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The House of Rapperswil respectively Counts of Rapperswil (Grafen von Rapperwil since 1233, before Lords) ruled the upper Zürichsee and Seedamm region around Rapperswil and parts of, as of today, Swiss cantons of St. Gallen, Glarus, Zürich and Graubünden when their influence was most extensive around the 1200s until the 1290s. They acted also as Vogt of the most influential Einsiedeln Abbey in the 12th and 13th century, and at least three abbots of Einsiedeln were members of Rapperswil family.


In 697 legends mentions a knight called Raprecht in connection with the later Grynau Castle. The former seat of the Vogt in Altendorf was first mentioned as "Rahprehteswilare" in a document of emperor Otto II, in which goods of the Einsiedeln abbey were confirmed on 14 August 972.[1]

The fourth Abbot of Einsiedeln, Wirunt (996–1026), or Wirendus, Wirund, Wem, Wirand, Verendus, was according to 15th-century chronists a Graf von Wandelburg of the Rapperswil family. Wandelburg may be another name of the Grynau Castle at the Buechberg hill on Obersee lake shore. According to the abbey's archives there are no reliable sources about Wirunt's origin.[2] Other unreliable sources mention that Rudolf I (1090–1101) the 9th abbot was a member of the Rapperswil family.[3] Ulrich I von Rapperswil (1192–1206) became the 14th abbot of Einsiedeln.[4]

In 1099 first mentioned, the donation of the St. Andreas Church was given by the House of Rapperswil as a spacious three-naved country church. The assumably legal connection with the church situated above the Uster Castle, due to the archaeological investigations of 1982 so far is not proven,[5] but the pastoral rights were sold by Elisabeth von Rapperswil not earlier than 1300.[6] Some fortifications, among them in Greifensee, Uster and Alt-Rapperswil were built probably in the early 12th century by members of the family. The Vogts of Rapperswil were persons of influence in the so-called Marchenstreit between the people of Schwyz and the Einsiedeln abbey beginning around 1100. Around 1180 the lords of Rapperswil inherit the parish rights of Weisslingen and free float in Russikon, Erisberg, Luckhausen, Moosburg and in Kempthal, as well as the castles Greifenberg and Bernegg, and the bailiwick of Kempten in the area around the Töss Valley respectively in Eastern Switzerland.

Assumably in compensation of claims related to the Alt-Rapperswil lands and rights, a change of goods occurred to establish the Bubikon Commandry, given by the Counts of Toggenburg and by the Counts of Rapperswil between 1191 and 1198. Although in concurrency to the neighbouring Rüti Abbey that was founded in 1206, the commandery's lands and goods grew with donations by local noble families during the 13th and 14th centuries.

The house (lords) of Rapperswil was first mentioned before 1192 in a large numbers of documents, for the last time around 1206 related to the abbot Rudolf of (Alt)-Rapperswil, and since 1233 as Grafen (counts) of Rapprechtswilare.[7] As between 1192 and 1220 documentary mentions of the family are widely missing, the modern research assumes that the original lineage is extinct and subsequently a dispute over inheritance may be broken. Therefore, the historians use the term Alt-Rapperswil (old line) and Neu-Rapperswil (new line). Likewise, it is assumed that there were strong family ties with the houses of Regensberg, Kyburg and Toggenburg (see Members of the family), that may have been involved in the dispute over the inheritance.

Nevertheless, around 1200 the Rapperswil Castle and the fortifications of the former locus Endingen (given by the Einsiedeln abbey) were built by Rudolf II and his son Rudolf III of Rapperswil. Officially in 1229, the town of Rapperswil was founded when the nobility of Rapperswil moved from Altendorf across the lake to Rapperswil, and a wave of foundations is documented: Wettingen Abbey in 1227,[8] and the Mariazell-Wurmsbach Abbey in 1259. On 28 August 1232 a document confirms an exchange of goods between members of the noble families of Kyburg and Rapperswil in the villages of Oberwesin and Niderwesin that were in the possession of Kyburg to 1264 respectively of Rapperwil to 1283, the nucleus of the monastic community "in den Wyden", a community of lay women or beguines which was Count Rudolf IV von Rapperswil donated certain duties,[9][10] and lands "in den Widen" to establish the Dominikanerinnenkloster Maria Zuflucht in 1259. Initially, the community was supported by Predigerkloster Zürich because its close relationship to the House of Rapperswil.[11]

On the peninsula at Oberbollingen, the St. Nicholas Chapel is mentioned, where around 1229 a small Cistercian (first associated with the Rüti Abbey) monastery was established; in 1267 it was united with the nearby Mariazell-Wurmsbach nunnery. St. Martin Busskirch is one of the oldest churches around the Lake Zürich and was until 1229 the parish church of the family. There even the citizens of Rapperswil had to attend services, until Count Rudolf II of Rapperswil built the Stadtpfarrkirche on Herrenberg next to the Rapperswil castle on the Lindenhof hill.

At that time, the House of Rapperswil had possessions in what is now Eastern and Central Switzerland. They bore the title of count from 1233, as a partisan of the Staufer kings. Besides also the Urseren valley in 1240, and since the 13th centuries, Lützelau island has belonged to the family, later to the community of Rapperswil (now called Ortsbürgergemeinde); its sandstone was used to build the Rapperswil castle, the parish church and the town walls. The house of Rapperswil became extinct again in 1283, with the death of the 18-year-old Count Rudolf V, after which emperor Rudolf I acquired their fiefs, and the family had to sold large parts of the former bailiwick. Great parts of the remaining property of the Herrschaft Rapperswil passed to the house of Homberg, represented by Count Ludwig († April 27, 1289) by first marriage of Elisabeth von Rapperswil and their son, Wernher von Homberg. Around 1309 the remaining bailiwick's rights passed to Count Rudolf († 1315) of Habsburg-Laufenburg by second marriage of Elisabeth of Rapperswil, the sister of Rudolf V, followed by her son, Count Johann I († 1337) and his son, Johann II († 1380).[12]

On 12 July 1336 Rudolf Brun, mayor of the city of Zürich, defeated his political opponents, the former members of the Rat (council) of Zürich, of which around 12 members found refuge by count Johann I in Rapperswil.[13] The feud (German: Fehde) of the so-called Äusseres Zürich coalition was supported by the Rapperswil bailywick, some knights and noble families, and Count Johann became the leader of the opposition in the city of Zürich. Latter was supported among others by the House of Toggenburg as its military arm, as well as by the Einsiedeln Abbey which supported Brun's regime.[14] The counselors hoped for support by Count Johann and offered probably in return the forgiveness of debt of Rapperswil, as some sources hypothesize.[15] Some, if not most of the refugees, were decades before their exile vassals of the Counts of Rapperswil, including the ancient councilors family Bilgeri those members lost six of their seats in the council of Zürich. Johann I was killed in 1337 in the course of a battle at the Grynau Castle against Zürich-Toggenburg troops.

Count Johann's children – Johann II, the oldest of three sons, Rudolf and Gotfrid (and their sister Agnes) – were set under guardianship of Albrecht, Duke of Austria, sealed by a document between the city of Zürich and the German King respectively Duke Albrecht on 21 November 1337. The document included also a peace contract and regulations, but as well as the documents in the following years − between the city of Zürich and Austria – It included among others: Johann's children got the documents related to their rights in Raprechtswile and their possessions in the March (Alt-Rapperswil) area. Furthermore, the document also included the Zürich councils (äussere Bürger) who refuged to Rapperswil and financial compensations by the former councils to Brun's entourage, they remained banned until 1342, and the äussere former councils had to pledge allegiance to the King and to the citizenry of Zürich. In compensation, the goods and lands of the äussere former councils had to be refund by the innere (meaning the Guild councils), as long as their property was not sold (by Brun's entourage). These restrictions also included Johann I's children – the German king had to vouch for Brun's regime, Duke Albrecht for Rapperswil and the underage Rapperswils Counts.[16] The feud was continued Johann II in the late 1340s,[14] but there also were a short time alliance with the city of Zürich: On 28 September 1343 Count Johann II and his brothers Rudolf and Gotfried von Habsburg and the citizens of Rapperswil signed a document for an eternal confederacy with the city council and the citizens of Zürich.[17][18] An attempted coup by the aristocratic opposition, known as äusseres Zürich, in Zürich was forcefully put down on 23/24 February 1350: Count Johann II, now the opposition's leader, was arrested for two years, and the town walls of Rapperswil, its castle and Altendorf castle were destroyed by Brun in 1350.

The peace agreement on 1 September 1352 between Count Albrecht von Oesterreich and the city of Zürich was adjusted by two furthers documents. The first one was the agreement between the Counts Hans (Johann II), Rudolf and Gotfrid, and the city of Zürich; it was sealed on 19 September 1352, and the brothers had to confirm among others that they will also condone their relatives who supported the city of Zürich.[19] The second document included that Johann's II imprisonment in Zürich shall be forgotten, all prisoners shall be released, and even Count Albrecht would support the city of Zürich against the counts Johans, Rudolf und Gotfrid von Habsburg so needed, sealed by Markgraf Ludwig von Brandenburg on 23 September 1352.[20] Another document was related to the costs of the captivity of Rapperswil citizens in Zürich which was sealed on 20 May 1358 by relatives of the new lord Count Rudolf von Österreich in Rapreswile, namely Ott von Missouw, Fridrich von Waslze, Heinrich der Raspe, Heinrich der Brunner, Wolfgang von Winden, Johanse von Platzhein and Vogt Johans von Langenhart.[21]

The division of an estate between the CountsRudolf, Gotfrid and Johan von Habsburg was regulated in a document on 1 July 1354:

The remains of the former Herrschaft Rapperswil – Rapperswil and some surrounding villages excluding Jona – were sold by Count Johann II and his brothers, Rudolf (IV) and Gottfried (II), to the Habsburg family and partially (Höfe) to the city of Zürich, as the house of Rapperswil was not able to rebuild the town and the destroyed castles – the rights passed over to Albrecht II, Duke of Habsburg-Austria.[23] All rights related to lands in the Höfe district including the settlements at Bäch, Pfäffikon and Wollerau were sold by Count Goetfrid von Habsburg-Rapperswil on 19 May 1358.[24]


Although Countess Elisabeth von Rapperswil was able to continue the line and secured the Habsburg-Laufenburg line the extensive possessions of Rapperswil in Zürichgau. But the Homberg-Rapperswil line extinct with the death of Wernher von Homberg, and the Habsburg-Laufenburg line in 1408, when Johann IV von Habsburg-Laufenburg died without male heirs.

Counts of Rapperswil

  • 1048-1098: Ulrich I
  • 1098-1110: Rudolf I
  • 1110-1129: Ulrich II
  • 1129-1155: Rudolf II and Ulrich III (co-rulers, brothers)
  • 1155-1173: Rudolf II (alone)
  • 1173-1218: Rudolf III, son of Rudolf II
  • 1218-1254: Rudolf IV, and Ulrich IV, co-rulers, sons of Adelaide (sister of Rudolf III) and Walter III of Vaz.
  • 1254 - 3 August 1261: Rudolf IV (alone)
  • 3 August 1261 – 15 January 1283: Rudolf V, son of above
  • 15 January 1283 - 1289: Ludwig von Homberg (House of Homberg), brother-in-law of his predecessor
  • 1289 - 10 April 1309: Elisabeth, sister of Rudolf V and widow of predecessor.
  • 1048-1098: Ulrich I
  • 1098-1110: Rudolf I
  • 1110-1129: Ulrich II
  • 1129-1155: Rudolf II and Ulrich III (co-rulers, brothers)
  • 1155-1173: Rudolf II (alone)
  • 1173-1218: Rudolf III, grandson of Rudolf II
  • 1218- 25 June 1250: Rudolf IV
  • 25 June 1250 - 1254: Rudolf V and Ulrich IV (son, possibly co-ruled with his father)
  • 1254 - 27 July 1255: Rudolf V (alone)
  • 27 July 1255 – 3 August 1261: Rudolf VI
  • 3 August 1261 – 15 January 1283: Rudolf VII
  • 15 January 1283 - 1289: Ludwig von Homberg (House of Homberg), brother-in-law of his predecessor
  • 1289 - 10 April 1309: Elisabeth

Following the death of Ludwig von Homberg who left a son from Elisabeth, Werner, the countess married again with Rudolf of Habsburg-Laufenburg, son of the count of Kyburg. After her death she might have divided her patrimony.

  • 1289- 21 March 1320: Werner of Homberg, he might have succeeded after his father's death on his part of Elisabeth's patrimony.
  • 10 April 1309 – 21 September 1337: Johann I, inherited his possessions after Elisabeth's death.
  • 21 September 1337 – 17 December 1380: Johann II
  • 17 December 1380 – 11 January 1392: Johann III
  • 11 January 1392 – 18 May 1408: Johann IV, first cousin of Johann III, as son of Rudolf, brother of Johann II.
  • 18 May 1408 - 1460: Ursula, married Count Rudolf III of Sulz; They had children.

After Ursula's death in 1460, the Habsburg-Laufenburg patrimony fell to the County of Sulz.

Members of the House of Rapperswil

The genealogy is extremely patchy and incomplete, the family may be in fact estincted several times in the 'male line', estimated at least around 1190 and according to historical documents at 1283, even the female line was continued by Elisabeth von Rapperswil.

The line of counts of Rapperswil may be counted back to 9th century, when their ancestors were called Counts of Wandelberg:

  • Reginger Rudolf I von Wandelberg Rudolf II von Wandelberg Vezilo von Wandelberg Rudolf Eppo (d.1012) Rudolf III von Wandelberg (d.1048) Ulrich I von Rapperswil (1036; †1098): Vogt of Einsiedeln, Count of Wandelberg and 1st Count of Rapperswil Wirand (died in Rome[25]) Rudolf (d. 26 May 1101[26]) Wirunt,[2] Wirendus, Wirund, Wem, Wirand, Verendus (d.1026): 996 to 1026 the abbot of Einsiedeln Ottokar

This list is based on known genealogical trees of the family (like Heinrich Murer's, on the right):

(In italic other possible members according to other sources)

  • Ulrich I von Rapperswil (1036; †1098): Vogt of Einsiedeln, Count of Wandelberg and 1st Count of Rapperswil Rudolf I ( 1059; † 1110), Count of Wandelberg (as Rudolf IV) and 2nd Count of Rapperswil (as Rudolf I), possibly abdicated and became 9th abbot of Einsiedeln[3] Ulrich II ( 1084; † 1129), Count of Wandelberg and 3rd Count of Rapperswil Rudolf II von Rapperswil († 1173), Count of Wandelberg (as V) and 4th Count of Rapperswil (as Rudolf II), Vogt of Einsiedeln and assumably co-founder of the Bubikon Commandry Rudolf, possibly preceded his father in death; He appears as son of Rudolf II and father of Rudolf III; Wife unknown. (Rudolf VI. von Rapperschwyl [38] ) Rudolf III von Rapperswil ( around 1160; † 1217 or 1218), 5th (or 6th) Count of Rapperswil, moved the home of the house Alt-Rapperswil from Altendorf (SZ) to Rapperswil (SG), founded the city of Rapperswil at the former Endingen village Rudolf (IV) von Rapperswil (1185 - 25 June 1250),[27][28] (7th Count of Rapperswil) married Matilda of Kyburg[29] Rudolf (V) von Rapperswil (d. 27 July 1255),[30] (8th Count of Rapperswil), married Mechtildis (the same as above? Are these two Rudolfs identical?), and had Rudolf IV (or VI). Rudolf IV (VI) von Rapperswil (d. 3 August 1261),[31] 6th (or 7th, or 9th) Count of Rapperswil; He is the next count attested in Heinrich Murer's tree following Rudolf III; Founded Wurmsbach and Weesen abbeys, as well as the Wyden nunnery in Jona; finished the construction of the city and Rapperswil castle, founded Stadtpfarrkirche Rapperswil and supporter of the Rüti Abbey, founded probably a small nunnery at Bollingen; married Mechthild von Neifen Anna von Rapperswil ( 1230; † 30 May 1253); some sources suggest that she was daughter of Count Rudolf and Matilda of Kyburg. The origin of her mother may explain her marriage around 1251/52 with Count Hartmann V of Kyburg, her cousin. Ulrich Adelheid von Rapperswil ( 1185; † 1213), married Walter III von Vaz. Unknown sister, married Johann von Strätlingen [32] Heinrich, nothing is known about him; An unknown person, brother/sister of Rudolf and Heinrich Heinrich, nothing is known about him; Ulrich, married and had: Udalrich von Rapperswil († 1206): Abbot of Einsiedeln, also mentioned as «OLRICVS. DEI. GRA. HEREMITARV. ABBAS»[4] Elisabetha/Guta von Rapperswil († 1226): sister of Udalrich, married (1194?) Count Diethelm I von Toggenburg Ulrich III von Rapperswil († 1155), Count of Wandelburg and possibly 5th Count of Rapperswil, as he is counted in Heinrich Murer's tree, so he might have co-ruled with his brother; Warin († 1172), Abbot of Einsiedeln Heinrich

Some accounts suggest that Rudolf IV, who succeeded Rudolf III (d. 1218) is his son, and others mention him as his great-grandson, as seen above. But the majority of the sources appoint Rudolf IV as son of Adelheid of Rapperwil and Walter of Vaz, founding the traditionally called House of Neu-Rapperswil or House of Vaz-Rapperswil, presented below:

  • Adelheid von Rapperswil ( 1185; † 1213), married Walter III von Vaz. Rudolf IV (VI) von Rapperswil (d. 3 August 1261), 6th (or 7th, or 9th) Count of Rapperswil; He is the next count attested in Heinrich Murer's tree following Rudolf III; Founded Wurmsbach and Weesen abbeys, as well as the Wyden nunnery in Jona; finished the construction of the city and Rapperswil castle, founded Stadtpfarrkirche Rapperswil and supporter of the Rüti Abbey, founded probably a small nunnery at Bollingen; married Mechthild von Neifen Vinzenz († 1261) Elisabeth von Rapperswil ( 1251; † 10 April 1309), 10th (or 11th, or 13th) Count(ess) of Rapperswil, married with 1) Count Ludwig von Homberg (9th (or 10th, or 12th) Count of Rapperswil) and later with 2) Count Rudolf von Habsburg-Laufenburg Rudolf V (VII) von Rapperswil (d.15 January 1283),8th (or 9th, or 11th) Count of Rapperswil Ulrich IV von Rapperswil († 1254), 7th (or 8th, or 10th) Count of Rapperswil Heinrich von Rapperswil (d. 30 January 1246, Wettingen), founded Wettingen Abbey; married in 1220 Mechtidis von Wetter, sister of Count Lutold I von Wetter. He married also Anna von Homberg[33] (d. 14 June 1230, Jerusalem).[34] If he had children, he had: Anna (died 1227 or 1240), some believe that she is identical with Anna von Rapperswil ( 1230; † 30 May 1253), who married Hartmann of Kyburg
  • Elisabeth von Rapperswil ( 1251; † 10 April 1309), 13th Count(ess) of Rapperswil, married with 1) Count Ludwig von Homberg (12th Count of Rapperswil) and later with 2) Count Rudolf III von Habsburg-Laufenburg 1) Cäcilia von Homberg ( 1280; † after 1320): daughter of Countess Elisabeth and Ludwig von Homberg 1) Werner von Homberg-Rapperswil or Hohenberg ( 1284; † 21 March 1320, Genoa): son of Elisabeth von Rapperswil and Ludwig von Homberg; Minnesang, Vogt von Einsiedeln, since 1309 Reichsgraf and Reichsvogt of Waldstätte, inherited territories that today form the northern part of the canton of Schwyz 1) Anna 1) Klara, married Egino V. von Matsch 1) Rudolf 1) Ludwig II von Homberg (d.1315) 2) Johann(es) I. von Habsburg-Laufenburg ( 1 January 1295; † 21 September 1337), 14th Count of Rapperswil, married Agnes von Werd (d.12 June 1352) Johann(es) II. von Habsburg-Laufenburg (1 January 1330; † 17 December 1380), 15th Count of Rapperswil. Political opponent of Rudolf Brun, Mayor of Zürich, was arrested for two years in Zürich after Brun besieged the city of Rapperswil, Minnesang. Married Verena von Neuenberg (Neuchâtel, d. 1372) Johann(es) III. von Habsburg-Laufenburg (d. 11 January 1392), 16th Count of Rapperswil Verena Adelaide (d.1370), married Heinrich IV von Montfort-Tettnang[35] Agnes, who became a nun in the Säckingen Abbey:[22] Rudolf IV von Habsburg-Laufenburg (d. September 1383), Count of Habsburg-Laufenburg, married Verena Gonzaga Johann(es) IV von Habsburg-Laufenburg (d. 18 May 1408), 17th Count of Rapperswil, married Agnes von Landenburg Ursula von Habsburg-Laufenburg ( before 1400 † 1460), 18th Count(ess) of Rapperswil, married Count Rudolf von Sulz Agnes von Habsburg-Laufenburg (d.1409) Agnes von Habsburg-Laufenburg (d. 1425), married Donat I of Toggenburg An unknown person, brother/sister Elisabeth, married Johann II von Waldburg[36] Gottfried III von Habsburg-Laufenburg (d. 1375), married Elisabeth von Ochsenstein and Agnes von Teck; left no descendants
  • Albrecht von Rapperswil (Raprechtswil): Minnesang mentioned in Codex Manesse (folio 192v)


  • Erwin Eugster: Adlige Territorialpolitik in der Ostschweiz. Kirchliche Stiftungen im Spannungsfeld früher landesherrlicher Verdrängungspolitik. Zürich 1991, ISBN 3-90527-868-5.
  • Roger Sablonier: Adel im Wandel. Untersuchungen zur sozialen Situation des ostschweizerischen Adels um 1300. Chronos-Verlag, Zürich 1979/2000. ISBN 978-3-905313-55-0.
  • Roger Sablonier: Gründungszeit ohne Eidgenossen: Politik und Gesellschaft in der Innerschweiz um 1300. hier + jetzt, Baden 2008, ISBN 978-3-03919-085-0.
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