The Counts of Goerz
Grofje Goriški
And Their Carantanian Origin
1000 Years of the First Mentioning of Gorica (Goerz)

Coat of Arms of the Counts of Goerz:

   Shield: Parted per bend, (above) Azure, a crowned lion passant in or,
   (below) five times per bend in argent and gules.
   Crest: a high Prince's Hat with crown.
   It is very probable, that the lion passant in the upper part of the shield could have been originally a Carantanian panther which was unknown in Gorica and in Friuli and so became a lion. In the lower part were first three bends, in original sable then gules. Three bends were the sign of the western Carantanian command.

Dr. Jožko Šavli, Oct. 12, 2001

In Gorica (Goerz, Gorizia, today in Italy) one is celebrating today the millennium since the first mentioning of this locality in the historical records. It all began in 1001 when King and Emperor Otto III granted to Count Verihen (Vuerihen, Werigand, Varientus) half of the castle Solkan (Salicanum) with the village Gorica that belonged to it, as it is called in Slovenian language... villae quae sclavonica lingua vocatur Goriza. This property was founded in the Grand Duchy of Carantania (Slovenia), which at that time extended from Bohemia in the North until Verona in the Southwest.


The castle in Gorica/Gorizia (Goerz), one-time seat of the Counts of Goerz. The castle was destroyed in the WW1 and then restored in an elder, more original form. It is a symbol of 1000-year existence of the town, today a museum.

Count Verihen had a daughter Hedwig by name, who was the consort of Markvart II, margrave of the Carantanian March (later Styria). Their son Adalbero, being married to Princess Beatrix of Swabia, was appointed Duke of Carantania in 1012, and became the founder of the First House (Eppenstein) of the Carantanian Dynasty. Around 1031 his name appears in the records also as Count of Goerz for a short while until his deposition in 1036, († 1039). The King and Emperor did not consider to replace the duke in Carantania for a long time. The Carantanian people, however, considered as their true ruler and duke Markvart III, Adalbero's son, who officially also served as Count of Goerz.

Even in 1073, Markvart III was still recognized as the rightful duke by the Court († 1076). He was succeeded by his son Duke Liutpold (Leopold) who died in 1090, followed by his brother Duke Henry III. The last duke does not appear in the records as count of Goerz, since this title was granted to another family at that time, who were the counts of Pustrica and of Sovre (recorded as Pustertal und Lurn in German), having their seat in Lienz in the Upper Drava Valley. Their line derived from Hartvik, in 965 Palatine of Carantania, a member of the then already ramified Aribonian stock, who spread throughout  the Carantanian and the Bavarian area. The later Counts of Goerz inherited this office and posed as Palatines in Carinthia (Carantania) until their extinction.

The sister of the Carantanian Duke Henry III, Hedwig, was married to Engelbert, who was a member of the Hartvik line of the Aribonians through his mother's lineage. And it is very probable that this relationship played a decisive role in bestowing the Counts of Pustrica-Sovre (Pustertal-Lurn) with Goerz. At that point the family relocated their seat from Lienz to Gorica (Goerz) and adopted the name Counts of Goerz.

The first Count of Goerz was certainly Henry in the county of Istria (1075 - 1102). His brother Engelbert was at that time count in Pustrica (ca. 1080), and another brother Mainhard  was count in Sovre (1048 - 1090). The last one had two sons, Mainhard I († before 1149) and Engelbert II († ca. 1122) who succeeded their uncle Henry in Gorica. Mainhard I successors were his sons: Henry I († 1150) and Engelbert II († 1187), followed by Engelbert III († 1220), son of the last.

Count Engelbert's III younger son Albert I did not play an important role in history, in contrary to his elder son Mainhard who became a very important person. Through his marriage with Adelaide († 1275), daughter and heiress of the Count of Tyrol, he entered in history as Mainhard I († 1258), Count of Goerz-Tyrol. From him descend two family lineage's, the one of Goerz-Tyrol and of Goerz.

a) 1st line, Counts of Goerz-Tyrol, whose first member was Mainhard II of Goerz-Tyrol († 1295), who in 1286 was bestowed also with Carinthia (lower Carantania), whereas other Carantanian lands (Styria and Carniola) descended from the Habsburgs. Mainhard's II successors were his sons Otto († 1347), Ludvic († 1305), and Henry.

In fact, Henry of Goerz-Tyrol became soon the unique successor through his marriage with Ann, the daughter of Vladislav II, King of Bohemia, which won him the election as King of Bohemia and Poland on the Bohemian Diet. In 1307 he solemnly entered in Prague. All this changed when Henry of Luxemburg was elected Emperor in 1310, and his partisans elected his son Carl as their King of Bohemia, who was married to Elisabeth, another daughter of Vladislav II. Henry of Goerz-Tyrol had to retreat from Bohemia, and he died in 1335.

His heiress was his daughter Margaret of Tyrol. Rudolph IV, Duke of Austria, had her arrested and constrained her to abdicate and to cede the county to him in 1363. She died in the same year and with her this family branch died out.

b) 2nd line, Counts of Goerz, whose beginner was Albert II of Goerz  († 1304 ), another son of Mainhard I of Goerz-Tyrol. He had two sons, Henry II and Albert III. The last one was of no importance in the family's history. It was different for his elder brother Henry II, who became the most important prince of Goerz.

Indeed, Henry II of Goerz († 1323) was a gentle and good prince, but at the same time a capable army leader. He governed a territory which was much greater than his county. The Patriarch of Aquileia, who was also Duke of Friuli, was constrained to appoint Henry II as general captain (commander) of Friuli. The city of Padova elected him as its protector. In the city of Treviso he was the imperial lieutenant. The city of Trieste elected him as its mayor. The territory under his administration extended from Tyrol to the Croatian border. He died in his best years.

His elder son Mainhard VI died before him, and the only one left in line to be his successor was his second son called John Henry († 1338), who was still a minor. His mother Beatrix, the daughter of the Bavarian duke of Wittelsbach, had to reign in his name. She had the reputation of a very decisive and efficacious lady. Even the Patriarch of Aquileia nominated her as general captain in Friuli.

Thereafter the sons of Albert III, Henry II' brothers, succeeded together in the administration: Albert IV († 1374), Mainhard VII († 1385), and Henry III († 1363). Due to the brothers repartition of the family wealth, the powers of the Goerz stock began to diminish. They accumulated debts, squandered the family's fortune and it came to that point, that in 1375 Albert IV was forced to hand over to the Habsburgs the Slovenian March (Bela krajina), Inner Istria  and other properties.

To such a degradation of the one time so flourishing county, or better said princedom, Mainhard VII' son and successor Henry IV († 1454) gave it with his hazardous way of life the last stroke. He drunk and continued to prodigal the family properties. His decisive consort Catherine had him finally locked up in the castle Bruck in Lienz in her desperate attempt to save the family and the country.

Two tombstones of  Leonard, the last count of Goerz († 1500)

   The first one was elaborated toward the end of the 15th century and is to be found in the cathedral of Gorica/Gorizia.
   The second one was elaborated by Emperor Maximilan of Habsburg, his heir, after the death of Leonard, who died in Lienz and is buried in this town in the St. Andrä Church.

However, it was all too late. Their son and successor Leonard († 1500) was unable to free the county from its accumulated burdens. The incursions of the Turks after 1470 aggravated the situation even more. Count Leonhard of Goerz died at his castle Bruck in Lienz, and  was buried there in the church of St. Andrew.