326 deprived Frederick of a powerful supporter. In these circumstances he returned to Austria broken down in mind and body, and on the 13th of January 1330 he died at Gutenstein, and was buried at Mauerbach, whence his remains were removed in 1783 to the cathedral of St Stephen at Vienna. He married Elizabeth, daughter of James I., king of Aragon, and left two daughters. His voluntary return into captivity is used by Schiller in his poem Deutsche Treue, and by J. L. Uhland in the drama. Ludwig der Bayer. The authorities for the life of Frederick are found in the Fontes rerum Germanicarum, Band i., edited by J. F. Balmer (Stuttgart, 1843-1868), and in the Fontes rerum Austriacarum, part i. (Vienna, 1855). Modern works which may be consulted are: E. M. Furst von Lichnowsky, Geschichte des Hauses Habsburg (Vienna, 1836-1844); Th. Lindner, Deutsche Geschichte unter den Habsburgern and Luxemburgern (Stuttgart, 1888-1893). R. Dobner, Die Auseinandersetzung .. zwischen Ludwig IV. dem Bayer and Friedrich dem Schonen von Osterreich (Göttingen, 1875); F. Kurz, Osterreich unter KOnig Friedrich dem Schonen (Linz, 1818); F. Krones, Handbuch der Geschichte ?sterreichs (Berlin, 1876-1879); H. Schrohe, Der Kampf der Gegenkonige Ludwig and Friedrich (Berlin, 1902); W. Friedensburg, Ludwig IV. der Bayer and Friedrich von Osterreich (Göttingen, 1877); B. Gebhardt, Handbuch der deutschen Geschichte (Berlin, 1901).
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