House of Hohenzollern

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House of Hohenzollern
Imperial Coat of arms of Germany
Country Germany, Romania
Titles Count of Zollern
Margrave of Brandenburg
Duke of Prussia
Burgrave of Nuremberg
Margrave of Bayreuth
Margrave of Brandenburg-Ansbach
King of Prussia
German Emperor
Prince of Neuchâtel
King of Romania
Prince of Hohenzollern-Hechingen
Prince of Hohenzollern-Sigmaringen
Founded 1050s
Founder Frederick I, Burgrave of Nuremberg
Final ruler

Germany and Prussia:
Emperor Wilhelm II (1888–1918)

King Michael I (1927–1930, 1940–1947)
Current head

Germany and Prussia:
HI&RH Prince Georg Friedrich (1994–)
HH Prince Karl Friedrich (2010–)

HM King Michael (1947–)
Deposition Germany and Prussia:
1918: German Revolution
1947: Stalinist take-over
Ethnicity German, Romanian
Cadet branches Romania
House of Prussia

The House of Hohenzollern is a German dynasty of former princes, electors, kings, and emperors of Hohenzollern, Brandenburg, Prussia, the German Empire, and Romania. It originated in the area around the town of Hechingen near Stuttgart in Swabia during the 11th century. They took their name from their ancestral home, the Hohenzollern Castle near Hechingen.

The family split into two branches, the Catholic Swabian branch and the Protestant Franconian branch[1] which later became the Brandenburg-Prussian branch. The Swabian branch ruled the area of Hechingen until the revolutions of 1848/49. The Franconian branch was more successful. Members of the branch became Margrave of Brandenburg in 1415 and Duke of Prussia in 1525.

The Margraviate of Brandenburg and the Duchy of Prussia were ruled in personal union after 1618 and were called Brandenburg-Prussia. The Kingdom of Prussia was created in 1701, eventually leading to the unification of Germany and the creation of the German Empire in 1871, with the Hohenzollerns as hereditary German Emperors and Kings of Prussia.

Germany's defeat in World War I in 1918 led to the German Revolution. The Hohenzollerns were overthrown and the Weimar Republic was established, thus bringing an end to the German monarchy. Georg Friedrich, Prince of Prussia is the current head of the royal Prussian line while Karl Friedrich, Prince of Hohenzollern is head of the princely Swabian line.[1]

County of Zollern[edit]

Zollern, from 1218 Hohenzollern, was a county of the Holy Roman Empire. Its ruling dynasty was first mentioned in 1061. The Hohenzollern named their estates after Hohenzollern Castle at the Swabian Alb. Later its capital was Hechingen. The Hohenzollern Castle still belongs to the family today.

According to the medieval chronicler Berthold of Reichenau, Burkhard I, Count of Zollern (de Zolorin) was born before 1025 and died in 1061. By his name, an affiliation with the Alamannic dynasty of the Burchardings is possible, though not proven.[2] The Zollerns received the comital title from Emperor Henry V in 1111. As loyal vassals of the Swabian Hohenstaufen dynasty, they were able to significantly enlarge their territory. Count Frederick III (c. 1139 – c. 1200) accompanied Emperor Frederick I Barbarossa against Henry the Lion in 1180, and through his marriage was granted the Burgraviate of Nuremberg by Emperor Henry VI of Hohenstaufen in 1191. In 1218 the burgraviate passed to Frederick's younger son Conrad I, he thereby became the ancestor of the Franconian Hohenzollern branch, which acquired the Electorate of Brandenburg in 1415.[1]

Affected by economic problems and internal feuds, the Hohenzollern counts from the 14th century onwards came under pressure by their mighty neighbours, the Counts of Württemberg and the cities of the Swabian League, whose troops besieged and finally destroyed Hohenzollern Castle in 1423. Nevertheless the Hohenzollerns retained their estates, backed by their Brandenburg cousins and the Imperial House of Habsburg. In 1535 Count Charles I of Hohenzollern (1512–1576) received the counties of Sigmaringen and Veringen as Imperial fiefs.[1]

In 1576, upon the death of Charles I, the County of Hohenzollern was divided among his three sons:[1]

In this way, the counties of Hohenzollern-Hechingen, Hohenzollern-Sigmaringen, and Hohenzollern-Haigerloch were established. Haigerloch fell to Sigmaringen in 1767; Hechingen and Sigmaringen were reunited only when they were ceded to Prussia in 1849/1850, becoming the Province of Hohenzollern.

Wilhelm II was the last German Emperor and ruled until 1918.

Counts of Zollern (1061–1204)[edit]

Count Frederick III of Zollern was a loyal retainer of the Holy Roman Emperors Frederick Barbarossa and Henry VI. In about 1185 he married Sophia of Raabs, the daughter of Conrad II, Burgrave of Nuremberg.[1]

After the death of Conrad II, often referred to as Kurt II, who left no male heirs, Frederick III was granted the burgraviate of Nuremberg in 1192 as Burgrave Frederick I of Nuremberg-Zollern. Since then the family name has been Hohenzollern.

After Frederick's death, his sons partitioned the family lands between themselves:

  • The older brother,[4] Frederick IV, received the county of Zollern and the burgraviate of Nuremberg in 1200 from his father, thereby founding the Swabian branch of the House of Hohenzollern. The Swabian line remains Catholic.[1]
  • The younger brother,[4] Conrad III, received the burgraviate of Nuremberg from his older brother Frederick IV in 1218, thereby founding the Franconian branch of the House of Hohenzollern. The Franconian line later converted to Protestantism.

Franconian branch[edit]

The cadet Franconian branch of the House of Hohenzollern was founded by Conrad I, Burgrave of Nuremberg (1186-1261). Beginning in the 16th century, this branch of the family became Protestant and decided on expansion through marriage and the purchase of surrounding lands. The family supported the Hohenstaufen and Habsburg rulers of the Holy Roman Empire during the 12th to 15th centuries, being rewarded with several territorial grants. In the first phase, the family gradually added to their lands, at first with many small acquisitions in the Franconian and Bavarian regions of Germany:

In the second phase, the family expanded their lands further with large acquisitions in the Brandenburg and Prussian regions of Germany and current Poland:

These acquisitions eventually transformed the Hohenzollerns from a minor German princely family into one of the most important dynasties in Europe.

Burgraves of Nuremberg (1192–1427)[edit]

COA family de Burggrafen von Nürnberg (Haus Hohenzollern).svg
Region of Nuremberg, Ansbach, Kulmbach and Bayreuth, (Franconia and Bavaria, Germany)

At Frederick V's death on 21 January 1398, his lands were partitioned between his two sons:

  • 1398–1420: John III/I (son of, also Margrave of Brandenburg-Kulmbach)
  • 1420–1427: Frederick VI/I/I, (brother of, also Elector of Brandenburg and Margrave of Brandenburg-Ansbach)

After John III/I's death on 11 June 1420, the two principalities were briefly reunited under Frederick VI/I/I. From 1412 Frederick VI became Margrave of Brandenburg as Frederick I and Elector of Brandenburg as Frederick I. From 1420, he became Margrave of Brandenburg-Kulmbach. Upon his death on 21 September 1440, his territories were divided among his sons:

From 1427 onwards the title of Burgrave of Nuremberg was absorbed into the titles of Margrave of Brandenburg-Ansbach and Margrave of Brandenburg-Kulmbach.

Margraves of Brandenburg-Ansbach (1398–1791)[edit]

Wappen Brandenburg-Ansbach.svg

On 2 December 1791, Christian II Frederick sold the sovereignty of his principalities to king Frederick William II of Prussia.

Margraves of Brandenburg-Kulmbach (1398–1604), later Brandenburg-Bayreuth (1604–1791)[edit]


On 2 December 1791, Christian II Frederick sold the sovereignty of his principalities to King Frederick William II of Prussia.

From 8 January 1701 the title of Elector of Brandenburg was attached to the title of King in Prussia and, from 13 September 1772, to that of King of Prussia.

Dukes of Jägerndorf (1523–1622)[edit]

Main article: Duchy of Krnov
Krnov znak.png

The Duchy of Jägerndorf (Krnov) was purchased in 1523.

The duchy of Jägerndorf was confiscated by Ferdinand III of the Holy Roman Empire in 1622.

Brandenburg-Prussian branch[edit]

Margraves of Brandenburg (1415–1819)[edit]

Frederick I, Elector of Brandenburg, also called Frederick VI of Nuremberg

Margraves of Brandenburg-Küstrin (1535–1571)[edit]

Wappen Kuestrin-Kietz.png

The short-lived Margraviate of Brandenburg-Küstrin was set up, against the Hohenzollern house laws on succession, as a secundogeniture fief of the House of Hohenzollern, a typical German institution.

He died without issue. The Margraviate of Brandenburg-Küstrin was absorbed in 1571 into the Margraviate and Electorate of Brandenburg.

Margraves of Brandenburg-Schwedt (1688–1788)[edit]

Wappen Schwedt.png

From 1688 onwards the Margraves of Brandenburg-Schwedt were a side branch of the House of Hohenzollern. Though recognised as a branch of the main dynasty the Margraviate of Brandenburg-Schwedt never constituted a principality with allodial rights of its own.

Main article: Brandenburg-Schwedt

In 1788 the title was incorporated into the Kingdom of Prussia.

Dukes of Prussia (1525–1701)[edit]

Main article: Dukes of Prussia
POL Prusy książęce COA.svg

In 1525 the Duchy of Prussia was established as a fief of the King of Poland.

Ducal Prussia (red), shown within the Kingdom of Prussia (blue), within the German Empire (salmon), as at 1876

From 1701 the title of Duke of Prussia was attached to the title of King in and of Prussia.

Kings in Prussia (1701–1772)[edit]

Wappen Preußen.png

In 1701 the title of King in Prussia was granted, without the Duchy of Prussia being elevated to a Kingdom within the Holy Roman Empire. From 1701 onwards the titles of Duke of Prussia and Elector of Brandenburg were always attached to the title of King in Prussia. The Duke of Prussia crowned himself and became King Frederick I, also to attain his status as an European ruler. The coronation ceremony was unusually splendid.

Main article: Kings in Prussia

In 1772 the Duchy of Prussia was elevated to a kingdom.

Kings of Prussia (1772–1918)[edit]

The Kingdom of Prussia (blue), within the German lands (salmon), as at 1818. The borders of the newly established German Confederation are shown as thick lines.
The Kingdom of Prussia (blue), within the German Empire (salmon), as at 1876

The Kingdom of Prussia in 1740 was unimportant in international politics, but Frederick William had built up an army with a perfection previously unknown. His successor, Frederick the Great gained Silesia in the Silesian Wars so that Prussia emerged as a great power.

In 1772 the title King of Prussia was granted with the establishment of the Kingdom of Prussia. From 1772 onwards the titles of Duke of Prussia and Elector of Brandenburg were always attached to the title King of Prussia.

Main article: Kings of Prussia

In 1871 the Kingdom of Prussia became a constituent member of the German Empire.

German Emperors (1871–1918)[edit]

Wappen Deutsches Reich - Reichsadler 2.png
Hohenzollern Reichswappen Kleines.png
Wilhelm I, the first German Emperor

In 1871 the German Empire was proclaimed. With the accession of Wilhelm I to the newly established imperial German throne, the titles of King of Prussia, Duke of Prussia and Elector of Brandenburg were always attached to the title of German Emperor.

In 1918 the German empire was abolished and replaced by the Weimar Republic.

Hohenzollerns since 1918 abdication[edit]

After the outbreak of the German Revolution in 1918, both Emperor Wilhelm II and the Crown Prince Wilhelm signed the document of abdication. Despite the abolition of the German monarchy in 1918, the House of Hohenzollern has not relinquished its claims to the thrones of Prussia and the German Empire. These claims are linked by the Constitution of the second German Empire: according to this, whoever was King of Prussia was also German Emperor. However, these claims are not recognised by the Federal Republic of Germany and the German Constitution of 1949 guarantees a republic. In June 1926, a referendum on expropriating the formerly ruling princes of Germany without compensation failed and as a consequence, the financial situation of the Hohenzollern family improved considerably. A settlement between the state and the family made Cecilienhof property of the state but granted a right of residence to Crown Prince Wilhelm and his wife Cecilie. The family also kept the ownership of Monbijou Palace in Berlin, Oels Castle in Silesia, Rheinsberg Palace, Schwedt Palace and other property until 1945. The communist government of the Soviet occupation zone depropriated all landowners and industrialists, by which the House of Hohenzollern lost almost all of its fortune, leaving them only with a few company shares and Hohenzollern Castle in West Germany. The Polish government depropriated the Silesian property and the Dutch government seized Huis Doorn, the Emperor's exile seat. After the German reunification however, the family was legally able to claim their movable property back, namely art collections and parts of the interior of their former palaces. Negotiations on a return or compensation for these assets are not yet finished.

Name Titular
William II 1918–1941 Exiled in the Netherlands until his death
Crown Prince William 1941–1951
Prince Louis Ferdinand 1951–1994
Prince Georg Friedrich since 1994
Prince Carl Friedrich heir presumptive

The head of the house is the titular King of Prussia and German Emperor. He also bears a historical claim to the title of Prince of Orange. Members of this line style themselves princes of Prussia. Georg Friedrich, Prince of Prussia, the current head of the Franconian House of Hohenzollern, was married to Princess Sophie Johanna Maria of Isenburg On 27 August 2011. On 20 January 2013, Princess Sophie gave birth to twin sons, Carl Friedrich Franz Alexander and Louis Ferdinand Christian Albrecht, in Bremen. Carl Friedrich, the elder of the two, is the heir apparent.[5]

Swabian branch[edit]

Combined coat of arms of the House of Hohenzollern-Sigmaringen (1849).

The senior Swabian[4] branch of the House of Hohenzollern was founded by Frederick II, Burgrave of Nuremberg.

Ruling the minor German principalities of Hechingen, Sigmaringen and Haigerloch, this branch of the family was Roman Catholic. In 1567 it split into the Hohenzollern-Hechingen, Hohenzollern-Sigmaringen and Hohenzollern-Haigerloch branches. When Charles I, Count of Hohenzollern (1512–1579) died, his lands were divided among his three sons:

The Hohenzollern-Hechingen branch became extinct in 1869. A descendent of this branch was Countess Sophie Chotek, morganatic wife of Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria-Este.

Counts of Hohenzollern (1204–1575)[edit]

Hohenzollern region, now in Württemberg, Germany (red color)

In 1204, the County of Hohenzollern was established out of the fusion of the County of Zollern and the Burgraviate of Nuremberg.

In 1575 the County of Hohenzollern was split in two counties with allodial rights, Hohenzollern-Hechingen and Hohenzollern-Sigmaringen.

Counts, later Princes of Hohenzollern-Hechingen (1576–1623–1850)[edit]


The County of Hohenzollern-Hechingen was established in 1576 with allodial rights.

In 1850, the princes of both Hohenzollern-Hechingen and Hohenzollern-Sigmaringen abdicated their thrones, and their principalities were incorporated as the Prussian province of Hohenzollern.[1] The Hechingen branch became extinct in dynastic line with Konstantin's death in 1869.

Counts of Hohenzollern-Haigerloch (1567–1630 and 1681–1767)[edit]

Wappen Haigerloch.svg

The County of Hohenzollern-Haigerloch was established in 1567 without allodial rights.

Between 1630 and 1681 the county was temporarily integrated into the principality of Hohenzollern-Sigmaringen.

Upon the death of Francis Christopher Anton in 1767, the Haigerloch branch went extinct and its territory was divided between the two remaining principalities.

Counts, later Princes of Hohenzollern-Sigmaringen (1576–1623–1849)[edit]

Karl Anton, the last reigning Prince of Hohenzollern-Sigmaringen

The County of Hohenzollern-Sigmaringen was established in 1576 with allodial rights and a seat at Sigmaringen Castle.

In 1850 sovereignty over the principality was yielded to the Franconian branch of the family and incorporated into the kingdom of Prussia, which accorded status as cadets of the Prussian Royal Family to the Sigmaringen Hohenzollerns. The last ruling Prince of Hohenzollern-Sigmaringen, Karl Anton, would later serve as Minister-President of Prussia between 1858 and 1862.

House of Hohenzollern-Sigmaringen after 1849[edit]

The family continued to use the princely title of Fürst of Hohenzollern-Sigmaringen until 1869 and still use the title Prince of Hohenzollern.

The head of the Sigmaringen branch (the only extant line of the Swabian branch of the dynasty) is Karl Friedrich, styled His Serene Highness The Prince of Hohenzollern. His official seat is Sigmaringen Castle.[1]

Kings of the Romanians[edit]

Kingdom of Romania - Small CoA.svg

Reigning (1866–1947)[edit]

King Michael in 1947

The Principality of Romania was established in 1862, after the Ottoman vassal states of Wallachia and Moldavia had been united in 1859 under Alexandru Ioan Cuza as Prince of Romania in a personal union. He was deposed in 1866 by the Romanian parliament.

A member of the Sigmaringen branch of the Hohenzollerns, Prince Karl, was invited to become reigning Prince of Romania in 1866. In 1881 he became Carol I, King of the Romanians.

Karl's elder brother, Leopold, Prince of Hohenzollern, was offered the Spanish throne after a revolt exiled Isabella II in 1870. Although encouraged by Bismarck to accept, Leopold backed down once France's emperor, Napoleon III, expressed objections and the German emperor de-escalated international tensions by ignoring Napoleon's provocative demand for a public guarantee that no Hohenzollern would ever assume Spain's crown. Nonetheless, Bismarck altered and then published the Ems telegram to create a casus belli. France declared war, but Bismarck's Germany won the Franco-Prussian war.

Carol I had an only daughter who died young, so Leopold's younger son Ferdinand I would succeed his uncle as King of the Romanians in 1914, and his descendants, having converted to the Orthodox Church, continued to reign there until the end of the monarchy in 1947. This branch of the Hohenzollerns is now dynastically represented only by the last king, Michael I of Romania, and his daughters.

Main article: King of the Romanians

Succession since 1947[edit]

In 1947 the Kingdom of Romania was abolished and replaced with the People's Republic of Romania. Michael does not press his claim to the defunct Romanian throne and although he has been welcomed back to the country, after half a century in exile, as a private citizen and substantial former royal properties have been placed at his disposal, his dynastic claim is not recognised by the no longer Communist Romanian republic.

On 10 May 2011, Michael severed the dynastic ties between the House of Romania and the House of Hohenzollern.[6] Having no sons, he declared that his dynastic heir, instead of being a male member of the Hohenzollern-Sigmaringen princely family to which he belongs patrilineally and in accordance with the last Romanian monarchical constitution, shall be his eldest daughter and, following her (as she has no children), the eldest son of his second daughter.[7]

House of Hohenzollern table[edit]

Prince Georg Friedrich, head of the Prussian branch of the House of Hohenzollern
Charlottenburg Palace is today`s largest royal residence in Berlin
Table of the House of Hohenzollern

Palaces of the Prussian Hohenzollerns[edit]

Some important castles and palaces of the Prussian Hohenzollern were:

Palaces of other Hohenzollerns[edit]

Coats of arms[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k Genealogisches Handbuch des Adels, Fürstliche Häuser XIX. "Haus Hohenzollern". C.A. Starke Verlag, 2011, pp. 30-33. ISBN 978-3-7980-0849-6.
  2. ^ Schultze, Johannes; Seigel, Rudolf (1972). "Hohenzollern, Dynastengeschlecht". Neue deutsche Biographie, Bd.: 9, Hess - Hüttig, Berlin. Bayerische Staatsbibliothek. Retrieved January 30, 2013. 
  3. ^ a b c Schmid, Ludwig (1862). "Geschichte der Grafen von Zollern-Hohenberg". Geschichte der Grafen von Zollern-Hohenberg. Anhang. Historisch-topographische Zusammenstellung der Grafschaft und Besitzungen des Hauses Zollern-Hohenberg. Google Book: Gebrüder Scheitlin. Retrieved February 1, 2013. 
  4. ^ a b c Heraldry of the Royal Families of Europe, Jiří Louda & Michael Maclagan, 1981, pp. 178-179.
  5. ^ "Official Website of the House of Hohenzollern: Prinz Georg Friedrich von Preußen". 
  6. ^ "Romania's former King Michael ends ties with German Hohenzollern dynasty". The Canadian Press. Retrieved 2011-05-11. 
  7. ^ "King Michael I broke ties with historical and dynastic House of Hohenzollern" in Adevarul - News Bucharest, 10 May 2011

External links[edit]

Royal house
House of Hohenzollern
Founding year: 12th century
German unification Ruling House of Germany
18 January 1871 – 9 November 1918
Prussia established Ruling House of Prussia
1525 – 9 November 1918
Romanian unification Ruling House of Romania
26 March 1881 – 30 December 1947