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  • Print publication year: 2006
  • Online publication date: July 2009



In 1049 the great reform pope, Leo IX (1049–54), embarked on an ambitious itinerary north of the Alps to root out simony and clerical corruption. In the midst of a pressing schedule of councils, this former bishop of Toul paid a visit to his homeland, to ‘sweet Alsace’ as his biographer called it. There, Alsace's famous son dispensed blessings, relics and papal privileges to a number of reformed monasteries throughout the region, among them Altdorf, Hesse and Woffenheim which, as Leo proudly recalled, had been founded by his own kin, the so-called lords of Dabo and Eguisheim. In his grants to two other monasteries, Lure and Hohenburg, the pope was strangely oblivious to even deeper ancestral ties. For if Leo had emerged from the line of Dabo and Eguisheim, he and his near ancestors also were the direct descendants of a more ancient kin-group, the Etichonids, who had arisen in the seventh century, produced an illustrious line of dukes in the eighth century and been the patrons of Lure, Hohenburg and at least nine other Alsatian monasteries, but who had been transformed around the millennium into a new family, the lords of Dabo and Eguisheim.

Eclipsing Leo's view of his recent Etichonid heritage was a profound revision in his ancestors' lordship in the late tenth century, a revision which marked the transformation of a distinctive political order in early medieval Alsace stretching back to the seventh century.