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Margravate of Istria

The Margravate (or March) of Istria was originally a Carolingian frontier march (a border region similar to a frontier) covering the Istrian peninsula and surrounding territory conquered by Charlmagne's son Pepin of Italy in 789. The margravate was created in 799. After 1364 it was the name of the Istrian province of the Habsburg Monarchy, the Austrian Empire and Austria-Hungary.

799-1248 A.D.

Carolingian margravate

The Istrian Margravate (Mark Istrien) in the time of the Emperor Otto I (912-973). It is in the lower left, hatched alongside the other Bavarian marches. [Click image to see full map.)

Carolingian Istria was incorporated into the Carolingian Duchy of Friuli in eastern Italy, de facto a march with a merely titular ducal dignity. The Istrian margravate itself was first created following the death of Duke Eric of Friuli in the 799 Siege of Trsat. He was the margrave who had thitherto guarded the Pannonian plain which led into Italy and the heart of the Empire. The march was enfeoffed (enfeoffment, under the European feudal system, was the deed by which a person was given land in exchange for a pledge of service) to the Frankish count Hunfrid, who also bore the title of a dux Foroiulanus. The original Carolingian march covered the Julian Alps and the Kras (Carso) Plateau down to the Gulf of Kvarner. It was one of three marches, along with Friuli and Carantania, guarding eastern Lombardy from the Avars, Slavs, and Magyars successively.

In the first decade of the ninth century, Istria was ruled by a Duke John, nominally according to its ancient Byzantine customs, but in fact as a Frankish duchy. His name comes up with regards to Istria in the Placito del Risano of 804 A.D. The region at that time had nine cities, Trieste foremost among them. Under the Treaty of Aix-la-Chapelle of 812, by which the Byzantine Empire recognized the Frankish emperor Charlemagne, Istria, along with Dalmatia and Venetia, was returned to Byzantine control. The original Carolingian margravate covered the Julian Alps and the Kras (Carso) Plateau down to the Gulf of Kvarner. It was one of three margravate, along with Friuli and Carniola, guarding eastern Lombardy from the Avars, Slavs, and Magyars successively.

After the deposition of Duke Baldric, Emperor Louis the Pious at the 829 Reichstag in Worms finally divided the vast duchy into four counties, with Istria and Friuli ruled from Aquileia by Margrave Eberhard and his Unruoching descendants. It became part of Middle Francia after the 843 Treaty of Verdun, and was allotted to Emperor Louis II's Italian kingdom in 855.

Imperial Margravate

After the German king Otto I had campaigned northern Italy under King Berengar II, in 952 he granted the margrates of Verona and Istria to his brother Henry I of Bavaria, who already controlled the adjacent March of Carinthia (and Carniola?). After the deposition of Henry's son and successor Duke Henry the Wrangler in 976, Emperor Otto II separated Carinthia from the Bavarian stem duchy as a duchy in its own right, ruled by Duke Henry the Younger who was given suzerainty (a more powerful feudal entity controlling the foreign affairs of tributary vassal states) over the southeastern Bavarian marches, including Istria.

Counts of Istria appear late in the tenth century, but Istria, together with the March of Carniola, was separated in 1040 from the Carinthian Duchy when both were bestowed on the Thuringian Count Poppo of Weimar, heir by marriage to the last known Friulian margrave Weriand.

The Carniolan margraves gradually acquired the eastern territories, while the western and southern coast was gradually occupied by the Republic of Venice. The German king Henry IV nominally assigned the remaining march to the Patriarchate of Aquileia, the margravial title and the Istrian territories were however retained by Carniola.

In 1173 the Hohenstaufen Emperor Frederick Barbarossa enfeoffed the Bavarian noble House of Andechs, who attached Istria to their Duchy of Merania. Aquileia regained Istria in 1209, when the Andechs margraves were banned due to alleged entanglement in the assassination of the German king, Frederick Barbarossa's son Philip of Swabia. In 1209, the march was granted to the Patriarchate of Aquileia.

1250 - 1918

By 1250, most of the Istrian coast had been conquered by Venice and the march of Istria effectively ceased to exist. The patriarchs had ceased appointing margraves and had given the remaining interior of the peninsula into the direct control of their Vogt officials, the Counts of Görz (Gorizia). The Görz territories were finally acquired by the Habsburg archdukes of Austria in 1374, who since 1335 had held the Carniolan march. In 1382 they also gained control over the City of Trieste.

Hapsburg Margravate

After the secular territory of the Patriarchs of Aquileia had been completely conquered by Venice in 1420, most of Istria belonged to La Serenissima. The Austrian House of Habsburg only held a small territory in the interior of the peninsula around Pazin (Mitterburg, Pisino), which it administered from its Carniolan duchy. The Habsburg rulers nevertheless added the title of a "Margrave of Istria" to their other titles, persisting until the dissolution of the Austro-Hungarian monarchy in 1918.

Venetian Istria fell to the Habsburg Monarchy according to the 1797 Treaty of Campo Formio, was seized by Napoleon Bonaparte in the 1805 Peace of Pressburg as part of the Kingdom of Italy and the Illyrian Provinces and with the Kingdom of Illyria all of Istria was finally allotted to the Austrian Empire by the 1815 Congress of Vienna.

Austrian Litteral

Austrian Littoral, 1955

After the partition of the Illyrian kingdom in 1849, the Margravate of Istria became a subdivision of the crown land (Kronland) known as the Austrian Littoral (Österreichisches Küstenland in German; Litorale Austriaco in Italian) or Küstenland within the Austrian Empire from in 1813 until 1867, receiving considerable autonomy with the establishment of the Diet of Istria at Poreč (Parenzo) granted by the "Imperial Constitution of 1861" (February Patent), adopted from a letters patent issued by Austrian Emperor Franz Joseph I  in February 1861.

The Austrian Littoral included the Imperial Free City of Trieste and its suburbs, the Margraviate of Istria, and the Princely County of Gorizia and Gradisca, which each had independent administrations, but were all subject to the Imperial Governor in Trieste, the capital of the Littoral.

Trieste had strategic importance as Austria-Hungary's primary seaport and the coast of the Littoral was a resort destination, the Austrian Riviera. The region was a multi-national one with Italians, Slovenes, Croats, Germans, Friulians, and Istriots being the main ethnic groups. In 1910, it had an area of 7,969 square kilometres (3,077 sq. mi.) and a population of 894,287.

In 1867, the Austrian Littoral became a crown land of Austria-Hungary which lasted until 1918. An area of similar extent under the name of Adriatic Littoral (Adriatisches Küstenland) was one of the operational zones of German forces during World War II after the capitulation of Italy in September 1943 until the end of the war.

Margraves (Marchesi) of Istria

[Note: this is work-in-progress which is derived solely from online sources containing discrepancies in names, titles and dates.]

Hunfrid I c. 799, died 808 or later Margrave of Istria and, according to some sources, Duke of Friuli from 799 to circa 804, when a Duke John is found ruling Istria. He was the founder of the family called the Hunfridings.

Hunfrid first appears in Istria as marchio in 799, the same year that Eric of Friuli died. He was an Aleman and a count in (or of) Rhaetia, where he is found in 806 and 808. Based on his presence in a list of personages in the libri memoriales of Reichenau and Sankt Gallen, he is presumed to have married Hitta (Hidda), an Udalriching and probably the niece or granddaughter of Gerold of Vinzgouw and thus a cousin or niece of Hunfrid's predecessor in Italy, Eric. Based on the same memorial books, he is probably the father of Adalbert, his successor in Rhaetia, Odalric, who became Count of Barcelona in another part of the Empire, and Hunfrid II, who became dux super Redicam (duke over Rhaetia) and father of the later Hunfriding Dukes of Swabia.

John of Istria, Duke c. 804 Frankish Duke of Istria in the early years of the 9th century, soon after its conquest by Charlemagne.

In 804, the denizens of the nine cities of Istria complained to Charlemagne that John was ignoring their ancient privileges [Placito del Risano]. John had taken away the privileges of sea-fishing and pasturing in public forests. He had abolished the old hierarchy and either abolished the offices of tribune, domesticus, vicarius, and hypatus or filled them Franks. He seized lands and confiscated the taxes (344 "solidi mancusi" annually from the cities) for himself. He forced many to serve in the army personally, alongside their slaves, and to demand corvée labour. John explained that he had been ignorant of the customs of Istria and promised to make amends and ceased exacting corvées. It is unknown if he did. [Source: Wickham, Chris. Early Medieval Italy: Central Power and Local Society 400-1000. MacMillan Press: 1981.]

Weriand - He was made Count of Friuli and Istria (large estates that were then part of the Carinthian duchy) from the hands of Emperor Otto III. He married Willibirg of Sieghardinger (b. after 1040) who was the daughter of Ulrich, Count of Carniola (Sieghardinger), and Richgardis of Viebach (Eppensteiner), and sister of Eberhard Marchese di Carniola and Graf von Ebersberg, who died without surviving issue. Weriand and his wife had two children - Liutgard and Hadamut [Azica] (after 1040), the latter of whom inherited his titled estates in Istria.
Hadamut - Countess of Friuli and Istria, she was the daughter of Count Weriand and Wilbirg of Sieghardinger. She married Poppo I who became Margrave of Istria through her inheritence. She was mother (before 1045) of Ulrich I, Count of Istria and Carniola.
Poppo I of Carniola
(a.k.a. Boppo)
1012-1044 (died 13 July, before 1044) Margrave of Istria and Carniola from 1012 to his death, Poppo was the son of a noble family of Thuringia. His father was either William II or William III of Weimar, the son of a comital family from Weimar in the Imperial Landgraviate of Thuringia. His mother was probably Oda, daughter of the Saxon margrave Thietmar. He married Hadamut, the daughter of Weriand, Count of Istria, and thus inherited a claim to the Istrian peninsula. She gave him one son, Ulric I, who succeeded his father in 1045. After King Henry III of Germany inherited Carinthia, he established the Margrave of Istria and Carniola in 1040. As his wife's mother was related to the Bavarian Counts of Ebersberg, who held possessions in Carniola, Poppo was also appointed Carniolan margrave in 1040.
Ulric I of Carniola
(a.k.a.  Ulrich, Odalric[o], or Udalrich)
1060-1070 (born before 1045, died 6 March 1070) Margrave of Carniola and Carinthia from 1045 and Margrave of Istria from 1060. He was the son and successor of Poppo I and Hadamut of Friuli and Istria. He married Sophie, princess of Hungary, and they had two children: Poppo II, Count of Weimer, and Rickart (Ricardis) of Weimer.

On 31 July 1064, the Emperor Henry IV donated land "in pago Histrie... in comitatu Odalrici marchionis" ("in the country of Istria... in the county of Margrave Ulric") to "prefato Odalrico marchioni" ("the prefect Ulric, margrave"). Again on 5 March 1067, Henry donated land "in pago Istria in marcha Odalrici marchionis" ("in the country of Istria in the march of Margrave Ulric"), this time to the church Freising. Ulric was recorded as "Odalricus marchio Carentinorum" ("Ulric, margrave of the Carinthians") on his death. Ulric married Sophia, daughter of Bela I of Hungary and his first wife, Ryksa or Richeza, daughter of Casimir I of Poland. Alternatively, it has been suggested that she was the daughter of Bela and his second wife, Tuta von Formbach. Sophia was a sister of Ladislaus I of Hungary. Another alternateive hypothesis makes Sophia the daughter of Tuta and Peter of Hungary, but that seems highly unlikely. Sophie gave her first husband four children:

Henry I of Istria 1077-1090 (died 1127) -
Engelbert I
[or Engelbert II?]
1090-1096, born 1065 Engelbert II of Sponheim, governed Istria until his death on 1 April 1096.
Burchard of Istria
a.k.a. Burchard II or Burkhard II, and Purcard)
1093-1101 Created Margrave of Istria sometime before 1093, when he first appears in a charter of the Emperor Henry IV along with other nobles of his native land of Bavaria. He was the son of Burchard I of Moosburg and elder brother of Burchard III.

He was appointed vogt of Aquileia in 1101. He died between 1106 and 13 February 1107. He left by his wife Acica a daughter named Matilda. His son-in-law Conrad exercised his authority in Aquileia after his death.

Poppo II of Carniola 1096-1098 Margrave of Carniola from 1070 and Margrave of Istria from 1096 to his death in 1098. Her was the son and successor of Ulrich I. His mother was Sophia, a daughter of Bela I of Hungary. He was thus of royal blood. He married Richgard, daughter of Engelbert II of Sponheim, who governed Istria until his death on 1 April 1096. Poppo and Richgard had two daughters according to the "Historia Welforum": Sophia, married Berthold I of Andechs and  Hedwige, married firstly Herman I of Windberg and secondly Adalbert II of Bogen. Because of his lack of surviving sons, he was succeeded by his younger brother Ulric II.
Ulric II of Carniola
(a.k.a. Ulrich, Odalric[o], Oudalricus and Udalrich)
1098-1101/1107(died 13 May 1112) Margrave of Istria from 1098 until circa 1107 and Carniola from 1098 until his death. He was the second son of Ulric I and Sophia, daughter of Bela I of Hungary. He was thus of royal blood. Ulric was created Count of Weimar when still a child in 1067. He inherited both of his father's marches on the death of his brother Poppo II in 1098, but was divested of Istria sometime between 1101 and 1107, when it went to Engelbert II of Sponheim, whose father had preceded Ulric's brother in the march. Ulric was described as "de Saxonie principus". He married Adelaide (d.1146), daughter of Louis II, Count of Thuringia, but left no children. His sister Adelaide passed on the Carniolan inheritance to her grandson Conrad I, Duke of Merania.
Engelbert II of Istria 1107-1124, died 1141 The son of Engelbert I. He succeeded in 1107 as Engelbert I Marchese di Istria.  The documents dated Feb 1111 relating to the coronation of Heinrich V King of Germany as emperor name "Fridericum filium sororis suæ, marchionem Engilbertum, marchionem Thiebaldus, comitem Hermannum, Fridericum palatinum comitem de Saxonia, Berlingarium de Bavaria, Godefridum comitem, Fridericum Saxonum, Albertum cancellarium, Cononem fratri Berengarii, Sigebot de Bavaria, Henricum ducem Carinthie, Bertoldum filium ducis Bertoldi" as the emperor's guarantors. 

He married UTA von Passau, daughter of ULRICH Graf von Passau [Ratpotonen] and his wife Adelheid von Lechsgemünd (-16 Apr ----).  The Fundatio Monasterii Baumburgensis names "in Bawarie provincia comes…Cuno…filiam Adilheit" as founder of Kloster Baumburg, naming her second husband "comes Udalricus de Pactavia" and her only daughter by her second marriage "Utam [wife of] Eingelperto duci de Chraieburc".  "Ota ducissa de Chreiburch" donated property donated to Baumburg by charter dated to [1135/40]. The necrology of Baumburg records the death "XVI Kal May" of "Uta ducissa".  The necrology of Seonense records the death "XVI Kal May" of "Uta ductrix" and her donation. 

Engelbert III of Istria 1124-1173, died 6 October 1173 Margrave of Istria [In contemporary documents "marchio Ystrie" and "marchio de Hystria".] and Carniola [In contemporary documents "marchio de Chreiburch".] in 1124 until his death in 1173, and was Duke of Carinthia from 1124 until 1135. He was the eldest son of Engelbert II and Uta of Passau. He succeeded his father in Istria and Carniola when his father was raised to the Duchy of Carinthia. He is sometimes numbered Engelbert II of Istria. From 1135 to 1137 Engelbert was Margrave of Tuscany. In 1156, he witnessed the granting of the "Privilegium Minus" creating the Duchy of Austria. Engelbert married Matilda, youngest daughter of Berengar I of Sulzbach. He was thus a brother-in-law of Gertrude, wife of Conrad III of Germany, and Irene, wife of Manuel I Comnenus. Matilda died late in 1165. They had four children: Richgard, married Eckard, Count of Scheyern; Adelaide, married firstly Frederick, Vogt of Regensburg, and secondly Udalschalk, Count of Lurngau; Henry, who inherited Carinthia from his grandfather in 1144.
Berthold I 1173-1188 He was also Margrave of Carniola.

BERTOLD [II] von Andechs, son of BERTOLD [I] Graf von Andechs & his first wife Sophia of Istria (-14 Dec 1188, bur Diessen). "Berhtolfus Comes de Diezzen" donated serfs to Diessen monastery, in the presence of "uxore sua Sophia et filiis suis Poppone et Bertolfo". His parentage is confirmed by the Notæ Diessenses which record the death "1188 XIX Kal Ian" of "Berhtoldus marchio de Andehs…filius Berhtoldi comitis fundatoris nostre ecclesie". Graf von Andechs 1147. A charter dated to [1150] records that "Poppo comes de Gieche" donated property to Admont before leaving for Jerusalem for the soul of "filio suo Heinrico", but that after he died on his expedition "frater eius Perchtoldus comes" reduced the amount of the donation. Graf von Plassenburg [1158/61].  Graf am unteren Inn 1162. Graf im Norital and Vogt von Brixen 1166.  He succeeded in 1173 as BERTOLD I Marchese di Istria. The Notæ Diessenses record the death "1188 XIX Kal Ian" of "Berhtoldus marchio de Andehs…filius Berhtoldi comitis fundatoris nostre ecclesie" specifying that he was buried "in capitolio". He married twice:

1. (Before 1153) HEDWIG, daughter of --- (-16 Jul 1174, bur Diessen). The Notæ Diessenses record the death "XVII Kal Aug" of "Hadewic comitissa", specifying that she was buried "in capitolio". The De Fundatoribus Monasterii Diessenses records the death in 1176 of "Hiadwigis uxor eius [=Pertoldi marchio Ystrie]". The necrology of Diessen records the death "1176 Kal Aug XVII" of "Hadewic com sepulta in capitolio…uxor Berhtoldi marchionis". Her origin is less clear. Wegener refers to the testament of Friedrich Pfalzgraf von Wittelsbach which names Berthold [II] Graf von Andechs as his near relative and concludes that Hedwig must therefore have been Friedrich's sister, and therefore Hedwig von Wittelsbach, daughter of Otto [II] Pfalzgraf von Wittelsbach & his wife Heilika von Lengenfeld-Hopfenohe-Pettendorf. However, there must be other possibilities. 

Marchese Bertold and his first wife had four children: Bertold (-12 Aug 1204, bur Diessen), Sophia (-2 Jan 1218), Kunigunde (-10 Feb after 1207) and Mathilde (-17 Jan 1245).

2. ([1180], divorced) LUITGARD of Denmark, daughter of SVEND III "Grade" King of Denmark & his wife Adelheid von Meissen. The Genealogia Wettinensis names "Lucardem quam duxit Bertoldus marchio de Bavaria" as daughter of "Adela [von Meissen] [et] regi Danorum Suenoni", noting that they were separated with episcopal consent because of adultery. 

Berthold II 1188-1204 (died 12 August 1204) The son of Berthold I, he was the Count of Andechs from 1172, and was raised to margraviate of Istria in 1175. In 1183 (or 1185?), as Berthold IV, he became the first Duke of Merania - that is, the seacoast of Dalmatia and Istira.

Merania encompassed the same area as the old margraviate, but its ruler now gained much prestige from his new title. In 1186, he accompanied the Emperor Henry VI to the Kingdom of Sicily. In 1189, he led the third division of the imperial army and was its standard-bearer on the Third Crusade. In 1195, he appeared as the advocate of Tegernsee Abbey. After Henry's death in 1197, he sided with the claimant Philip of Swabia. At this juncture, the duke of Merania was at the height of his power and influence. He possessed lands from Franconia to the Adriatic. Berthold died in 1204 and was buried in Diessen.

Marriage and issue: Berthold married Agnes of Rochlitz, and they had the following: Hedwig (St. Hedwig), married Henry I the Bearded, duke of Silesia; Gertrude, married Andrew II of Hungary; Agnes, married Philip II of France; Otto I, who succeeded his father

Henry II 1204-1228 The son of Berthold II, he was also Margrave of Carniola.
Otto I 1228-1234 The son of Berthold II and brother of Henry II whom he socceeded, he was also Margrave Carniola and Duke of Merania. In 1204, he became Count Palatine of Burgundy since 1211 (as Otto II)
Otto II 1234-1248 He was also Margrave of Carniola, Duke of Merania and Count Palatine of Burgundy (as Otto III)


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Created: Saturday, July 09, 2011; Updated Wednesday, April 30, 2014
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