Barons of Sax

from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Coat of arms of the von Sax in the Zurich coat of arms roll
Dominion of the barons and counts of Sax
The minstrel Heinrich von Sax in the Codex Manesse

The noble family von Sax (originally de Sacco ) came from what is now eastern Switzerland . The focus of their possessions was on both sides of the Alps in what is now the cantons of St. Gallen , Graubünden and Ticino . The origin of the family is unknown, given the possessions on both sides of the Alps, it is assumed that they descended from the Churrätischen nobility and was probably related to the da Torre family. The family split into two main lines: The Counts of Sax-Misox and the Barons of Hohensax .


The earliest documented representative of the family was Eberhard de Sacco, who was procurator for the Lords of Gammertingen in Chur in 1137/39. He can probably be identified with Eberhard von Sasbach, who with his wife Heilwig handed over goods to the Reichenbach monastery in 1138/52. Albrecht von Sax, mentioned in 1188, is considered to be the progenitor. According to a deed of foundation, the Sax family owned the Misox valley in 1168 , which they had probably received as a fiefdom of the Hohenstaufen family . Heinrich I von Sax was Vogt of the St. Gallen Monastery, the Disentis and Pfäfers monasteries , builder of Forstegg Castle , and lord of Wartenstein Castle . Under him, the von Sax also acquired important goods in Toggenburg and in the Rhine Valley , where they built Hohensax Castle, named after them, as a center of power around 1200 . He was enfeoffed by Frederick II in 1220 with the County of Blenio and the dominion of Monte Dongo . The influence of the Sax family in Eastern Switzerland is evident from the fact that Heinrich's brother Ulrich became abbot of St. Gallen in 1204-2020.

The Saxon family shares with the brothers Heinrich III., Albert III. and Ulrich III. 1248. Albert and his descendants took over the family property in Graubünden and Ticino and named themselves Misox after the rule. Ulrich received the rule of Hohensax and half of the Balgach bailiwick . After the Hohensax Castle near Sennwald , his descendants called themselves Barons von Hohensax.

Master list up to division

According to Gabathuler

  1. Eberhard de Sacco / von Sasbach, 1137/39 procurator for the gentlemen of Gammertingen ⚭ Heilwig
    1. Heinrich I von Sax (1140/45 - before 1219), 1193–1212 Dean of St. Gallen
    2. Albert I von Sax (1140/45 - before 1220), 1188 in the entourage of Rudolf von Tübingen
      1. Ulrich I von Sax (1170/75 - 1220), abbot of St. Gallen, from 1207 imperial prince
      2. Eberhard II.
      3. Heinrich II. (1170/75 - before 1239), Vogt of the Disentis Monastery and Pfäfers ⚭ heir daughter of Manfred von (Mesocco-) Crimei and his sister Alcherio da Torres
        1. Ulrich II. († May 30, 1227), 1210 provost of Chur
        2. Albert II († around 1227/28)
          1. Heinrich III (von Sax von Calanca), seat at Castle Calanca, 1244 Milanese Capitaneus
          2. Albert III (von Sax von Misox † 1279), seat at Wartenstein Castle, moved to Misox in 1251: Counts of Sax-Misox
          3. Ulrich III (von Sax), seat at Hohensax Castle: Barons von Sax
        3. (Guta), illegitimate daughter, gifted as a serf to the St. Gallen monastery in 1236
          1. Hermann, 1236 Canon
          2. Heinrich, lord of the church of Sax in 1250
    3. Ulrich von Sax, 1200 canon of Chur


Misox Castle and the Misox Valley

Albert III sold Wartenstein Castle and the Bailiwick of Pfäfers, Valens, Vättis and Untervaz to the Pfäfers monastery in 1257 for 300 silver marks. After the decline of the Staufer, the Sax-Misox lost the Blenio Valley, Monte Dongo and the Clanx Castle in Appenzell. The core of the Sax-Misox possessions were now the Misox valley with the San Bernardino Pass and the Walser settlements in the Rhine Forest . In 1295 the Sax lent the far away imperial court in Arth to the knights of Grünenfels from Waltensburg / Vuorz. Caspar von Sax-Misox (1362-1390) was married to Elisabeth von Rhäzuns . After the death of her grandfather Walter von Belmont , most of the Belmont family's possessions came to the Sax-Misox, including Flims with Belmont Castle , Fidaz, Gruob, Ilanz , Lugnez , Vals and Wartau . The reign of Wartau was later sold to the Counts of Werdenberg .

Johann von Sax-Misox (1390–1427) was married to Katharina von Werdenberg-Heiligenberg, who was the co-heir of the last Count of Toggenburg . In 1437, with Wilhelm von Montfort, she received the Prättigau , Davos , Belfort , Schanfigg and the bailiwick of Churwalden and Strasbourg Castle from the Toggenburg heritage. He had a transit road built from Castrisch via Seewis, Pitasch and Safien into the Rheinwald and Misox. For a long time he was in the service of the Visconti ducal family from Milan. In 1402 Johann and his brother Albert (1390–1406) conquered the Milanese fortress of Bellinzona and also occupied the Blenio Valley. In Gorduno , Bogiano and Roveredo they built castles to secure their conquests. When the Uri and their allies advanced towards Milan in 1407, the brothers had to enter into a castle right with them and allow the march through. In August 1413 the Sax-Misox supported the German King Sigismund on his march against Milan and were presumably granted the title of Count and the coin shelf. In 1419 Johann and Donat (1400–1423) von Sax-Misox sold Blenio, Bellinzona and Monte Dongo to Uri and Obwalden under pressure. In 1424 Johann von Sax-Misox founded the Gray Bund with his dishes Ilanz, Gruob, Lugnez, Vals, Castrisch and Flims . In the Milan procession of 1425, when the Gray League and the Swiss moved against Milan, it remained neutral. He is buried in the church of Castrisch .

Count Heinrich von Sax-Misox (1427–1488) fought for a long time about the Toggenburg inheritance of his mother Katharina. In 1439 he ceded his share to Wilhelm von Montfort. He only pledged his part of the county of Uznach to Schwyz and Glarus. During the turmoil in Milan over the Ambrosian Republic , he suffered a defeat in the Battle of the Olona on June 6, 1449. In 1450, however, he was reconciled with the Duke of Milan. When he was preparing to conclude an alliance with Milan, there was an uprising in his areas in the Gray League in 1458, which, however, was amicably settled thanks to the mediation of the Abbot of Disentis. Heinrich von Sax-Misox was able to confirm an alliance with Duke Galeazzo Sforza of Milan in 1466 . In 1479 Heinrich ceded most of his possessions to his son Johann Peter.

Coat of arms of the Counts of Sax-Misox in the cathedral of Chur

Johann Peter (1462–1540) was the last count of Sax-Misox. He was an avowed opponent of Milan and persecuted all supporters of the Sforza in his territory. Since Milan pressed him about it, he joined the Gray League in 1480 together with his court Misox and Soazza. When Milan nevertheless occupied the Misox valley, he sold it in 1480 to the Milanese military leader Gian Giacomo Trivulzio . After lengthy quarrels, he had to give up all claims to his former properties in Ticino and Misox in 1489. Through his second marriage to Countess Clementine von Montfort-Werdenberg, Johann Peter came into the possession of the County of Werdenberg and the Lordship of Wartau in 1483 . Due to financial difficulties, he had to sell his Belmont possessions to Ortlieb von Brandis, Bishop of Chur, in 1483 and Werdenberg and Wartau to the city of Lucerne in 1485. Impoverished, he entered the service of the Dukes of Austria and Milan. He died in Castrisch and was buried in the local church.

The Sax-Misox coat of arms was a shield divided by red and gold with two sacks of alternating colors.

Illegitimate lines of the Sax-Misox family existed in Grono , Castrisch , Waltensburg and Truns . They called themselves Junker von Sax .

Research into the Desax family turns out to be quite difficult. It is often no longer possible to locate all family members because the necessary documents such as church registers are no longer available. This is particularly true of the Disentis church registers . These fell victim to the pillage of the French troops in 1798 .

It is generally assumed that the Desax von Disentis and other Desax lines from the Bündner Oberland descend from the Sax-Misox . The Desax von Disentis derive their origins from the Sax farm in Disentis. The sparse remains of a tower or a castle near Acletta in Disentis are possibly related to the Sax-Misox, because Heinrich von Sax (Misox) was the guardian of the Disentis monastery in 1190 . Josef von Sax, Abbot of Disentis 1641–1642, came from the Desax von Disentis line . So far, no other origin of the Desax family is known.


The Political Conditions in Eastern Switzerland during the Old Confederation (before 1798)

In the 13th century, Ulrich II's heirs, Ulrich III. (1282–1322), Walter (1282) and Eberhard II (1309) owned the villages of Gams , Sax and part of Wildhaus and half of the Balgach Bailiwick. In these areas they owned the castles Hohensax, Burg Frischenberg , Wildenburg and Burg Forstegg . In 1320 they sold the Wildenburg near Wildhaus to the Count of Toggenburg. Among the sons of Ulrich III. there was another division of the estate. Ulrich IV. Stephan (1329–1381) received Forstegg Castle with the villages and hamlets Büsmig, Frümsen, Haag and Salez. Ulrich Branthoch (1329–1356) together with Ulrich Eberhard III. (1346–1397) Hohensax Castle, Ulrich Johann I. (1346–1377) Frischenberg Castle. In 1347 the brothers sold their share in the Balgach Bailiwick, and in 1360 Ulrich IV. Stephan came into the possession of half of the Bürglen lordship in Thurgau.

The sons of Ulrich IV. Stephan and Ulrich Johann I, Ulrich Eberhard IV. (1348–1413), Ulrich V (1348–1388), Wilhelm I and Johann II got into a feud because of the ownership claims on Hohensax Castle her uncle Ulrich Eberhard III., which Duke Leopold IV. of Austria in favor of Ulrich Eberhard III. was arbitrated. In 1393 he sold the castle and village of Sax and Gams to Leopold IV, who gave them to Ulrich Eberhard IV as a fief in 1399. In 1396 he also acquired the Sennwald farm . He and his wife Elisabeth von Werdenberg-Sargans allied themselves with the Appenzell people in 1405, which meant that their castles were not destroyed in the Appenzell Wars and that they could lose their vassal status to Austria again.

Albrecht I von Hohensax (1439–1463) inherited the entire family property of the Hohensax line after the childless death of all male relatives. He acted unhappily between Austria, Zurich and the Confederates in the Old Zurich War and the Plappart War , so that he got caught between the fronts and was ultimately ostracized. In addition, he did not marry Ursula Mötteli appropriately, so that after his death his sister Elisabeth inherited the castles of Hohensax and Frischenberg with the associated villages of Gams and Sax. Elisabeth von Hohensax was married to Kaspar von Bonstetten , a citizen of Zurich, which is why the Appenzell people burned down their castles Hohensax and Frischenberg in 1446 during the Old Zurich War and annexed part of the Hohensax rule. Only Gams and the ruins of Hohensax Castle were returned to the Bonstetten in 1461, while Frischenberg Castle and the village of Sax kept them. In 1490, after the St. Gallen War, this area fell to the VII eastern places of the Confederation.

The son of Albrechts and Ursula, Ulrich VII von Hohensax (1463–1538), was handed over to the mayor of Zurich, Hans Waldmann, as a ward. For the time being, he only had the rule of Bürglen . During the Burgundian Wars he fought on the side of Zurich and was knighted. In 1481 he was able to redeem the Forstegg rule, which had been pledged to citizens of St. Gallen . In 1486 he became a citizen of Zurich. Because of his services in the Swabian War , he received from the Confederation Burg und Herrschaft Frischenberg and the high jurisdiction over Lienz . These areas now formed the Freiherrschaft Sax-Forstegg . In 1501 and 1503 he was the imperial envoy to the Confederation. During the Milan Wars he was commander-in-chief of the federal army from 1511-13 and was sent as envoy to Rome and Venice. In 1521 he converted to the Reformation, but returned to the Catholic faith in 1531. Ulrich was considered an excellent diplomat and mercenary leader.

His son Ulrich Philipp (1531–1585) also converted to the Reformed faith and introduced the Reformation in his territory. In 1550 he sold Bürglen to the Breitenlandenberg and in 1560 acquired the Uster castle and estate . After him, the decline of the Hohensax family began. Johann Albrecht II. (1545–1597) killed Governor Georg Trösch von Sargans in a brawl and then served in Spanish services for 15 years. Johann Philipp (1553–1596) served in the Electoral Palatinate and in the Netherlands, from where he returned with the Manessische Liederhandschrift . He got into an inheritance dispute with his brother Johann Albrecht, whose son Georg Ulrich fatally wounded him in Salez in 1596. His body was found unwested in the family crypt in Sennwald in 1730 and was exhibited there as the "Mummy of Sennwald" until the 1970s. Friedrich Ludwig (1589–1629), son of Johann Philipp, sold two thirds of the Sax-Forstegg estate to Zurich in 1615. The last of the Hohensax family, Christoph Friedrich (1620–1633), also sold the rest of the Sax-Forstegg estate to Zurich. He died in Uster Castle in 1633.

The coat of arms of the barons of Hohensax or the family coat of arms of the Sax was a shield split in gold and red.

The Swiss writer Adolf Muschg refers in his novel Sax (2010) to the family history of the Hohensax.

family members

  • Ulrich von Sax (1204–1220), Abbot of St. Gallen
  • Martin I von Sax, abbot of Disentis around 1330
  • Ulrich von Sax (* approx. 1462; † 1538), Swiss diplomat, mercenary leader, military entrepreneur and first commander in chief of the army of the old Confederation



  1. a b ETH Library Zurich : ETH - e-periodica. Retrieved July 13, 2017 .
  2. Certificate in the St. Gallen Abbey Archives, StiAPf, document 1257 .
  3. From the story of Arth,
  4. ^ Gertrud Hofer-Wild: Rule and sovereignty of the Sax in the Misox . In: Cantonal Library of Graubünden Chur No. B 456 (Ed.): Philosophical dissertation . Poschiavo 1949.
  5. cf. Mathias Bugg: Born from a Fryherren von Sax zuo Sangans…: the manslaughter Trösch-Hohensax in 1580 in Sargans. In: Werdenberger Jahrbuch 2006, pp. 47–51. Book 2006.