County of Tyrol

County of Tyrol
(Princely) County of Tyrol
(Gefürstete) Grafschaft Tirol (de)
Contea (Principesca) del Tirolo (it)
State of the Holy Roman Empire (until 1806),
Kronland of Cisleithanian Austria-Hungary

Flag Coat of arms
Map of the County of Tyrol (1799)
Capital Meran, formally until 1848
Innsbruck, residence from 1420
Government Principality
Historical era Middle Ages
 - Created County 1140
 - Bequeathed to
   House of Habsburg
 - Joined Austrian Circle 1512
 - Incorporated Trent
   and Brixen
 - Restored to Austria 1814
 - Partitioned by
   Treaty of St Germain
September 10, 1919

The County of Tyrol, Princely County from 1504, was a State of the Holy Roman Empire, from 1814 a province of the Austrian Empire and from 1867 a Cisleithanian crown land (Kronland) of Austria-Hungary. Today its territory is divided between the Italian region of Trentino-Alto Adige/Südtirol, a small part of the Italian region of Veneto (Cortina d'Ampezzo and other villages) and the Austrian state of Tyrol. Both regions are today associated again in the Euroregion Tyrol-South Tyrol-Trentino.



Castle Tyrol was the seat of the Counts of Tyrol and gave the region its name

Birth of Tyrol

In 1027 Emperor Conrad II split off the Bishopric of Trent from the former Lombard Kingdom of Italy. He attached it to the stem duchy of Bavaria, which was then under the rule of his son Henry III.

From the 12th century on, the counts residing in Castle Tyrol near Merano held the office of Vogt (bailiff) in the Trent diocese and also in the Bishopric of Brixen. They extended their territory over much of the region and came to surpass the power of the bishops, who were nominally their feudal lords. After the deposition of Henry X the Proud as Bavarian duke in 1138, the Counts of Tyrol strengthened their independence from Bavaria under his son Henry the Lion. When the House of Welf was again enfeoffed with the Bavarian duchy by Emperor Frederick Barbarossa at the 1154 Reichstag of Goslar, her possessions no longer comprised the Tyrolean lands. The Counts maintained that independence under the rising Bavarian Wittelsbach dynasty.


In 1253 Count Meinhard of Gorizia (Görz) inherited the Tyrolean lands by marriage to Adelheid, daughter of the last Count Albert III of Tyrol. When their sons divided their estate in 1271, the elder Meinhard II took Tyrol, for which he was recognized as an immediate lordship. He supported the German king Rudolph of Habsburg against his rival King Ottokar II of Bohemia. In reward, he received the Duchy of Carinthia with the Carniolian march in 1286.

In 1307 Meinhard's son Henry was elected King of Bohemia, After his death, he had one surviving daughter, Margaret Maultasch, who could gain the rule only over Tyrol. In 1342 she married Louis V of Wittelsbach, then Margrave of Brandenburg. The red eagle in Tyrol's coat of arms may derive from the Brandenburg eagle at the time when she and her husband ruled Tyrol and Brandenburg in personal union, though the Tyrolean eagle had already appeared in the 13th century.

Louis V died in 1361, followed by Margaret's son Meinhard III two years later. Lacking any descendants to succeed her, she bequeathed the county to Rudolph IV of Habsburg, Duke of Austria in 1363. He was recognized by the House of Wittelsbach in 1369. From that time onward, Tyrol was ruled by various lines of the Austrian Habsburg dynasty, who held the title of Count.


Map of the County of Tyrol and the Austrian Circle during the 15h century

After the Habsburg hereditary lands had been divided by the 1379 Treaty of Neuberg, Tyrol was ruled by the descendants of Duke Leopold III of Austria. After a second division within the Leopoldinian line in 1406, Duke Frederick IV of the Empty Pockets ruled them. In 1420 he made Innsbruck the Tyrolean residence. In 1490 his son and heir Sigismund renounced Tyrol and Further Austria in favour of his cousin German king Maximilian I of Habsburg. By then Maximilian I had re-united all Habsburg lands under his rule. In 1500 he also acquired the remaining Gorizia (Görz) territories around Lienz and the Puster Valley.

When Emperor Ferdinand I of Habsburg died in 1564, he bequeathed the rule over Tyrol and Further Austria to his second son Archduke Ferdinand II. Both territories thereafter fell to the younger sons of the Habsburg Emperors: Archduke Matthias in 1608 and Maximilian III in 1612. After the death of Archduke Sigismund Francis in 1665, all Habsburg lands were again under the united rule of the Emperor Leopold I.

Austria-Hungary in 1914, Tyrolean crown land in red

From the time of Maria Theresa of Austria (1740−1780) onward, Tyrol was governed by a central government of the Habsburg Monarchy at Vienna in all matters of major importance. In 1803 the lands of the Bishoprics of Trent and Brixen were secularised and incorporated into the county.

Napoleonic Wars

Andreas Hofer led the Tyrolean Rebellion 1809 against the invading Napoleon I

Following defeat by Napoleon in 1805, Austria was forced to cede Tyrol to the Kingdom of Bavaria in the Peace of Pressburg. Tyrol as a part of Bavaria became a member of the Confederation of the Rhine in 1806. The Tyroleans rose up against the Bavarian authority and succeeded three times in defeating Bavarian and French troops trying to retake the country.

Austria lost the war of the Fifth Coalition against France, and got harsh terms in the Treaty of Schönbrunn in 1809. Glorified as Tyrol's national hero, Andreas Hofer, the leader of the uprising, was executed in 1810 in Mantua. His forces had lost a third and final battle against the French and Bavarian forces. Tyrol remained under Bavaria and the Napoleonic Kingdom of Italy for another four years.

In 1814, by decisions of the Congress of Vienna, Tyrol was reunified and returned to Austria. It was integrated into the Austrian Empire. From 1867 onwards, it was a Kronland (Crown Land) of Cisleithania, the western half of Austria-Hungary.

The former crown land of Tyrol today.
  Coat of arms of South Tyrol South Tyrol (Italy)
  Coat of arms of Trento Trentino (Italy)

End of the County

After World War I, the victors settled border changes. The Treaty of Saint-Germain of 1919 ruled according to the 1915 London Pact, that the southern part of the Austrian crown land of Tyrol had to be ceded to the Kingdom of Italy, including the territory of the former Trent bishopric, roughly corresponding to the modern-day Trentino, as well as the south of the medieval Tyrol county, the present-day province of South Tyrol. Italy thus took control of the strategically important Alpine water divide at the Brenner Pass and over the south of Tyrol proper with its large German-speaking majority.[1] Since 1949 both parts form the autonomous Italian Trentino-Alto Adige/Südtirol region. The northern part of Tyrol retained by the First Austrian Republic today forms the Austrian State of Tyrol with its East Tyrol exclave.

In 1945 following World War II, Austrian attempts and South Tyrolean petitions to reunite German-speaking South Tyrol with Austria were not successful. Italy kept control. From 1972 onwards, the Italian Republic has granted further autonomy to the Alto Adige/Südtirol province.

Counts of Tyrol

  • Albert I 1028–1140
  • Albert II 1140–1165
  • Berthold 1165–1180
  • Henry I 1180–1190
  • Albert III 1202–1253, son .

Male line extinct.

House of Meinhardin

Margaret, Countess of Tyrol, heiress of the Meinhardin dynasty

County bequeathed to Albert's son-in-law:

Male line extinct, Countess Margaret, daughter of Henry II, married to:

divorced, secondly to:

Line extinct.

House of Habsburg

County bequeathed to

Line extinct, Habsburg lands re-unified under


Archduke Sigismund Francis, last of the Tyrolean line of the Habsburg dynasty

Habsburg regents of Tyrol and Further Austria:

Line extinct, Habsburg lands re-unified under

  • Leopold I 1665–1705, Holy Roman Emperor since 1658.



External links

Media related to County of Tyrol at Wikimedia Commons

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