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Zähringen is the name of an old and influential German noble family, taken from the castle and village of that name. Zähringen today is part of the city of Freiburg, which the dukes founded in 1120).

The earliest known member of the family was probably one Bezelin, a count in the Breisgau early in the 11th century. Bezelin's son Bertold I (d. 1078) was count of Zähringen and was related to the Hohenstaufen family. He received a promise of the duchy of Swabia, which, however, was not fulfilled, but in 1061 he was made duke of Carinthia. Although this dignity was a titular one, Bertold lost it when he joined a rising against the emperor Henry III in 1073. His son Bertold II, who like his father fought against Henry III, inherited the land of the counts of Rheinfelden in 1090 and took the title of duke of Zähringen; he was succeeded in turn by his sons, Bertold III (d. 1122) and Conrad (d. 1152). In 1127 Conrad inherited some land in Burgundy and about this date he was appointed by the German king, Lothair the Saxon, rector of the kingdom of Burgundy or Arles. This office was held by the Zähringens until 1218 and hence they are sometimes called dukes of Burgundy. Bertold IV (d. 1186), who followed his father Conrad, spent much of his time in Italy in the train of the emperor Frederick I; his son and successor, Bertold V, showed his prowess by reducing the Burgundian nobles to order. This latter duke was the founder of the town of Bern, and when he died in February 1218 the main line of the Zahringen family became extinct.

By extensive acquisitions of land the Zähringens had become very powerful in the districts now known as Switzerland and Baden, and when their territories were divided in 1218 part of them passed to the counts of Kyburg and thence to the house of Habsburg.

See also: Grand Duchy of Baden