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House of Sponheim
Armoiries de Sponheim 1.svg
Country Rhenish Franconia
Titles Count (Graf, Margrave, Reichsgraf), Duke
Founder Siegfried I, Count of Sponheim
Final ruler Joseph Carl, Reichsgraf von Ortenburg
Founding year c. 1044
Dissolution 1806
Ethnicity German
Cadet branches Ortenburg-Neuortenburg, Bolanden-Dannenfels, Heinsberg, Neef, arguably Vianden

The House of Sponheim or Spanheim (also called Sponheimer or Spanheimer) was a noble family of the Holy Roman Empire in the High Middle Ages. They were Dukes of Carinthia (former Carantania) from 1122 until 1269 and Counts of Sponheim until 1437. Their family seat was Sponheim Castle, present-day Burgsponheim, Rhineland-Palatinate.

In the 11th century the family was divided in two closely related branches. One of these branches, probably the senior one, retained the Duchy of Carinthia and originated the County of Ortenburg (Bavaria). The other one remained in Southwest Germany, retaining the County of Sponheim.

The founder of the dukal branch was Siegfried I, Count of Sponheim (1010–1065), a Ripuarian Frank by birth and retainer of Emperor Conrad II. For this reason the family is sometimes termed the Siegfrieding. Siegfried followed Conrad in his 1035 campaign against Adalbero of Eppenstein, then Duke of Carinthia. He married Richgard, daughter of one Count Engelbert of the Bavarian Sieghardinger noble family and heir to large territories in Carinthia and Tyrol. In 1045 Siegfried, then called Count of Sponheim, received the title of a margrave of the Hungarian March by Emperor Henry III. After the House of Eppenstein became extinct in 1122, his grandson Henry III of Sponheim was raised to the Duke of Carinthia, inaugurating a dynasty which lasted until the death of Ulric III in 1269.

The founder of the Rhenish branch was Stephan I, Count of Sponheim (–1080), which could have been a 1st cousin, a son or a nephew of Siegfried. One of his successors Gottfried III (1183–1218) married Adelheid of Sayn, sister and heiress of the last Count of Sayn, Henry II. In 1437 this branch's ruling male line in Sponheim died out, and female line descendants, namely the Margraves of Baden and the Counts Palatine of Simmern-Zweibrücken, took on the title of Count to Sponheim, along with the Electors Palatine, who had received a small part as dowry. [1]

The branch of the Counts of Ortenburg is still living today in Tambach (Bavaria). A lateral line of the Rhenish branch survives also with the Princes of Sayn-Wittgenstein.

Sources

Footnotes

  1. ^ Rupert of Germany's firstborn Rupert Pipan married Elisabeth of Sponheim-Kreuznach; the marriage remained childless.

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