House of Hohenzollern
Imperial Coat of arms of Germany
Country Germany, Romania
Titles Count of Zollern
Margrave of Brandenburg
Duke of Prussia
Burgrave of Nuremberg
Margrave of Bayreuth
Margrave of Brandenburg-Ansbach
King of Prussia
German Emperor
Prince of Neuchâtel
King of Romania
Founder Burgrave Frederick I of Nuremberg
Final ruler Germany and Prussia:
Emperor William II (1888–1918)

King Michael (1927–1930, 1940–1947)

Current head Germany and Prussia:
HI&RH Prince Georg Friedrich (1994–)

HH Prince Karl Friedrich (2010–)

HM King Michael (1947–2017)

Founding year 1050s
Deposition Germany and Prussia:
1918: German Revolution
1947: Stalinist take-over
Cadet branches Hohenzollern-Hechingen (extinct)
Hohenzollern-Haigerloch (extinct)

The House of Hohenzollern is a noble family and royal dynasty of electors, kings, and emperors of Brandenburg, Prussia, Germany, and Romania. It originated in the area around the town of Hechingen in Swabia during the 11th century. They took their name from their ancestral home, the Burg Hohenzollern castle near Hechingen.

The family uses the motto Nihil Sine Deo (English: Nothing Without God). The family coat of arms, first adopted in 1192, began as a simple shield quarterly sable and argent. A century later, in 1317, Frederick IV, Burgrave of Nuremberg, added the head and shoulders of a hound as a crest.[1] Later quartering reflected heiresses’ marriages into the family.

The family split into two branches, the Catholic Swabian branch and the Protestant Franconian branch, known also as the Kirschner line.[2] The Swabian branch ruled the area of Hechingen until the revolution of 1848/49. The Franconian branch was more successful: members of the Franconian branch became Margrave of Brandenburg in 1415 and Duke of Prussia in 1525. Following the union of these two Franconian lines in 1618, the Kingdom of Prussia was created in 1701, eventually leading to the unification of Germany and the creation of the German Empire in 1871, with the Hohenzollerns as hereditary emperors and kings of Prussia.

Germany's defeat in World War I led to the German Revolution. The Hohenzollerns were overthrown and the Weimar Republic was established, thus bringing an end to the modern German monarchy.

Georg Friedrich, Prince of Prussia, is the current head of the House of Hohenzollern. On 27 August 2011, Georg Friedrich was married to Princess Sophie Johanna Maria of Isenburg. On 20 January 2013, Princess Sophie gave birth to twin sons, Carl Friedrich Franz Alexander and Louis Ferdinand Christian Albrecht, in Bremen. Carl Friedrich, the elder of the two, is the heir apparent.[3]


One of the most prominent ruling houses in the history of Europe, the Hohenzollern Dynasty played a major role in the history of Germany from the late Middle Ages until the end of World War I. It takes its name from a castle in Swabia first mentioned as Zolorin or Zolre (the modern Hohenzollern, south of Tübingen, in the Land Baden-Württemberg).

Counts of Zollern (1061–1204)[]

Hohenzollern Castle, Swabia


Frederick I, Count of Zollern, baptized in 980 - Picture from Peleș Castle (top), and Burkhard I, Count of Zollern, baptized in 1080 - Picture from Peleș Castle

The oldest known mention of the Zollern was in 1061 by Berthold of Reichenau. It was a county, ruled by the counts of Zollern, whose descent has been attempted to be linked (without success) to the Burchardinger dynasty.[4]

  • until 1061: Burkhard I
  • before 1125: Frederick I
  • between ca. 1125 and 1142: Frederick II, eldest son of Frederick I[5]:XLI
  • between ca. 1143 and 1150-1155: Burkhard II, 2nd oldest son of Frederick I[5]:XLI
  • between ca. 1150-1155 and 1160: Gotfried of Zimmern, 4th oldest son of Frederick I[5]:XLI
  • before 1171 – c. 1200: Frederick III/I (son of Frederick II, also Burgrave of Nuremberg)

Count Frederick III of Zollern was a loyal retainer of the Holy Roman Emperors Frederick Barbarossa and Henry VI, and around 1185 he married Sophia of Raabs, the daughter of Conrad II, Burgrave of Nuremberg.

After the death of Conrad II, often referred to as Kurt II who left no male heirs, Frederick III was granted the burgraviate of Nuremberg in 1192 as Burgrave Frederick I of Nuremberg-Zollern. Since then the family name has been Hohenzollern.

After Frederick's death, his sons partitioned the family lands between themselves:

  • The older brother,[6] Frederick IV, received the county of Zollern and burgraviate of Nuremberg in 1200 from his father, thereby founding the Swabian branch of the House of Hohenzollerns. The Swabian line remained Catholic.
  • The younger brother,[6] Conrad III, received the burgraviate of Nuremberg from his older brother Frederick IV in 1218, thereby founding the Franconian branch of the House of Hohenzollern. The Franconian line later converted to Protestantism.

Franconian branch[]

The cadet Franconian branch of the House of Hohenzollern was founded by Conrad I, Burgrave of Nuremberg (1186-1261).

Beginning in the 16th century, this branch of the family became Protestant and decided on expansion through marriage and the purchase of surrounding lands.

The family supported the Hohenstaufen and Habsburg rulers of the Holy Roman Empire during the 12th to 15th centuries, and they were rewarded with several territorial grants.

In the first phase, the family gradually added to their lands, at first with many small acquisitions in the Franconian and Bavarian regions of Germany:

In the second phase, the family expanded their lands further with large acquisitions in the Brandenburg and Prussian regions of Germany and current Poland:

These acquisitions eventually transformed the Hohenzollerns from a minor German princely family into one of the most important in Europe.

Burgraves of Nuremberg (1192–1427)[]

COA family de Burggrafen von Nürnberg (Haus Hohenzollern).svg

Region of Nuremberg, Ansbach, Kulmbach and Bayreuth, (Franconia and Bavaria, Germany)

Frederick VI of Nuremberg, Margrave of Brandenburg

At Frederick V's death on 21 January 1398, his lands were partitioned between his two sons:

  • 1398–1420: John III/I (son of, also Margrave of Brandenburg-Kulmbach)
  • 1420–1427: Frederick VI/I/I, (brother of, also Elector of Brandenburg and Margrave of Brandenburg-Ansbach)

After John III/I's death on 11 June 1420, the two principalities were briefly reunited under Frederick VI/I/I. From 1412 Frederick VI became Margrave of Brandenburg as Frederick I and Elector of Brandenburg as Frederick I. From 1420, he became Margrave of Brandenburg-Kulmbach. Upon his death on 21 September 1440, his territories were divided between his sons:

From 1427 onwards the title of Burgrave of Nuremberg was absorbed into the titles of Margrave of Brandenburg-Ansbach and Margrave of Brandenburg-Kulmbach.

Margraves of Brandenburg-Ansbach (1398–1791)[]

Wappen Brandenburg-Ansbach.svg

On 2 December 1791, Christian II Frederick sold the sovereignty of his principalities to king Frederick William II of Prussia.

Margraves of Brandenburg-Kulmbach (1398–1604), later Brandenburg-Bayreuth (1604–1791)[]

Wappen Kulmbach.svg
Wappen von Bayreuth.svg

On 2 December 1791, Christian II Frederick sold the sovereignty of his principalities to king Frederick William II of Prussia.

From 1701 the title of Elector of Brandenburg was attached to the title of King in and of Prussia.

Dukes of Jägerndorf (1523–1622)[]

Krnov znak.png

The Duchy of Jägerndorf (Krnov) was purchased in 1523.

The duchy of Jägerndorf was confiscated by Ferdinand III of the Holy Roman Empire in 1622.

Brandenburg-Prussian Branch[]

Margraves of Brandenburg (1415–1819)[]

Joachim I Nestor, Elector of Brandenburg

Margraves of Brandenburg-Küstrin (1535–1571)[]

Wappen Kuestrin-Kietz.png

The short-lived Margraviate of Brandenburg-Küstrin was set up, against the Hohenzollern house laws on succession, as a secundogeniture fief of the House of Hohenzollern, a typical German institution.

He died without issue. The Margraviate of Brandenburg-Küstrin was absorbed in 1571 into the Margraviate and Electorate of Brandenburg.

Margraves of Brandenburg-Schwedt (1688–1788)[]

Wappen Schwedt.png

From 1688 onwards the Margraves of Brandenburg-Schwedt were a side branch of the House of Hohenzollern. Though recognised as a branch of the main dynasty the Margraviate of Brandenburg-Schwedt never constituted a principality with allodial rights of its own.

In 1788 the title was incorporated into the Kingdom of Prussia.

Dukes of Prussia (1525–1701)[]

POL Prusy książęce COA.svg

In 1525 the Duchy of Prussia was established as a fief of the King of Poland.

Ducal Prussia (red), shown within the Kingdom of Prussia (blue), within the German Empire (salmon), as at 1876

From 1701 the title of Duke of Prussia was attached to the title of King in and of Prussia.

Kings in Prussia (1701–1772)[]

Wappen Preußen.png

Frederick I, King in Prussia

In 1701 the title of King in Prussia was granted, without the Duchy of Prussia being elevated to a Kingdom within the Holy Roman Empire. From 1701 onwards the titles of Duke of Prussia and Elector of Brandenburg were always attached to the title of King in Prussia.

In 1772 the Duchy of Prussia was elevated to a kingdom.

Kings of Prussia (1772–1918)[]

Wappen Preußen.png

The Kingdom of Prussia (blue), within the German lands (salmon), as at 1818. The borders of the newly established German Confederation are shown as thick lines.

In 1772 the title of King of Prussia was granted with the establishment of the Kingdom of Prussia. From 1772 onwards the titles of Duke of Prussia and Elector of Brandenburg were always attached to the title of King of Prussia.

In 1871 the Kingdom of Prussia was a constituting member of the German Empire.

German Emperors (1871–1918)[]

Wappen Deutsches Reich - Reichsadler 2.png

The Kingdom of Prussia (blue), within the German Empire (salmon), as at 1876

Reigning (1871–1918)[]

Wilhelm II., German Emperor

In 1871 the German Empire was proclaimed. With the accession of Wilhelm I to the newly established imperial German throne, the titles of King of Prussia, Duke of Prussia and Elector of Brandenburg were always attached to the title of German Emperor.

Hohenzollern Reichswappen Kleines.png

In 1918 the German empire was abolished and replaced by the Weimar Republic.

Line of succession (1918 to present)[]

Prince Georg Friedrich, head of the Prussian branch of the House of Hohenzollern

After the outbreak of the German Revolution in 1918, both Emperor Wilhelm II and the Crown Prince Wilhelm signed the document of abdication, with effect only for their own person. Despite the abolition of the German monarchy in 1918, the House of Hohenzollern never relinquished its claims to the thrones of Prussia and the German Empire. These claims are linked by the Constitution of the second German Empire: according to this, whoever was King of Prussia was also German Emperor. However, these claims are not recognised by the Federal Republic of Germany and the German Constitution of 1949 guarantees democracy and republicanism.

In June 1926, a referendum on expropriating the formerly ruling princes of Germany without compensation failed and as a consequence, the financial situation of the Hohenzollern family improved considerably. A settlement between the state and the family made Cecilienhof property of the state but granted a right of residence to Crown Prince Wilhelm and his wife Cecilie. The family also kept the ownership of Monbijou Palace in Berlin, Oels Castle in Silesia, Rheinsberg Palace, Schwedt Palace and other property until 1945. The communist government of the Soviet occupation zone depropriated all landowners and industrialists, by which the House of Hohenzollern lost almost all of its fortune, leaving them only with a few company shares and Hohenzollern Castle in West Germany. The Polish government depropriated the Silesian property and the Dutch government seized Huis Doorn, the Emperor's exile seat. After the German reunification however, the family was legally able to claim their movable property back, namely art collections and parts of the interior of their former palaces. Negotiations on a return or compensation for these assets are not yet finished.

Name Titular
William II 1918–1941 Exiled in the Netherlands until his death
Crown Prince William 1941–1951
Prince Louis Ferdinand 1951–1994
Prince Georg Friedrich since 1994
Prince Carl Friedrich heir presumptive

The head of the house is the titular King of Prussia and German Emperor. He also bears a historical claim to the title of prince of Orange. Members of this line style themselves princes of Prussia.

Table of the House of Hohenzollern

Palaces of the Prussian Hohenzollern[]

Some important castles and palaces of the Prussian Hohenzollern were:

Swabian Senior Branch[]

Combined coat of arms of the House of Hohenzollern-Sigmaringen (1849).

The senior Swabian[6] branch of the House of Hohenzollern was founded by Frederick II, Burgrave of Nuremberg.

Ruling the minor German principalities of Hechingen, Sigmaringen and Haigerloch, this branch of the family decided to remain Roman Catholic and from 1567 onwards split into the Hohenzollern-Hechingen, Hohenzollern-Sigmaringen and Hohenzollern-Haigerloch branches. The Romanian branch of this family became Orthodox, starting from Ferdinand's I children. When the last count of Hohenzollern, Charles I of Hohenzollern (1512–1579) died, the territory was to be divided up between his three sons:

They never expanded from these three Swabian principalities, which was one of the reasons they became relatively unimportant in German history for much of their existence. However, they kept royal lineage and married members of the great royal European houses.

In 1767 the principality of Hohenzollern-Haigerloch was incorporated into the other two principalities. In 1850, the princes of both Hohenzollern-Hechingen and Hohenzollern-Sigmaringen abdicated their thrones, and their principalities were incorporated as the Prussian province of Hohenzollern.

The last ruling Prince of Hohenzollern-Sigmaringen, Karl Anton, would later serve as Minister-President of Prussia between 1858 and 1862.

The Hohenzollern-Hechingen finally became extinct in 1869. A descendent of this branch was Sophie Chotek, wife of Archduke Francis Ferdinand of Austria-Este.

However, a member of the Hohenzollern-Sigmaringen family, Charles Eitel, second son of prince Karl Anton, was chosen to become prince of Romania as Charles I in 1866. In 1881 Charles I became the first king of the Romanians.

Charles' older brother, Leopold, was offered the Spanish throne after a revolt removed queen Isabella II in 1870. Although encouraged by Bismarck to accept it, Leopold backed down once France's Emperor, Napoleon III, stated his objection. Despite this, France still declared war, beginning the Franco-Prussian war.

Charles I had only a daughter who died very young, so Leopold's younger son Ferdinand I would succeed his uncle as king of the Romanians in 1914, and his descendants continued to rule in Romania until the end of the monarchy in 1947.

In modern times this branch has been represented only by the last king, Michael I of Romania, and his daughters. The descendants of Leopold's oldest son William continue to use the titles of prince or princess of Hohenzollern.

King Michael renounced his connection in 2011.[7]

Counts of Hohenzollern (1204–1575)[]


Hohenzollern region, now in Württemberg, Germany (red color)

In 1204, the County of Hohenzollern was established out of the fusion of the County of Zollern and the Burgraviate of Nuremberg.

In 1575 the County of Hohenzollern was split in two Counties with allodial rights, Hohenzollern-Hechingen and Hohenzollern-Sigmaringen.

Counts of Hohenzollern-Haigerloch (1567–1630 and 1681–1767)[]

Wappen Haigerloch.svg

The County of Hohenzollern-Haigerloch was established in 1567 without allodial rights

  • 1575–1601 : Christopher of Hohenzollern-Haigerloch
  • 1601–1623 : John Christopher, Count of Hohenzollern-Haigerloch
  • 1601–1630 : Charles, Count of Hohenzollern-Haigerloch

Between 1630 and 1681 the county was temporarily integrated into the principality of Hohenzollern-Sigmaringen.

  • 1681–1702: Francis Anthony, Count of Hohenzollern-Haigerloch
  • 1702–1750: Ferdinand Leopold, Count of Hohenzollern-Haigerloch
  • 1750–1767: Francis Christopher Anton of Hohenzollern-Haigerloch

After the death of Francis Christopher Anton in 1767, the county of Hohenzollern-Haigenloch was definitively absorbed into the principality of Hohenzollern-Sigmaringen.

Counts, later Princes of Hohenzollern-Hechingen (1576–1623–1850)[]

Wappen Hechingen.svg
Wappen Landkreis Hechingen.png

The County of Hohenzollern-Hechingen was established in 1576 with allodial rights.

  • Eitel Frederick IV (1576–1605)
  • John George (1605–1623) (raised to Prince in 1623)
  • Eitel Frederick V (1623–1661) (also count of Hohenzollern-Hechingen)
  • Philip Christopher Frederick (1661–1671)
  • Frederick William (1671–1735)
  • Frederick Louis (1735–1750)
  • Josef Friedrich Wilhelm (1750–1798)
  • Hermann (1798–1810)
  • Friedrich (1810–1838)
  • Konstantin (1838–1850)

In 1850 the principality was sold to the Franconian branch of the family and incorporated into the Kingdom of Prussia. The branch became extinct in dynastic line with Konstantin's death in 1869.

Counts, later Princes of Hohenzollern-Sigmaringen (1576–1623–1849)[]


The County of Hohenzollern-Sigmaringen was established in 1576 with allodial rights and a seat at Sigmaringen Castle.

  • Karl II (1576–1606)
  • John (1606–1638) (elevated to Prince of Hohenzollern-Sigmaringen in 1623)
  • Meinrad I (1638–1681)
  • Maximilian I (1681–1689)
  • Meinrad II (1689–1715)
  • Joseph Frederick Ernest (1715–1769)
  • Charles Frederick (1769–1785)
  • Anton Aloys (1785–1831)
  • Karl III (1831–1848)
  • Karl Anton (1848–1849)

In 1850 the principality was sold to the Franconian branch of the family and incorporated into the kingdom of Prussia. Nevertheless, the family continued to use the princely title of Fürsten von Hohenzollern-Sigmaringen until 1869 and still use the title of Fürsten von Hohenzollern.

House of Hohenzollern-Sigmaringen after 1849[]

The princely House of Hohenzollern-Sigmaringen never relinquished their claims to the princely throne of Hohenzollern-Sigmaringen or the royal throne of Romania. Because the last reigning king of the Romanians, Michael I, has no male issue, upon his death the claim will devolve to the head of the House of Hohenzollern-Sigmaringen (or to the king's female line descendants, if one follows the amended Romanian house laws).

Karl Friedrich, Prince of Hohenzollern

  • 1849–1885: Karl Anton, Prince of Hohenzollern
  • 1885–1905: Leopold, Prince of Hohenzollern
  • 1905–1927: Wilhelm, Prince of Hohenzollern
  • 1927–1965: Friedrich, Prince of Hohenzollern
  • 1965–2010 : Friedrich Wilhelm, Prince of Hohenzollern-Sigmaringen
  • 2010 - current : Karl Friedrich, Prince of Hohenzollern
  • heir apparent: Alexander, Hereditary Prince of Hohenzollern

The head of the House of Hohenzollern-Sigmaringen, Karl Friedrich, is styled His Serene Highness The Prince of Hohenzollern. His official seat is Sigmaringen Castle.

Kings of the Romanians[]

Kingdom of Romania - Small CoA.svg

Reigning (1866–1947)[]

The Principality of Romania was established in 1862, after the Ottoman vassal states of Wallachia and Moldavia had been united in 1859 under Alexandru Ioan Cuza as Prince of Romania in a personal union.

King Michael in 1947

He was deposed in 1866 by the Romanian parliament which then invited a German prince of the Hohenzollern-Sigmaringen family, Charles, to become Prince of Romania under the name Prince Carol.

In 1881 the Principality of Romania was proclaimed a Kingdom. For dynastic reasons, Carol's grandchildren renounced Catholicism and were brought up in the Romanian Orthodox Church.

In 1947 the Kingdom of Romania was abolished and replaced with the People's Republic of Romania.

Succession (1947 until today)[]

Michael has retained his claim on the defunct Romanian throne. At present, the claim is not recognised by Romania, a republic. At 10 May 2011, Michael severed all of the dynastic and historical ties between the House of Romania and the House of Hohenzollern.[8]

Coat of arms of the Hohenzollerns, Brandenburg, Prussia, and the German Empire[]

An article on the Coat of arms of Prussia can be found. The explanation of the shield can be found at Great Shield of the Kings of Prussia (German).

Coat of arms of Prussia Coat of arms of Germany

See also[]

  • Kings of Germany family tree. The Hohenzollerns were the 15th dynasty to rule Germany and were related by marriage to all the others.
  • Coat of arms of Prussia
  • Coat of arms of Germany
  • House Order of Hohenzollern
  • Heil dir im Siegerkranz
  • Order of the Black Eagle and SUUM CUIQUE
  • Order of the Red Eagle and SINCERE ET CONSTANTER
  • Wilhelm-Orden
  • Order of the Crown (Prussia) and GOTT MIT UNS
  • Iron Cross
  • Peleș Castle


  1. ^ "A Royal Student Stein". Retrieved 2010-08-28. 
  2. ^ "Kingdom of Romania". Almanach de Saxe Gotha. Retrieved 2013-10-03. 
  3. ^ "Official Website of the House of Hohenzollern: Prinz Georg Friedrich von Preußen". 
  4. ^ Schultze, Johannes; Seigel, Rudolf (1972). "Hohenzollern, Dynastengeschlecht". Neue deutsche Biographie, Bd.: 9, Hess - Hüttig, Berlin. Bayerische Staatsbibliothek. Retrieved January 30, 2013. 
  5. ^ a b c Schmid, Ludwig (1862). "Geschichte der Grafen von Zollern-Hohenberg". Geschichte der Grafen von Zollern-Hohenberg. Anhang. Historisch-topographische Zusammenstellung der Grafschaft und Besitzungen des Hauses Zollern-Hohenberg. Google Book: Gebrüder Scheitlin. Retrieved February 1, 2013. 
  6. ^ a b c Heraldry of the Royal Families of Europe, Jiří Louda & Michael Maclagan, 1981, pp. 178-179.
  7. ^ "King Michael I broke ties with historical and dynastic House of Hohenzollern" in Adevarul - News Bucharest, 10 May 2011
  8. ^ "Romania's former King Michael ends ties with German Hohenzollern dynasty". The Canadian Press. Retrieved 2011-05-11. 

External links[]

Royal house
House of Hohenzollern
Founding year: 12th century
German unification Ruling House of Germany
18 January 1871 – 9 November 1918
German monarchies abolished
Prussia established Ruling House of Prussia
1525 – 9 November 1918
Romanian unification Ruling House of Romania
26 March 1881 – 30 December 1947
Romanian monarchy abolished

This page uses content from the English language Wikipedia. The original content was at House of Hohenzollern. The list of authors can be seen in the page history. As with this Familypedia wiki, the content of Wikipedia is available under the Creative Commons License.