Hohenneuffen Castle is a large ruined castle in the northern foothills of the Swabian situated on a large late Jurassic rock. There is evidence for a pre-historic, iron age settlement on Hohenneuffen. It functioned as an outpost for the oppidum at Heidengraben during the late La Tène period in the first century BCE.
The pre-Germanic name Neuffen is derived from the proto-Celtic adjective nobos, meaning holy or sacred, implying that the mountain had a religious rather than a military function 2000 years ago.
The castle was built between 1100 and 1120 by Mangold von Sulmetingen who later changed his name to include the element von Neuffen. The first documentary evidence dates from 1198. At that time the castle was still in possession of the family von Neuffen, a member of which was the Minnesänger Gottfried von Neifen. The castle went into the possession of the Lords of Weinsberg at the end of the 13th century who sold it on to the Counts of Württemberg in 1301. The castle proved its defensive worth in 1312 when, during the internal strife within the Holy Roman Empire following the election of Henry VII as Holy Roman Emperor, it could not be conquered.
The expansion of Hohenneuffen Castle into a fortress began in the 14th century. However, the most important alterations to the castle structure were conducted by Duke Ulrich of Württemberg in the first half of the 16th century. Barbicans, round towers, bastions, a building for the commanding officer, casemates, stables, an armoury as well as two cisterns were built. Essentially, these fortification did not change for the next two hundred years. While the fortress had to surrender to troops from the Swabian League in 1519, it withstood the insurgent peasants' attempt to take it during the German Peasants' War of 1524/25.
The castle was besieged by Imperial forces for more than a year during the Thirty Years' War. In November 1635 the commanding officer Johann Philipp Schnurm and his dispirited troops managed to negotiate a surrender, allowing Schnurm and his men to depart with their weapons and possessions. Yet, in violation of the agreed terms the troops were forced to serve in the Imperial army and Schnurm lost all his possessions.
Duke Karl Alexander of Württemberg planned to have Hohenneuffen altered into a fortress following the French model. Yet he died before the task was completed and his successor, Karl Eugen abandoned the plan due to the high costs and the doubtful military benefit. In 1793 it was decided to raze the castle and to sell off the building materials. The castle went out of use in 1795 and was finally destined for destruction in 1801. The inhabitants of the surrounding area were happy to utilise the cheap building materials. Only from 1830 onwards the remains of the castle were safeguarded from further destruction and in the 1860s public access to the ruin was allowed. In 1862 an inn was established in one of the buildings in the upper bailey.
Similar to other fortresses Hohenneuffen was used as a holding place for prisoners of the state, where important prisoners were held and, if deemed necessary, tortured. Amongst those were a young Count of Helfenstein who fell to his death in 1502 whilst trying to escape from the castle. In 1512 Duke Ulrich had the abbot of Zwiefalten Abbey, Georg Fischer, imprisoned at the castle. On the orders of Duke Ulrich the reeve of Tübingen, Konrad Breuning, was held and tortured here before being beheaded in 1517 in Stuttgart. Matthäus Enzlin, Geheimrat at the court of Duke Johann Frederick of Württemberg, attempted several escapes whilst being imprisoned on Hohenneuffen in the early 16th century. In 1737 Joseph Süß Oppenheimer, Court Jew to Duke Karl Alexander was incarcerated on Hohenneuffen for several weeks before being relocated to Hohenasperg, finally to be executed in Stuttgart in 1738.
Today, access to Hohenneuffen Castle is free for the public and some of the casemates are accessible. There is also a restaurant, beer garden and a kiosk. Furthermore, the castle is also used for concerts and a medieval-style market.References:
From 1239, Raynaud, the Bishop of Quimper, decided on the building of a new chancel destined to replace that of the Romanesque era. He therefore started, in the far west, the construction of a great Gothic cathedral which would inspire cathedral reconstructions in the Ile de France and would in turn become a place of experimentation from where would later appear ideas adopted by the whole of lower Brittany. The date of 1239 marks the Bishop’s decision and does not imply an immediate start to construction. Observation of the pillar profiles, their bases, the canopies, the fitting of the ribbed vaults of the ambulatory or the alignment of the bays leads us to believe, however, that the construction was spread out over time.
The four circular pillars mark the start of the building site, but the four following adopt a lozenge-shaped layout which could indicate a change of project manager. The clumsiness of the vaulted archways of the north ambulatory, the start of the ribbed vaults at the height of the south ambulatory or the choice of the vaults descending in spoke-form from the semi-circle which allows the connection of the axis chapel to the choir – despite the manifest problems of alignment – conveys the hesitancy and diverse influences in the first phase of works which spread out until the start of the 14th century.
At the same time as this facade was built (to which were added the north and south gates) the building of the nave started in the east and would finish by 1460. The nave is made up of six bays with one at the level of the facade towers and flanked by double aisles – one wide and one narrow (split into side chapels) – in an extension of the choir arrangements.
The choir presents four right-hand bays with ambulatory and side chapels. It is extended towards the east of 3-sided chevet which opens onto a semi-circle composed of five chapels and an apsidal chapel of two bays and a flat chevet consecrated to Our Lady.
The three-level elevation with arches, triforium and galleries seems more uniform and expresses anglo-Norman influence in the thickness of the walls (Norman passageway at the gallery level) or the decorative style (heavy mouldings, decorative frieze under the triforium). This building site would have to have been overseen in one shot. Undoubtedly interrupted by the war of Succession (1341-1364) it draws to a close with the building of the lierne vaults (1410) and the fitting of stained-glass windows. Bishop Bertrand de Rosmadec and Duke Jean V, whose coat of arms would decorate these vaults, finished the chancel before starting on the building of the facade and the nave.
Isolated from its environment in the 19th century, the cathedral was – on the contrary – originally very linked to its surroundings. Its site and the orientation of the facade determined traffic flow in the town. Its positioning close to the south walls resulted in particuliarities such as the transfer of the side gates on to the north and south facades of the towers: the southern portal of Saint Catherine served the bishop’s gate and the hospital located on the left bank (the current Préfecture) and the north gate was the baptismal porch – a true parish porch with its benches and alcoves for the Apostles’ statues turned towards the town, completed by an ossuary (1514).
The west porch finds its natural place between the two towers. The entire aesthetic of these three gates springs from the Flamboyant era: trefoil, curly kale, finials, large gables which cut into the mouldings and balustrades. Pinnacles and recesses embellish the buttresses whilst an entire bestiary appears: monsters, dogs, mysterious figures, gargoyles, and with them a whole imaginary world promoting a religious and political programme. Even though most of the saints statues have disappeared an armorial survives which makes the doors of the cathedral one of the most beautiful heraldic pages imaginable: ducal ermine, the Montfort lion, Duchess Jeanne of France’s coat of arms side by side with the arms of the Cornouaille barons with their helmets and crests. One can imagine the impact of this sculpted decor with the colour and gilding which originally completed it.
At the start of the 16th century the construction of the spires was being prepared when building was interrupted, undoubtedly for financial reasons. Small conical roofs were therefore placed on top of the towers. The following centuries were essentially devoted to putting furnishings in place (funeral monuments, altars, statues, organs, pulpit). Note the fire which destroyed the spire of the transept cross in 1620 as well as the ransacking of the cathedral in 1793 when nearly all the furnishings disappeared in a « bonfire of the saints ».
The 19th century would therefore inherit an almost finished but mutilated building and would devote itself to its renovation according to the tastes and theories of the day.