County of Bentheim

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Banner of the Holy Roman Emperor with haloes (1400-1806) .svg
Territory in the Holy Roman Empire
County of Bentheim
coat of arms
DEU County of Bentheim COA.svg
Locator County of Bentheim (1560) .svg
The county of Bentheim in the Lower Rhine-Westphalian Empire 1560

Consist approx. 1228-1806
Form of rule monarchy
Ruler / government Count

Reichskreis Lower Rhine-Westphalian
Capitals / residences Bentheim
Dynasties House Bentheim-Steinfurt
Denomination / Religions Protestant Reformed , Catholic
Language / n German , Low German , Dutch
surface 966.6 km²

Incorporated into Berg (1806),
France (1810),
Hanover (1815),
Prussia (1866)

The county of Bentheim around 1794/95 by Franz Johann Joseph von Reilly
Map of the Hanseatic departments with the department Lippe 1812
Map of the Kingdom of Hanover 1815–1866

The Grafschaft Bentheim is a historic county whose headquarters were at Bentheim Castle in what is now Bad Bentheim in Lower Saxony . The ruling counts, later the royal house of Bentheim belonged to the high nobility .


The history of the region, which later became the county of Bentheim, can be traced back to 1050: At that time, place names of the Bentheimer Land were first mentioned in a document. Bentheim Castle was mentioned as early as 1020 as the property of Count Otto von Northeim . Schüttorf is the oldest town in the county of Bentheim. The place was mentioned for the first time in 1154 under the name curtis Scutthorp as the property of the then counts, who also owned Bentheim. The town charter was granted to Schüttorf on November 6, 1295 by Count Egbert zu Bentheim. Within a radius of 30 km from Schüttorf there were only two other cities: Horstmar and Oldenzaal , which made the young city an important market and trading center and soon a member of the Hanseatic League . The county of Bentheim as such was first mentioned in 1228, before that it cannot be said with certainty whether it already had the status of a county or was just a "rulership" consisting of several dominions .

In the 14th century, Counts Otto, Christian and Bernhard von Bentheim were at times cathedral provosts of the Münster cathedral chapter . In 1421 Eberwin I von Götterswyk inherited Bentheim and in 1425 also became lord of Ottenstein , and in 1451 lord of Steinfurt . Even under his descendants, the gentlemen of Bentheim split into the Bentheim-Steinfurt and Bentheim line. After further lordships were added through inheritance ( Gemen , Tecklenburg ), further divisions of the estate into the lines Bentheim-Tecklenburg , Bentheim-Limburg and Bentheim-Alpen took place later . The Grafschaft Bentheim belonged as a direct imperial county to the Lower Rhine-Westphalian Circle of the Holy Roman Empire of the German Nation (1500-1806).

In the 17th century, with the creation of the settlement Piccardie (today Alte Piccardie, municipality of Osterwald ) by Johan Picardt, the bog colonization in the county of Bentheim began.

In the course of recent history, the affiliation of the Grafschaft Bentheim has often changed. First, the free imperial county was pledged in 1753 under Count Friedrich Karl to the King of Great Britain and Electors of Braunschweig and Lüneburg for thirty years. In 1757, during the Seven Years' War between England and France, Count Friedrich Karl occupied his former territory with his French regiment and allowed himself to be returned to the county. However, as early as 1758, Hanoverian troops occupied Bentheim and forced the occupiers to withdraw. On December 4, 1781, Friedrich Karl canceled the pledge agreement, but failed to raise the required amount. The government in Hanover then declared that the contract would be automatically extended for another thirty years on January 1, 1783.

In 1804, during the French era , the county was handed over to Count Ludwig Wilhelm von Bentheim-Steinfurt as the heir of Friedrich Karl. In 1806 Napoleon Bonaparte deprived the Counts of all rights through the Rhine Confederation Act ; Until 1811 Bentheim belonged to the Ems département of the Grand Duchy of Berg in the Confederation of the Rhine he founded . With the annexation of the Kingdom of Holland by France in 1810, the affiliation changed again: With effect from January 1, 1811, the county belonged temporarily to one part (Neuenhaus district) to the Ems-Occidental department and the other part (Bentheim as part of the Steinfurt district) to the department of Bouches-de-l'Yssel . From April 27, 1811, the county was part of the new Lippe Department , which was formed as part of the Hanseatic Department after the other French annexations .

After the defeat of Napoleon, the county of Bentheim fell to the Kingdom of Hanover as part of the Congress of Vienna in 1815 . As part of this, the county was mapped in the Gaussian land survey and the Dutch money still used in the county at that time was replaced by the common Hanover currency . With the loss of independence of the Kingdom of Hanover, the County of Bentheim also came under the rule of the Kingdom of Prussia in 1866 after the German War . From 1866 until the founding of the Empire in 1871, the County of Bentheim was now part of the Province of Hanover of the Kingdom of Prussia in the North German Confederation , and from 1871 in the German Empire . In terms of administrative organization, the county of Bentheim belonged to the Lingen control group in Landdrostei Osnabrück and was divided into the two offices of Neuenhaus and Bentheim, both of which were the location of a local court (Neuenhaus since 1860, Bentheim since 1857).

With the Prussian district reform in 1885 , the new district of Grafschaft Bentheim was founded in the administrative district of Osnabrück , which had emerged from the two previous offices of Bentheim and Neuenhaus.

During the 19th century, numerous Grafschafter emigrated to the United States and settled, for example, in the region around Holland (Michigan) .

In terms of postal history, there are close links between the Grafschaft Bentheim and the postal history of Steinfurt due to the relationship with the Steinfurt rulership .

Anton Friedrich Büsching's Description of the County of Bentheim (1771)

The royal Prussian senior consistorial councilor and director of the Berlin grammar school Anton Friedrich Büsching (1724–1793) dealt in his New Earth Description "the Kingdom of Bohemia as well as the Austrian , Burgundian , Westphalian, Chur-Rhenish ( Kurrheinischer Reichskreis ) and Upper Rhine district".

The theologian and geographer devoted a short chapter to the Westphalian county of Bentheim. Büsching mentions the location of the county there - surrounded "by the Dutch province of Ober-Yssel ( Overijssel ) and the Drenthe countryside , and by the Münster bishopric ", its extension: "10 miles long and 2.3 to 4 miles wide", that fertile land crossed by rivers, its hardworking inhabitants, their trade in yarn, wool, linen , honey, cattle, stones, wood and other goods, most of which were exported to Holland.

Büsching listed five offices: Schüttorf , Northorn ( Nordhorn ), Emblicheim ( Emlichheim ), Nienhus or Neuenhaus and Ulsen ( Uelsen ). He also lists the three towns in the upper and lower counties: Schüttorf, Northorn, Nienhus and the town of Bentheim. All parishes and villages of that time, the “ Herrlichkeit Emblicheim”, aristocratic possessions, the Frenswegen monastery and the aristocratic free-world women's monastery Wietmarschen , which was previously a “ Benedictine male abbey”, then a Benedictine monastery are also mentioned. Büsching also notes who had a seat and vote in the state parliaments . The theologian goes on to briefly discuss the religious conditions in the county. The history of the Counts of Bentheim is given a somewhat more detailed account.

Bentheim Castle

The Bentheim Castle is an early medieval hilltop castle . The beginnings of the fortress, which was built on the remains of a Germanic people's castle , cannot be precisely proven historically; The mighty castle of the Counts of Bentheim was first mentioned in a document around 1050 in the second Werden register . The castle stands on a large rock made of Bentheim sandstone high above the city; this mountain, also known as the Bentheim ridge , is the last branch of the Teutoburg Forest .

Lords and Counts of Bentheim

Family coat of arms of the Counts of Bentheim


  • Otto I , whose son, Herr von Bentheim, testifies in 1166/1208
  • Baldwin I , his son, came into the possession of the Bentheim rule in 1209 and had been named Count von Bentheim since 1228 at the latest
  • Otto II , his son, Count von Bentheim in 1248, Count von Tecklenburg in 1264
  • Egbert I († before 1311), his (younger) son, Count von Bentheim
  • Johann († before 1333), his son, Count von Bentheim in 1305
  • Simon I († 1344), his son, 1333 Count von Bentheim
  • Otto III. († after 1379), his brother, Count von Bentheim in 1344, renounced around 1364
  • Bernhard († 1421), his brother, 1364 Count von Bentheim
    • Hedwig, attested in 1347/71, his sister; ∞ Everwin von Götterswick († 1378)

Lords and Counts of Bentheim

Distribution of inheritance to his sons Arnold (Steinfurt) and Bernhard (Bentheim)


  • 1454–1473: Bernhard von Bentheim
  • 1473–1530: Eberwin von Bentheim, governor of Friesland

His daughter inherits Bentheim and marries Arnold III. from Bentheim-Steinfurt.

Bentheim-Steinfurt (until 1606)

Counts / Princely coat of arms at Bentheim after 1589
  • 1454–1466: Arnold II of Bentheim-Steinfurt
  • 1466–1498: (Count) Eberwin II of Bentheim-Steinfurt, 1495 Steinfurt becomes a county
  • 1498–1544: Count Arnold III. zu Bentheim and Steinfurt (named Arnold I in the county of Bentheim) , Marie Countess von Bentheim-Bentheim marries and so reunites the counties
  • 1544–1562: Count Eberwin III. zu Bentheim and Steinfurt (1536–1562), married Anna , heir to the County of Tecklenburg
  • 1562–1606: Count Arnold IV of Bentheim and Steinfurt (1554–1606) (named Arnold II in the county of Bentheim) , inherits Tecklenburg and Rheda , marries Magdalena von Neuenahr-Alpen , heiress of Limburg , Alpen , Linnep , Wevelinghoven and Helpenstein as well as the Cologne hereditary bailiwick .

After the death of Count Arnold in 1606, the property was divided among his sons according to his will of 1590. The first-born Adolf von Bentheim, who died in 1623, was given the imperial counties of Tecklenburg and the rule of Rheda, while his later brothers Arnold Jobst and Wilhelm Heinrich took over the reigns of the imperial counties of Bentheim and Steinfurt and Wevelinghoven. The younger sons of Count Arnold were compensated from the inheritance of their mother Magdalena von Neuenahr-Alpen, which had fallen to Bentheim in 1592. Count Konrad Gumprecht received the county of Limburg and Friedrich Ludolf the rule of the Alps. The Limburg and Alps lines quickly died out and fell back to Steinfurt.

House Bentheim-Tecklenburg

Houses in Bentheim and Steinfurt (until 1918)

Bentheim and Steinfurt (1606–1693)

Territories of the Counties of Bentheim and Steinfurt (Blaeu 1645)

Distribution of the inheritance to his son Ernst (Steinfurt) and his nephew Arnold Moritz Wilhelm (Bentheim, see below)

Bentheim-Bentheim (1693-1819)

  • 1693–1701: Count Arnold Moritz Wilhelm von Bentheim-Bentheim
  • 1701–1731: Count Hermann Friedrich von Bentheim-Bentheim
  • 1731–1753: Count Friedrich Karl von Bentheim-Bentheim, pledged Bentheim to Hanover in 1753

In 1819 Bentheim fell from Hanover to the Bentheim-Steinfurt line.

Bentheim-Steinfurt (1693-1819)

Bentheim and Steinfurt (1819–1918)

Heads of the House of Bentheim and Steinfurt (from 1918):

Knight seats of the county of Bentheim suitable for state parliament


The now almost extinct domestic pig breed Bentheimer Landschwein was bred in the county of Bentheim .


in order of appearance

  • Anton Friderich Büsching: D. Anton Friderich Büsching's new description of the earth, third part, first volume, in which the Kingdom of Bohemia, the Austrian, Burgundian, Westphalian, Chur-Rhenish and Upper Rhine districts are described. Fifth edition, Joh.Carl Bohn, Hamburg 1771 ( digitized version of the 1765 edition).
  • Wessel Friedrich Visch: Geschiedenis van het Graafschap Bentheim by WF Visch, Predikant te Wilsum, in het voornoemde Graafschap. J. L. Zeehuisen, Zwolle 1820. German translation as: History of the county of Bentheim. (Das Bentheimer Land, Volume 103), Verlag Heimatverein der Grafschaft Bentheim, Bad Bentheim 1984.
  • Hermann Grote : Family Tables. Hahn, Leipzig 1877.
  • Ludwig Edel: The city rights of the county of Bentheim. Dissertation, Leipzig 1909.
  • Ernst Finkemeyer: Constitution, administration and administration of justice of the Grafschaft Bentheim at the time of the Hanoverian pledge 1753-1804. Dissertation, Münster 1967.
  • Peter Veddeler: The territorial development of the county of Bentheim up to the end of the Middle Ages. In: Studies and preliminary work for the Historical Atlas of Lower Saxony, Issue 25, Göttingen 1970.
  • Fred van Lieburg: Geesjen Pamans (1731-1821). Spiritual mother of the Bentheim Reformed Pietism . In: PHAM Abels (ed.): Nederland en Bentheim. Vijf eeuwen kerk aan de grens (= Verzameling bijdragen van de Vereniging voor Nederlandse Kerkgeschiedenis, Vol. 15). Eburon, Delft 2003, ISBN 90-5972-005-9 , pp. 159-173.
  • Stephanie Marra : Alliances of the Nobility. Dynastic action in the Grafenhaus Bentheim in the 16th and 17th centuries. Böhlau, 2007, ISBN 978-3-412-31105-6 .
  • Steffen Burkert (Ed.): The county of Bentheim. Past and present of a district. Publishing house Heimatverein Grafschaft Bentheim, Bad Bentheim 2010.


  • The Grafschaft Bentheim 1866–1946 - A film chronicle , documentation, director: Elisa Bertuzzo, Hermann Pölking. Saeculum publishing company 2009.

Web links

Individual evidence

  1. ^ Landkreis Grafschaft Bentheim (ed.): Numbers, data, facts 2011. Nordhorn / Bentheim, 2011, p. 7.
  2. ^ Bentheim Castle: History
  3. 1228 the term comitatus , i.e. county, was used in connection with Bentheim for the first time . Before that there were counts who called themselves "von Bentheim", but were probably only lords of Bentheim, which in turn means that there may not have been a Grafschaft Bentheim at that time. See: Peter Veddeler: The territorial development of the Grafschaft Bentheim up to the end of the Middle Ages. P. 53.
  4. Cf. Reich register of 1521 . In: Karl Zeumer (Hrsg.): Collection of sources on the history of the German Imperial Constitution in the Middle Ages and modern times. 2nd increased edition, published by J. C. B. Mohr, Tübingen 1913, p. 316.
  5. Christian H. Ebhardt (Ed.): Laws, ordinances and tenders for the Kingdom of Hanover from the period from 1813 to 1839. Volume 2, Hanover 1839, pp. 39 and 42.
  6. The district court becomes a senior citizens' residence. Historic building in Neuenhaus completely renovated - hospital association as tenant in the Grafschafter Nachrichten of November 23, 2006.
  7. Shards on the wall should secure the prison - The old district court in Bad Bentheim used to be the new one - Two police officers for up to 30 prisoners in the Grafschafter Nachrichten of July 16, 2009.
  8. ^ Homepage of the "German Immigrants" project , accessed on January 3, 2012.
  9. Grafschafter Geschichte: From the County to America , accessed April 14, 2019.
  10. ^ Anton Friderich Büsching (1724–1793): D. Anton Friderich Büsching's new description of the earth, third part, first volume, in which the Kingdom of Bohemia, the Austrian, Burgundian, Westphalian, Chur-Rhenish and Upper Rhine districts are described. Fifth edition, 1771.
  11. ^ D. Anton Friderich Büschings, royal. Prussian Oberconsistorialraths and directors of the Berlin Gymnasium, new description of the earth, third part, which contains the German Empire according to its present state constitution. Fifth legally improved and greatly increased edition. With Rom. Kaiserl. and Churf. Saxon. as well as the Confederation of Zurich, Glarus, Basel, Appenzell, imperial cities of S. Gallen, Mühlhausen and Biel. Hamburg, bey Joh. Carl Bohn, 1771. In it: “Der Westphälische Kreis.”, Pp. 622-1012. “Die Grafschaft Bentheim”, pp. 931–940.
  12. 1228 the term comitatus , i.e. county, was used in connection with Bentheim for the first time . Before that there were counts who called themselves "von Bentheim", but were probably only lords of Bentheim, which means, however, that there may not have been a Grafschaft Bentheim at that time. See Veddeler, 1970, p. 53
  13. ^ Saeculum-Verlagsgesellschaft: Die Grafschaft Bentheim 1866-1946 , accessed on December 28, 2013.