Leopold I. (Liutpold), called the Illustrious, was born around 940. He was count in the Bavarian Danube delta and appears already in the 960s as a loyal follower of Emperor Otto I and later of his son Otto II.
The Duke of Bavaria, Henry II, “the Quarrelsome,” was in conflict with the Holy Roman Emperor.
Therefore, in 976, the king separated Carinthia from the Duchy of Bavaria and gave the Marchia Orientalis to his own retainer, the Babenberg Leopold. On July 21, 976, he was for the first time called margrave, marchio Liutpalus.
The Babenbergs were to rule in the territory of Austria until 1246.
At that time, the margraviate extended from the Erlabach, a few kilometers east of the Enns, in the west to the Wienerwald in the east; in the north, the valleys along the lower reaches of the tributaries (Krems and Kamp) and the Wagram were added to the Danube valley; in the south, the margraviate extended to the mountainous country. Leopold extended the territory further to the east.
Leopold probably resided first in Pöchlarn and later in Melk. On his depiction on the Babenberg family tree in Klosterneuburg he can be seen in front of Melk Abbey with a canon; in the foreground a battle of the Babenberg troops against the Hungarians is shown.
Leopold died on July 10, 994 in Würzburg after an assassination attempt which was actually aimed at his cousin Heinrich.
Leopold had eight children with his wife Richarda. His sons Henry I and Adalbert became Margraves of “Austria” after him.
On February 28, 1863, Emperor Franz Joseph decided to include Leopold I in the list of “the most famous war princes and commanders of Austria worthy of perpetual emulation” and so in 1868 he was also given a life-size statue in the Commander’s Hall of the then newly built Imperial and Royal Court Arms Museum (today’s Hofwaffenmuseum). Hofwaffenmuseum (today: Heeresgeschichtliches Museum Vienna).