Coat of arms of the Princes of Thurn and Taxis
The Princely House of Thurn and Taxis (German: Fürstenhaus Thurn und Taxis) is a family of German nobility that is part of the Briefadel — persons who have been ennobled by letters patent. The oldest known such letters patent were issued in the mid-14th century. Briefadel can be contrasted with Uradel, whose nobility predates issuance of letters patent.
The House of Thurn und Taxis was a key player in the postal services of Europe from the 1500s to the end of the Holy Roman Empire (1806), and became well- known for its breweries and the building of castles. The family is one of the wealthiest in Germany and has resided at St. Emmeram Castle in Regensburg since 1748.
The Tasso family (from the Italian word for “badger”) was a Lombard family in the Bergamo area of Northern Italy. The earliest records place them in Almenno around 1200. Around 1290, after Milan had conquered Bergamo, Omodeo Tasso organized 32 of his relatives into the Company of Couriers and linked Milan with Venice and Rome. The recipient of royal and papal patronage, his post riders were so efficient that they became known as bergamaschi throughout Italy.
Ruggiero de Tassis was named to the court of the Habsburg emperor Frederick the Peaceful in 1443. He organized a postal system between Bergamo and Vienna by 1450; from Innsbruck to Italy and Styria around 1460; and Vienna with Brussels around 1480. Upon his success, he was knighted and made a gentleman of the Chamber. Jannetto de Tassis was appointed Chief Master of Postal Services at Innsbruck in 1489. Philip of Burgundy elevated his brother Francisco to captain of his post in 1502. Owing to a payment dispute with Philip, Francisco opened his post to public use in 1506. By 1516, Francisco had moved the family to Brussels in the Duchy of Brabant, where they became instrumental to Habsburg rule, linking the rich Habsburg Netherlands to the Spanish court. The normal route passed through France, but a secondary route across the Alps to Genoa was available in times of hostility.
The name Thurn und Taxis arose from the translation into German of the family’s French title (de La Tour et Tassis or de Tour et Taxis). Charles V named Giovanni Battista de Tassis as master of his post in 1520; Maximilian I expanded their network throughout the Holy Roman Empire. In 1624, the family were elevated to Grafen (“counts”). They formally adopted the German form of their name in 1650. They were named “princely” in 1695 at the behest of Emperor Leopold I. The family operated the Thurn-und-Taxis Post, successor to the Imperial Reichspost, between 1806 and 1867. Their postal service was gradually lost over the centuries, with the Spanish network being bought by the crown in the 1700s and the German post being purchased by Prussia after the fall of the Free City of Frankfurt in 1866. The family seat was established in Regensburg, Bavaria, Southern Germany, and has remained at St. Emmeram Castle since 1748.
The current head of the house of Thurn and Taxis is HSH Albert II, son of Johannes and Gloria. The family is one of the wealthiest in Germany. The family brewery was sold to the Paulaner Group of Munich in 1996, but it still produces beer under the brand of Thurn und Taxis.
Family website: https://www.thurnundtaxis.de/