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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

century.

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.