Vassals of the Fraumünster: the Zumbrunnen Family in the Feudal Period

The Fraumünster Church in Zürich
Sidonius via Wikimedia Commons/CC-BY-SA-2.5

In the 800s, Louis the German, a king from the Carolingian dynasty and the grandson of Charlemagne, ruled over most of the land that is today Switzerland and Germany. His kingdom stretched from the Alps in the south to the North Sea, and from the Rhine River in the west to the Elbe River in the east.

Louis was a powerful enough king that he could afford to give something to his daughter and so, in the year 853, he created a convent in the already-ancient city of Zürich. The Benedictine Convent, which became known as the Fraumünster, was built on the banks of the Limmat River in the very heart of the city. To preserve the lifestyle his daughter Hildegard was accustomed to he gave her the convent, which was endowed with all the nearby lands, among them the Valley of Uri.

Thus the valley of Uri, the ancient homeland of the Zumbrunnen family, fell under the sphere of influence of Zürich. Though it has been expanded and renovated throughout the centuries, the Fraumünster Church is still there in the heart of Zürich (although it’s a Protestant Church now).

Along with the ancient church necrologies in Uri, the records of the Fraumünster contain some of the oldest records of the Zumbrunnen family, dating back to the 1200s, showing ancient proof of the Zumbrunnen family’s origins in the Middle Ages.

The Zumbrunnen family first shows up in records of the Fraumünster in the 1200s. The reason for these records is pictured below: Read more …

The Ancient Necrologies of the Zumbrunnen and Attinghausen Families

One of the ways we know for certain that the Zumbrunnen were an important family even in the 1200s and 1300s is through their appearance in ancient church books, where they were memorialized for their donations to the church.

In the Middle Ages, when a wealthy person died they (or their family) would often make a donation of property or wealth to the Catholic Church. The churches, in return, would record the names of these beneficiaries in large beautiful books, where each donor was assigned a day of the year. These books, which were zealously protected by their churches over the centuries, were known as Jahrzeitbuch (in German) and liber anniversarum or martyrologium (in Latin). In English, they are often called Necrologies or simply Yearbooks.

In exchange for these large donations, the priests of the church would consult the Necrology throughout the year and pray for the benefactors on their designated date. It is in part through this practice of donating land in exchange for a place in the necrology that the Catholic Church came to own the rights to huge swaths of land across the Holy Roman Empire. Below is a scan of one of the pages from the Necrology for the Monastery of the Order of St. Lazarus, to show what they looked like.

The necrology of the Monastery of the Order of St. Lazarus

Sadly, no Zumbrunnen are on the page I’ve found an image of! A full facsimile of this beautiful book is available at some European libraries. It’s quite difficult to make sense of, isn’t vigilant about spelling, was clearly added to over time, and is written in a sort of German-Latin pidgin (for example, the Zumbrunnen sometimes have their names as “Zum Brunnen” or “Zem Brunnen” or “Ze Dem Brunnen” or even translated literally into Latin as Ad Fontem meaning “to the fountain”). One name you can clearly make out in fairly large letters, on the seventh line from the bottom, is “Frat. Egloff de Atighuse”

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William Tell and the Zumbrunnen Family

The town center of Altdorf includes this famous sculpture of William Tell

The market place of Altdorf features this famous sculpture of William Tell.
H. Grob via Wikimedia Commons/CC BY-SA 3.0

The Zumbrunnen family originates from the Swiss towns of Attinghausen and Altdorf, in the Canton of Uri, and if you’d ever heard of these towns before it’s very likely because of William Tell, whose famous story takes place in Altdorf. Read more …

The Origin of the Barons of Attinghausen

The Zumbrunnen family descends from the Barons of Attinghausen. As already discussed, the first Zumbrunnen in history was Walter Zumbrunnen, who had been born into the Attinghausen family and changed his name to Zumbrunnen in the year 1209.

But who were the ancient Attinghausens? There are some undisputed facts, and then two basic theories about their origin. It’s unlikely the answer can ever be fully known, with just too much lost in the mists (and fires) of time. Read more …

The Oldest Genealogy of the Zumbrunnen by Gabriel Bucelin

The Benedictine monk Gabriel Bucelin, who published a genealogy of the Zumbrunnen family in 1678

The Benedictine monk Gabriel Bucelin, who published a genealogy of the Zumbrunnen family in 1678 via Wikimedia Commons

In the mid-1600s, a Benedictine monk named Gabriel Bucelin compiled numerous genealogies of prominent German-speaking families. I had seen references that Bucelin wrote a genealogy of the Zumbrunnen family, but it took me quite awhile to find it (Bucelin wrote in Latin and I can’t read Latin).

One of Bucelin’s works is called “Germania topo-chrono-stemmato-graphica sacra et prophana” published in 1678, containing thousands of genealogical entries. Each volume of the sprawling work runs for hundreds of pages. I finally located the Zumbrunnen entry in Volume 4, page 48. There’s no copyright for works this old so I’ll just post the page in its entirety, as there’s actually a sort of beauty in manuscripts this old.

Read more …

The Castles of the Zumbrunnen Family

Over the centuries, members of the Zumbrunnen family lived in at least eight different castles that are still standing today. Most of these castles can be visited by tourists. Here’s a brief history of the castles and the members of the Zumbrunnen family who lived in them.

Attinghausen Castle

The castle of Attinghausen by Roland Zumbuehl/Wikimedia  Commons CC-BY-3.0

The ruins of the Castle of Attinghausen
Roland Zumbuehl via Wikimedia Commons/CC-BY-3.0

Attinghausen Castle was the home of the Barons of Attinghausen, and the home in which Walter Zumbrunnen, the first Zumbrunnen, would have grown up. The castle was built perhaps as early as the 1000s or 1100s, although it is uncertain who the first owners of the castle were. It was expanded in the 1200s and was certainly the home of our relatives Werner Von Attinghausen through Johann Von Attinghausen.

The castle was abandoned around the time of Johann’s death in 1358. It’s possible the castle was ruined by a fire, either an accident or caused by an insurrection and that Johann died in the fire. It’s also possible that a fire happened after his death and the inheritors of the castle could not fix it.

By 1370, the castle was largely ruined; much or all of its grounds were in the possession of Walter Zumbrunnen (the great-great-great grandson of the original Walter Zumbrunnen). He likely purchased it from Johann’s sons-in-law who could not afford it. It’s unclear what happened to the ownership but by the 1400s, the Zumbrunnen no longer owned it.

The castle ruin is open to visitors.

Sargans Castle

The residence of the Bailiff of Sargans

The residence of the Bailiff of Sargans
Volkmar Rudolf via Wikimedia Commons/CC BY-SA 4.0

Perhaps the most majestic of the castles in which the Zumbrunnen lived. The castle was built in stages beginning in the 1100s, with most of the modern structure completed in the 1500s. It sits in the town of Sargans in the Swiss canton of St. Gallen.

Another view of Sargans Castle

Another view of Sargans Castle
via Wikimedia Commons/CC BY-SA 3.0

In 1483, the central cantons of Switzerland, including Uri, took control of the Sargans region. To administer their frontier territory they appointed a “landvogt,” often translated as “bailiff” or “reeve” to administer the region. The title was something akin to a colonial governor. While the exact role shifted over time, the basic structure was the same: the central cantons would take turns selecting their most capable magistrates to terms as landvogt. The landvogt would enforce the laws, and serve as a sort of military coordinator and ambassador back to the central cantons.

Four different Zumbrunnen men served as the landvogt of Sargans: Johann Zumbrunnen in 1466, Ulrich Zumbrunnen in 1494, Burkhard Zumbrunnen in 1663 and Josue Zumbrunnen in 1665. Apparently their names and Coat of Arms are on frescoes throughout the palace.

The castle is open to tourists. It is a restaurant and can also be booked as a wedding venue!

Bailiff’s Castle of Baden

This castle was the residence of the Bailiff of Baden, an office held by several Zumbrunnen.

This castle was the residence of the Bailiff of Baden, the office held by Johann Zumbrunnen II.
via Wikimedia Commons/CC BY-SA 3.0

The Swiss city of Baden (sometimes known as Baden bei Zurich, to avoid confusion with other cities named Baden) came under the protection of the central Swiss cantons in 1415. The castle sits on the right bank of the Linmat River which, as you can see in the picture, controlled passage on the bridge in the middle of town.

Johann Zumbrunnen II lived in the castle when he was appointed the landvogt of Baden in 1477. A successful term as a landvogt was one way to prove your administrative competence, and after his successful term as landvogt, Johann would eventually be appointed the landammann of Uri, the head of state for the entire canton.

Today the castle, also known as the Landvogteischloss Baden, is the town’s history museum and archive. It is open to tourists.

Frauenfeld Castle

The Frauenfeld Castle was the residence of the Bailiff of Thurgau

The Frauenfeld Castle was the residence of the Bailiff of Thurgau
Roland Zumbuehl via Wikimedia Commons/CC-BY-3.0

The Canton of Thurgau lies along the Rhine River and Lake Constance in northeastern Switzerland, forming a border with Germany. Construction on the foundation was likely begun in 1244, with the castle developing over the coming centuries. Before its rescue by the central Swiss cantons, the population of this region was dominated by two of the most power-hungry families of Switzerland — the Counts of Kyburg and the Hapsburgs — who also occupied the castle.

The region at last came under the protection of the central Swiss cantons in 1460. The landvogt of Thurgau lived in this castle, which is located in the town of Frauenfeld. The castle was the residence of the landvogts beginning in 1534. One of the first landvogts to live in the castle was Mansuetus Zumbrunnen, beginning his term as landvogt in 1536. His son Johann Zumbrunnen was also landvogt, living in the castle beginning in 1564.

The castle is open to tourists today and serves as the canton’s history museum. It is also available weddings and quite reasonable rates.

Vaulruz Castle

The residence of the Bailiff of Vaulruz

The residence of the Bailiff of Vaulruz
Roland Zumbuehl via Wikimedia Commons/CC BY-SA 3.0

Vaulruz, Switzerland is located in the region of Gruyere (famous for its cheese) in the French-speaking regions of Switzerland. A somewhat mysterious branch of the family lived in the Fribourg region in the early 1500s. I’m not sure how this branch is connected to the others, although for many years young Zumbrunnen men left their homes in Uri, to attend a Jesuit College in Fribourg.

Hans Zumbrunnen, from this branch of Fribourg Zumbrunnen, served as the bailiff of Vaulruz for most of the 1550s, and lived in this castle. The castle has its own website but I don’t read French well, and am not sure if it’s open to the public. It appears you can rent it for retreats and such.

Rudenz Castle

The Rudenz Castle in Fluelen, Switzerland was also a toll station on the trade route through Uri.

The Rudenz Castle in Fluelen
Badener via Wikimedia Commons/CC BY 3.0

The castles of the landvogts were magnificent structures, but also served as administrative and military hubs. Over the centuries the Zumbrunnen inhabited a number of other castles that were more modest, and were used largely as residences.

One such castle is the Rudenz Castle, which sits just north of the town of Altdorf, with a majestic view out over Lake Lucerne. It was originally owned by Johann Von Attinghausen, who used it as a post for collecting customs duties along the trade-route. When he died without heirs it passed into the control of the Rudenz family, who also used it as their residence. The castle lost its strategic significance, but was purchased and restored by Johann Heinrich Zumbrunnen in the early 1600s, who used it as his residence. While the previous castles were essentially owned by the government and occupied as part of a job, this castle was owned by the Zumbrunnen family.

Sadly, we don’t still own this castle. By the early 1700s it was owned by the Epp family. Today the castle is owned by the town. The grounds of the castle are open to tourists, although I’m not sure if the interior of the building is.

Beroldingen Mini-Castle

The family seat of the Beroldingen family, into which many Zumbrunnen married

The family seat of the Beroldingen family, into which many Zumbrunnen married
Hugitobi via Wikimedia Commons/CC BY-SA 4.0

Perhaps no family was more closely tied to the Zumbrunnen family than the Von Beroldingen family. The Von Beroldingen’s were originally servants of the Barons of Attinghausen but rose to prominence in their own right through trade, agriculture and military service, a testament to the (relatively) egalitarian nature of society in Uri.

The Von Beroldingen built this castle in 1500s, with a view out over Lake Lucerne. It is apparently located along an old mule path from Uri to Lucerne (though most trips from Uri to Lucerne would have been by boat). It is known by an unusual Swiss word “Schlossli” or “Schlösschen,” a diminutive for “Schloss” that I’ve translated here as mini-castle. It served as the family seat for many centuries.

At least three Zumbrunnen men may have come to the castle to court Von Beroldingen girls. Johan Zumbrunnen married Dorothea von Beroldingen, likely in the late 1400s (and possibly before this castle was built). In the 1600s, Anton Zumbrunnen married Maria Elizabetha Von Beroldingen and later in the 1600s Josue Zumbrunnen married Barbara Von Beroldingen. The latter two marriages certainly took place during the period in which the Von Beroldingen occupied this castle. This was thus a castle of our grandmothers more than our grandfathers. Like the Zumbrunnen family, the Von Beroldingen eventually immigrated away from Uri. Many other branches of the family survive to this day.

I’m not sure if the castle is open to visitors, although you can certainly hike to it.

A Pro Castle

The A Pro Castle, held by the A Pro family into which some Zumbrunnen women married

The A Pro Castle, held by the A Pro family into which some Zumbrunnen women married
Roland Zumbuehl via Wikimedia Commons/CC BY-SA 3.0

The A Pro family (sometimes written as Apro) has an interesting history in Switzerland. They were originally from the Livinen Valley (or Leventina), part of the Italian-speaking region of Switzerland. Several Zumbrunnen men served as the landvogt of Livinen, helping to bring this region under the protection of Switzerland and fighting off the Dukes of Milan.

The A Pro family, so named because they came from a town called Prato, immigrated to Uri in the 14th century and became a prominent family despite their origin outside of central Switzerland. There prominence is a reminder that although Uri was German-speaking, it had heavy Italian influences.

In the 1500s, Dorothea Zumbrunnen, the daughter of Landammann Mansueutus Zumbrunnen, married Peter A Pro. Peter and Dorothea built the A Pro Castle in the 1550s, and the A Pro family owned the castle for nearly 400 years. Today the castle is open to the public as an upscale restaurant called the A Pro Schlossrestaurant (it has 4.5 stars on TripAdvisor!). It appears that you can walk through much of the castle if you go to the restaurant.

Schweinsberg Castle

The Schweinsberg Castle in Attinghausen

The Schweinsberg Castle in Attinghausen
Roland Zumbuehl via Wikimedia Commons/CC-BY-3.0

A final castle of interest is the Schweinsberg Castle, located just several hundred yards from the Attinghausen Castle. As the Barons of Attinghausen grew in power and wealth in the 1200s and 1300s they built this second castle, which was likely occupied by members of the Attinghausen entourage, such as extended family (like the Zumbrunnen perhaps, although I have no proof of this) or prominent knights in their service.

At some point, the Attinghausen and Schweinsberg families had merged, possibly through marriage. For a time, the family went by both Attinghausen and Schweinsberg. Eventually, the family split in two, with one branch assuming control of lands near Bern and calling themselves only Von Schweinsberg. The other branch remained in Uri and called themselves only Von Attinghausen. Both of these branches were cousins of the Zumbrunnen. Though the Schweinsbergs and Attinghausen were in the higher nobility, and the Zumbrunnen were not, it’s likely that close family ties remained.

It is apparently unclear who owned the castle after Johann Von Attinghausen died, ending the Von Attinghausen line in Uri. Unfortunately, this castle is a private residence today and cannot be visited.

Translating the History of the Barons of Attinghausen and Schweinsberg

The castle of Attinghausen by Roland Zumbuehl/Wikimedia  Commons CC-BY-3.0

The ruins of the Castle of Attinghausen
Roland Zumbuehl via Wikimedia Commons/CC-BY-3.0

In 1865, a Swiss historian named Theodor Von Liebenau, who would later become the chief archivist of the city of Lucerne, wrote a detailed history of the Barons of Attinghausen and Schweinsberg (from whom the Zumbrunnen descend).

Theodor Von Liebenau was from a much later generation of historians than Jean-François Girard who wrote the Nobiliaire Militaire Suisse, which contains one of the oldest histories of the Zumbrunnen family. There are both benefits and drawbacks from relying on historians of this later period. Von Liebenau was much more scientific and critical than earlier historians, who sometimes used unreliable sources. But he also wrote his work after many of the original documents had been lost — a fact he himself acknowledges.

The most famous Attinghausens are not ancestors of the Zumbrunnen. Rather, they were the cousins of our earliest ancestors. But the first chapter of Von Liebenau’s history covers the oldest barons of Attinghausen, some of our ancestors from the oldest mists of the Middle Ages.

What follows is a sentence-by-sentence translation of the first chapter. (My own commentary, provided for context, is in parentheses and highlights like this) The original is on Google Books and any improvements to the translation would be welcomed.

I. The Oldest Barons of Attinghausen

In the first half of the fifth century after Christ’s birth, the tribe of the Alemmani, from Swabia, entered the Roman-controlled lands of Switzerland, and took possession of the land of Uri through armed conquest. At that time, the land around the lake of the forest states was no longer wilderness, as numerous coin finds tell us.

It is therefore not unbelievable that one of these conquerors, who divided up the land they had conquered, was given a plot of land in the country of Uri, in the region where the forest joins the Reuss river and whose descendants, in much later times, built a mighty fortress which was named after its builder — Atto or Hatto — and was called Attinghausen.

This hypothesis is not affected by the fact that Attinghausen is not enumerated among the towns in Uri, which were given by the Carolingian King Ludwig the German to the abbey of Zurich. At that time there was no other kind of nobility in Attinghausen.

They became the family of the Barons of Attinghausen, the only one of the higher nobility who lived in Uri. (There are two theories about the origins of the Barons of Attinghausen; this is some of the evidence that they are an ancient family of Uri.) They distinguished themselves especially with the possession of great commodities and a considerable number of serfs, as we can see from the records of the late period. Unfortunately, only a few documents bear witness to the existence of this ancient family. These are the old walls of the castle, and some notes in the Yearbooks of Attinghausen. (These yearbooks, also called Necrologies, were calendar books kept by churches that recorded the date of death of wealthy benefactors so that the priests would pray for them each year. They are a key source for ancient genealogies.)

Determining the age of the walls of the Attinghausen Castle is extremely difficult. The assumption is that the castle of Attinghausen, whose windows show round arches, was rebuilt and fortified after the first half of the twelfth century. It was in 1162 when Emperor Frederick I destroyed the city of Milan after a long siege and brought rich booty to Germany. It is possible that one of the Barons of Attinghausen was with the King in Italy — where the siege gave energetic men a splendid opportunity to prove their bravery — and they were entrusted by the emperor with the honorable commission, the Gotthard Pass. The castle of Attinghausen was very well situated, especially as the old Gotthard Road stretched along the left bank of the Reuss River.

Due to a lack of documents it is no longer possible to determine who was this vassal of Attinghausen for Frederick I. We know only the following names of Attinghausen’s earliest barons: Heinrich, Albrecht and Lamprecht, and of women: Bertha and Othilia, the latter being buried in the Lazerite monastery at Seedorf.

The barons further enriched themselves through a heiress of the House of Löwenstein, Richenza was her name. They glorified her name by means of renumerations to the church at Attinghausen, and ended her tribe of Löwensteins. They also came into possession, possibly through a heiress, to the Barony of Schweinsberg.

This information does not all come from contemporaneous data. It is nevertheless possible that two old scholars: Franz Vinzenz Schmid and Jean-François Girard may have drawn their reports from older writers who were lost at the fire of Altdorf.

The House of Löwenstein was later found to be in the possession of the Zumbrunnnen Family, which still lived in Tuscany in the last century, and who uncritical genealogists like Gabriel Bucelin also say descend from the Barons of Attinghausen.(Some Zumbrunnen lived in Parma, Italy in the 1700s. While Bucelin may have been an “uncritical genealogist” in some cases, his genealogy of the Zumbrunnen family from the 1600s is actually quite accurate.)

The Barons of Schweinsberg originally lived in the Bavarian Alps, in the regions of Tegernsee and Tyrol. Often their names are found in the “Codex Traditionum” of the Tegernsee Abbey, founded between the Isar River and the Inn River, around the year 700 by Albert and Ottoger, Earls of Warngau and Tegernsee.

From about 1140 to 1150, Wernher von Schweinsberg appears several times with his father Gerwich. Wernher had a son named Gervich and a brother Wolftregil. When Frederick I was in Würzburg in 1157, he was with Kraft Von Schweinsberg. One can also find a Castle Schweinberg near Hardheim am Main; the owners of this castle also possessed a Castle Löwenstein. The Schweinsberg, who lived in Franconia, would later be called Count Von Wertheim. The most prominent names of this family are: Erlewein, Conrad, Heinrich, Hermann, Johann, Reiner and Wernher. The family known as Von Schweinsberg, which still lives today in Darmstadt, is very well known. The fact that the Barons von Schweinsberg really moved away from Tegernsee is confirmed by the fact that their names are not mentioned in any later document of this monastery.

Even the name of Wernher von Attinghausen, which occurs multiple times (The key challenge untangling the genealogy of this family is the large number of people at the time who were all named Werner.), and which is also found in the lands of the Barons of Schweinsberg, indicates a kinship between the two families. But the immigration of these barons into our country is credible for other reasons.

In 1156, Henry II, of the House of Babenberg, handed over Bavaria and Austria to Emperor Frederick I, who handed over the duchy to Henry the Lion. The land where the Barons of Schweinsberg lived, turned into a duchy, which should be hereditary for both male and female lines of the house of Babenberg.(In short: the Barons of Schweinsberg lost their original lands in Bavaria as part of a land swap that was designed to avert conflict.)

When the emperor took his second trip to Italy, and destroyed Milan in 1162, the duke of Austria was with him and so was Baron Von Schweinsberg. During this campaign, the Barons of Schweinsberg became friends with the Barons of Attinghausen, and were given estates by the emperor in the Emmental Valley, where they built a castle.(This seems to be a reference to Castle Wartenstein)

Of course, we can make this assertion with documentary support; On the other hand, it is very easy to prove that in these days, many other families migrated from Bavaria and Austria to Switzerland. We recall here, for example, the families of Utzigen and Wilbeck, of Trostberg, whose castle was situated in the Chiemgau, where Traun fell into the Alza, and to that of Noberg, whose castle was almost the same as the old castle of Trostberg: In the Aargau, in Uri, and in the gorges of the Jura.

After these barons of Schweinsberg (perhaps at the beginning of the thirteenth century) had entered the estates of Attinghausen by means of inheritance, they took the name of Attinghausen. Throughout the 14th century they called themselves, in seals and letters, sometimes Von Schweinsberg, sometimes Von Attinghausen.

Probably the first of the Barons of Schweinsberg who settled in Uri is in the “Directorium Cantus” of the Benedictine monastery of Engelberg. It is beginning with Lord Ulrich that we securely know the order of the Barons of Attinghausen, who always enjoyed special respect.

It is the task of the following pages to illustrate the history of this glorious house, which at a later time was divided into one line in Uri and one line in the Emmental, near Bern. The pages will especially focus on the line which was situated in Uri.

A man stands where he is born and as his spirit first develops, he unconsciously interacts with the rippling waters and shale of his country in a constant and intimate process. For men do not educate their children alone. The mountains and valleys, forests and corridors, streams and seas, nature and climate, in their entire splendid change, and no less in times of storms or in the peaceful course of their events, form and shape the man to what he is and shall be, according to the power of the spirit that lives in him.(Poetic!)

All the Landammann of Uri Through the 1700s

Of all the offices held by the Zumbrunnen in Switzerland, the most important was that of the Landammann, who served as the leader of all the people of Uri. For most — if not all — of its history, the Landammann was elected by the people of the Canton. He was the head of state, supreme judge, and military leader of the Canton.

There is a lack of clarity about the very first dozen or so men to hold this office, as many of the oldest records have been lost. There’s no doubt that even very early on the Landammann was democratically elected. Uri held regular gatherings of its citizens beginning as early as 1231, so it’s possible that the position was elected from the very beginning.

Read more …

Burkhard Zumbrunnen and the 1251 Alliance with Zurich

Walter Zumbrunnen was the first man to adopt the Zumbrunnen surname. So his eldest son Burkhard Zumbrunnen must have been the second man in history with this name.

Burkhard would have been born in the late 1100s or early 1200s. He was the grandson of Werner, the Baron of Attinghausen, but Burkhard was not nobility himself. While many junior branches of Medieval nobles disappeared into obscurity, this was not to be the case with Burkhard. We know Burkhard through two interesting records that show he was an early participant in institutions that became Democracy, and was a key figure in the establishment of Switzerland as a nation.

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Translating the Zumbrunnen Entry in the Nobiliaire Militaire Suisse

The title page

The title page

The Nobiliaire Militaire Suisse was an incredibly ambitious effort by an Abbot named Jean-François Girard in the 1700s to compile genealogies of aristocratic Swiss military families. Too ambitious in fact. The first volume, published in 1787, was over 700 pages. It documented 50 families from Aa-Ayent in extensive detail.

Sadly for families B-Z, the author never finished even the second volume. But luckily for us, he did document the Zumbrunnen family as the “second branch” of the Attinghausen family.

This work is an especially important source because, just a dozen years after its original publication, a major fire devastated the town of Altdorf in 1799, destroying many of the records to which Girard had access. Had he not written down this information (and had Google Books not recently digitized it!) it’s likely that the full story of the Zumbrunnen and Attinghausen family would have been forever lost to time.

The Zumbrunnen branches, translated below, conclude an entry that also contains the Attinghausen family and Von Schweinsberg and Der Frauen families. The Zumbrunnen, the Von Schweinsbergs, and the Der Frauen, all descend from Werner, the Baron of Attinghausen.

Read more …