House of Wittelsbach

Royal house
surname = House of Wittelsbach
estate = Bavaria
coat of arms =
country = Bavaria, Electoral Palatinate
titles = Duke of Bavaria, Elector Palatine
founder = Otto I Wittelsbach, Duke of Bavaria
final ruler = Ludwig III of Bavaria
current head = Franz, Duke of Bavaria
founding year = 1180
dissolution = 1918
nationality = German
cadet branches =House of Palatinate-Simmern (extinct)

House of Palatinate-Zweibrücken
The Wittelsbach family is a European royal family and a German dynasty from Bavaria. Their major principal roles were as Dukes, Electors and Kings of Bavaria (1180-1918), Counts Palatine of the Rhine (1214-1803), Counts of Holland, Hainaut and Zeeland (1345-1432), Elector-Archbishops of Cologne (1583-1761), Kings of Sweden (1654-1720) and Kings of Greece (1832-1862). The family also provided two Holy Roman Emperors.


Berthold, Margrave in Bavaria (died 980), was the ancestor of Otto I, Count of Scheyern (died 1072), whose 3rd son Otto II, Count of Dachau acquired the castle of Wittelsbach (near Aichach). The Counts of Scheyern left Burg Scheyern ("Scheyern Castle", constructed in about 940), in 1119 for Burg Wittelsbach ("Wittelsbach Castle").

Count Otto II was the ancestor of the Count palatine of Bavaria Otto IV (died 1156), whose son Otto was invested with the Duchy of Bavaria in 1180 after the fall of Henry the Lion. Duke Otto's son Louis I, Duke of Bavaria acquired also the Palatinate in 1214.

The "Wittelsbach Castle" itself was destroyed in 1209 after Count Otto of Wittelsbach, a nephew of Duke Otto, had murdered king Philip of Swabia. It has never been reconstructed.

Reign in the Holy Roman Empire

The "Wittelsbach" family was the ruling dynasty of the German territories of Bavaria from 1180 to 1918 and of the Electoral Palatinate from 1214 until 1805; in 1815 the latter territory was partly incorporated as Rhine Palatinate into Bavaria, which was elevated to a kingdom by Napoleon in 1806.

On Duke Otto II's death in 1253, the Wittelsbach possessions were divided between his sons: Henry became Duke of Lower Bavaria, and Louis II Duke of Upper Bavaria and Count Palatine of the Rhine. When Henry's branch died out in 1340 the duchy was reunited under Emperor Louis IV, a son of Duke Louis II.

The family provided two Holy Roman Emperors: Louis IV (1314-1347) and Charles VII (1742-1745), both members of the Bavarian branch of the family, and one German King with Rupert of the Palatinate (1400-1410), a member of the Palatinate branch.

The House of Wittelsbach split into these two branches in 1329: Under the Treaty of Pavia, Emperor Louis IV granted the Palatinate including the Bavarian Upper Palatinate to his brother Duke Rudolf's descendants, Rudolf II, Rupert I and Rupert II. Rudolf I this way became the ancestor of the older (Palatinate) line of the Wittelsbach dynasty, which returned to power also in Bavaria in 1777 after the extinction of the younger (Bavarian) line, the descendants of Louis IV.

Bavarian branch

The Bavarian branch kept the duchy of Bavaria until its extinction in 1777. In 1623 the dukes were invested with the electoral dignity.

For half a century, from 1323 until 1373, the younger branch of the dynasty also ruled Brandenburg in the north-east of Germany. In the south Tyrol was kept between 1342 and 1363. Between 1345 and 1432, they governed also in Holland and Hainaut in the north-west of the former German Empire.

From 1349 onwards Bavaria was split under the branches Bavaria-Landshut, Bavaria-Straubing, Bavaria-Ingolstadt and Bavaria-Munich. With the Landshut War of Succession Bavaria was reunited against the claim of the Palatinate branch under the Bavarian branch Bavaria-Munich.

From 1583 to 1761, the Bavarian branch of the dynasty provided the Prince-electors and Archbishops of Cologne and many other Bishops of the Holy Roman Empire. Wittelsbach princes served for example as Bishops of Regensburg, Freising, Liege, Münster, Hildesheim, Paderborn and Osnabrück, and as Grand Masters of the Teutonic Order.

Maximilian II Emanuel, Elector of Bavaria served also as Governors of the Habsburg Netherlands (1692-1706) and as Duke of Luxemburg (1712-1714). His son Emperor Charles VII was also king of Bohemia (1741-1743).

Palatinate branch

The Palatinate branch kept the Palatinate until 1918 and succeeded also in Bavaria in 1777. With the Golden Bull of 1356 the Counts Palatine were invested with the electoral dignity.

In 1410 began the split of Palatinate lands under numerous branches such as Neumarkt, Simmern, Zweibrücken, Birkenfeld, Neuburg and Sulzbach.

In 1619, the Protestant Frederick V, Elector Palatine was King of Bohemia but was defeated by the Catholic Maximilian I, Elector of Bavaria, a member of the Bavarian branch. As a result the Upper Palatinate had to be ceded to the Bavarian branch in 1623. The one of cadet branches of the Palatinate branch kept also the Duchy of Jülich and Berg from 1614 onwards.

After the extinction of the Bavarian branch, a succession dispute and the brief War of the Bavarian Succession the Palatinate branch succeeded in Bavaria in 1777. With the death of Elector Charles Theodore in 1799 all Wittelsbach land in Bavaria and the Palatinate was reunited under Maximilian I Joseph of Bavaria, a member of the branch Palatinate-Zweibrücken-Birkenfeld. At the time there were two surviving branches of the Wittelsbach family: "Zweibrücken" (headed by Maximilian I Joseph) and "Birkenfeld" (headed by Count Palatine William). Maximilian Joseph inherited Charles Thedore's title of Elector of Bavaria, while William was compensated with the title of Duke "in" Bavaria. The form Duke in Bavaria was selected because in 1506 primogeniture had been established in the House of Wittelsbach resulting in there being only one Reigning Duke of Bavaria at any given time. The style of king Maximilian Joseph assumed on January 1, 1806.

Reign outside the Holy Roman Empire

With Duke Otto III, who was elected anti-king of Hungary as Bela 1305-1308 the Wittelsbach dynasty came to power outside the Holy Roman Empire for the first time.

Palatinate branch

Christopher III of the Palatinate branch was king of Denmark, Sweden and Norway 1440/1442-1448, but he left no descendants. The House of Palatinate-Zweibrücken contributed to the monarchy of Sweden again 1654-1720 under Charles X, Charles XI, Charles XII and Ulrika Eleonora.

The Wittelsbach princess Sophia of the Palatine (1630-1714) was the mother of George I of Great Britain, she died as Heiress of Great Britain a few weeks before the case of succession. The line of Jacobite succession is currently within the House of Wittelsbach. Franz, Hereditary Prince of Bavaria is recognised by the Jacobites as Francis II.

Finally the Wittelsbach prince Otto was king of Greece 1832-1862.

Bavarian branch

Joseph Ferdinand of Bavaria, Prince of Asturias was the favored choice of England and the Netherlands to succeed as the ruler of Spain, young Charles II of Spain chose him as his heir. Due to the unexpected death of Joseph Ferdinand in 1699 the Wittelsbach did not come to power in Spain.

Major members of the family

Patrilineal descent

Franz's patriline is the line from which he is descended father to son. Patrilineal descent is the principle behind membership in royal houses, as it can be traced back through the generations - which means that Franz’s royal house, the House of Wittelsbach, ultimately originates from the Luitpolding dynasty.

#Luitpold, Margrave of Bavaria, d. 907
#Arnulf, Duke of Bavaria, d. 937
#Berthold of Bavaria, 915 - 980
#Henry I of Schweinfurt, 960 - 1017
#Henry II of Schweinfurt, 1017 - 1043
#Otto I, Count of Scheyern, 1044 - 1072
#Otto II, Count of Scheyern, d. 1108
#Otto IV, Count of Wittelsbach, 1083 - 1156
#Otto I Wittelsbach, Duke of Bavaria, 1117 - 1183
#Louis I, Duke of Bavaria, 1173 - 1231
#Otto II Wittelsbach, Duke of Bavaria, 1206 - 1253
#Louis II, Duke of Bavaria, 1229 - 1294
#Rudolf I, Duke of Bavaria, 1274 - 1319
#Adolf, Count Palatine of the Rhine, 1300 - 1327
#Rupert II, Elector Palatine, 1325 - 1398
#Rupert of Germany, 1352 - 1410
#Stefan, Count Palatine of Simmern-Zweibrücken, 1385 - 1459
#Louis I, Count Palatine of Zweibrücken, 1424 - 1489
#Alexander, Count Palatine of Zweibrücken, 1462 - 1514
#Louis II, Count Palatine of Zweibrücken, 1502 - 1532
#Wolfgang, Count Palatine of Zweibrücken, 1526 - 1569
#Karl I, Count Palatine of Birkenfeld, 1560 - 1600
#Christian I, Count Palatine of Birkenfeld, 1598 - 1654
#Christian II, Count Palatine of Zweibrücken, 1637 - 1717
#Christian III, Count Palatine of Zweibrücken, 1674 - 1735
#Count Palatine Frederick Michael of Zweibrücken, 1724 - 1767
#Maximilian I Joseph of Bavaria, 1756 - 1825
#Ludwig I of Bavaria, 1786 - 1868
#Luitpold, Prince Regent of Bavaria, 1821 - 1912
#Ludwig III of Bavaria, 1845 - 1921
#Rupprecht, Crown Prince of Bavaria, 1869 - 1955
#Albrecht, Duke of Bavaria, 1905 - 1996
#Franz, Duke of Bavaria, 1933 -

Bavarian branch

*Louis V, Margrave of Brandenburg, Duke of Bavaria and Count of Tyrol (1323 - 1361)
*Albert I, Duke of Bavaria, Count of Holland and Hainaut (1347-1404)
*Isabeau de Bavière (1371 - 1435), queen-consort of France
*Jacqueline, Countess of Hainaut and Holland (1417 - 1432)
*Albert IV, duke of Bavaria (1465-1508)
*Albert V, duke of Bavaria (1550-1579)
*Maximilian I, Elector of Bavaria (1597 - 1651)
*Maria Anna, Dauphine of France (1660 - 1690)
*Maximilian II Emanuel, Elector of Bavaria (1662 - 1726)
*Clemens August of Bavaria (1700 - 1761)
*Maria Antonia Walpurgis of Bavaria (1724 - 1780)

Palatinate branch

*Frederick I, Elector Palatine (1451-1476)
*Frederick III, Elector Palatine (1559-1576)
*Charles I Louis, Elector Palatine (1648-1680)
*Prince Rupert of the Rhine (1619-1682)
*Sophia of the Palatine (1630-1714), Heiress of Great Britain
*Elizabeth Charlotte, Princess Palatine (1652-1722)
*Johann Wilhelm, Elector Palatine (1690-1718)
* King Ludwig I of Bavaria (1825 - 1848)
*Elisabeth in Bavaria (1837 - 1898) ("Sissi"), Empress of Austria
*Ludwig II of Bavaria (1864 - 1886)
*Marie Sophie (1841- 1925), last queen of the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies
*Elizabeth of Bavaria (1876 - 1965), queen-consort of Albert I of Belgium
*Sophie, Hereditary Princess of Liechtenstein, born 1967

Several other women in the family are known as Elisabeth von Wittelsbach.

Family tree

ee also

*Kings of Germany family tree. The Wittelsbachs were the 11th dynasty to rule Germany and were related by marriage to all the others.

* List of rulers of Bavaria
* List of rulers of the Palatinate
* Asteroid 90712 Wittelsbach, named in the castle and dynasty's honour

External links

* [ The Royal Family of Bavaria - House of Wittelsbach]
* [ The Royal House of Bavaria]
* [ Genealogy of the House of Wittelsbach]
* [ Genealogy of the House of Wittelsbach from]

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