County of Isenburg

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Isenburg (pink, right) and Lower Isenburg (pink, left) around 1400

Isenburg was a region of Germany located in southern present-day Hesse, located in territories north and south of Frankfurt. The states of Isenburg emerged from the Niederlahngau (located in the Rhineland-Palatinate), which partitioned in 1137 into Isenburg-Isenburg and Isenburg-Limburg-Covern. These countships were partitioned between themselves many times over the next 700 years.

House of Isenburg[edit]

Ruins of the Castle at Isenburg (Lower Isenburg)

The House of Isenburg was an old aristocratic family of medieval Germany, named after the castle of Isenburg in Rhineland-Palatinate. Occasionally referred to as the House of Rommersdorf before the 12th century, the house originated in the Hessian comitatus of the Niederlahngau in the 10th century. It partitioned into the lines of Isenburg-Isenburg and Isenburg-Limburg-Covern in 1137, before partitioning again into smaller units, but by 1500 only the lines of Isenburg-Büdingen (in Upper Isenburg) and Lower Isenburg remained. In 1664 the Lower Isenburg branch died out. The Büdingen line continued to partition, and by the beginning of the 19th century the lines of Isenburg-Büdingen, Isenburg-Birstein, Isenburg-Meerholz and Isenburg-Wächtersbach existed. Today still exist the (catholic) princes of Isenburg (at Birstein), the (Lutheran) princes of Ysenburg (at Büdingen and Ronneburg) and the (Lutheran) counts of Ysenburg-Philippseich.

"Family tree" of the Isenburg countships[edit]

Büdingen Castle
Birstein Castle
Meerholz Castle at Gelnhausen
Philippseich Castle at Dreieich

Isenburg, the original countship was divided in 1137 into:

  • Isenburg (or Isenburg-Isenburg), 1137–1199, eventually dividing c. 1210 into:
    • Isenburg-Braunsberg, 1210–1388, when it was renamed Isenburg-Wied. Isenburg-Wied, in turn, existed from 1388–1454, when it passed by marriage to the Lords of Runkel and was superseded by the Countship of Wied in 1462.
    • Nieder-Isenburg (Lower Isenburg), 1218–1502 when it was divided into:
        • Isenburg-Grenzau, 1340–1439, when it passed to Nassau-Beilstein. It subsequently passed to the Archbishopric of Trier in 1446, and was finally purchased by the Counts of Nieder-Isenburg in 1460.
        • Isenburg-Büdingen, 1340–1511, when it was divided into:
              • Isenburg-Birstein, 1711–1744, when it became the Principality of Isenburg-Birstein. The Principality existed from 1744-1806, when it was renamed the Principality of Isenburg, 1806–1814/5
              • Isenburg-Eisenberg, 1711–1758, when it was absorbed back into the Principality of Isenburg-Birstein
              • Isenburg-Philippseich, 1711–1806, when it was mediatized to the Principality of Isenburg

Principality of Isenburg[edit]

It was not until 1806 that there was a state called simply "Isenburg". When the Holy Roman Empire was defeated by Napoleon I of France in that year, the empire was abolished and the Confederation of the Rhine was established amongst the various German states. As an incentive to join the Confederation, it was stated that any state which joined could mediatise their neighbours. Prince Charles of Isenburg-Birstein joined the Confederation and was granted the mediatized Isenburgian Countships of Isenburg-Büdingen, Isenburg-Meerholz, Isenburg-Philippseich, and Isenburg-Wächtersbach. His Principality was renamed to Isenburg.

The Principality continued under the rule of Prince Charles through the Napoleonic era, but was mediatised by the Congress of Vienna for being too keen an ally of Napoleon. The lands of the principality were divided between the Grand Duchy of Hesse-Darmstadt and the Electorate of Hesse-Kassel (or Hesse-Cassel).

Princes of Isenburg (1806–1814/5)[edit]

Notable Members[edit]


This article incorporates information from the German Wikipedia.