The Margraviate of Austria was a southeastern frontier march of the Holy Roman Empire created in 976 out of the territory on the border with the Kingdom of Hungary. Originally under the overlordship of the Dukes of Bavaria, it was ruled by margraves of the Franconian Babenberg dynasty. It became an Imperial State in its own right, when the Babenbergs were elevated to Dukes of Austria in 1156.
Margravial Austria reached its greatest height under Leopold III, a great friend of the church and founder of abbeys. He patronised towns and developed a great level of territorial independence. In 1139, Leopold IV inherited Bavaria. When his successor, the last margrave, Henry Jasomirgott, was deprived of Bavaria in 1156, Austria was elevated to a duchy independent from Bavaria by the Privilegium Minus of Emperor Frederick Barbarossa.