Wednesday, December 19, 2018

House of Zähringen

Big events cast their shadows as we say in German and that is what we are experiencing in Freiburg right now. The big event is the jubilee of 2020 celebrating the foundation of Freiburg as a marketplace in 1120, the shadow is an exhibition: Die Zähringer, Mythos und Wirklichkeit*.
*myth and reality


The last Zähringer Bertold V died in 1218, 800 years ago, a welcome reason to commemorate the House of Zähringen. The exhibition opened last Friday in Freiburg’s Karl Meckel Halle and will tour other so-called Zähringerstädte (see below) in the coming months.

Laudatio: On stage from right to left the makers of the exhibition:
Dr. Heinz Krieg, Dr. Hans-Peter Widmann, Dr. Johanna Regnath.
They offer a special Zähringer LEGO edition to Thomas Walz (left), group leader events/PR
of Freiburg's Municipal Saving Bank being the main sponsor of the exhibition.
In the back two reproductions of stained glass windows by Fritz Geiges
showing the two founding fathers of Freiburg
 on the left Bertold III and on the right Konrad.
Freiburg's founding fathers were two brothers, Bertold and Konrad, Dukes of Zähringen. Well, they were both dukes but not at the same time. Bertold III (1111-1122) liked the art of warfare and while campaigning he told his brother Konrad (1122-1152) to look that everything stayed in order at home. You probably already guessed, Bertold was killed in action in 1122 while he was fighting in Alsace near the village of Molsheim west of Strasburg.

Already before in 1114, he was defeated when he went to war against Cologne, at that time the biggest (40,000 inhabitants) and richest city on German territory. He was captured but as a prisoner of war was kept in easy custody waiting for the ransom to be paid. While strolling around the vibrant city it is sai that he had the idea of transforming the village back home at the foot of the castle, his father had built, into a marketplace.

Model of the Zähringer castle on Freiburg's Schlossberg on display at the exhibition.
Today only an overgrown scree is left.
When liberated and back in his castle he told his brother to go ahead with the plans for a market while he went to war again. The condition Bertold imposed was that Konrad should model the market's charter according to Cologne’s municipal law. This original document dated 1120 is regarded as Freiburg's foundation charter.

Already ninety-eight years later the dynasty of the Dukes of Zähringen died out. Bertold V who had started Freiburg’s Munster church around the year 1200 was buried in the same building in 1218. Bertold V was the last Zähringer for he only had two surviving daughters, Agnes and Anna, whose husbands not only quarreled over the heritage between each other but with King Friederich II too. Eventually, Egino of Urach, Agnes’ husband, inherited the Breisgau and its city and subsequently called himself Count of Freiburg.

Back to the Dukes of Zäringen; they not only founded the city of Freiburg im Breisgau (1120) but another Freiburg im Üechtland (1157), i.e., in Burgundy nowadays a canton in Switzerland. In addition the dukes laid the cornerstones for the following cities or developed older agglomerations into cities as there are Villingen (1119), Rheinfelden (1130), Murten (1170), Burgdorf (1175), Neuenburg (1175), Thun (1180), Bern (1191), and Bräunlingen (1203).

Those of you who like to read German here is the link to an illustrated history of the House of Zähringen.

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