County of Saarbrücken

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Banner of the Holy Roman Emperor with haloes (1400-1806) .svg
Territory in the Holy Roman Empire
County of Saarbrücken
coat of arms
Coat of arms of the Counts of Saarbrücken.svg
Zweibruecken 1400.png
County of Saarbrücken (left, yellow) around 1400
Alternative names Nassau-Saarbrücken
Arose from Metz bishopric
Form of rule county
Ruler / government Count
Today's region / s DE-SL / FR-57 / FR-67

Reichskreis Upper Rhine Empire Circle
Capitals / residences Saarbrücken
Dynasties 1080: Saargaugrafen
1271: Broyes-Commercy
1381: Nassau-Weilburg
Denomination / Religions Lutheran since 1575
surface 767 km²
Residents 40,000
Incorporated into 1801: France

The county of Saarbrücken was a direct imperial territory of the Holy Roman Empire in the south-west of Germany with the residence city of Saarbrücken , which existed from the High Middle Ages until 1801. From 1381 onwards, the county was also referred to as the County of Nassau-Saarbrücken after the new ruling family from the House of Nassau .


In 1789, the area of ​​the County of Nassau-Saarbrücken comprised the Oberämter Saarbrücken and St. Johann (about today's Regionalverband Saarbrücken ), the Oberamt Ottweiler (about today's district Neunkirchen ), the Oberamt Harskirchen on the upper reaches of the Saar (today part of the canton Sarre-Union ), the youth home office in Rheinhessen and 1/4 to Wöllstein .

Belonging, but not to the actual county Saarbrücken personal union that were associated with it as well since 1527 County of Saarwerden and completely since 1522 in half, and since 1629 the government Lahr in the Black Forest .


Counts of Saarbrücken

In 1080, Count Sigebert I received the royal court of Wadgassen from King Heinrich IV as a gift and, it seems, was enfeoffed with possessions of the Metz bishopric on the Saar, on the Rhine and in Alsace . His brother Winither was abbot of Lorsch and royal counter-bishop for the diocese of Worms . While Sigebert's spiritual sons, Adalbert and Bruno , rose to the highest offices as Archbishop of Mainz and Bishop of Speyer under Heinrich V , the secular sons obtained important church fiefs and bailiffs . Sigebert II came from his secular sons - he calls himself from Alsace in 1125 - to Alsace, while Friedrich went to Saarbrücken. Friedrich was called in 1123 as the first Saargaugraf "Count of Saarbrücken". After 1168 - in that year Friedrich Barbarossa destroyed Saarbrücken and three other castles of the counts - the Saarbrücken withdrew from imperial politics. Between 1182 and 1190 there was an inheritance division in which the existing goods were divided. The County of Zweibrücken emerged from the possessions in Lorraine , on the Rhine and around Zweibrücken Castle . The Saarbrücken and Zweibrücken counts initially used the Wadgassen monastery, founded in 1135, as a burial place. Around 1212 the Saarbrücken-Leiningen line split off. Count Simon III. achieved the inheritance of the Metz fiefdom in the name of his eldest daughter from the bishop of Metz in 1227, but had to give the bishop those parts of the county of Saarbrücken that had not previously been a Metz fief, so that now the entire county of Saarbrücken became the fief of the bishop of Metz. Over the centuries, the Metz suzerainty became only a matter of form, but in the 17th century it played a role again in Louis XIV's reunification policy . With the death of Count Simon III. around 1234 the male line of the counts in Saarbrücken went out. After his daughter Lorette, his other daughter Mathilde came into the possession of the County of Saarbrücken, which was inherited by her son Simon from his first marriage to Simon von Broyes.

Counts of Saarbrücken-Commercy

Simon IV inherited the rule of Commercy an der Maas from his father and in 1274 the county of Saarbrücken from his mother Mathilde. From then on, his descendants, the "Counts of Saarbrücken-Commercy", had two main areas of ownership: the French-speaking rule of Commercy and the German-speaking county of Saarbrücken. In 1322 the counts endowed the twin cities of Saarbrücken and St. Johann and in 1324 also the city of Commercy with urban freedoms. On the occasion of an inheritance distribution in 1341, the counts only had half of the Commercy rule, the other half fell to the lords of Saarbrücken-Commercy, whose line existed until 1525. In 1354 the county of Saarbrücken, with the exception of Saarbrücken Castle , had to be pledged to Archbishop Balduin von Trier for three years . In 1381 the count's house died out in the male line. The heiress Johanna, who died in the same year, was inherited by her son Philipp from her marriage to Count Johann I von Nassau-Weilburg .

Counts and princes of Nassau-Saarbrücken

The squared coat of arms of the Counts of Nassau-Saarbrücken
Elisabeth of Lorraine

Count Philipp I , who followed, inherited property belonging to the House of Nassau on Lahn and Main in 1371 from his father, and in 1381 via his mother Johanna the county of Saarbrücken and the remaining half of the Commercy rule. His second wife Elisabeth of Lorraine , whose tomb is preserved in the collegiate church of St. Arnual , worked as a translator of courtly novels from the French into the early New High German language. Philip's policy was aimed at closer dovetailing of the parts of the country on the right and left of the Rhine, at least through the acquisition of overnight stays in their own area. In 1393 he received the Reichslehen Kirchheim with Stauf and Jugenheim, in 1402 1/6 stake in Nanstein Castle near Landstuhl , and at an unknown point in time 1/3 in Homburg Castle and County , from which the descendants could form the Homburg office by acquiring additional shares , as well as 1417 1/4 to Wöllstein. The descendants from this marriage ruled the county of Saarbrücken for four centuries.

In 1442 the line was divided into a line on the right bank of the Rhine "Nassau-Weilburg" and a line on the left bank of the Rhine "Nassau-Saarbrücken", which took over the office of Kirchheim and half of the Commercy lordship to the county of Saarbrücken, and was inherited again in 1574 by their Weilburg relatives. The remaining shares in the Commercy lordship were sold in 1444 for 42,000 guilders . In 1507, Count Johann Ludwig I married Katharina von Moers- Saar Werden , the heir to the Counts of Moers- Saar Werden, whereby in 1514 half and in 1527 the entire County of Saar Werden and the Lahr / Black Forest rule came into the possession of the Counts of Nassau-Saarbrücken and ultimately could be held.

In 1574 the older Nassau-Saarbrücken line died out with the last Catholic count, Count Johann IV (who is sometimes also counted as Johann III), and was inherited by the evangelical Nassau-Weilburg line. There Count Philip III. as early as 1526 the Reformation was introduced according to the Lutheran creed , which from 1574 also applied to Saarbrücken and Ottweiler under his sons. This introduction of the Reformation led to the Duchy of Lorraine drawing in the County of Saar Werden as a settled fief, against which the counts sued the Imperial Court of Justice. The process dragged on for many decades and ended in 1629 with a settlement, according to which the towns of Bockenheim and Saar Werden completely and the rest of the county fell to Lorraine by way of pledge. At the same time, the Protestant congregations in the county of Saar Werden were in dire straits due to the Counter-Reformation supported by Lorraine .

After the death of Count Wilhelm Ludwig in exile in Metz in 1640 and the early death of his eldest son Kraft, the younger sons Johann Ludwig, Gustav Adolf and Walrad divided the family branch 's possessions in 1659. Johann Ludwig received the office of Ottweiler , Gustav Adolf Saarbrücken and Walrad, who founded the Nassau-Usingen line, Usingen . For the office of Ottweiler under the rule of the Nassau-Ottweiler line, the designation "Grafschaft Ottweiler" came into use, since the rulers carried the title of count.

During the Thirty Years' War , the entire area was severely destroyed by acts of war and entire areas were depopulated. The county's population loss was at least 60–75%. Since the Duke of Lorraine was expressly excluded from the Peace of Westphalia , the Dutch War brought terrible devastation to Westrich in 1677 , and France annexed the counties of Saarbrücken and Saar Werden from 1680 to 1697 in the wake of its reunification policy, the country was until the end of the 17th century. Century exposed to further heavy loads.

The reconstruction of the country proceeded only slowly, but succeeded from the beginning of the 18th century, not least thanks to a clever settlement policy of the counts (French Huguenots and Protestant Austrians were repeatedly brought into the country, but Catholic immigrants were also accepted).

In 1728 the whole county fell to the Nassau-Usingen line, which in 1735 divided Saarbrücken again. The rulers from the Nassau-Usingen line carried the title of prince. The residences of the state (especially the cities of Saarbrücken and Ottweiler) were splendidly expanded by the princely master builder Friedrich Joachim Stengel under the princes Wilhelm Heinrich and Ludwig . In order to meet the increasing need of the court for money, the profitable coal mines were nationalized after 1750 and the ironworks were leased to foreign companies.

The principality was occupied by French revolutionary troops in 1793. The princely family was able to flee to the unoccupied part of the dissolving Holy Roman Empire. Nassau-Saarbrücken, like the entire Left Bank of the Rhine , was incorporated into France in 1798 and 1801 respectively. In the First Peace of Paris in 1814, Ottweiler fell to Prussia , while Saarbrücken and Harskirchen remained with France.In 1815, following the resolutions of the Congress of Vienna, Saarbrücken and Ottweiler came to the Prussian province of the Grand Duchy of Lower Rhine , which later became part of the Rhine province, while the former Oberamt Harskirchen near France remained.

coat of arms

The coat of arms of the county developed as follows: The coat of arms of the Counts of Saarbrücken showed a red-armored, gold-crowned, silver lion. The Counts of Saarbrücken-Commercy added the silver cloverleaf crosses on a blue background of Commercy to the coat of arms of the county . The Counts of Nassau-Saarbrücken added the golden Nassau lion to the coat of arms, so that the now squared coat of arms showed the Nassau lion twice and the Saarbrücken lion twice.

The last princes of Saarbrücken from the house of Nassau-Usingen carried the following coat of arms: In the middle shield the golden Nassau lion covered with golden shingles and further (clockwise, starting at the top): In the blue field the silver lion of the Counts of Saarbrücken covered with crosses von Commercy, the silver double-headed eagle in black from the Counts of Saar Werden , the black bar in gold from the Counts of Moers , the gold St. Andrew's cross in a green field with gold crosses from the Counts of Merenberg , the black lion in gold from the Lords of Mahlberg , the red bar in gold of the Lahr rule and the two red leopards in gold of the Counts of Weilnau .

The silver lion of the Counts of Saarbrücken covered with the crosses of Commercy can be found e.g. B. in the coat of arms of Jugenheim, as part of the coat of arms of Harskirchen, Wöllstein and the city of Saarbrücken and as a field in the state coat of arms of Saarland . The Saarbrücken regional association is based in the former residential palace in Saarbrücken and bears the squared coat of arms of the Counts of Nassau-Saarbrücken.

Local foundations

In the vast forest areas of the Warndt and the Saarkohlenwald , new settlements were established in the 17th and 18th centuries:

Ludweiler (1604 Ludwigsweiler ), Naßweiler (1608 Nassauweiler ), Wilhelmsbrunn (1626), named after his son Count Wilhelm Ludwig , part of the Kreuzwald community since 1810
Klarenthal (1662 Clarenthal ), named after his wife Eleonora Clara, has been part of Saarbrücken since 1974
Karlingen (1714), Karlsbrunn (1717)
Friedrichsthal (1723), Friedrichweiler (1725)


For various reasons, three representatives of the Counts and Princely House were not originally buried in the Saarbrücken Castle Church, the burial place of the Saarbrücken Counts since the 17th century:

After his death in 1677 in the Battle of Kochersberg in Alsace, Count Gustav Adolf could not be transferred to Saarbrücken because of the ongoing war , so he was first embalmed and finally buried in 1690 in the St. Thomas Church in Strasbourg. Nevertheless, a magnificent tomb was erected for him and his wife in the castle church. His coffin with the completely mummified and practically intact body was found during construction work in Strasbourg in 1802. The count was then exhibited under a glass lid in a side chapel of the church. In 1998 this condition, which was perceived as unworthy, was put to an end and the body was transferred to Saarbrücken and buried in the crypt of the castle church in an official state act .

Prince Ludwig died in exile in Aschaffenburg in 1794, a year after fleeing from the French revolutionary troops . Since a transfer to Saarbrücken was not possible at the time, he was quietly buried in the family crypt of the Princes of Nassau-Usingen in the Laurentius Church in Usingen. In 1995, on the initiative of the Friends of Prince Ludwig , the deceased was brought from there to Saarbrücken to be buried in the Saarbrücken Castle Church next to his father Wilhelm Heinrich in his crypt.

Monplaisir Castle on the Saarbrücken Halberg (reconstruction)

Hereditary Prince Heinrich had died in a riding accident in 1797 at the age of 29 in his exile in Cadolzburg (near Fürth ) and was buried in the chapel in Cadolzburg. In his will , however, he had stipulated that he would be buried in Saarbrücken, in the park of the Monplaisir castle on the Halberg - this request was finally granted in 1976. However, Monplaisir no longer existed at this point, as the castle of the “steel baron” Carl Ferdinand von Stumm-Halberg has been here since the 1870s . Since 1959, the Halberg - extended by numerous buildings - has been the seat of the ARD broadcasting company Saarländischer Rundfunk . The grave of the Hereditary Prince Heinrich is located in a park-like part of the broadcasting area, about 100 m from the northeast corner of the Stumm'schen Castle, exactly on the site of the former Monplaisir .

See also


  • Kurt Hoppstädter : The county of Saarbrücken. In: Kurt Hoppstädter, Hans-Walter Herrmann : Geschichtliche Landeskunde des Saarlandes , Volume 2, Saarbrücken 1977, pp. 279–315 with family tables and maps. ISBN 3-921870-00-3 .
  • Joachim Conrad: The restructuring of the parish system through the Reformation in Nassau-Saarbrücken , in: MONTHS for Evangelical Church History of the Rhineland 51 (2002), pp. 47-66.
  • Elisabeth Fehrenbach: Social unrest in the Principality of Nassau-Saarbrücken 1789–1792 / 93, in: Helmut Berding (Ed.): Social unrest in Germany during the French Revolution (History and Society, special issue 12), Göttingen 1988, pp. 28–44 .
  • Elisabeth Geck: The Principality of Nassau-Saarbrücken-Usingen in the 18th century. A contribution to the development history of the small German state , Mainz, phil. Diss. 1953.
  • Hans-Walter Herrmann : Article "Grafschaft Saarbrücken", in: Lexikon des Mittelalters, Volume VII, Munich 2003, Sp. 1210–1211.
  • Kurt Hoppstädter : Under the Nassau lion. The military system in the county of Nassau-Saarbrücken , (communications from the historical association for the Saar region, NF, vol. 2), Saarbrücken 1957.
  • August Hermann Jungk: Regesta on the history of the former Nassau-Saarbrückische Lande, (Volumes 13-14 of communications from the historical association for the Saar area), Part 1: up to 1317, Part 2: up to 1381, Saarbrücken 1914-1919.
  • Jürgen Karbach: The peasant economies of the Principality of Nassau-Saarbrücken in the 18th century (publications of the Commission for Saarland State History and Folk Research 15), Saarbrücken 1977.
  • Friedrich Köllner: History of the former Nassau-Saarbrück'schen Land and its regents, Saarbrücken 1841.
  • Wolfgang Laufer: The Nassau-Saarbrück "Land". Classical elements in the constitutional reality of an absolutist small state , in: Jahrbuch für Westdeutsche Landesgeschichte 39 (2013), pp. 245–287.
  • Klaus Ries : Authorities and subjects. Urban and rural protests in Nassau-Saarbrücken in the age of reform absolutism , (publications by the Commission for Saarland State History and Folk Research, Vol. 32), Saarbrücken 1997, ISBN 3-930843-30-7 .
  • Albert Ruppersberg : History of the former county of Saarbrücken, 4 volumes, Saarbrücken 1908–1914.

Web links

Individual evidence

  1. Lehné, Hermann; Kohler, Horst: Wappen des Saarlandes, Saarbrücken 1981, p. 28. ISBN 3-922807-06-2 . Blazon with Bernhard Peter (see web link).
  2. Kurt Hoppstädter, Hans-Walter Herrmann: Geschichtliche Landeskunde des Saarlandes, Vol. 2, Saarbrücken 1977, p. 311 f.