Definition of Guelph in US English:



  • 1A member of one of two great factions in Italian medieval politics, traditionally supporting the Pope against the Holy Roman emperor.

    Compare with Ghibelline
    • ‘In 1296, as a result of one of these party quarrels, the Guelphs and with them the Grimaldis were expelled from Genoa and took refuge in Provence.’
    • ‘There were even Sienese fighting - exiled Guelphs who wanted to take power in their own town.’
    • ‘Masters of the city, the Guelphs named Charles podestà for six years and reintroduced the political institutions abrogated by the Ghibellines.’
    • ‘I don't want to revisit the time when a perpetual war, as between Guelphs and Ghibellines, raged between supporters of Gielgud and Olivier.’
    • ‘The Guelphs early became associated with the papacy because of their mutual Hohenstaufen enemy.’
    • ‘Even the two warring parties which were dividing Italy, the Guelphs or supporters of the Pope and the Ghibellines or the supporters of the Emperor, for a moment lost some of their intransigence.’
    • ‘On the other hand, his History of Florence documents and laments the great damage done to the republic of Florence by the civil strife of Guelph against Ghibelline in the contest of these factions for political hegemony.’
    • ‘These struggles eventually led to the exile of the White Guelphs, one of whom was Dante Alighieri.’
    • ‘This didn't end civic strife, however: the Guelphs split into the Whites and the Blacks for reasons still debated by historians.’
    • ‘At the time the mural was painted, the Guelphs controlled Massa Marittima, a small town in northwestern Tuscany.’
    • ‘Dante was a Guelph (a supporter of papal authority over the power of the German emperors) of the White persuasion, but one of his closest friends, Cino of Pistoia, belonged to the Black faction.’
    • ‘The White Guelphs were condemned to death by burning should they ever be caught again in Florence.’
    • ‘In the relevant passage Brunetto describes his response to the news, conveyed to him by a scholar whom he encounters on his way home from an embassy to Castile, of the defeat of the Florentine Guelphs at the Battle of Montaperti.’
    • ‘In this experience of final exile the fate of the White Guelphs repeats that of the Ghibellines.’
    • ‘Florence was controlled successively by Guelphs and Ghibellines, but the general trend was rather Guelph.’
    • ‘The Italians fought endless civic wars under the banner of Guelph or Ghibelline, Pope or Empire, but they were little more than pretexts for strife.’
  • 2A member of a princely family of Swabian origin from which the British royal house is descended through George I.

    • ‘The House of Hanover is descended from the ancient line of Guelph, or Welf, that ruled in Brunswick back into the middle ages.’


From Italian Guelfo, from Middle High German Welf, the name of the founder of one of the two great rival dynasties in the Holy Roman Empire.