Coat of Arms of the House of Bourgogne von Hohenstaufen

History of the Region and Duchy of Swabia


The region of Alemannia (also Alamannia) was inhabited by various Germanic tribes who spoke Alemannic German dialects. The word for 'German' in many Romance languages comes from the Alemanni tribe. The first Duchy of Alemannia was formed at the beginning of the Sixth Century several years after Clovis I brought the region under Frankish control.

Expansion of the Frankish Empire

Dukes of Alemannia (506 - 911 CE)

The Dukes of Alemannia, sometimes also called counts or margraves, ruled the Duchy of Alemannia from approximately 506 - 911 CE.

  • Butilin
  • Leuthari I
  • Haming
  • Lantachar
  • Magnachar
  • Vaefar
  • Theodefrid
  • Leutfred
  • Uncilin
  • Gunzo
  • Chrodobert
  • Leuthari II
  • Gotfrid
  • Willehari
  • Lantfrid
  • Theudebald
  • Karlmann
  • Drogo
  • Karl I
Charles I
  • Karl II
Charles II
  • Ludwig
  • Karl II
  • Bernard
  • Burchard I
Duchy of Swabia (915 - 1309)

Throughout the Middle Ages, the terms 'Alemannia' and 'Swabia' were largely interchangeable, the second term being derived from the Suebi tribe, until the 11th Century when 'Swabia' finally became more common. The distinguishing point between the Duchy of Alemannia and the Duchy of Swabia, however, is traditionally much earlier, around the year 915 CE when the duchy was re-established by Erchanger after Burchard I was executed for treason against King Conrad I in 911 CE. Erchanger was proclaimed duke by the nobility, but it was his successor, Burchard II, who was recognised as duke by King Henry the Fowler in 917 CE.

The Holy Roman Empire in the 11th Century CE

The Duchy of Swabia rose to its highest prominence during the reign of the Hohenstaufen dukes and emperors (1079 - 1268 CE), but fell into abeyance with the death of Conrad IV, known as Conradin, who died without any children or siblings to inherit. His death caused the Duchy of Swabia to fall into abeyance, partly as a result of the Great Interregnum of the Holy Roman Empire.

The interregnum ended with the election of Rudolf I, Count of Habsburg, who claimed the Hohenstaufen hereditary titles as imperial possessions, taking the titles and lands from the legitimate heirs. He gave the Duchy of Swabia to his son, Rudolf II, Duke of Austria, who was Duke of Swabia from 1283 - 1290 CE. On his death, his son, Johann, known as the Parricide, became Duke of Swabia until he committed regicide by murdering his uncle, King Albrecht I of Germany I. John's titles were forfeit when Holy Roman Emperor Henry VII of Luxembourg placed him under imperial ban. However, Heinrich VII did not return the lands of the Hohenstaufen family, and the Duchy of Swabia was left in abeyance and allowed to disintegrate into various successor states, much to the sadness of the legitimate descendants of the Hohenstaufen dukes, who were coerced into not pressing their valid claims to the duchy.

Dukes of Swabia (915 CE - 1309)
  • Erchanger (915 - 917 CE) - Ahalolfinger
  • Burchard II (917 - 926 CE) - Hunfriding
  • Hermann I (926 - 949 CE) - Conradine
  • Liudolf (950 - 954 CE) - Ottonian

  • Liudolf
  • Burchard III (954 - 973 CE) - Hunfriding
  • Otto I (973 - 982 CE) - Ottonian

  • Otto I
  • Konrad I (982 - 997 CE) - Conradine
  • Hermann II (997 - 1003 CE) - Conradine
  • Hermann III (1003 - 1012 CE) - Conradine
  • Ernst I (1012 - 1015 CE) - Babenberg
  • Ernst II (1015 - 1030 CE) - Babenberg
  • Hermann IV (1030 - 1038 CE) - Babenberg
  • Heinrich I (1038 - 1045 CE) - Salian

  • Heinrich I
  • Otto II (1045 - 1048 CE) - Ezzonen

  • Otto II
  • Otto III (1048 - 1057 CE) - Schweinfurt
  • Rudolf I (1057 - 1079 CE) - Rheinfelden

  • Rudolf I
    • Berthold I (1079 - 1090 CE) - Rheinfelden, illegitimate Duke of Swabia serving the anti-king Rudolf of Rheinfelden
    • Berthold II (1092 - 1098 CE) - Zähringen, illegitimate Duke of Swabia serving the anti-king Rudolf of Rheinfelden

  • Friedrich I (1079 - 1105 CE) - Hohenstaufen
  • Friedrich II (1105 - 1147 CE) - Hohenstaufen

  • Friedrich II
  • Friedrich III Barbarossa (1147 - 1152 CE) - Hohenstaufen

  • Friedrich III Barbarossa
  • Friedrich IV (1152 - 1167 CE) - Hohenstaufen

  • Friedrich IV
  • Friedrich V (1167 - 1170 CE) - Hohenstaufen
  • Friedrich VI (1170 - 1191 CE) - Hohenstaufen
  • Konrad II (1191 - 1196 CE) - Hohenstaufen

  • Konrad II
  • Philipp (1196 - 1208 CE) - Hohenstaufen

  • Philipp
  • Vacant (1208 - 1212 CE)

  • Friedrich VII (1212 - 1216 CE) - Hohenstaufen

  • Friedrich VII
  • Heinrich II (1216 - 1235 CE) - Hohenstaufen

  • Heinrich II
  • Konrad III (1235 - 1254 CE) - Hohenstaufen

  • Konrad III
  • Konrad IV (1254 - 1268 CE) - Hohenstaufen

  • Konrad IV
  • Abeyant (1268 - 1283 CE) due to coercion

  • Rudolf II (1283 - 1290 CE) - Habsburg, given the Duchy of Swabia by his father, Rudolf I von Habsburg of Germany, despite the existence of legitimate Hohenstaufen heirs
  • Johann (1290 - 1309 CE) - Habsburg; forfeited his titles by committing regicide

  • Abeyant (1309 - 2017 CE) due to coercion

The Fall of the House von Hohenstaufen

The fall of the royal and imperial authority and branches of the House von Hohenstaufen came about as a result of conflict with several popes over papal versus imperial authority and the territory disputes surrounding the Papal States, the Kingdom of Italy, and the Kingdom of Sicily. The issues first arose when Pope Adrian IV gave territory belonging to the Holy Roman Empire to King William I of Sicily in 1155 CE. As a result, Emperor Friedrich I Barbarossa of the Holy Roman Empire (Friedrich III of Swabia) supported Anti-Pope Victor IV over Pope Alexander III, who subsequently excommunicated Emperor Friedrich I.

Friedrich III BarbarossaEmperor Friedrich I Barbarossa of the Holy Roman Empire
(Friedrich III of Swabia)
King William I of SicilyKing William I of Sicily

Pope Alexander IIIPope Alexander III

The dispute with Sicily was ended by the marriage between Emperor Heinrich VI of the Holy Roman Empire and Queen Constance of Sicily in 1184 CE. Their son, Emperor Friedrich II of the Holy Roman Empire (Friedrich VII of Swabia), became the rightful King of Sicily upon her death. The popes were unhappy with the induction of the Kingdom of Sicily into the Holy Roman Empire under Hohenstaufen rule because it significantly weakened papal political authority in the region compared to the power of the Holy Roman Empire. The popes had long dreamed of uniting all of Italy under papal authority, and the Holy Roman emperors, who at this time controlled most of Italy with the support of the Italian and Sicilian nobility, prevented that from occurring. They were particularly determined to control Sicily directly or as feudal overlords of the king they chose.

Emperor Heinrich VI of the Holy Roman Empire and Queen Constance of SicilyEmperor Heinrich VI of the Holy Roman Empire and Queen Constance of Sicily Friedrich VIIEmperor Friedrich II of the Holy Roman Empire
(Friedrich VII of Swabia)
Pope Honorius IIIPope Honorius III

Thus, Emperor Friedrich II could do little to avoid conflict with the popes. In 1225 CE, the Emperor promised Pope Honorius III to carry out a crusade for the Holy Land (the Sixth Crusade). In 1227, Emperor Friedrich II attempted to fulfil his promise, but fell gravely ill and had to abandon the crusade temporarily on the advice of his counsellors and Hermann von Salza, Grand Master of the Teutonic Knights. In response, Pope Gregory IX excommunicated him that same year.

Despite the excommunication, Emperor Friedrich II was determined to fulfil his promise, and he began the crusade again the following year (1228 CE). However, Pope Gregory IX then excommunicated him a second time for carrying out a crusade as an excommunicant. While he was fighting the crusade, some barons rose up against the Pope and the Emperor in Italy. In 1229, the Emperor returned and defeated the uprising, meeting with Pope Gregory IX and agreeing to some concessions to papal authority in Sicily. In 1237, he was forced to quell another rebellion in Italy due to the uprising of the Lombard League. Pope Gregory IX had instigated the uprising in order to claim Lombardy for the Papal States. In response to Emperor Friedrich II's attempts to quell the uprising, Pope Gregory IX excommunicated him once again in 1239.

Pope Innocent IV was elected in 1243 CE, and continued the anti-Hohenstaufen policies of his predecessors. He financed uprisings against and enemies of the Hohenstaufen in Germany, and excommunicated Emperor Friedrich II for the fourth time, imposing a papal ban on the Emperor, and declaring his son, Konrad IV (Konrad III of Swabia) deposed as King of the Romans (King of Germany). In 1246, he declared Heinrich Raspe of Thuringia, one of his primary anti-Hohenstaufen allies in Germany, to be the anti-king in opposition to Konrad IV. Upon Heinrich Raspe's death in 1247, Pope Innocent IV declared another of his allies, Wilhelm II of Holland, to be anti-king.

Pope Gregory IXPope Gregory IX Pope Innocent IVPope Innocent IV Wilhelm II of HollandWilhelm II of Holland

King Konrad IV both defeated Wilhelm II and succeeded his father as Emperor in 1250 CE. The Holy Roman Empire's grasp on Italy was slipping due to constant papal subversion, so Emperor Konrad IV spent several more years quelling uprisings in the region. After once again refusing to allow Pope Innocent IV to incorporate the Kingdom of Sicily into the Papal States, the Pope excommunicated him in 1254. Emperor Konrad IV died of malaria shortly thereafter, causing the great interregnum, which lasted until 1273.

Despite their conflicts, Emperor Konrad IV named Pope Innocent IV the guardian of his son, who became King Konrad II of Sicily (Konrad III of Jerusalem and Konrad IV of Swabia), also known as Conradin. Konrad IV's half-brother, Manfred, was named Konrad II's regent in Sicily. However, Innocent IV continued to carry out his anti-Hohenstaufen campaign at the expense of his young ward. The Pope excommunicated Manfred in 1254 when he refused to give the Kingdom of Sicily to the Pope.

Konrad IIIEmperor Konrad IV of the Holy Roman Empire
(Konrad III of Swabia)
Manfred of SicilyManfred of Sicily Konrad IVKing Konrad II of Sicily
(Konrad IV of Swabia)

After Pope Innocent IV's death at the end of 1254 CE, his successor, Pope Alexander IV, immediately excommunicated Manfred again for the same reason. However, in 1258, Manfred usurped the Kingdom of Sicily from his nephew and declared himself King Manfred of Sicily. In response, Pope Alexander IV excommunicated Manfred for the third time.

Pope Alexander IV's successor, Pope Urban IV, sold the Kingdom of Sicily to Charles d'Anjou, Count of Anjou and Maine, Count of Provence through his wife, and a brother of the King of France, and promised to prevent Konrad II's election as King of Germany. After Pope Urban IV's death shortly thereafter, his successor, Pope Clement IV, kept his predecessors promises and continued the papal war on the Hohenstaufen, Manfred, and the young Konrad II.

In 1266 CE, with the Pope's support, Charles d'Anjou defeated and killed Manfred at the Battle of Benevento, usurping Konrad II's titles. Charles' rule was particularly harsh. In response, Italians and Sicilians throughout the peninsula began to rise up against Charles and in favour of Konrad II. Despite many early success and the support of Spain, the support of France and the Pope eventually enabled Charles to defeat and capture Konrad II. Charles executed him in 1268 at 16 years of age. His death marked the end of the primary branch of the House von Hohenstaufen, the loss of their lands and power, and, therefore, of their titles. The papal struggles to garner more power in Italy and Sicily would continue for many years, including against Charles d'Anjou.

Pope Urban IVPope Urban IV Charles d'AnjouCharles d'Anjou Pope Clement IVPope Clement IV
Dukedom of Swabia

Coat of Arms of the Dukedom of Swabia

The Duchy of Swabia lay in abeyance due to coercion, having had no holder of the House of Hohenstaufen since the death of Conrad IV in 1268, and no Habsburg holder after Johann Parricida was placed under imperial ban in 1309. The legitimate heirs of the Hohenstaufen Dukes of Swabia were coerced into not pressing their valid claims. Once the lands of the former duchy were taken by the successor states, and especially after the nobility were abolished in Germany during the Weimar Republic, the duchy became a dukedom (a titular duchy or ducal title carrying with it no possession or control of lands, as are all German duchies since 1919).

However, under the laws of the Holy Roman Empire and the German Empire, the rank and status of nobility was considered intrinsic by right of birth, and could not be stripped from anyone. Governments had no right to revoke noble status, only lands and offices of power. A noble could only be stripped of titles in cases of grave crimes (such as the regicide committed by Johann the Parricide). This is particularly true in the case of the Holy Roman Empire and subsequently, the German Empire, where some titles historically were born by all members of the family (such as the Duke of Saxony title born by all male members of the ducal family, even though only one was the Duke of Saxony). Rather than denoting one's position or power, the title actually denotes the rank of nobility inherent to the family. Thus, a duke is always a duke, even if his lands are taken and his titles not recognised by the government. The government can revoke and null the power of the noble person, but cannot revoke their nobility.

After the fall of the Holy Roman and German Empires, the proven descendants of the House von Hohenstaufen founded the House von Hohenstaufen Association and formed a Dynastic Council in an attempt to maintain the Hohenstaufen legacy, lineage, and rightful titles, the claims to which had been guarded but not pressed due to fear of retaliation. The Dynastic Council designates the rightful Duke of Swabia, based on direct descent from all of the Hohenstaufen Dukes of Swabia to bear legitimate descendants. The current Duke was granted the titles of the House von Hohenstaufen and headship of the House of Bourgogne von Hohenstaufen in July of 2017. He is a proven, direct descendant from all of the Hohenstaufen Dukes of Swabia, as well as a proven direct descent from Rudolf I von Habsburg, who gave the Duchy of Swabia to his son and grandson, neither of whom had legitimate heirs. In fact, the Duke is a proven direct descendant or close blood relative of all of the Dukes of Swabia and Dukes of Alemannia since 539 CE, making His Highness' right to the ancestral titles indisputable.

His Highness is also direct descendants of the dynasties and Houses of Ascania, Babenberg, Balliol, Barcelona, Beni Alfons, Bourbon, Caesars (Julio-Claudian), Capet, Carolingians, Comyn, Connachta, Dunked, Eugenian, Habsburg, Jiménez, Lancaster, Lara, Merovingians, Normandy, O'Brien, Ottoman, Peláyez, Plantagenet, Robertian, Rurikid, Salian, Savoy, Vímara Peres, Welf, Wessex, Wettin, Wittelsbach, and Württemberg along with many, many more. Their Highnesses are cousins, to varying degrees, of the majority of the currently-reigning monarchs of Europe, as well as to the majority of the heads of German and Austrian noble and royal houses.

Coat of Arms of His Highness the Duke of Swabia
Coat of Arms of His Highness the Duke of Swabia