Berthold V, Duke of Zähringen

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Berthold V, Duke of Zähringen
A statue of a man in armour
Berthold V, pictured on the Zähringerdenkmal monument in Bern, Switzerland
Duke of Zähringen
Reign1186 – 18 February 1218
PredecessorBerthold IV
SuccessorLands divided between Kyburg and Urach; Bern became a free imperial city.
Died18 February 1218 (aged 57–58)
Freiburg im Breisgau
Freiburg Minster, Freiburg im Breisgau
IssueDied without issue
HouseHouse of Zähringen
FatherBerthold IV
MotherHeilwig of Frohburg
ReligionRoman Catholic

Berthold V (1160 – 18 February 1218 in Freiburg im Breisgau), also known as Bertold V or Berchtold V, was Duke of Zähringen until his death, succeeding his father Berthold IV in 1186.

History and legacy[edit]

At the beginning of his reign, he reduced the power of the Burgundian nobles and settled the Bernese Oberland and the area of Lucerne. As a result, he enlarged Thun and founded Bern in 1191, which became the focus of his expansionism. At the battle of Ulrichen in 1211, however, he failed to gain access to the Valais.

Following the death of the Holy Roman Emperor Henry VI in 1198, he was one of the candidates in the Imperial election. He offered his nephews as hostages to the Archbishops of Cologne and Trier to gain their support.[1] However, when he discovered that a majority had elected the Hohenstaufen Philip of Swabia (antiking to Welf Emperor Otto IV of Brunswick) he renounced his claim. In exchange for this renunciation, Berthold gained territorial concessions in what is now southern Germany and northern Switzerland, consolidating Zähringer hold over the Ortenau, the Breisgau, Schaffhausen, Breisach and All Saints' Abbey. In 1198 Philip also paid Berthold 3,000 silver Marks for renouncing his claims. His nephew Konrad von Urach who would eventually decline the papacy was put under the tutelage of Berthold's uncle.

In the same year Berthold crushed an uprising of the Burgundian nobles, an event that is recorded on the gate in Freiburg.[2]

In 1200, Berthold began rebuilding Freiburg's city-parish church in Romanesque style.[2] Around 1240 the building was continued in Gothic style. The church was finished in 1360 except for the choir that took another 150 years to complete. The church admired for its steeple is known as Freiburg Minster.

The Zähringer dynasty ended with Berthold's death in 1218. Following his death the Zähringer lands were split among several nobles, and the city of Bern become a free imperial city (Reichsfrei, subject only to the Emperor). Egino IV, count of Urach by marriage, husband of Berthold's sister Agnes, inherited large parts of the Duchy of Zähringen and which originally was called the county of Freiburg. The grandson of Egino IV, Henry (de) named himself the first von Fürstenberg after his residence.

A grave effigy, standing, in armour, with hands together in prayer
The alleged tomb of Berthold V, in Freiburg Minster

His reign is commemorated by fountains in Bern and his tomb in Freiburg Minster.[3]


  1. ^ Emmerson, Richard Kenneth; Sandra Clayton-Emmerson (2006). Key Figures in Medieval Europe: An Encyclopedia. CRC Press. p. 151. ISBN 0-415-97385-6.
  2. ^ a b History of Freiburg accessed 29 December 2008
  3. ^ Schilter, Johann (1698). Chronicke Der Stadt Freyburg im Brisgaw, Verlegt und getruckt durch Jostas Städel. quoted in History of Freiburg (in German)

External links[edit]

Preceded by
Berthold IV
Duke of Zähringen
Ducal line extinct;
lands partitioned