History Files
 

Please help the History Files

Contributed: 84

Target: 400

2023
Totals slider
2023

The History Files still needs your help. As a non-profit site, it is only able to support such a vast and ever-growing collection of information with your help, and this year your help is needed more than ever. Please make a donation so that we can continue to provide highly detailed historical research on a fully secure site. Your help really is appreciated.

European Kingdoms

Central Europe

 

Hesse (Germany)

The Germanic tribe of the Chatti of first century AD Europe gradually became the German Hessi of the Middle Ages (Medieval Latin 'Hassia'). The first recorded entry of a location within Hesse's territory dates from AD 782. The town mentioned was Eberstadt, then called Eberstadt im Rheingau, where a certain Walther, along with his wife, Williswinde, gave their entire property to the Lorsch Convent (Eberstadt has since been absorbed by the city of Darmstadt).

The first mention of Kassel is from AD 913, where it was referred to as Cassala (originating from the Latin Castellum Cattorum, meaning 'Castle of the Chatti'). The territory was divided during the period of the Frankish empire into several gaue, meaning 'districts' in English. These districts were Saxon Hessengau, Frankish Hessengau (Fritzlar and Kassel, to the south of the Saxon Hessengau), Buchonia, and Lahngau (to the south and south-west of the Hessengau), and these were ruled over by counts (grafen).

Under the weakened successors of Charlemagne the counts gradually become less responsible officials and more feudal lords, and the Frankish family of the Conradines played an important role in the early development of Hesse, especially in the Lahngau.

Records are patchy in places, making it hard to reconstruct the story of early Hesse's rise, but all of the important dates have been included here. The church acquired much landed property in the region, and secular Hesse became parcelled up into numerous pockets of territory.

FeatureMost prominent amongst the Hessian nobility in the tenth and eleventh centuries were the Gisos, the counts of Gudensberg (see feature link). The daughter of the fourth Giso count married Count Louis I of Thuringia (1122). In 1130 he was raised to the rank of landgrave and recognised as overlord by the Hessians, uniting Hesse and Thuringia between 1130-1247.

The male line of Thuringia became extinct with Henry Raspe (the brother-in-law of St Elizabeth of Thuringia) in 1247, so the Hessians selected Henry of Brabant (grandson of Elizabeth) as landgrave. Hesse was separated from Thuringia and after struggling against rival claimants, it was recognised as the independent 'Landgraviate of Hesse'. In 1500 it became the 'Duchy of Hesse'.

FeatureThe English form of the name is Hesse, while the German form is Hessen. For sake of clarity, the English 'Hesse' is used here to refer to the state in its singular form, while the divided states hold their German-form names. The Lahngau which forms the earliest domains of the eventual rulers of Hesse was a medieval territory which comprised the middle and lower Lahn river valley (now in the German states of Hesse and part of the Rhineland-Palatinate (and see feature link).

This area was traditionally known as Loganahe Pagus or Pagus Logenensis. This betrays the region's Roman influence, as the descriptive Latin pagenses was the Roman equivalent of a district council. In at least one case this was adopted as the name of a post-Roman territory, the Paganes of Britain.

Burg Frankenstein

(Information by Peter Kessler, with additional information by Trish Wilson, from Historisches Lexikon der deutschen Länder (Historical Dictionary of German States), Gerhard Köbler, 1995, from Die Hollende bei Wetter (Hessen)-Warzenbach. Führungsblatt zu der Burg der Grafen Giso im Kreis Marburg-Biedenkopf, Christa Meiborg, Archäologische Denkmäler in Hessen, Issue 157, from The Annals of Fulda (Manchester Medieval Series, Ninth-Century Histories, Volume II) Timothy Reuter (Trans) 1992, and from External Links: Grafengeschlecht der Gisonen und die Burg Hollende bei Treisbach (Giso Counts and Castle Hollende at Treisbach) (available from Wanderfreunde Treisbach), and Saints, and Fab Genealogy, and Pastoraler Raum Dietkirchen (in German - dead link).)

c.750? - 779?

?

Unnamed. Count in the Lahngau at some point in this period.

772/779?

Adaltrud is the widow of the unnamed count in the Lahngau (which at this time is in Rhenish Franconia). At some point between the two dates given above she grants to Fulda Abbey various plots of land in Buchen, Meinlinten, Neistenbach, and Selters. If this occurs close to 779 then the act probably takes place after her husband's death, given the fact that Conrad is count in the Lahngau in 772.

River Lahn
The River Lahn ran through the gau or district of the same name, forming an important part of the origins of medieval Hesse even though, in the eighth century it was part of Rhenish Franconia (western Franconia)

772 & 773

Conrad

Count in the Lahngau on these dates. Conradine founder.

782

The first recorded entry of a location within Hesse's territory dates from this year. The town mentioned is Eberstadt, called at the time Eberstadt im Rheingau, where a certain Walther, along with his wife, Williswinde, give their entire property to the Lorsch Convent. 'Rheingau' would mean the Rhine district, a 'gau' being an official term for the various districts within Frankish Germany at this time.

Each gau is administered by a count ('graf'). One Heimrich is count in the Rheingau around this time (or soon after), and it is his grandson who becomes Count Poppo I in the Grapfeld (Grabfeld) of north-eastern Franconia.

? - 795

Heimrich / Heimo

Count in the Lahngau. Count in the Upper Rheingau. Killed.

795

Heimrich, count in the Upper Rheingau and in the Lahngau, is one of Charlemagne's generals in his wars against the Saxons. However, he is killed at the Battle of Lüne and the Elbe against the Obotrite Slavs in this year. His grandson is Poppo I, count in the Grapfeld of north-eastern Franconia between 819-839.

Map of the Frankish Empire in AD 800
Under Charlemagne's leadership, the Franks greatly expanded their borders eastwards, engulfing tribal states, the Bavarian state and its satellite, Khorushka, and much of northern Italy, with the Avars now an eastern neighbour (click or tap on map to view full sized)

fl 800

Robert II of Worms

Count of Hesbaye, Worms, and the Rheingau.

? -821

Adrian

Count in the Lahngau.

821

Mentioned only once, Adrian is otherwise a mystery. His death in 821 means that he is succeeded by Udo the Elder and that his widow, Waltrat, grants property in Bermbach, Feldum, and Stetim. The grant is almost certainly to an abbey and is made with the consent of a certain Uto (could this be a misreading of Udo, the new count?).

821 - 826

Udo 'the Elder' / Udo / Eudes I

Son of Count Odo of Orléans? Count in the Lahngau.

826

Udo's time as count of Lahngau ends in 826, and in 828 he succeeds his father as count of Orléans. However, before that happens, he could in fact be the solution of a mystery which surrounds the first count in Franconia.

There, the mysterious Bogo has been impossible to identify in any form, but there is a strong possibility that he is Udo the Elder, count in the Lahngau, a powerful figure in western Franconia at this time.

Partition of the kingdom of Clovis
Clotilde, the widow of Clovis I, oversaw the partition of his kingdom between her four sons, as pictured in the medieval Grandes Chroniques de Saint-Denis

The Lahngau later forms part of the Hessian state, so he is shown here, but as his successors in Franconia (of which the Hessian lands are a part) are Eberhard I (Gebhard of Logenahe?) and Udo (Udo of Logenahe?), it seems likely that the names shown there as his successors are in fact the counts of the Lahngau shown here.

826? - 879

Gebhard of Logenahe

Son? Count of Nieder-Lahngau. Eberhard I of Franconia?

? - 860?

Conrad I of Logenahe

Brother?

? -834

Robert III of Worms

Son of Robert II. Count of Worms and the Rheingau.

834

Robert may be something of an outsider in Hessian terms as his principle seat is in Worms, to the south-west of Darmstadt, but he also holds the Rheingau at this time. His claim to fame is the fact that he is the father of Robert the Strong, dux & missus dominicus of the Breton March and later count of Nantes, grandfather of Odo and Robert I, both kings of the Western Franks, and great-great-grandfather of Hugh Capet, founder of the Capetian dynasty of France.

Tremazan Castle, Finistere
One of the Breton fortresses (although perhaps not involved in the events of AD 818) would have been the medieval Tremazan Castle (its modern ruins are shown here), which later belonged to the Breton du Chastel family and was built near the shore of Nord-Finistere in Brittany

838

Gebhard is a 'leading man of the [Eastern] Franks' and brother-in-law to Ernest, margrave of the Bavarian Nordgau. He may also be the son of Odo I, count of Orléans if he is identical with Udo the Elder, count of the Lahngau until 826. However, given the dates, he may instead be Odo's grandson.

In this year, 838, he becomes allied to Poppo, count in the Grapfeld of Franconia and Archbishop Otgar of Mainz against the rebellious Louis the German. The intention is to support Frankish Emperor Louis 'the Pious', a cause which is largely successful.

841 - 845

Along with the rest of the Hessi lands, the Lahngau has been governed by the Franks since their conquest of the Alemanni in 496. Following this the Frankish Conradine family had established themselves here, later becoming important political players.

Around the time of their arrival the only existing monastery had been that of St Lubentius in Dietkirchen (probably founded in the sixth century). Its first written mention dates to 841, when it is described as being a 'monasterium' (a hermitage). The church's own information gives a date of 730 for the founding of the first stone church and its extension in 838 to take the bones of St Lubentius.

In 845 Count Gebhard founds the St Severus Abbey in the Kettenbach which, later in his own lifetime, moves its base to Gemünden.

Map of the Frankish empire at the Treaty of Verdun AD 843
This map shows the division of the Carolingian empire according to the Treaty of Verdun in AD 843 (click or tap on map to view full sized)

c.850s

The first count of Franconia appears, one Bogo. The new territory of Franconia is one of several stem duchies which forms out of the slow but inevitable collapse of the Carolingian empire.

876

The death of Louis the German results in his territory being divided between his three sons. This is something which he had already foreseen, and portions of territory had been appointed to each of them in 865.

Now in a peaceful succession, Carloman inherits Bavaria and the Ostmark, Louis the Younger gains Franconia (which includes the Hessi territories), Saxony, and Thuringia, while Charles 'the Fat' succeeds to Rhaetia and Alemannia (Swabia). As the oldest son, Carloman also retains de facto dominance over the Eastern Franks as a whole.

This could be the point at which Saxon Hessengau passes to Franconia. It is also the point at which a clear nobility begins to emerge in the future Hesse. For now the concept of a single state by that name does not exist - instead the region is a patchwork of minor lordships and counties. The most important in terms of their descendants are the Hessians of the Wetterau, the counts of the Lahngau.

St Lubentius Dietkirchen Church
The modern St Lubentius Dietkirchen Church is largely a tenth and eleventh century rebuild of the original eighth and ninth century stone church

881 - 882

Charles 'the Fat' succeeds as titular head of the Frankish empire, holding the position as Emperor Charles III. He is crowned by Pope John VIII. In the following year, 882, Louis the Younger dies and Charles, as the last remaining of the three brothers, inherits his territories of Bavaria, Franconia, Saxony, and Thuringia, thereby reuniting East Francia following its division in 876.

? - 886?

Udo / Eudes II of Logenahe

Son of Gebhard. Count in the Lahngau (including Franconia?).

Berengar of Neustria

Brother. Count in the Hessengau.

Waldo

Brother. Abbot of St Maximin.

Berthold

Brother. Archbishop of Trier.

886 - 906

Conrad 'the Elder'

Son of Neustria's Udo. Count of Oberlahngau. Duke of Thuringia.

886 - 906

Conrad the Elder, duke of Thuringia (temporarily from 892) is the son of Udo of Neustria. His mother is most likely to be a daughter of Conrad I of Logenahe (832-860). Conrad also becomes a count of the Oberlahngau in 886, Hessengau in 897, Gotzfeldgau in 903, Wetterau in 905, and Wormsgau in 906.

In gaining all these titles he unites all of the lands of the Hessi and their immediate neighbours under a single political control, creating a bastion of the duchy of Franconia and an entity which will evolve into the landgraviate of Hesse.

Fritzlar in Hesse
The Conradine success at the Battle of Fritzlar in Frankish Hessengau saw them reach the peak of their power, although this depiction of Fritzlar dates from the seventeenth century

In 906 the Conradines defeat the Babenberg counts at the Battle of Fritzlar and establish themselves as dukes of Franconia. Conrad the Elder is killed in the battle. His son, Conrad the Younger succeeds him.

c.886

Lahngau is divided into the Upper and Lower Lahngau (which, in the original German, are the Oberlahngau and Niederlahngau  - or Unterlahngau - respectively). The date is unclear, although it happens by about 900, but Conrad the Elder's acquisition of the county of Oberlahngau in 886 could be when it takes place, either divided for him or because of him.

The exact boundary line between Oberlahngau and Niederlahngau has not survived. Theory suggests that it lay approximately around the watershed between the Solmsbach and Weil rivers to the east of Weilburg.

In 1894 Christian Spielmann noted that 'Weilburg lay in the Niederlahngau. It extended from about the Nister to the Pfahlgraben and from the Gelbach and Aar westwards to the Ulmbach and eastwards to Weil'. Others have suggested that the border lay more to the west of Weilburg, perhaps around the watershed between the Kerkerbach and Elbbach.

? - 910

Gebhard of the Wetterau

Son of Udo. First Count of the Wetterau? Duke of Lotharingia.

903 - 910

Gebhard of the Wetterau is confirmed as duke of Lotharingia by Louis the Child, king of Germany, in 903. He is killed in 910 in battle against the Magyars, somewhere in the region of Augsburg. His eldest son is Herman, who becomes duke of Swabia in 926. His younger son succeeds him as count of the Wetterau (from 914) and succeeds Eberhard as count of Oberlahngau (presumably in 918).

Berengar of Friuli
The determined Berengar of Friuli not only controlled the march territory between Italy proper and the Avars and Magyars to the east, but also claimed the Italian throne no less than three times during his eventful life

910 - 914

Other Conradine ecclesiastical foundations follow the creation of the St Severus Abbey in 845, these being St George in Limburg in 910, St Walpurgis Abbey in Weilburg in 912, and St Mary's Abbey in Wetzlar in 914/915. The last, at Wetzlar, may at least be to honour the slain Gebhard, especially as it is founded by his son, Udo IV.

913

The first mention of Kassel dates to this year, where it is referred to as Cassala, the name originating as Castellum Cattorum, the 'castle of the Chatti'. The location defends a crossing on the River Fulda. A Hessian nobility is also beginning to emerge by this time, although it apparently plays no major role in the region's politics until the twelfth century.

914 - 949

Udo IV of the Wetterau / Eldo / Othon

Son of Gebhard. Count of Wetterau (914) & Oberlahngau (918?).

918 - 939

Eberhard

Brother of Conrad the Younger. Count of Oberlahngau.

918 - 939

FeatureThe precise line of succession for Oberlahngau and Wetterau is far from clear. Records are patchy in places and often only dates of death are known.

It seems that the main Conradine line holds sway while it survives, with both Conrad the Younger and Eberhard holding titles before giving way to a more minor branch of the family in the form of the descendants of Gebhard of the Wetterau. Eberhard is count of Hessengau and Persgau from 913, becoming count of Oberlahngau in 918. He also becomes a margrave in 914-918, and duke of Franconia until 939.

Wetterau
The Wetterau formed an important part in the creation of early Hesse, although it lay to the north, immediately beyond Frankfurt and outside the core Hessian lands

939 - 949

The rebellious dukes Gilbert II of Maasgau, duke of Lorraine, and Eberhard of Franconia loot the counties of Udo IV of the Wetterau (or Odo) and his nephew Conrad of Niederlahngau. Their force is so large that Udo and Conrad are unable to resist them. But then the rebel dukes re-cross the Rhine at Andernach on 2 October in order to return to Lorraine and Udo and Conrad take the opportunity which has been presented to them.

The Battle of Andernach takes place with Gilbert and Eberhard still on the east bank of the Rhine and the bulk of their forces already across. Udo and Conrad attack and defeat them, killing Eberhard while Gilbert drowns when trying to escape. Their deaths allow Otto I, king of Germany, to restore order and show his favour to Udo. He succeeds Conrad as count of Niederlahngau in 949.

c.930s/940s

The lands of the Gisonen and their immediate ancestors, beginning with Udo IV, are mainly in the upper Lahn area (Oberlahngau in German), which seem to have increased since the time of Eudes of Lahngau. They rule small areas of Hesse alongside the far more powerful counts of Lower Hesse - this becomes northern Hesse. The latter are shown in green to differentiate them from the Gisonen.

Charlemagne
Charlemagne unified all the Frankish states under one ruler and created an empire which stretched deep into modern Germany, something the Romans had never managed - but this vast domain was too big to endure long as a single entity after his death

975

Hildelin

Origins unknown. Mention as Count of Oberlahngau in 975.

? - 978?

Meginfred

Son of Udo IV. Count of Oberlahngau.

MapThe records make it hard to be certain, but it seems that Count Meginfred marries Kunigunde or Cunigundis de Vermandois. She is the daughter of a Carolingian noble called Herbert or Hubert, otherwise known as Herbert I, count of Soissons, Meaux, and Vermandois until his murder in 902.

? - 987?

Thiemo / Tiemo

Son. Count of Oberlahngau.

993

Gerlach

Mentioned as Count of Oberlahngau. Count of Niederlahngau?

? - c.1000?

Werner I

Count of Lower Hesse.

c.1000s

FeatureFollowing the death of Count Werner of Lower Hesse (an area of northern Hesse), the Gisonen inherit his significant amount of territory. This makes them a powerful regional family which takes over as the county's titular heads, largely based at their ancestral seat of Hollende Castle (see feature link).

While they are often referred to as the Hollenden counts thanks to the castle's name, they are more correctly known as the Gudensberg counts (the 'Comes de Udenesberc' in Latin).

They seem to be descended from the Conradines, but are not themselves of that house, suggesting a connection by marriage or a change of name for this branch due to circumstances, perhaps the marriage of Meginfred to the daughter of a Carolingian noble.

Giso I is also referred to as having been 'Count of Maden', with a family seat in Odernburg (Gudenberg near Fritzlar, within Frankish Hessengau). The names of the counts are largely known, but their order of succession is relatively unclear. They become advocates of the HRE thanks to Emperor Henry II in 1015.

Gudensberg
A general view of Gudensberg, with the Castle Hill prominent, and Fritzlar in the background from the Sciographia Cosmica, printed between 1637-1678 - all within what would become northern Hesse but which was right now still within western Franconia

? - 1008?

Giso I

Son of Thiemo. Count of Oberlahngau & Gudensberg (c.1000?).

1017

Gerlach

Mentioned as Count of Oberlahngau. Count of Niederlahngau?

1024

With the death of Holy Roman Emperor Henry II, the empire is administered by his widow, Cunigunde (Kundigunde) of Luxemburg. She has long been politically active at Henry's side and now, with the assistance of her brothers, Dietrich and Heinrich, she manages the regency period for about two months until the vacancy on the throne is filled by Conrad the Salian.

Cunigunde hands over the imperial jewels to Conrad as a symbol of her legitimacy in office before retiring to Kaufungen Abbey, which she had previously founded in Wetter in Hesse.

? - 1040

Werner III of Maden

Count of Maden? Count of Gudensberg.

FeatureDetails surrounding the next two counts of Gudensberg seem to be confused and, indeed, confusing. They may be father and son, or brothers, and they may rule separately or together. The latter is possible, although there is otherwise a large gap between Giso II and Werner IV.

al 1049 - 1073?

Giso II

Son or grandson of Giso I? Count of Gudensberg.

1070 - 1073

Duke Otto II of Bavaria is intent on extending the duchy. This brings him into conflict with HRE Henry IV who covets the same lands on his southern border. A dubious charge of plotting to assassinate the emperor is levelled against him by Count Giso II and Adalbert of Schauenburg, probably with the emperor's full knowledge.

Otto is deposed as duke of Bavaria, deprived of his Saxon lands, and pronounced an outlaw. At Pentecost in 1071 he submits to Henry who has him arrested until July 1072. Then he is released and his personal domains returned to him - but not his extensive fiefs. In 1073 his followers murder Count Giso and Adalbert.

Burg Hollende
A sketch of Burg Hollende (dated 1247), the family seat and probable home of Hessen's Giso dynasty, showing what was probably the complete castle

?

Giso III

Son or brother? Count of Gudensberg.

FeatureCould Giso III be the son of Giso II? It seems likely, but the fact that Giso III is succeeded by Werner, count of Maden, suggests that his own son, Giso IV, is either displaced or perhaps is too young to govern in his own right.

According to local historian, Helfrich Bernhard Wencks, the wife of Giso III is the daughter of Count Udo and her name is Mechtildis (ie. Mathilde). However, Mathilde could also be the wife of Giso II, given that she lives in Burg Hollende following the death of her husband (she later remarries) before relocating to the village of the same name before her death in 1110.

? - 1121

Werner IV of Maden

Count of Maden & Gudensberg. Died without a male heir.

?

FeatureAs the Imperial standard-bearer, the future Giso IV marries Kunigunde, daughter of Count Rugger II (Ruckers) of Bilstein. Through this union he gains widespread property and vogtship (advocate) rights from the counts of Bilstein.

His first mention in history occurs in 1099 as the son of Countess Matilda in her first marriage (either to Giso II or Giso III, although which is unclear). He often acts in close collaboration with the current count of Maden and Gudensberg, Werner IV. Giso succeeds Werner, probably on the basis of his marriage to Kunigunde.

1121 - 1122

Giso IV

Son of Giso II or III. Count of Gudensberg & Upper Lahngau.

1122

Still most prominent amongst the Hessian nobility in the tenth and eleventh centuries are the Gisos, the counts of Gudensberg. It is at this time (1121) that the town of Gudensberg itself receives its first direct mention in history.

Wotan mountain can be derived from this mention, an indication of the worship of the Chatti's chief god. A castle had been built here, on Castle Hill, which had already become the seat of the Hessian counts.

Gudensberg and Castle Hill
To contrast with the seventeenth century illustration of Gudensberg and Castle Hill (see above), this modern photo shows the area not too greatly changed

The daughter of Giso IV is Hedwig of Gudensberg (1098-1148). She now marries the soon-to-be Count Louis III of Thuringia. The widowed Kunigunde of Bilstein, Hedwig's mother, remarries, this time to Henry Raspe I (younger brother of Louis).

1122 - 1137

Giso V

Son, but this is arguable (a minor). Count of Gudensberg.

1122 - 1123

Kunigunde of Bilstein

Mother and regent. Remarried to Henry Raspe I.

1137

FeatureFollowing the death of Giso V, Landgrave Louis I of Thuringia inherits his title and lands thanks to his marriage to Giso's sister, Hedwig, and his brother's marriage to Hedwig's mother, Kunigunde of Bilstein. Louis effectively becomes the most powerful Hessian noble as a result.

He holds the position of bailiff of Hersfeld Abbey, and territory which includes a large proportion of the lordship of Bilstein; the bailiwick of Wetter and the Gisonen lands to the north of Marburg; and the inherited territories of the counts of Werner (Lower Hesse) following the end of their line in 1121.

The Werner lands also include the county of Maden-Gudensberg, and the position of bailiff of the abbeys of Breitenau and Hasungen, and Fritzlar Cathedral. It seems likely that Henry Raspe I administers his brother's Hessian lands from this point onwards, having already done so as regent for Giso V.

Ahnaberg Abbey
Ahnaberg Abbey was founded in Kassel in 1148 and demolished in 1878 (although one online source states the early twentieth century), with only the north wing shown here in a 1928 German language publication surviving for more secular use

? - 1140

Louis I

Landgrave of Thuringia (1130) & Count of Gudensberg.

?

Henry Raspe I

Younger brother. Administrator for Hessen territories?

1130

Count Louis III is raised to the rank of landgrave as Louis I, and his Thuringia is recognised as overlord by the Hessians. This unites Hesse and Thuringia from 1130-1247, clearly to the detriment of Hesse's traditional link with Franconia.

1140 - 1172

Louis II the Iron

Landgrave of Thuringia & Count of Gudensberg.

?

Henry Raspe II

Younger brother and administrator for Hessen territories.

1148

While acting as regent for her son, Louis II of Thuringia, Hedwig of Gudensberg founds Ahnaberg Abbey in Kassel. Support for this act comes from her younger son, Henry Raspe II, who is managing the administration of Thuringia's holdings in Hesse.

1172 - 1190

Louis III the Mild

Landgrave of Thuringia & Count of Gudensberg.

? - 1217

Henry Raspe III

Younger brother and administrator for Hessen territories.

1189

A deed which is dated to this year confirms that the growing settlement of Kassel has gained city rights at an unknown point after 913.

Fritzlar in Hesse
The Conradine success at the Battle of Fritzlar in 906 in Frankish Hessengau saw them reach the peak of their power, although this depiction of Fritzlar dates from the seventeenth century

1190 - 1216

Herman I

Landgrave of Thuringia & Count of Gudensberg.

1196 - 1247

Franconia gradually collapses, along with large swathes of other German stem duchies. It is broken up into several smaller states which include the semi-independent Hesse and Nassau, with the district administrators, the counts (grafs), assuming more and more regional responsibility and authority.

1216 - 1227

Louis IV 'the Pious'

Landgrave of Thuringia & Count of Gudensberg.

1227 - 1241

Herman II

Landgrave of Thuringia & Count of Gudensberg.

1231 - 1241

With the death of St Elizabeth of Thuringia, Louis' widow, Henry Raspe is able to assume unquestioned control of Thuringia as its regent. His nephew, the young Herman II, dies ten years later, never having ruled himself. Henry is numbered IV as he follows three previous uncles as (joint) count of Gudensberg with their respective brothers. While the latter had fulfilled the role of landgrave of Thuringia, the Raspes had always administered the family's Hessian lands.

1241 - 1247

Henry Raspe IV

Brother-in-law of Elizabeth of Thuringia. No male heir.

1241 - 1234

Conrad Raspe

Younger brother and administrator for Hessen territories.

1247

The male line of Thuringia becomes extinct with the death of Henry Raspe (the brother-in-law of St Elizabeth of Thuringia). Henry's younger brother, Conrad, has already relinquished his own titles in Hesse to join the Teutonic Knights (in 1234) and become their head (in 1239). Hesse is guided by his niece, Duchess Sophia, but his death triggers the War of the Thuringian Succession.

Duchess Sophia of Brabant
Duchess Sophia led the fight to secure the various Hessian lands as a unified landgraviate for her son, Henry of Brabant, otherwise known as Henry 'the Child' due to his young age

1247 - 1263

Duchess Sophia of Thuringia

Niece of Henry Raspe. Established landgraviate from 1247.

1247 - 1263

With the death of Henry Raspe, Duchess Sophia, his niece, now steers Hesse towards becoming a semi-independent landgraviate. The Hessians are able to select Henry of Brabant (grandson of Elizabeth and son of Sophia and her husband, Henry II of Brabant) as their first landgrave.

However, following a heavy defeat at Besenstedt (near Wettin) in October 1263, Sophie has to admit failure in securing the remainder of Thuringia for her son.

That passes to the March of Meissen, and through this it eventually becomes part of the electorate Saxony when the Wettins gain the ducal title (1423). Hesse itself is separated from Thuringia and is eventually recognised as the independent 'Landgraviate of Hesse'.

 
Images and text copyright © all contributors mentioned on this page. An original king list page for the History Files.