Duchy of Merania

Last updated
The family of Duke Berthold, from the Hedwig Codex. Andechsove.jpg
The family of Duke Berthold, from the Hedwig Codex.

The Duchy of Merania [lower-alpha 1] was a fiefdom of the Holy Roman Empire from 1152 until 1248. The dukes of Merania were recognised as princes of the Empire enjoying imperial immediacy at a time when these concepts were just coming into use to distinguish the highest ranks of imperial nobility. [1]


The name "Merania" ("sea-land") probably comes from the Slavic word for sea, morje (cognate with German Meer, Latin mare), and refers to its location on the Adriatic. [2]


The exact territorial extent of Merania is unknown. It probably included the town of Fiume (Rijeka) and the coast of the Kvarner Gulf, either on the Istrian peninsula or across from it. [3] [4] [5] The author of the Historia de expeditione Friderici imperatoris , an account of Barbarossa's crusade of 1190, writing around 1200, refers to "the Duke of Dalmatia, also called Croatia or Merania", specifying (imprecisely) that the duchy neighboured Zahumlje and Raška. The actual duchy contained at most only a small part of the region of Dalmatia, which had historically belonged to Croatia. By the twelfth century, Croatia was in a personal union with Hungary. [6]

This territory came under imperial control during the reign of Henry IV. According to the fourteenth-century Chronicon pictum Vindobonense (Viennese Illustrated Chronicle), the "march of Dalmatia" (marchia Dalmacie) was occupied by the Carinthians between 1064 and 1068 during the reign of Dmitar Zvonimir, who in fact was not king of Croatia until 1075. Despite this inconsistency in the chronicle, several modern historians, led by Ljudmil Hauptmann, have connected this Dalmatian borderland with the later duchy of Merania. [7] [8] According to the historians Miho Barada and Lujo Margetić, it was the accession of the young King Stephen II of Hungary in 1116 that provided an opportunity for the Emperor Henry V to annex the entire eastern coast of Istria and the coast opposite as far as the river Rječina, including the city of Fiume. This territory, conquered for the emperor by the lords of Duino (Devin), became known as Merania. [9] It is not clear to what extent the Meranian dukes of the Dachau or Andechs lines ever managed to exert their control over the region. [8]

There are other theories proposing a different etymology of "Merania". Erwin Herrmann argues that the name cannot have actually been in use as the name of a region, since it is unknown save as the name of the duchy that existed between 1152 and 1248. He argues that it is probably formed from the name of the seat of the lordship, which he identifies with the town of Marano Lagunare. The region he identifies as that between the rivers Tagliamento and Corno. [10]

In older literature, Merania is sometimes mistakenly identified with Meran, a town in the Tyrol, because the Andechser dukes held land in the Tyrol. [11] August Dimitz, while correcting the Tyrolean error, equates Merania with the march of Istria. [12]

House of Dachau (1152–1180)

The duchy of Merania was created for the Wittelsbach Count Conrad II of Dachau by the Emperor Frederick Barbarossa during an Imperial Diet at Regensburg in June 1152 by separating some lordships from the marches of Carniola and Istria, which were under the jurisdiction of the Duchy of Bavaria. Merania thus bordered the Kingdom of Croatia, which belonged to Hungary. This was done despite the fact that the Diet had refused to approve Frederick's proposed invasion of Hungary. Rather than an attempt to circumvent the diet in his designs on Hungary, it can be seen as part of a more general policy, pre-dating Frederick's reign, of elevating noblemen of the rank of count to that of duke as a counterweight to the powerful hereditary dukes of the so-called stem duchies (like Bavaria). It was also part of a reorganisation of the southeastern frontier that included the creation of the Duchy of Austria in 1156. [2] [13]

The historian Wilhelm Wegener has proposed that Merania was created out of lands claimed by Conrad through his mother, Willibirg, daughter of Udalschalk, count of Lurngau, and Adelaide, daughter of Margrave Ulrich I of Carniola. He proposed that Willibirg was heir to Adelaide, who was heir to her brother Ulrich II (died 1112). Thus, the creation of Conrad's duchies was a partial vindication of his claims on Carniola and had a hereditary basis. This theory had not found wide acceptance, since several duchies were created in Germany in the twelfth century with no cleary hereditary basis. [14] [15]

These new ducal titles created in the twelfth century were often based on insignificant or diminished territories. Merania was small, with little in the way of rights or income for its holder. [16] The ducal title that technically pertained only to the newly acquired territory was thus also often used in conjunction with the dynastic seat, and Conrad was thus sometimes known as the Duke of Dachau. [17] Bishop Otto I of Freising, in his history of Barbarossa's reign, calls Conrad the Duke of Croatia and Dalmatia, an impressive if imprecise title that alluded to the origin of the lands in question as part of Croatia. [18]

It has been argued that since neither Duke Conrad I nor his son, Conrad II, is ever recorded as having visited the region around the Istrian peninsula or the Kvarner Gulf, it is more likely that their title referred to unspecified lands around the southeastern frontier but not actually under imperial control. On this theory, Merania was at first a purely titular dignity for the Dachauers that only became a territorial reality under the Andechsers, who created it out of lands they held in the far southeast. [19]

House of Andechs (1180–1248)

In 1180, Frederick Barbarossa transferred Merania to Berthold, the son of the count of Andechs. This was probably done in order to maintain a balance of power and rank between the House of Andechs and the House of Wittelsbach, which had received the Duchy of Bavaria earlier that year. [20] Although some sources ascribe the transfer of Merania to Conrad's death and propose that Berthold was his heir through his mother, in fact Conrad II did not die until 1182. The transfer of 1180 was part of a reorganization of the southeastern frontier by the emperor. [15]

Berthold inherited the marches of Istria and Carniola from his father in 1188. Although the Andechsers' primary lands lay elsewhere in the Empire, their southeastern connection involved them in its foreign affairs. When Barbarossa passed through the Balkans on his crusade in 1189, he negotiated the marriage of one of Berthold's daughters to Toljen, the eldest son of Prince Miroslav of Zahumlje, a younger brother of Grand Prince Stefan Nemanja of Serbia. Although Berthold consented, the marriage probably never took place. In any case, the Duke of Merania was considered a near neighbour of the Serb princes. [6] [21] The Andechsers pushed the empire's southeastern frontier further south, acquiring Gottschee, Črnomelj and Metlika for Merania–Carniola at the expense of Croatia. [22]

On Berthold's death in 1204 Merania went to his eldest son, Otto I, and Istria to a younger son, Henry. [16] In the 1240s, the duke of Merania, Otto II, who had numerous possessions throughout southern Germany, was involved in a dispute with the duke of Bavaria that turned into open warfare. [23] In 1248, the duchy fell vacant with the extinction of the Andechs-Meranier and was broken up, mostly going to Istria. [1] [23]

List of dukes


  1. German: Herzogtum Meranien, Italian: Ducato di Merania, Slovene: Vojvodina Meranija, Croatian: Vojvodina Meranije

Related Research Articles

Philip of Swabia was a prince of the House of Hohenstaufen and king of Germany from 1198 to 1208. In the long-term struggle for the German throne upon the death of Emperor Henry VI between the Hohenstaufen and Welf dynasties, he was the first German king to be assassinated.

Frederick I was Duke of Swabia from 1079 to his death, the first ruler from the House of Hohenstaufen (Staufer).

Andechs Abbey abbey

The Benedictine priory and erstwhile abbey of Andechs is a place of pilgrimage on a hill east of the Ammersee in the Landkreis of Starnberg in Germany, in the municipality Andechs. Andechs Abbey is famed for its flamboyant Baroque church and its brewery, Klosterbrauerei Andechs. Composer Carl Orff is buried in the church.

Berthold II, Duke of Carinthia Duke of Carinthia

Berthold II, Duke of Carinthia, also known as Berthold I of Zähringen, was a progenitor of the Swabian House of Zähringen. From 1061 until 1077, he was the Duke of Carinthia and Margrave of Verona.

Otto I, Duke of Bavaria First Duke of Bavaria of the House of Wittelsbach

Otto I, called the Redhead, was Duke of Bavaria from 1180 until his death. He was also called Otto VI as Count Palatine of Bavaria from 1156 to 1180. He was the first Bavarian ruler from the House of Wittelsbach, a dynasty which reigned until the abdication of King Ludwig III of Bavaria in the German Revolution of 1918.

Berthold, Duke of Merania Duke of Merania and Margrave of Istria

Berthold IV, a member of the House of Andechs, was Margrave of Istria and Carniola. By about 1180/82 he already bore the title of Duke of Merania, that is, the Adriatic seacoast of Dalmatia and Istria.

March of Carniola Wikimedia list article

The Marchof Carniola was a southeastern state of the Holy Roman Empire in the High Middle Ages, the predecessor of the Duchy of Carniola. It corresponded roughly to the central Carniolan region of present-day Slovenia. At the time of its creation, the march served as a frontier defense against the Kingdoms of Hungary and Croatia.

Otto III, Count of Burgundy Count of Burgundy

Otto III, a member of the House of Andechs, was Count of Burgundy from 1231 and last Duke of Merania from 1234 until his death.

Otto I, Duke of Merania Duke of Merania

Otto I, a member of the House of Andechs, was Duke of Merania from 1204 until his death. He was also Count of Burgundy from 1208 to 1231, by his marriage to Countess Beatrice II, and Margrave of Istria and Carniola from 1228 until his death.

Bernhard von Spanheim Duke of Carinthia

Bernhard von Spanheim, a member of the noble House of Sponheim, was Duke of Carinthia for 54 years from 1202 until his death. A patron of chivalry and minnesang, Bernhard's reign marked the emergence of the Carinthian duchy as an effective territorial principality.

March of Istria historical State (789-1919)

The March of Istria was originally a Carolingian frontier march covering the Istrian peninsula and surrounding territory conquered by Charlemagne's son Pepin of Italy in 789. After 1364, it was the name of the Istrian province of the Habsburg Monarchy, the Austrian Empire and Austria-Hungary.

Counts of Andechs noble family

The House of Andechs was a feudal line of German princes in the 12th and 13th century. The Counts of Dießen-Andechs obtained territories in northern Dalmatia on the Adriatic seacoast, where they became Margraves of Istria and ultimately dukes of a short-lived imperial state named Merania from 1180 to 1248.

Conrad I was the Duke of Merania from 1152 until his death. Thitherto he had been the advocate of St Andreas at Freising since 1150 and Count of Dachau from 1152.

Berthold III, a member of the Bavarian House of Andechs, was Margrave of Istria from 1173 until his death.

Windic March

The Windic March was a medieval frontier march of the Holy Roman Empire, roughly corresponding to the Lower Carniola (Dolenjska) region in present-day Slovenia. In Slovenian historiography, it is known as Slovene March.

Agnes of Merania (1215-1263) Austrian duchess and royal consort

Agnes of Merania, a member of the House of Andechs was an Austrian royal consort. By her two marriages she was Duchess of Austria from 1230 until 1243 and Duchess of Carinthia from 1256 until her death.

Heilika of Pettendorf-Lengenfeld Countess Palatine of Bavaria

Heilika of Pettendorf-Lengenfeld was by marriage Countess Palatine of Bavaria.

Berthold (patriarch of Aquileia) Roman Catholic archbishop

Berthold was the Count of Andechs from 1204, the Archbishop of Kalocsa from 1206 until 1218, and from 1218 the Patriarch of Aquileia until his death.

Matilda of Andechs was a daughter of Margrave Berthold I of Istria and his first wife, Hedwig of Dachau-Wittelsbach.

Berthold II of Andechs, a member of the House of Andechs, was a German nobleman. He was a ruling count of Dießen and Andechs in the Duchy of Bavaria, of Plassenburg and Kulmbach in Franconia, as well as bailiff of Benediktbeuern Abbey.


  1. 1 2 Wilson 2016, pp. 360–61.
  2. 1 2 Reindel 1981, pp. 340–41 and n. 118.
  3. Štular 2009, p. 23.
  4. Arnold 1991, p. 98.
  5. Lyon 2013, p. xv, has a map showing its probable location.
  6. 1 2 Loud 2010, p. 62.
  7. Klaić 1965, pp. 272–74.
  8. 1 2 Köbler 2007, p. 425.
  9. Kraljic 1989, p. 160.
  10. Herrmann 1975, p. 10–14.
  11. Baillie-Grohman 1907, p. 73.
  12. Dimitz 2013, p. 109 n. 4.
  13. Wilson 2016, p. 358.
  14. Cawley 2015, ch. 3, C. Grafen von Dachau.
  15. 1 2 Komac 2003, p. 286.
  16. 1 2 Lyon 2013, p. 161.
  17. Arnold 1991, p. 99.
  18. Otto & Rahewin 1966, I.xxvi (p. 60) and IV.xvii (p. 252).
  19. Spindler & Kraus 1988, pp. 14–15 and n. 9.
  20. Lyon 2013, p. 115.
  21. Lyon 2013, p. 154.
  22. Dimitz 2013, p. 109.
  23. 1 2 Arnold 1991, p. 109.
Further reading
External links