Fürstenberg (Swabian noble family)

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Fürstenberg family coat of arms in the Zurich coat of arms roll (approx. 1340)
Fürstenberg coat of arms at the source of the Danube

Fürstenberg is the name of a Swabian noble family of the high nobility , whose possessions were in the southwestern German region between the Black Forest , High Rhine , Lake Constance and the Swabian Alb , and some of them still lie today. In addition, the Fürstenberg owned large estates in the Austrian hereditary lands - especially in Bohemia . They belong to the so-called families of the Apostles .

With the principality of Fürstenberg they ruled one of the largest territories in the German south-west until 1806. The Fürstenberg gained international reputation through the Fürstlich Fürstenbergische Brewery , as the owner of one of the largest private art collections in Europe, including the Fürstlich Fürstenbergische Collections , and as the founder and patron of the Donaueschinger Musiktage , the Donaueschingen riding tournaments and the Fürstenberg Polo Cup. In Donaueschingen they have lived in Donaueschingen Castle since 1488 , after they left Entenburg in the Pfohren district.

With the Heiligenberg Castle , the Fürstenberg house also owns one of the most important Renaissance monuments north of the Alps. The family's economic basis lies primarily in extensive forest ownership.

The family is not related to the Barons von Fürstenberg from Westphalia , and the Fürstenberg porcelain factory is also not related.


The historically last form of the title was Fürst zu Fürstenberg, Landgraf in der Baar and Stühlingen, Graf zu Heiligenberg and Werdenberg .

Heinrich Fürst zu Fürstenberg and Christian Hereditary Prince zu Fürstenberg have headed the house since 2002 . Heinrich Fürst zu Fürstenberg is the "boss of the house". After Hohenlupfen Castle , the seat of the family's residence has been Donaueschingen since 1723 ; their burial place is in Neudingen on the site of the former Neudingen monastery .


The principality before mediatization
The Fürstenberg coat of arms from Johann Siebmacher
Boundary stone between Fürstenberg and the St. Blasien monastery (1767)
Fürstenberg family table until 1860

The counts and princes of Fürstenberg can be traced back to the Frankish count family of the Unruochingen , who held important functions in the state administration in the south-west of Germany at the time of Charlemagne . The Fürstenbergs have been clearly traceable since the 11th century as Counts of Urach on the Swabian Alb and in the area of ​​the central Neckar .

The Fürstenberg are a sideline of the Counts of Urach and related to the Counts of Achalm . Count Egino IV of Urach, who was married to Agnes, daughter of Berthold IV of Zähringen , inherited a large part of the property of the Dukes of Zähringen in 1218 , since Berthold V had died childless and the main line of Zähringen had thus died out. The inheritances on the Baar and in the Black Forest formed the basis of the sidelines of the Fürstenberg.

Count Konrad founded the line of the Counts of Freiburg with the Zähringian goods in Breisgau . His younger brother Heinrich took over the Zähringian inheritance in the Kinzigtal , the Black Forest and on the Baar and named himself after the castle on the " Fürdersten Berg ", the ridge length near Neudingen Graf von Fürstenberg. He became the progenitor of Fürstenberg's.

While the counts of Freiburg struggled with the bourgeoisie of the up-and-coming city of Freiburg and the Habsburgs and died out in the 15th century, those of Fürstenberg succeeded thanks to their close association with the House of Habsburg , a clever marriage policy and several favorable inheritances Multiplication of their territorial possessions. Since the end of the Middle Ages, the house not only acquired the later Fürstenberg residence of Donaueschingen with the highly important Danube spring (1488), but also such important territories as the counties of Heiligenberg (1543) and the Landgraviate of Stühlingen (1637/1639) or the dominions of Trochtelfingen and Jungnau ( 1543), Meßkirch , Wildenstein , Gundelfingen , Falkenstein , Hayingen , Neufra and a third of Helfenstein - Wiesensteig (1627/1636) and (Hohen-) Hewen with Engen (1637/1639).

Donaueschingen Castle has remained the main residence of Prince zu Fürstenberg to this day, and Heiligenberg Castle is still owned by the family. The Lower Austrian domination Weitra based on Schloss Weitra in the Waldviertel came in 1607 to the family of Fürstenberg that until 1848 the manorial held and also still owners of the castle and the associated large estates in the area.

At first, these territorial gains did not result in a greater increase in family power. In divisions of inheritance, these territories were repeatedly divided into different lines. Only Prince Joseph Wilhelm Ernst zu Fürstenberg-Stühlingen (1699–1762) succeeded in combining the various territories into a Fürstenberg state with uniform administration after the lines in Heiligenberg (1716) and Meßkirch (1744) had died out. In the process, Donaueschingen, acquired in 1488, was expanded into a new residence. Until the unification of the two margravates of Baden-Durlach and Baden-Baden in 1771, Fürstenberg was the second most important territory in the south-west of Germany.

During the Reformation , Count Wilhelm von Fürstenberg converted to the Protestant faith in 1537 , but returned to the Roman Catholic Church in 1549 . The Princely House was able to fully assert itself in its territories against the local lower nobility. On October 31, 1723, the capital and residence of Stiehlingen had been moved to Donaueschingen , because it was better situated than the distant Stiehlingen for the overview of affairs .

Josef Wilhelm Ernst , Prince of Fürstenberg (1699–1762)

Through the unification of all rulers under the "Prince of Fürstenberg" Josef Wilhelm Ernst , a structure comparable to larger German territorial states emerged in 1744, which, however, lacked territorial and administrative cohesion as well as external power. The rule had about 85,000 inhabitants and was divided into 14 upper offices. The government in Donaueschingen included a chancellor , three court and two chamber councilors and the princely archivist . She was responsible for the court pay office and the financial administration. Prince Josef Wilhelm Ernst, as the imperial principal commissioner , interfered little in the administration of his territory. After the goods of his wife Maria Anna Countess von Waldstein in Bohemia had been confiscated as part of Charles VII in the Austrian War of Succession , he advocated a quick end to the war. On behalf of the Bavarian Elector Max Joseph, he conducted peace negotiations with Maria Theresa with little success .

Prince Karl Joachim Aloys Franz de Paula fled from the French troops to his property in Weitra in 1798 and 1800 . After the prince's early death in 1806, the Fürstenberg territory was mediatized due to the Rheinbund act in the wake of the Reichsdeputationshauptschluss conclusion and largely added to the Grand Duchy of Baden . The part of the country on the left bank of the Danube went to Hohenzollern-Hechingen .

In Austria-Hungary , more precisely in the Kingdom of Bohemia and in the Margraviate of Moravia , members of the Fürstenberg family held high and highest offices, such as that of the Prince Archbishop of Olomouc or the Bishop of Brno .

In 1896 the Swabian lineage died out, the management of the united princely Fürstenberg family passed to Max Egon II zu Fürstenberg from the Bohemian secondary school line . Under him, the Bohemian castle Křivoklát (Pürglitz) with the collection and the library from the Palais Fürstenberg on Prague's Lesser Town and the Lány (Lahn) castle were sold to the Czechoslovak state .

The loss of their traditional rulership rights only affected the family's position for a short time. Prince Karl Egon II expressed his status as the first class lord in Baden through a dynastic connection with the grand ducal house of Baden. His son Karl Egon III. organized the Fürstenberg forest and iron and steel industry strictly according to private-sector criteria. Within a few years he became one of the richest men in Germany. Prince Max Egon II finally turned his attention primarily to the Fürstenberg brewery and expanded it into one of the largest breweries in the German Empire (“table drink SM of the emperor”). What the house had lost in state position through mediatization, it tried to make up for through cultural and social activities. With the princely institutes for art and science , consisting of collections, archive and court library, the princes Karl Egon II. (1796-1854) and Karl Egon III. (1820-1892) one of the largest private collections in Europe and made it accessible to the public. In 1921 Max Egon II. Zu Fürstenberg finally established the Donaueschinger Musiktage , which became the most important forum for contemporary music. Under the patronage of Joachim zu Fürstenberg (1923–2002), the Donaueschingen riding tournaments also gained international importance from 1954 .

Over the years, however, the Fürstenbergs sold larger parts of their economic and cultural empire, including Neufra Castle in 1867 , Trochtelfingen Castle in 1869, and Wildenstein Castle and Meßkirch Castle from the 1970s, as well as extensive forest and land holdings, most recently Hohenlupfen Castle in Stühlingen in 2011 with lands. In 2015, forest ownership is expected to include "approx. 18,000 hectares", plus forest ownership in Canada and Austria. With Lignis GmbH & Co. KG, Heinrich Prinz zu Fürstenberg built up a company for wood marketing, in which he involved many well-known royal houses: Waldburg-Wolfegg, Leiningen, Löwenstein-Wertheim-Rosenberg and Sayn-Wittgenstein-Hohenstein - together 52,000 hectares of forest. The family is also a franchise partner of Friedwald GmbH and, as southern Germany's largest provider of urn places, operates six forest burial facilities on 256 hectares as well as a pet cemetery .

From the beginning of the 1980s, the unique and historically important court library in Donaueschingen was gradually sold. Initially, individual, partly outstanding manuscripts were sold . While the remaining manuscripts and music were acquired by the state of Baden-Württemberg in 1992, the rest, including the unique collection of incunabula and the complete collection of over 11,000 prints, of the famous bibliophile and Nestor of Old German Studies, the one in morganatic marriage with the widowed princess Elisabeth von Fürstenberg (1767–1822) affiliated baron Joseph von Laßberg (1770–1865), auctioned from 1994 to 2002 in several tranches through various auction houses after negotiations with the state of Baden-Württemberg over a closed purchase had failed and only part of it who had previously acquired incunabula. In 1999 the music collection was sold, in 2002 the collection of medieval panel paintings, including the Wildenstein Altarpiece by the master of Messkirch . A large part of the collection is now part of the Würth Collection and is exhibited in the Johanniterkirche in Schwäbisch Hall; the brewery finally followed in 2004.

In Donaueschingen you can visit the historical natural history collection with fossils and minerals, prepared animals and the collection on the history of the Fürstenberg house as well as modern art , in a specially built historical museum building near the castle, the court library is open to the public during opening hours.

Counts of Fürstenberg - lineage

The following given years are the reigns:

The Fürstenberg-Haslach sideline 1284–1386

There was already another division of the estate under the sons of the progenitor Heinrich I. While Friedrich continued the main line, Egon founded the Fürstenberg- Haslach sideline in 1284 , which, however, died out in the male line in 1386 with the death of Count Johann in the battle of Sempach . Henry IV. Was after a protracted dispute over inheritance with the Count Friedrich XI. von Hohenzollern and the Bishop of Strasbourg, Friedrich von Blankenheim , received the property and imperial fiefs of the branch line for the Fürstenberg family, although he had to do without three other villages.

The Counts of Fürstenberg-Haslach

The following given years are the reigns:

  • Egon (Egen) (1284-1324)
  • Gottfried (Götz), (1324–1341)
  • Hugo (Hug) (1341-1371)
  • Johann (Hans) (1371-1386)

The Fürstenberg-Wolfach sideline 1407–1490

The Fürstenberg lands were divided up again among the sons of Count Heinrich IV . While the ancestral castle and the Landgraviate of Fürstenberg fell to Heinrich V and Egon received the rule of Wartenberg with the city of Geisingen , the Fürstenberg possessions in the Kinzig valley with the cities of Wolfach and Haslach came to Konrad. Konrad founded his own branch line Fürstenberg-Wolfach or Fürstenberg-Kinzigtal. Heinrich and Egon ruled some possessions in the Black Forest together and often appear together in the documents. After the sideline in 1490 with the death of Henry VI. died out, his cousin Wolfgang inherited most of his possessions. After Konrad's older brother, Heinrich VII, died in 1499, the Fürstenberg possessions were reunited.

The Counts of Fürstenberg-Wolfach

The following given years are the reigns:

  • Konrad (1407–1419): took over the reign before the death of his father
  • Henry VI. (1419–1490): was under the age of majority when his father died in 1419, which is why a custodial government under his uncle Egon and Heinrich V took over rule until 1432.

The rise to the imperial prince status

The Fürstenbergers belonged to the imperial count class . 1664 was Hermann Egon from the line Fürstenberg-Heiligenberg and his spiritual brothers Franz Egon (Bishop of Strasbourg) and Wilhelm Egon (cardinal) of Emperor Leopold in the Fürstenstand levied. After the Fürstenberg-Heiligenberg line died out in 1716, Count Froben Ferdinand zu Fürstenberg-Mößkirch and Joseph Wilhelm Ernst zu Fürstenberg-Stühlingen were given over by Emperor Karl VI. appointed imperial princes .

Counts and princes of Fürstenberg-Heiligenberg

Joachim Graf zu Fürstenberg (1538–1598)
Carl Egon II. Prince of Fürstenberg (1796–1854)

The County of Fürstenberg-Heiligenberg was split off from the County of Fürstenberg-Baar in 1559. The Fürstenberg-Donaueschingen line split off from Fürstenberg-Heiligenberg in 1617, but in 1698 it fell back to Fürstenberg-Heiligenberg, which had meanwhile been elevated to a principality (1664). The entire line fell to the princes of Fürstenberg-Fürstenberg in 1716.

The following given years are the reigns:

Main line of the Fürstenberg line to Meßkirch-Wildenstein

  • 1.1 Wratislaus II. (*?; † 1642): son of Christoph II. Von Fürstenberg, founder of the Fürstenberg line in Meßkirch -Wildenstein, 1. ∞ Johanna Eleonora, heiress of Gundelfingen , Meßkirch , Hayingen and Neufra , daughter of Froben Christoph Graf von Helfenstein , Freiherr von und zu Gundelfingen ; 2. ∞ Franzisca Carolina, heiress of a third of Helfenstein- Wiesensteig , Wildenstein and Falkenstein , daughter of Rudolf III. Count of Helfenstein-Wiesensteig
  • 2.1 Franz Christoph (*?; † 1671)
  • 3.1 Froben Ferdinand (* 1664; † 1741): Imperial Prince (1716–1741); ∞ Countess Maria Theresia Felicitas von Sulz
  • 4.1 Karl Friedrich (* 1714; † 1744): Imperial Prince (1741–1744); ∞ Duchess Maria Gabriele Felicitas of Schleswig-Holstein-Sonderburg; died childless.
    • 3.2 Karl Egon
    • 3.3 Philipp Karl
    • 2.2 Froben Maria
    • 2.3 Ferdinand Rudolf

Counts and princes zu Fürstenberg from the Stühlinger line

Mediatized princes and noblemen of Baden

As Standesherren since 1806 enjoyed mediated princes of Fürstenberg accordance with Article XIV of the German Federal Act of 1815, numerous special rights, although in the March Revolution were largely lost, but the qualifying remained a seat in the first chamber of the Badische States General made to the 1918th

The following is the list of the princes of Fürstenberg as Baden noblemen until the fall of the monarchy in 1918 with a preceding term of office:

Heads of the Fürstenberg family

After the fall of the monarchy in the November Revolution , all public-law nobility privileges were abolished. In terms of private law, however , the Fürstenberg house still exists today. The previous nobility names were declared part of the civil family name in 1919. In the case of the Fürstenberg family, all members have since then been given the civil and legal surname Prinz or Princess zu Fürstenberg . However, the respective boss of the house continues to appear in public with the historical primogeneity title Fürst , which has not been part of the civil name since 1941 (with the death of Max Egon II).

After 1919, Prince Max Egon II was allowed to continue using the real name of Prince zu Fürstenberg in accordance with the legal provisions . It is unclear whether the name with the name component reminiscent of the first-born title Fürst became official for individual successors or whether the family name Prinz zu Fürstenberg always remained the official form of the name for all the bosses of the house after 1941.

Other important personalities of the house



  • Ronald G. Asch: Administration and civil service. The territories of the Counts of Fürstenberg from the end of the Middle Ages to the Swedish War 1490–1632. Stuttgart 1986, ISBN 3-17-009429-7 .
  • Karl Siegfried Bader:  Fürstenberg. In: New German Biography (NDB). Volume 5, Duncker & Humblot, Berlin 1961, ISBN 3-428-00186-9 , p. 695 f. ( Digitized version ).
  • Ingfried Dold: The development of the civil service relationship in the Principality of Fürstenberg in the time of the late natural law (1744-1806). Allensbach 1961.
  • Erwein H. Eltz: The modernization of a class rule. Karl Egon III. and the Fürstenberg house in the years after 1848/49 . Sigmaringen 1980.
  • Erwein H. Eltz, Arno Strohmeyer (ed.): The Fürstenberger. 800 years of rule and culture in Central Europe. (= Catalog for the Lower Austrian State Exhibition 1994), Korneuburg 1994.
  • Friedrich-Karl zu Hohenlohe-Waldenburg: On the history of the Fürstenberg coat of arms . Blum & Vogel, Stuttgart 1860 (digitized version)
  • Julius Kindler von Knobloch : Upper Baden gender book , Heidelberg 1894, Volume 1, pp. 402-412 (detailed family tree); (Digitized version)
  • Martin Leonhard: Fürstenberg, from. In: Historical Lexicon of Switzerland .
  • Esteban Mauerer: Southwest German imperial nobility in the 17th and 18th centuries. Money, reputation, career: the Fürstenberg company . Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, Göttingen 2001 (digitized version)
  • Ernst Münch: History of the house and state of Fürstenberg . Volume 1–2, Aachen / Leipzig 1829. ( digitized in the Google book search, digitized )
  • Ernst Münch, Carl Borromäus Alois Fickler: History of the house and country of Fürstenberg . Volume 3, Aachen / Leipzig 1832; Volume 4, Karlsruhe 1847 ( digitized in the Google book search, digitized )
  • Siegmund Riezler : History of the Princely House of Fürstenberg and its ancestors up to 1509. Tübingen 1883. online at the Düsseldorf University Library
  • Georg Tumbülle: The Principality of Fürstenberg from its beginnings to its mediatization in 1806. Freiburg 1908.
  • Daniel Wesely: Tax reform and cadastral mapping in the Principality of Fürstenberg in the 18th century. Frankfurt am Main 1995, ISBN 3-631-48333-3 .
  • Andres Wilts: "Erased from the number of immediate imperial princes". The mediatization and repositioning of the principality of Fürstenberg 1806. In: Casimir Bumiller (Hrsg.): Adel im Wandel. 200 years of mediation in Upper Swabia. Catalog for the exhibition in Sigmaringen from May 13 to October 29, 2006 . Thorbecke Verlag, Ostfildern 2006, ISBN 3-7995-0216-5 , pp. 333-348.
  • Constantin von Wurzbach : Fürstenberg, the family of counts, princes and landgraves . In: Biographisches Lexikon des Kaiserthums Oesterreich . 5th part. Typogr.-literar.-artist publishing house. Establishment (L. C. Zamarski & C. Dittmarsch.), Vienna 1859, pp. 14-16 ( digitized version ).
  • Furstenberg. In: Johann Heinrich Zedler : Large complete universal lexicon of all sciences and arts . Volume 9, Leipzig 1735, columns 2251-2260.
  • Fürstenberg (Swabian noble family) . In: Meyers Konversations-Lexikon . 4th edition. Volume 6, Verlag des Bibliographisches Institut, Leipzig / Vienna 1885–1892, p. 0793.
  • Author collective: Fürstlich Fürstenbergischer Forstbetrieb. In: Allgemeine Forst Zeitschrift (AFZ). Special issue. 39th year, issue 25/26, 1984.
  • Matthias Miller, Martina Rebmann: "... the precision and the great effect of this small orchestra". Music with the princes of Fürstenberg in Donaueschingen. In: Moments articles on regional studies in Baden-Württemberg. No. 4, 2005.

Web links

Commons : Fürstenhaus Fürstenberg  - Collection of images, videos and audio files
Wikisource: Fürstenberg  - Sources and full texts

Individual evidence

  1. https://fuerstenberg-polo.de/
  2. ^ Friedrich Uhlhorn, Walter Schlesinger: The German territories . (= Handbook of German History. 13). dtv, Munich 1984, ISBN 3-423-04213-3 , p. 176.
  3. ^ Ernst Münch, Karl Fickler: History of the house and the country of Fürstenberg . Volume 4, Karlsruhe 1847, p. 244.
  4. Meinrad Schaab , Hansmartin Schwarzmaier (ed.) U. a .: Handbook of Baden-Württemberg History . Volume 2: The Territories in the Old Kingdom. Edited on behalf of the Commission for Historical Regional Studies in Baden-Württemberg . Klett-Cotta, Stuttgart 1995, ISBN 3-608-91466-8 , p. 345.
  5. Alois Schmid: Max III. Joseph and the European Powers. The foreign policy of the Electorate of Bavaria from 1745–1765. Verlag Oldenbourg, Munich 1987, ISBN 3-486-53631-1 , p. 23 and passim .
  6. ^ László Strauss-Németh: Johann Wenzel Kalliwoda and the music at the court of Donaueschingen . Volume 1, Verlag Olms, Hildesheim 2005, ISBN 3-487-12975-2 , p. 15ff.
  7. Forest owner: Who owns the forest? on: waldprinz.de , June 28, 2014.
  8. Internet presence of Friedwald GmbH: [1]
  9. Internet presence of the Fürstenbergschen Friedwälder: [2]
  10. Felix Heinzer (Ed.): Preserved cultural heritage "Unpredictable interest". Catalog for the exhibition of the manuscripts acquired by the state of Baden-Württemberg in the Fürstlich Fürstenbergische Hofbibliothek. Württemberg State Library, Stuttgart 1993; Klaus Graf: Not committed to tradition. An obituary for the incunabula collection of the Princely Fürstenbergische Hofbibliothek in Donaueschingen. In: Badische Heimat. 75: 319-331 (1995). A reviewed and updated version with literature supplements and a statement on the quality of the Laßberg Library as a cultural monument is available online ( Memento from October 1, 2013 in the Internet Archive ).
  11. Oliver Frank: To the point: Where is the responsibility of former sovereigns. In: Swabian homeland. 2002/2, p. 131.
  12. s. Thomas Zech: The Counts of Fürstenberg-Haslach (1284-1386). (pdf)
  13. Siegmund Riezler : History of the Princely House of Fürstenberg and its ancestors up to 1509. Tübingen 1883, pp. 250–270 (online at Düsseldorf University Library)
  14. Ernst Münch: History of the house and country Fürstenberg. in the Google book search Volume 1–2, Aachen / Leipzig 1829, pp. 326–350.
  15. on the history of the Fürstenberg-Haslach see also the historical story by Heinrich Hansjakob: The stone man of Hasle. (online in the Gutenberg project)
  16. s. Siegmund Riezler : History of the Princely House of Fürstenberg and its ancestors up to 1509. Tübingen 1883, p. 313 and 355–385. (online at Düsseldorf University Library)
  17. ^ Count Heinrich VI (1432-1490). at: www.hausach-chronik-online.de , accessed on November 16, 2016.
  18. ^ Johann Jacob Moser: From those Teutschen Reichs-estates ... , Frankfurt am Main 1767, p. 70; CBA Fickler: Brief history of the Fürstenberg, Geroldseck and von der Leyen houses. Karlsruhe 1844, pp. 17/18.
  19. ^ Johann Jacob Moser: Of those Teutschen Reichs-estates…. Frankfurt am Main 1767, p. 237.
  20. In the older literature the old form of the name of Messkirch - Mößkirch is often used
  21. ↑ Family tree
  22. Paul Theroffs Online Gotha, Fürstenberg
  23. Prince Tassilo is the name of the offspring in the Princely House. In: Black Forest Messenger. December 27, 2013.