Welter Family History – Wartburg Castle

My great grandfather (Wilhelm Welter) was from the small banking country of Luxembourg. He was born in 1885 in Rumelange, Esch-Sur-Alzette. I had been doing some genealogy research on ancestry.com but was unable to find much about his parents or his life. The Welter family history seems to have been lost once Wilhelm immigrated to the United States when he was about 15 years old. Interestingly, I can trace my mother’s family (Shearer) all the way back to 1565. Straight from Sweden and then seven generations in Berlin, Germany.

As I was looking for more information on my father’s side (Welter) I stumbled upon hosueofnames.com which had a detailed history on the Welter family in Luxembourg going back to about 1485 in then what was called Thuringia. The history of the name Welter brings us to Thuringia, a modern state located between Hessen and Lower Saxony in the west and Saxony in the east. Originally a Kingdom of the Germanic tribe of the Hermunderen, the land was conquered by the Franks and the Saxons in 531. A.D. In 634, King Dagobert appointed Radulf duke of the Thuringians, and the land became virtually independent under his rule. However, Charles Martel abolished the position of duke and brought Thuringia under the rule of Franconian counts, and divided up the territory. The Holy Roman Emperor Charlemagne founded the Thuringian Mark (border region) in 804 as a defensive bulwark against the power of the Slavic peoples.

In the Middle Ages the name Welter has been traced back to Thuringia, where the family was known for its contributions to the prosperity and culture of the emerging feudal society. The family branched into numerous houses, many of which acquired estates and manors throughout the surrounding regions.

In the 11th century, the Ludowinger dynasty became Landgraves of Thuringia. Landgrave Ludwig the Springer built the famous Wartburg near Eisenach in 1067, where J.S. Bach was later born. Under Landgrave Hermann (1190-1217), the castle became a center for mediaeval song and poetry contests, as depicted in Wagner’s opera “Tannhaeuser.” Landgrave Ludwig’s wife was Saint Elisabeth (1207-1231), the daughter of the Hungarian King Andrew II. Her historical role was that of the princess of charity, but her legendary role was that of hostess for the Singer’s Contests. Heinrich Raspe was the next ruler, who acted as regent on behalf of Hermann II; in 1241 he became landgrave of Thuringia.

After the demise of the ruling dynasty of the Ludowinger, the Emperor appointed the house of Wettin as rulers of Thuringia, who soon ascended to the throne of Saxony. Since then Thuringia’s history has been closely associated with Saxony’s. When Guenther, count of Schwarzenburg, died childless in 1440, Thuringia became part of the district of Saxony, and it was eventually divided up between the heirs Ernst and Albert. they both gave Thuringia to the Wettin family, who were involved in Thuringia’s political affairs until the end of the Great War in 1918. In 1485 Thuringia was divided in to four main principalities: Sachsen-Weimar, Sachsen-Altenburg, Sachsen-Coburg (where Queen Victoria’s Prince Albert came from), and Sachsen-Meiningen. After 1923 these districts were all united under the free state of Thuringia. During this era of change and development bearers of the name Welter moved to Thuringia where the Welter family grew in the same dimensions as the general population explosion in the 16th century. As the size of the family broadened they established many branches in this region. They moved following their special interests either in religious, military or political occupations. They branched into the Rhineland, Holland, and Transylvania where they held lands and estates. The family was recorded as being entered into the ranks of nobility in 1786.

Kent Welter Family Tree

welter_coat_of_arms

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