County of Wernigerode

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Coat of arms of the county of Wernigerode

The county of Wernigerode was a territory of the Holy Roman Empire of the German Nation .


It was owned by the Counts of Wernigerode , who died out in the male line in 1429 and who, as aristocratic rulers since the High Middle Ages, have been politically relatively independent in the northern Harz between the Oker and the Great Bruch for more than two centuries.

The sources provide no information whatsoever why at the beginning of the 12th century Count Adalbert, from Haimar ( Hanover region ), who was first mentioned there in 1103 and named comes Adelbertus de villa Heymbere in 1117 , suddenly on October 18, 1121 as Adelbertus comes de Wernigerode appears in the list of witnesses in a certificate issued by Bishop Reinhard von Halberstadt .

In 1268 the county of Wernigerode lost its imperial immediacy because the Margrave of Brandenburg took over the feudal lordship. It remained - with a brief interruption - as the property of the noble Stolberg-Wernigerode family (with only limited rights to rule) until the end of the monarchy in Prussia (1918).

Until the end of the 14th century, the Counts of Wernigerode remained in the area between Hildesheim, Burgdorf and the Steinwedeler Wald in possession of significant real estate. Its extensive size suggests that the count's property at the foot of the Harz near Wernigerode was even more extensive and valuable, so that the counts were induced to give up their old headquarters in Haimar and settle here. At the same time, the assessment of counts' property in terms of size and lucrative value is always fraught with the difficulty of not being able to compare an appropriate reference size or population. Accordingly, it is also likely that the rulers Haimar and Wernigerode coexisted in time. The headquarters in Wernigerode was located in the middle of the Reichsgut. According to the Sachsenspiegel preface Von der Herrenborn , the Counts of Wernigerode were born in Swabia. From this point of view, a delegation of former members of the family to the northern edge of the Harz by the Salier emperor Heinrich IV , who primarily used noble and ministerial supporters from Swabia for his Saxony policy, also seems obvious. The Counts of Wernigerode also owned the Steinberg near Goslar, verifiably an imperial estate, on whose spur Emperor Heinrich IV commissioned his later worst rival, Otto von Northeim, to build a castle. Against the background of the emperor's conflicts with Otto von Northeim and the political preponderance of the nobility group on the Harz who were friendly to the emperor after his death (1083), a legal succession by assignment of ownership to Count Adalbert I or to one of his ancestors at the instigation of Emperor Heinrich IV.

The first documentary mention of a Count of Wernigerode in 1121 is also the first mention of the clearing settlement Wernigerode , whose beginnings can be dated about a century earlier. The castle Wernigerode for the first time in 1213 as castrum mentioned and was a rule midpoint of the later county of Wernigerode.

Count Heinrich von Wernigerode was the last male representative of this noble family. He demanded from Archbishop Günther II of Magdeburg that the castle and city of Wernigerode be enfeoffed for himself and his two Stolberg cousins ​​Heinrich and Botho , which he received on June 30, 1414. The archbishop of Magdeburg only took over feudal lordship over the city and county of Wernigerode in 1381 after lengthy disputes with the Counts of Wernigerode over their Pabstorf castle . Before that, the ancestral county of Wernigerode was a fiefdom of the Mark Brandenburg . The Counts of Wernigerode had hoped for better protection of the castle and city of Wernigerode against the overwhelming pressure of their neighbors, especially from the Duke of Braunschweig, with the feudal assumption of the Ascanian margraves in 1268 . In the long run, however, expectations had not been met. The part of their county area acquired by the Counts of Regenstein in 1343 , on the other hand, was a fiefdom of the Halberstadt Monastery and the Stolbergers received separate fiefdoms until the transition from Halberstadt to Kurbrandenburg, especially for this extensive area .

One of the heirs selected by the last Count of Wernigerode, Count Heinrich zu Stolberg, died at a young age. Thereupon, in 1417, Count Heinrich von Wernigerode had the inhabitants of the county take an oath of homage to Count Botho zu Stolberg as the future owner of the Wernigerode estate . Count Botho was fortunate that at that time he also received the entire county of Stolberg in the southern Harz as the sole heir. However, this made it necessary to take his permanent seat of power in Stolberg. This was a setback for the further development of Wernigerode, because after the death of Count Heinrich von Wernigerode in 1429 no count resided permanently in the place. The decline of Wernigerode was exacerbated by the fact that Count Botho began to pledge the castle and the lordship that went with it in 1438. It was a very lucrative pledge, including the ecclesiastical fiefs over the canons of St. Georgii and St. Sylvestri zu Wernigerode, the monasteries Himmelpforten , Ilsenburg and Drübeck as well as the villages of Drübeck, Reddeber, Langeln with the Deutschordenshof, Wasserleben with the Jungfrauenkloster and Veckenstedt belonged to an important noble court. The rule of Wernigerode was therefore much more important than the ancestral county of Stolberg, which in turn did not have a single monastery within its borders.

The actual county was reduced to the count's office of Wernigerode in the 16th century, which, for example, achieved income in 1543/44 from:

  • Shot from the old town of Wernigerode: 100 marks
  • Lap from the Neustadt Wernigerode: 13 marks 16 pieces
  • Lap from Drübeck : 30.5 marks
  • Lap from water life : 21.5 marks
  • Lap from Langeln : 22 marks
  • Lap from Silstedt : 5 marks
  • Lap from Ilsenburg : 2 marks
  • Lap from Darlingerode : 3 marks
  • Shot because of the deserted quarry near Drübeck: 4 Vierdung
  • Hereditary interest from Wernigerode, Veckenstedt, Silstedt, Langeln, Wasserleben and from the chapter St. Sylvestri and Georgii zu Wernigerode etc.

In total, the bailiff of Wernigerode took 5120 guilders in 1543/44 (only 4247 guilders the year before). In contrast, the expenses for the office amounted to 3456 guilders, so a profit of 1664 guilders remained. That was a considerable sum when you consider that a new mint was set up that year for just under 50 guilders.


Count of Wernigerode

  • (1103) 1121–1133 Albrecht I of Wernigerode
  • 1134–1165 Albrecht II of Wernigerode
  • 1173-1214 Albrecht III. from Wernigerode
  • 1217–1252 Conrad I of Wernigerode
  • 1217–1269 Gebhard I of Wernigerode
  • 1217–1231 Burghard von Wernigerode
  • 1254–1293 Konrad II of Wernigerode (1268 Wernigerode becomes a Brandenburg fiefdom)
  • 1268–1319 Albrecht V of Wernigerode
  • 1297-1339 Conrad III. from Wernigerode
  • 1325–1370 Conrad IV of Wernigerode
  • 1358–1407 Konrad V of Wernigerode
  • 1375– June 3, 1429 Heinrich IV. Of Wernigerode
    • In 1417 there was a hereditary brotherhood with the Counts of Stolberg , who ruled from 1429

Count of Stolberg


  • Christian Friedrich Kesslin: Messages from writers and artists in the county of Wernigerode from 1074 to 1855. Commissions publishing house by Gebrüder Bänsch in Magdeburg, 1856.
  • Jan Habermann: The expansion of rule of the Counts of Wernigerode on the northern Harz (1249-1369) . Chemnitz University of Technology, Philosophical Faculty 2006 ( digitized version , PDF; 1.0 MB).
  • Jan Habermann: The Counts of Wernigerode. Rulership profile, sphere of activity and closeness to the king of noble potentates in the northern Harz in the late Middle Ages . Norderstedt 2008, ISBN 978-3-8370-2820-1 .

Individual evidence

  1. ^ Albrecht Heine, Fundamentals of the Constitutional History of the Harzgau in XII. and XIII. Century. Diss. Göttingen 1903, p. 49 f.
  2. Anselm Heinrichsen, South German noble families in Lower Saxony in the 11th and 12th centuries, Niedersächsisches Jahrbuch für Landesgeschichte 26 (1954), pp. 24–116, here 86 ff.
  3. Heinrichsen, Süddeutsche Adelsgeschölker, p. 86 ff .; Walther Grosse, From the early history of the County of Wernigerode. From the origin of the first counts of Wernigerode, magazine of the Harzverein für Geschichte und Alterthumskunde 68 (1935), pp. 126–135.
  4. ^ Jan Habermann, Allied vassals : The networks of counts and lords on the northwest Harz in the tension between rival princes (approx. 1250–1400). Norderstedt 2011, p. 43.