Subject and Keywords:
The author presents the history of the Frei von Dehrn family, which lived in Hesse from the early Middle Ages until the first half of the 18th century. The family derived its origins from a father enigmatic knight, Dietger of Dehrn 10th century, ancestor also of the chivalrous family of Der living in Meissen, Silesia and Poland the last two lines surviving to this day and the Austrian family of von Puchheim which died out in the 18th century. Paradoxically, although the Frei von Dehrn family belonged to the German free knighthood class, it joined the service of the Counts of Nassau, who ruled part of Hesse. However, this is only seemingly a contradiction, because in some estates a family could be subordinated directly to the emperor and in others its liege lords were the rulers of the country in which it lived. This subordination to the von Nassau family lasted for hundreds of years and passed from one line of the family to another. The family itself contributed to the extinction of its main line by murdering the last heir, but the takeover of leadership by a younger line did not mean the loss of the Frei von Dehrns’ political stature, as they assumed the highest office in the county, that of the Amtmann, and then in the duchy, when the von Nassau-Diez family became the von Nassau-Oranje family, and from that moment until their extinction in the 18th century the Frei von Dehrns served the rulers of the Netherlands, sovereigns of Hesse-Nassau.