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Rosenberg Rose

Rosenberg Rose
Middle Ages Friday, 24. May 2024

The red rose on a silver field (Argent, a five-petaled rose gules) is still inextricably linked with the famous ancient South Bohemian house of the Lords of Rosenberg (Rožmberk), who were one of the most powerful noble houses in the Bohemian kingdom for more than four centuries. Members of this house, as members of the high nobility, traditionally held some of the highest offices in the Kingdom of Bohemia, and some of them also became significant church dignitaries. The house built an extensive domain in southern Bohemia, and the wealthy and powerful Rosenbergs often did not hesitate to oppose the Bohemian king. During the turbulent times of the Hussite wars, this traditionally Catholic family fought against the Hussites and considered Emperor Sigismund of Luxembourg to be the legitimate ruler. The coat of arms with the red five-petaled rose became a traditional symbol of strength, prestige, and power. But where does this famous coat of arms come from?

Lords of Rosenberg coat of arms. Vyšší Brod Monastery, turn of the 13th-14th century. Wikimedia Commons

The Lords of Rosenberg were originally one of the branches of a much larger noble house known as the „Vítkovci“ (Witigonen). This name comes from the earliest documented ancestor and founder of the family, the South Bohemian nobleman Vítek (Witiko) of Prčice. In the second half of the 12th century, he served as a steward for the then-ruling Přemyslid dynasty and acquired property both in southern Bohemia and partly in Austria during his lifetime.

His five sons (historically, four are documented) were said to have become the founders of individual branches of the family. According to traditional heraldic legend, this resulted in the so-called "division of the roses," where Vítek of Prčice granted all five of his sons the same coat of arms, a five-petaled rose, but in different color combinations for each. Jindřich (Henry), the founder of the Lords of Hradec, bore a gold rose on a blue field (Azur, a five-petaled rose or). From this branch, the Lords of Stráž eventually separated, bearing a blue rose on a gold field (Or, a five-petaled rose azur). Another son, Vítek (Witiko) II, became the founder of the Lords of Krumlov and bore a green rose on a silver field (Argent, a five-petaled rose vert), while the younger Vítek (Witiko) III, founder of the Lords of Rosenberg, bore a red rose on a silver field (Argent, a five-petaled rose gules), and Vítek (Witiko) IV, founder of the Lords of Landštejn, bore a silver rose on a red field (Gules, a five-petaled rose argent). The fifth son, who is not reliably documented, is believed to have been an illegitimate son named Sezema, who received a black rose on a gold field (Or, a five-petaled rose sable), with the color of the rose indicating his illegitimate origin.

Whatever the truth about the division of the family coats of arms among the House of Witigonen, it is certain that all five (or six) branches of the main house did indeed exist. All these family lines, except for the Lords of Krumlov and the Lords of Stráž, survived until the early 17th century, when they eventually died out one by one. The last were the Sezimové of Ústí, who died out in 1621. The House of Rosenberg became extinct in 1611 with the death of its last male member, Petr Vok of Rosenberg.

 

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