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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.

It is somewhat contentious (debateable) as to whether Giso V, mentioned in various items of contemporary literature, was an under-aged son of Giso IV.

The name could also apply to a Viscount Giso. He and his predecessor(s) had since 1109 been vogt (bailiff) of Hausungen Abbey (Diefenach 155 ff, and Brunner 116 but contradicted by Demandt 170).

According to Landau (Ritterburgen Volume IV 191ff), it is all about the representatives of the counts (Giso) who had their residence in Gudensberg. What is noteworthy is that by this time the name Giso has cropped up a number of times, covering a period of nearly two hundred years.

This first known untergraf (viscount?) died in 1137 during the Italian campaign by Emperor Lothar against the Normans near the town of Palestrina, not far from Rome. In the text by the chronicler, Samx, there is this passage: [18]

...aput Preneste defunctus ac sepultus est Giso comes Hassiae [Schenk zu Schweinsberg 49].

Count Giso of Hesse died near Palestrina (Pr(a)eneste and is buried there (information provided by Schweinsberg 49).

The double Hedwig

The later life of Countess Kundigunde of Bilstein, widow of Giso IV, has time and time again given rise to fantastic speculation and has influenced the historical works which relate to Thuringia and Hessen even today. The cause of all of this is the Latin sources which form the basis of many chronicles and documents. The most important are as follows:

Henricus, qui minor erat, huius ecclesiae advocatiam tenuit. SED et Hodewingam ()Hedewigam), comitis Gisae viduam, frater vero mirificis nominis filiam conjugem duxit [Chron. Gozec. SS X, 154; Patze 196 Anm. 32].

Heinrich (Henry) who was the second-born son, held the vogtei (bailiwick) of the church. He married Hedwig, widow of Count Giso, his brother having married the daughter of the same name (note that the widow is referred to as Hedwig not Kundigunde).

and then this one:

[18] The Normans didn't just invade and conquer England and later Ireland; they did the same in Sicily and southern Italy (most notably in Apulia).

Cunigunda nomine de Bilstein, que fuerat uxor Gisonis comitis ( ) predium aput Brubach ( ) dominus Ludowicus comes de Thuringia cum uxore sua, filia predicte Cunigunde [Landau 315; Patze 195 Anm. 30] datiert 1138/39].

Kunigunde von Bilstein, who was the widow of Count Giso ( ) estate near Brubach ( ) Lord Ludwig, count of Thuringia, with his wife, daughter of the aforementioned Kunigunde.

This is exactly what the Latin text states. With help from others KHW has filled in the gaps.

Countess Kunigunde of Bilstein, who had been the wife of Count Giso (is to be buried in the Abbey of Siegburg which lately had been her refuge for the good of her soul, which institution forms part of an) estate near Brubach. (Following the arrival of) Lord Ludwig, count of Thuringia, with his wife, the daughter of the aforementioned Kundigunde (the burial took place) (Landau, see above).

Kunigunde is not mentioned in the second source as the wife of Heinrich Raspe I, but only as the widow of Giso. This source, as Landau explains, was only put together during the term of office of Archbishop Arnold of Cologne (1138-1151), but these events must have happened during the time of his predecessor, Friedrich (1099-1131). Given that Heinrich died in 1130, either he must have been Kunigunde's husband or she his widow - neither can be true. As it is, he neither married the widow of Giso nor was she named Hedwig [Landau 315].

This means that the Thuringian genealogies published by Demandt and Patze are wrong. It also means Demandt's attempt to set up Heinrich Raspe as the administrator of the estate of his alleged stepson, Giso V, fails too. Should Heinrich have actually married some Hedwig or other it has nothing to do with either the Graf von Gudensberg or the position of imperial standard-bearer which came from the Werner inheritance.

It should not be forgotten either that the Raspes as the second-born sons were, until the end of the twelfth century, the Thuringian trustees in Hessen and not the actual owners. They simply ran the place.

Hedwig von Hollende, countess of Thuringia, was, therefore, the only legitimate heir(ess).

As daughter of the last Count Giso, the Giso family residence passed to her. Given medieval laws regarding inheritance, this probably means that ownership actually passed to her husband who would then have had the problem of having either church or imperial fiefs transferred to him. If this didn't succeed as was the case for Burg Hollende, the fief passed back to the original owner and then was re-assigned or independently managed.

This ruling means that one can determine whether an inheritance consisted of either feudal or non-feudal possessions. It also shows how, and in what circumstances, acquisitions, alienation, assignments, and donations have happened and what claims future generations can make.


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.