House of Alvensleben

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Coat of arms of Alvensleben Alvensleben-Wappen.png
Coat of arms of Alvensleben

The House of Alvensleben [1] is an ancient, Low German (niederdeutsch) noble family from the Altmark region, whose earliest known member, Wichard de Alvensleve, is first mentioned in 1163 as a ministerialis of the Bishopric of Halberstadt. The family name derives from Alvensleben Castle (today Bebertal, district of Börde in Saxony-Anhalt). They are one of the oldest extant German aristocratic families.



Alvensleben Castle Burg Alvensleben.jpg
Alvensleben Castle

The family line begins with Gebhard von Alvensleben, probably Wichard's son, mentioned between 1190 and 1216. The Alvenslebens were hereditary seneschals (Erbtruchsessen) of the Bishopric and Principality of Halberstadt from the 12th century. In the beginning, they served as Burgmannen in the bishop's castle of Alvensleben. Around 1270 they acquired their own family estate, Erxleben Castle, and, around 1324, Kalbe Castle.

Friedrich von Alvensleben (c 1265-1313) was master of the Knights Templar in their German and Slavic districts. His elder brothers founded two branches, the white and the black Alvenslebens, whereas the red branch died out in 1553.

The family acquired many further estates, some located in the Archbishopric of Magdeburg, the Margraviate of Brandenburg and the Duchy of Brunswick. Gebhard XIV. von Alvensleben (mentioned 1393–1425) was part of the noblemen's opposition against Frederick I, Elector of Brandenburg, the first Hohenzollern to rule Brandenburg, but was later subdued by him.

The family generated two catholic bishops of Havelberg in the 15th and 16th centuries, but then became Lutheran Protestants. Joachim I. von Alvensleben (1514-1588) promoted the reformation in the Altmark region. The family provided many heads of government in this province, as well as a number of ministers, generals and diplomats in different Northern German states. Several lines of the family were made Prussian counts, beginning in 1798, [2] and the family received a hereditary seat in the Prussian House of Lords. Most of their properties were expropriated in 1945 in communist East Germany. Their main family estates were:

Coat of arms

The family coat of arms shows in gold two red fesses, the upper one emblazoned with two, the lower one with one silver roses. On the helmet with its red and gold mantling there is an upright, gnarled branch in red and gold, two branches to the right and one to the left, crowned with a silver rose.



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  1. Williams, Gerhild Scholz. Ways of Knowing in Early Modern Germany. Oxford: Routledge, 2017. p. 44.
  2. „Alvensleben, Johann August Ernst Graf von“ from Ferdinand Spehr in: Allgemeine Deutsche Biographie, herausgegeben von der Historischen Kommission bei der Bayerischen Akademie der Wissenschaften, Band 1 (1875), pp. 377–378.