Duchy of Merania
The Duchy of Merania (German: Herzogtum Meranien, Slovene: Vojvodina Meranija) was a fiefdom of the Holy Roman Empire from 1152 until 1248. The dukes of Merania were recognised as princes of the Empire enjoying imperial immediacy at a time when these concepts were just coming into use to distinguish the highest ranks of imperial nobility. The exact territorial extent of Merania is unknown. It lay along the Adriatic, probably included the Istrian coast of the Kvarner Gulf and the town of Fiume (Rijeka). The author of the Historia de Expeditione Friderici Imperatoris, an account of Barbarossa's crusade of 1190, writing around 1200, refers to "the Duke of Dalmatia, also called Croatia or Merania", specifying (imprecisely) that the duchy neighboured Zahumlje and Raška.
It was created by the Emperor Frederick Barbarossa for Count Conrad II of Dachau in 1152 by separating some lordships from the marches of Carniola and Istria. This was part of a more general policy of elevating noblemen of comital rank to that of duke as a counterweight to the powerful dukes of the so-called stem duchies. It was also part of a reorganisation of the southeastern frontier that included the creation of the Duchy of Austria in 1156. The new ducal titles created in the twelfth century were often based on insignificant or diminished territories. Merania was small, with little in the way of rights or income for its holder. The ducal title that technically pertained only to the newly acquired territory was thus also often used in conjunction with the dynastic seat. Conrad was therefore sometimes known as the Duke of Dachau. Bishop Otto I of Freising, in his history of Barbarossa's reign, calls Conrad the Duke of Croatia and Dalmatia.
In 1180, Merania fell vacant and Frederick Barbarossa granted it to passed to Berthold, the son of the count of Andechs. This was probably done in order to maintain a balance of power and rank between the House of Andechs and the House of Wittelsbach, which had received the Duchy of Bavaria earlier that year. Berthold inherited the March of Istria in 1188, but on his death in 1204 Merania went to his eldest son, Otto I, and Istria to a younger son, Henry. In the 1240s, the duke of Mernia, who had numerous possessions throughout southern Germany, were involved in a dispute with the duke of Bavaria that turned into open warfare. In 1248, it fell vacant again with the extinction of the Andechs-Meranier and was broken up, mostly going to Istria.
List of dukes
- Conrad I (1152–1159), also Conrad II of Dachau
- Conrad II (1159–1180), also Conrad III of Dachau
- Berthold (1180–1204), also Berthold IV of Andechs
- Otto I (1204–1234), also Otto VII of Andechs
- Otto II (1234–1248), also Otto VIII of Andechs
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