Frankenstein Castle is a medieval fortification on a spur above the village of Frankenstein. The name first appeared in a document of 1146 mentioning the free nobleman Helenger of Frankenstein. But the beginning of the castle is assumed to be at an earlier date because the erection of a defensive tower around 1100 is reported in various documents.
The tower belonged to nearby Limburg Abbey in charge of security on the road to Speyer, Dürkheim und Worms. In 1205, the monastery commissioned the counts of Leiningen with this task. The counts had the tower expanded to a castle in the beginning of the 13th. century.
From 1204 to 1231, documents mention the knights Marquard, Friedrich and Helenger von Frankenstein as administrators in charge of the castle. Around 1390 Frankenstein Castle became a joint heritage castle when Limburg Abbey pledged half of the castle to the Lords of Einselthum. A part of this pledge was taken over by the counts of Nassau -Saarbrücken and Leiningen-Hardenburg in the beginning of the 15th. century.
In the second half of the 15th. century the castle was damaged in the struggles between Prince-elector Frederick I and Count Palatine Ludwig I of Zweibrücken. The castle suffered further damage, presumably in 1512, when the Count of Nassau conquered it on orders of emperor Maximilian I. During the German Peasants' War the castle was destroyed and was considered uninhabitable as of 1560. Nevertheless it served military purposes because of its strategic position.
In the Thirty Years' War the Spanish General Ambrosio Spinola captured the castle. In the War of the Spanish Succession it was used to accommodate French troops. It is confirmed that these troops still used the castle chapel for mass in 1703.
In 1706, the Electoral Palatinate took possession of the Nassau-Saarbrücken share of the castle.
After the Palatinate had become part of Bavaria, the ruins of the castle were secured in 1883–84. Another upgrading took place in 1938–39.
Today the castle is owned by the state of Rhineland-Palatinate. In the 1970s and 1980s some parts oft the castle were restored and foundations of a previously unknown shield wall were unearthed.References:
From its origin as a small stronghold built by the ancient Illyrian tribe Dalmatae, becoming a royal castle that was the seat of many Croatian kings, to its final development as a large fortress during the Ottoman wars in Europe, Klis Fortress has guarded the frontier, being lost and re-conquered several times. Due to its location on a pass that separates the mountains Mosor and Kozjak, the fortress served as a major source of defense in Dalmatia, especially against the Ottoman advance, and has been a key crossroad between the Mediterranean belt and the Balkan rear.
Since Duke Mislav of the Duchy of Croatia made Klis Fortress the seat of his throne in the middle of the 9th century, the fortress served as the seat of many Croatia"s rulers. The reign of his successor, Duke Trpimir I, the founder of the Croatian royal House of Trpimirović, is significant for spreading Christianity in the Duchy of Croatia. He largely expanded the Klis Fortress, and in Rižinice, in the valley under the fortress, he built a church and the first Benedictine monastery in Croatia. During the reign of the first Croatian king, Tomislav, Klis and Biograd na Moru were his chief residences.
In March 1242 at Klis Fortress, Tatars who were a constituent segment of the Mongol army under the leadership of Kadan suffered a major defeat while in pursuit of the Hungarian army led by King Béla IV. After their defeat by Croatian forces, the Mongols retreated, and Béla IV rewarded many Croatian towns and nobles with 'substantial riches'. During the Late Middle Ages, the fortress was governed by Croatian nobility, amongst whom Paul I Šubić of Bribir was the most significant. During his reign, the House of Šubić controlled most of modern-day Croatia and Bosnia. Excluding the brief possession by the forces of Bosnian King, Tvrtko I, the fortress remained in Hungaro-Croatian hands for the next several hundred years, until the 16th century.
Klis Fortress is probably best known for its defense against the Ottoman invasion of Europe in the early 16th century. Croatian captain Petar Kružić led the defense of the fortress against a Turkish invasion and siege that lasted for more than two and a half decades. During this defense, as Kružić and his soldiers fought without allies against the Turks, the military faction of Uskoks was formed, which later became famous as an elite Croatian militant sect. Ultimately, the defenders were defeated and the fortress was occupied by the Ottomans in 1537. After more than a century under Ottoman rule, in 1669, Klis Fortress was besieged and seized by the Republic of Venice, thus moving the border between Christian and Muslim Europe further east and helping to contribute to the decline of the Ottoman Empire. The Venetians restored and enlarged the fortress, but it was taken by the Austrians after Napoleon extinguished the republic itself in 1797. Today, Klis Fortress contains a museum where visitors to this historic military structure can see an array of arms, armor, and traditional uniforms.