House of Stolberg

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Coat of arms of the counts of Stolberg before 1429
Overall coat of arms of the House of Stolberg from 1742

The princes and counts of Stolberg are members of a large German family of the former Holy Roman Empire's higher aristocracy (Hoher Adel). They played a significant role in feudal Germany's history and, as a mediatized dynasty, enjoyed princely privileges until the collapse of the German Empire in 1918. The house has numerous branches.

History

There are over ten different theories about the origin of the counts of Stolberg, but none has been become commonly accepted. However, it is most likely that they are descended from the counts of Hohnstein. The first representative of this family, Count Henry of Stolberg, appears in a 1210 document, having already been mentioned in 1200 as Count Henry of Voigtstedt. Although Voigtstedt near Artern was the initial seat of this comital family, it had moved to Stolberg (Harz) no later than the beginning of the 13th century. The castle there remained in the hands of the family until they were dispossessed as part of the 1945 land reform in the Soviet Zone of occupation in Germany created after the Second World War.

In 1429 the counts of Stolberg succeeded in purchasing the County of Wernigerode in the Northern Harz as part of a contract of inheritance and thereby extended their area of influence considerably.

In 1645 the house was permanently divided into the Older Main Line (Ältere Hauptlinie) of Stolberg-Wernigerode and the Younger Main Line (Jüngere Hauptlinie) of Stolberg-Stolberg. At the beginning of the 18th century, the lines of Stolberg-Gedern (to 1804) and Stolberg-Schwarza (to 1748) branched off from Stolberg-Wernigerode. In 1706, Stolberg-Stolberg was divided into the two lines of Stolberg-Stolberg and Stolberg-Rossla.

In 1742 representatives of the line of Stolberg-Gedern were elevated to the Estate of Imperial Princes (Reichsfürstenstand) by Emperor Charles VII.

In the 18th century, as a result of mediatisation, the imperially immediate counts of Stolberg-Wernigerode were forced to subordinate themselves to the Kingdom of Prussia and the counts of Stolberg-Stolberg and Stolberg-Roßla likewise to the Electorate of Saxony. On the dissolution of the Holy Roman Empire's German nation in 1806 the Stolbergs lost their imperial comital status and, in 1815, finally became mediatized Prussian princes. However, the families retained certain privileges as to the Lutheran state churches of their mediatised state countries and had heritable seats in the Prussian House of Lords.

The head of each comital branch and his first-born son or heir presumptive in the Houses of Stolberg-Wernigerode, Stolberg-Stolberg and Stolberg-Roßla were granted permission on 22 October 1890 and 1893 respectively by Emperor Wilhelm II to bear princely titles. In 1980 a branch of the line of Stolberg-Stolberg was incorporated into the Dutch nobility as counts without, however, acknowledgement of their princely title.

Former territories, estates and seats (selection)

Rossla Castle

Territories

Estates

The counts of Stolberg also had claims to the Belgian Agimont and bore this name in their title. However, an orthographic error crept in and it was not until an edict of 6 December 1780 that Count Christian Frederick of Stolberg-Wernigerode corrected the hitherto erroneous name of Aigmont to Agimont.

Important members of the family (selection)

Juliana of Stolberg (1506–1580), wife of William, Count of Nassau and mother of William the Silent
Princess Louise of Stolberg-Gedern, Countess of Albany (1752–1824), wife of the Jacobite claimant to the English and Scottish thrones Charles Edward Stuart ("Bonnie Prince Charlie")
Prince Otto of Stolberg-Wernigerode (1837–1896), Vice-Chancellor of Germany

Line of Stolberg-Wernigerode

Line of Stolberg-Gedern

Line of Stolberg-Stolberg

Line of Stolberg-Roßla

Coat of arms

Family coat of arms : In Gold ein schreitender schwarzer Hirsch; auf dem Helm mit schwarz-goldenen Decken ein natürlicher Pfauenschweif zwischen 2 silbernen Straußenfedern.

Sources

  • (in German) Stammtafeln des mediatisierten Hauses Stolberg, 1887 
  • Jörg Brückner (2005) (in German), Zwischen Reichsstandschaft und Standesherrschaft. Die Grafen zu Stolberg und ihr Verhältnis zu den Landgrafen von Thüringen und späteren Herzögen, Kurfürsten bzw. Königen von Sachsen 1210–1815, Verlag Janos Stekovics, ISBN 3-89923-119-8 
  • Genealogisches Handbuch des Adels, Fürstliche Häuser, Band XVIII, 2007
  • Philipp Fürst zu Stolberg-Wernigerode und Jost-Christian Fürst zu Stolberg-Stolberg (ed.): Stolberg 1210–2010: Zur achthundertjährigen Geschichte des Geschlechts. Verlag Janos Stekovics, Dößel 2010, ISBN 978-3-89923-252-3.

External links

  • Wappen der "Graffen von Stollnbergk“ in Ortenburger Wappenbuch[permanent dead link] of 1466
  • Wappen der Grafen von Stolberg in Wappenbuch besonders deutscher Geschlechter[permanent dead link], Augsburg, 1515 - 1650
  • Genealogies of the House of Stolberg
  • Literature about the counts of Stolberg in the Wildenfels Castle Archives
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