Published online by Cambridge University Press: 05 January 2013
Karl Schmid deepened our understanding of the German nobility's changing self-consciousness between the tenth and thirteenth centuries, most brilliantly, perhaps, in his article on the Welfs' rewriting of their dynastic history. Although critics have challenged and modified many of Schmid's specific points, it is clear that there was a change in family structure from amorphous sips composed of individuals who could claim kinship, whether agnatic or cognatic, with a powerful magnate to patrilineal dynasties that were often identified with the fortified center of the lineage's lordship, such as the Habsburgs. This transformation was both a cause and a consequence of the process of territorialization and occurred, as the work of Georges Duby has made clear, at the expense of daughters and younger sons.
In this chapter I look at three highly problematic and disparate artistic and literary texts that can be read as reflecting the tensions caused for and within noble or formerly noble families by the strengthening of princely authority. Each work was a response to a painful and troublesome past and an attempt to shape the lineage’s future destiny. What the three pieces have in common is that each was produced by a man and/or woman who was or who perceived himself or herself as a loser or potential victim in the formation of the territorial principality. I focus primarily on the family portrait in the Codex Falkensteinensis that was drawn at the behest of Count Sigiboto IV of Falkenstein and that has aroused surprisingly little scholarly interest.