The arms of the Duchy of Limburg


The arms of the County of Limburg, in use from the 15th Century

This page is about the County of Limburg. See also: Limburg (disambiguation)

The historical County of Limburg was a territory located in west-central North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany, on the course of the Lenne and Ruhr Rivers. It covered a total area of 118 km². The capital of the County of Limburg was Limburg an der Lenne, which was renamed to Hohenlimburg in 1903. Also of note in the County of Limburg was the Abbacy of Elsey. Limburg was bordered by the Duchy of Westphalia to the east, and Marck to the south, west and north. The County of Limburg used the arms of the Duchy of Limburg until the 15th Century when the County was granted its own.

Other territories which were acquired and ruled by the House of Limburg in various lines included: Altenhof and Styrum (1289), Neu-Isenburg (1370), Bedburg (1422), Hackenbroich (1422), Iller-Aichheim (16..), Gemen (1640), and a portion of Bronchhorst (1664). Of these territories, including comital Limburg, only Gemen and Bronchhorst held a vote in the Reichstag, with the latter being abolished in 1719.

History of the County of LimburgEdit

Origins (1226 - 1304)Edit

The County of Limburg originally formed part of the County of Altena. Engelbert of Berg, the Archbishop of Cologne, had began an aggressive campaign to bring the affairs of the Archbishopric, and other nearby ecclesiastical territories, under order through any means necessary. This campaign brought him into conflict with the nobility, including his family. His cousin, Frederick I, Count of Altena and Isenberg, was also the steward of the Abbacy of Essen. Frederick was defrauding the nuns, and Engelbert championed their cause. After a meeting at Soest failed to peacably bring the matter to a close, Frederick prepared an ambush for Engelbert near Gevelsberg on his return. In the combat though, Engelbert was killed (it is unknown if that was the intention, or if he was to be captured and forced to capitulate to the demands of Westphalian nobles). Frederick was excommunicated and had his lands stripped, and was executed on the 14 November 1226 in Cologne.

Frederick's son and successor, Frederick II had no lands. His successor, Theodoric I managed to successfully petition, with the help of his uncle Henry IV of Limburg, the Holy Roman Emperor to give him land restitution in 1242 and gained the territory of the County of Limburg. This first state of the County of Limburg was known as "Limburg-Isenberg", although Theodoric ruled the territory as "Altena-Isenberg". Theodoric made peace with Adolph I of Marck in 1243, who had previously attempted to annex the territory. Hohenlimburg menawhile had been given to the Duchy of Limburg, which in 1246 passed to the line of Limburg-Hohenlimburg. A new line gained the territories of Broich and Styrum in 1271, being called "Limburg-Styrum". When Theodoric died in 1301, the County of Limburg passed to the line of Limburg-Hohenlimburg. In 1304, the comital house of Limburg was united.

Limburg in dispute (1304 - 1508)Edit

By the end of the 15th Century, the comital House of Limburg was bankrupt and in ruins. In 1425, Margaret, the daughter of Count William I of Limburg-Styrum, was arranged to be married to Gumpert I of Neuenahr on the condition the County of Limburg passed to Neuenahr. In 1435, Bedburg was given to the couple, and in 1442 half the county also. The death of William in 1449 led to a complication of matters as the line of Limburg-Broich claimed his half of the County of Limburg. The matter quickly descended into military action, and in 1460 both sides were subjected to the arbitration award of the Archbishop of Cologne. The County was at first divided, but in 1479 was ruled in condominium by the House of Neuenahr-Alpen and Limburg-Broich. In 1508, the line of Brioch became extinct, and Dhaun-Falkenstein inherited their half of the County.

Limburg until the end of the Empire (1508 - 1806)Edit

In 1542, Neuenahr inherited the Dhaun portion of Limburg. In 1550 Count Adolph, as the last remaining male of the line of Alpen, inherited Neuenahr and the County of Limburg. He married his aunt Walburga of Neuenahr-Bedburg, and when his uncle, Herman of Neuenahr-Bedburg, died he inherited his extensive territories in the Lower Rhine. From 1583 until 1589, Adolph was a prominent figure in the Cologne War. By 1584, the Emperor and the Duke of Bavaria had already conquered the territory of Neuenahr and Hohenlimburg and only the County of Limburg remained in his possession.

In 1589 Adolph died prematurely, erupting a large succession crisis as his lands were amongst the most significant in the Lower Rhine. At first the County passed to the widowed Amelia of Neuenahr-Alpen, and in 1592 it was decided that the territory would pass to Bentheim-Bentheim as Adolph's sister Magdalena was married to the Count of it. In 1610, it passed to the partition of Bentheim-Limburg, in 1626 with that lines' extinction passed to Bentheim-Alpen, and in 1629 with that lines' extinction passed to Bentheim-Tecklenburg-Rheda. Limburg suffered greatly during the Thirty Years' War (1618 - 1648). The county was repeatedly attacked and plundered. From 1633 - 1636 Hohenlimburg was occupied by Imperial troops, and in 1636 Plague decimated the population. Only through the efforts of Count John Henry Louis of Nassau-Dillenburg was the territory not annexed outright by the Elector of Brandenburg.

In 1707 the Prussians annexed the territory of Tecklenburg, and the Counts thereafter focused extensively on Limburg. In 1709 Limburg was granted extensive liberty and freedoms. From 1720, the Counts resided in Hohenlimburg, and culturally and economically Limburg thrived. In 1756, after an agreement between the Counts of Bentheim-Tecklenburg-Rheda and Prussia, Limburg's golden age came to an end.

Limburg after the Mediatisation (1806 - 1817)Edit

In 1806 Napoleon Bonaparte had the Holy Roman Empire dissolved, and created the Confederation of the Rhine. As an incentive to join the confederation, Napoleon allowed joining states to mediatise neighbouring states. Limburg came under the rule of Hesse-Darmstadt in 1806, and the Grand Duchy of Berg in 1808. The Prussians gained the territory in 1813, and they reorganised Limburg into the new district of Iserlohn in 1817.

States of the County of LimburgEdit