FOUNDER:

HESSEN


 

BERNHARD von BERNHARDSHAUSEN


Taked from "The Historical Atlas of Knights & Castles"
by Dr. Ian Barnes, 2007

 

Born: circa 1160

Legendary founder of the von Bennhausen and von der Dressel families.  He is believed to have been a free nobleman, lord of the Bernhardshausen estates, and vassal of the abbot of Hersfeld monastery which was founded between 769 and 775 in the Duchy of Hessen.

The main source for the existence of Bernhard is in the analysis of the family name von Bennhausen. The original name had to be Bernhardshausen, which latter evolved to such forms as Bennenhus, Bennenhusen, Beinhausen, Benhausen, etc. "Benn" was and still is a nickname for Bernhard; "Hausen" can be translated either as houses, villages, fields, forests, or estates.  The original name simply meant Bernhard's property. We know from the 1179 document, n2.6; see exhibit 41, that the villa Bennenhus consisted of various estates. Therefore for a piece of property to be called "Bernhard's properties" a Bernhard had to exist.

8th - 9th century: During this period the area of northern Hessen was settled by the Frankish Chatte tribe. The hilly and dense forest area, Rothenburg, in which the Bernhardshausen properties were situated were settled a bit latter, n ?. . Since the Benhausen family were free noble men, (none of their earliest documents ever refer to them as belonging to the ministrales class, n2.6; n2.7), and, who were in possession of their properties generations before 1179, n2.6, it is possible that the Bennhausen family owned their lands already in the 10th century.

1003 AD: The entire Rohrbach valley including eastern properties in the Fuldabeuge bei the Blankenheim - Breitenbach area were given to the Benedictine monastery of Hersfeld by King Heinrich II, n book

Circa 1160 AD: Birth of Bernhard. This is the latest date Bernhard could reasonable be born. Because, it would have taken several generations for the property which was held by Benn (Bernhard) to become generally accepted and to phonetically evolve into the Bennenhaus and other similar name forms. Furthermore, naming an estate after the original owner was a common practice at this time.

The 1179 document, n2.6 also clearly states that the villa Bennenhaus was an inherited family property. Therefore, it must have been in the family for several generations. The 1179 document also mentions "other relatives"; again, it takes more than one generation to accumulate other relatives".

We know Ruppertus was a mature man in 1179. He was married and had heirs. It is reasonable to assume that he was born circa 1150. It is also reasonable to assume that the property was in the family at least for three generations. Give 30 years for each generation. You have a time period of approxiately 90 years. Subtract 90 years from 1150 and you have 1060, the approximate birth date of Bernhard.

 


Bennhausen as it Appeared in 1979

 


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