House of Leiningen

Leiningen is the name of an old German family whose lands lay principally in Alsace, Lorraine and the Palatinate. The first count of Leiningen about whom anything certain is known was a certain Emich II (d. before 1138), whose family became extinct in the male line when Count Frederick, a Minnesinger, died about 1220. Frederick's sister, Liutgarde, married Simon II, count of Saarbr├╝cken, and Frederick, one of their sons, inheriting the lands of the counts of Leiningen, took their arms and their name. Having increased its possessions the Leiningen family was divided about 1317 into two branches; the elder of these, whose head was a landgrave, died out in 1467. On this event its lands fell to a female, the last landgrave's sister Margaret, wife of Reinhard, lord of Westerburg, and their descendants were known as the family of Leiningen-Westerburg. Later this family was divided into two branches, those of Alt-Leiningen-Westerburg and Neu-Leiningen-Westerburg, both of which are represented today.

Meanwhile the younger branch of the Leiningens, known as the family of Leiningen-Dagsburg, was flourishing, and in 1560 this was divided into the lines of Leiningen-Dagsburg-Hartenburg, founded by Count Johann Philip (d. 1562), and Leiningen-Dagsburg-Heidesheim or Falkenburg, founded by Count Emicho (d. 1593). In 1779 the head of the former line was raised to the rank of a prince of the Empire. In 1801 this family was deprived of its lands on the left bank of the Rhine by France, but in 1803 it received ample compensation for these losses. A few years later its possessions were mediatized, and they are now included mainly in Baden, but partly in Bavaria and in Hesse.

A former head of this family, Prince Emich Charles, married Maria Louisa Victoria, princess of Saxe-Coburg; after his death in 1814 the princess married Prince Edward Augustus, Duke of Kent and Strathearn, a younger son of George III, by whom she became the mother of Queen Victoria. In 1910 the head of the family was Prince Emich (b. 1866).

The family of Leiningen-Dagsburg-Heidesheim was divided into three branches, the two senior of which became extinct. At present it is represented by the counts of Leiningen-Guntersblum and Leiningen-Heidesheim, called also Leiningen-Billigheim and Leiningen-Neidenau.

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