Rudolph IV. died childless in 1365, and in 1379 his two remaining brothers, Leopold III. and Albert III., made a division of their lands, by which Albert retained Austria proper and Carniola, and Leopold got Styria, Carinthia and Tirol. Leopold was killed in 1386 at the battle of Sempach, and Albert became guardian for his four nephews, who subsequently ruled their lands in common. The senior line which ruled in Austria was represented after the death of Duke Albert III. in 1395 by his son, Duke Albert IV., and then by his grandson, Duke Albert V., who became German king as Albert II. in 1438. Minority of Ladislaus. Albert married Elizabeth, daughter of Sigismund, king of Hungary and Bohemia, and on the death of his father-in-law assumed these two crowns. He died in 1439, and just after his death a son was born to him, who was called Ladislaus Posthumus, and succeeded to the duchy of Austria and to the kingdoms of Hungary and Bohemia. William and Leopold, the two eldest sons of Duke Leopold III., and, with their younger brothers Ernest and Frederick, the joint rulers of Styria, Carinthia and Tirol, died early in the 15th century, and in 1406 Ernest and Frederick made a division of their lands.
Ernest became duke of Styria and Carinthia, and Frederick, count of Tirol. Ernest was succeeded in 1424 by his sons, Frederick and Albert, and Frederick in 1439 by his son, Sigismund, and these three princes were reigning when King Albert II. died in 1439. Frederick, who succeeded Albert Regency of the emperor Frederick III. as German king, and was soon crowned emperor as Frederick III., acted as guardian for Sigismund of Tirol, who was a minor, and also became regent of Austria in consequence of the infancy of Ladislaus. His rule was a period of struggle and disorder, owing partly to the feebleness of his own character, partly to the wish of his brother, Albert, to share his dignities. The Tirolese soon grew weary of his government, and, in 1446, Sigismund was declared of age. Popular revolt under Ulrich Eiczing and Count Ulrich of Cilli. The estates of Austria were equally discontented and headed an open revolt, the object of which was to remove Ladislaus from Frederick's charge and deprive the latter of the regency. The leading spirit in this movement was Ulrich Eiczing (Eitzing or von Eiczinger, d. before 1463), a low-born adventurer, ennobled by Albert II., in whose service he had accumulated vast wealth and power.
In 1451 he organized an armed league, and in December, with the aid of the populace, made himself master of Vienna, whither he had summoned the estates. In March 1452 he was joined by Count Ulrich of Cilli, while the Hungarians and the powerful party of the great house of Rosenberg in Bohemia attached themselves to the league. Frederick, who had hurried back from Italy, was besieged in August in the Vienna Neustadt, and was forced to deliver Ladislaus to Count Ulrich, whose influence had meanwhile eclipsed that of Eiczing. Ladislaus now ruled nominally himself, under the tutelage of Count Ulrich. The country was, however, distracted by quarrels between the party of the high aristocracy, which recognized the count of Cilli as its chief, and that of the lesser nobles, citizens and populace, who followed Eiczing. In September 1453 the latter, by a successful émeute, succeeded in ousting Count Ulrich, and remained in power till February 1455, when the count once more entered Vienna in triumph. Ulrich of Cilli was killed before Belgrade in November 1456; a year later Ladislaus himself died (November 1457). Meanwhile Styria and Carinthia Austria created an archduchy. were equally unfortunate under the rule of Frederick and Albert; and the death of Ladislaus led to still further complications.
Austria, which had been solemnly created an archduchy by the emperor Frederick in 1453, was claimed by the three remaining Habsburg princes, and lower Austria was secured by Frederick, while Albert obtained upper Austria. Both princes were unpopular, and in 1462 Frederick was attacked by the inhabitants of Vienna, and was forced to surrender lower Austria to Albert, whose spendthrift habits soon made his rule disliked. A further struggle between the brothers was prevented by Albert's death in 1463, when the estates did homage to Frederick. Hungarian conquest of Austria. The emperor was soon again at issue with the Austrian nobles, and was attacked by Matthias Corvinus, king of Hungary, who drove him from Vienna in 1485. Although hampered by the inroads of the Turks, Matthias pressed on, and by 1487 was firmly in possession of Austria, Styria and Carinthia, which seemed quite lost to the Habsburgs.
The decline in the fortunes of the family, however, was The emperor Maximilian I. to be arrested by Frederick's son, Maximilian, afterwards the emperor Maximilian I., who was the second founder of the greatness of the house of Habsburg. Like his ancestor, Rudolph, he had to conquer the lands over which his descendants were destined to rule, and by arranging a treaty of succession to the kingdoms of Hungary and Bohemia, he pointed the way to power and empire in eastern Europe. Soon after his election as king of the Romans in 1486, Maximilian attacked the Hungarians, and in 1490 he had driven them from Austria, and recovered his hereditary lands. In the same year he made an arrangement with his kinsman, Sigismund of Tirol, by which he brought this county under his rule, and when the emperor Frederick died in 1493, Maximilian united the whole of the Austrian lands under his sway. Continuing his acquisitions of territory, he inherited the possessions of the counts of Görz in 1500, added some districts to Tirol by intervening in a succession war in Bavaria, and acquired Gradisca in 1512 as the result of a struggle with Venice. He did much for the better government of the Austrian duchies.
Bodies were established for executive, financial and judicial purposes, the Austrian lands constituted one of the imperial circles which were established in 1512, and in 1518 representatives of the various diets (Landtage) met at Innsbruck, a proceeding which marks the beginning of an organic unity in the Austrian lands. In these ways Maximilian proved himself a capable and energetic ruler, although his plans for making Austria into a kingdom, or an electorate, were abortive.