House of Gorizia

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House of Gorizia
Meinhardiner
Grafschaft Görz.svg
Country Kingdom of Bohemia
Duchy of Carinthia
County of Görz
County of Tyrol
Parent house Sieghardinger
Titles
King of Bohemia and Margrave of Moravia
King of Poland
Duke of Carinthia and Margrave of Carniola
Count of Görz and Tyrol etc.
Founded 11th century
Founder Count Meginhard in the Bavarian Puster Valley
Final ruler Leonhard of Gorizia
Dissolution 1500

The Meinhardiner or Counts of Görz/Gorizia (German: Grafen von Görz; Italian: Conti di Gorizia; Slovene: Goriški grofje ) were a comital dynasty in the Holy Roman Empire, originally officials in the Patriarchate of Aquileia, who ruled the County of Görz (Gorizia) from 1127 until 1500. After their dissolution, the Austrian House of Habsburg received all their estates.

In 1253, the house inherited also the County of Tyrol, which was in 1271 passed to the cadet branch of Gorizia-Tyrol. From 1286, they assumed the title of Dukes of Carinthia and, in 1306 and again from 1307 to 1310, of a King of Bohemia due to Henry of Gorizia-Tyrol's marriage, and a titular King of Poland. However, as he left no male heirs, the Gorizia-Tyrol branch became extinct upon the death of his daughter Margaret in 1369.

History[edit]

The dynasty probably hailed from the Rhenish Franconian Siegharding dynasty, which originally descended from the Kraichgau region and in the 10th century ruled in the Chiemgau of the German stem duchy of Bavaria. One Siegharding Meginhard (or Meinhard, d. 1090) is documented as a count in the Bavarian gau of Pustertal. The progenitor of the Meinhardiner, Count Meinhard I of Gorizia, and his brother Engelbert, Count palatine of Bavaria, may be his sons. The dynasty first appeared around Lienz and in the 11th century gained the office of a vogt at the town of Gorizia (Görz) in the Patriarchate of Aquileia.

Gorizia-Tyrol[edit]

Coat of arms of the Counts of Görz, Ingeram Codex of Archduke Albert VI of Austria, 1459

Tyrol already in the early and later Middle Ages was an important mountain pass area with the lowest crossings over the Central Eastern Alps, vital for the Holy Roman Emperors to reach the Kingdom of Italy. The centres of the Imperial power were initially two Prince-bishoprics established by Emperor Conrad II in 1027, Brixen (Bressanone) and Trient (Trento). The bishops were the sovereigns of many semi-free compulsory henchmen (ministeriales) and local noblemen which styled until today the scenery with their numerous castles mostly south of the Brenner Pass. One of that noble families were the Counts of Tyrol, named after the Castle Tyrol near the town of Meran. They speedily ascended as bailiffs, who exercised the judicial power for the Trient and Brixen prince-bishops and finally took over the secular power in southern Bavaria after the deposition of the Welf duke Henry the Lion in 1180. One result of their becoming rulers of the area, was that the area is now called "Tyrol", after their ancestral castle.

Between 1253 and 1258 the Counts of Görz assumed the power in the Tyrolean lands, after the counts at Castle Tyrol had failed to produce a male heir. In 1237 Count Meinhard III had married Adelheid, daughter of Count Albert IV of Tyrol, who died in 1253 leaving no male heirs, and could in this way claim Tyrol as his inheritance. His son and successor Count Meinhard IV not only expanded the county, but also molded it into a more homogeneous country. He also created an administration, which, by the standards of his time, can only be called exemplary. Nevertheless, the three areas of country were to far apart to be ruled by a single count, and therefore it was decided to divide the county in 1267/71, when Meinhard IV ceded the County of Gorizia to his younger brother Albert I. Albert's descendants, the Gorizia line of the Meinhardiner dynasty, maintained their residence in Gorizia, until the line died out in 1500. The descendants of Meinhard IV, who was Count of Tyrol as Meinhard II, ruled Tyrol until 1363.

In 1286 Meinhard IV had also received the rule over the Duchy of Carinthia and the adjacent March of Carniola by the Habsburg king Rudolph I of Germany in turn for his support against King Ottokar II of Bohemia. Meinhard's son Henry in 1306 married Anne, the eldest daughter of King Wenceslaus II of Bohemia, and after the sudden death of his brother-in-law King Wenceslaus III in the same year even ascended the Bohemian throne. He however had to deal with claims raised by the Habsburg scion Rudolph III, son of King Albert I of Germany, and in the long run both could not prevail against Count John of Luxembourg, who became Bohemian king in 1310.

Decline[edit]

As Henry himself left no male heirs upon his death in 1335, the Austrian House of Habsburg inherited Carinthia and Carniola from the Gorizia-Tyrol branch. The Habsburgs held these lands until 1918. Henry's only surviving daughter Margaret "Maultasch" and her husband John Henry of Luxembourg were able to retain the County of Tyrol. In 1363 she ceded the county to the Habsburg duke Rudolph IV of Austria after her only son with her second husband Duke Louis V of Bavaria, Count Meinhard III of Gorizia-Tyrol had died in the same year.

The Counts of Gorizia were moreover the Bailiffs of Aquileja. They are famous in numismatics as publishers of the first German golden coin, the "Zwainziger". The renowned diplomat and minnesinger Oswald von Wolkenstein was a subject of the Counts of Gorizia. The Gorizia branch of the dynasty became extinct in the year 1500, when the last male family member Count Leonhard of Gorizia died withoud issue. One apparent or illegitimate branch of the Meinhardiner was the Graben von Stein family. After Leonhards of Gorizia's death they became his successor as stadtholders of Lienz in East Tyrol.

Counts[edit]

Görz coat of arms, as drawn by Hugo Gerard Ströhl, 1890

Inherited Tyrol in 1253

Gorizia-Tyrol[edit]

Line extinct, Tyrol fell to House of Habsburg

Gorizia[edit]

  • Albert I (1258–1304), younger son of Meinhard I of Gorizia-Tyrol, ruled jointly with his brother Meinhard II until 1271
  • Albert II (1304–1325), son of Albert I, jointly with his brother
    • Henry III (1304–1323) until 1307 partition, succeeded by
  • John Henry IV (1323–1338), son of Henry III
  • Meinhard VI (1338-1385), son of Albert II, Princely Count from 1365, and his brothers
  • Henry VI (1385–1454), son of Meinhard VI, jointly with his brother
  • Leonhard (1454–1500), son of Henry VI, jointly with his brothers

Possessions to House of Habsburg, Gorizia part of Inner Austria from 1564 to 1619, Lienz unified with Tyrol

Other family members[edit]