Category: House of Thüringen

Categories: German Nobility | European Noble Houses


Thuringia is an historical and political region of Central Germany. You can see a list of rulers of the region here.


Thuringia is a state in central Germany named after the Thuringii tribe who occupied it ca. AD 300. The Thuringii or Toringi were a Germanic tribe which appeared late during the Völkerwanderung (the great wandering) a 400-year period in which vast human migration in the European region changed the borders of the Roman Empire and marked the end of the Age of Antiquity and the beginning of the Early Middle Ages.
The Thuringii emerged from about in the Harz Mountains of central Germania around 280, in a region which still bears their name to this day - Thuringia. They evidently filled a void left when the previous inhabitants - the Alemanni - migrated south to the region named after them, Alemannia. They may have been remnants of the Alemannic confederation, or simply another lesser tribe. Some have suggested that they were the remnants of the Hermanduri tribe.
The Thuringii established an empire in the late 5th century. It reached its territorial peak in the first half of the 6th before it was conquered by the Franks in 531-532.
Examination of Thuringian gravesites reveal cranial features which suggest the strong presence of Hunnic women or slaves, perhaps indicating that many Thuringians took Hunnic wives or Hunnic slaves following the collapse of the Hunnic Empire. There is also evidence from jewellery found in graves that the Thuringians sought marriages with Ostrogothic and Lombard women.
After their conquest, the Thuringii were placed under Frankish duces (dukes), but they rebelled and established themselves independently again by the late 7th century under Radulf. Towards the end of this century, parts of Thuringia came under Saxon rule.
By the time of Charles Martel and Saint Boniface, they were again subject to the Franks and ruled by Frankish dukes with their seat at Würzburg in the south. Under Martel, the Thuringian dukes' authority was extended over a part of Austrasia and the Bavarian plateau. The valleys of the Lahn, Main, and Neckar rivers were included. The Raab formed the southeastern border of Thuringia at the time. The Werra and Fulda valleys were within it also and it reached as far as the Saxon plain in the north. Its central location in Germania beyond the Rhine was the reason it became the point d'appui of Boniface's mission work.
The Thuringii had a separate identity as late as 785-786, when one of their leading men, Hardrad, led an abortive insurrection against Charlemagne.
The Carolingians codified the Thuringian legal customs (but perhaps did not use them extensively) as the Lex Thuringorum and continued to exact a tribute of pigs, presumably a Merovingian imposition, from the province.
In the 10th century, under the Ottonians, the centre of Thuringian power lay in the northeast, near Erfurt.
As late as the end of the 10th century, the porcine tribute was still being accepted by the King of Germany.
The Thuringii had been converted to Christianity in the 5th century, but their exposure to it was limited. Their real Christianisation took place, alongside the ecclesiastical organisation of their territory, during the early and mid 8th century under Boniface, who felled their "sacred oak" at Geismar in 724, abolishing the vestiges of their paganism.
In the 1020s, Aribo, Archbishop of Mainz, began the minting of money at Erfurt, the oldest market town in Thuringia with a history going back to the Merovingian period. The economy, especially trade (such as with the Slavs), greatly increased after that.
The Thuringian nobility, which had an admixture of Frankish, Thuringian, and Saxon blood, was not as landed as that of Francia. There was also a larger population of free peasant farmers than in Francia, though there was still a large number of serfs. The obligations of serfs there were also generally less oppressive. There were also fewer clergymen before Boniface came. There was as small number of artisans and merchants, mostly trading with the Slavs to the east. The town of Erfurt was the easternmost trading post in Frankish territory at the time.
Thuringia came under Frankish domination in the 6th century, forming a part of the subsequent Holy Roman Empire. Thuringia became a landgraviate in 1130. After the extinction of the reigning Ludowingian line of counts in 1247 and the War of the Thuringian Succession (1247-1264), the western half became independent under the name of Hesse, never to become a part of Thuringia again. Most of the remaining Thuringia came under the rule of the Wettin dynasty of the nearby Margraviate of Meissen, the nucleus of the later Electorate and Kingdom of Saxony.
With the division of the house of Wettin in 1485, Thuringia went to the senior Ernestine branch of the family, which subsequently subdivided the area into a number of smaller states, according to the Saxon tradition of dividing inheritance amongst male heirs. These were the " Saxon duchies", consisting, among others, of the states of Saxe-Weimar, Saxe-Eisenach, Saxe-Jena, Saxe-Meiningen, Saxe-Altenburg, Saxe-Coburg, and Saxe-Gotha; Thuringia became merely a geographical concept.
Thuringia generally accepted the Protestant Reformation. The Catholic faith was abolished as early as 1520; priests that remained loyal were driven away and churches and monasteries were largely destroyed, especially during the Peasants' War of 1525.
In Mühlhausen and elsewhere, the Anabaptists found many adherents. Thomas Müntzer, a leader of some non-peaceful groups of this sect, was active in this city. Within the borders of Thuringia the Catholic faith was maintained only in the district called Eichsfeld, which was ruled by the Archbishop of Mainz, and to a small degree in the city and vicinity of Erfurt.

Person Profiles (7)

abt 0480 Thuringia - 0529
abt 0438 Thüringen, Germany - abt 0470
bef 0460 Thüringen, Germany - aft 0464
abt 0460 Thueringen, Germany - 0529
abt 0510 Erfurt - 13 Aug 0587




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