House of Hohenzollern

House of Hohenzollern

The House of Hohenzollern is a dynasty of former princes, electors, kings and emperors of Hohenzollern, Brandenburg, Prussia, the German Empire, and Romania. The family arose in the area around the town of Hechingen in Swabia during the 11th century and took their name from Hohenzollern Castle. The first ancestor of the Hohenzollerns was mentioned in 1061. They may have derived from the Burchardinger dynasty.

The Hohenzollern family split into two branches, the Catholic Swabian branch and the Protestant Franconian branch, which later became the Brandenburg-Prussian branch. The Swabian branch ruled the principalities of Hohenzollern-Hechingen and Hohenzollern-Sigmaringen until 1849, and also ruled Romania from 1866 to 1947. Members of the Franconian branch became Margrave of Brandenburg in 1415 and Duke of Prussia in 1525.

The Margraviate of Brandenburg and the Duchy of Prussia were ruled in personal union after 1618 and were called Brandenburg-Prussia. The Kingdom of Prussia was created in 1701, eventually leading to the unification of Germany and the creation of the German Empire in 1871, with the Hohenzollerns as hereditary German Emperors and Kings of Prussia.

Germany’s defeat in World War I in 1918 led to the German Revolution. The Hohenzollerns were overthrown and the Weimar Republic was established, thus bringing an end to the German monarchy. Georg Friedrich, Prince of Prussia is the current head of the royal Prussian line, while Karl Friedrich, Prince of Hohenzollern is the head of the princely Swabian line.

Hohenzollern Castle near Hechingen.

County of Zollern

Zollern, from 1218 Hohenzollern, was a county of the Holy Roman Empire. Its ruling dynasty was first mentioned in 1061. The Hohenzollerns named their estates after Hohenzollern Castle in the Swabian Alps. Later its capital was Hechingen. The Hohenzollern Castle still belongs to the family today.

According to the medieval chronicler Berthold of Reichenau, Burkhard I, Count of Zollern (de Zolorin) was born before 1025 and died in 1061. The Zollerns received the comital title from Emperor Henry V in 1111. As loyal vassals of the Swabian Hohenstaufen dynasty, they were able to significantly enlarge their territory. Count Frederick III (c. 1139 – c. 1200) accompanied Emperor Frederick I Barbarossa against Henry the Lion in 1180, and through his marriage was granted the Burgraviate of Nuremberg by Emperor Henry VI of Hohenstaufen in 1191. In 1218 the burgraviate passed to Frederick’s younger son Conrad I, he thereby became the ancestor of the Franconian Hohenzollern branch, which acquired the Electorate of Brandenburg in 1415.

Counts of Zollern 1061–1204
  • Until 1061: Burkhard I.
  • Before 1125: Frederick I.
  • Between ca. 1125 and 1142: Frederick II, eldest son of Frederick I.
  • Between ca. 1143 and 1150-1155: Burkhard II, 2nd oldest son of Frederick I.
  • Between ca. 1150-1155 and 1160: Gotfried of Zimmern, 4th oldest son of Frederick I.
  • Before 1171 – c. 1200: Frederick III/I (son of Frederick II, also Burgrave of Nuremberg).

Count Frederick III of Zollern was a loyal retainer of the Holy Roman Emperors Frederick Barbarossa and Henry VI. In about 1185 he married Sophia of Raabs, the daughter of Conrad II, Burgrave of Nuremberg.

After the death of Conrad II (sometimes referred to as Kurt II) who left no male heirs, Frederick III was granted Nuremberg in 1192 as Burgrave Frederick I of Nuremberg-Zollern. Since then the family name has been Hohenzollern.

After Frederick’s death, his sons partitioned the family lands between themselves:

  • The elder brother, Frederick IV, received the county of Zollern and the burgraviate of Nuremberg in 1200 from his father, thereby founding the Swabian branch of the House of Hohenzollern. The Swabian line remains Catholic.
  • The younger brother, Conrad III, received the burgraviate of Nuremberg from his older brother Frederick IV in 1218, thereby founding the Franconian branch of the House of Hohenzollern. Members of the Franconian line eventually became the Brandenburg-Prussian branch. The Franconian line later converted to Protestantism.
Region of Nuremberg, Ansbach, Kulmbach and Bayreuth (Franconia).

Franconian Branch

The cadet Franconian branch of the House of Hohenzollern was founded by Conrad I, Burgrave of Nuremberg (1186-1261). Beginning in the 16th century, this branch of the family became Protestant and decided on expansion through marriage and the purchase of surrounding lands. The family supported the Hohenstaufen and Habsburg rulers of the Holy Roman Empire during the 12th to 15th centuries, being rewarded with several territorial grants. In the first phase, the family gradually added to their lands, at first with many small acquisitions in the Franconian region of Germany:

  • Ansbach in 1331.
  • Kulmbach in 1340.

In the second phase, the family expanded their lands further with large acquisitions in the Brandenburg and Prussian regions of Germany and current Poland:

  • Margraviate of Brandenburg in 1417.
  • Duchy of Prussia in 1618.

These acquisitions eventually transformed the Hohenzollerns from a minor German princely family into one of the most important dynasties in Europe.

Burgraves of Nuremberg  1192–1427
  • 1192–1200/1204: Frederick I (also count of Zollern as Frederick III).
  • 1204–1218: Frederick II (son of, also count of Zollern as Frederick IV).
  • 1218–1261/1262: Conrad I/III (brother of, also count of Zollern).
  • 1262–1297: Frederick III (son of).
  • 1297–1300: John I (son of).
  • 1300–1332: Frederick IV (brother of).
  • 1332–1357: John II (son of)1357–1397: Frederick V (son of)

At Frederick V’s death on 21 January 1398, his lands were partitioned between his two sons:

  • 1397–1420: John III/I (son of, also Margrave of Brandenburg-Kulmbach).
  • 1397–1427: Frederick VI/I/I, (brother of, also Elector and Margrave of Brandenburg, also Margrave of Brandenburg-Ansbach and Brandenburg.Kulmbach).

After John III/I’s death on 11 June 1420, the margraviates of Brandenburg-Ansbach and Brandenburg-Kulmbach were briefly reunited under Frederick VI/I/I. He ruled the Margraviate of Brandenburg-Ansbach after 1398. From 1420, he became Margrave of Brandenburg-Kulmbach. From 1411 Frederick VI became governor of Brandenburg and later Elector and Margrave of Brandenburg as Frederick I. Upon his death on 21 September 1440, his territories were divided among his sons:

  • Frederick II, Elector of Brandenburg.
  • Albert III, Elector of Brandenburg and Margrave of Brandenburg-Ansbach.
  • John II, Margrave of Brandenburg-Kulmbach.

In 1427 Frederick, Elector of Brandenburg sold Nuremberg Castle and his rights as burgrave to the Imperial City of Nuremberg. The territories of Brandenburg-Ansbach and Brandenburg-Kulmbach remained possessions of the family, once parts of the Burgraviate of Nuremberg.

Margraves of Brandenburg-Ansbach  1398–1791
  •  398: Frederick I (also Margrave of Brandenburg-Kulmbach).
  • 1440: Albert I/I/III Achilles (son of, also Margrave of Brandenburg-Kulmbach and Elector of Brandenburg).
  • 1486: Frederick II/II (son of, also Margrave of Brandenburg-Kulmbach).
  • 1515: George I/I the Pious (son of, also Duke of Brandenburg-Jägerndorf).
  • 1543: George Frederick I/I/I/I (son of, also Margrave of Brandenburg-Kulmbach, Duke of Brandenburg-Jägerndorf and Regent of Prussia).
  • 1603: Joachim Ernst.
  • 1625: Frederick III.
  • 1634: Albert II.
  • 1667: John Frederick
  • 1686: Christian I Albrecht.
  • 1692: George Frederick II/II (later Margrave of Brandenburg-Kulmbach).
  • 1703: William Frederick (before 1686–1723).
  • 1723: Charles William (1712–1757).
  • 1757: Christian II Frederick (1757–1791) (son of, also Margrave of Brandenburg-Kulmbach).

On 2 December 1791, Christian II Frederick sold the sovereignty of his principalities to King Frederick William II of Prussia.

Margraves of Brandenburg-Kulmbach   1398–1604, later Brandenburg-Bayreuth   1604–1791
  • 1397: John I
  • 1420: Frederick I (also Margrave of Brandenburg-Ansbach)
  • 1440: John II
  • 1457: Albert I/I/III Achilles (also Margrave of Brandenburg-Ansbach and Elector of Brandenburg)
  • 1486: Siegmund
  • 1495: Frederick II/II (also Margrave of Brandenburg-Ansbach)
  • 1515: Casimir
  • 1527: Albert II Alcibiades
  • 1553: George Frederick I/I/I/I (also Margrave of Brandenburg-Ansbach, Duke of Brandenburg-Jägerndorf and Regent of Prussia)
  • 1603: Christian I
  • 1655: Christian II Ernst
  • 1712: George I William
  • 1726: George Frederick II/II (previously Margrave of Kulmbach)
  • 1735: Frederick IV
  • 1763: Frederick V Christian
  • 1769: Christian II Frederick (until 1791, also Margrave of Brandenburg-Ansbach)

On 2 December 1791, Christian II Frederick sold the sovereignty of his principalities to King Frederick William II of Prussia.
From 8 January 1701 the title of Elector of Brandenburg was attached to the title of King in Prussia and, from 13 September 1772, to that of King of Prussia.

Dukes of Jägerndorf   1523–1622

The Duchy of Jägerndorf (Krnov) was purchased in 1523.

  • 1541–1543: George I the Pious (also Margrave of Brandenburg-Ansbach)
  • 1543–1603: George Frederick I (also Margrave of Brandenburg-Ansbach, Margrave of Brandenburg-Kulmbach and Regent of Prussia)
  • 1603–1606: Joachim I (also Regent of Prussia and Elector of Brandenburg)
  • 1606–1621: Johann Georg of Hohenzollern

The duchy of Jägerndorf was confiscated by Emperor Ferdinand III in 1622.

Brandenburg-Prussian Branch

Frederick I, Elector of Brandenburg, also called Frederick VI of Nuremberg.
Margraves of Brandenburg   1415–1619

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German Military History with a focus on World War 2 History including other areas of German History

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