– SPONHEIM –

 

[Pagus:- 1. Wormsfeld. 2. Speyergau c. 3.Craichgau. 4. Elsenzgau. 5. Trechirgau. Numbering conventions: Regent numbering.]

The counts of Sponheim descended from the family of the Zeisolfs and Wolframs, which became ensconced in counties of the Salian sphere around the middle of the tenth century. Very little explicit evidence of affiliations within the family exists until the mid-eleventh century, yet the lineage can be reconstructed with relative precision. The Salian sphere comprised a variety of pagi of greater or lesser importance. For the Zeisolf-Wolframs, the last documentations of the pagus concern Craichgau and Elsenzgau, but by the end of the eleventh century the family’s political sphere shifted noticeably to the northwest into Nahegau and Trechirgau, and it is on the latter pagus that the Sponheim comital title is most likely to have been based.

When it first appears on the scene, the family is active even further northwest. Zeisolf (I) documents as count of Maienfeld in 958. As such he is the successor of the Konradiner Eberhard (II, † c. 944). It is reasonable to suppose that he was installed there in 945 as part of a reshuffling designed to remove Konradiner influence from the Salian Konrad Rufus’s Lotharingian duchy. Presumably Zeisolf was Eberhard (II)’s son-in-law, since he was succeeded in Maienfeld by Eberhard’s son Udo. He would have died in possession of the Maienfeld jurisdiction, sometime after his own documentation (958) and before Udo’s (963).

Jurisdiction in Wormsfeld can also be assigned to Zeisolf (I), beginning in 954 with Konrad Rufus’s forfeitures. Inheritance here, and perhaps already in Craichgau and Elsenzgau, where evidence is sparse, must run from the Eberhardine Konradiner. The situation was peculiar, however, in that Konrad Rufus’s son Otto also held jurisdiction in these regions. Regardless how one interprets the doubling of counts – for the possibility exists of a Salian duchy focused on Worms – the situation was systematic and the family of the Zeisolfs maintained its comital rank in the years following.

Both Wormsfeld and Speyergau are found under Zeisolf (II), who is undoubtedly the son of Zeisolf (I). There are a number of reasons for believing that Zeisolf (II) married a woman of the Bliesgau comital family of the Folmars. This was a natural match, given the proximity of Bliesgau to the west. We have also to account for the Greco-Roman names Johannes and Stephan in later generations of the Zeisolfs. The name Stephan can arrive directly from the Folmars, who also provide an excellent Greco-Roman context to account for the name Johannes. Furthermore, a Folmar is cathedral advocate of Worms in 1016, and his office was later held by Stephan (I) of Sponheim, a scion of the Zeisolfs.

Not only the advocate Folmar, therefore, but also the brothers Counts Wolfram (I) of Speyergau and Zeisolf (III) of Wormsfeld, can be affiliated as sons of Zeisolf (II). The brothers Wolfram and Zeisolf first emerge in 987 and were followers of the Salian Otto. Wolfram documents as count of Speyergau and Craichgau and is last sighted in 1024. Zeisolf is last doumented in 1018 and dies in 1031. Since the Craichgau county was retained by the family, it is not unlikely that the lineage continued in Wolfram’s line. Whereas Speyergau moved around, as it had done, among families descending from the Eberhardine Konradiner, at this point the fate of Wormsfeld becomes obscure.

In the next generation two important developments occur: a division into two branches, and an association of one of the branches with the southeastern corner of the German kingdom. Wolfram (II), who documents from 1046 to 1056 and dies in the latter year, was count of Craichgau, and his descendants are fairly well known. They were closely related to the descendants of Margrave Siegfried of the Austrian Neumark, who can be accepted as Wolfram (II)’s brother, for it is well attested that Siegfried was of the house of Sponheim. The identity of their mother should be able to explain details such as the name Siegfried and, at least partially, the family’s entrance into Austria.

 

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