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The Princes

From Middle Ages to Modern Times:
The Counts of Leiningen

Members of the Leiningen family quickly became owners of high offices and dignitaries, which besides conjugal politics led to a swift increase in property and rights. King Phillip of Schwaben trusted the office as Governor of the Benedectine Abbey of Limburg, near Bad Dürkheim, to Count Friedrich I Emich of Leiningen, who began to build the castle of Hardenburg. After the first male bloodline of the counts became extinct in 1220AD, the son of Count Simon II. of Saarbrücken and Liutgard of Leiningen became Count Friedrich II of Leiningen and continued the dynasty. Probably this Count Friedrich was depicted in the “Manessische Handschrift” (ancient document of the Middle Ages) as a fighting knight and minnesinger. A sideline of Leiningen, called Leiningen-Landeck, named after the imperial castle of Landeck only existed a short time between 1257-1290 AD, but was responsible for the foundation of the town Landau (before 1268AD) through Count Emich IV.. The division of the dynasty into two parts marked a deep cut in the family history in 1317AD: Friedrich V. continued the old line of the dynasty and added the name of the Vogesischen County Dagsburg, which was assimilated by a marriage. Count Jofried founded a new younger line of the dynasty, which is titled as the Counts of Leiningen-Hardenburg. Because of Emperor Heinrich VII.`s march to Rome in 1312  a magnificently painted script was made. It shows Jofried with an ancient helmet, sword and escutcheon on which the heraldic figure of three eagles on a dark background is painted. The older line of the dynasty (Leiningen-Dagsburg) existed for about 250 years. Because of the absence of inheritors the brother of Count Hesso of Leiningen`s wife Margarethe (Reinhard III. of Westerburg) inherited the titles and properties.

The younger line Leiningen-Hardenburg formed other branchlines about 1330AD. Count Fritzmann formed Leiningen-Rixingen about 1330AD and Count Hesso Leiningen-Apremont after 1500 AD.
The extinction of the older line in 1467 and the return of the county Dagsburg resulted in a new division of the lines into Leiningen-Dagsburg-Hardenburg and Leiningen-Dagsburg-Falkenburg in 1560.

Out of the various castles and residential places (Heidesheim, Guntersblum, Emichsburg) the Castle Hardenburg for a long time was the most important one. In the 16th century it was extended with huge fortifications. In 1725 the ancestral seat moved from there to Bad Dürkheim, where they already started to build  a new enormous castle including a theatre, royal stables, barracks and a pleasure garden.

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