Gregory Brown
513 Agnes Arnold Hall
Department of Philosophy
University of Houston
Houston, TX 77204-3004

Welf VI.

Margrave of Tuzien
Duke of Spoleto

Duke Welf VI. inherited the old Welf estates around Altorf-Ravensburg in Swabia, while his older brother, Heinrich the Proud (1102-1139) took power over the duchies of Bavaria and Saxony.  Welf VI. remained tied to the Welf power center of Altorf (Weingarten)-Ravensburg until his death in 1191.  The son of his older brother, Heinrich the Lion (1129-1195), outlived Welf VI. by only about four years. Consequently, duke Welf VI., under Heinrich the Lion, was the senior member of the Welf House.  At the same time, the sister of Welf VI., Judith (d. 1131), was married to the Staufer Friedrich II., duke of Swabia, and thus to the father of the later king and emperor Friedrich I. Barbarossa (1123-1190).  The relationship between the Welfs and the Hohenstaufen produced a close bond between the two dynasties.  This bond went so far that Friedrich Barbarossa was sometimes closer to his uncle Welf VI. than to his uncle king Konrad III. (1093-1152) from the Hohenstaufen.  After the Welfs had to surrender unwillingly the duchy of Bavaria in 1142, Welf VI. made war against the Staufer king Konrad III. over the forfeited duchy.  As a result of the settlement of 1152 between the Welfs and the Hohenstaufen, Friedrich Barbarossa was elected German king, and under Heinrich the Lion the Welfs got back the duchy of Bavaria in 1156.  After Welf VI. had lost his only son Welf VII. in 1167, Heinrich the Lion asked that his uncle recognize him as heir to the Welf estates in Swabia.  For this official recognition, Welf VI. demanded a large sum of money.  Since Heinrich the Lion did not choose to raise the money, duke Welf VI. first gave his nephew Friedrich I. Barbarossa  his Italian fief (the principality of Sardinia and the duchy of Spoleto).  When Heinrich the Lion refused to aid his cousin the emperor Friedrich I. in Italy in 1176, it led to proceedings against him in 1179 and to the definitive break between the Hohenstaufen and the Welfs.  Because of this, duke Welf VI. also gave his nephew, the Staufer Friedrich I. Barbarossa, his entire Swabian estate. When Duke Welf VI. died childless in 1191, the Hohenstaufen had unrestricted right of disposal over the old Welf estate in Swabia.

--Adapted from the website, Die Welfen


  • Zotz, Thomas. In the catalog for the exhibition: "Heinrich der Löwe und seine Zeit," Brunswick 1995.