History of Eggersberg
Pre- and early history
Even in pre- and early history, the Altmühltal valley was a popular settlement area because of its fertile side valleys, the rolling hills and the streams, which were rich in fish .
Entire Celtic towns, so-called "oppida", were built around the 8th century bc. One was situated at "Wolfsberg" not far from Eggersberg. Further settlements were located at the foot of the castle rock .
This was proven with the find of a large Celtic burial ground during the construction of the Rhine-Main-Danube Canal. Among the burial objects was the longest Celtic bronze belt, which now is on display in the Hofmark Museum at Eggersberg.
In the 10th century, the castle at Eggersberg was mentioned for the first time.
Eggersberg found its way into literature. The lords of Eggersberg Castle were the Nussbergers. They served the Counts of Bogen as so-called ministeriales (unfree knights).
By the way, because of the marriage of Ludmilla von Bogen to Louis I, Duke of Bavaria, the house of Wittelsbach adopted the blue and white lozenges into their coat of arms.
Konrad von Nussberg
1st half of the 14th century
Eggersberg Castle became the property of the Bavarian dukes, who gave it to the Lords of Wolfstein as a fief. At that time, the family Wolfstein of Sulzbürg was among the most important noble families in the district of the Upper Palatinate. In the course of the centuries they managed to raise from the position of imperial ministeriales to the position of imperial princes.
The current coat of arms of Sulzbürg. The two red lions are a reminder of the most important local noble family, the house of Wolfstein, who was subject directly to the suzerainty of the Emperor. Their oldest signet, known since 1292, shows two lions, one above the other. The one on the top is shown pacing, the other one is up on its hind legs. Originally, the background colour was silver. In 1740, the lineage of Wolfstein died out, but the coat of arms of Sulzbürg and Pyrbaum still serves as a reminder of the house.
The first known member of the family was Gottfried of Sulzbürg (1259), who was mentioned as imperial ministerialis for the first time in 1217. With the administration of the imperial estates in the area of Neumarkt he acquired a good reputation and power. He was married twice with women of the high nobility, by which he was able to strengthen his authority and increase his possessions.
As was customary among the high nobility, he founded the monastery Seligenporten and determined it to be the last resting place of his family. Gottfried of Sulzbürg-Wolfstein's high self-esteem was also reflected in the dispute over the throne in 1246/56, when he took sides with the antikings. In return he gained even more income.
The death of Christian Albrecht, Count of Wolfstein, in 1740 marked the end of the male line of the family. As per contract, all the imperial estates administered by the Wolfstein family were transferred to the Electorate of Bavaria. After a protracted dispute, the Bavarian prince-elector even acquired the family's private property (allodia).
2nd half of the 14th century
The family of Hilpoltstein became the lords of Eggersberg Castle.
City coat of arms of Hilpoltstein
The city of Hilpoltstein, which is settled at the Main-Danube Canal and the lake Rothsee, has a history of more than 1,000 years. Heinrich von Stein and his son Hilpolt I of the family von Stein are considered to be the actual founders of the "oppidum in Lapide" in 1280. As imperial officials in the service of the House of Hohenstaufen and later of the House of Wittelsbach, they filled a powerful position. In his capacity as imperial official, Heinrich von Stein (1254-1265) administered the imperial estates in the Bavarian region of Franconia.
In the last third of the 14th century, the Hilpoltstein family sold Eggersberg Castle to the Lords of Lichteneck, who still exist in the lineage of the Counts of Preying-Lichteneck-Moos in Lower Bavaria. Eggersberg was in the family's possession only for a short time, though.
When the Bavarian territories were partitioned between the sons of Duke Stefan in 1392, Eggersberg, Riedenburg, Stadtamhof, Reinhausen, Regenstauf, Schwandorf, Rieden, Velburg, Hemau and other places became the property of Duke John II of Bavaria-Munich.
End of 14th century
Knight Wilhelm of Fraundorf and later Knight Ulrich Muracher acquired Eggersberg Castle. The Muracher family, which also owned Flügelsberg Castle on the other side of Eggersberg, excelled in their support of the so-called "Löwlerbund" in the rebellion against Duke Albert of Bavaria.
Balthasar Muracher was still mentioned as lord of Eggersberg Castle. The members of the Muracher family were dreaded robber-barons. Even in 1561, a Bavarian chronicle mentioned the unscrupulous ways in which the nobility exploited the people.
In those days, the Muracher were known for their notorious raids and bloody feuds in the entire surrounding area. Konrad Muracher of Flügelsberg was captured by the Knight Heydeck in the course of their feud and kept imprisoned from 1385 to 1394. Ulrich von Murach robbed merchants from Augsburg in 1407. Jörg, Friedrich and Erhart von Murach even raided and robbed Helfenberg Castle near Velburg, whereby they benefited from the fact that the owner, Prince-Elector Louis III, had died in December 1436.
The trade routs from Regensburg to Hemau and further along to Nuremberg were a worthwhile target for raids and forays. Similarly lucrative was the route Abensberg-Kelheim-Nuremberg, right through the Altmühltal valley and past Eggersberg, where mainly merchants from Nuremberg were among the victims.
In 1446 the robber barons exhausted the patience of the people. The Nurembergers declared war against the robber barons. In the same year an army from Nuremberg burnt down Flügelsburg Castle, which was rebuilt in later years. The castles of the knights of Altmannstein and Hagenhyl were destroyed as well.
Balthasar von Murach, who was the last in the lineage at Eggersberg, was followed as lord of Eggersberg Castle by the noble Heimeran Muggenthalter in
Duke William of Bavaria gave Hexenagger Castle, which lies in the Schambachtal valley, to the Muggenthal family as a fief in 1529.
The Muggenthal family distinguished itself. Hexenagger Castle and the appertaining chapel had been destroyed by the Swedes during the Thirty Years' War, but Erhart von Muggenthal rebuilt them in 1625/29. In the course of the following centuries the Muggenthalers were raised to the position of barons of the empire.
Marshal Georg von Pappenheim became the new owner of Eggersberg Castle, but only a few years later, in County of Pappenheim
he sold it to Count Jörg von Helfenstein. The count did not show much interest in the castle, though, and left it to decay. Instead, he dedicated his time to his new wife, the widow of Johann von Hexenagger. With this marriage he came into the possession of Hexenagger Castle.
Countess Helfenstein begs ringleader Jäcklein Rohrbach to spare her husband during the Peasants' War.
Copper engraving by Matthäus Merian Sr
Mid 16th century
Eggersberg Castle was described as "desolate and decayed". It probably had been damaged during the "Löwler War".
The "Löwler War"
Duke Albert IV (the Wise) raised a general tax to recruit and pay a standing army in 1488. The Parsbergers of Flügelsberg and other fief-holding noble families of Lower Bavaria insisted on their privileges and rejected the tax. Instead they demanded full tax exemption for their rank. Duke Albert rejected such a notion energetically, though.
As a result, 46 knights met in Cham and founded the "Knight's alliance of the lion", the "Löwlerbund", with the objective of rising up against the duke. The number of the knights proliferated in no time and the division in the country grew deeper day by day. Even the duke's younger brothers joined the Löwlerbund because the duke did not acknowledge their claims to power.
The knights attempted an open revolt against Duke Albert in October 1491, because they believed to outnumber the duke's supporters. They raided and robbed the duke's estates and villages in the area of Regensburg and captured his people.
Meanwhile, the duke gathered all his supporters and allies in order to quench the revolt. On 21 December 1491, together with an army of 2,000 men and 30 artillery pieces he went from Munich to Regensburg to put an end to the outrageous actions of the Lion Knights.
After order had been restored in the area of Regensburg, the duke and his men moved on to Prunn, Riedenburg, Eggersberg, Flügelsberg and Ehrenfels near Beratzhausen. At Flügelsberg were the headquarters of the Lion Knights and many of them stayed there. To provide for their living plenty of food had been taken from the raided ducal villages.
Shortly before the actual fighting, the Lion Knights met at Prunn Castle, whose owner was Wolf Fraunberger, to hold a council of war. Fraunberger knew of the duke's recent successes and advised the knights to give up their plans. The knights, proud and under a delusion, did not want to hear about it, especially the Flügelsbergers Hans and Georg von Parsberg ignored the warnings. Instead, the knights scoffed at Wolf Fraunberger because of his alleged cowardice.
One week later, the men of Flügelsberg had to come to the bitter realisation that Wolf Fraunberger had been right.
Contrary to Fraunberger, who surrendered without a fight to the duke and whose castle still exists, the men of Flügelsberg could not save their castle. The very same day, the duke's men moved on to Riedenburg and spent the night there. At daybreak the next day, the duke divided his army into three troops. One of them made its way up to the plateau of Eggersberg Castle, which was owned by Veit von Muggenthal, to attack it from there.
Prior to that, Rabenstein Castle was taken and its owner, Knight Hans Pflug von Rabenstein, was captured. Meanwhile, the other two troops moved up the valley against Eggersberg and Meihern. Near Gundlfing a strong division separated from the rest with the objective to circle Flügelsberg from the north and to prepare an effective bombardment.
At the same time, Eggersberg Castle was stormed from two sides and taken after little resistance. Spearheads had already gathered in the area of Meihern and Deising to prepare for the storming of Flügelsburg Castle. To ensure that the division which came from the North to Gundlfing could come within gunshot range, some distraction had to be provided for. Therefore, a rollicking celebration in the camp had been arranged.
The aim was to convey the impression that no more fighting was intended. Beer, wine, meat and bread were obtained from the surrounding farmsteads. The knights at Flügelsburg Castle did not perceive the stratagem and refused Duke Albert's ultimatum. They even refused a second ultimatum being under the delusive impression that the castle was impregnable. Hence, the fate of Flügelsburg Castle was sealed.
On an agreed sign the castle complex, which must have been rather extensive, was stormed and fired at from all sides. Only on the third day (6.1.1491) and at great cost of life on either side, the duke's troops managed to get past the third and last moat and to force the remaining men back into the castle courtyard. In the process, a lot of blood had been shed again.
Because of the superior numbers, the remaining men, though fighting with the courage of a lion, had to give up the unequal fight. The Knights Hans and Georg von Parsberg as well as 18 knaves and lansquenets were taken captive.
The household and personal effects of the knights were taken to Dietfurt with 12 heavily loaded carts and left in the hands of the citizens. The Parsbergers were tied up and bound to a horse cart. They had to walk on foot to Munich, where they were kept imprisoned in the Falcon Tower for a year. Their castle was set afire after everything useful had been extracted.
Aft.r all this, the duke and his troops moved on to Ehrenfels Castle near Beratzhausen to punish even the last of the rebellious Lion Knights, Bernardin von Stauff of Ehrenfels. In this 30-day winter campaign, Duke Albert IV chastised the worst of the rebellious knights and broke the Löwlerbund's spirit and strength. One after another, the knights submitted themselves to the duke, who showed mercy with them. From then on little was heard from the Parsbergers. Flügelsburg Castle had been destroyed so they inhabited their house Meyer-Hof at the foot of the mountain in Meihern. They converted the house into a handsome castle and called themselves "Lords of Meyern, called Fligelsperg".
In the first third of the 16th century, Leonhard von Eck (1480-1550) was given the Hofmark Eggersberg and the Hofmark Wolfseck. A Hofmark was the smallest jurisdiction of the country at that time. He was one of the most important Bavarian politicians of the time. His complex policy, always focused on the welfare of his lord and Bavaria, made an impact and received credit well beyond the Bavarian borders.
Leonhard von Eck, who was of lower nobility that was not allowed to take part in tournaments, received his Doctor of Both Laws (iuris utriusque) in Bologna.
Duke William IV of Bavaria appointed him into his government in 1514. There the court councillor ("first daily councillor") was the duke's closest adviser and therefore the most important figure at the Bavarian court.
For over 35 years, he influenced the political, economic, religious and social life in Bavaria in the first half of the 16th century. The first effective approaches to a central government in Bavaria came from Leonhard von Eck. It was also due to his work, that Bavaria stayed Catholic and later on became the most important Catholic power in Germany. He had laid the foundation.
Bust of Leonhard von Eck in the Hall of Fame in Munich
At Eggersberg and at Wolfseck Leonhard von Eck was described as followes:
"He called his lord EFG, the initial letters of "Euer Fürstliche Gnaden" (German for "Your Highness"). This alone shows his sense of economy. Leonhard von Eck, of lower nobility that was not admitted to tournaments, could take such liberties. For 35 years he had been the most important person at the ducal court in Munich.
William IV of Bavaria appointed him into his governmental body in 1514. Eck received the title "Daily Councillor of Munich", free lodging, a winter and a summer garment as well as two horses.
As "daily councillor" he had to be available every single day in contrast to the "requested councillors", who were of nobility that was admitted to tournaments. Those had to make an appearance only when called upon. And then there were the "ember days councillors", who were called to court only four times a year. The daily councillors had the most influence, of course, and Eck was the most important of them.
Leonhard von Eck was born on 17 March 1480, took his Doctor of Both Laws and became an ambitious and highly talented man. According to a portrait of Bartel Beham he was also a man of utter ruthlessness.
His lord, Duke William, was not of a sensitive disposition either. When the 18-year-old duke had come into power, the representatives of the estates of the realm had been surprised by his argumentativeness and obstinacy. An envoy from Hesse observed that the duke was a proud man, who did not like to be wrong.
Still, things worked out between those two strong-willed fellows, not least because the duke realised that he could leave the daily business to Councillor Leonhard von Eck and instead enjoy the pleasures of life. He had time for art, hunting (for example at Eggersberg, which lay in a densely forested area with much game), tournaments and culinary delights. Both men were in agreement that two principles should have priority in Bavarian policy: Containment of the house of Habsburg's urge for territorial expansion and the fight against the Reformation. Thus, the Bavarian Chancellor Leonhard von Eck became one of the most violent opponents of the Habsburg Emperor Charles V.
The humanist statesman Leonhard von Eck was actually quite liberal. He took the view that everybody should be entitled to believe in what their conscience tells them to. Officially though, he extended the power of the Catholic Church in Bavaria with all his might.
He coined the phrase "Cuius regio, eius religio", whoever rules the country also determines its religion. Immediately after the emperor had placed Martin Luther under the imperial ban, Leonhard von Eck started the confessionalization in a systematic way. He created the early absolutist state, in which the political and religious identity merged.
Leonhard von Eck called the tune at the Bavarian court. Everybody who wanted to obtain something from the duke had to approach Eck first. He took the load of the daily business off the duke's shoulders, whose duties were limited to representation. This arrangement suited the duke perfectly. Still, Eck's power and influence depended solely on EFG, "Your Highness".
Therefore, Eck kept a jealous watch over his lord's favour. The ambitious chancellor lived in constant fear of a possible comedown. Even after thirty years he still felt uneasy whenever the duke sent his "daily councillors" some venison without being distinguished with an especially large piece.
The fear was unfounded, though. The duke sticked by his chancellor as long as he lived. When Duke William died, his vassal from Eggersberg, Leonhard von Eck, followed him only four days later on 17 March 1550"
Chancellor Leonhard von Eck (1480-1550),
1527, by Barthel Beham (German, 1502-1540)
Oil on wood; 22 1/8 x 14 7/8 in. (56.2 x 37.8 cm)
Collection John Stewart Kennedy Fund, 1912
- Bibliographie zur deutschen Geschichte im Zeitalter der Glaubensspaltung 1517-1585, published by Karl Schottenloher Volume III, Reich und Kaiser, Territorien und Landesherren, Leipzig 1936 No. 29422-29437, Karl Schottenloher Volume V,
- Karl Schottenloher Geschichte Baierns, 8 Volume, II-VIII Gotha 1880-1914; I Stuttgart 2 1927, Volume IV;
- Walter Peter Fuchs, Baiern und Habsburg 1534-1536, in ARG 41 (1948), 1-32; - ARC I et seq.;
- Das konfessionelle Zeitalter. Erster Teil: Die Herzöge Wilhelm IV. und Albrecht V., in: Handbuch der Bayerischen Geschichte published by Max Spindler, Volume 2 München 1969, 297-346, here: 227-335
On Leonhard von Eck followed the jurist, ducal councillor and carer of the city of Dachau, Wilhelm Jocher von Egersperg, who carried his new possession in his name. He was born in Mauterndorf, Salzburg on 15 November 1565 and died in Munich on 3 May 1636.
He initiated the construction of the new Eggersberg Castle, which was completed, according to carpenter fittings in the roof truss, in 1604.
Wilhelm Jocher von Egersperg studied law in Ingolstadt at the same time as the later duke and prince-elector of Bavaria, Maximilian I. After his doctorate in 1592, Jocher was assessor of the Bavarian Circle at the Imperial High Court until 1604.
In 1604, he entered into service with Duke Maximilian I. In 1611 he was appointed privy council. The devout Jocher, who had received a humanist education, became Maximilian's most important counsellor and as such gave his juristic advice on the Bavarian foreign and imperial policy with subtlety and astuteness. After defending the Aulic Council in the Donauwörth dispute he even came into favour at the imperial court. In 1620/21, he advised the emperor on the proscription of Frederick V. Between 1621 and 1628, Jocher acted as violent opponent of the Palatine councillor Ludwig Camerarius in the chancery dispute. With his sense of realistic possibilities Jocher repeatedly stood in contrast to Duke Maximilian's doctrinaire confessor Contzen, not least in the matter of witch persecution. Contzen supported the witch persecution whereas Jocher demanded its containment. In 1636, Jocher died in Munich.
His son Adam Jocher, who was ducal councillor himself, had the ruinous old castle knocked down. Instead, he moved into the "New Eggersberg Castle", as it still exists today.
Adam Jocher von Egersperg overextended himself and went broke. What followed was the forced sale of Eggersberg.
The jurist Professor Dr.iur.utr. Dominikus Baron von Bassus from Ingolstadt bought Eggersberg, the ruin at Tachenstein and Sandersdorf Castle for 13,000 Bavarian guldens. Baron von Bassus originally came from Poschiavo (Switzerland) and was a descendent of a highly esteemed noble family.
His nephew Baron Thomas von Bassus was a leading member of the infamous "Order of Illuminati", together with Adam Weishaupt, who used the codename "Spartacus". Weishaupt's adjutant was Baron Adolph Franz Friedrich Ludwig von Knigge, who significantly helped to spread the Illuminati among nobility.
Baron Adolph von Knigge
The de Bassus family was in possession of Eggersberg Castle until 1947, longer than anyone before.
Copper engraving of Eggersberg Castle by Michael Wening. The coat of arms of the de Bassus family is shown on the top left. The family had left their mark back in Poschiavo as patrons of the art and benefactors and they kept up this tradition in Bavaria. The family acted as patron of the famous composer Johann Simon Mayr and wood-carver Ignaz Günther.
Listen to the beautiful music of Simon Mayr! Click on the notes:
Johann Simon Mayr was born in 1763 in the small village of Mendorf near Altmannstein. He studied and worked in Ingolstadt from 1773 to 1787. He was a contemporary of Haydn, Beethoven and Rossini and one of the most famous opera composers at the beginning of the 19th century.
His works were performed in the cities of Rome, Milan, Paris, Vienna and Lisbon. He is considered to be the "Father of the Italian opera". Napoleon offered him the post as director of the opera in Paris and Constanze Mozart asked him to teach her son. Mayr's most famous student was Gaetano Donizetti. When Mayr died in Bergamo in 1845, Giuseppe Verdi and Gioacchini Rossini paid their last respect.
Under the patronage of the Barons de Bassus of Sandersdorf and Eggersberg, Mayr composed 60 operas and 600 musical works for the church and chamber music, which have experienced a renaissance in recent years.
Johann Simon Mayr, "composer of the Illuminati Order"
On 22 November 1725 the Rococo sculptor Ignaz Günther was born in Altmannstein in the Upper Palatinate. At the age of 18 he was accepted to the atelier of the court sculptor Johann Baptist Straub in Munich. There, he acquired his sense for technical refinement and a certain nervous elegance, which made many of his works so popular.
In 1750, he travelled around to Salzburg, Mannheim, Olmütz in Marovia and Vienna. There, he won the first prize of the Imperial Academy. In 1754, he moved to Munich, married and bought the house number 11 on the street "Am Unteranger". He celebrated great successes, but died at the age of only 50 years in 1775.
Ignaz Günther, who also was promoted by the Barons de Bassus, represented the peak and simultaneously the end of the Bavarian Rococo sculpture.
Some of the most important works of the carver and sculptor Ignaz Günther:
- 1752, outfitting of the parish church of KopÍivná (Geppersdorf)
- 1756, he carved the high altar of the collegiate church Neustift in Freising
- 1761/62, the high altar of the Benedictine abbey in Roth am Inn followed
- 1763, he made the group of guardian angels in the Bürgersaalkirche in Munich, corresponding exhibits are shown in the Bavarian National Museum in Munich
- 1763/64, he carved the altar, annunciation group and pietà in the Augustinian monastery in Weyarn
- 1763/64, he made the altars and the pulpit for the pilgrimage church St Anna in Munich-Harlaching
- 1763/64, he outfitted the Holy Cross Church of his hometown Altmannstein
- 1767, he carved the altars of the convent church in Altenhohenau
- 1766-68, again he designed and constructed a high altar for the church in Starnberg
- 1768-70, followed by the high altar of the church in Mallersdorf
- 1774, as well as the pieta in the cemetary chapel in Nenningen
Baron Joseph von Bassus, lord of the Hofmarks Sandersdorf, Harlanden, Eggersberg and Tachenstein, had the Holy Cross Chapel built in Obereggersberg. A simple monstrance of that chapel, which contains a verified particle of the True Cross, is shown in the "Hofmark-Museum" of the Robert Weigand Cultural Foundation in the "stables" of Eggersberg Castle.
Part of the chapel fell down because of inadequate maintenance. A chapel was set up in the castle, which was deconsecrated a few years later. It was replaced with the chapel in the old presbytery. The presbytery, an axial building which belongs to the castle, had been constructed by the well-known master builder Gabriel di Gabrieli by order of the barons de Bassus in 1722.
(In 1805, following Baden-Wuerttemberg, Bavaria became kingdom by Napoleon's grace.)
Things came to a halt at Eggersberg Castle during World War I. Between the two wars, Baron Bassus committed the administration of the castle to Major von Echterstab.
Unsatisfying years followed World War II. Eggersberg Castle was used as shelter for refugees. Those times affected the furniture badly and the historic building was in danger.
Dr. jur. utr. Robert F.E. Weigand ( founder and honorary chairman of the Bavarian committee of the German castle association, founding member of the Bavarian Monument Council/Monument Council of Bavaria etc.) bought Eggersberg Castle. He transformed it into a hotel and restaurant business and set up the Hofmark Museum. The first person, who rented the castle from Dr. Weigand in order to run a hotel and restaurant, was again a Baron Knigge.
the west façade of the house as well as the utterly ruinous stables were renovated in compliance with the preservation law for ancient monuments and historic buildings and high financial expenses. The roof of the stables was tiled and with its 50 m it is now the longest limestone roof in the Altmühltal valley.
During his long life as a collector Dr Weigand equipped the castle and the Hofmark Museum with partly rare and exquisite pieces. In 2004, he founded the cultural foundation "Dr.-Robert-Weigand-Kulturstiftung", which has its office on the first floor of the stables, to preserve the exhibits for the following generations.
The village of Eggersberg owes a lot to the untiring commitment of Dr Weigand, such as the paved road from Untereggersberg to Obereggersberg. The maintenance of the castle required electrification and access to the sewerage system.
With his tireless endeavour Dr Weigand preserved one of the most beautiful viewpoints of the Altmühltal valley, the castle rock of the ancient Eggersberg Castle, for the public.
More and more cultural events have been hosted at Eggersberg Castle and the Hofmark Museum has enjoyed great popularity. And the family has planned further high-class events, which promise to be a pleasure for all senses.
There is much to look forward to!