Schloss Weibertreu – The Castle of Wifely Loyalty

#OTD, December 21st, 1140 the women of Weinsberg saved their HaBs (Husbands and Boyfriends) from certain death by cunningly misinterpreting a royal command.

Weinsberg was a possession of the immensely powerful House of Welf whose leader, Henry the Proud contested the election of Konrad III, of the House of Hohenstaufen as King of the Romans and future emperor. Konrad III reacted by putting Henry the Proud into the imperial ban and deposing him as duke of Bavaria and Saxony. This kicked off the long struggle between Welf and Staufer or Guelfs and Ghibellines as they were called in Italy.

In the ensuing civil war the Welf could hold on to Saxony but had a much harder time in Southern Germany. One of their key strongholds was the castle of Weinsberg near Heilbronn. In 1140, King Konrad III besieged the castle. When an attempt by Henry the Proud’s brother to relieve the siege failed the defenders were prepared to accept terms of surrender.

One of the concessions the king offered was for the women of Weinsberg to take as much of their personal possessions out of the castle they could carry on their shoulders before the place was to be sacked. The women, fearful for their partners’ lives decided to carry them down the hill to safety, leaving their worldly goods behind.

Konrad III saw the funny side of that and even though his brother suggested to stop them, let the women go ahead. The castle of Weinsberg has been called “Weibertreu” (~wifely loyalty) ever since.

Schloss Weinsberg was finally destroyed during the Peasants War of 1525. After 1819 a local group of women began collecting funds for the renovation of the castle that stabilised the existing structure.

In 1855 the architect of the famous Schloss Lichtenstein suggested the construction of a Pantheon of famous German Women. That failed due to opposition of the Wuerrtemberg authorities.

Joseph Goebbels picked up the idea and planned a great Walhalla of the German woman to be inaugurated in 1940. The outbreak of WWII prevented this.

The ruin of Weinsberg is still owned and managed by the Frauenverein (Women’s Association) founded in 1819.

Lovis Corinth Die Weiber von Weinsberg
19th century Postcard showing Weinsberg

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