Duchy of Swabia

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Duchy of Alemannia (here with Alsace) and Burgundy in the 10th and 11th centuries

The Duchy of Swabia (in Latin Suevia , until the middle of the 11th century mainly referred to as the Duchy of Alamannien ) was one of the five younger tribal duchies in the East Franconian Empire , along with Bavaria , Franconia , Lorraine and Saxony . It covered a much larger area than what is now known as " Swabia " in southwest Germany . In the east, the duchy extended well beyond the Lech to the Ammersee , bordered on the Vosges in the west , extended roughly to the Strasbourg - Ellwangen line in the north, and expanded in the south to include all of today's eastern Switzerland (including Zurich ) and Vorarlberg including, to Chiavenna on the border with Lombardy and the Gotthard Pass .

Politically, the Duchy of Swabia existed for about 350 years, from the beginning of the 10th century to the end of the Staufer and the end of the tribal duchies in general; it was only legally dissolved in 1806 together with the Holy Roman Empire of the German Nation .

Some consider 911 to be the founding year of the duchy, the year in which the last Carolingian , Ludwig the child , died, and with Conrad I , up to now Duke of Franconia, the first tribal duke was elected German king the year 915 when the first duke was appointed. The four years in between are the time when the regional Alemannic and Rhaetian nobles tried to gain supremacy in a bloody conflict. The forerunner of the Duchy of Swabia was the older tribal duchy of Alamannien , which was created under Franconian leadership in the 6th century after the conquest of the Alamann tribal area by the Franks and was dissolved in 746.

Prehistory, the older tribal duchy of Alemannia

The office of the dukes, the Duces , emerged from the late Roman administration in western France . The duke was the king's confidante who could relieve or depose him at any time. He was committed to maintaining the peace, collecting taxes and tributes, and to military success . Usually the duke was only responsible for a small area. In Alemannia were formed early of many small Gaukönigen larger house goods that powerful by each and probably related noble families were ruled. Seldom or never was a single duke responsible for the entire Duchy of Alemannia .

As it is handed down in the Chronicle of Fredegar , in the fratricidal wars of the Merovingian kings, the Alemannic dukes were occasionally a power factor in great politics. In 587, Duke Leutfried was deposed and replaced by Uncilin . The Duchy of Uncilin was split up when the kings divided up the inheritance in 596, and the area on the left bank of the Rhine was taken from the Austrasian king Theudebert and given to his brother Theuderich .

A note by the Eastern Roman chronicler Agathias around 570 describes the Alemanni as pagans, but some have already converted to Christianity. Christianization had begun under the Romans, so as early as 510 with Bubulcus the first bishops of Alemannia were probably those in Vindonissa and the last there, Cromatius , who was also the first bishop of Constance . In 610, Columban came to Lake Constance. In 630 Duke Chrodebert moved to Bohemia and returned home with rich booty.

From 709 to 712 Pippin the Middle conquered the Alemannic tribal area under Duke Willehari . In 771, Charlemagne disowned his Lombard wife Desiderata and married Hildegard , an Alemannic princely daughter and relative of Duke Nebis . Her brother Gerold the Younger enjoyed the highest esteem in the Duchy of Alamannia and with King Karl. According to tradition, the hereditary privilege of Swabian counts to precede in battle and to wield the imperial storm flag goes back to him.

Creation of the younger tribal duchy of Alemannia

In the middle of the 8th century, the attempt by the Alemannic Duke Theutbald to free his domain from the Merovingian Empire had failed . Theutbald lost his duchy, and this older Alemannic tribal duchy went under with the blood court at Cannstatt . Under the Carolingians , Frankish nobles were increasingly looked after with the administration of Alamannia and the area was divided into counties - even if not nationwide - which, however, still partly referred to the old districts . In terms of personnel, the old Alemannic nobility merged with the newly established Franconian families. The tribal area of ​​the Alemanni was reorganized, but otherwise remained intact. In the Treaty of Verdun in 843, Alemannia and the neighboring Raetia came to the East Franconian Empire of Louis the German , who later passed it on to his youngest son, Charles III. gave. In the late Carolingian period, the tribes regained greater influence, and the “younger” tribal duchies emerged. The new Duchy of Alemannia also belonged to them (the name "Swabia" did not gain acceptance until the middle of the 11th century), but its formation was delayed due to disputes among the Alemannic nobility.

Alaholfinger, Burchardinger, Konradiner and Ottonen

From around 900 there were attempts to establish a tribal duchy in Alamannia / Swabia, similar to other East Franconian areas. This was first prevented by the rivalry between two families, the Alaholfinger or Bertholde and the Burchardinger or Hunfridinger, as well as by Bishop Solomon III. von Konstanz , who would not tolerate a duke between himself and the king. For example, Burchard , the son of Adalbert the Illustrious, the most powerful nobleman in Swabia at the time, was either slain or executed in 911 after a tumultuous meeting (the sources on this are not clear - it is also unclear whether he previously had the title of Duke of Swabia or only aimed at). Thereafter, the Count Palatinate or Royal Messenger of Swabia strove for the ducal dignity, overturned and reconciled with the king in 913 before the conflict came to a head in 914: Erchanger captured Bishop Solomon, was then captured by King Conrad I and expelled from the country. He allied himself with the son of the same name of Burchard, who died in 911. After their return in 915, both defeated their Swabian opponents in the Battle of Wahlwies . Erchanger was made duke before he was convicted at the Synod of Hohenaltheim in 916 and executed on the king's orders in 917.

The establishment of a Swabian tribal duchy could no longer be prevented. Burchard II , the Margrave of Raetia (which at that time only referred to the upper reaches of the Rhine), continued the indignation of his predecessor, claimed the duchy for himself and was able to hold on to this office longer, among other things because he defeated the Burgundian king Rudolf II , his neighbor in the southwest, in the battle of Winterthur in 919 and then made him his son-in-law in 922 - and at the same time ceded the land west of the Reuss and south of the Rhine , essentially Aargau (which this area was first removed from the Reichsverband), during whose brother Ludwig became Count in Burchards Thurgau . The support of his son-in-law's Italian power politics cost him his life in 926 before Novara , but his strivings for power in Swabia at least ensured the permanent existence of a Swabian duchy, even if they earned him the obituary of a church robber despite the founding of monasteries by church chroniclers from St. Gallen and Reichenau to have been. There is only scant information about Burchard II's position and the scope of his rule: Burchard exercised rights vis-à-vis the imperial churches as the king's representative. He also called other Swabian princes to his state parliaments and tried to assert his rule beyond his core area of ​​the Rhaetian-Thurgau region.

After Burchard II's death in 926, the fight for his successor broke out. Since his son Burchard (III) was only about 10 years old at that time, King Heinrich I took the opportunity to give the duchy at the Diet of Worms to his cousin Hermann from the family of the Conradines and this with the widow Burchards to marry - and thus to create a precedent for who was responsible for the investiture of the dukes of Swabia (the king) and who was not (the nobility of the country or the succession). Heinrich determined the Franconian and Conradin Hermann to be Duke, who married Burchard's II widow Regelinda and thus took the lead of the Swabian nobles against him, which was emerging because of the king's approach. However, he had to make further concessions in what is now Switzerland: St. Gallen was finally placed under the protection of the (German) king , the diocese of Chur was granted imperial property that the duke had previously used himself. Even if the new Duke of Swabia was related to the king and had married the widow of his predecessor, his power-political boundaries were narrower, his possessions were smaller and he submitted.

On the other hand, due to the political interests of the Ottonians , the country advanced to become the linchpin of European power politics: rule over the Alpine passes supported interests in Italy , rule over the Burgundian Gate supported interests in Burgundy . No wonder that King (and later Emperor) Otto the Great handed over the duchy to his own son Liudolf after Hermann's death at the Reichstag in Worms (950) - after he had married his heir, Ida, shortly before Hermann's death.

However, this move turned out to be a mistake, as Liudolf, with the support of Bavaria (his cousin Heinrich the brawler ) and Lorraine, rebelled against his father soon afterwards, only subsequently losing the duchy (954) and his life three years later (957) . The successor Otto now chose was someone who could satisfy all parties: the Swabian Burchard III. , Son of Burchard II , married to Hadwig , sister of the rebellious Duke of Bavaria Heinrich II and niece of the king. Burchard III. and above all Hadwig ruled the country from Hohentwiel , first officially until Burchard's death in 973, then unofficially the widow until 994 - although the duchy fell back to the Saxons, this time to Otto I , the son of the rebellious Liudolf and thus grandson to the one of the emperor of the same name who died shortly before, the other of the former Duke Hermann I - and nephew of the new Emperor Otto II ; As expected, Otto proved to be a valuable pillar of the king, but died unmarried and childless as early as 982 on an Italian campaign and thus far too early for the interests of the ruling house.

The Duchy of Swabia now passed back to the Franks, to Konrad , a relative of Hermann I, but above all as Liudolf's brother-in-law, who also managed to keep the title in the family for the first time: Hermann II was his son, Hermann III. his son, Ernst I, the son-in-law of Hermann II, Ernst II and Hermann IV were the sons of Ernst I, so that something like dynastic continuity arose for the first time for more than 50 years - although not planned by the incumbent .

The appointment of Konrad, who was loyal to the emperor, was documented in 983 at the court day in Verona ; he and his successors were called "dux Alemannorum et Alsatiorum" (or "Duke of the Swabians and Alsatians" as in a royal charter from 988), Strasbourg was their capital ("caput ducatus"), the focus of the dominion shifted significantly North.

However, when Hermann II wanted to become German king and was defeated by the Bavarian Duke Heinrich (the brawler's son), who won the election as Heinrich II in 1002, he and his family were subsequently put in their place: Heinrich separated them Alsace and took over the government of the duchy itself, a state that was factually (not legally) preserved until the middle of the century.

Hermann II. Died in 1003, a year after the lost king's election, his only son, Hermann III. died in 1012 under age and childless. Heinrich gave the duchy again to a foreigner, Ernst, a younger son from the house of the margraves of the Marcha Orientalis ( Ostarrichi , later Austria), a branch of the Babenbergs who took office as Ernst I , who shortly thereafter got through the wedding with Gisela further legitimized, the daughter of his predecessor, and in the three years that remained to him to the disguised as a hunting accident revenge, which he fell victim, two sons were paid to Ernst II. and Hermann IV. successively should be his successors.

The Salians

While Ernst II was immature, his mother Gisela took over the reign, but did not remain single. She married Konrad von Speyer at the end of 1016 or beginning of 1017, from whom she had another son, Heinrich, in October of that year. When the Sachsenhaus died out in 1024 with Emperor Heinrich II, Konrad was elected as his successor ( Konrad II ) and already crowned Emperor in 1027, Heinrich was the designated successor to Heinrich III. - the ruling house of the Salians had taken over and the Swabian duke's daughter Gisela was her ancestral mother .

The rule of the king over the Duchy of Swabia was thus secured. However, Ernst II tried to shake off the tutelage and rebelled against his stepfather as soon as he had grown up - not least because, through his grandmother Gerberga of Burgundy , the wife of Duke Hermann II, he was now being considered as heir to the Kingdom of Burgundy came because the ruler there, Rudolf III. , Gerberga's brother, as his father's only son, was childless himself. Due to his age, however, his inheritance claims took precedence over those of his brother Hermann - and over those of the king's son Heinrich, whom his father, the emperor, for understandable reasons, saw as an heir. The Duke's rebellion failed, Ernst was slain in 1030 near Falkenstein Castle in the Black Forest . As planned, the Burgundian inheritance went to Heinrich and Hermann, Gisela's middle son, who was still a minor, and could be happy that the Duchy of Swabia was left to him. Hermann IV died eight years later, after which the emperor moved in and did not pass it on to his children, who had to be content with the counties of Kastl and Sulzbach.

The resistance of Duke Ernst II entered the legend of Duke Ernst of Bavaria. It only has to do with historical truth insofar as the name and the opposition to the emperor are correct, the rest is romantic.

It was not until 1045 that Heinrich appointed a new duke (Goslar, April 7th). His choice fell on the Lorraine Count Palatine Otto ( Ezzonen ). When he died in 1047, the office of duke went to the margrave Otto von Schweinfurt from the Franconian branch of the Babenbergs , who in nine years of office as Otto III. could hardly set accents either. In the meantime, however, the lack of a strong duke in the country and his dependence on the king led to a strengthening of the next level: Count dynasts developed their power, the Staufer (from the Nördlinger Ries ), the Zähringer (from the area around Weilheim an der Teck ) , the Welfs (from the Ravensburg area ) and the Habsburgs (from northern Switzerland ) now came into the light of history. And the first non-appointment of an office holder that Heinrich could afford was a clear sign of his dispensability.

Apparently the time had come to take this development into account. Henry III. had the Zähringen Count Berthold the successor Otto III. promised and this is documented by a ring. However, when the question of succession became concrete in 1057, Heinrich died (1056), his widow Agnes von Poitou ruled the country and a Burgundian count, Rudolf von Rheinfelden , kidnapped her eldest daughter Mathilde and then married her in 1059 (Mathilde died in 1060) . Agnes ignored her deceased husband's promise, made Rudolf Duke of Swabia and Berthold Duke of Carinthia , which, however, was not at all satisfactory. And Rudolf's ambition was by no means satisfied by this blackmail. 20 years later, in connection with the investiture controversy , the ban of King Henry IV and his move to Canossa , Rudolf had himself elected king against his former brother-in-law with the support of the bypassed Berthold of Carinthia and the Bavarian Duke Welf IV . After his return from Italy, Heinrich had his opponents convicted of high treason and dismissed from office - the subsequent war raged particularly fiercely in Swabia, the victims were usually the peasant population, who in the event of defeat would have to expect to be sold into slavery if she had survived the vengeance of the respective winner.

The Hohenstaufen

Henry IV solved the problem of vacancies on the ducal thrones of Swabia at Easter 1079 by appointing the now powerful Count Friedrich von Staufen , whom he married ten years later to his daughter Agnes - whereupon the papal party named the son of the deposed Rudolf, who had already been appointed as his successor by his father when the counter-duke Berthold I set up, followed 13 years later by Zähringer Berthold II : the dispute between papacy and kingship had reached the second level. An understanding was not reached until 1098: Friedrich and Berthold came to an agreement, both kept the title of duke, Berthold was given the city of Zurich, Swabia was effectively divided: the Zähringers were in Thurgau, Zurich, Breisgau, in the Black Forest and on the Baar, in Neckargau , owned in Burgundy and controlled the Alpine passes - and in Upper Swabia the Guelphs had their home power. The division lasted until the last Duke, Berthold V , died in 1218 , and the Hohenstaufen , who had been at the head of the empire for a long time, were largely able to take over the inheritance.

The Swabian ducal dignity was the springboard to higher honors for the Staufer, the duchy remained in their hands for almost 200 years, but was soon only one of many rulers and not even the most undisputed. After the dukes Friedrich I and Friedrich II of Friedrich III, who became Emperor Friedrich I (Barbarossa), it was relegated to a secondary title within the family, with the cousins ​​(Friedrich von Rothenburg as Friedrich IV ) and not Sons who came to the royal office ( Friedrich V and Conrad II ) were taken care of until one of these "supply cases", Philipp of Swabia , was elected king by the Hohenstaufen partisans in a double election against Otto von Braunschweig in 1198 . The rightful heir to the throne would be the only son of the late Emperor Heinrich VI. , who later became Friedrich II , but he was just three years old and lived in Sicily, so that Philipp von Schwaben rose to be the representative of the Staufer faction in Germany.

Philip's death in 1208 left the ducal title vacant until the now 17-year-old Emperor's son Friedrich, King of Sicily for nine years , came to Constance from southern Italy in 1212 , took possession of the office and was also elected German king on December 9th. King Friedrich II passed Swabia on to his six-year-old son Heinrich in 1217 , but the duchy was withdrawn from him in 1235 after his rebellion against his father due to a resolution of the Reichstag in Frankfurt. The title went to Heinrich's seven-year-old half-brother Konrad, whom Friedrich had elected king two years later ( Konrad IV ) and finally in 1254 to his son Konradin (1262 formal possession at a court in Ulm ), who was executed in Naples at the age of sixteen in 1268 - and who is mistaken for many as the last Duke of Swabia.

The end of the duchy

In fact, however, Rudolf von Habsburg , after the interregnum of the German king from 1273, attempted to revive the title and use it for the Habsburg family. For this purpose he named his son Rudolf Duke of Swabia. After Rudolf's early death in 1290, his son Johann followed . When he murdered his uncle, King Albrecht I , in 1308 and then fled without leaving an heir, the Duchy of Swabia was in fact extinct.

But even without the murder committed by Johann or his disappearance, Rudolf's attempt was doomed to failure. After Conradin's death, the Swabian Great, especially who had Wuerttemberg , served on imperial and Herzogsgut so that Rudolf only the remains of two imperial administrative territories summarize could: Lower Swabia and Upper Swabia , one of which lost the first for lack of assets rapidly in importance and in 1378 Oberschwaben was struck. After multiple pledges, the “ Reichslandvogtei in Ober- and Lower Swabia ” finally came to Austria in 1541 and then to Württemberg in 1805.

Attempts to revive the title of Duke of Swabia all failed: Alfonso X. of Castile , who was elected German (counter) king in 1257, justified his claims to the royal crown and Swabia with his Staufer grandmother, but could not push through. The people of Württemberg also tried to gain the title because of their territorial supremacy, but they never succeeded either. Their possessions were only raised to the Duchy of Württemberg in 1495 . The Habsburg King Maximilian I was not prepared to give up the option of the Swabian title for his own house by giving it to Eberhard im Bart .

The boundaries of the former duchy were retained as a territorial unit in the self-image of its residents. Later agreements, such as B. the Swabian Federation or the Swabian Reichskreis were based on this old administrative unit.

When Friedrich Wilhelm Karl von Württemberg proclaimed himself king from the Duke of Württemberg in 1806, he assumed the title of Prince of Swabia , which he only changed to sovereign Duke in Swabia and von Teck after the dissolution of the Holy Roman Empire in August 1806 . He included the three lions coat of arms in the new national coat of arms .


The actual power of the Dukes of Swabia was mostly too weak to be the actual rulers of the country. They did lead the exile in the king's battles, but were rarely mentioned. They were always dependent on the allegiance and loyalty of the largely related nobility, who built on the old families, with the lower nobility being just as important as the high nobility.

List of the dukes of Swabia

Surname Domination Remarks
Burchard I. 0909-911 Margrave in Raetia , Count in Thurgau and the Baar
Erchanger 0915-917 Count Palatine of Swabia
Burchard II 0917-926 Son of Burchard I, margrave in Raetia
Hermann I. 0926-949 Cousin of King Conrad I
Liudolf 0950-954 his son-in-law, son of King Otto I.
Burchard III. 0954-973 Son of Burchard II
Otto I. 0973-982 Son of Liudolf
Konrad I. 0982-997 Relative of Hermann I, probably Liudolf's brother-in-law
Hermann II. 0997-1003 his son
Hermann III. 1003-1012 his son
Ernst I. 1012-1015 Son-in-law of Hermann II.
Ernst II 1015-1030 his son
Hermann IV. 1030-1038 his brother
Henry III. 1038-1045 immediate rule of the king, stepbrother Hermann IV.
Otto II. 1045-1047 Count Palatine of Lorraine
Otto III. 1048-1057 Margrave of Schweinfurt
Rudolf 1057-1079 Count of Rheinfelden , German rival king 1077
Friedrich I. 1079-1105 Staufer
Berthold I. 1079-1090 Son of Rudolf, counter-duke
Berthold II. 1092-1111 first counter-duke,
from 1098 "Duke of Zähringen "
Berthold III. 1113-1122 his son
Konrad 1122-1152 his brother
Berthold IV. 1152-1186 Son of Berthold III.
Berthold V. 1186-1218 his son
Friedrich II. The one-eyed 1105-1147 Son of Friedrich I.
Friedrich III. 1147-1152 Son of Frederick II, King as Frederick I Barbarossa 1152, Emperor 1155
Friedrich IV of Rothenburg 1152-1167 Son of King Conrad III.
Friedrich V. 1167-1170 eldest son of Friedrich I. Barbarossa
Friedrich VI. 1170-1191 his brother
Konrad II of Rothenburg 1191-1196 his brother
Philip 1196-1208 his brother, King as Philip of Swabia in 1198
1208-1212 no duke, King Otto IV draws Swabia to the crown, Frederick VII's claim.
Frederick VII 1212-1217 Immediate rule of King Friedrich II. , Emperor 1220
Heinrich 1217-1235 his son, King as Heinrich (VII.) 1220
Frederick VII 1235-1237 renewed direct rule of Emperor Friedrich II.
Conrad III. 1237-1254 his son, King as Conrad IV. 1237
Conrad IV. 1254-1268 Son of King Konrad IV , called "Konradin"
1268-1273 no duke, King Wilhelm of Holland claims the duchy (1255), King Alfonso X of Castile claims the duchy (1257)
Rudolf 1273-1290 Son of King Rudolf I.
Johann 1290-1313 his son

After Johann's childless death, Swabia virtually ceased to exist as a duchy.


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Web links

Individual evidence

  1. Klaus Schubring: The new formation of the Upper Rhineland . In: Horst Buszello (editor): The Upper Rhine in Past and Present , Series of publications by the Freiburg University of Education, Volume 1, Freiburg i. Br. 1986, pp. 40-53, here p. 40.
  2. Otto Feger, History of the Lake Constance Region , Vol. 1, p. 72.
  3. ^ Dieter Geuenich: The Alemanni on the Upper Rhine . In: Horst Buszello (editor): The Upper Rhine in Past and Present , Series of publications by the Freiburg University of Education, Volume 1, Freiburg 1986, pp. 25–39, here, p. 35.
  4. ^ Wolfgang Hug: History of Baden , 2nd reviewed edition, Darmstadt 1998, p. 53.
  5. Klaus Schubring : The new formation of the Upper Rhineland . In: Horst Buszello (editor): The Upper Rhine in Past and Present , series of publications by the Freiburg University of Education, Volume 1, Freiburg 1986, pp. 40–52, here p. 43f. and p. 40.
  6. Hans Martin SchallerKonradin. In: New German Biography (NDB). Volume 12, Duncker & Humblot, Berlin 1980, ISBN 3-428-00193-1 , pp. 557-559 ( digitized version ).
  7. Klaus Graf: The “Land” of Swabia in the late Middle Ages (PDF; 12.6 MB).
  8. Otto Feger: History of the Lake Constance area , vol. 1, p. 234.