47: Count Heinrich the Great of Sayn and the relationship to Saint Elizabeth

At the entrance to the palace chapel, we would like to introduce Count Heinrich III of Sayn to you. He was called Henry the Great, not only because of his gigantic figure of more than 210 cm in height, but because he was one of the most powerful rulers of the Rhineland in the 13th century. Through his marriage to Countess Mechthild of Meissen-Landsberg, the Count and Countess of Sayn were among the closest relatives of Saint Elizabeth of Thuringia. When Elizabeth was widowed and decided to live in poverty, her daughter Sophie came to Sayn. Indeed, the later Duchess of Brabant called Heinrich “lebe Vader myn” (“my dear father”), as passed down in a lamentation of his death.

With Heinrich’s death in 1246, the older Counts of Sayn died out. Title, name and dominion went to the descendants of Heinrich’s sister Adelheid, who was married to Count Gottfried of Sponheim. Today, all members of the house of Sayn-Wittgenstein are in the male line descendants of the Counts of Sponheim.