History, Myths and legends around Schönburg Castle
Schönburg Castle was first mentioned in history between the years 911 and 1166. Until the 17th century the castle had a very changeable and martial history with many tribe and family fights.
From the 12th century, the Dukes of Schönburg ruled over the town of Oberwesel and had also the right to levy customs on the Rhine river.
Schönburg Castle was one of the very few medieval castles in which after a duke’s death, all of the sons became heirs to the castle and not only the oldest one which usually was costumary at that time. At the height of its power in the 14th century, Schönburg Castle accomodated up to 250 persons of 24 families at the same time.
The most famous of all of the Schönburgs is Friedrich von Schönburg - a much-feared man known as “Marshall Schomberg” - who in the 17th century served as a colonel and as a general under His Majesty the King of France and Navarra in France and Portugal and who later also fought for the Prussians and for William Prince of Orange in England. He was buried in St. Patrick’s Cathedral in Dublin.
The Schönburg main lineage became extinct with the death of their last heir, the son of Friedrich of Schönburg.
The castle is burned down in 1689 by French soldiers during the Palatinate Heritage war.
Schönburg Castle remained destroyed and in ruins for 2 centuries until an American of German ancestry, Mr. Rhinelander, bought the castle from the town of Oberwesel in the late 19th century and invested two million Gold Marks into the restoration until 1914.
The town council of Oberwesel acquired the castle back from Mr. Rhinelander’s son in 1950.
Since 1957 the Hüttl family lives at the castle on a long-term lease (emphyteusi) and established a hotel and restaurant, now already in the third generation.
Myth of Schönburg Castle
The Serven Virgents
It is said, that seven very pretty but rather prudish sisters, not willing to bow their tender necks under the yoke of matrimony, continued to live at the Schönburg castle. One day a group of suitors, who had met with a polite refusal for many years and endured much derision, delivered an ultimatum of marriage to be decided by drawing lots. The process of selection had been manipulated so that the most ugly, misshapen suitors won, and became the laughing-stock of all. The selection of the brides never occurred, because they hurried away like elves while singing loudly, using what today is called “Elfenley” rock to disappear down the river.
They had only gained the first bend of the Rhine River, where seven rocks (partly visible from the castle) jutting out of the river. Later, these rocks were considered to be symbols for the stony hearts of the prudish virgins. It should be added that even with the noted fertility of the Schönburgs, none of them produced seven daughters.