The Thurn und Taxis are a noble and important German family. They were once princes subject to the Holy Roman Empire and acquired an important political and economic role, in particular since the fifteenth century a fundamental role in the diffusion of the postal system in Europe, activities that continued until 1866. The family is of Italian origin, as it comes from the Tasso, originating from Cornello in Val Brembana.
The Thurn and Taxis were sovereigns of a small principality, among the many Staterelles in which the Holy Roman Empire was fragmented; the principality existed until the abolition of the Empire, in 1805, and was part of the Electoral Rhine Circle. The family, however, did not reside in the principality: until 1701 they resided in Brussels, then in Frankfurt; finally, in 1748, they moved to Regensburg and resided in the castle of this city, still owned by them. The Thurn und Taxis have their own noble tombs in the church of Notre-Dame du Sablon, in Belgium, and in the abbey of Sant'Emmerano, in Regensburg.
In the XIII century the Lombard family of Tasso lived, therefore, in Cornello, where lived a certain Homodeo Tasso, whose descendants will be the forerunners of the modern posts.
The presence of the Tasso at Cornello is indicated in documents from the beginning of the fourteenth century. In particular, the name of Omodeo Tasso, considered the progenitor of the family, appears in an act of the notary Guarisco Bonfado Panizzoli di Zogno of 4 May 1312, drawn up in Cornello, "ad domum habitationis Rogerij, filij quondam Homodei de Tazzijs". Omodeo appears in other documents of the mid-thirteenth century, cited by Mangili: we find for the first time his name in 1250, but without reference to any locality, reappears again in 1251, in a paper by the notary Detesalvo de Honeta; we also know the name of four of his sons, always called Cornello, Montino, Ruggero, Guarisco and Pasino, mentioned in the writings of the first decades of the fourteenth century.
The modalities of the passage of Omodeo, of his sons and grandchildren from Cornello to Bergamo, then to Venice are not clear. It is believed that they have independently undertaken the activity of tannery among the aforesaid cities, and then join other operators, almost all of them from Bergamo, and set up an association of couriers with them.
It is not possible to establish precisely since, but probably in the second half of the thirteenth century, "some industrious men who had moved to Venice from the Bergamo Nation took part in the service of social and mercantile correspondence, gathering from shopkeepers and the government, to deliver to Rome, Milan, Genoa and elsewhere everything that was delivered to them ".
Two branches descended from Omodeo, that of Guarisco II and Benedetto. The first continued to reside in the Bergamo area and to continue the family activity, until the extinction in 1588 with a certain Giambattista. The second line, called Benedictine, gave rise to two other branches.
The first, deriving from Guarisco II, dwelt in Italy and succeeded in obtaining the title of Count of Tour Valsassina and, in 1715, that of count of Monte Tasso. It became extinct in 1780 with a certain Pierpaolo.
The second, descending from Palazzo, expanded throughout Italy and Europe with nephews Pietro, Giovanni and Ruggiero. The Pietrine branch moved to Rome where it acquired the rank of master of the Papal Post Office. From this line came Giovanni and Alessandro. The Giovannina line became extinct in 1595 with the famous poet Torquato Tasso, while the members of the Alexandrine were created palatine accounts in 1678, but ended in 1800 with an Ernesto.
The German branch
The Giovannini branch placed itself at the service of the Habsburgs organizing the postal service in their feuds and obtaining, with time, the title of baron, then of the imperial count of Tour Valsassina and Tasso in 1671.
Ruggero's posterity extended to Styria and the Tyrol, where he likewise linked himself to the Habsburg destinies. The grandson of the progenitor, Francesco, was Mastro di Posta, but died without heirs in 1518. His brothers, Janetto and Ruggero II, continued the working traditions: the first gave life to a descendant that lasted until the mid-nineteenth century that acquired the dignity of barons of the Holy Roman Empire and of counts in 1701; the latter invested financially in the postal system, making regular provision and deserving the offices of the Imperial Hunter and Chamberlain. He had three sons: Davide, Simone and Giovan Battista.
Davide settled in Venice where he held the post of Mastro delle Poste until the elimination of the activity in the first half of the nineteenth century. Simone set his headquarters in Milan, always with the aforementioned job, he conquered the rank of prince and his generation ended in 1800. Giovan Battista continued the progeny collecting the inheritance of Uncle Francesco reorganizing and making services faster and in 1531 was recognized noble of the Holy Roman Empire. As the father had three heirs: Raimondo, Antonio and Leonardo.
The first chose to live in Spain where he gave rise to the counts of Villa Mediana, extinct in 1622; the second became Mastro delle Poste di Antwerp and the third continued the main line of the prosapia.
Leonardo I de Tassis (1522-1612) took over the post office of Mastro Generale of the Post Office of the Empire in 1595. In 1608 he was created imperial baron of Brusinghen and imperial chamberlain with the right to vote at the Reichstag. In 1612 it was elevated to the Count of the Holy Roman Empire.
His son Lamoral I (1557-1624) obtained that the post of Master General of the Imperial Posts became a hereditary fiefdom of the Holy Roman Empire ; he had a son, Leonardo II, who, after taking possession of the public office, further developed the postal connection between the major imperial cities.
The eldest son Lamoral Claudio, eager to boast of aristocratic ancestry, accepted the hypothesis of descending from the Della Torre lords of Milan and the Counts of Valsassina, and in 1650 assumed the Germanized surname of Count von Thurn und Taxis. During the Thirty Years War he managed to preserve the organization of the imperial postal system and in 1664 he won the ownership of the Bavarian postal system.
The successor Eugenio Alessandro was assured in 1681 the Hispano-Dutch status of Prince of Thurn und Taxis with the elevation of the territories of the Sovereign Lordship area. In 1695 he was recognized as a prince of the Holy Roman Empire and, in 1754, he was also admitted to the imperial diet; He also extended the interests of the family in Poland, Switzerland and France, maintaining the attribution of "Master General of the Imperial Post Office of the Netherlands and Burgundy." Equal orders of the "House of Thurn und Taxis" (1704) and of the " Perfect Friendship "(1733): such highly sought-after decorations were typical and frequent in noble and royal houses During the Spanish Succession War the Netherlands were temporarily occupied by the French and the Thurn a Taxis lost the general of the Dutch post, so in 1701 Eugen Alexander moved his headquarters from Brussels to Frankfurt am Main.
In 1748, following the War of Austrian Succession, the Thurn und Taxis were appointed imperial commissioners to the Diet of Ratisbon and moved their residence to this free city.
￼The nephew of Eugenio Alessandro, Alessandro Ferdinando, obtained that the postal service was considered an imperial fief to have the opportunity to receive the vote within the constituency of the principles of the diet in the bank of the Electoral circle of the Rhine (1754).
He had two sons: Massimiliano Giuseppe and Carlo Anselmo. The first gave rise to the Bohemian line of the dynasty, the second held the post of Grand Mastro of the Post Office and in the second half of the eighteenth century proclaimed dominion over some seigniories that were converted into princely counties in 1788 (Osterhofen, Duttenstein); from 1749, they bought the equestrian feuds of Ballmertshofen, Trugenhofen, Demmingen, while the counties of Friedberg and Scheer, subsequently owned by the Swabian counts von Waldburg, became sovereign in 1788. In 1754 with the detection of Bludegg on the Danube, they also became princes Swabian with seat rights and collegiate vote.
Carlo Anselmo lost in 1801 with the peace of Lunéville the postal yields on the left bank of the Rhine, but was indemnified with the city of Buchau and other lands (Marchtal, Neresheim, Schremmerberg). Between 1805 and 1806, with the dissolution of the Holy Roman Empire and the constitution of the Confederation of the Rhine, his son Carlo Alessandro only maintained the management of the post office in some small states of Thuringia. In 1806 the Holy Roman Empire was dissolved and he remained without sovereignty over the ancestral territories and was mediatized by Württemberg.
From 1811 to 1819, however, it gave way to the postal service first in the Grand Duchy of Baden and then in Prussia. In 1851 his son Massimiliano Carlo also renounced the management in Württemberg and was admitted to the chamber of the Lords of Prussia, then also of Austria. His descendants were created in 1899 by Dukes of Worth and Donaustauf: in this way other nobles were added in the prolific lineage.
The head of the House of Thurn und Taxis is Prince Albert II of Thurn und Taxis, son of Giovanni and his wife Gloria. The family is one of the richest and most prestigious in Germany; it resides at the castle of Sant'Emmerano, formerly a princely abbey, in Regensburg since 1748. The family-owned brewery was sold to the multinational Paulaner of Munich in 1996, but continues to produce under the name of the Thurn und Taxis. Pope Benedict XVI knew very well the Thurn und Taxis, who had always been his benefactors. Many members of the family were Knights of Malta.
The Countess Teresa von Thurn-Hofer und Valsassina, last direct descendant of the Tower of Valsassina, lords of the castle of Duino near Trieste, married Prince Egon zu Hohenlohe-Waldenburg-Schillingsfürst in 1849 from whom she had six children. The fourth daughter Maria, in turn, in Venice in 1875 became the consort of Prince Alexander Thurn und Taxis, heir to Hugo Maximilian of the Lautschin-Bohemian cadet branch, bringing the castle of Duino as a dowry. In 1881 Alexander inherited the manor and created the first Duke of Castel Duino by the King of Italy, Vittorio Emanuele III of Savoia, he obtained the Italian naturalization in 1923 bringing together for himself and his descendants the surname of Della Torre and Tasso , dukes of Castel Duino, where the family still lives. In the same fortress the poet Rainer Maria Rilke wrote his Duino Elegies while he was visiting Princess Maria della Torre and Tasso (née Hohenlohe). Rilke later dedicated his work to the noble lady, her august and influential protector.