European dynasty, from German Habsburg, from the name of a castle on the Aar in Switzerland, originally Habichtsburg, literally "Hawk's Castle."
Austrian-based dynasty that ruled much of central and parts of western Europe from the thirteenth to the twentieth centuries. The family's head long held the title of Holy Roman Emperor (see Holy Roman Empire). By 1914 the Hapsburg-ruled Austro-Hungarian Empire included all or part of territories that later became independent nations, such as Czechoslovakia and Yugoslavia. The empire collapsed during World War I.
Note: Nationalism threatened to disrupt the Hapsburg Empire in the nineteenth century; the assassination of Archduke Francis Ferdinand by a Serbian nationalist in Sarajevo in 1914 triggered World War I.