Lordship of Gemen
Herrschaft Gehmen
Arms-Gemen-Lords Arms-Gemen
fl. 962 - 1806

Lower Rhenish-West.
Counts of Westphalia
Mentioned 962
To Schaumburg 1492
To Limburg-Styrum 1640
To Bömelberg 1800
Mediatised to Salm-Kyrburg 1806

The Lordship of Gemen was an estate of the Holy Roman Empire, located in the northwest of North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany a short distance from the Dutch border. The Lordship of Gemen was established early in medieval times, with direct mention of them in 962 when they established and gained protection over a monastery. The Lordship of Gemen was entirely surrounded by the Prince-Bishopric of Münster, saved from annexation only by being within the jurisdiction of the Archbishopric of Cologne. The family of the Lords of Gemen became extinct and was inherited by the Counts of Schaumburg and Holstein-Pinneberg in 1492. Gemen was combined with the County of Schaumburg to form the County of Schaumburg and Gemen, which was an estate with a seat in the Bench of Counts of Westphalia in the Reichstag. With the extinction of that family, Schaumburg and Gemen was broken apart and Gemen came to the House of Limburg-Styrum as its own seat in the Bench.

Gemen in Early Mediæval Times (839 - 1492)Edit

The first historical mention of Gemen occurred in 962. A certain Werembold, a claimed descendant of Withukund the Great the last king of Saxony, is mentioned in 1092 as the protector of the Abbey of Vreden and it is presumed his line had held the stewardship from the founding of the Abbey in 839. The lords of Gemen are mentioned as witnesses in documents pertaining to the Holy Roman Empire from the 12th Century. In 1282, Gemen was first associated with the Dukes of Cleves.

The Lords of Gemen became heavily involved in the politics of Westphalia and the Lower Rhine, and their independent nature often brought them into conflict with the Prince-Bishops of Münster. The Lords of Gemen pursued a co-ordinated policy with the Lords of Anholt, Steinfurt and Rheda in which they successfully resisted being annexed through being within the jurisdiction of the Archbishopric of Cologne, which had become heavily embroiled in Westphalian affairs. The reprieve was only temporary and by 1295 Gemen was again under pressure from the Prince Bishops who managed to gain effective control of the Lordship in the 14th Century. It was only through the skilled policy of Lord Henry III (1368 - 1424) that the Lordship again became independent after pursuing a westward policy with the Dukes of Guelders.

His son John II (1424 - 1458) was even more competent than his father and during his rule Gemen thrived economically. John also managed to form a treaty with both Cleves and Münster whereby the lordship was independent. Conflict with Münster erupted again in 1492 after his son Henry IV died without heirs. The lordship passed through his daughter Cordula to Schaumburg and Holstein-Pinneberg, and important German family.

Gemen Until the End of the Empire (1492 - 1806)Edit

Gemen was combined with the County of Schaumburg in the Bench of Counts of Westphalia in the Reichstag. In 1534 a two century-long dispute with the Bishops of Münster was sparked by Count Adolph XII in 1534, who was also the Archbishop of Cologne. The Reformation was introduced by Count Jobst II through the years 1558 - 1561. A new foreign policy had to be pursued when the Margraves of Brandenburg inherited the Duchy of Cleves in 1609. The Counts managed to spare Gemen from the Imperial and Hessian forces during the Thirty Years' War (1618 - 1648), even though they led the cavalry which led to the defeat of the Mad Duke Christian of Brunswick in 1623.

The Counts also developed a close relationship the House of Limburg-Styrum, which ruled rich lands on both sides of the Rhine. With the extinction of the house of Schaumburg in 1640 Gemen passed to Limburg-Styrum, and then to the line of Limburg-Styrum-Gemen in 1644. The first Styrum-Gemener Count, Adolph Ernest strove to get the assistance of the Prussians against the Prince-Bishops of Münster. He also attempted and failed to reintroduce Catholicism into the Lordship. His son Count Herman Otto II (1675 - 1704) served in the Imperial army under Prince Eugene of Savoy in the Turkish Wars. He managed to get the Imperial Courts to rule in favour of Gemener independence in 1694, thereby eliminating the threat of the Prince-Bishops. Gemen was inherited by the line of Limburg-Styrum-Iller-Aichheim in 1782 with the extinction of the Gemen branch, but with its' extinction in 1800 it passed to the Barons of Bömelberg instead of the other lines of Limburg-Styrum.

Gemen After the Empire (1806 - 1918)Edit

During the mediatisation of 1806, Gemen was annexed by the Princes of Salm-Kyrburg. It was annexed by France in 1810 as part of Napoleon's Continental Blockade against British commerce and influence. After Napoleon was defeated at the Battle of Waterloo the Congress of Vienna in 1814 awarded the territory to Prussia as a mediatised possession. The Bömelbergs sold to the House of Landsberg-Velen in 1822, which ruled the territory until the defeat of Germany in the First World War and the establishment of the German Weimar Republic.

Lower Rhenish-Westphalian Circle
Aachen | Anholt | Beilstein | Bentheim | Berg | Blankenheim and Gerolstein | Cambrai | Cleves | Cologne
Cornelismünster | Corvey | Delmenhorst | Diepholz | Dortmund | East Frisia | Essen | Fagnolle | Gemen | Gimborn
Gronsfeld | Hallermund | Herford | Holzapfel | Hoya | Jülich | Kerpen-Lommersum | Liège | Lingen | Lippe
Malmédy | Marck | Minden | Moers | Münster | Myllendonk | Nassau-Dietz | Nassau-Dillenburg | Nassau-Hademar
Oldenburg | Osnabrück | Paderborn | Pyrmont | Ravensberg | Reckheim | Reichenstein | Rietberg | Sayn
Schaumburg | Schaumburg-Hesse | Schaumburg-Lippe | Schleiden | Spiegelberg | Stavelot | Steinfurt
Tecklenburg | Thorn | Verden | Virneburg | Werden | Wickrath | Wied | Winneburg | Wittem

Earlier Members
Brakel | Bronchhorst | Cambrai | Duisburg | Düren | Echternach | Herford | Lemgo | Luxembourg | Manderscheid
Marck-Arenberg | Salm-Reifferscheid | Soest | Someruff | Utrecht | Verden | Warburg | Wesel