Bibra family

This article is about the German aristocratic family. For other uses, see Bibra.
Bibra coat of arms, gothic style
Representation of a Bibra knight in front of the castle Bibra
Coat of arms from St. Leo Kirche in Bibra, window date from about 1492
Detail of bronze coat of arms by Peter Vischer
Prince-Bishop Lorenz von Bibra,detail of tomb by Tilman Riemenschneider in Würzburg Dom (cathedral)
Prince-Bishop Conrad von Bibra
Prince-Bishop Heinrich von Bibra by his court painter, Johann Andreas Herrlein
Ernst von Bibra
Map of Grabfeld showing localities with strong Bibra family ties
Burg Bibra
Castle Adelsdorf
Castle at Schwebheim in 1870 engraving
Schloss Kleinbardorf

The Bibra family was one of the leading Uradel (ancient noble) families in Franconia (northern part of Bavaria) and present day Thuringia from the mid-15th century to about 1600. Later on the family rose from Reichsritter (Imperial Knights) to Reichsfreiherr (Barons of the Holy Roman Empire). After the Holy Roman Empire dissolved, they were made ‘’Freiherr’‘ (Barons) of Bavaria and Bohemia.


The earliest references to the family include a document of Bishop Otto of Bamberg from the year 1119 of a Rupertus de Bibra. In 1151 a Pertholdus (Berthold) de Bibra and his sons Pertholdus (Berthold) and Tagino are referenced in another document. The family prospered in numbers, wealth, and influence in the 15th century and early 16th century. By the time of Siebmachers Wappenbuch of 1605, the family is listed as the most important family of Franconia under the rank of Freiherr. By 1600 most of the family died off without heirs partially due natural causes such as the Bubonic plague and the number of family members who took church positions. After the death of Heinrich von Bibra in 1602, the Prince-Bishop Julius Echter von Mespelbrunn seized most of the family’s assets as part of the Counter-Reformation resulting in a 79-year lawsuit. The lawsuit (Reichskammergericht) was eventually settled with the family receiving all the properties except Burgwallbach but without income during the suit. From 1602 on there were many important members of the family but the family itself never recovered the leading position it previously had in the late 15th and 16th centuries. Between 1698 and 1772, the various lines were raised to Reichsfreiherr (Barons of the Holy Roman Empire). In later times, the family spread to the Austrian Empire, the British Empire, and the United States. According to Wagenhöfer, the Bibra family is the most researched family of the low nobility in Franconia after the Guttenberg and Seckendorff families.

Prominent members of the family

Riemenschneider patronage

The tomb of Lorenz von Bibra by Tilman Riemenschneider (c. 1460 – 7 July 1531) in the Würzburg Dom (cathedral) is one of Riemenschneider's most famous works. Lorenz also commissioned Riemenscheider to do the tomb of his predecessor, Rudolf von Scherenberg. In Bibra the family commissioned Riemenschneider to do the Altar of the Apostles, Altar of the Church Fathers, Altar of the Annunciation, Carving of St. Kilian, a crucifix, and an epitaph of Hans von Bibra (Lorenz’ father). Kilian von Bibra also commissioned a work by Riemenscheider other than at Bibra.

Localities associated with family

Family seat:

Second seat:

Historical holdings still in family:

Estates, castles, manor houses, and villages that previously came under Bibra control (Germany unless otherwise stated):

German cities with close association:


Klosters closely associated with Bibra family:


Coats of arms of municipalities

The Bibra coat of arms is incorporated into several municipalities.

Organization of the family

For the last four centuries the family has divided itself between two Branches named after the two brothers whom all living Bibra descend: Valentine (1560–1595) and Bernhard (1562–1609). Within each branch, the family has divided further in Lines centered on castles and a manor house (Gleicherwiesen). The last two centuries, the Lines are as follows:

Valentine Branch

Adelsdorf Line (extinct in the male line since 1993)
Raised to Imperial Barons (Reichsfreiherr) 1698
Became Bavarian Barons 1815
Gleicherweisen Line
Raised to Imperial Barons (Reichsfreiherr) 1698
Became Bavarian Barons 1815
Schwebheim Line (extinct 1958)
Raised to Imperial Barons (Reichsfreiherr) 1698
Became Bavarian Barons 1817
Schnabelwaid, later Weisendorf Line (extinct 1856)
Raised to Imperial Barons (Reichsfreiherr) 1698
Became Bohemian (part of the Austrian Empire), Barons 1810

Bernhard Branch

Brennhausen Line
Raised to Imperial Barons (Reichsfreiherr) 1772
Became Bavarian Barons 1828
Bibra-Bibra Line
Raised to Imperial Barons (Reichsfreiherr) 1772
Became Bavarian Barons 1816
Irmelshausen Line (Older sub-line & Younger sub-line)
Raised to Imperial Barons (Reichsfreiherr) 1713
Became Bavarian Barons 1816

All branches of the family were raised to Freiherr. Regarding personal names: Freiherr is a former title (translated as Baron), which is now legally a part of the last name. The feminine forms are Freifrau and Freiin. In 1919, all nobility predicates were transformed into constituents of the family name in Germany.

Outline of family

Schloss Roßrieth
Bibra Palais (Bibra Haus), Bamberg
Epitaph of Bernhard and Sibylle von Bibra at Irmelshausen
Grave of Friedrich Kaspar von Bibra (1681–1750) in Höchheim
Bibra Lake located in the Perth Australia suburb, Bibra Lake

Bibra family / Bibran-Modlau family relationship

Bibran-Modlau family (Bibran, Bibra und Modlau, Bibra-Modlau) was a Silesian noble family which was raised to Reichsfreiherr (Imperial barons) 1624.

The family and the three sons-in-law of the apparent last Silesian Bibran-Modlau used multiple variations of the name including:

“Bibra” instead of “Bibran”
von Bibran und Modlau
Block von Bibran und Modlau
Kölichen gen. Freiherren von Bibra u. Modlau
Schönberg von Bibra und Modlau.

One source (Origines familiae Bibranorum in Francia orientali utraque Silesia et Lusatia ...) reports that the family descends from a Sigmund von Bibra (Franconian Bibra family) who traveled to Silesia in the 11th century, however the different coat of arms casts doubt on the connection.[2] The description with the published (c. 1860) print of Schloss Modlau describes the Bibran family as having split off from the Franconia Bibras five hundred years ago.[3] By 1480 Modlau and Profen were already in possession of the family. At the end of the family, it was centered at Reisicht and Modlau, in present-day Poland. Prominent members of the family were: Friedrich Heinrich von Bibran-Modlau, Abraham von Bibran Kittlitztreben und Woitsdorf, and Sigismund Heinrich von Bibran-Modlau who was one of the largest land owner in Silesia.

David Heinrich von Bibran-Modlau was the apparent last male member of the family in Silesia. When he died in 1828, he had three daughters. His three sons-in-law (von Kölichen, von Block and von Schönberg) incorporated the Bibran-Modlau into their names.[4] The son-in-law Ernst Heinrich von Kölichen, who had incorporated the Bibran-Modlau name and coat of arms died (1832) with a daughter, Agnes, but no sons. Ernst’s son-in-law, Ludwig von Senden again incorporated (c. 1836) the Bibran name into his own becoming “von Senden-Bibran” as in Gustav von Senden-Bibran.


  1. The Von Bibra Story Lois Nyman and Graeme von Bibra, November 1996, Foot & Playsted Pty Ltd., Launceston ISBN 0-9597188-1-8 pp. 64–66
  2. Neues allgemeines Deutsches Adels-Lexicon, Vol. 1, Leipzig, 1859, pp. 412-413
  3. Picture and History of Schloss Moldau including relationship of Bibran (Silesia) family to Bibra (Franconian) (German) F. Pazelt, Theodor Albert (1822-1867), Alexander Duncker (1813-1897)
  4. Neues preussisches Adels-Lexicon, oder, Genealogische und diplomatische Nachrichten: von den in der preussischen Monarchie ansässigen oder zu derselben in Beziehung stehenden fürstlichen, gräflichen, freiherrlichen und adeligen Häusern, mit der Angabe ihrer Abstammung, ihres Besitzthums, ihres Wappens und der aus ihnen hervorgegangenen Civil- und Militärpersonen, Helden, Gelehrten und Künstler, bearbeitet von einem Vereine von Gelehrten und Freunden der vaterländischen Geschichte unter dem Vorstande des, Volume 1 Leopold Zedlitz (Freiherr von), 1836-1843.



External links

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