County in the northeastern Harz in east central Germany in the 11th and 12th centuries; the town is west of Aschersleben and southwest of Magdeburg.
The Counts were already important when Count Otto the Rich (d.1123) married one of the heiresses of the Billung Dukes of Saxony. Their son, Albert the Bear, founded the Margraviate of Brandenburg.
When he died in 1170 his lands were partitioned among his sons, one of whom became Count of Ballenstedt, but died soon afterwards. Ballenstedt became part of the territory of the youngest brother, Bernard, the Count of Anhalt, the name of a castle south of Ballenstedt. ANHALT had already been used as an alternative name for the county of Ballenstedt and from that time displaced it.