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Biography of Johann Conrad Varnbüler, 1595-1657


File written by Adobe Photoshop® 4.0The following description draws primarily from the biography of Johann Conrad that appears in Allgemeine Deutsche Biographie, Vol. 39, pp. 496-498

Johann Conrad went to Tübingen in 1609 and there mastered the general knowledge of humanism, then studied law from 1613 to 1617. For more education he went to Vienna, where he served for a short time as an attorney on the Imperial Court Council. Many other positions followed, including service to the Duke of Württemberg. In that service he gained laurels for his service to his sovereign, as well as for his service to all of Germany. Initially he was a secretary and accompanied the Württemberg councilors to the negotiations that yielded the League of Heilbronn in 1633. In response to the request made by Oxenstierna and the other Confederates, Eberhard III released Johann Conrad to serve as the secretary of the so-called consilium formatum, a council set apart to assist the Swedish chancellor. With his family, Johann Conrad moved to Frankfurt and became an intimate with Sweden, responsible for regulating Württemberg's affairs with that country.

After the consilium formatum was disbanded, he found it impossible to return to Württemberg, because the duke had fled to Strasbourg and the province was under imperial control. Thus Johann Conrad was busily in the service of various German potentates, attempting to bring about the restoration to power of his ruler in Württemberg, who had been banned by the 1635 Treaty of Prague. When the duke returned in 1638 he appointed Johann Conrad a state councilor. That Johann Conrad received a house in Württemberg demonstrated that the duke was grateful to Johann Conrad for his services.

The duke then sent Johann Conrad to the peace talks that had begun in 1643 in Osnabrück and Münster, talks aimed at ending the 30-years war. The main goal of Württemberg at the conference was the restitution of the province's lands and cloister properties that had been confiscated. Johann Conrad not only worked toward that goal, but also expanded his activities to that of an intermediary in general. He was constantly working to hinder the constant threat that the peace talks would be interrupted. In doing so he gained the confidence of Count Trattmansdorff, a representative of the emperor. When peace was finally achieved, Count Palatine Karl Gustav could justifiably write the following to the duke of Württemberg: "The peace treaty clearly shows the effects of Varnbüler's cautious efforts on behalf of His Excellency during the Westphalian Peace negotiations. No other German entity was represented in such clear, undisputed terms." The full restitution of Württemberg holdings was the result; it was largely due to Johann Conrad's diplomatic efforts that this was acheived. Johann Conrad also represented the duke at the Nuremberg negotiations, where the provisions of the treaty were implemented.

In gratitude for his services at the negotiations, the duke, in 1649, granted Johann Conrad the hereditary rights to the knight's estate (the castle, lands, etc.) at Hemmingen (a small village near Stuttgart). In November, 1650, in Vienna, Emperor Ferdinand III confirmed his status as an imperial nobleman ("over 400 years as imperial nobility"), including the right to use the coat-of-arms. Thus he and his descendants could refer to themselves as von und zu Hemmingen, as if the name and their properties had been theirs by inheritance. In addition, The Order of Imperial Knights accepted him into their number (1652) and he was granted the honor of being named an imperial Count Palatine. In 1652 the duke appointed him a commissioner in Leonberg County, which was recognized as an extraordinary honor.

His marriage to Susanna Beck of Nuremberg produced 6 sons and 5 daughters, of whom 5 sons and 4 daughters survived their father. He died in Stuttgart in 1657.

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