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From around 1600 the Habsburg policy of recatholicisation or Catholic Renewal (Rekatholisierung) eventually led to the Thirty Years' War (1618–1648).

Originally a religious war, it was also a struggle for power in central Europe, particularly the French opposition to the Habsburg Holy Roman Empire.

Following the Babenberg dynasty and a brief interregnum, Austria came under the rule of the German king Rudolf I of Habsburg (1276–1282), beginning a dynasty that would last through seven centuries becoming progressively distinct from neighbouring Bavaria, within the Holy Roman Empire.

The 15th and early 16th century saw considerable expansion of the Habsburg territories through diplomacy and marriages to include Spain, the Netherlands and parts of Italy.

Human habitation of current Austria can be traced back to the first farming communities of the early Stone Age (Paleolithic era).

In the late Iron Age it was occupied by a Celtic culture (c.

By 1526 Ferdinand had also inherited the kingdoms of Bohemia, and Hungary after the Battle of Mohács which partitioned the latter.

From 1156 the Emperor Frederick Barbarossa created an independent duchy (Privilegium Minus) under the House of Babenberg, until its extinction in 1246, corresponding to modern Lower Austria.

Eventually the pressure of the anti-Habsburg coalition of France, Sweden, and most Protestant German states contained their authority to the Austrian and Czech lands in 1648.

In 1683, the Ottoman forces were beaten back from Vienna a second time and eventually, in the Great Turkish War (1683–1699), pushed back beyond Belgrade.

In the 6th century, another Germanic people, the Bavarii occupied these lands until it fell to the Frankish Empire in the 9th century.

Around 800 AD Charlemagne established the outpost of Avar March (Awarenmark) in what is now Lower Austria, to hold back advances from Slavs and Avars.