Grueninger Family

The counts Werner of Grueningen in Hesse

The counts Werner of Grueningen
(from the beginning of the 11th to the 12th century)

Werner (I.)-(IV.) were four consecutive counts in Hesse during the 11th and 12th century. The gender descended from Swabia and gained significant political influence in the Holy Roman Empire of German Nation during the governance of King Konrad (II.).

The history of the Holy Roman Empire of German Nation originated with the coronation of emperor Charlemagne (Charles the Great) by Pope Leo (III.) on Christmas Day 800 AD. The coat of arms and the banner of the Holy Roman Empire of German Nation shows a black spread eagle on a golden base which was deduced from the aquila of the roman legions. These military ensigns of the Roman military consisted of a vertical pole and a cross-bar on its top, on which a spread eagle was attached. During the crusades, the banner of the Holy Roman Empire of German Nation was supplemented by another banner with a white cross on a red ground in order to be able to distinguish the different nations and order of knights, and to express the christian awareness.

From 1024 onwards, Werner (I.) and his descendants are initially documented as reeves of the abbey Kaufungen, and from 1027 onwards as the owners of the Maden shire in northern Hesse. The parentage of Werner (I.) is not free of doubts, but he was most likely son of count Adalber (I.) of Winterthur (* about 950, † 08. September 1030) from the house of the Udalrichinger.

Count Werner (I.) of Winterthur
Irmengard of Nellenburg
* about 985 * 990
† 22. August 1040 (in Bohemia) † 1053

Werner (I.) was count of Winterthur, reeve of Kaufungen, and count of Maden in Hesse. He married Irmengard of Nellenburg, supposedly a sister of count (Eppo) Eberhard (V.) of Nellenburg, and daughter of Mangold (I.) of Zurichgau. Four sons stem from this marriage:

1.) Count Adalbert (II.) of Winterthur
died on 18. June 1053 during the Battle of Civitate
2.) Liutfrid (or Luetfrid)
died on 22. August 1040 in Bohemia together with his father during the
the campaing of Heinrich (III.) versus Bretislav (I.) of Bohemia
3.) Abbot Hermann of Einsiedeln
† 1065
4.) Count Werner (II.) of Maden and Neckargau
died on 18. June 1053 during the Battle of Civitate

The Swabian knight Werner (I.) was apparently a loyal follower of Konrad (II.), who had been elected king in 1024 in Chamba. Konrad (II.) awarded his followers with fiefdoms, royal charges, and privileges afterwards.

Following the death of count Dodiko, Werner (I.) became count in Northern Hesse. Werner (I.) acquired further substantial properties and power in Northern Hesse, in the Lahn area, and in the Neckargau. These were by far superior to his herited properties in Swabia.

At least since Werner (I.), the family held the hereditary charge primicerius et more signifer regis (royal standard bearer). Werner (I.) fell as royal standard bearer of Heinrich (III.) on 22 August 1040 in the campaign against Bretislav (I.) of Bohemia. During a push with his Hessian soldiers they got into an ambush and Werner (I.) was killed in action together with his son Liutfried and many others of his soldiers.

While Adalbert (II.) succeeded his father as count Adalbert (II) of Winterthur in the Thurgau, Werner (II.) succeeded his father as count of Maden and Neckargau in Hesse.

Adelheid, daughter of Adalbert (II.), married count Hartmann (I.) of Dillingen (* about 1040, †16.04.1120). From this connection, the Kyburg shire arose. Hartmann (I.) called himself henceforth after the ancestral seat of Kyburg.

Count Werner (II.) of Maden and Neckargau
* about 1010
† 18. Juni 1053 (in Civitate)

Werner (II.) was the youngest of the four sons of count Werner (I.) of Winterthur. At least from 1045 onwards, count Werner (II.) of Maden resided on the Obernburg ('upper castle') in Gudensberg in North Hesse an called himself thereupon also count of Gudensberg. This county had been since the time of emperor Otto (I.) a fiefdom of the archbishops of Mainz before. In addition to the inherited properties and charges, he acquired the bailiwick of the endowment Weilburg.

Werner (II.) fell together with his brother count Adalbert (II.) of Winterthur on 18 June 1053 in the battle of Civitate. The two brothers provided with 600 Swabian foot soldiers the only non-Italian contingent of the disastrously defeated army of Pope Leo (IX.), to whom they were related.

Werner (II.) was like already his father royal standard bearer. Research assumes that this royal charge was handed down in this age. His successor as count of Maden became his son Werner (III.) of Grueningen.

Count Werner (III.) of Grueningen
about 1060
Wilibirg of Achalm
* about 1035 * about 1035
† 24. February 1065 (slain in Ingelheim) † after 1053

Werner (III.) of Grueningen was the only son of count Werner (II.) of Maden and Neckargau. He was still underage when his father died. His mother administered thus his Hessian heritage while Eberhard (IV.) the blessed of Nellenburg - a cousin of his father Werner (II.) - at least temporarily became count of Neckargau.

Around 1060 Werner (III.) married Wilibirg of Achalm, a daughter of Rudolf (I.) of Achalm and Adelheid of Wuelfingen. By this marriage he and consequently his son Werner (IV.) acquired further valuable possessions in the Neckargau, around Achalm, in the Thurgau, and in the Worms area. From 1061 onwards, meanwhile being full age, Werner (III.) was officially owner of the Maden shire, which encompassed the areas around Fritzlar, Rotenburg, Spangenberg, Melsungen and Homberg on the Efze. In 1062 and 1065 respectively, parts of the Ohm-Lahn shire (Weilburg), Grosslinden - southwest of Giessen, and Homberg on the Ohm accrued.

Probably in order to indicate that he was a descendant of the count family which had hereditary the charge of the royal standard bearer, Werner (III.) called himself also also Werner of Grueningen. This royal charge was until 1336 tied to the imperial fiefdom of the castle and town Grueningen (Markgroeningen). In 1336 Ulrich (III.) of Wuerttemberg bought the town Markgroeningen and acquired hence also the right of the imperial storm flag (a golden flag with the black spread eagle of the Holy Roman Empire of German Nation).

On 24 February 1065, Werner (III.) was slain in Ingelheim in a melee. He was not even 25 years old. He left behind his about five-year old son Werner (IV.) with the Maden and Gudensberg shire and all the the Swabian possession. However, the southern part of the Ohm-Lahn shire, which Werner (III.) had acquired in 1062 and 1065, fell of to the counts of Gleiberg, and the northern part fell off to counts of Bilstein in the Ruchesloh shire.

Count Werner (IV.) of Grueningen
* about 1060
† 22. Februar 1121

Werner (IV.) was the only son of count Werner (III.) of Gruenigen, who was quite influential on the imperial court. Werner (IV.) was the last representatives of its house. As Werner was underage when his father died, his mother Wilibirg of Achalm administered his Hessian, while a cousin of his father - Eberhard (IV.) the blessed of Nellenburg - became arguably his guardian.

Through his mother, he gained further valuable possession in Southern Germany. Among others by the Bempflinger contract in 1089/1090, a heritage settlement between the two brothers count Luitold von Achalm and count Kuno von Wuelflingen, who were the founders of the cloister Zwiefalten, and their cousin Werner (IV.) of Grueningen.

Like his father, Werner (IV.) called himself mostly count of Grueningen in order to underline the hereditary right of his family to be in charge of the royal standard bearer, which was tied to the imperial fiefdom of the castle and town Grueningen (Markgroeningen).

Werner (IV.) had as count and reeve expanded possessions in Hesse, in the Neckargau, in the Lahngau, and around Worms. Amongst his bailiwicks were the endowment in Worms, the cloister Kaufungen, Hasungen, and Breitenau (which he founded in 1113), and the endowments in Fritzlar and Weilburg. On 22 February 1121 count Werner (IV.) of Grüningen died without male descendants. He was the by far most powerful count in Hesse at that time. His only child, a daughter of unknown name, had married in 1116 Adalbert of Kislau. But she died childless already before her father.

In 1121. count Giso (IV.) called himself count of Gudensberg, thus obviously taking on the succession. After the death of his son Giso (V.) in 1137, the Maden shire fell of to count Ludwig (I.) of Thuringia via Hedwig, the daughter of Giso (IV.).