Riedesel is a German family name that began to appear in legal documents in the early
1200s. They were of the knightly class, though not all had the official status of " Ritter" or knight. Its exact geographical and temporaral origins are uncertain. However, all of the early references are from the area of Hesse, and many served as vassals of the Margrave of Hesse in Marburg. In later centuries, the men served a wide variety of higher nobility as men-at-arms, administrators, and counselors.
Lines of the family are known to have had residences and offices throughout Hesse including Frankfurt, Josbach, Camberg, Bellersheim, Melsungen, as well as in Westphalia. The names employed typically used "zu" to designate their main residence, e.g. the "Wappen" (coat of arms) of Krafft Riedesel zu Josbach dating from 1523 still hang in the church of Saint Elisabeth in Marburg. Following the example of the Margrave of Hesse to whom they were vassals, the Riedesels were early converts to the Lutheran faith.
With one significant exception, the various lines of Riedesel knights either died out in the male line during the Middle Ages or disappeared into the ranks of unfree peasants. Without hereditary lands, they were dependent on fiefs from higher nobility in exchange for their services.
The exception was the line of Riedesels based in Melsungen. Hermann II (1407-1463) of this line married Margareta von Röhrenfurth after establishing himself as an able knight and adviser in the service of Landgrave Ludwig. Hermann took possession of "Schloss" Eisenbach near
Lauterbach (Hesse), as well as other lands and rights. He also took over the office of "Erbmarschall zu Hessen" (hereditary counselor to the Hessian courts). With this achievement, the Riedesels of Melsungen-Eisenbach had a permanent, hereditary financial base. Their holdings were substantial in comparison with those of most free knights, but still quite minor within the patchwork of German states, secular and ecclesiastical.
In 1680, four of the male Riedesels were granted the title of "Freiherr zu Eisenbach" by the German Emperor, with that title passing to all of their male descendants who reached majority. The title is usually translated as "Baron" in English. The common property of the family was governed by complex arrangements that have kept it intact. Nevertheless, few had enough income to support the lifestyle of even minor nobility without entering the service of greater powers in their armies or administration. Some continued to live around Lauterbach, but many others resided elsewhere.
The best-known member of the family, in the English-speaking world at least, is probably General
Friedrich Adolph Riedesel, Freiherr zu Eisenbach (1738-1800). Erroneously known to American historians as "von Riedesel", he commanded a regiment of soldiers from the Duchy of Braunschweig as part of the British forces during the American Revolution.
The noble Riedesels lost their sovereignty (and feudal rents and services) in the wake of the
Napoleonic wars, so pursued other enterprises included brewing and forestry.
Far more numerous in Germany and in America are Riedesels who clearly do not descend from thethe Riedesel Freiherren zu Eisenbach. Their traceable history begins around 1600 in the former Counties (Grafschaften) of Wittgenstein, immediately west of
Hesse. A suggested ancestor was from the Riedesel zu Josbach line and settled in Wittgenstein perhaps a century earlier. No member of the Wittgenstein Riedesels is better known than the master builder Mannus Riedesel(1662-1726).
The history of the Riedesel zu Eisenbach has been thoroughly researched and documented in a series of volumes.
1. "Vom ersten Auftreten des Names bis zum Tode Hermanns III. Riedesel 1500" (Dr. E.E. Becker, 1923)
2. "Riedeselisches Urkundenbuch 1200 bis 1500" (Dr. E.E. Becker, 1924)
3. "Vom Tode Hermanns III. Riedesel 1501 bis zum Tode Konrads II 1593" (Dr. E.E. Becker, 1927)
4. "Vom Tode Konrads II 1593 bis zum Vertrag mit Hessen-Darmstadt 1593-1713" (Dr. Fritz Zschaeck, 1957)
5. "Vom Reich zum Rheinbund 1713-1806" (Dr.
Karl Siegmar Baron von Galéra, 1961)
6. "Wege zu neuen Lebensformen 1806-1918" (Dr. Karl Siegmar Baron von Galéra, 1965)
7. "Die Riedesel in republikanischen Staatsformen 1918-1965" (Dr. Karl-August Helfenbein, 2003)
Concerning the origins of the Riedesel name in the county of Wittgenstein, from whence all Americans and most Germans bearing the name descend:"Die Entstehung des Namens Riedesel in der Graftschaft Wittgenstein: Bekanntes und neue Theorien". Wittgenstein, Blätter des Wittgensteiner Heimatvereins e.V., Volume 71, Number 4, 2007. (Dr. Paul Riedesel and H. Stefan Riedesel).
Also [http://www.riedesel.org Riedesel web site] has a variety of references and factual information.
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Riedĕsel  — Riedĕsel, Grundherrschaft mit standesherrlichen Gerechtsamen der Freiherren Riedesel zu Eisenbach, meist im Großherzogthum Hessen im Vogelsberg; 71/2 QM. umfassend, mit Lauterbach, Stockhausen, Moos u.a. Ortschaften u. 20,000 Ew.; sonst zur… … Pierer's Universal-Lexikon
Riedĕsel  — Riedĕsel, 1) Johann Hermann von R., geb. 1740, war königlich preußischer Kammerherr u. außerordentlicher Gesandter am k. k. Hofe in Wien u. st. 1785 auf seinem Landgute Hinzig bei Wien; er stand bei Friedrich II. in großer Gunst u. schr.: Reise… … Pierer's Universal-Lexikon
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Riedesel — Stammwappen der Freiherren Riedesel zu Eisenbach Die ursprünglich ritterschaftliche Familie der Riedesel Freiherren zu Eisenbach (Riedesel FzE) gehört zum hessischen Uradel. Aus dem Raum westlich von Marburg ist die älteste Nennung eines Riedesel … Deutsch Wikipedia
Riedesel — Die Riedesel, Gebsattel, Aufsess und Palm haben ihren Adel aus Christi Zeiten. – Eiselein, 529 … Deutsches Sprichwörter-Lexikon
Riedesel — Übername zu mhd. rten, rden »reiten« und mhd. esel »Esel«: »Reitesel«. Wigandus Ridesel ist a. 1318 im Urkundenbuch zur Geschichte der Herzöge von Braunschweig und Lüneburg bezeugt … Wörterbuch der deutschen familiennamen
Riedĕsel zu Eisenbach — Riedĕsel zu Eisenbach, eine alte hessische, reichbegüterte, seit 1680 freiherrliche Familie, welche im Großherzogthum u. Kurfürstenthum Hessen, Thüringen u. Limburg Besitzungen hat, namentlich das Fideicommiß (durch Vertrag von 1586, in beiden… … Pierer's Universal-Lexikon
Riedesel, Frederica Charlotte Louisa — (1746 1808) Wife of Baron Friedrich Adolph Riedesel; born in Bradenburg, Germany. Educated in Berlin. In 1777 accompanied her husband to Canada and was with him through the Burgoyne campaign, acting as nurse during the war. Index: Dr Her… … The makers of Canada
Riedesel, Friedrich Adolph, Baron — (1738 1800) German officer. Born in Rhine Hesse. Educated at Marburg. Served on the staff of Prince Ferdinand of Brunswick in the Seven Years War, and took part in the battle of Minden. In 1776 attached to the British forces in North America,… … The makers of Canada
Friedrich Adolf von Riedesel — Friedrich Adolph Riedesel Friedrich Adolf Riedesel Freiherr zu Eisenbach, fälschlich auch „von“ Riedesel genannt (* 3. Juni 1738 in Lauterbach (Hessen); † 6. Januar 1800 in Braunschweig), war ein braunschweig wolfenbüttelscher General, der die br … Deutsch Wikipedia