Berthold V, Duke of Zähringen

Berthold V, Duke of Zähringen (1160 – 18 February 1218 in Freiburg im Breisgau), also known as Bertold V or Berchtold V, was Duke of Zähringen from 1186 until his death. He was the son of Berthold IV and Heilwig of Frohburg.[2]

Berthold V
Berthold IV, Duke of Zähringen.jpg
Equestrian seal of Berthold V, dated 1187.[1]
Duke of Zähringen
Reign1186 – 18 February 1218
PredecessorBerthold IV
SuccessorLands divided between Kyburg and Urach; Bern became a free imperial city.
Died18 February 1218 (aged 57–58)
Freiburg im Breisgau
Freiburg Minster, Freiburg im Breisgau
IssueDied without issue
HouseHouse of Zähringen
FatherBerthold IV
MotherHeilwig of Frohburg
ReligionRoman Catholic

History and legacyEdit

Berthold V, pictured on the Zähringerdenkmal monument in Bern (Karl Emanuel Tscharner, 1847).

Berthold succeeded his father Berthold IV in 1186. At the beginning of his reign, he reduced the power of the Burgundian nobles and settled the Bernese Oberland and the area of Lucerne. As a result, he enlarged Thun and founded Bern in 1191, which became the focus of his expansionism. At the battle of Ulrichen in 1211, however, he failed to gain access to the Valais.[3] The resulting treaty, signed at Hautcret Abbey on 19 October 1211, forced Berthold to accept Savoyard suzerainty over the upper Valais.[3]

Following the death of the Holy Roman Emperor Henry VI in 1198, he was one of the candidates in the Imperial election. He offered his nephews as hostages to the Archbishops of Cologne and Trier to gain their support.[4] However, when he discovered that a majority had elected the Hohenstaufen Philip of Swabia (antiking to Welf Emperor Otto IV of Brunswick) he renounced his claim. In exchange for this renunciation, Berthold gained territorial concessions in what is now southern Germany and northern Switzerland, consolidating Zähringer hold over the Ortenau, the Breisgau, Schaffhausen, Breisach and All Saints' Abbey. In 1198 Philip also paid Berthold 3,000 silver Marks for renouncing his claims. His nephew Konrad von Urach who would eventually decline the papacy was put under the tutelage of Berthold's uncle.

In the same year Berthold crushed an uprising of the Burgundian nobles, an event that is recorded on the gate in Freiburg.[5]

In 1200, Berthold began rebuilding Freiburg's city-parish church in Romanesque style.[5] Around 1240 the building was continued in Gothic style. The church was finished in 1360 except for the choir that took another 150 years to complete. The church admired for its steeple is known as Freiburg Minster.

Berthold married Clementia, daughter of Stephen III of Auxonne.[2] Their son Berthold died before his father, in 1216.[2] Therefore, with the death of Berthold V in 1218, the Zähringer dynasty became extinct in the male line. The Zähringer lands partly reverted to the crown, were granted imperial immediacy, or were divided between the houses of Urach (the counts of Freiburg), Kyburg and Fürstenberg.


  1. ^ The shield with heraldic eagle visible in this seal (from a document at Fraumünster, Zürich, dated 1187) is the only contemporary attestation of a Zähringer coat of arms. Franz Zell, Geschichte und Beschreibung des Badischen Wappens von seiner Entstehung bis auf seine heutige Form (1858), p. 7 and plate I.
  2. ^ a b c Lyon 2013, p. 249.
  3. ^ a b Previte-Orton 1912, p. 375.
  4. ^ Emmerson & Clayton-Emmerson 2006, p. 151.
  5. ^ a b History of Freiburg Archived 2010-08-28 at the Wayback Machine accessed 29 December 2008


  • Emmerson, Richard Kenneth; Clayton-Emmerson, Sandra, eds. (2006). Key Figures in Medieval Europe: An Encyclopedia. Taylor & Francis. Missing or empty |title= (help)
  • Lyon, Jonathan R. (2013). Princely Brother and Sisters: The Sibling Bond in German Politics, 1100-1250. Cornell University Press.
  • Previte-Orton, C. W. (1912). The Early History of the House of Savoy: 1000-1233. Cambridge at the University Press.

External linksEdit

Preceded by Duke of Zähringen
Ducal line extinct;
lands partitioned