Nuremberg Castle

History Pre-Salian and Salian period

Archeological excavations within the castle unearthed remnants of walls dated around 1000, and in deeper strata even older ones that may be attributed to a building of Henry of Schweinfurt.[1]

The first written record is of 1050, when Henry III issued the so-called Sigena document in Norenberc releasing a bondswoman.[2] His father Conrad II, on voyages from Regensburg (Ratisbon) to Bamberg in 1025 and 1030, still had issued documents[3] in Megelendorf, a small village some 4 km further to the east where the river Pegnitz could be crossed by a ford (presently Mögeldorf, a district of Nuremberg). In the customary way, these documents indicate the place and date of their issuance, but do not contain any reference to the type of the place (e.g. castle, village etc.).

Henry III used the castle in his campaigns to extend his rule over Bohemia, Poland and Hungary. Henry IV, who had been the opponent of Pope Gregory VII in the Investiture Controversy, at the end of his reign, in 1105, had to endure that in his absence, after a siege lasting two months, the castle was taken by his son Henry V and that at the end of the same year he was forced by his son to abdicate.[4]

Upon the death of Henry V in 1125, the last member of the Salian dynasty, his elected successor Lothair of Supplinburg attempted to seize the crown lands from the Hohenstaufen Frederick II, Duke of Swabia and his brother Conrad who considered all these lands, including Nuremberg Castle, to be part of the Salian family property inherited by them. After several sieges, Lothair succeeded in October 1130 in capturing the castle.[5]

Hohenstaufen period

Upon Lothair's death in 1137, the Hohenstaufen Conrad was elected King Conrad III in the subsequent year and soon afterwards started to build a new Imperial Castle which appears to have been completed during his reign. The new buildings comprised the Palas, the Imperial Chapel and the Heathens' Tower.[1]

At about the same time, Conrad established the Burgraviate in order to ensure the safety of the castle in the absence of the king. Thus, the first burgraves from the Austrian House of Raabs built the Burgraves' Castle next to the Imperial Castle and were granted a substantial landholding in the vicinity.[5]

Frederick I (Barbarossa) used the castle for a number of Diets and receptions, e.g. of a legation from the Eastern Roman Empire in 1156, but according to recent research, he did not contribute to the building of the Palace.[1]

Henry VI apparently was engaged in various building activities related to the Palas, the Imperial Chapel and adjacent buildings.[1]

After the last count of Raabs had died, his son-in-law Frederick of Zollern, in 1192, was granted the Burgraviate by Emperor Henry VI. The Zollerns, soon renamed Hohenzollern, held it until the Burgraves' Castle was destroyed and afterwards its ruins sold to the city of Nuremberg in 1427 (the Hohenzollerns, however, continued to administer their landholdings outside of Nuremberg).[5]

 
Frederick II

Frederick II, on the occasion of his first diet at the Imperial Castle in 1219, granted the Great Letter of Freedom (Großer Freiheitsbrief) to the city, including town rights, Imperial immediacy (Reichsfreiheit), the privilege to mint coins, and an independent customs policy, making the city an Imperial Free City subject only to the Emperor. Frederick II also transferred various responsibilities for the care of the Imperial Castle to the city. This was the starting point not only of a remarkable development of the city, but also of a long dispute between the city and the Burgraves.[6]

Frederick II stayed at the castle at least 16 times, and his son King Henry (VII) of Germany as many as 21 times.[4] In 1224, on the first diet of thirteen year old King Henry (VII), Walther von der Vogelweide was on the guest list, and in 1225, Henry (VII) was married at the castle to Margaret of Babenberg, daughter of Duke Leopold VI of Austria.[5]

Frederick II made his last visit to Germany in 1236 and returned to Italy in 1237 for the remaining thirteen years of his life, leaving the German affairs to his son Conrad IV.

The Castle in the Late Middle Ages

The Interregnum ceased in 1273 with the election in Frankfurt of King Rudolf I, the first King of the Romans of the House of Habsburg. Immediately thereafter, Rudolf I attested a number of privileges to the Burgraves in consideration of their assistance in his election. Rudolf I held several diets at the Imperial Castle, and under his reign as well as under the reign of his successors Adolf of Nassau and Albert I of Habsburg, new buildings were added such as the Sinwell Tower, and works were executed on the Palas and the upper parts of the Chapel Tower (Heathens' Tower). During the same period, the Burgraves extended their adjacent castle.[1]

The Burgraves' Castle

Both the Burgraves and the city improved their positions in the surrounding lands. The city of Nuremberg prospered and became one of the most important towns in Germany. The Golden Bull of 1356 named Nuremberg as the place of the first Imperial Diet of a newly elected ruler.[7] The Burgraves' rise to power reached its climax when King Sigismund transferred the Margraviate of Brandenburg to the Hohenzollern in 1411.

Thus, it was inevitable that the relations between the city and the Burgraves on the castle hill deteriorated significantly. In 1367, the city obstructed the Burgraves' access to the city by a wall in front of their castle, and in 1377, the city erected the Luginsland tower (literally look into the land) near the main gate of the Burgraves' castle, in order to control the activities inside the castle. In 1388/89, there was an armed conflict which was settled. Finally, the Burgraves' Castle was attacked in 1420 by Duke Louis VII of Bavaria and burned down, probably with the consent of the city. In 1422, Sigismund transferred the care of the Imperial Castle to the city, and in 1427, Frederick I, Elector of Brandenburg sold the remains of the Burgraves' Castle to the city.[7][5]

The Imperial Castle as part of the City

With the political and commercial rise of the city, the Imperial Castle became less attractive. Emperors started to execute their governmental acts in the town hall completed in 1340 and preferred to stay in the luxurious houses of the leading families rather than in the less comfortable castle. The castle continued to be used on important formal occasions. Frederick III appreciated the safety of the Castle and stayed there several months. The last king holding his first Imperial Diet in Nuremberg was his son Maximilian I. In 1491, he stayed at the castle for almost six months. His grandson and successor Charles V, because of epidemics raging at Nuremberg, relocated his first Imperial Diet to Worms. He visited Nuremberg only in 1541 on his way to the Imperial Diet in Regensburg.[5][7]

Modern Era

At this time, in 1538 to 1545, bastions were built on the northern side of the castle to better protect it against an improved artillery, and the Castle was integrated in the renewed and improved fortifications of the city. The new fortifications were designed by the Maltese military engineer Antonio Falzon.

The subsequent Habsburg emperors concentrated on their territories mainly in Austria, Bohemia and Hungary. Thus, Nuremberg was rarely visited any more by acting rulers.

During the Thirty Years' War, in 1632, the armies of Gustavus Adolphus and Wallenstein appeared in front of the walled city, but were diminished less by their hostilities than by typhus and scurvy.

Neither the city nor the Castle fully recovered from the effects of the Thirty Years' War.

Since 1594, the Imperial Diet had met only in Regensburg. The Peace of Westphalia of 1648 not only ended the atrocities of the war, but led to the Perpetual Diet of Regensburg which from 1663 to 1806 seated in Regensburg. As a consequence, the Nuremberg Castle lost practically all of its importance and was left undisturbed by outside forces.

In 1806, during Napoleon's restructuring of central Europe, French troops occupied Nuremberg and, according to the Treaty of the Confederation of the Rhine (Rheinbundakte), handed it over to Bavaria, then raised to a kingdom.

In line with the Romantic Period's revived interest for medieval art and architecture, King Ludwig I of Bavaria, in 1833, ordered Carl Alexander Heideloff to execute restoration work, but the king was not pleased with his neo-Gothic style and stopped the work. His son Maximilian II later commissioned August von Voit to continue the refurbishment between 1852 and 1858 in a more moderate style.

In the 1930s, the general opinion of 19th century art and architecture had deteriorated. During the Third Reich, Rudolf Esterer, director of the Bavarian Administration of State-Owned Palaces, Gardens and Lakes, removed most of the previous installations and returned the Castle to what was thought to be its original state.

In World War II, the castle was damaged in 1944-45, with only the Imperial Chapel and the Sinwell Tower remaining entirely intact. After the war, the castle was restored under the direction of Rudolf Esterer and Julius Lincke to its historical form, including the Luginsland tower which had been completely destroyed.

The Castle is owned by the state of Bavaria and administered by its Bavarian Administration of State-Owned Palaces, Gardens and Lakes (Bayerische Verwaltung der staatlichen Schlösser, Gärten und Seen).

^ a b c d e Birgit Friedel: Nürnberger Burg. Article of 4 October 2010 in: Historisches Lexikon Bayerns ^ Document 253 in: Harry Bresslau und Paul Kehr: Die Urkunden der Deutschen Könige und Kaiser. Fünfter Band: Die Urkunden Heinrichs III. Berlin 1931 (digitization by Monumenta Germaniae Historica) ^ Document 30 in: Harry Bresslau unter Mitwirkung von H. Wibel und A. Hessel (Hrsg.): Diplomata 15: Die Urkunden Konrads II. (Conradi II. Diplomata) Mit Nachträgen zu den Urkunden Heinrichs II.. Hannover 1909, p. 33–34 (digitization by Monumenta Germaniae Historica) ^ a b Cite error: The named reference official guide was invoked but never defined (see the help page). ^ a b c d e f Cite error: The named reference Friedel was invoked but never defined (see the help page). ^ Michael Diefenbacher: Nürnberg, Reichsstadt: Politische und soziale Entwicklung. In: Historisches Lexikon Bayerns ^ a b c Cite error: The named reference BayVerwWeb was invoked but never defined (see the help page).
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