Hohenfreyberg Castle, together with Eisenberg Castle directly opposite, are situated on a twin-topped, rocky ridge in front of the Tannheim Mountains. The castle was one of the last great castles of the German Middle Ages. Its lord base dit consciously on the – actually anachronistic – design of a high mediaeval hill castle whilst, in other places, the first castles had been abandoned or converted into schloss-like country houses.
Construction on the fortress was started in 1418 by Frederick of Freyberg zu Eisenberg, the eldest son of the eponymous lord of Eisenberg Castle. The work lasted until 1432, the funding coming from the income of the little barony that surrounded it, which the lord had bequeathed in advance of his death.
The walls of the inner bailey with its bergfried-like main tower and large sections of the walls of the outer bailey go back to this first construction phase. The first castle gave the impression of a high mediaeval hilltop castle about 200 years older with an impressive bergfried and two palases. At a time when the nobility were waning and the bourgeois classes were in the ascendancy, Frederick of Freyberg clearly wanted to create a symbol of unbroken aristocratic power. He certainly was certainly influenced by the size and appearance of his ancestral castle which was only five minutes walk away.
The construction and huge maintenance costs forced his sons, George and Frederick of Freyberg-Eisenberg zu Hohenfreyberg and their cousin, George of Freyberg-Eisenberg zu Eisenberg, who also owned estates of the Barony of Hohenfreyberg, to sell the castle in 1484 to Archduke Sigmund of Austria; they also lacked a male heir. The successor to the Archduke, later Emperor Maximilian I, enfeoffed Hohenfreyberg in 1499 to Augsburg merchant, Georg Gossembrot, the Pfleger of the nearby Tyrolean castle of Ehrenberg. He invested heavily in the fortress: the site was fortified militarily and modernised.
The modernization of the fortifications by the castle's vassal lords paid off in 1525 during the German Peasants' War. The Austrian Pfleger was able to ward the rebels off successfully after he had requested reinforcements and soldiers from Innsbruck.
In 1646, towards the end of the Thirty Years' War, the Austrian outposts of Hohenfreyberg, Eisenberg and Falkenstein were set on fire on the orders of the Tyrolean state government. The fortresses were not to fall intact into the hands of the approaching Protestants. However, the attackers changed their line of advance, so their destruction was needless. Since that time, all three castles have remained uninhabited ruins.
After the Battle of Austerlitz, Austria had to cede its Allgäu possessions to Bavaria. The Kingdom of Bavaria sold Hohenfreyberg in 1841 back to the Lords of Freyberg, to whom the castle still belongs today. An extensive renovation started in 1995.
The castle was built mainly in three large construction phases. The original castle (1418-32) was somewhat smaller than the surviving ruins. It consisted of two angled residential buildings in the courtyard, a bergfried-like main tower in the east and a chapel tower. This inner bailey was surrounded by a short enceinte. The crenellated wall of the outer bailey was much lower than today. On the plateau of this outer ward were almost certainly a number of wooden domestic and residential buildings. The original gate of the outer ward was slightly wider, but situated on the same spot as the present entrance. Originally the castle track led around the north and east sides of the castle and met the one coming from the gate in the outer bailey. The gate of the inner ward was originally in the south wall. The outer wall guarded the main entrance in the manner of a gateway zwinger.
In 1456 the two gateways were reinforced. On the west side of the inner bailey a low artillery hut was built, from which an attacking enemy could be fired upon with light firearms. The main gate was expanded into a massive gateway structure.
Between 1486 and 1502 the castle was fundamentally remodelled and strengthened. At the southwest corner of the outer ward the mighty artillery roundel was built. The height of the enceinte was increased and designed with embrasures for arquebuses. The large battery tower guarded the new approach way, which was now on the southern side. The gateway to the inner bailey was moved to the west side and was given a new gate tower. This required the demolition of the northern half of the great west residence or palas, whose rubble was distributed to a depty of a metre in the inner courtyard. As a consequence even the smaller palas had to be remodelled. To the north and east the mighty zwinger systems were built with a semi-circular flanking tower in the far northeast.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.