Spee (noble family)

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Family coat of arms of the von Spee family

Spee is the name of an old Rhenish noble family from the Archdiocese of Cologne.


As one of the first documented members of the family, Bruno Spede was mentioned in 1166 and 1177 as a ministerial officer of the Archbishops of Cologne . It was not until the second half of the 14th century, with Goedeart Spede van Langenvelt , also known as Spee, that the rooster , which is still known today, appears in the family's coat of arms . This differentiated the von Spee gentlemen from other Rhenish noble families of the same name.

The family initially belonged to the regional nobility on the Lower Rhine . The headquarters were Altenhof (near Kaldenkirchen , since 1356, sold in 1833) and the Langenfeld house in Wachtendonk-Wankum (since 1348, inherited in 1532 by Gaert von Erp called Warrenberg, later part of the Krickenbeck property of Count Schaesberg) . In the 14th and 15th centuries, four members of the family were one of the few noble families from the Rhineland who became knights in the Teutonic Order in Livonia .

The Aldenhof (Altenhof), Langenfeld and Haus Velde and Pöhlland lines existed until the 17th century . All Count von Spee living today come from the Aldenhof line.

The sex has produced important members: Friedrich Spee von Langenfeld (1591–1635), professor of theology and writer, was one of the first to oppose the witchcraft madness and torture . Franz von Spee (1781–1839) managed the feat of being a high official in Düsseldorf, one after the other, being acceptable to the Bavarian, French and Prussian governments. Maximilian Graf von Spee (1861-1914), Imperial Vice Admiral and Squadron Chief of the German Fleet Association in the sea ​​battle at Coronel and in the sea ​​battle near the Falkland Islands , fell on board his flagship , the SMS Scharnhorst . His two sons also died in this fight as lieutenants at sea on the SMS Nürnberg and SMS Gneisenau .

Fideikommiss Heltorf

In 1662 Friedrich Christian Freiherr von Spee inherited the Heltorf Palace in Düsseldorf-Angermund from his father-in-law Johann Bertram von Scheid called Weschpfennig . In 1672 Duke Philipp Wilhelm von Jülich-Berg appointed him war commissioner for the entire Bergische Militia. In the course of time, the property could be steadily expanded, the Heltorf branch acquired at least 7,000 hectares by 1945 . The Lords of Spee received high offices in the state administrations and at the courts of the Rhenish princes. In 1739 the imperial count status was acquired. By marrying into the family of the Counts of Hillesheim , their entire property, including Ahrenthal Castle on the Middle Rhine, fell to the Counts of Spee when it died out (1785 or 1807). The Counts Spee belong to the Rhenish knighthood founded in 1837 .

Wilhelm Graf von Spee (* 1963) is currently the boss at Heltorf. As the eldest son, he followed his father Maximilian Graf von Spee (1928–2009). The Heltorf headquarters in Düsseldorf include the manors Kesselsberg (since 1802) and Remberg (since 1856) in Duisburg - Huckingen , the Gervershagen forest estate in Marienheide (since 1870) and in the Sauerland the Alme Castle with Tinne and Bruch House and Almerfeld House in Brilon (all since 1912). The Böckum house in Duisburg-Huckingen had been in the family since 1856 and was sold to an investor in 2012. The former Familienfideikommiss of the Heltorfer Line, bundled in the Graeflich von Spee's central administration , is estimated to be at least one billion euros with factories, a brickyard, gravel pits, housing and finance companies.

Other possessions

Other branches of the family live, among others, at Haus Fürth in Korschenbroich , at Ahrenthal Castle in Sinzig (since 1804), at Linnep Castle in Ratingen (from 1855 to 2008, from Ketteler since ), and at Untermaubach Castle in Kreuzau-Untermaubach (since 1874) Gut Ihorst (since 1882), at Ahausen Castle in Finnentrop (since 1958) and at Haus Alsbach (since 1967).

Family coat of arms of the von Spee family

coat of arms

The family coat of arms shows a gold crowned, red rooster in silver. On the helmet the crowned rooster is shown growing with outspread wings, each covered with the shield. The helmet cover is red-silver. The red rooster (spear bird) in the silver field is a talking coat of arms .

Name bearer

Friedrich Spee von Langenfeld (1591–1635), Jesuit and church scholar
Maximilian Graf von Spee (1861–1914), Vice Admiral


Alliance coat of arms of von Spee and von Loë at Heltorf Castle

Web links

Individual evidence

  1. Document from Archbishop Rainald von Dassel of Cologne.
  2. ^ Anton Fahne: Document book of the family of Spede, now Spee, Cologne 1874.
  3. ^ Maximilian Graf Spee died , RP online, September 2, 2009.
  4. ^ Maximilian Graf von Spee buried RP online, September 10, 2009.
  5. Grafenhaus delivers hereditary battle for millions Spiegel Online, March 6, 2006.