Burg Ludwigstein

Burg Ludwigstein



Location: Witzenhausen, Hesse   Map

Constructed: 1415


Description of Burg Ludwigstein

Burg Ludwigstein stands in Witzenhausen, Hesse region in Germany. Burg Ludwigstein was constructed in 1415 by Count Ludwig I of Hesse. The castle was reconstructed in the middle 20th century by the Wandervogel ("wandering bird"), German youth organization originally found in the late 19th century. Ludwigstein Castle also contains a memorial that is dedicated to its Wandervogel members who died during World War I.


Geographical location
The castle is located in the northern foothills of the Soodener Bergland near the Witzenhausen district of Werleshausen, which is about 700 m northeast of the castle on the other side of the Werra in the Lindewerra-Werleshäuser Schlingen natural area; to the west of the castle is Wendershausen (to Witzenhausen) and southeast of Oberrieden (to Bad Sooden-Allendorf). The elevation belonging to this natural area (approx. 236 m above sea level), on which the castle stands, drops to the east, north and west along the Werra, which tends to flow to the northwest. The tri-border region of Hesse-Lower Saxony-Thuringia lies about six kilometers north-northeast.

Construction and original function
The castle was built from the summer of 1415 under Landgrave Ludwig I of Hesse to protect the disputed border across from Eichsfeld in Electoral Mainz and Hanstein Castle in Mainz. It has not been established whether there was an earlier fortification in the same place.

Until 1664 the castle was the seat of a Hessian bailiff and the center of administration and jurisdiction in the Hessian Werra area, but never had supra-regional importance. Hans von Dörnberg the Elder, previously the Hessian marshal and bailiff in Homberg an der Efze, became the first bailiff of the new Ludwigstein office and the Witzenhausen office, which was first mentioned in 1361. According to a list of 1466 lands and income in the villages of Oberrieden, Wendershausen, Hilgershausen, Hundelshausen, Weißenbach, Roßbach, Kleinalmerode, Bischhausen and in Witzenhausen belonged to the office; in the 16th century further villages were added around Witzenhausen, Eichenberg and Friedland. Hans von Dörnberg was followed by a number of Hessian nobles - including members of the Berlepsch, Herda, Boyneburg, Buttlar, Diede, Hanstein, Meysenbug and Steinberg families. At times they were also pledges of the castle. Among them was Hans von Dörnberg the Younger (1427–1506), the son of the first bailiff, of outstanding importance; he was 1462–1497 Hessian court master.

From 1545 to 1574 the Ludwigstein experienced a brief interlude as a fiefdom and an independent aristocratic court. As a counter-deal to provide for relatives of his bigamistic second wife Margarethe von der Saale, Landgrave Philipp Burg and Amt Ludwigstein transferred his valet Christoph Hülsing and his descendants as a fief. Philip's son, Wilhelm IV of Hessen-Kassel, succeeded in buying back this property only after long negotiations. After that, the castle was again the seat of Hessian officials, mostly civil officials.

Rotenburger Quart and domain management
In 1627, Ludwigstein Castle and Office belonged to the so-called Rotenburger Quart, the quarter of his country left by Landgrave Moritz von Hessen-Kassel to his second wife Juliane von Nassau-Dillenburg and the children from this marriage. In the course of the further division of the only partially independent Landgraviate of Hessen-Rotenburg, the castle changed hands several times in the branching Hessian-Rotenburg royal house. Only in 1834, with the extinction of these branch lines, did the Ludwigstein come back into the possession of the main line Hessen-Kassel.

In 1664 the Ludwigstein office was combined with the Witzenhausen mayor office and the Ludwigstein lost its function as the seat of a sovereign official. Instead, agricultural tenants moved in until the current domain administration was relocated to Wendershausen around 1830.

After that, the facility was used variously, including as a brewery, sheepfold and warehouse. In 1862 the demolition of the outer castle began. After Ludwigstein was released from the maintenance obligation of the domain in 1882, the inner castle gradually fell into decline.