Counts of Montfort

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Coat of arms of the Counts of Montfort

The Counts of Montfort were a German noble dynasty landed in Swabia. The influential and wealthy counts of Montfort had their name from an ancestral castle, Montfort, which was situated quite close to today's Swiss border near Götzis in the present-day Austrian state of Vorarlberg.

Castle Montfort at Langenargen

They held the lordships of Feldkirch (until 1390), Bregenz (until 1523) and Tettnang (until 1779) and had territorial impact in Upper Swabia and particularly Vorarlberg, most of which they ruled. The counts of Montfort were until the 18th century a remarkable family of high nobility, the most important in the region of Lake Constance, but went finally extinct. In a number of places, including Feldkirch, Bregenz and Langenargen there are still signs of their history.

The Montfort counts derive from rulers of the Swabian counts palatine (Pfalzgrafen) of Tübingen. Hugo of Tübingen (died 1182) had married the last heiress of the Counts of Bregenz, Elisabeth; about 1200 their son Hugo called himself a "Count of Montfort". The dynasty had Bregenz and later Tettnang as their main seats. In 1780 even Tettnang was sold to the Austrian House of Habsburg in order to pay debts and shortly afterwards the line finally became extinct upon the death of Count Anton IV in 1787. The Habsburgs added the Montfort lands to their Further Austrian possessions.

In 1810 the Tettnang territory was adjudicated to the Kingdom of Württemberg, whereafter King Frederick vested his daughter Catharina and her husband Jérôme Bonaparte with the titles of Princess and Prince of Montfort.

The Minnesinger Hugo von Montfort (1357–1423) was count of the Bregenz branch.

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Sources[edit]

  • Karl Heinz Burmeister: Montfort, von (Grafen von Montfort), Familienartikel in: Neue Deutsche Biographie, Bd. 18, S. 51-54
  • Karl Heinz Burmeister: Die Grafen von Montfort. Geschichte, Recht, Kultur. Festgabe zum 60. Geburtstag, hrsg. von Alois Niederstätter (= Forschungen zur Geschichte Vorarlbergs; NF 2). Universitätsverlag Konstanz, Konstanz 1996, ISBN 3-87940-560-3
  • Karl Heinz Burmeister, Elmar L. Kuhn, Eva Moser u.a.: Die Grafen von Montfort. Geschichte und Kultur. (= Kunst am See; Band 8). Gessler, Friedrichshafen 1982, ISBN 3-922137-16-4

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