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Alternative formsEdit


From Italian guelfo, from Middle High German Welf, a Bavarian dynasty.

Welf II, Duke of Bavaria inherited from his Italian wife, the Countess Matilda of Tuscany, possessions including Tuscany, Ferrara, Modena, Mantua and Reggio, which played a role in the Investiture Controversy. The Welf dynasty sided with the Pope in this controversy, so partisans of the Pope became known in Italy as Guelfi.


  • IPA(key): /ɡwɛlf/
  • (file)
  • Rhymes: -ɛlf


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Guelph (plural Guelphs)

  1. (historical, politics) In the politics of medieval Italian city states, any member of a faction that supported the Pope in a long struggle against the Ghibellines and the Holy Roman Emperor.
    • 1893, Oscar Browning, Guelphs and Ghibellines: A Short History of Mediaeval Italy from 1250-1409, Methuen & Co., page 13,
      The parties of Guelph and Ghibelline raged as fiercely as if the lances of the German hosts were ever glimmering on the crest of the Alps, or as if the Lombard leagues were in constant watchfulness against an impending foe. [] Speaking generally, the Ghibellines were the party of the emperor, and the Guelphs the party of the Pope; the Ghibellines were on the side of authority, or sometimes of oppression, the Guelphs were on the side of liberty and self-government.
  2. (historical, politics) Any member of the German-Hanoverian Party (1867-1933), a conservative federalist political party in the German Empire and the Weimar Republic founded in protest of the annexation of the Kingdom of Hanover by the Kingdom of Prussia.
    • 1973, Stewart A. Stehlin, Bismarck and the Guelph Problem 1866–1890, Martinus Nijhoff Publishers, page 111,
      Bismarck was aware of the opportunity which the Reichstag afforded the Guelphs.

Usage notesEdit

The division between Guelphs and Ghibellines in Italy persisted until the 15th century, long after the original controversy had been resolved.

Derived termsEdit


Proper nounEdit

English Wikipedia has an article on:


  1. Synonym of Welf, a dynasty, a cadet branch of the Italian House of Este, founded in the 11th century by Welf I, Duke of Bavaria.
    House of Guelph
  2. A city, the county seat of Wellington County, Ontario, Canada.

Usage notesEdit

The Elder House of Welf became extinct with the death of Welf, Duke of Carinthia and Verona, in 1055. The duke's sister, Kunigunde of Altdorf, however, had married into the House of Este, so when her son Welf I (alternatively, Welf IV) inherited his uncle's properties, Welf was recreated as a cadet branch of Este.

The resulting branch may variously be called the House of Welf, the House of Guelph, the House of Welfe-Este, or, informally, the younger House of Welf.

Further readingEdit