Our German Bohemian Legacy
Robert J. Paulson
Die Burg Hirschstein
The Fortress Hirschstein
This castle offers an exceptional view (next to Karlsburg, it is the castle highest in all
of Germany) and is also rich in history. Proceeding southwards past Frohnau from Stockau,
one can access the castle ruins via a forest path beginning near the chapel on the 753m high
hill. The remnants appear to the observer as a mass of granite jutting from the hillside, in
addition to the other rubble strewn over the surrounding area. The only remaining structure of
the historical "Burg" is the watchtower. The rest of the castle has so eroded that it is hard to
tell exactly where the walls and buildings stood. The old structure, a stone tower surrounded
by a circular castle wall, proved inadequate as a residence for the most powerful nobility in
medieval Germany; thus, it was doomed almost from its establishment of occupation by lesser
vassals and nobility.
Castle Hirschstein ( or "Hirschenstein") has two histories; one, the romanticized
version taken from Stockau's written lore, and another, more historically accurate version. In
reality, the castle was used primarily as a piece of property to be traded and "leased" by most
of its owners.
Burg Hirschstein was built between 1252 - 1272 under the authority of Protiwecz von
Hirschentein", who came from the present-day village of Schüttwa. At the beginning of the
14th century, the Hirschenstriner, as the family was named, were among the most important
royal families in the region. However, splits among the descendents occurred due to
inheritance disputes. Various parts of their property passed into other hands. In 1328 Burg
Hirschtein was sold to duke Henry of Bavaria. In 1331 it was acquired by bishop John of
Prague and occupied by the knight Zbislaw. Meanwhile, the old Hirschenstein family still
resided in the area. Through the sale of their other property, notably castle Stammburg, they
acquired enough resources to be able to fund a larger, more important castle presently known as Burg Herrnstein (from "Neu-Hirschenstein"). The family emblem, which depicts a stag deer,
originated in Schüttwa, and not at the actual castle Hirschstein.
Not much is know about the castle during the 14th century while it was owned by the
bishop. In approximately 1397 the castle was mortgaged to Peter Eberswein von Hradischt, a
nobleman from Plisen, because of the bishop's fears that the Hussites would overrun it.
In 1427the castle was used as a military strongpost by magistrates from Pilsen, the von Kolowrat
brothers (the "Tauser" were threatening the area). The ownership passed to knight Tibarz
von Wolfstein in 1437 and later, in exchange for other properties, to Zdenko Kolwin von
Ramsperg and his sons Dobrohost and Brzenko. However, their ownership was threatened
because the Church of Prague planned to liquidate its property. Fortunately for them, their
lord, King Georg, purchased it. However, Dobrohost allied himself with the traitorous
Grünberger clan. During the ensuing civil war, Dobrohost bought the services of German
mercenaries, who pillaged and sacked the entire surrounding countryside from 1465-67. After
the mercenaries were finally subdued by the king's forces, Dobrohost declared peace and
vassaldom later was split up among Dobrohost's sons, of who the oldest, Zdenko, inherited
Hirschtein. In 1510 Zdenko Dobrohost von Ronsperg, as he was known, allowed bands of
robbers and thieves to use his castles Hirschtein and Ronsperg as a base for their criminal
activities. As a result he was forced to flee to Bavaria by Duke Zdenko Lew von Rosenthal.
The castle Hirschstein, left in a state of disrepair, finally was destroyed in the early 16th
Although somewhat tarnished, the title Hirschtein lived on when prior Simon
Brosius of the Prague Cathedral added to his family name the title "von Hirschstein". His
descendants carried the name until 1641, when the family line died.