Saturday, 15 February 2020

burgruine henneberg

Taking advantage of the nice weather, H and I ventured to the nearby village of Henneberg, named for the castle ruins above and in turn the ancestral seat of the eponymous royal house (see previously here and here).

The late eleventh century compound was within the next generations built up to its height by Count Poppo (see also here) with palace, belfry (Bergfried), residential suite with cabinet (Kemenate), defensive walls and cisterns and was abandoned as official residence in the late eighteenth century, the last of the male line having died off without heirs roughly a century beforehand.
One bit of rather gruesome legend associated with Henneberg involves the Countess Margarete and her three-hundred and sixty-five children—a Dutch noble woman, daughter of Florens IV of Holland and Zealand and Mathilde of Brabant whom entered into a political union in 1249 with Count Hermann (Poppo’s son), in hopes of securing his elevation to Holy Roman emperor of the Germans, a ploy which despite the landed connections ultimately failed. Margarete died in childbirth—which was not an uncommon occurrence—but reportedly was cursed to bear as many children as there are days in the year after insulting the mother of twins with words of incredulity and accusing her of adultery out of envy of her own childless condition. Returned to her parents in Loosduinen, a district of the Hague—not anywhere near here (though the caretakers of the ruin and club of local medieval enthusiasts and reenactors call themselves that)—Margarete gave birth to this impossible brood, varying described as mice or crabs, before all dying.
Neglected and falling into disrepair by the 1830s, the ducal court of Saxe-Meiningen wanted to raise the foundations and build a pleasure palace but those plans were overcome by other events. From the end of World War II to 1989, the castle was part of the inter-German border’s restricted zone (Sperrgebiet) until 1989 due to its commanding view of the surrounding region and into West Germany.