House of Zähringen
|Country||Baden (Germany), Switzerland|
|Titles||Count, Duke, Margrave|
|Founder||Berthold I, Count in the Breisgau|
|Final sovereign||Berthold V, Duke of Zähringen|
Zähringen is the name of an old German family that founded a large number of cities in what are today Switzerland and Baden-Württemberg. The name is derived from the castle of Zähringen, now in ruins, in the village of that name, today a district of the city of Freiburg im Breisgau, which the dukes founded in 1120. While the junior line that first assumed the title Duke of Zähringen, a cadet branch of the House of Baden, became extinct in 1218, the senior line persists and currently uses the title Margrave of Baden, Duke of Zähringen. In the German language the word Zähringer is used for House of Zähringen in the same way as someone from New York is called a New Yorker.
The earliest known member of the family was Berthold I, Count in the Breisgau (died 982), who was first mentioned in 962. Earlier ancestors, such as the Ahalolfings are suspected. Bertholds's great-grandson Duke Berthold I (d. 1078) was count of Zähringen and was related to the early Hohenstaufen family.
Emperor Henry III had promised his liensman Berthold of Zähringen the Duchy of Swabia, but this was not fulfilled as upon Henry's death his widow Agnes of Poitou in 1057 appointed Count Rudolf of Rheinfelden. In compensation Berthold was made duke of Carinthia in 1061. Although this dignity was a titular one, Berthold actually lost it when in the course of the Investiture Controversy he joined the rising of his former rival Rudolf of Rheinfelden against German king Henry IV in 1073. His son Berthold II, who like his father fought against Henry IV, inherited a lot of the lands of Rudolf's son Count Berthold of Rheinfelden in 1090 (though not his comital title, that stayed with the family von Wetter-Rheinfelden) and in 1092 was elected Duke of Swabia against Frederick I of Hohenstaufen. In 1098 he reconciled with Frederick, renounced all claims to Swabia and instead concentrated on his possessions in the Breisgau region, assuming the title of a "Duke of Zähringen". He was succeeded in turn by his sons, Berthold III (d. 1122) and Conrad (d. 1152).
In 1127 Conrad upon the assassination of his nephew Count William III claimed the inheritance of the County of Burgundy against Count Renaud III of Mâcon. Renaud prevailed, though he had to cede large parts of the eastern Transjuranian lands to Conrad, who thereupon was appointed by king Lothair III of Supplinburg a "rector" of the Imperial Kingdom of Arles or Burgundy. This office was confirmed in 1152 and held by the Zähringen dukes until 1218, hence they are sometimes called "Dukes of Burgundy", although the existing Duchy of Burgundy was not an Imperial but a French fief. Berthold IV (d. 1186), who followed his father Conrad, spent much of his time in Italy in the train of Emperor Frederick I Barbarossa; his son and successor, Berthold V, showed his prowess by reducing the Burgundian nobles to order. This latter duke was the founder of the city of Bern, and when he died in February 1218 the main line of the Zähringen family became extinct.
After the extinction of the main line, much of their extensive territory in the Breisgau and modern-day Switzerland returned to the crown, except for their allodial titles, which were divided between the Counts of Urach (who subsequent called themselves "Counts of Freiburg") and the Counts of Kyburg, both of whom had married sisters of Berthold V. Less than fifty years later, the Kyburgs died out and large portions of their domains were inherited by the House of Habsburg. Bern achieved the status of a free Imperial city.
Some Zähringer titles in Germany were retained by the descendants of Margrave Hermann I of Baden, who was the elder son of duke Berthold II of Carinthia. Now more commonly known as the House of Baden, Hermann's descendants ruled successively as margraves, electors (1803–1806) and Grand Dukes of Baden until the end of monarchy in 1918. The current holder of the title Margrave of Baden, Duke of Zähringen is Maximilian, Margrave of Baden (b. 1933), a grandson of the last chancellor of the German Empire, Prince Max von Baden, who seems to have revived the Zähringen title after it apparently had not been in official usage since the death of Berthold V. Another branch were the Dukes of Teck, descendants of Duke Conrad's son Adalbert, whose line became extinct in 1439.
Zähringer cities in Germany 
Zähringer cities in Switzerland 
Zähringer dukes 
- Berthold I (c. 1000–1078), Duke of Carinthia and Margrave of Verona (as Berthold II) from 1061 to 1077
- Berthold II (c. 1050–1111), son, Duke of Swabia from 1092 to 1098 (against Frederick I of Hohenstaufen), "Duke of Zähringen" from about 1100
- Berthold III (c. 1085–1122), son, Duke of Zähringen from 1111
- Conrad (c. 1090–1152), brother, Duke of Zähringen from 1122, rector of Burgundy from 1127
- Berthold IV (c. 1125–1186), son, Duke of Zähringen from 1152, rector of Burgundy
- Berthold V (1160–1218), son, Duke of Zähringen from 1186, rector of Burgundy
See also 
- "Baden". Paul Theroff’s Royal Genealogy Site.
- Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "Zähringen (family)". Encyclopædia Britannica (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press.
- "Zähringen". Encyclopedia Americana. 1920.