Werdenberg (noble family)

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Coat of arms of those of Werdenberg in the Zurich coat of arms roll

The Counts of Werdenberg , named after Werdenberg Castle (inherited around 1228) in today's municipality of Grabs ( canton of St. Gallen ), were a Swabian noble family whose main areas of rule were in the Alpine Rhine Valley , the Upper Danube and the Swabian Alb.

After a process of division lasting from approx. 1245–60, they emerged as a separate branch of the Counts of Montfort . The progenitor is Rudolf von Montfort , who appeared in Italy in 1243 in the imperial entourage and in Chur at the head of the Rhaetian nobility.

1258–60, Hartmann and Hugo took over their share of the remaining common Montfort property and service nobility. Shortly thereafter, they too shared the inheritance and founded the two main lines Werdenberg-Heiligenberg and Werdenberg-Sargans by around 1290 .

At the end of the 14th century, the family came under increasing pressure from the Habsburgs , whose territorial interests were directed towards the Rhine Valley .

In the so-called Werdenberg feud , in which Austria had allied themselves with the Chur bishop Hartmann von Werdenberg and the Werdenberg-Sargans against the Werdenberg-Heiligenberg, the latter lost almost all of their property except for the county of Werdenberg. The Werdenberg-Sargans line, for its part, had to pledge the county of Sargans to Austria under financial pressure in 1396, shortly thereafter surrendering Rheineck, Altstätten and the Reichsvogtei in the Rhine Valley and retreating into their Upper Council rule.

At the beginning of the 16th century, the Werdenberg-Heiligenberg-Sigmaringen-Trochtelfingen line was particularly influential. As advisor to King / Emperor Maximilian , Haug von Werdenberg (Hugo XI.) Was instrumental in founding the Swabian Confederation and served as its first federal governor. In 1534 the male line died out.

There is no relationship with the Moravian family of Werdenberg zu Namiest (the descendants of the Habsburg diplomat Johann Baptist Verda von Verdenberg ), although the Moravian Werdenberg also had the Montfort church flag in their coat of arms. In 1846 the title and coat of arms of Werdenberg zu Namiest passed to the princes Lichnowsky .


Owned by the Counts of Werdenberg and Montfort in the 14th century

The origin of the family of the Counts of Werdenberg can be traced back to Count Palatine Hugo II of Tübingen († 1182), who acquired extensive property in the Lake Constance area and in Churrätien through his marriage to Countess Elisabeth von Bregenz , the heir to the last Count of Bregenz . After Hugo's death, this inheritance passed to his second son of the same name, who called himself Montfort after his castle from around 1200 and founded the Count's family of Montfort as Hugo I († 1228) . He owned the counties of Tettnang , Bregenz , Feldkirch , Sonnenberg , Werdenberg and Sargans as well as possessions in Churrätien.

After Hugos I's death, his sons initially managed the family property together. Rudolf I is considered the progenitor of the Werdenberg family, although it was only his son Hartmann who had the title of comes de Werdenberch (documented since 1259). After both Rudolf (before 1247) and his younger brother Hugo had died, a division took place in 1258. Rudolf's sons Hugo I and Hartmann I received the southern part of the Montfortic property; with them the Werdenberg family branched out into the main lines Werdenberg-Heiligenberg and Werdenberg-Sargans .

coat of arms

Coats of arms of some of the Montfort side lines on a house in Werdenberg

The coat of arms of the various branches of the Werdenbergs is based on the coat of arms of the Count Palatine of Tübingen , a red flag ( Gonfanon ; popularly also known as the church flag ) with three pendants and three rings on a golden background.

The Werdenberg-Heiligenberg line carried a black flag in silver by resolution of Hugo I. von Werdenberg in 1277, and Werdenberg-Sargans in red a silver flag.

The Austrian state of Vorarlberg has had this coat of arms in the colors of the Counts of Montfort since 1918 : red flag on a silver background.

Tribe list of the Werdenbergers

Descent (after Bilgeri 1971)

Counts of Werdenberg-Heiligenberg

Count Rudolf X. von Werdenberg, Grand Prior of the Order of St. John, on a window from 1498 in the Reformed Church in Bubikon

The Heiligenberg branch was the older branch of the Werdenbergs and basically owned the county of Werdenberg , consisting of today's Swiss communities Buchs and Grabs and the upper Thur Valley near Wildhaus . On the right side of the Rhine they owned the lordships of Schellenberg , Bludenz with the Montafon , the Lustenau farm and, in Graubünden, the bailiwick of the Disentis monastery .

The progenitor of the line, Hugo I († 1280), was closely associated with Rudolf von Habsburg and was able to acquire the bailiwick of Upper Swabia and Churwalden in 1274 and the county of Heiligenberg in 1277 . Count Hugo III. added the castle and town of Rheineck , Hohentrins with Tamins , Reichenau and, through his marriage to Anna von Wildenberg, the dominions of Freudenberg and Greifenstein . As the successors of the Wildenbergers, the Werdenbergers also became monastery governors of the Reichskloster Pfäfers with the Vogtsburg Wartenstein .

Albrecht I was provincial bailiff around Lake Constance in 1327, and in 1331 of the countries of Uri, Schwyz and Unterwalden. He added the Reichsvogtei over Altstätten and the Rhine Valley and Wartau to the property . Albrecht I was in a feud with Count Rudolf III. of Montfort-Feldkirch, which heralded the decline of the family and enabled the Habsburgs to gain a foothold in Vorarlberg.

The four grandchildren of Albrecht I shared the inheritance in 1377/78 and 1387 and established four subsidiary lines.

Werdenberg branch line

Hugo IV received Werdenberg and the upper Thur valley; this line died out around 1390. The inheritance went to Heinrich III.

Rheineck branch line

Henry III. received Rheineck , the Vogtei Rheintal , Hohentrins and the Vogtei over Disentis ; Heinrich III's son, Rudolf II, was drawn into a major dispute about the legacy of the sideline established by Hugo IV around 1395, during which he lost practically all of his possessions to Habsburg. He therefore fought on the side of the Appenzeller in the Battle of the Stoss . His brother won Heiligenberg after Frederick IV of Habsburg-Tirol was ostracized .

Branch line Bludenz

Count Hugo I was the first city lord of Bludenz. Albrecht III. received the Montafon at Bludenz; this line became extinct in the “male line” with his death in 1420. Before his death in 1394, Albrecht had sold the property to the Habsburgs.

Heiligenberg branch line

Albrecht IV, who had received Heiligenberg, Wartau and Freudenberg, remained childless. He fought at the side of his nephew and heir Rudolf II in 1395 and was drawn into the defeat. After losing Wartau and Freudenberg, he disinherited Rudolf II because he had made a pact with the Appenzell people. In 1413 he sold Heiligenberg to the Habsburgs.

As the last representative of the Counts of Werdenberg-Heiligenberg, Hugo V, from the Rheineck branch, died in 1428, to whom only the Holy Mountain feud remained as property. Through the marriage of Countess Anna von Werdenberg-Heiligenberg with Count Friedrich zu Furstenberg Heiligenberg in 1535 came to Fürstenberger who own it to this day.

Counts of Werdenberg-Sargans


The heartland of the Counts of Werdenberg-Sargans, whose progenitor was Hartmann I , included the County of Sargans , the rule of Vaduz , Sonnenberg-Nüziders and Blumenegg in Walgau (with Blumegg Castle ). Hartmann's son Rudolf II (approx. † 1322) succeeded in increasing the property considerably: through his marriage to Adelheid von Burgau in 1289 he received the rule of Alpeck , later he acquired the rule of Schmalegg and the bailiwick of the Pfäfers monastery .

After Rudolf II's sons ruled together, they signed a partition agreement on May 3, 1342 in Sargans, so that the Werdenberg-Sargans line also branched into several subsidiary lines.

In 1338 Ortenstein Castle came together with the other estates in Domleschg, the Bärenburg u. a. through the marriage of Ursula von Vaz to Count Rudolf to the Counts of Werdenberg-Sargans.

In 1455 Jörg (Georg) Graf von Werdenberg-Sargans (approx. 1427–1504) and his brother Wilhelm sold the festivals and rule Sonnenberg to Eberhard I from the Waldburg family , Jörg's future father-in-law. In 1483, the seven old federal towns acquired the county of Sargans , which became subject to the Confederates. After the death of Count Georg von Werdenberg-Sargans in 1505, Ortenstein was drafted as an episcopal-Churian fief.

Vaduz branch line

Werdenberg- Vaduz

Hartmann III. († 1354) received Vaduz, Sonnenberg-Nüziders, Blumenegg and possessions in Prättigau.

Sargans-Vaz branch line

Rudolf IV. († approx. 1361) received the County of Sargans, the Vogtei Pfäfers and the Habsburg pledge via the County of Laax . In 1338, through his wife Ursula von Vaz, he inherited the upper and middle Domleschg , the county of Schams with the Rheinwald , the Safien and Schanfigg valleys and Obervaz with Stürvis and Mutten . His son, Johann I, was involved in the Habsburg war against Glarus and was financially ruined by the War of Succession around the Werdenberg-Heiligenberg-Rheineck branch line in 1395, so that he had to pledge Sargans to Habsburg in 1396. Only his son Heinrich II (approx. † 1447) released the pledge in 1436, but had to leave Nidberg and Walenstadt to the Habsburgs. Count Georg inherited extensive estates of the Barons von Rhäzüns in Graubünden from his wife, Anna von Rhäzüns, in 1459, but had to surrender the rule of Rhäzüns again in an inheritance dispute with the Counts of Zollern . Since he remained childless, he sold all his possessions between 1463 and 1483, most recently in 1483 the county of Sargans to the Confederates. He died in Reichsacht as the last of his line in 1504 near Weesen .

Alpeck branch line

Werdenberg- Alpeck (coat of arms?)

Henry III. (I. in the census of the branch line; † approx. 1332) founded this line. After he had received the rule of Trochtelfingen on the occasion of his marriage to Agnes von Württemberg in 1316 , he concentrated on the possessions north of Lake Constance. As the only count from the Werdenberg and Montfort families, he sided with Ludwig of Bavaria in the battles triggered by the double election in 1314 , who appointed him governor in Upper Swabia. His daughter Adelheid († 1365) married Ulrich III. Vogt von Marienberg and Matsch (great-grandfather of Gaudenz von Matsch ). His sons, who were not present at the Sargans contract, shared the Swabian property in 1349: Heinrich II received Alpeck , which his descendants sold to the imperial city of Ulm until 1385; this line went out in 1415. Eberhard I. († 1383) founded the Trochtelfingen branch line.

Branch line Sigmaringen with Trochtelfingen

  • Eberhard I, Count von Werdenberg-Sargans († 1383) was Lord of Aislingen, Alpeck, Langenau, Schmalegg, Trochtelfingen, Erpfingen, Suhlheim a. Ringingen and captain in Burgau for the Dukes of Austria, he was married to Sophie, the heir to Walter the Younger von Geroldseck auf Lahr.
  • His son, Eberhard II. Count von Werdenberg-Sargans († 1416) in Aislingen, Bludenz, Schmainegg, Sennwald received the dominion of Sigmaringen and the upper county of Veringen from Württemberg in 1399, and ten years later also the lower county. He was married to Anna, a daughter of Baron Johann von Zimmer.
  • Johann IV. Count of Werdebverg-Sargans († April 27, 1465) a son of Eberhard II. Was lord of Sigmaringen a. Aislingen and in 1434 became Count of Heiligenberg. He was married to Elisabeth († after 1475) a daughter of Eberhard Graf von Württemberg and Elisabeth Countess von Hohenzollern from 1428. By 1421 the Jungnau dominion was acquired , which rounded off the area on the Danube and Lauchert, for which the Schmalegg dominion was sold to the city of Ravensburg in 1413. In 1434 the ruling counts Heinrich XII., Johann IV. And Eberhard IV., Grandsons of Eberhard I, inherited the Werdenberg-Heiligenberg line. After Heinrich's death in 1441 it was divided. Eberhard IV. Received the allodies Trochtelfingen and Jungnau, Johann IV. The imperial fief of Heiligenberg and the pledges Sigmaringen and Veringen, which he was able to convert into imperial fiefs in 1460. After Johann IV died in 1465 and the childless Eberhard IV waived his claims, the three sons of Johann who were entitled to inherit the property again shared the property. Sigmaringen and Trochtelfingen were developed as residential cities. Georg continued the tribe of Johann IV's sons, Johann V had been Bishop of Augsburg and Imperial Prince since May 15, 1469 (+ February 23, 1486, buried in Augsburg Cathedral), Rudolf was Supreme Master and Land Commander of the Order of St. John in Heitersheim Breisgau († 1505)
  • Georg Graf von Werdenberg-Sargans in Sigmaringen, Aislingen, Jungnau u. Trochtelfingen Reichsgraf zu Heiligenberg (+ May 12, 1500) married Katharina († 1500) on February 15, 1464; a daughter of Karl Margrave of Baden and Katharina Archduchess of Austria. This branch line Werdenberg-Heiligenberg-Sigmaringen-Trochtelfingen - like the Counts of Werdenberg-Heiligenberg - was drawn into a dispute with other rival noble families, the Werdenberg feud .
  • Christoph Graf von Werdenberg-Sargans auf Jungingen and Trochtelfingen Reichsgraf zu Heiligenberg (+ January 29, 1534) was his first marriage since March 30, 1500 with Eleonora Barbara Gonzaga, a daughter of Johann Franz Gonzaga, Count of Sabbioneta and from 1526 in his second marriage with Johanna († 1536) a daughter of Philipp von Witthem auf Bautershem a. Beersel married. With Count Christoph this house died out in 1534 in the male line. His sister Agnes von Werdenberg married Schenk Christoph von Limpurg-Gaildorf ( Schenken von Limpurg ). Count Christoph von Werdenberg was the guardian of the sister's daughter, Barbara von Wertheim , b. Schenkin von Limpurg, whose son Michael III. von Wertheim († 1556) depicted the coat of arms of the Counts of Werdenberg on his epitaph in the Evangelical Church of Sandbach as evidence of kinship. The self-goods and Heiligenberg went through the marriage of Countess Anna von Werdenberg-Heiligenberg with Count Friedrich zu Furstenberg in 1535 to the House Furstenberg , holds the Schloss Heiligenberg, including land ownership to this day. Sigmaringen, as a completed imperial fief, was newly awarded to the Counts of Zollern , whose descendants are also resident there to this day.
Tumba Johann von Werdenberg † 1465 in St. Martin's Church Trochtelfingen



  • Collection of Swiss Legal Sources , XIV. Department: The Legal Sources of the Canton of St. Gallen, Part Three: The Landscapes and Country Cities, Volume 2: The Legal Sources of the Sarganserland by Sibylle Malamud and Pascale Sutter, Basel 2013 (online) .
  • Scott Brand: Count Rudolf II of Werdenberg-Sargans. A life marked by family strife and loyalty to the king. BOD, Norderstedt 2012.
  • Fritz Rigendinger: The Sarganserland in the late Middle Ages. Local lordship, the County of Sargans and the Counts of Werdenberg-Sargans. Chronos, Zurich 2007.
  • Carl Borromeo Alois Fickler: Heiligenberg in Swabia. With a story of its old counts and the Linzgau ruled by them . Macklot, Karlsruhe 1853 ( digitized version )
  • Gerhard Köbler : Werdenberg (county). In: Historical Lexicon of the German States. The German territories from the Middle Ages to the present. 2nd, improved edition. CH Beck, Munich 1989, ISBN 3-406-33290-0 , p. 605.
  • Martin Leonhard: Werdenberg, from. In: Historical Lexicon of Switzerland .
  • Karl Heinz Burmeister: Werdenberg, from. In: Historical Lexicon of the Principality of Liechtenstein .
  • Johann Nepomuk von Vanotti : History of the Counts of Montfort and of Werdenberg. Belle-Vue near Konstanz 1845 ( digitized version ) Werdenberg from p. 209.
  • Hermann Wartmann:  Werdenberg, Count of . In: Allgemeine Deutsche Biographie (ADB). Volume 41, Duncker & Humblot, Leipzig 1896, pp. 749-759.
  • Karl Baier: The enlightened despotism in the county of Heiligenberg. In: Writings of the Association for the History of Lake Constance and its Surroundings , 57th year 1929, pp. 59–82 ( digitized version )
  • Karl Franz Barth: From a Heiligenberg account book. In: Writings of the Association for the History of Lake Constance and its Surroundings , 66th year 1939, pp. 3-19 ( digitized version )
  • Karl Siegfried Bader: A senior bailiff of the Landgraviate of Heiligenberg in the age of the Thirty Years War. In: Writings of the Association for the History of Lake Constance and its Surroundings , 84th year 1966, pp. 19–38 ( digitized version )
  • Karl Heinz Burmeister : The Counts of Werdenberg. In: Montfort - Quarterly magazine for the past and present of Vorarlberg , Volume 58, 2006, Issue 2/3, pp. 129–131, (PDF view)
  • Emil Krüger: The Counts of Werdenberg-Heiligenberg and von Werdenberg-Sargans , St. Gallen 1887
  • Emil Krüger (editor): Regesta of the Counts of Werdenberg-Heiligenberg and von Werdenberg-Sargans , St. Gallen 1887

Web links

Commons : House of Werdenberg  - Collection of pictures, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. a b c d Martin Leonhard: von Werdenberg. In: Historical Lexicon of Switzerland .
  2. ^ Benedikt Bilgeri: History of Vorarlberg Volume 1: From the free council to the state of the Montforters , Graz 1971, ISBN 3-205-07080-1 , p. 146
  3. Werdenberg-Sigmaringen still carried the silver flag in red: Zimmerische Chronik, p. 140, Alliance coat of arms Werdenberg-Sigmaringen / Zimmer ( file: ZC 580a 140 crop Werdenberg.jpg ).
  4. Siebmacher's Grosses Wappenbuch, Volume 26; The coats of arms of the nobility in Lower Austria part 2, S - Z page 549
  5. Gerd Wunder / Max Schefold / Herta Beutter: The taverns of Limpurg and their country . Jan Thorbecke, Sigmaringen 1982, p. 38 ff .
  6. Martin Bundi: Werdenberg, Jörg von (Sargans). In: Historical Lexicon of Switzerland .