Our interest in this family name dates to before 1701 because it was from the ‘Hedwiger’ family that we, the Sponneck / Sponeck / Sponnich / Sponnick family descend! This Hedwiger family, it is stated in the 1916 edition of the Danish Noble Book, was first recorded as being knights with the Silesian King Henry II who fought in the ‘Battle of Liegnitz’ in 1241 against the invading Mongols.
We have recorded for us in the documents of enoblement of 1701, in the ‘Herold fir Geschlechter Wappen und Siegelkunde’ and the ‘Danmarks Adels Aarbog’ that the first recorded anscestor of Georg Wilhelm von Hedwiger was his 2nd great-grandfather, Balthazar von Hediwger who was born in 1510. Balthazar is renowned for his military history as a Captain under Charles V, who ingaged the Turks around Vienna in 1532. Balthazar is recorded as having crossed the Danube River to spy on the Turks which gave the advantage to Charles V’s forces.
Balthazar later, as a Privy Councillor to the Habsburg Emperor, Maximilian II, was entitled to advance his family Coat-of-Arms to a quartering which now added a unique feature of a ‘silver stream’ with a Charge of a ‘fish’ and above and below, a ‘Star’ and a ‘Crescent Moon’, accross the 2nd and 3rd Quartering, as icons of the Turkish Army. If it was not before, it may well have been at this time that this Hedwiger added the ‘von’ to his name! While ‘von’ is not a title, it is a distinguishing mark of nobility, titled or untitled! All the historical records of this particular family from the 18th Century, which can be now found in the INTERNET, show the only son (Carl *1550 – +1570) and the only one grandson (Christoph *1588 – +1635) both to be recorded as Von Hedwiger. They, in turn were represented in the courts of the Dukes of Liegnitz, possibly as Privy Councillors, but both had short lives and so produced only one son each. The only son of Christoph and father to our Georg Wilhelm and his siblings, was Johann Georg (*1620 – +1681). Although some interesting historical articles in the INTERNET deny that Johann Georg was more than a ordinary citizen in Liegnitz who was given as both a ‘baker’ and another says ‘rope maker’, and still other records say a ‘captain’ in the Oels Regiment, it must be obvious that they are all speaking of different people where our ‘Johann’ is given as a ‘Hannes Georg’ and so mistakes this possible baker or rope maker as the father of Georg Wilhelm who became first Reichsgraf von Sponeck. The fact that there were other Hedwiger families of that time is also borne out by the existence today of a few Hedwiger families living in Germany and America. One finds too, that the greatest enemy of our Von Hedwiger family was none other than the cousin and granted legal heir of the Duke Leopold Eberhard von Wuerttemberg-Mompelgard, Duke Ludwig Eberhard von Wuerttemberg-Stuttgart, who was to take up Leopolds French Estates on his death. He dispised his cousin for his Moorish ways while he himself was an adulterer. Thus also he was ill-disposed towards his cousin’s friends and ‘in-laws’ by virtue of the Duke Leopold Eberhards morganatic marriage to the Hedwiger sister, Anna Sabina.
This branch of the family so nearly came to extinction, but for the great-grandson of Balthazar, Imperial Army Captain Johann Georg Von Hedwiger and his first wife bearing him two sons and a daughter. Unfortunately, this Hedwiger branch was the line to become extinct in the third generation. After his first wifes death, Johann Georg married a second time and to this couple then we have the ‘famous four’ Von Hedwiger children who were all together promoted to Reichsgrafen in 1701 with the title name ‘Von Spon(n)eck’. They were our Danish patriarch, Georg Wilhelm (first govenor of Mompelgard and later Danish General), Anna Sabina (married Duke Leopold Eberhard v.Wuerttemberg-Mompelgard), Johann Christoph (killed in action at Peterwardein against the Turks) and Johann Rudolph von Hedwiger (second Hedwiger brother to be Govenor of Mompelgard under the Duke; and the patriarch of the younger German line of the present Spon(n)eck family).
Of the first family Von Hedwiger of Johann Georg, we can say these two sons were in turn, military officers and a grandson (Heinrich Gottlieb v.Hedwiger) is recorded in INTERNET articles as attaining the rank of ‘Feldmarschal-General’ in the Austrian Main Army of 1758. Another evidence clearly indicated here that although this Von Hedwiger branch were not included in the title grant, yet they were all high military officers, a post which went most always to the nobility of those days. This Von Hedwiger is listed as a commanding general amongst all the high and mighty titled gentlemen generals of that time. Surely indicative of the fact that his grandfather too was an army captain and not a ‘baker’ or ‘rope maker’ who would have hardly been given the preposition ‘Von’ in those days.
And so, of the Hedwiger families of today, of which a few live in Germany and a few in America, we can only assume they descend from Hedwiger before 1500 when our line became particularly one family. If any could trace documented proof of their anscestors even to this date, I would be, as historian and genealogist, most interested in hearing from them. Of the Hedwiger/Spon(n)eck line, that is for another time and another place.