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coat of arms (mid 13th century) <sup><a href="undefined" style="color:blue">[1]</a></sup>
coat of arms (mid 13th century) [1]

Kyburg (/ˈkeebɜːrɡ/; German: [ˈkyːbʊʁk]; also Kiburg) was a noble family of grafen (counts) in the Duchy of Swabia, a cadet line of the counts of Dillingen, who in the late 12th and early 13th century ruled the County of Kyburg, corresponding to much of what is now Northeastern Switzerland.

The family was one of the four most powerful noble families in the Swiss plateau beside the House of Habsburg, House of Zähringen and the House of Savoy during 12th century. With the extinction of the Kyburg family's male line in 1264, Rudolph of Habsburg laid claim to the Kyburg lands and annexed them to the Habsburg holdings, establishing the line of "Neu-Kyburg", which was in turn extinct in 1417.


The first line of counts of Kyburg were influential in local politics during the 1020s, but the male line died out in 1078.

The Kyburg land continued to be part of the possessions of the House of Dillingen until the grandson of Hartmann von Dillingen, Hartmann III (d. 1180), split the Dillingen lands.[3] Adalbert (died 1170) received the Swabian territories, while Hartmann III von Dillingen got the Swiss lands and became Hartmann I of Kyburg.

In 1180 the family began to consolidate their power.

When the Zähringen family died out in 1218, the Kyburgs grabbed another chance to expand.

Around 1220 they started to make claims on property and rights that had unclear ownership and was near property that they already owned.

At the same time the Kyburg family attempted to strengthen themselves through marriage.

Even though the family continued to found cities and expand, they were declining in power.


In 1250/51 the childless Hartmann IV gave the western part of the property with the center of Burgdorf to his nephew Hartmann V. As a result, Hartmann V, who was supported by the Habsburgs, came into conflict repeatedly with the growing city-state of Bern. His uncle had to step in often to keep the peace.

Anna, daughter of Hartmann V, married Eberhard I of Habsburg-Laufenburg. This marriage was intended to secure Habsburg interests in Aargau (Argovia) against Savoy. The son of Eberhard and Anna, Hartmann I (1275–1301) again called himself "of Kyburg". His line came to be known as that of Neu-Kyburg or Kyburg-Burgdorf, persisting until 1417.

In 1322, the brothers Eberhard II and Hartmann II started fighting with each other over who would inherit the undivided lands.

The decline of Neu-Kyburg began with a failed raid by Rudolf II on Solothurn, on 11 November 1382. The ensuing conflict with the Old Swiss Confederacy is known as the Burgdorferkrieg (also Kyburgerkrieg). Bern took the opportunity to assert its interests in Aargau against the Habsburgs, and after the Bernese laid siege to Burgdorf, Neu-Kyburg was forced to concede an unfavourable peace. Friedrich V, count of Toggenburg acquired Kyburg and Winterthur in 1384 (lost again in 1402 by Friedrich VII), and Bern bought Thun and Burgdorf, the most important cities of Neu-Kyburg, and their remaining towns passed to Bern and Solothurn by 1408. The last of the Neu-Kyburgs, Berchtold, died destitute in Bern in 1417.

Bailiwick of Kyburg

With the extinction of the comital line, the county passed back to the direct possession of Frederick IV, Duke of Austria, who was forced to sell the county to Zürich in 1424. In the Old Zürich War, most of the territory was given to emperor Frederick III, with only the Neuamt west of the Glatt river remaining with Zürich. However, the Habsburgs again agreed to sell the county to Zürich in 1452. From this time until the French invasion in 1798, the territory was a bailiwick (Landvogtei) administered by a total of 59 successive reeves (Landvögte). The town of Winterthur remained with Habsburg until 1467, when it was bought by Zürich and treated as a separate jurisdiction.

In 1815, Kyburg castle was again made the seat of regional administration (Oberamt). With the creation of the modern Canton of Zürich in 1831, Kyburg lost its administrative role, and the castle was sold to one Franz Heinrich Hirzel of Winterthur who intended to use it as a quarry. To prevent its destruction, the castle was bought by the exiled Polish count Alexander Sobansky (1799–1861) in 1835.

The bailiwick of Kyburg within the Zürichgau was divided into four Ämter:

To this were added two Nebenämter,

Not part the four Ämter were Wangen and Töss, and the exclaves Ettenhausen and Ebmatingen.

Family tree of the Kyburg family


Family tree of the Neu-Kyburg family


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