The House of Hohenzollern is a noble family and royal dynasty of electors, kings and emperors of Prussia, Germany and Romania. It originated in the area around the town of Hechingen in Swabia during the 11th century. They took their name from their ancestral home, the Burg Hohenzollern castle near Hechingen.
The family uses the motto Nihil Sine Deo (). The family coat of arms, first adopted in 1192, began as a simple shield quarterly sable and argent. A century later, in 1317, Frederick IV, Burgrave of Nuremberg, added the head and shoulders of a hound as a crest. Later quartering reflected heiresses marriages into the family.
The family split into two branches, the Catholic Swabian branch and the Protestant Franconian branch, known also as the Kirschner line. The Swabian branch ruled the area of Hechingen until their eventual extinction in 1869. The Franconian-Kirschner branch was more successful: members of the Franconian branch became Margrave of Brandenburg in 1415 and Duke of Prussia in 1525. Following the union of these two Franconian lines in 1618, the Kingdom of Prussia was created in 1701, eventually leading to the unification of Germany and the creation of the German Empire in 1871.
Social unrest at the end of World War I led to the German Revolution of 1918, with the formation of the Weimar Republic forcing the Hohenzollerns to abdicate, thus bringing an end to the modern German monarchy. The Treaty of Versailles in 1919 set the final terms for the dismantling of the German Empire..
Counts of Zollern (before 1061-1204)
The oldest known mention of the Zollern was in 1061. It was a county, ruled by the counts of Zollern, who are believed to have originated from the Burchardinger dynasty.
Count Frederick III of Zollern was a loyal retainer of the Holy Roman Emperors Frederick Barbarossa and Henry VI, and around 1185 he married Sophia of Raabs, the daughter of Conrad II, Burgrave of Nuremberg.
After the death of Conrad II, often referred to as Kurt II who left no male heirs, Frederick III was granted the burgraviate of 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 older brother, Frederick IV, received the county of Zollern and burgraviate of Nuremberg in 1200 from his father, thereby founding the Swabian branch of the House of Hohenzollerns. The Swabian line remained 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. The Franconian line later converted to Protestantism.
Franconian cadet branch and Brandenburg-Prussian Branch
The cadet Franconian branch of the House of Hohenzollern was founded by Conrad III, Burgrave of Nuremberg.
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, and they were 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 and Bavarian regions of Germany:
In the second phase, the family expanded their lands further with large acquisitions in the Brandenburg and Prussian regions of Germany and Poland:
These acquisitions eventually transformed the Hohenzollerns from a minor German princely family into one of the most important in Europe.
Burgraves of Nuremberg (1192 1427)
Region of Nuremberg, Ansbach, Kulmbach and Bayreuth, (Franconia
At Frederick V's death on 21 January 1398, his lands were partitioned between his two sons:
- 1398 1420: John III/I (son of, also Margrave of Brandenburg-Kulmbach)
- 1420 1427: Frederick VI/I/I, (brother of, also Elector of Brandenburg and Margrave of Brandenburg-Ansbach)
After John III/I's death on 11 June 1420, the two principalities were briefly reunited under Frederick VI/I/I. From 1412 Frederick VI became Margrave of Brandenburg as Frederick I and Elector of Brandenburg as Frederick I. From 1420, he became Margrave of Brandenburg-Kulmbach. Upon his death on 21 September 1440, his territories were divided between his sons:
From 1427 onwards the title of Burgrave of Nuremberg was absorbed into the titles of Margrave of Brandenburg-Ansbach and Margrave of Brandenburg-Kulmbach.
Margraves of Brandenburg-Ansbach (1398 1791)
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)
On 2 December 1791, Christian II Frederick sold the sovereignty of his principalities to king Frederick William II of Prussia.
From 1701 the title of Elector of Brandenburg was attached to the title of King in and of Prussia.
Dukes of Brandenburg-J gerndorf (1523 1622)
The Duchy of Brandenburg-J gerndorf was purchased in 1523.
The duchy of Brandenburg-J gerndorf was confiscated by Ferdinand III of the Holy Roman Empire in 1622.
Margraves of Brandenburg-K strin (1535 1571)
The short-lived Margraviate of Brandenburg-K strin was set up, against the Hohenzollern house laws on succession, as a secundogeniture fief of the House of Hohenzollern, a typical German institution.
He died without issue. The Margraviate of Brandenburg-K strin was absorbed in 1571 into the Margraviate and Electorate of Brandenburg.
Margraves of Brandenburg-Schwedt (1688 1788)
From 1688 onwards the Margraves of Brandenburg-Schwedt were a side branch of the House of Hohenzollern. Though recognised as a branch of the main dynasty the Margraviate of Brandenburg-Schwedt never constituted a principality with allodial rights of its own.
In 1788 the title was incorporated into the Kingdom of Prussia.
Dukes of Prussia (1525 1701)
In 1525 the Duchy of Prussia was established as a fief of the King of Poland.
From 1701 the title of Duke of Prussia was attached to the title of King in and of Prussia.
Kings in Prussia (1701 1772)
In 1701 the title of King in Prussia was granted, without the Duchy of Prussia being elevated to a Kingdom within the Holy Roman Empire. From 1701 onwards the titles of Duke of Prussia and Elector of Brandenburg were always attached to the title of King in Prussia.
In 1772 the Duchy of Prussia was elevated to a kingdom.
Kings of Prussia (1772 1918)
In 1772 the title of King of Prussia was granted with the establishment of the Kingdom of Prussia. From 1772 onwards the titles of Duke of Prussia and Elector of Brandenburg were always attached to the title of King of Prussia.
In 1871 the Kingdom of Prussia was a constituting member of the German Empire.
German Kings and Emperors (1871 1918)
Reigning (1871 1918)
In 1871 the German Empire was proclaimed. With the accession of Wilhelm I to the newly-established imperial German throne, the titles of King of Prussia, Duke of Prussia and Elector of Brandenburg were always attached to the title of German Emperor.
In 1918 the German empire was abolished and replaced by the Weimar Republic.
Line of succession (1918 to present)
Prince Georg Friedrich]], head of the Prussian branch of the House of Hohenzollern Despite the abolition of the German monarchy in 1918, the House of Hohenzollern never relinquished their claims to the thrones of Prussia and the German Empire. These claims are linked by the Constitution of the second German Empire: according to this, whoever was King of Prussia was also German Emperor. However, these claims are not recognised by the Federal Republic of Germany.
The head of the house is the titular King of Prussia and German Emperor. He also bears a historical claim to the title of prince of Orange. Members of this line style themselves princes of Prussia.
Genealogy and Coat of arms of the Hohenzollerns, Brandenburg, Prussia, and the German Empire
An article on the Coat of arms of Prussia can be found. The explanation of the shield can be found at Great Shield of the Kings of Prussia (German).
Below is an overview table of the relationships of the House of Hohenzollern:
Table of the House of Hohenzollern
Swabian senior branch
Combined coat of arms of the House of Hohenzollern-Sigmaringen (1849).
The senior Swabian branch of the House of Hohenzollern was founded by Frederick II, Burgrave of Nuremberg.
Ruling the minor German principalities of Hechingen, Sigmaringen and Haigerloch, this branch of the family decided to remain Roman Catholic and from 1567 onwards split into the Hohenzollern-Hechingen, Hohenzollern-Sigmaringen and Hohenzollern-Haigerloch branches. Romanian branch of this family became Orthodox, starting from Ferdinand's I children. When the last count of Hohenzollern, Charles I of Hohenzollern (1512 1579) died, the territory was to be divided up between his three sons:
They never expanded from these three Swabian principalities, which was one of the reasons they became relatively unimportant in German history for much of their existence. However, they kept royal lineage and married members of the great royal European houses.
In 1767 the principality of Hohenzollern-Haigerloch was incorporated into the other two principalities. In 1850, the princes of both Hohenzollern-Hechingen and Hohenzollern-Sigmaringen abdicated their thrones, and their principalities were incorporated as the Prussian province of Hohenzollern.
The last ruling Prince of Hohenzollern-Sigmaringen, Karl Anton, would later serve as Minister-President of Prussia between 1858 and 1862.
The Hohenzollern-Hechingen finally became extinct in 1869. A descendent of this branch was Sophie Chotek, wife of Archduke Francis Ferdinand of Austria-Este.
However, a member of the Hohenzollern-Sigmaringen family, Charles Eitel, second son of prince Karl Anton, was chosen to become prince of Romania as Charles I in 1866. In 1881 Charles I became the first king of the Romanians.
Charles' older brother, Leopold, was offered the Spanish throne after a revolt removed queen Isabella II in 1870. Although encouraged by Bismarck to accept it, Leopold backed down once France's Emperor, Napoleon III, stated his objection. Despite this, France still declared war, beginning the Franco-Prussian war.
Charles I had only a daughter who died very young, so Leopold's younger son Ferdinand I would succeed his uncle as king of the Romanians in 1914, and his descendants continued to rule in Romania until the end of the monarchy in 1947.
In modern times this branch has been represented only by the last king, Michael I of Romania, and his daughters. The descendants of Leopold's oldest son William continue to use the titles of prince or princess of Hohenzollern.
King Michael renounced his connection in 2011.
Counts of Hohenzollern (1204 1575)
In 1204, the County of Hohenzollern was established out of the fusion of the County of Zollern and the Burgraviate of Nuremberg.
In 1575 the County of Hohenzollern was split in two Counties with allodial rights, Hohenzollern-Hechingen and Hohenzollern-Sigmaringen.
Counts of Hohenzollern-Haigerloch (1567 1630 and 1681 1767)
The County of Hohenzollern-Haigerloch was established in 1567 without allodial rights
Between 1630 and 1681 the county was temporarily integrated into the principality of Hohenzollern-Sigmaringen.
With the death of Francis Christoph Anton, the county of Hohenzollern-Haigenloch was definitely absorbed into the principality of Hohenzollern-Sigmaringen in 1767.
Counts, later Princes of Hohenzollern-Hechingen (1576 1623 1850)
The County of Hohenzollern-Hechingen was established in 1576 with allodial rights.
In 1850 the principality was sold to the Franconian branch of the family and incorporated into the Kingdom of Prussia. The branch became extinct in dynastic line with Konstantin's death in 1869.
Counts, later Princes of Hohenzollern-Sigmaringen (1576 1623 1849)
The County of Hohenzollern-Sigmaringen was established in 1576 with allodial rights and a seat at Sigmaringen Castle.
In 1850 the principality was sold to the Franconian branch of the family and incorporated into the kingdom of Prussia. Nevertheless, the family continued to use the princely title of F rsten von Hohenzollern-Sigmaringen until 1869 and still use the title of F rsten von Hohenzollern.
Kings of the Romanians
Reigning (1866 1947)
The Principality of Romania was established in 1862, after the Ottoman vassal states of Wallachia and Moldavia had been united in 1859 under Alexandru Ioan Cuza as Prince of Romania in a personal union.
He was deposed in 1866 by the Romanian parliament which then invited a German prince of the Hohenzollern-Sigmaringen family, Charles, to become Prince of Romania under the name Prince Carol.
In 1881 the Principality of Romania was proclaimed a Kingdom. For dynastic reasons, Carol's grandchildren renounced Catholicism and were brought up in the Romanian Orthodox Church.
In 1947 the Kingdom of Romania was abolished and replaced with the People's Republic of Romania.
Succession (1947 until today)
Michael has retained his claim on the defunct Romanian throne. At present, the claim is not recognised by Romania, a republic. At 10 May 2011, Michael severed all of the dynastic and historical ties between the House of Romania and the House of Hohenzollern.
House of Hohenzollern-Sigmaringen
The princely House of Hohenzollern-Sigmaringen never relinquished their claims to the princely throne of Hohenzollern-Sigmaringen or the royal throne of Romania. Because the last reigning king of the Romanians, Michael I, has no male issue, upon his death the claim will devolve to the head of the House of Hohenzollern-Sigmaringen (or to the king's female line descendants, if one follows the amended Romanian house laws).
The head of the family is styled His Serene Highness The Prince of Hohenzollern.
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