Babenberg Era, period in the history of Lower Austria from 976 to 1246 during which the region became a political entity. 3 stages:
1) Colonisation period 976-1100: The march is gradually expanded to its northern and eastern borders. The permanent location of most settlements is determined. The old settlement areas of the Alpine Fore-Land and the Weinviertel region are re-developed and settled more densely. Clearing of woods begins in the Pre-alps and in the Waldviertel region. A network of parishes is established.
2) The march becomes a duchy: This period is marked by major developments: The Babenbergs expand their contacts, especially with the Staufer (Hohenstaufen) Dynasty, they participate in the Crusades, the march is raised to a dukedom, monasteries and towns are founded, castles are erected, landlordism develops, independent cultural development begins (especially building activities), and the cultivation of land is completed.
3) Political organisation of the land: legal independence from Bavaria (duchy of Austria), supported through the founding and enlargement of towns, the granting of town charters, an independent church policy (attempt to found a bishopric, creation of new religious orders), the adoption of new construction principles (early Gothic style) and manifold cultural achievements ( Nibelungenlied, Minnesong). As the Babenberg territory grew, new towns gained importance. Up to the 11th century, Poechlarn, Melk and Gars had functioned as the margraves´ residences. Then Leopold III established a palace at Klosterneuburg, which was also temporarily used by Leopold VI, and Heinrich II took up residence in Vienna, which then became the centre of the country.
Literature#H. Dienst, Werden und Entwicklung der babenbergischen Mark; H. Appelt, Das Herzogtum Oesterreich; both in: Oesterreich im Hoch-Mittelalter 907-1246, Geschichte Oesterr., vol. 2, ed. by the Austrian Academy of Sciences, 1991.