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The Princely County of Tyrol was an independent county within the Holy Roman Empire, and later a Kronlandmarker (Crown Land) of Cisleithanian Austriamarker. Today its territory is divided between the Italian region of Trentino-Alto Adige/Südtirol and the Austrian state of Tyrolmarker. Both regions are today associated again in the Euroregion Tyrol-South Tyrol-Trentino.


Birth of Tyrol

In 1027 Emperor Conrad II split off the Bishopric of Trent from the former Lombard Kingdom of Italy and attached it to the stem duchy of Bavaria, then under the rule of his son Henry III. From the 12th century on the counts residing in Castle Tyrolmarker near Meranomarker held the office of a Vogt in the Trent diocese and also in the Bishopric of Brixen. They extended their territory over much of the region and came to surpass the power of the bishops, who were nominally their feudal lords. After the deposition of Henry the Proud as Bavarian duke in 1138 the Counts of Tyrol were able to strengthen their independence from Bavaria under Henry the Lion as well as the rising Wittelsbach dynasty.

In 1253 Count Meinhard of Gorizia (Görz) inherited the Tyrolean lands by marriage with Adelheid, daughter of the last Count Albert III of Tyrol. His son Meinhard II reached the acknowledgement of Tyrol as an immediate lordship by the Holy Roman Emperor. He also received the Duchy of Carinthia with the Carniolian march by German king Rudolph of Habsburg in 1286.

When Meinhard's son Henry - who even was elected King of Bohemia in 1307 - died in 1335 he left one daughter, Margaret Maultasch, who could only gain the rule over Tyrol. In 1342 she married Louis V of Wittelsbach, then Margrave of Brandenburg.The red eagle in Tyrol's coat of arms is derived from the red Brandenburg eagle at the time when she and her husband ruled Tyrol and Brandenburg in personal union.

However Louis died in 1361, followed by Margaret's son Meinhard III two years later. Lacking any descendants to succeed her, she bequeathed the county to Rudolph IV of Habsburg, Duke of Austriamarker in 1363, finally acknowledged by the House of Wittelsbach in 1369. From that time onwards, Tyrol was ruled by various lines of the Habsburg dynasty, who held the title of the Count.

In 1420 Duke Frederick IV of Habsburg made Innsbruckmarker the Tyrolean residence. From the time of Maria Theresa of Austria, who ruled 1740−1780, onwards, Tyrol was governed by a central government of the Habsburg Monarchy at Viennamarker in all matters of major importance.

Napoleonic Wars

Following defeat by Napoleon in 1805, Austriamarker was forced to cede Tyrol to the Kingdom of Bavaria in the Peace of Pressburg. Tyrol as a part of Bavaria became a member of the Confederation of the Rhinemarker in 1806. The Tyroleans rose up against the Bavarian authority and succeeded three times in defeating Bavarian and French troops trying to retake the country. Austria lost the war of the Fifth Coalition against France, and got even harsher terms in the Treaty of Schönbrunn in 1809. Often glorified as Tyrol's national hero, Andreas Hofer, the leader of the uprising, was executed in 1810 in Mantuamarker, having lost a third and final battle against the French and Bavarian forces. Tyrol remained under Bavaria and the Napoleonic Kingdom of Italy for another four years before being reunified and returned to Austriamarker following the decisions at the Congress of Vienna in 1814. Integrated into the Austrian Empiremarker, from 1867 onwards it was a Kronland (Crown Land) of Cisleithania, the western half of Austria-Hungary.


[[File:Tirol-Suedtirol-Trentino.png|thumb|200px|The former Tyrol today (excluding Cortina and Livinallongo)


After World War I, the Treaty of Saint-Germain of 1919 ruled that, according to the London Pact, the southern part of Tyrol had to be ceded to Italymarker. Italy's border was pushed northward to the strategically important Alpine water divide, now including the south of Tyrol with its large German-speaking majority. The northern part of Tyrol was retained by the First Austrian Republic.

In 1945, Austrian attempts and South Tyrolean petitions to reunite German-speaking South Tyrol with Austria were not successful. From 1972 onwards, Südtirol / Alto Adige was granted autonomy by the Italian republic.


  1. Oscar Benvenuto (ed.): " South Tyrol in Figures 2008", Provincial Statistics Institute of the Autonomous Province of South Tyrol, Bozen/Bolzano 2007, p. 19, Table 11

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