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Central Europe

Giso Counts and Castle Hollende at Treisbach (Hesse)

translated and expanded from the original German text by Trish Wilson, 31 May 2015

The Gissones of Hessen
Part 1: The Gisones
Part 2: Giso I
Part 3: Giso II
Part 4: Giso III
Part 5: Giso IV
Part 6: Giso V

Author's Note: This feature is a direct translation of the German-language document entitled Grafengeschlect der Gisonen and die Burg Hollende bei Treisbach, by Kai-Hubert Weiss (KHW). While the translation is accurate, efforts have been made to correct any mistakes by the original author. Reasoning for such corrections has been provided, and extra information has been added where possible.

In 1099 a Count Giso, son of Countess Matilda, is listed a as vogt (bailiff) of the Abbey of Hersfeld, which came in to his possession through his marriage to Kunigunde von Bilsteina, daughter of Counter Ruckers II.

The same applies to the vogtei (bailiwick) of the monastery (foundation) of St Florian in Koblenz, which was also a Bilstein inheritance (1110).

Giso IV belonged to the circle of fürsten (princes) surrounding Heinrich IV who acted as advisers (counsellors) in 1108. His name often appears with that of Werner IV of Grüningen in documents. Count Werner was also a well-known loyal figure to the emperor.

There is always an attempted explanation for the striking close relationship of the Werners and the Gisonen. Were both families descended from one of the Salische houses or were they related in other ways?

It has been assumed that a daughter of Werner IV married Giso IV, but the only known daughter of Werner IV married Adalbert of Kisslau in 1116 and died in 1121 without issue.

Another unproven yet possible allegation is that a daughter of Werner III married Count Ruckers II, father of Kunigunde von Bilstein.

In the dispute between Archbishop Adalbert of Mainz (1111-1127) and Emperor Heinrich IV (1106-1127) may lie the key to explaining the later devolution of the House of Thüringen (Thuringia). In the year 1114, Giso IV, as a follower of Emperor Heinrich IV, struck against Archbishop Friedrich of Cologne, an ally of Adalbert, inflicting considerable damage to the monastery and the surrounding county. After that there is no further mention of any subsequent imperial involvement so there must have been a change of front, although no reasons are known.

As suggested by Diefenbach and Henseling, a change of circumstances had already happened in 1070 under Giso II, but this seems improbable and it was more likely to have occurred when the loyal Gisonen had their fiefs, which had been provided by the archbishopric of Mainz, withdrawn during the conflict between Heinrich V and Adalbert.

What is certain is that between 1115 and 1118 the imperial fiefs held by Giso and Werner as provided by the archbishopric of Mainz and enfeoffed to Upper and Lower Hessen were recovered by Adalbert. This arbitrary change of sovereignty was an affront to the imperial house, but at the time a military showdown was out of the question, which left Archbishop Adalbert a step closer to fulfilling his dream of setting up an enclosed episcopal 'Kirchenland' (land which belonged only to the Church).

It is clear that by 1121 Giso IV had become an opponent of the emperor and an ally of the archbishop when, in that same year, he was awarded the privileges of the city of Mainz by the archbishop.

In 1110 Hedwig, daughter of Giso and Kunigunde, married Count Ludwig of Thuringia. Werner IV of Grüningen died on 22 February 1121 (although according to Landau 322 it was on 25 January 1122), without issue and consequently without male heirs. In the same year Giso IV is referred to as 'Comes de Udenesberc', count of Gudensberg, so obviously he was Werner's successor. Whether Kunigunde, wife of Giso IV, succeeded in bringing the office of imperial standard-bearer and the county of Maden-Gudensberg to her husband through the Bilstein claims on the county is unclear, as the note on the property claims for Mainz states one donation from the last Werner.

Finally, Count Giso IV of Gudensberg died on 12 March 1122.

St Martin and St Stephen, Mainz
The archbishopric of Mainz from its seat in the spectacular six-towered Catholic Cathedral of St Martin and St Stephen (seen here in 1840) claimed supremacy over Hesse thanks to its dominance of the region prior to the landgraviate's creation


Main Sources

Meiborg, Christa - Die Hollende bei Wetter (Hessen)-Warzenbach. Führungsblatt zu der Burg der Grafen Giso im Kreis Marburg-Biedenkopf, Archäologische Denkmäler in Hessen, Heft 157, Landesamt für Denkmalpflege Hessen, Wiesbaden, 2003

Weiss, Kai-Hubert - Grafengeschlect der Gisonen and die Burg Hollende bei Treisbach

Dietrich, Christoph von Rommel - Geschichte von Hessen, Volume 1

Weller, Tobias - Die Heiratspolitik des deutschen Hochadels im 12. Jarhundert

Wencks, Helfrich Bernhard - Hessische Landesgescichte, Volume 3

Schmidt, Johannes Ernst Chistroph - Geschichte des Grossherzogthums Hessen

Verlag, Vittorio Klostermann - Hessen und das Stammesherzogtum Sachsen

Internet Sources

Dt.wiki - Die Gisonen

www.hoeckmann.de - Geschichte der Landgraftschaft Hessen, Kassel Teil 1

www.myheritage.com - Giso von Gudensberg



This new translation and expansion of Grafengeschlect der Gisonen and die Burg Hollende bei Treisbach by Kai-Hubert Weiss copyright © Trish Wilson. An original feature for the History Files.