Freiberg Castle (Burg Freiberg)

Freiberg Castle

Location: Carinthia  Map

Constructed: 12th century


Freiburg Castle is a small medieval fortress that sits on top of a strategic hill in Carinthia state of Austria. Freiberg Castle ruins are located to the south of the municipality of Frauenstein of the Carinthia province of Austria. It was first mentioned in 1181 as a citadel belonging to the dukes of Carinthia. Duke Bernhard von Spanheim (died in 1256) greatly increased the sise of the citadel and established Freiberg as an official residence of the regional court.



As early as 1091, the Zähringer Duke Berthold II had the beautiful Castrum de Friburch built in Romanesque style on the Freiburg Schlossberg, which Hartmann von Aue later sang about. The duke's servants and craftsmen settled at the foot of the mountain in the area of ​​today's southern old town, but it was not until 1120 that his son Konrad, with the consent of Emperor Heinrich V, gave the settlement market rights, thus ending the founding phase of Freiburg.

The existence of the castle has been documented since 1146 at the latest, when Bernhard von Clairvaux describes in his travel diaries how he healed a blind boy apud castrum Frieburg (near the Freiburg fortress). In contrast to the Zähringer Castle above the village of the same name north of Freiburg, the complex on the Schlossberg was called the "Burghaldenschloss". In the course of history, fires and the effects of war repeatedly destroyed the fortified buildings on the Schlossberg, which the respective rulers, however, repeatedly rebuilt because of their strategic importance for the protection of Freiburg and for controlling access to the Black Forest and the Dreisamtal.

After the Zähringer family died out in 1218, the city of Freiburg was inherited by the Counts of Urach, who henceforth called themselves Counts of Freiburg and resided in the castle above Freiburg. The relationship between the lords and the citizens was often clouded by disputes about the city's financial performance. The citizens of Freiburg seized the castle twice. In 1299, during the war against their lord of the city, Count Egino II, and his brother-in-law, the bishop of Strasbourg, Konrad von Lichtenberg, they used throwing machines against the castle to break a breach. As Count Egino III. In 1366, when an army tried to enter the city at night, war broke out in which the people of Freiburg reduced the "most beautiful fortress in Germany" to rubble and ashes with cannons. After that, the relationship between the ruling counts of Freiburg and the city was completely broken. Finally, the citizenry bought their freedom from their rule with a one-time payment of 15,000 silver marks in order to voluntarily submit to the protection of the House of Habsburg in 1368. The new ruler, Archduke Leopold, generously left the ruins on the Schlossberg to the people of Freiburg.

The city only had the fortifications repaired in a makeshift manner and so the castle became easy prey for the enemies during the Peasants' War of 1525 and the Thirty Years' War. Emperor Leopold I first built a mountain fortress, the "Leopoldsburg", including the Burghalden Castle in 1668 as a bulwark against the threat of Louis XIV to the Breisgau. In vain, because the French conquered the city and fortress as early as 1677 during the Dutch War. When the Habsburgs then had to cede Freiburg to the French crown in the Peace of Nijmegen in 1679, the Schlossberg experienced its greatest changes. Louis XIV commissioned his fortress builder Sébastien Le Prestre de Vauban to fortify the city of Freiburg, including the Schlossberg, with the Vieux Châteaux (the old castle) according to modern principles and to surround it as a French outpost in the Austrian foothills with a deeply tiered fortress ring. In 1681, the king himself came to Freiburg with a large entourage to inspect the work and also visited the castle hill.

After the Palatinate War of Succession in the Peace of Rijswijk in 1697, Louis XIV had to give up Freiburg. A French memorandum embellishes this negative result for the crown of France as follows: The king gave up some places that were not useful to him ... the city of Friborg was not useful enough to the king to have to feel that it was returned as a loss, it is in the bosom of the empire and the care of the emperor, who is also their sovereign, returned.

During the War of the Spanish Succession, the fortress, which was occupied by a strong Austrian garrison, was again besieged and taken by French troops under Marshal Louis Héctor de Villars in late 1713. In Rastatt, the return of the fortress to the Reich was agreed, which took place in 1715.

And again there was war – this time the War of the Austrian Succession. In the autumn of 1744, the French, allies of Frederick the Great, took Freiburg again. Louis XV personally followed the progress of the siege of the city from Lorettoberg and was almost hit by a stray cannonball of the defenders. A year later, in the Peace of Dresden, Freiburg came back to the Habsburgs. However, before the French evacuated the city, they destroyed Vauban's fortifications so thoroughly that only a cone of rubble and the neck moat remain of the former castle complex, the main part of which was a donjon that has been handed down through illustrations. In the following decades, as a result of the extensive destruction of the castle complex and the fortifications surrounding the city, a huge field of rubble covered the castle hill and the city.