The origins of Liebegg castle and the von Liebegg family are unclear, though they were probably a junior line of the von Trostburg family. The first castle was probably built in the 2nd half of the 12th century. About a century later the second castle was built south of the first. The first mention of the family is in 1241 when Burkhard I and Ludwig von Liebegg appear as witnesses in a document. At that time they were unfree knights in the service of the Counts of Kyburg. When the Kyburg line died out, the Habsburgs became the overlord over Liebegg. The Habsburgs granted a half share to the Twing of Liebegg to the von Liebegg family. The other half was given by the Habsburgs to the Lords of Aarburg, who in turn granted it as an under-fief to the von Liebeggs.
In 1415 the city-state of Bern invaded and captured the Aargau region from the Habsburgs. The castle was not attacked and the von Liebegg family retained their lands and castle under the new rulers. However, in 1433 Johann oder Hemmann von Liebegg, the last male heir of the family, died.
The castle and estates were inherited by Petermann von Luternau and his descendants. By the 16th century, they were one of the six most powerful families in Bern. At the height of their power, in 1561/62, Augustin von Luternau demolished the medieval castle, building on its site a late-Gothic residence. Today only traces of the original two castles remain. In 1602 they sold the castle to Marx Escher from the city of Zürich. A few years later, in 1615, he sold it to Reinhard Graviseth. Reinhard built a new castle and residence hall south of the Luternauhaus (Luternau House) in 1617. He owned the castle for about half a century, but in 1668 traded it to his brother in law Johann Friedrich von Breitenlandenberg. Then, in 1709 the Breitenlandenberg's traded Liebegg back to the Graviseth family. In 1772 the von Diesbach family inherited it from the Graviseths. A few decades later the 1798 French invasion and the Helvetic Republic swept away the old medieval system of noble landlords who ruled over villages and estates. While the von Diesbach family retained their castles, they lost their land holdings, including the Twing of Liebegg. In 1875 Friedrich Bernhart von Diesbach sold Liebegg Castle to the wealthy industrialist Guido Hunziker-Zuest from Aarau. His son, Julius Hunziker lived in the castle until his death in 1941. In 1946 the Canton of Aargau bought the castle from his heirs.
The Canton established a cantonal agricultural school in 1958 in the castle outbuildings. Between 1983 and 1998 the castle was home to the cantonal teacher's college. Today the castle is available to host meetings, conferences, weddings, celebrations and other events.
Today there are no visible traces of the medieval castle. The first or old castle stood on the highest point of hilltop, where the late-Gothic Luternauhaus now stands. The south wing of the Luternauhaus was demolished in 19th century when it fell into ruin. The second or new castle was south of the old and is now the site of 1617/18 Baroque residential palace. An earthquake in 1817 collapsed the western wall of the Baroque residential hall. Due to unstable foundations, it was moved back several meters and was rebuilt in the Neoclassic style.References:
The Château de Foix dominates the town of Foix. An important tourist site, it is known as a centre of the Cathars. Built on an older 7th-century fortification, the castle is known from 987. In 1002, it was mentioned in the will of Roger I, Count of Carcassonne, who bequeathed the fortress to his youngest child, Bernard. In effect, the family ruling over the region were installed here which allowed them to control access to the upper Ariège valley and to keep surveillance from this strategic point over the lower land, protected behind impregnable walls.
In 1034, the castle became capital of the County of Foix and played a decisive role in medieval military history. During the two following centuries, the castle was home to Counts with shining personalities who became the soul of the Occitan resistance during the crusade against the Albigensians. The county became a privileged refuge for persecuted Cathars.
The castle, often besieged (notably by Simon de Montfort in 1211 and 1212), resisted assault and was only taken once, in 1486, thanks to treachery during the war between two branches of the Foix family.
From the 14th century, the Counts of Foix spent less and less time in the uncomfortable castle, preferring the Governors' Palace. From 1479, the Counts of Foix became Kings of Navarre and the last of them, made Henri IV of France, annexed his Pyrrenean lands to France.
As seat of the Governor of the Foix region from the 15th century, the castle continued to ensure the defence of the area, notably during the Wars of Religion. Alone of all the castles in the region, it was exempted from the destruction orders of Richelieu (1632-1638).
Until the Revolution, the fortress remained a garrison. Its life was brightened with grand receptions for its governors, including the Count of Tréville, captain of musketeers under Louis XIII and Marshal Philippe Henri de Ségur, one of Louis XVI's ministers. The Round Tower, built in the 15th century, is the most recent, the two square towers having been built before the 11th century. They served as a political and civil prison for four centuries until 1862.
Since 1930, the castle has housed the collections of the Ariège départemental museum. Sections on prehistory, Gallo-Roman and mediaeval archaeology tell the history of Ariège from ancient times. Currently, the museum is rearranging exhibits to concentrate on the history of the castle site so as to recreate the life of Foix at the time of the Counts.