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HOHENZOLLERN, the name of a castle which stood on the hill of Zollern about 1½ m. south of Hechingen, and gave its name to the family to which the present German emperor belongs. A vague tradition connects the house with the Colonna family of Rome, or the Colalto family of Lombardy; but one more definite unites the Hohenzollerns with the Burkhardingers, who were counts in Raetia during the early part of the 10th century, and two of whom became dukes of Swabia. Tassilo, a member of this family, is said to have built a castle at Zollern early in the 9th century; but the first historical mention of the name is in the Chronicon of a certain Berthold (d. 1088), who refers to Burkhard and Wezil, or Werner, of Zollern, or Zolorin. These men appear to have been counts of Zollern, and to have met their death in 1061. The family of Wezil died out in 1194, and the existing branches of the Hohenzollerns are descended from Burkhard and his son Frederick, whose eldest son, Frederick II., was in great favour with the German kings, Lothair the Saxon and Conrad III. Frederick II. died about 1145, and his son and successor, Frederick III., was a constant supporter of the Hohenstaufen. This count married Sophia, daughter and heiress of Conrad, burgrave of Nuremberg, and about 1192 he succeeded his father-in-law as burgrave, obtaining also some lands in Austria and Franconia. He died about 1200, and his sons, Conrad and Frederick, ruled their lands in common until 1227, when an important division took place. Conrad became burgrave of Nuremberg, and, receiving the lands which had come into the family through his mother, founded the Franconian branch of the family, which became the more important of the two; while Frederick, receiving the county of Zollern and the older possessions of the family, was the ancestor of the Swabian branch.

Early in the 12th century Burkhard, a younger son of Frederick I., secured the county of Hohenberg, and this district remained in the possession of the Hohenzollerns until the death of Count Sigismund in 1486. Its rulers, however, with the exception of Count Albert II. (d. 1298), played an unimportant part in German history. Albert, who was a Minnesinger, was loyal to the declining fortunes of the Hohenstaufen, and afterwards supported his brother-in-law, Rudolph of Habsburg, in his efforts to obtain the German throne. He shared in the campaigns of Rudolph and fell in battle in 1298, during the struggle between Adolph of Nassau and Albert of Habsburg (afterwards King Albert I.). When this family became extinct in 1486 Hohenberg passed to the Habsburgs.

The Franconian branch of the Hohenzollerns was represented in 1227 by Conrad, burgrave of Nuremberg, whom the emperor Frederick II. appointed guardian of his son Henry, and administrator of Austria. After a short apostasy, during which he supported Henry Raspe, landgrave of Thuringia, Conrad returned to the side of the Hohenstaufen and aided Conrad IV. He died in 1261, when his son and successor, the burgrave Frederick III., had already obtained Bayreuth through his marriage with Elizabeth, daughter of Otto of Meran (d. 1234). Frederick took a leading part in German affairs, and it is interesting to note that he had a considerable share in securing the election of his uncle, Rudolph of Habsburg, as German king in 1273. He died in 1297 and was succeeded by his son, Frederick IV. This burgrave fought for King Albert I. in Thuringia, and supported Henry VII. in his efforts to secure Bohemia for his son John; but in 1314, forsaking his father’s policy, he favoured Louis, afterwards the emperor Louis IV., in his struggle with Frederick, duke of Austria, and by his conduct at the battle of Mühldorf in 1322 and elsewhere earned the designation of “saviour of the empire.” Frederick, however, did not neglect his hereditary lands. He did something for the maintenance of peace and the security of traders, gave corporate privileges to villages, and took the Jews under his protection. His services to Louis were rewarded in various ways, and, using part of his wealth to increase the area of his possessions, he bought the town and district of Ansbach in 1331. Dying in 1332, Frederick was succeeded by his son, John II., who, after one of his brothers had died and two others had entered the church, ruled his lands in common with his brother Albert. About 1338 John bought Culmbach and Plassenburg, and on the strength of a privilege granted to him in 1347 he seized many robber-fortresses and held the surrounding lands as imperial fiefs. In general he continued his father’s policy, and when he died in 1357 was succeeded by his son, Frederick V., who, after the death of his uncle Albert in 1361, became sole ruler of Nuremberg, Ansbach and Bayreuth. Frederick lived in close friendship with the emperor Charles IV., who formally invested him with Ansbach and Bayreuth and made him a prince of the empire in 1363. In spite of the troubled times in which he lived, Frederick was a successful ruler, and introduced a regular system of public finance into his lands. In 1397 he divided his territories between his sons John and Frederick, and died in the following year. His elder son, John III., who had married Margaret, a daughter of the emperor Charles IV., was frequently in the company of his brothers-in-law, the German kings Wenceslaus and Sigismund. He died without sons in 1420.

Since 1397 the office of burgrave of Nuremberg had been held by John’s brother, Frederick, who in 1415 received Brandenburg from King Sigismund, and became margrave of Brandenburg as Frederick I. (q.v.). On his brother’s death in 1420 he reunited the lands of his branch of the family, but in 1427 he sold his rights as burgrave to the town of Nuremberg. The subsequent history of this branch of the Hohenzollerns is identified with that of Brandenburg from 1415 to 1701, and with that of Prussia since the latter date, as in this year the elector Frederick III. became king of Prussia. In 1871 William, the seventh king, took the title of German emperor. While the electorate of Brandenburg passed according to the rule of primogeniture, the Franconian possessions of the Hohenzollerns, Ansbach and Bayreuth, were given as appanages to younger sons, an arrangement which was confirmed by the dispositio Achillea of 1473. These principalities were ruled by the sons and descendants of the elector Albert Achilles from 1486 to 1603; and, after reverting to the elector of Brandenburg, by the descendants of the elector John George from 1603 to 1791. In 1791 Prince Charles Alexander (d. 1806), who had inherited both districts, sold his lands to Prussia.

The influence of the Swabian branch of the Hohenzollerns was weakened by several partitions of its lands; but early in the 16th century it rose to some eminence through Count Eitel Frederick II. (d. 1512), a friend and adviser of the emperor Maximilian I. Eitel received from this emperor the district of Haigerloch, and in 1534 his grandson Charles (d. 1576) was granted the counties of Sigmaringen and Vöhringen by the emperor Charles V. In 1576 the sons of Charles divided their lands, and founded three branches of the family, one of which is still flourishing. Eitel Frederick IV. took Hohenzollern with the title of Hohenzollern-Hechingen; Charles II. Sigmaringen and Vöhringen and the title of Hohenzollern-Sigmaringen; and Christopher took Haigerloch. Christopher’s family died out in 1634, but the remaining lines are of some importance. Count John George of Hohenzollern-Hechingen was made a prince in 1623, and John of Hohenzollern-Sigmaringen soon received the same honour. In 1695 these two branches of the family entered conjointly into an agreement with Brandenburg, which provided that, in case of the extinction of either of the Swabian branches, the remaining branch should inherit its lands; and if both branches became extinct the principalities should revert to Brandenburg. During the 17th and 18th centuries and during the period of the Napoleonic wars the history of these lands was very similar to that of the other small estates of Germany. In consequence of the political troubles of 1848 Princes Frederick William of Hohenzollern-Hechingen and Charles Anton of Hohenzollern-Sigmaringen resigned their principalities, and accordingly these fell to the king of Prussia, who took possession on the 12th of March 1850. By a royal decree of the 20th of May following the title of “highness,” with the prerogatives of younger sons of the royal house, was conferred on the two princes. The proposal to raise Prince Leopold of Hohenzollern-Sigmaringen (1835–1905) to the Spanish throne in 1870 was the immediate cause of the war between France and Germany. In 1908 the head of this branch of the Hohenzollerns, the only one existing besides the imperial house, was Leopold’s son William (b. 1864), who, owing to the extinction of the family of Hohenzollern-Hechingen in 1869, was called simply prince of Hohenzollern. In 1866 Prince Charles of Hohenzollern-Sigmaringen was chosen prince of Rumania, becoming king in 1881.

The modern Prussian province of Hohenzollern is a long, narrow strip of territory bounded on the S.W. by Baden and in other directions by Württemberg. It was divided into two principalities, Hohenzollern-Sigmaringen and Hohenzollern-Hechingen, until 1850, when these were united. They now form the government of Sigmaringen (q.v.).

The castle of Hohenzollern was destroyed in 1423, but it has been restored several times. Some remains of the old building may still be seen adjoining the present castle, which was built by King Frederick William IV.

See Monumenta Zollerana, edited by R. von Stillfried and T. Märker (Berlin, 1852–1890); Quellen und Untersuchungen zur Geschichte des Hauses Hohenzollern, edited by E. Berner (Berlin, 1901 fol.); R. von Stillfried, Altertümer und Kunstdenkmale des erlauchten Hauses von Hohenzollern (Berlin, 1852–1867) and Stammtafeln des Gesamthauses Hohenzollern (Berlin, 1869); L. Schmid, Die älteste Geschichte des erlauchten Gesamthauses der königlichen und fürstlichen Hohenzollern (Tübingen, 1884–1888); E. Schwartz, Stammtafel des preussischen Königshauses (Breslau 1898); Hohenzollernsche Forschungen, Jahrbuch für die Geschichte der Hohenzollern, edited by C. Meyer (Berlin, 1891–1902); Hohenzollern Jahrbuch, Forschungen und Abbildungen zur Geschichte der Hohenzollern in Brandenburg-Freussen, edited by Seidel (Leipzig, 1897–1903), and T. Carlyle, History of Frederick the Great (London, 1872–1873).  (A. W. H.*)