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News & Updates
Christoph Keyserlingk, brother of Michaela Keyserlingk passed away.
By | 4/20/2024
Michaela Keyserlingk reported that her brother Christoph passed away recently after battling cancer.  We send  Michaela our heartfelt sympathies on the loss of her brother to whom she was ve...................
Genieve and Dominic Keyserlingk are the proud parents of their first son, Owen. He was born on March 13th, 2024.
By | 3/26/2024
Emmett Keyserlingk publishes his first book, now available on Amazon
By | 3/22/2024
Emmett writes:Today, as we welcome the first day of spring, a season of renewal and hope, I’m thrilled to share something dear to me that I’ve been working on for some time now. In all the years I spe...................
Family Stories
Post Story
Why are there Counts and Barons in the Keyserlingk family? by Robert Bob Count Keyserlingk


Today there are two main Keyserling(k) lines;

          A branch of Counts

          A branch of Barons.    

Why are some Keyserlingks Barons and some Counts?  Here is a short overview of the evolution through city councilor rank, to knights, to barons, to counts.


During the Middle Ages, many cities in north Europe banded together in a trading system called the Hansa.  In medieval Hansa cities only those who did not earn their keep with their hands were considered to be of councilor rank, equivalent in rank to knights living outside cities on estates. If councillors sons set themselves up on a landed estate, they were counted among  the  knights. And vice versa, if a knight  went to a city, he would be considered to be councilor material.

          It is possible that the Keyserlingks might trace themselves back to the ministerial (service in a knightly family)  Keselingks, who are documented in the north German County of Tecklenburg from 1225-on. They were, however,  apparently not knights, but considered to be of unfree status.

A surer date for a first known descendent is 1443-1468 when Albert Keselingk was mayor of the Hansa city Herford in north Germany. His family can be traced back to the early 1300s in the neighboring city of Bielefeld, where it also possessed the rank of town councilor.


At first, the whole Baltic area conquered by the crusaders was called Livland. The land was divided between the Order of the Brethren of the Sword (later incorporated into the Teutonic Knights), the bishops and the nobles there.

Mayor Albert Keselingks son Hermann shipped out to the Baltic on crusade in 1492.  As son of a town councilor and mayor, he was considered to be of knightly rank. There he found others like himself from north Germany, specifically Lower Saxony and Westphalia, serving under the Brethren of the Sword. In 1495 he was granted a Baltic feudal estate by the Order. The estate Ussecken  was added in 1500, and the two estates Duppeln and Okten in 1521. Since then the Keyserlingks belonged to the Baltic nobility.

 BARONS 1631

While in Germany the lower nobility gradually fell under the sway of the more powerful princes and kings, in the Baltics the nobles remained without overlords, except for a period of time in Courland.  Their four noble corporations of Estonia, Livonia, Oesel and Courland remained until WW I independent political actors under Sweden, Poland and finally within Russia.

Following the Reformation,  the Catholic Church was suppressed.  Lands belonging to the Order in the Baltics and the other church lands were divided up and  state sovereignty was taken over by the nobles and their corporations.

The four Baltic noble republics of Estonia, Livonia, Oesel and the Dukedom of Courland emerged.  They were run by the four noble corporations (and for a while by a Duke in Courland) possessing the right to the German language, Lutheran religion, and control over land and government. These rights were recognized by the various overlord sovereigns.  The first three areas (Estonia, Oesel and Livland) were taken over from Sweden by Russia in the 1720s, Courland from Poland in 1795.

These four noble corporations did not have the power to create nobility.  But they could recognize nobility and in the 17th century began to set up official registers to that effect.

 In 1631,  a great grandson of the original Hermann Keyserlingk, Johann, registered the Keyserlingk family in the first class of the Courland nobility. To achieve this, he demonstrated that his family was from Westphalia, where it had long been considered to be of knightly rank, that he possessed at least 16 direct knightly predecessors, and that he owned estates.

 On the basis of the Polish Sigismundi Augusti Privilege, this meant the Keyserlingks were recognized as barons (Freiherr, or free gentleman in German).

          Two brothers, Johann from the  Usseken estate, who registered the family, and Ernst on Okten, are the source of the two branches of Keyserlingks, the barons and the counts:

          (1)   From Baron Johann-Usseken descend the barons.

         (2)   From Baron Ernst-Okten descend the four Keyserlingks who became counts in the  

                 East Prussian-Baltic and West Prussian-Neustadt  lines.


In the 1700s four Keyserlingks from Baron Ernst-Okten  line, three of them cousins  as well great-grandchildren of Baron Ernst-Okten,  became counts.

1742 Hermann

Created imperial count of the Holy Roman Empire by Frederick August, King of Poland and Marshall of the Holy Roman Empire for services to the Saxon and Polish thrones. This is the Bach/Goldberg Variations patron and great diplomat.

1744  Johann Gebhard

Created Prussian count by Frederick the Great. Ambassador of Brunswick-Wolfenbuettel in St Petersburg.  He married Carolina Countess Truchsess von Waldburg, who brought the Rautenburg estate into the Keyserlingk family, for which Johann Gebhard was made count.

When Johann Gebhard died, Carolina married her nephew by marriage, Heinrich Keyserlingk, son of Hermann Carl (1) above. He was also diplomat in Germany, Austria, Russia and Poland. These two (Heinrich and Carolina, nicknamed Cleo and Javotte) were friends of Kant in Koenigsberg. Carolina (Cleo) painted the little book of salons and dinners with Kant and others. They began the East Prussian-Baltic Rautenburg line 

1777  Otto-Ernst

Created Prussian count by Frederick the Great for buying an estate in West Prussia.  Father of the West Prussian-Neustadt line

1786  Dietrich

Created Prussian count. Nephew of #2 above, who sold him Okten, later became Courland chancellor. No children.


Two count lines still exist ?/P>

the East Prussian -Baltic Rautenburg line and

the West Prussian-Neustadt line.


See also a 1965 letters from Robert Wendelin Keyserlingk to Bob Keyserlingk on the subject at:




Sept 2009

By: Bob  
Kant and the Keyserlingk family.
Sander Keyserlingk s traveloques from 2004 to 2022
Telsen, an article written by Paul Schniewind
Experiences with my Children, 1913-1923 by Marie (Heinrich, the whaler ) Keyserling, translated by Susie Comtesse von Keyserling Ruggels
Travels to Chile, January to March 2006, by Alexander Count Keyserlingk
Story of Labelle
Kern-Knoop-Keyserlingk history
By: Sander  
Sanders travels to China, November 2011
By: Sander  
More stories about Henry the Whaler
Robert W Keyserlingk talks about the Reichsgrafen Title in letter to Bob Keyserlingk.
Irene Gräfin von Keyserling, Erinnerungen aus den jahren 1917-1921, Alfred Graf von Keyserling, Im Chaos sibirischer Bolschewistenherrschaft
By: Irene Gräfin von Keyserlingk und Alfred Graf  
Charlotte Caroline Amalie Gräfin von Keyserlingk
By: Webmaster  
Erlebnisse mit meinen Kinder und deren Ausprueche, Marie Keyserlingk, 1913-1923
Ira Prammer ist gestorben von Alfred Keyserlingk.
Count Hermann Carl von Keyserling by Bob Count Keyserlingk
Our 78 day cruise Around Africa in 2007 by Alexander Graf Keyserlingk
Experiences with my children, Marie Keyserling, second wife of Henry the whaler.
Ergaenzung zum Buche der Keyserlinge,1937
Interview with an author who wrote a book around the Goldberg Variations.
Archibald Count Keyserling, Admiral of the Latvian navy, by Robert Wendelin Count Keyserlingk
Hugo Otto Julius Count Keyserlingk, Head of State, by Robert Wendelin Count Keyserlingk
Johann Gebhard Count Keyserlingk, a State Counsellor to Tsars, by Robert Wendelin Count Keyserlingk
Heinrich Christian Reichsgraf Keyserlingk, a counselor to Catherine the great, by Robert Wendelin Count Keyserlingk
Immigration of Baltic families to Canada, by Max von zur Muehlen.
Noble Republic or Colony,October 2005 edition, By Robert Bob Count Keyserlingk
Travelling in Western US and Canada, November 2004, by Alexander Count Keyserlingk
101 days around the world on a floating university in 2004, by Alexander Count Keyserlingk
Eugene Count Keyserling and Spiders, By Robert Bob Count Keyserlingk
By: Bob Keyserlingk  
The Baltic Noble Corporations, by Robert Bob Count Keyseringk
By: Robert H Keyserlingk  
Overview of the family trees of the EastPrussian/Baltic Keyserling(k)lines, by Robert Bob Count Keyserlingk
By: Robert Henry Keyserlingk  
A family tragedy, Washington Post, May 12, 2004, by Mark Medish.
Cruising around South America in 2 Months in 2003, by Alexander Count Keyserlingk
Artikel ueber Eduard Graf Keyserling, FAZ Dez 05.
Hermann Carl (Otken) 1696-1764 by Robert Wendelin Keyserlingk
Henry Count Keyserling, The Whaler (1866-1945) by Robert Keyserlingk Jr
Herman Keyserlings view on Nobility
New biography of Paul Keyserling, the poet by Paul Schniewind, his nephew
Voltaire and Baron Diedrich Keyserlingk, by Robert Henry Graf Keyserlingk
Alexander Count Keyserling, The Scientist, by Robert Wendelin Count Keyserlingk
Painting of 1777 by Truchess Waldbourg, Countess Keyserlingk
Success in the Keyserlingk family by Harald Baron Keyserlingk
Peter von Sass on Baltic History
Did BACH write The Goldberg Variations for Count Hermann Carl Keyserling in 1742? , by Robert Bob Count Keyserlingk.
By: Bob  
Cecile Comtesse Keyserling in Afrika
Sanders traveloque of the ship voyage around the world in 2009 with Brigitte and Emmett.
Old pictures of the North American Keyserling (k)s
The German Nobility; some definitions and background, by Gilbert von Studnitz
By: Sander  
www.books.google.com lists almost 3000 references Keyserlingk's.
Freiherr von Edelsheim, by Blackmask Online.
The Keyserling/Gibson connection, from Website Electricscotland.com
Letter to Helmut Count Keyserlingk concerning Estates in Estonia from Waldo Praust.
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