FURSTENBERG, the name of two noble houses of Germany.
1. The more important is in possession of a mediatized principality in the district of the Black Forest and the Upper Danube, which comprises the countship of Heiligenberg, about 7 m. to the N. of the Lake of Constance, the landgraviates of Stühlingen and Baar, and the lordships of Jungnau, Trochtelfingen, Hausen and Möskirch or Messkirch. The territory is discontinuous; and as it lies partly in Baden, partly in Württemberg, and partly in the Prussian province of Sigmaringen, the head of the family is an hereditary member of the first chamber of Baden and of the chamber of peers in Württemberg and in Prussia. The relations of the principality with Baden are defined by the treaty of May 1825, and its relations with Württemberg by the royal declaration of 1839. The Stammort or ancestral seat of the family is Fürstenberg in the Black Forest, about 13 m. N. of Schaffhausen, but the principal residence of the present representatives of the main line is at Donaueschingen.
The family of Fürstenberg claims descent from a certain Count Unruoch, a contemporary of Charlemagne, but their authentic pedigree is only traceable to Egino II., count of Urach, who died before 1136. In 1218 his successors inherited the possessions of the house of Zähringen in the Baar district of the Black Forest, where they built the town and castle of Fürstenberg. Of the two sons of Egino V. of Urach, Conrad, the elder, inherited the Breisgau and founded the line of the counts of Freiburg, while the younger, Heinrich (1215-1284), received the territories lying in the Kinzigthal and Baar, and from 1250 onward styled himself first lord, then count, of Fürstenberg. His territories were subsequently divided among several branches of his descendants, though temporarily reunited under Count Friedrich III., whose wife, Anna, heiress of the last count of Wardenberg, brought him the countship of Heiligenberg and lordships of Jungnau and Trochtelfingen in 1534. On Friedrich's death (1559) his territories were divided between his two sons, Joachim and Christof I. Of these the former founded the line of Heiligenberg, the latter that of Kinzigthal. The Kinzigthal branch was again subdivided in the 17th century between the two sons of Christof II. (d. 1614), the elder, Wratislaw II. (d. 1642), founding the line of Mösskirch, the younger, Friedrich Rudolf (d. 1655), that of Stühlingen. The Heiligenberg branch received an accession of dignity by the elevation of Count Hermann Egon (d. 1674) to the rank of prince of the Empire in 1664, but his line became extinct with the death of his son Prince Anton Egon, favourite of King Augustus the Strong and regent of Saxony, in 1716. The heads of both the Mösskirch and Stühlingen lines were now raised to the dignity of princes of the Empire (1716). The Mösskirch branch died out with Prince Karl Friedrich (d. 1744); the territories of the Stühlingen branch had been divided on the death of Count Prosper Ferdinand (1662-1704) between his two sons, Joseph Wilhelm Ernst (1699-1762) and Ludwig August Egon (1705-1759). The first of these was created prince of the Empire on the 10th of December 1716, and founded the princely line of the Swabian Fürstenbergs; in 1772 he obtained from the emperor Francis I. for all his legitimate sons and their descendants the right to bear, instead of the style of landgrave, that of prince, which had so far been confined to the reigning head of the family. Ludwig, on the other hand, founded the family of the landgraves of Fürstenberg, who, since their territories lay in Austria and Moravia, were known as the "cadet line in Austria." The princely line became extinct with the death of Karl Joachim in 1804, and the inheritance passed to the Bohemian branch of the Austrian cadet line in the person of Karl Egon II. (see below). Two years later the principality was mediatized.
In 1909 there were two branches of the princely house of Fürstenberg: (1) the main branch, that of Fürstenberg-Donaueschingen, the head of which was Prince Maximilian Egon (b. 1863), who succeeded his cousin Karl Egon III. in 1896; (2) that of Fürstenberg-Königshof, in Bohemia, the head of which was Prince Emil Egon (b. 1876), chamberlain and secretary of legation to the Austro-Hungarian embassy in London (1907). The cadet line of the landgraves of Fürstenberg is now extinct, its last representative having been the landgrave Joseph Friedrich Ernst of Fürstenberg-Weitra (1860-1896), son of the landgrave Ernst (1816-1889) by a morganatic marriage. He was not recognized as ebenbürtig by the family. The landgraves of Fürstenberg were in 1909 represented only by the landgravines Theresa (b. 1839) and Gabrielle (b. 1844), daughters of the landgrave Johann Egon (1802-1879).
From the days of Heinrich of Urach, a relative and notable supporter of Rudolph of Habsburg, the Fürstenbergs have played a stirring part in German history as statesmen, ecclesiastics and notably soldiers. There was a popular saying that "the emperor fights no great battle but a Fürstenberg falls." In the Heiligenberg line the following may be more particularly noticed.
Franz Egon (1625-1682), bishop of Strassburg, was the elder son of Egon VII., count of Fürstenberg (1588-1635), who served with distinction as a Bavarian general in the Thirty Years' War. He began life as a soldier in the imperial service, but on the elevation of his friend Maximilian Henry of Bavaria to the electorate of Cologne in 1650, he went to his court and embraced the ecclesiastical career. He soon gained a complete ascendancy over the weak-minded elector, and, with his brother William Egon (see below), was mainly instrumental in making him the tool of the aggressive policy of Louis XIV. of France. Ecclesiastical preferments were heaped upon him. As a child he had been appointed to a canonry of Cologne; to these he added others at Strassburg, Liége, Hildesheim and Spires; he became also suffragan bishop and dean of Cologne and provost of Hildesheim, and in 1663 bishop of Strassburg. Later he was also prince-abbot of Lüders and Murbach and abbot of Stablo and Malmedy. On the conclusion of a treaty between the emperor and the elector of Cologne, on the 11th of May 1674, Franz was deprived of all his preferments in Germany, and was compelled to take refuge in France. He was, however, amnestied with his brother William by a special article of the treaty of Nijmwegen (1679), whereupon he returned to Cologne. After the French occupation of Strassburg (1681) he took up his residence there and died on the 1st of April 1682.
His brother William Egon (1629-1704), bishop of Strassburg, began his career as a soldier in the French service. He went to the court of the elector of Cologne at the same time as Franz Egon, whose zeal for the cause of Louis XIV. of France he shared. In 1672 the intrigues of the two Fürstenbergs had resulted in a treaty of offensive alliance between the French monarchy and the electorate of Cologne, and, the brothers being regarded by the Imperialists as the main cause of this disaster, William was seized by imperial soldiers in the monastery of St Pantaleon at Cologne, hurried off to Vienna and there tried for his life. He was saved by the intervention of the papal nuncio, but was kept in prison till the signature of the treaty of Nijmwegen (1679). As a reward for his services Louis XIV. appointed him bishop of Strassburg in succession to his brother in 1682, in 1686 obtained for him from Pope Innocent XI. the cardinal's hat, and in 1688 succeeded in obtaining his election as coadjutor-archbishop of Cologne and successor to the elector Maximilian Henry. At the instance of the emperor, however, the pope interposed his veto; the canons followed the papal lead, and, the progress of the Allies against Louis XIV. depriving him of all prospect of success, William Egon retired to France. Here he took up his abode at his abbey of St Germain des Près near Paris, where he died on the 10th of April 1704.
In the Stühlingen line the most notable was Karl Egon (1796-1854), prince of Fürstenberg, the son of Prince Karl Alois of Fürstenberg, a general in the Austrian service, who was killed at the battle of Loptingen on the 25th of March 1799. In 1804 he inherited the Swabian principality of Fürstenberg and all the possessions of the family except the Moravian estates. He studied at Freiburg and Würzburg, and in 1815 accompanied Prince Schwarzenberg to Paris as staff-officer. In 1817 he came of age, and in the following year married the princess Amalie of Baden. By the mediatization of his principality in 1806 the greater part of his vast estates had fallen under the sovereignty of the grand-duke of Baden, and Prince Fürstenberg took a conspicuous part in the upper house of the grand-duchy. In politics he distinguished himself by a liberalism rare in a great German noble, carrying through by his personal influence with his peers the abolition of tithes and feudal dues and stanchly advocating the freedom of the press. He was not less distinguished by his large charities: among other foundations he established a hospital at Donaueschingen. For the industrial development of the country, too, he did much, and proved himself also a notable patron of the arts. His palace of Donaueschingen, with its collections of paintings, engravings and coins, was a centre of culture, where poets, painters and musicians met with princely entertainment. He died on the 14th of September 1869, and was succeeded by his son Karl Egon II. (1820-1892), with the death of whose son, Karl Egon III., in 1896, the title and estates passed to Prince Maximilian Egon, head of the cadet line of Fürstenberg-Pürglitz.
See Münch, Gesch. des Hauses und des Landes Fürstenberg, 4 vols. (Aix-la-Chapelle, 1829-1847); S. Riezler, Gesch. des fürstlichen Hauses Fürstenberg bis 1507 (Tübingen, 1883); Fürstenbergisches Urkundenbuch, edited by S. Riezler and F.L. Baumann, vols. i.-vii. (Tübingen, 1877-1891), continued s. tit. Mitteilungen aus dem fürstlich. Fürstenbergischem Archiv by Baumann and G. Tumbült, 2 vols. (ib. 1899-1902); Stokvis, Manuel d'histoire (Leiden, 1890-1893); Almanach de Gotha; Allgemeine deutsche Biographie.
2. The second Fürstenberg family has its possessions in Westphalia and the country of the Rhine, and takes its name from the castle of Fürstenberg on the Ruhr. The two most remarkable men whom it has produced are Franz Friedrich Wilhelm, freiherr von Fürstenberg, and Franz Egon, count von Fürstenberg-Stammheim. The former (1728-1810) became ultimately vicar-general of the prince-bishop of Münster, and effected a great number of important reforms in the administration of the country, besides doing much for its educational and industrial development. The latter (1797-1859) was an enthusiastic patron of art, who zealously advocated the completion of the Cologne cathedral, and erected the beautiful church of St Apollinaris near Remagen on the Rhine. He was a member of the Prussian Upper House in 1849, collaborated in founding the Preussisches Wochenblatt, and was an ardent defender of Catholic interests. His son, Count Gisbert von Fürstenberg-Stammheim (b. 1836), was in 1909 head of the Rhenish line of the house of Fürstenberg.
Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)