County of Zollern
Zollern, from 1218 Hohenzollern, was a county of the Holy Roman Empire. Later its capital was Hechingen.
The Hohenzollerns named their estates after Hohenzollern Castle in the Swabian Alps. The Hohenzollern Castle lies on a 855 meters high mountain called Hohenzollern. It still belongs to the family today.
The dynasty was first mentioned in 1061. According to the medieval chronicler Berthold of Reichenau, Burkhard I, Count of Zollern (de Zolorin) was born before 1025 and died in 1061.
In 1095 Count Adalbert of Zollern founded the Benedictine monastery of Alpirsbach, situated in the Black Forest.
The Zollerns received the comital title from Emperor Henry V in 1111.
As loyal vassals of the Swabian Hohenstaufen dynasty, they were able to significantly enlarge their territory. Count Frederick III (c. 1139 – c. 1200) accompanied Emperor Frederick Barbarossa against Henry the Lion in 1180, and through his marriage was granted the Burgraviate of Nuremberg by Emperor Henry VI in 1192. In about 1185 he married Sophia of Raabs, the daughter of Conrad II, Burgrave of Nuremberg. After the death of Conrad II who left no male heirs, Frederick III was granted Nuremberg as Burgrave Frederick I.
In 1218 the burgraviate passed to Frederick's elder son Conrad I, he thereby became the ancestor of the Franconian Hohenzollern branch, which acquired the Electorate of Brandenburg in 1415.
Counts of Zollern (1061–1204)
After Frederick's death, his sons partitioned the family lands between themselves:
- Conrad I received the county of Zollern and exchanged it for the burgraviate of Nuremberg with his younger brother Frederick IV in 1218, thereby founding the Franconian branch of the House of Hohenzollern. Members of the Franconian line eventually became the Brandenburg-Prussia branch. The Franconian line later converted to Protestantism.
- Frederick IV received the burgraviate of Nuremberg in 1200 from his father and exchanged it for the county of Zollern in 1218 with his brother, thereby founding the Swabian branch of the House of Hohenzollern. The Swabian line remains Catholic.