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Coat of arms of the Spanheim family and the county of Sponheim
Coat of arms of the Sponheim-Kreuznach line and the Vorderen Grafschaft Sponheim

The Spanheimers , also Sponheimers , were a dynasty that came from Rhine Franconia . The name goes back to Sponheim Castle, which is located in the Bad Kreuznach district today .



Sponheim Castle, ancestral seat of the House of Sponheim

After the Eppensteiners died out in 1122, the ducal dignity in Carinthia passed to the Spanheimers, who ruled there until 1269. In nominal terms, they remained dukes of Carinthia until 1279. At the time of the greatest expansion of the Spanheimer total house around the year 1151, these extended in addition to the areas of origin around Sponheim on the Nahe from Istria and Venetia via Tyrol and Carinthia and the east of Bavaria up to Tirschenreuth in the Upper Palatinate ; it included the County of Sponheim , the Duchy of Carinthia , the Margraviate of Verona , the County of Lavanttal , the County of Lebenau , the County of Kraiburg-Marquartstein and the County of Ortenburg .

Part of the family stayed in Sponheim . The family of counts there died out in the main line in the 15th century. The Rhenish Counts of Sponheim bequeathed the County of Sponheim to relatives through female lines.

Side branches of the Spanheimers became more influential and historically significant families, such as the Counts von Lebenau (until 1229), the Bavarian Counts of Ortenburg , who in 1209 were made Count Palatine of Bavaria, the second most important office in the Duchy of Bavaria , which they held until 1248. Another side branch of the Counts of Sponheim inherited the Counts of Sayn in 1246/47 and the Counts of Wittgenstein in 1361 , thereby donating the Count's, from the end of the 18th century, a princely house of Sayn-Wittgenstein , which - like the Ortenburgers - ruled directly from the empire until 1806 and also still exists.

Well-known coat of arms of the house

The coat of arms of the Spanheimers is a shield made of silver and red countless.

The side branch of the Ortenburgers had a silver pinnacle bar on a red background as the family coat of arms.

The Ortenburgers' side branch of the Palatinate had a blue, fire-breathing panther on a silver background as a coat of arms.

The branch that provided the dukes of Carinthia from 1122 to 1279 (nominally up to 1269) led a black panther on a silver background (or as pieces of fur: in black sable on ermine) in its main line until 1246. Since the Babenberg inheritance (Austria) had become vacant in 1246, a new coat of arms was adopted in order to underline the inheritance claim: a golden-red split shield with the Babenberg lion in its three number in front (coat of arms of the Babenberg line Mödling) and half in the back Austrian binding shield; the crest: a peacock bump, goes back to the Austrian coat of arms. The shield was taken over by the Meinhardiner when Carinthia was taken over, as it is still used today by the State of Carinthia (in the large coat of arms, with a helmet, but with a different crest, as it has existed since 1363).


Siegfried I von Spanheim († 1065), the first documented Spanheimer, came to Carinthia from Rhine Franconia in the wake of the Salier Emperor Konrad II . By marrying the Sieghardingen heiress Richgard von Lavant († 1072) he came to rich estates in Tyrol and Carinthia (area of St. Veit , Lavanttal , area of Klagenfurt , Vogtei St. Georgen ) and in the southeastern Marche ( Marburg , Drau , Sann , Friuli ). In 1045 he obtained through Emperor Heinrich III. the margrave law for the Hungarian mark , which he held only briefly. Siegfried has so far been regarded as the top ancestor ( progenitor ) of the Spanheimers in Carinthia and Bavaria. His direct ancestors can no longer be determined due to a lack of sources. However, his family relationships with the Zeisolf-Wolframen , the counts in Königssondergau and the remaining branch of the Spanheimers in the Rhineland can be proven.

Count Engelbert I von Spanheim as the founder of the St. Paul monastery in Lavanttal

His two sons Engelbert I and Hartwig founded St. Paul Abbey in Lavanttal in 1091 as a spiritual center in their mother's castle. Engelbert I succeeded among other things in regaining the title of margrave, and in 1090 he was appointed margrave of Istria . As a result of the investiture dispute in 1091, however, he was removed from the county in Pustertal by decree of Emperor Heinrich IV , who then donated it to the Bressanone Monastery. Engelbert's youngest son Heinrich achieved the duchy of Carinthia in 1122. With Engelbert's son Siegfried I von Lebenau - he founded the County of Lebenau in the Salzburg area - and his grandson Rapoto I , founder of the County of Ortenburg , the Spanheim house consolidated its position in the Duchy of Bavaria alongside Tyrol and Carinthia.

Ducal and margravial house

Coat of arms of the Dukes of Carinthia from the house Spanheim as guided by them in their ruling main line since 1246 (previously a black panther on a silver background) and by their successors in the Carinthian duke, the Meinhardi Africans was acquired

After the death of Duke Heinrich III. , from the house of the Eppensteiners, and the associated extinction of his noble family, his godchild Heinrich von Spanheim obtained the ducal dignity of Carinthia. In addition to the duchy, Heinrich also acquired the rights of rulership over the margraviate of Verona . This was now linked to the Duchy of Carinthia by personal union. Every reigning Duke of Carinthia was now also Margrave of Verona.

In 1123, after only one year as a duke, Heinrich IV died. He was followed by his younger brother, Margrave Engelbert II of Istria. However, Engelbert did not remain duke for long either, as he renounced in 1135 in favor of his son Ulrich I.

The Spanheimers were denied a well-founded power base, as the rich legacy of the Eppensteiners in 1122 and also the legacy of Engelbert's brother Bernhard von Trixen , the founder of the Cistercian monastery Viktring , fell to the Traungau in 1142 . Istria and the Margraviate of Tuscany (acquired in 1135) were lost.

Duke Ulrich I was considered to be a Staufer supporter from 1138 and during his reign had constant disputes with the large Carinthian aristocratic families and the bishops of Salzburg and Bamberg . After his death, his eldest son Heinrich V followed him as Duke. In 1151, under Heinrich's tenure, the margraviate of Verona was lost, which was previously linked to the ducal dignity of Carinthia. So the ducal house lost more and more power. In the service of his Staufer emperor Friedrich Barbarossa he drowned in 1161 on a trip.

He was followed by his brother Hermann , whose term of office was marked by conflicts with the Heunburgers and the Carinthian Ortenburgers . After his death in 1181 Ulrich II became the new duke. At the beginning of his term of office, he was not yet of legal age, so that he did not take over government until 1194. Due to a serious illness from 1198 onwards, his brother Bernhard replaced him . After Ulrich's death in 1202, he became his official successor. Bernhard always promoted trade in Carinthia and always endeavored to expand his lands. He finally succeeded in consolidating the ducal position of the Spanheimers in Carinthia. In 1234 he founded the Cistercian monastery Landstraß (Slovenian: Kostanjevica) in Carniola.

In 1256 he was followed by his eldest son Ulrich III. († 1269) as a duke. This came through his wife Agnes von Andechs († 1263) in possession of large estates in Krain and the Windischen Mark and called himself Herr von Krain . He bequeathed his successor to his cousin Ottokar II of Bohemia and left his younger brother Philip , Electen of Salzburg , later Patriarch of Aquileia , empty. Ulrich died childless in 1269. His brother Philipp († 1279) fought in vain against the Bohemian king for Ulrich's inheritance. This meant the end of the Carinthian dukes from the Spanheim family. The line of the ducal de facto expired in 1269, although Philipp was nominally Duke of Carinthia from 1275. With his death, this line of the Spanheim family died out for good.

Imperial Counts House of Ortenburg

Coat of arms of the branch of the Imperial Counts of Ortenburg
Coat of arms of the Palatine side branch of the House of Ortenburg . Today it is part of the state coat of arms of Bavaria and stands for old Bavaria .

Engelbert II acquired large estates in Upper and Lower Bavaria through his marriage to the wealthy heir Uta of the Passau burgrave Ulrich . Early on, he divided these possessions among his sons.

Engelbert III. received the possessions in Chiemgau and Rottal, while Rapoto I received large possessions north of Kraiburg . Rapoto settled in the Ortenberg area around 1120 (old name Ortenberg, later Ortenburg), where he built the fortress of the same name, Ortenburg . After Engelbert III. In 1173 he had died childless, Rapoto inherited his Bavarian possessions with the county of Kraiburg . From then on, these represented the heart of the Ortenburg possessions.

In 1209, Rapoto's eldest son, Rapoto II, was made Count Palatine of Bavaria, the second most important position in the Duchy of Bavaria. Until the death of the second Count Palatine Rapoto III from Ortenburg . in 1248 the house was the most powerful Bavarian noble house.

The Ortenburg possessions reached from Brixental and Kitzbühel over a wide arc over the eastern Bavarian region up to Tirschenreuth in the Upper Palatinate . They were even significantly larger than those of the Bavarian dukes from the house of the Wittelsbachers .

Since the Ortenburgers managed their estates largely independently, they were well on the way to being elevated by the emperor to an independent duchy of Bavaria by 1240. This led to repeated conflicts with the neighbors.

After the death of Rapotos III. The Ortenburgers lost most of their power, the dignity of the Count Palatine and the possessions in Chiemgau and Rottal were lost. The house also lost its reputation due to Henry II , who gave away most of his property. The Ortenburgers also temporarily gave up their imperial rights in 1391. The county soon shrank to the size of today's market town of Ortenburg .

In 1530, due to an inheritance dispute with Count Gabriel von Salamanca-Ortenburg over the Carinthian County of Ortenburg , Count Christoph renamed the family von Ortenberg after the older family Graf von Ortenburg .

The reputation and power of the Ortenburgers rose again until 1551, so that the house under Count Christoph I was again one of the richest in Lower Bavaria.

In 1551 Joachim became the ruling count. Over time, he became an avowed adherent of Lutheran teaching and introduced the Protestant faith in his county. This led to a decades-long conflict with the neighbors, the Bavarian dukes. This dispute weakened the Ortenburg house immensely. However, in 1573 before the Imperial Court of Justice its imperial immediacy was confirmed, ie the county remained free and independent until its end.

In the 17th century, the Ortenburgers were initially only formally counts, as the county was pledged to his widow by Count Joachim. It was only Count Georg Reinhard who managed to redeem it in 1659.

After the county and the family had survived the Napoleonic wars as neutral, Count Joseph Carl exchanged the county for the newly created county of Tambach in 1805 due to the high debts of his family . Since then, the Ortenburg family has lived at Tambach Castle near Coburg .

Grafisches Haus von Lebenau

Little is known about the Counts of Lebenau to this day. The seat of the family was in the old Aribonian castle Lebenau in the Salzburger Gau, also called Liebenau. The possessions on the Salzach came from Siegfried I's marriage to Richgard. The castle also gave the Spanheimers' side branch the name of the family, Count von Lebenau.

Siegfried I , second son of Engelbert I, is considered to be the founder of this side branch in Bavaria . In addition to the positions of witnesses in some of his brothers' documents, Siegfried hardly appears. His successor in 1132 was his youngest son, Siegfried II. In 1163 he traveled as a crusader to Palestine, where he fell a year later.

His eldest son Siegfried III. followed him as the ruling count. Little is known about his reign either. Except that he took part in the Third Crusade in 1190 and, like his father, was killed in it. Otto I , his brother, succeeded him as the incumbent Count von Lebenau. Nothing is known about his reign.

Otto's successor was his youngest son, Bernhard . He died childless in 1229 and, like all his ancestors, was buried in the Seeon monastery. With him the line of the Counts of Lebenau died out. Their possessions in Carinthia fell to the Counts of Pfannberg , the County of Lebenau itself to Duke Ludwig I of Bavaria . However, it is not known why neither the Carinthian dukes nor the Counts of Ortenburg attempted to take possession of the estates. Only the bailiwick rights secured Palatine Rapoto II of Bavaria.

Counts and Princely House Sayn-Wittgenstein

Gottfried III. von Sponheim (* before 1183; † 1218) married Adelheid von Sayn († 1263) in 1202, one of the two sisters and heiresses of the last Count of Sayn , Heinrich III. After his death in 1246/47 parts of the county of Sayn fell to Gottfried's son Johann I , the founder of the Sponheim- Starkenburg line , his brother Heinrich I von Heinsberg founded the Sponheim-Heinsberg line and the youngest brother, Simon I , founded the line Sponheim- Kreuznach .

Johann I von Sponheim-Starkenburg had a son Gottfried I (1266–1284), among whose sons an inheritance was divided in 1294: Johann II inherited the County of Sayn and founded the line of the Counts of Sayn-Sayn; his brother Engelbert I inherited Vallendar and from maternal inheritance the rule of Homburg with Homburg Castle and founded the line of the Counts of Sayn-Homburg. The latter line inherited the County of Wittgenstein in 1361 and thus founded the count's house Sayn-Wittgenstein , which in 1605 was divided into the three lines Sayn-Wittgenstein-Berleburg, Sayn-Wittgenstein-Hohenstein and Sayn-Wittgenstein-Sayn . The first was made imperial prince in 1792, the second in 1801 . However, the two principalities were mediatized to the Grand Duchy of Hessen-Darmstadt in 1806 and came to Prussia in 1815 ; thereafter the lines of the house Sayn-Wittgenstein (like the Ortenburgers) belonged to the landlords of the German Confederation . The princely house flourishes in its Berleburg line (which also inherited the Hohenstein and Sayner lines) to this day.

Dynasts and personalities from the entire Spanheim family

Dukes of Carinthia

Count of Sponheim

Branch lines of the Rhenish branch

Bolanden-Dannenfels line

Heinrich I von Sponheim-Kreuznach (Vordere Grafschaft), son of Count Simon I von Sponheim-Kreuznach , married Kunigunde von Bolanden around 1277 , who inherited large parts of his father's property in 1286. So he could establish his own family line. The property was in today's Donnersbergkreis and included u. a. Tannenfels Castle , Dannenfels and Kirchheimbolanden . With Heinrich II. Von Sponheim-Bolanden this branch died out in 1393 and the inheritance fell to Nassau-Saarbrücken .

Heinsberg line

Heinrich von Sponheim , son of Gottfried III., Who received the rule of Heinsberg through his wife Agnes von Heinsberg (north of Aachen) , founded the families of the Lords of Heinsberg, Counts of Loon and Blankenheim (until 1469) and the Lords of Löwenburg in the Siebengebirge (until the end of the 14th century).

Line Neef

Eberhard von Sponheim (Vordere Grafschaft) married a woman from the family of the Truchsesse von Alzey around 1292 . He had received some shares in the Front County, including Neef Castle and Lordship on the Moselle. The line died out as early as 1351 and Neef Castle was lost to Kurtrier .

Sayn line
Gottfried von Sayn.jpg

Count Heinrich III. von Sayn's sister Adelheid was with Gottfried III. married from Sponheim. Both grandson Gottfried I is the progenitor of a second count family Sayn . The lines Sayn-Sayn and Sayn-Wittgenstein (surviving) come from this line .

Koppenstein line

Armoiries de Koppenstein.svg

Margraves of the Hungarian marches, the Windian marches, of Istria, Tuscany and Verona

Count Palatine of Bavaria

Counts of Ortenburg

Count of Lebenau

Counts and princes of Sayn-Wittgenstein

Other important personalities


Ducal line and Counts of Spanheim

For some researchers, Engelbert III applied. (instead of Ulrich I) as the ancestor of the broader line.

Counts of Sponheim (incomplete)

Early coats of arms of the Counts of Sponheim in the New Siebmacher Wappenbuch from 1882

Imperial Count of Ortenburg

Ortenburg branch of origin and the Palatine branch

  • Rapoto I († August 26, 1186), Count von Ortenburg (1120–1186), ⚭ Elisabeth von Sulzbach († January 23, 1206)
    • A: Rapoto II. († March 19, 1231), Count Palatine of Bavaria (1209–1231), Count of Kraiburg and Marquartstein (1186–1231), ⚭ Udilhild, Countess of Dillingen
    • A: Adelheid
    • A: Mathilde, ⚭ Konrad II., Count of Valley
    • A: Elisabeth, ⚭ Gero II., Count of Heunburg
    • A: Heinrich I († 1241), Count von Ortenburg (1186–1241), Count von Murach (1186–1238), ⚭ 1st marriage: Juta Přemyslovna , Bohemian princess, 2nd marriage Richza (Richgard) († 10. August 1266), Margravine of Hohenburg
      • B: Elisabeth († 1272), ⚭ Gebhard IV. († 1279), Landgrave of Leuchtenberg
      • B: Heinrich II. († 1257), Count of Ortenburg (1241–1257)
      • B: Anna, ⚭ Friedrich IV. († August 30, 1274), Count of Truhendingen
      • B: Osanna († 1289), ⚭ Konrad von Ehrenfels
      • B: Gebhard († 1275), Count of Ortenburg (1257–1275), Count of Murach (1238–1272)
      • B: Rapoto IV. († November 19, 1296), Count of Murach (1238–1272), Count of Ortenburg (1275–1296), ⚭ Kunigunde, daughter of Diethalm von Bruckenberg
        • C: Henry III. († 1345), Count von Ortenburg (1296–1345), ⚭ Adelheid († before 1335), Countess von Schaunberg , ⚭ Sophia, Countess von Henneberg-Aschach
          • D: Heinrich IV. († April 8, 1395), Count von Ortenburg sat in Dorfbach (1345–1395), ⚭ Agnes von Hals
            • E: Erasmus
            • E: Alram I. († before 1399), Count von Ortenburg , ⚭ NN von Chamerau, ⚭ Barbara von Rottau († August 17, 1388), ⚭ Anna
              • F: Ulrich I († November 19, 1455), Canon of Passau and Regensburg, later provost of Passau and Mattsee
              • Q: Amalia, ⚭ NN Graf von Moy
              • F: Elisabeth († November 2, 1447)
              • F: Alram II. († 1460), Count of Ortenburg (1444–1460), ⚭ Agnes von Waldburg († January 10, 1460)
            • E: Hadwig († June 29, 1394), ⚭ Thesaurus I. von Fraunhofen († September 28, 1394)
            • E: Georg I († before 1422), Count of Neu-Ortenburg , ⚭ Siguna von Buchberg
              • F: Heinrich V , Count of Neu-Ortenburg († 1449), ⚭ Ursula Ecker zu Saldenburg († 1436), ⚭ Elisabeth von Törring († 1487)
                • G: Sibylla († 1475), ⚭ Konrad II. Von Heideck († 1471)
                • G: Georg II. († before February 1489), Count von Ortenburg (1460–1488), ⚭ Anastasia von Fraunberg († 1502)
                • G: Magdalena († 1508), ⚭ 1470 Ulrich I von Starhemberg on Sprinzenstein, Lobenstein a. Dachsberg, imperial councilor, captain and keeper of Freistadt († September 1, 1477)
                • G: Sebastian I. (* August 1434; † November 11, 1490), Count of Ortenburg (1489–1490), ⚭ Maria, Countess of Neuburg, continues another line
                • G: Siguna († 1489), ⚭ Burian von Guttenstein († 1489)
              • F: Oswald, Canon and Vicar General of Salzburg († June 3, 1450)
            • E: Johann I, Canon of Passau and papal chaplain († 1396)
            • E: Etzel I. († May 17, 1446), Count of Alt-Ortenburg , ⚭ Katharina von Anserweiler, ⚭ Siguna von Rohrbach
        • C: Liutgard, ⚭ Hartmann II., Count von Wartstein
      • B: Diepold († August 1285), Count of Murach (1238–1272)

Count of Lebenau

  • Siegfried I († May 6, 1132), Count von Arch, Count von Lebenau (1104–1132), ancestor of the Counts von Lebenau
    • A: Friedrich, Count of Hohenburg
    • A: Siegfried II. († 23 August around 1163), Count von Lebenau (1132–1164)
    • A: Bertha


  • Albert Ehrenhart Fichtel: Tincture and Zimir, the coat of arms of the Counts of Spanheim. In: Hunsrücker Heimatblätter. No. 124/44, Simmern 2004 ISSN  0947-1405
  • Friedrich Hausmann : The Counts of Ortenburg and their male ancestors, the Spanheimers in Carinthia, Saxony and Bavaria, as well as their branch lines. A genealogical overview. In: Ostbairische Grenzmarken - Passauer Jahrbuch für Geschichte, Kunst und Volkskunde. No. 36, 1994, ISSN  0078-6845 , pp. 9-62.
  • Heinz Dopsch : The founders came from the Rhine. The Spanheimers as donors of St. Paul. In: Johannes Grabmayer, Günther Hödl (Hrsg.): Treasury of Carinthia. State exhibition St. Paul 1991. 900 years of the Benedictine monastery. Klagenfurt 1991, pp. 43-67.
  • Johannes Mötsch : Genealogy of the Counts of Spanheim. In: Yearbook for West German State History 14, 1987, pp. 63–179.
  • Friedrich Hausmann: Archives of the Counts of Ortenburg. Documents of the family and the county of Ortenburg (= Bavarian archive inventories 42). Volume 1: 1142-1400. Degener, Neustadt an der Aisch 1984, ISBN 3-7686-5061-8 .
  • Johannes Mötsch:  Sponheim. In: New German Biography (NDB). Volume 24, Duncker & Humblot, Berlin 2010, ISBN 978-3-428-11205-0 , pp. 738-740 ( digitized version ).
  • Friedrich Hausmann: Siegfried, Margrave of the "Ungarnmark" and the beginnings of the Spanheimers in Carinthia and around the Rhineland. In: Yearbook for regional studies of Lower Austria. New series Volume 43, Vienna 1977, pp. 115–168 ( pdf on, also PDF on ZOBODAT ).
  • Ernst Klebel : The ancestors of the Dukes of Carinthia from the Spanheim family. In: Contributions to the history and cultural history of Carinthia. Ceremony for Dr. Martin Wutte on his 60th birthday. Archive for patriotic history and topography 24/25, Klagenfurt 1936, pp. 47–66.
  • Eberhard Graf zu Ortenburg-Tambach: History of the imperial, ducal and counts' entire house of Ortenburg. Part 1: The ducal house in Carinthia. Rückert, Vilshofen 1931; Part 2: The Count's House in Bavaria. Rückert, Vilshofen 1932.
  • Heinrich Witte: About the older counts of Spanheim and related families . Journal for the history of the Upper Rhine Vol. 11 NF, J. Bielefeld, Karlsruhe 1896, p. 161- (digitized on, [8] ).

Web links

Individual evidence

  1. On the history of the coat of arms of Carinthia
  2. ^ Also on the history of the coat of arms of Carinthia
  3. Friedrich Hausmann : Siegfried, Margrave of the "Ungarnmark" and the beginnings of the Spanheimers in Carinthia and around the Rhineland , p. 165
  4. Friedrich Hausmann : Siegfried, Margrave of the "Ungarnmark" and the beginnings of the Spanheimers in Carinthia and around the Rhineland , p. 166
  5. Adolph Köllner: History of the rule Kirchheim-Boland and Stauf: Edited from JM Kremer's and J. Andreä's manuscripts, reliable documents and other resources. Published by the Association for Nassau Antiquity and Historical Research, Wiesbaden 1854
  6. ^ Hans Döhn: Kirchheimbolanden: Die Geschichte der Stadt , Stadtverwaltung Kirchheimbolanden, 1968 and 1993, pp. 81–93.
  7. Counts of Sponheim in "Genealogy Middle Ages"