County of Rietberg

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Banner of the Holy Roman Emperor with haloes (1400-1806) .svg
Territory in the Holy Roman Empire
County of Rietberg
coat of arms
Reckenberg Office.jpg
County of Rietberg 1797

Form of rule county
Ruler / government Count
Today's region / s DE-NW

Reichskreis Lower Rhine-Westphalian
Capitals / residences Rietberg Castle
Dynasties 1237–1807 Counts of Rietberg, see also List of Counts of Rietberg
Denomination / Religions Roman Catholic , from 1535 temporarily Protestant
Language / n German

Incorporated into Kingdom of Westphalia

The County of Rietberg was a territory in the Holy Roman Empire of the German Nation . It was on the upper Ems in Westphalia , in the border area between the principal dioceses of Paderborn and Münster . It existed as an independent territory from 1237 to 1807.


The house of the Counts of Rietberg was founded by splitting off from the Counts of Arnsberg . The first division of the estate took place in 1092, when Heinrich was resigned from the County of Rietberg, while Friedrich took control of the County of Werl-Arnsberg . In a further division of power between Gottfried III. von Arnsberg and Konrad I. von Cuyk-Arnsberg , Konrad received the parts of the county of Arnsberg north of the Lippe through a severance payment and division agreement from September 1, 1237 . He declared this to be an independent territory and named it "Grafschaft Rietberg" after the Rietberg Castle on the Ems, which was founded around 1100 . Konrad I. Graf von Rietberg resigned in 1263/64 because of the political insignificance of his county and became a Teutonic Knight . He died around 1284.


Friedrich I. Graf zu Rietberg, the first-born son of Konrad and his wife Oda zur Lippe , followed his father and ruled from 1264 to 1282.

Other children of Konrad occupied influential positions: the son Konrad became bishop of Osnabrück , Otto became bishop of Paderborn , Simon became a Teutonic Knight, Hermann canon in Osnabrück and Paderborn and provost of Tongern , daughter Oda became abbess of the Aegidi monastery in Münster. In the following generations the Rietberg family also occupied influential positions in the Westphalian region again and again; for example, Friedrich's son Otto became bishop of Munster in 1301 .

Independent county

From 1282 to 1313 Conrad II ruled the county. As co-regent with him and his son Otto ruled from 1302 to 1322 Friedrich II. From 1313 to 1347 Otto I took over the rule of Rietberg. He was followed by his son Konrad III. from 1347 to 1365. During this time the new castle was built outside of the Rietberg settlement.

Conrad III. By assigning his "freedoms" to the empire as a fief, he systematically expanded the rights of rule in order to get them back from the emperor as a free county with the right to set free chairs. The first documented appointment of a free count by the emperor is only documented for 1377.

Konrad's son took over the rule of Rietberg as Otto II from 1365 to 1389. Conrad IV followed 1389 to 1428, and his son Conrad V followed from 1428 to 1472 .

Under the feudal rule of the Landgraves of Hesse

Historical view of Rietberg (1647)

In 1456 Count Konrad V had to give the previously imperial county to the Hessian Landgrave Ludwig I for 600 Rhenish guilders. With this, Rietberg lost its independence and was under the feudal rule of the Landgraves of Hesse . The last enfeoffment with the county of Rietberg by the Hessian landgraves is dated July 27, 1814.

Konrad's son Johann I. zu Rietberg ruled from 1472 to 1516. Otto III succeeds him . who ruled from 1516 to 1535.

Otto III. first married Anna Countess von Sayn ; From this marriage came two sons, one of whom died early, the other as Otto IV initially took over the rule. When he died childless in 1552, the rule fell to Otto's son Johann II zu Rietberg, who came from Otto's second marriage to Onna (Anna), the daughter of the East Frisian chief Hero Omken . Through this second marriage Otto acquired the entitlement to the Harlingerland , which his son also received in 1540 after the death of Onna's brother Balthasar von Esens . It remained linked to Rietberg in personal union until 1600.

In 1535 the Reformation was introduced in the county of Rietberg , but later the county was subjected to the Counter-Reformation.

Armgard and Walburgis - the last rulers of the Rietberg family on a painting by Hermann tom Ring

Johann II von Rietberg, who was captured by the Lower Rhine-Westphalian District, died in Cologne prison in 1562. With that the male line of the Counts of Rietberg died out. First the fiefdom was withdrawn from the Hessian landgrave, but after protests by Johann's daughters Armgard and Walburgis , Rietberg was enfeoffed again in 1565.

Walburgis married Count Enno III in 1581 . from East Frisia . This brought the county of Rietberg and Harlingerland to East Friesland. Enno finally renounced the county of Rietberg in favor of his daughters in the Berum settlement ; for this he received the Harlingerland. Walburga's and Enno's daughter Sabina Catharina inherited the County of Rietberg and married their uncle Johann . They founded the House of Ostfriesland in Rietberg and re-Catholicized the county. The castle was provided with new fortifications and converted into a castle in the style of the Weser Renaissance . The house of Ostfriesland died out in 1690 in the male line. In 1699, Rietberg came to the Counts of Kaunitz through the marriage of the heiress Maria Ernestine Franziska .

The County of Rietberg was able to go to the end of the salvation under the counts, later the royal house of Kaunitz-Rietberg. Rom. Reichs claim their independence. It was not until Napoleon that the county was subjected to the sovereignty of the Kingdom of Westphalia by decree of August 18, 1807. At the Congress of Vienna it was determined that the county came to Prussia and received the status of a civil status; the Prince of Kaunitz received a seat and vote in the Prussian mansion and tax privileges. By hereditary homage to Prussia, the feudal lordship of the House of Hesse was ended and the County of Rietberg became a Prussian fiefdom. The area of ​​the county belonged since 1816 to the district of Wiedenbrück in the administrative district of Minden of the Prussian province of Westphalia .

In 1822, the last Prince Aloys von Kaunitz-Rietberg sold the county - now an allodified fief - to the bourgeois merchant's son Friedrich Ludwig Tenge from Osnabrück. This process led to disputes on the one hand with the House of Liechtenstein , which objected to the sale by registering inheritance claims, and on the other hand with the Prussian authorities, who did not want to grant the buyer Tenge any noble privileges (the property was historically associated with the position of a civil lord). In a compromise in 1835, it was settled that Tenge was recognized as the owner of the county fiefdom, the civil rights of Prussia were withdrawn and the title of count was awarded to the House of Liechtenstein. Even today's princes of Liechtenstein still bear the title Graf zu Rietberg , see list of rulers of Liechtenstein . The Tenge-Rietberg family still owns the former count's land in Rietberg to this day.

coat of arms

The family coat of arms shows a right-handing, blue-armored, golden eagle in red. On the helmet with red and gold covers the eagle.

The coat of arms of the former Arnsberg, a silver eagle in a blue field, has been changed for the County of Rietberg to a gold eagle in a red field. Later, elements of the Harlingerland , the Cirksena family and the Kaunitz family were added to the coat of arms .

Burial place

Through the connection of Konrad I's wife Oda to the Lippe house, the Cistercian monastery Marienfeld became the regular burial place of the Counts of Rietberg for about 350 years, although it was in foreign territory. After Countess Sabina Catharina and her husband Johann had returned to the Catholic faith, they founded a Franciscan monastery in Rietberg , in which they were reburied after its completion in 1629. The monastery remained the burial place for the House of East Frisia. The Kaunitz family, on the other hand, had family tombs in Brno and Austerlitz . Only Countess Antoinette von Kaunitz-Rietberg-Questenberg was buried in the Rietberg Franciscan monastery in 1805.


See also


  • State Archive NRW Westphalia Department (until 2008 State Archive Münster),
    • A 250 I Grafschaft Rietberg - certificates
    • A 250 III Grafschaft Rietberg - files


  • Georg Joseph Rosenkranz: Contributions to the history of the country Rietberg and its counts. . In: Journal for patriotic history and antiquity , Volume 14, 1853, pp. 92–197, Google
  • W. Leesch: The counts of Rietberg from the houses of Arnsberg and East Friesland . Westfälische Zeitschrift , Volume 113, 1963, pp. 281-376.
  • P. Leidinger: On the early history of the County of Rietberg . Contributions to local history of the district of Wiedenbrück 3, 1966, pp. 43–49.
  • A. Hansschmidt: The county of Rietberg (Cologne-Westphalia 1180/1980) . Edited by P. Berghaus-S. Kessemeier, 1980, pp. 190-193.

Web links

Commons : Grafschaft Rietberg  - Collection of pictures, videos and audio files
Wikisource: Rietberg  - Sources and full texts

Coordinates: 51 ° 47 '57 "  N , 8 ° 26' 5.3"  E