Bibra, Georg Friedrich von
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Saxe-Gotha Major-General (1695-170?), Feldmarschall-Lieutenant (170?-1708)
Brandenburg-Bayreuth Major-General (1708-1712)
born 1657, Roßrieth (50 km northwest of Coburg), Franconia
died 23 January 1718, Buchenhofen
The Bibra are a wide-spread, ancient family from the Franconian Reichsritterschaft (Free Imperial Knights). They still flourish in Franconia and even Australia and the USA.
Between 1680 and 1806, solely in the Franconian military, at least 24 Bibra were in military service, including ten of them during the War of the Spanish Succession. Five Bibra reached the rank of general, four during that war. So it is no wonder, that a number of regiments bear the name of Bibra:
|Regiment of Foot, Würzburg, 1690-1705||Johann Ernst von Bibra|
|Regiment of Foot, Saxe-Weimar, 1693-1702||Georg Friedrich von Bibra|
|Regiment of Dragoons, Electorate of Mayence, 1697-1706||Christoph Erhard von Bibra|
|Regiment of Dragoons, Franconian Circle, 1704-1733||Heinrich Carl von Bibra|
|Regiment of Foot, Bamberg, 1730-1734||Heinrich Carl von Bibra|
Curiously, all four were brothers.
Georg Friedrich belonged to the senior branch of the family. His parents were Georg Christoph jun. von Bibra, Würzburg Domherr, Ritterhauptmann (lit. captain of knights, the director of the canton) of the Rhön-Werra canton, Free Imperial knights‘ counselor of the Steigerwald canton; and of Maria Barbara Bronsart von Schweickershausen. Five of his sisters reached adulthood, as did five of his brothers. Nearly all of his brothers went into military service, the three generals mentioned above and Hanns Heinrich (1664-1705), who became lieutenant-colonel in the Electorate of Mayence. Two of his sisters married, three became canonesses.
The beginning of Georg Friedrich von Bibra‘s military career is not known. He became a lieutenant in the Würzburg regiment Thüngen at an unknown date. From 1680, he was in the same regiment as Johann Ernst in Spanish service in the Netherlands, where he was promoted captain in 1681 with the regiment Hoch-und Deutschmeister. He is mentioned as a captain in Mons in 1683.
In 1683, Georg Friedrich von Bibra was present at the famous relief of Vienna. We don’t know in whose service, perhaps he had volunteered as a noble officer, perhaps with the Bavarians.
In 1684, Duke Johann Georg von Saxe-Eisenach had raised a corps of 3,000 men for Venetian service. Obviously there had been good connections to Saxe-Eisenach already, as Bibra resigned, on 19 March 1684, his Spanish commission and went into Venetian service (14 April 1685). Still a captain, he served in Morea against the Ottomans.
He seems to have had good connections not only in Ernestine Saxony, as Margrave Christian Ernst von Brandenburg-Culmbach recommended him to the Imperial Free City of Nuremberg, where he got the Nuremberg company of Captain Gabriel Sebastian Scheurl, who had been killed in the siege of Ofen in 1686. The enemy didn’t change: the Franconian regiment Köth in which Bibra was captain, served against the Ottomans in Hungary.
|Did you know that...|
|In absentia, in 1687, Georg Friedrich became one of the godfathers of a Turkish prisoner, Chiau, who was baptized in the small Nuremberg town Lauf. The Nuremberg commissary and lieutenant of grenadiers Lorenz Schmiedlein had captured Chiau during the siege of Neuhäusel (present-day Nové Zámky/Érsekújvar) in 1685. The ex-Janissary Georg Friedrich Schmiedlein married three times and completed a not very impressive career as a carpenter, brewer and private in a Nuremberg company of foot.
Acknowledgement: Klaus Roider for this interesting anecdote
When the Bibra estates were divided between the Bibra brothers, Georg Friedrich’s share comprised of Gleicherwiesen estate (between Königshofen and Hildburghausen) worth about 8,000 fl. and a cash payment of 5,000 fl.
In 1688, Bibra went to Saxe-Meiningen, where he was appointed gentleman of the bed-chamber (Kammerjunker) and, perhaps more important, commander “in militaribus” with the Ernestine (Saxon Duchies in contrast to the Electoral Saxon branch) joint military. He seems to have had especially good contacts to the Duke of Saxe-Weimar.
In the same year, on February 24, Georg Friedrich von Bibra married Anna Philippina von Buttlar (1662-1733), sister of Juliana Salome, wife of Christoph Erhard von Bibra. They had six children. Wilhelm Ernst and Hans Ernst choose military careers in Imperial service. Heinrich Carl became Saxe-Hildburghausen functionary. Anton Friedrich died young. The two daughters married according to their rank.
On 18 February 1690 (8 February old-style), Georg Friedrich was appointed colonel and (in 1693?) proprietor of a Saxe-Weimar regiment of foot, which he gave up in 1702. Bibra had campaigned with this regiment on the Rhine in 1690 and in the Netherlands in 1692, notably in the battle of Steenkerque (3 August). In 1695, the Saxon regiments campaigned on the Upper Rhine.
In 1696, Saxe-Gotha (!) tried to exchange the regiment Bibra against the regiment Johann Wilhelm, which had been in Franconian service since 1693, but the Franconians declined: they had recruited and supplied Johann Wilhelm infantry during the winter and were not interested to get a worn-down unit instead.
Together with his brothers, Bibra was made Reichsfreiherr (Imperial baron) in 1698. One year later, Georg Friedrich bought estates in Buchenhof to the tune of 16,500 fl.
During the War of the Spanish Succession, Bibra, now Feldmarschall-Lieutenant, was commander of the Saxe-Weimar and Saxe-Eisenach troops in Italy, where the said troops had been deployed in Imperial service in May/July 1702. His corps was not very impressive in numbers: two battalions consisting of 1,100 men. The units were assigned to Trauttmannsdorf’s Corps. This was to be a short episode: as men deserted by scores on their way, the units were dissolved. The remaining men were taken over by Danish regiments. So, Bibra had lost his command and had to return home. He had had to stand a small skirmish though, when his troops had been attacked in their fortified positions at Borgoforte on the Po River. Although Prince Eugène tried to intervene on his behalf, Bibra could not get an Imperial rank of major-general. Bibra’s active military service now was at an end.
On 24 April 1707, Bibra became Würzburg Erbuntermarschall and in the same year counsellor to the Imperial Knights of the Rhön-Werra canton.
Once more Bibra was lucky. On 4 March 1708, the Margrave of Brandenburg-Culmbach appointed him, as an experienced officer major-general, governor of the Fortress of Plassenburg (Kulmbach), commander of the militia and counsellor. But once again his luck didn’t last long: the margrave died in 1712 and his successor dismissed Bibra in the same year.
Georg Friedrich von Bibra died on 23 January 1718 in Buchenhof and was buried in Gleicherwiesen.
Bibra, Wilhelm von: Beiträge zur Familien-Geschichte der Reichsfreiherrn von Bibra. Vol. 3, München 1888, pp. 120-126.
Biedermann, Johann Heinrich: Geschlechts-Register Der Reichs-Frey unmittelbaren Ritterschaft Landes zu Francken Löblichen Orts Steigerwald. Nürnberg 1748, Taf. XXII.
Documents from the Bavarian state archives Bamberg and city archives Nuremberg.
Roider, Klaus: Von Ungarn nach Nürnberg. Türken im reichsstädischen Militär um 1700. In: Blätter für Familienkunde in Franken 43/2020, pp. 9-46.
Stingl, Martin: Reichsfreiheit und Fürstendienst. Die Dienstbeziehungen der von Bibra 1500 bis 1806. Neustadt/Aisch 1994, pp. 189-190.
Klaus Roider for the initial version of this article