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County of Nassau-Saarbrücken
Grafschaft Nassau-Saarbrücken (de)
State of the Holy Roman Empire


Coat of arms

County of Nassau-Saarbrücken (beige, l.), about 1400
Capital Saarbrücken
Government Principality
Historical era Middle Ages
Early modern period
 -  Inherited by
    by Nassau-Weilburg
 -  Joined
    Upper Rhenish Circle
 -  Held in personal union
    by Nassau-Weilburg
 -  Inherited by
 -  Annexed by France 1797

The County of Saarbrücken was an Imperial State in the Upper Lorraine region, with its capital at Saarbrücken. From 1381 it belonged to the Walram branch of the Rhenish House of Nassau.

County of Saarbrücken

Around the year 1080 King Henry IV of Germany vested one Count Siegbert in the Saargau with the Carolingian Kaiserpfalz at Wadgassen on the Saar River and further possessions held by the Bishops of Metz in the Bliesgau as well as in the adjacent Alsace and Palatinate regions as a fiefdom.

In the course of the fierce Investiture Controversy, the rise of the comital dynasty continued with the appointment of Siegbert's son Adalbert as Archbishop of Mainz in 1111, and in 1118 his elder brother Frederick was first mentioned with the title of a "Count of Saarbrücken". However, Frederick's son Simon I had to face the slighting of his Saarbrücken residence by the forces of Emperor Frederick Barbarossa in 1168. Upon his death about 1183, the county was divided into two parts, when the Palatinate territories were separated to form the basis of the County of Zweibrücken. The Alsatian possessions had been lost already around 1120.

When the comital House of Leiningen became extinct in 1212, the Counts of Saarbrücken by jure uxoris inherited their Palatinate possessions around Altleiningen Castle, where they established the younger line of the Counts of Leiningen as a cadet branch. Simon III of Saarbrücken, count from 1207, was a loyal supporter of the Imperial House of Hohenstaufen and of Philip of Swabia. He later joined the Fifth Crusade and, as he had no male heirs, reached the acknowledgement of the inheritance by his daughter Laurette. His younger daughter Mathilda, who succeeded her sister in 1272, managed to secure her right of succession by marrying Count Simon of Commercy who from 1271 called himself Count of Saarbrücken-Commercy.

Saarbrücken received town privileges in 1322. Count John I, liensman of the Lorraine dukes, joined the Luxembourg king Henry VII of Germany on his campaign to Italy and fought with Henry's son John of Bohemia on the French side in the Hundred Years' War. His grandson, the last Count John II of Saarbrücken, likewise fought with the French in the 1354 Battle of Poitiers, where he and King John II of France were captured and until the 1360 Treaty of Brétigny imprisoned at Wallingford Castle. Vested with the Lordship of Vaucouleurs as well with the title of a Grand Butler of France, he nevertheless had to pawn large parts of his possessions to Archbishop Baldwin of Trier. With John's death in 1381 the male line ended again. As his daughter Johanna had married Count John I of Nassau-Weilburg in 1353, their son Philipp I inherited the County of Saarbrücken.

County of Nassau-Saarbrücken

Philipp I ruled both Nassau-Saarbrücken and Nassau-Weilburg and in 1393 inherited through his wife Johanna of Hohenlohe the lordships Kirchheimbolanden and Stauf. He also received half of Nassau-Ottweiler in 1393 and other territories later during his reign. After his death in 1429 the territories around Saarbrücken and along the Lahn were kept united until 1442, when they were again divided among his sons into the lines Nassau-Saarbrücken (west of the Rhine) and Nassau-Weilburg (east of the Rhine), the so-called Younger line of Nassau-Weilburg.

In 1507 Count John Ludwig I significantly enlarged his territory by marrying Catharine, the daughter of the last Count of Moers-Saarwerden and in 1527 inherited the County of Sarrewerden including the lordship of Lahr. Though after his death in 1544 the county was split into three parts, the three lines (Ottweiler, Saarbrücken proper and Kirchheim) were all extinct in 1574 and all of the Nassau-Saarbrücken was united with Nassau-Weilburg until the year 1629. This new division however was not executed until the Thirty Years War was over and in 1651 three counties were established: Nassau-Idstein, Nassau-Weilburg and Nassau-Saarbrücken.

Only eight years later, Nassau-Saarbrücken was again divided into:

By 1728 Nassau-Saarbrücken was united with Nassau-Usingen which had inherited Nassau-Ottweiler and Nassau-Idstein. In 1735 Nassau-Usingen was divided again into Nassau-Usingen and Nassau-Saarbrücken. In 1797 Nassau-Usingen finally inherited Nassau-Saarbrücken, it was (re-)unified with Nassau-Weilburg and raised to the Duchy of Nassau in 1806. The first Duke of Nassau was Frederick August of Nassau-Usingen who died in 1816. Wilhelm, Duke of Nassau-Weilburg inherits the Duchy of Nassau.

The coat of arms combined the lion of the counts of the Saargau with the crosses of the house of Commercy, and was used when the coat of arms of Saarland was created.


reign name born died family
1381-1429 Philip I 1368 2-7-1429
1429/42-1472 John II 4-4-1423 25-7-1472 son
1472-1545 John Louis 19-10-1472 4-6-1545 son
1545-1554 Philip II 25-7-1509 19-6-1554 son
1554-1574 John III 5-4-1511 23-11-1574 brother
1574-1602 Philip IV 14-10-1542 12-3-1602 son of Philip III of Nassau-Weilburg
1602-1627 Louis II 9-8-1565 8-11-1627 brother's son
1625/7-1640 William Louis 18-12-1590 22-8-1640 son
1640-1642 Crato 7-11-1621 14-7-1642 son
1642-1659 John Louis 24-5-1625 9-2-1690 brother
1642-1677 Gustav Adolph 27-3-1632 9-10-1677 brother
1677-1713 Louis Crato 28-3-1663 14-2-1713 son
1713-1723 Charles Louis 6-1-1665 6-12-1723 brother
1723-1728 Frederick Louis 3-11-1651 25-5-1728 son of John Louis
1728-1735 Charles 31-12-1712 21-6-1775 son of William Henry I of Nassau-Usingen, second cousin of Frederick Louis
1735/42-1768 William Henry II 6-3-1718 24-7-1768 brother
1768-1794 Louis 3-1-1745 2-3-1794 son
1794-1797 Henry 9-3-1768 27-4-1797 son

See also


  • The Dutch Nassau-Saarbrücken and the German Nassau-Saarbrücken World Heritage Encyclopedia articles
  • The divisions of the House of Nassau chart
  • Sante, Wilhelm. Geschichte der Deutschen Länder - Territorien-Ploetz. Würzburg 1964.
  • Köbler, Gerhard. Historisches Lexikon der Deutschen Länder. München 1988.
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