Brandenstein Castle, Schlüchtern
Castle and Museum in Schlüchtern
Located in the Hessian ridge near Schlüchtern-Elm in the Main-Kinzig-Kreis, Hesse, Brandenstein Castle is a High Medieval castle that sits atop a wooded hilltop, approximately four kilometers east of Schlüchtern town center and 1200 meters east-southeast of Elm, providing a stunning view of the Kinzig valley. The castle, mentioned in the oldest preserved document in 1278, was originally owned by Hermann von Brandenstein and later passed on to the Counts of Rieneck-Rothenfels in 1307 as a fief of the Bishopric of Würzburg, along with associated goods that eventually became Amt Brandenstein. In 1316, it was acquired by Ulrich IV of Hanau and later owned by the Lords of Eberstein from 1424 to 1540, before reverting back to Hanau.
The castle was bought with the associated office in 1717 by the Landgrave of Hesse-Kassel for a loan of 100,000 guilders pledged to Count Johann Reinhard III of Hanau-Lichtenberg. The pledge was also used to secure the Hanau-Lichtenberg passive fiefs of the Diocese of Strasbourg and the Archdiocese of Mainz for Johann Reinhard III’s only daughter, Landgravine Charlotte Christine, and her husband Hereditary Prince Ludwig (VIII.) of Hesse-Darmstadt. After Johann Reinhard III’s death in 1736, Landgrave Friedrich von Hessen-Kassel inherited the county of Hanau-Münzenberg and with it Brandenstein Castle.
Although the Brandenstein office was initially administered as part of the Landgraviate, the County of Hanau-Münzenberg was treated as a secundogeniture for younger princes for over half a century due to special circumstances in the family of the Landgraves of Hesse-Kassel. The office and castle were again added to the county of Hanau-Münzenberg when Landgrave Wilhelm IX inherited the county. In 1803, the Landgraviate of Hesse-Kassel became Electorate of Hesse and then perished as an independent state through annexation by the Kingdom of Prussia after being on the losing side in the Austro-Prussian War of 1866. The castle then became property of the Prussian state.
In 1895, the castle returned to the hands of the Brandenstein family when Württemberg Infantry General Gustav von Brandenstein bought it. Alexander von Brandenstein took over the property in 1905 and married the daughter of Count Ferdinand von Zeppelin in 1909. He was then elevated to the rank of count (in primogeniture) by King Wilhelm II of Württemberg on the occasion of his wedding and changed his family name to Brandenstein-Zeppelin. The castle has remained in the family’s possession since then, with Constantin von Brandenstein-Zeppelin, the younger brother of Albrecht Graf von Brandenstein-Zeppelin, as the current owner.
The castle was likely built after 1243 by a branch of the Lords of Steckelberg to secure their bailiwick area. Ulrich IV of Hanau expanded the castle in the 14th century as an official residence, and it was further expanded in the 15th century. The castle was shot at and conquered in 1522 on the orders of Emperor Charles V by troops commanded by Count Georg II von Wertheim due to the raids and highway robbery of Mangold II von Eberstein and his feud against the imperial city of Nuremberg. After the escheat to the Counts of Hanau in 1540, the castle was converted into a Renaissance palace . during theDuring the Thirty Years’ War it was a refuge for the residents of the surrounding villages.
Since 1872, the 144 m long Brandenstein tunnel on the Flieden–Gemünden railway line has crossed the castle hill in the area of the access road about 100 m in front of the castle. In 1895/96 Gustav von Brandenstein renovated the castle he had just bought.
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