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The Counts of Cilli or Celje ( ; ; ) represent the most important medieval aristocratic and ruling house with roots and territory in present-day Sloveniamarker.

At the time the house died out they held the rank of princes of the Holy Roman Empire and many other titles in territories of present-day Central Europe.

Name and origins

The name "Counts of Cilli" was given to the Lords of Sanneck or Sannegg by Emperor Louis IV in 1341 and was derived from the medieval name Cilli of the city of Celjemarker in Lower Styria. Celje itself became a property of the dynasty in 1333. and in a short period of time they owned more than 20 castles all over the territory of modern Slovenia and beyond through the marriages of their daughters.

Habsburg's allies

In the 14th century they allied with the Habsburgs in their war against the counts of Gorizia- Tirol, making Cilli vassals of the Habsburgs in 1308.With their acquiring large estates in the adjoining duchies of Styria, Carinthia,and Carniola as well as in the territories of the Hungarianmarker crown (Croatiamarker, Slavoniamarker) their influence rose and they became one of the most powerful families in the area. They were related by marriage with rulers of Bosnia and Polishmarker and Hungarianmarker kings.

Savior of the king

Their rapid rise started after the Battle of Nicopolismarker (1396) where Hermann II of Cilli saved the life of Sigismund of Luxemburg (Hungarian king, from 1433 Holy Roman emperor). As a reward king Sigismund donated (1397-99) the city of Varaždinmarker, the county of Zagorje, and many estates in present-day Croatiamarker to the family.The House of Cilli and Sigismund became even closer through the marriage of Hermann's daughter Barbara of Cilli to king Sigismund.In 1436 the Emperor elevated the counts to the rank of princes of the Holy Roman Empire (although they retained their title of Count, in ,in ). The Habsburgs, whose strongest rivals they had become, reacted with a war that lasted until 1443, when an agreement of mutual inheritance was signed.

Keeper of the young king

Ulrich II of Cilli was the most powerful member of the Cilli family. He held a large influence in many courts, which originated from the relationships the Cilli family had made in the past. He tried to get regency of Hungarymarker, Bohemia and Austriamarker through control over Ladislas the Posthumous, at the time a minor. With such ambitions he got many opponents and rivals, such as the Hunyadi family. After an unsuccessful claim to the Bosnia crown, Cilli obtained some territories in Croatiamarker and Slavoniamarker and finally succeeded in forcing Frederick III, Holy Roman Emperor to hand over (1452) the boy king Ladislas the Posthumous to his keeping. Thus, Ulrich II became practically the ruler of Hungary.In 1456 after the death of his rival John Hunyadi, Ulrich II was named Captain General of Hungary, an office previously held by John Hunyadi. That initiated a plot by the Hunyadi family against Ulrich II, and he was assassinated on 8 November, in Belgrademarker.

Murder in Belgrade

With the death of Ulrich II the male line of the Counts of Cilli died out, and after a war of succession all of their estates and property were handed over to the Habsburgs on the basis of the inheritance agreement.


Part of their coat of arms - the three golden stars on a blue background, which, as Lords of Sanneck, they had inherited from the once powerful Carinthian Counts of Heunburg upon their becoming extinct in 1322 - was incorporated into the Slovenian coat of arms in 1991. It is also the current coat of arms of Celjemarker.In addition, all European monarchs descended from Christian IX of Denmark and his wife, Louise of Hesse-Kassel (a direct matrilineal descendant ofBarbara of Celje) are descended from the family.Image:Ordines Sacri Romani Imperii.jpg|Counts of Cilli in the structure of the Holy Roman EmpireImage:Quaterionenadler David de Negker.jpg|Counts of Cilli in the structure of the Holy Roman EmpireImage:Meister der Chronik des Konzils von Konstanz 001.jpg|Sigismund and Barbara at the Council of ConstanceImage:Coat_of_arms_of_the_Kingdom_of_Yugoslavia.svg|Royal Yugoslav coat of arms (1918-45), with three golden stars representing SlovenesImage:Coat of arms of the municipality of Celje.svg|Coat of arms of CeljeImage:Coat of Arms of Slovenia.svg|Slovenian coat of arms

The Lords of Sanneck or Barons of Soune, Counts of Cilli

Counts of Cilli in the structure of the Holy Roman Empire
The Lords of Sanneck (Žovnek) or Barons of Soune
  • Gebhard (cca 1130-1144)
  • Gebhard II (1173-1227)
  • Conrad I (+ cca. 1255)
  • Ulrich I (+ cca. 1265)
  • Ulrich II (+ cca. 1316)
  • Frederick I (+ 1360), from 1341 Count of Celje
Counts of Cilli (Celje)


Slovenstvo grofov Celjskih, 1937 (dr. Dragan Šanda)

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