Grueninger Family

The house of Wuerttemberg

The counts of Grueningen-Landau
(from the middle of the 13th up to the 15th century)

Bibliography: The house of Wuerttemberg - A bibliographical encyclopaedia

The two brothers count Hartmann (I.) of Wuerttemberg and count Ludwig (III.) of Wuerttemberg stem from a wuerttemberg-kirchberg marriage around 1160/70 of count Ludwig (II.) of Wuerttemberg, which was of major importance for the final resurgance of the dynasty of the counts of Wuerttemberg.

By the wedding of count Hartmann (I.) of Wuerttemberg with the daughter of a veringic count, he won further property in upper swabia. He equipped his son count Konrad (III.) with the veringic inheritance - the settlement Grueningen (city of Riedlingen). Count Konrad (III.) took from then onwards as his surname 'of Grueningen' as well as 'of Wuerttemberg'.

The marriage of count Hartmann (I.) of Wuerttemberg did not only yield the remarkable property, but it also brought the veringic family crest into the house of Wuerttemberg. This crest became henceforth the main crest of the house of Wuerttemberg - the three black deer antler lying upon each other in a golden shield.

The crest was found the first time as a seal on a document issued in 1228 by count Konrad (III.) of Grueningen.

Grueningen has two medieval castles. The "upper castle" served presumably the counts as a residence. The "lower castle", which is located in the middle in the village, served perhaps as a residence for the administration of the counts of Grueningen.

Not far away from Grueningen the cloister "Heiligenkreuztal" is located. According to a legend, the name of the cloister was derived by a gift (a holy cross relic) from the counts of Grueningen-Landau. The families of Grueningen-Landau as well as the family of Hornstein took care of the cloister especially in times of need (by donations and sales).

Count Hartmann (I.) of Grueningen, son of Konrad (III.), exclusively called himself 'of Grueningen'. With him the history of the wuerttemberg line 'Grueningen-Landau' begins.

It became however already evident in 1256 that count Hartmann (I.) of Grueningen had created a new center of governance with the castle Landau. This castle at the steep face of the Danube valley close to the city Binzwangen went off meanwhile. The name of the settlement 'Landauhof' still reminds of this site. From 1274 onwards it is to be observed that the sons of Hartmann (I.) called themselves in documents only 'of Landau', albeit they continued to use the reference to Grueningen in their seals.

In 1236, the emperor Friedrich (II.) of Hohenstaufen brought the alpine transition from Verona in Italy to the property of Hohenstaufen in the Allgaeu and in upper swabia under his control. Probably under pressure count Hartmann (I.) of Grueningen had to sell his property Egolfs with the county in the Alpgau. These sales were against the ambitions of the counts of Grueningen, which aimed for east swabia. It used to be one of count Hartmann (I.) of Wuerttemberg carefully developed position.

When however in 1245 the Hohenstaufen rule suffered a crucial loss of legitimation, the counts of swabia used this opportunity to regain lost territories with the help of the anti-Hohenstaufen diplomacy and policy of the pontifex.

In this connection the cousins count Hartmann (I.) of Grueningen and count Ulrich (I.) of Wuerttemberg played a decisive role. They carried out the decisive steps to disempower the dominion of the Hohenstaufer in Swabia and to establish the dominion of the Wuerttemberg. Both of them are supposed to have been assured 7,000 marks in silver and half of the duchy of Swabia.

During the battle in 1246 close to Frankfurt between king Konrad (IV.) and the counter-king Heinrich Raspe, both deserted as promised the army of Konrad (IV.) with two third of the warriors. King Konrad (IV.) had to fallback. Heinrich Raspe immediately denied King Konrad (IV.) the duchy of Swabia and all his possessions north of the alps on the royal court convention.

On the first general royal court convention in 1252 of King Wilhelm of Holland (successor of Heirich Raspe) the deposition of Konrad (IV.) was repeated. Pontifex Gregor (IX.) confirmed the decisions and expanded in conjunction with his anti-Hohenstaufen policy the influence of the swabian counts upon the south german church of the empire.

The decisions of the royal court conventions in 1246 and 1252 were signals for appropriation of possessions of the Hohenstaufer. Count Ulrich (I.) of Wuerttemberg and count Hartmann (I.) of Grueningen received fiefdoms and cloistral bailiwicks and took possession of the Hohenstaufer. Further, count Hartmann (I.) of Grueningen recieved the town and castle Markgroeningen by King Wilhelm of Holland as a non-baronial fiefdom.

The situation changed with the nomination of king Rudolf of Habsburg, which aggressively followed the policy of reclaiming former possessions of Hohenstaufen in 1273. Under the pressure which was exerted by the new kingdom upon the Swabian dynasties, the former alliance between the counts of Wuerttemberg and the counts of Grueningen was disintegrated.

Count Ulrich (II.) of Wuerttemberg tried to make compromises with king Rudolf of Habsburg and had to hand over major complexes. Count Hartmann (I.) of Grueningen however accomplished acrimonious and expensive military resistance from the beginning until his death in 1280 as a prisoner in the castle Hohenasperg. Due to the retrieval of Markgroeningen the dominion of the counts of Grueningen in the lownlands disintigrated completely. The dominion in the oberland was additionally limited in scope by purchases of king Rudolf of Habsburg alon the Danube. Sales of the counts of Grueningen due to outstanding debts further contributed to the decomposition of the dominion.

Attempts of the sons of count Hartmanns (I.) to retrieve Markgroeningen failed completely. The last rights and complexes in today's region Stuttgart were basically lost completely until 1300. The family was from then onwards limited to the Oberland. But also here, frequent sales due to outstanding debts had to be made. Finally, the sale of the castle Landau in 1323 marks impressively the descent of gender.

Along with the downfall of the governance, the social downfall was associated. While Eberhard (I.) and Eberhard (II.) were still able to marry befitting their social status, Eberhard (III.) second marriage was presumably already to a wife of mean social origin. The descendants of this marriage didn't carry a title of nobility any more.

By the phenomenon of the noble mercenary the counts of Grueningen-Landau succeeded at least temporarily to prevent from their final downfall. Since the early 14th century, more and more high and base noble from the German-speaking area tried to succeed in Italy as mercenaries of monarchs in order to acquire money and influence. Mercenary troops ('Condottieri' ) were composed under the command of one or two for mercenary leaders. They fought to 'a condotta', i.e. the troops were rented to everyone who paid. Among the most famous mercenary leaders several members of the house of Landau appear.

The first was count Konrad (III.) of the house of Landau, which fell in 1363 in upper Italy. His considerable revenues enabled obviously his father Eberhard (III.) to rebuy in 1356 the castle and dominion Landau. Also the bothers of Konrad (III.) - Ludwing (II.) and Eberhard (IV.) - appeared as famous mercenaries, frequently together with John Hawkwood (Giovanni Acuti). In 1376, Ludwig (II.) obtained a bastardly born daugther of Bernabò Visconti to marry.

A few years later, the effective imbalance of importance of the two genders of Wuerttemberg can be derived. Count Eberhard (III.) of Wuerttemberg ('the mild') married in 1380 a conjugal daugter of Bernabò (Antonia Visconti) and received a trousseau of about 70,000 gulden. In contrast to this, the house of Landau had to accept a trousseau of 12,000 gulden.

Finally, the mercenary trips of the house of Landau could not prevent from the downfall. The counts of Landau dropped out of the noblity in the second half of the 14th century.

Bibliography: The house of Wuerttemberg - A bibliographical encyclopaedia

A connection between the counts of Grueningen and the ancestors of the Grueninger family on this homepage was not found...