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Castle of Wildenstein

History of the castle

Many currencies of IIIe and IVe centuries attest of an occupation of the site as of the Roman time. For as much, these weak lucky finds do not make it possible to affirm that Wildenstein was already a place strengthened in these moved back times. It is in a charter of 1312 that we meet for the first time the name of Wildenstein (the Wild Rock). In this year, the count de Ferrette Ulrich III promises to his rival, the abbot of Murbach, not to build any castle on the grounds of the abbey in the condition of leaving Pierre Bollwiller act freely on the mountain of Wildenstein.

In this document, the castle is not expressly named, but Pierre de Bollwiller did not receive the mountain in stronghold to gather bilberries there! The competition which opposed these two great feudal powers partly drew its origin in the territorial control of the valley of Saint-Amarin. The count de Ferrette held the outlet of the valley with the castle of Engelbourg and the toll of Thann. The passage transvosgien by the collar of Bussang was regarded at the time as one of the more pratiquables and became an important shopping street. The abbot of Murbach had a great part of the valley, the castle and the town of Saint-Amarin where it also wished to create a toll to him. He had obtained the right of it by accompanying a few years before the Emperor Frederic II in crusade.

For the count de Ferrette this was inconceivable. It tackled on several occasions the possessions of the abbey before being constrained with the tender vis-a-vis with the higher authority. By the construction of the castle of Wildenstein, Ulrich III hoped well to carry out his dream hegemonic and to have one day all the valley. But its intention was not carried out. In 1324, it died by not leaving any male heir.

By the marriage of his/her Jeanne daughter with Albert II the Wise one, the county of Ferrette became Austrian possession. Habsbourg, from now on suzerains of the castle of Wildenstein, did not have any particular interest in the valley and did not continue the policy followed by the Counts de Ferrette, not more than Bollwiller who dropped the castle in ruins. The bottom of the valley, called also high valley of the Thur, was occupied by the three villages of Kruth, Fellering, and Oderen which formed the parish of Oderen. They had a particular jurisdictional statute which escaped partially from the supervision of the abbot.

In 1536, Jean de Bollviller sold the ruin of Wildenstein and the rights which made it possible to the abbot George de Masevaux to reinforce his authority in this content of valley. The castle remained however in ruin. But the religious events and policies which shook Europe in the medium of XVIe century were at the origin of the resurrection of Wildenstein.

In 1552, the king of France Henri II implied himself personally in the area while being combined with Protestant princes opposed to the tentacular authority of the catholic party to the orders of the Emperor Charles Quint. Following his fulgurating ride of Austrasie, the king of France occupied évêchés of Toul, Metz, Verdun and several fortified towns, making possible the annexation of the duchy of Lorraine. He was on the point of crossing the Rhine when the belligerents found a payment peaceful with the conflict. One remained about it temporarily there.

Charles Quint had been taken with deprived by this attack. He immediately establishes a true plan of defense in order to ensure an effective protection of the Austrian grounds in Alsace against a possible French incursion. In this device, many Vosgean castles were modernized and provided out of weapons: Ferrette, Landskron, Morimont, Thann, Honnack, Haut-Koenigsbourg. The Emperor ordered in particular to the abbot of Murbach the rebuilding of Wildenstein in order to control the surrounding roads and collars.

It is finally North which came the danger a few decades later, at the time of the Thirty Year old War. This religious and political conflict brought an indescribable misery in the valley of Saint-Amarin. In 1632, the Swedish troops, allied of the Protestants, broke on Sundgau and invested in fortified towns of the area. The abbey, fearing to see falling the fortress, the cèda with the troops of the duke of Lorraine Charles IV, combined the imperial ones for one year. It asked thereafter the French to invest the place in order to put it under the protection of their king. The abbey wished especially to protect the files that it had placed at the castle! The French encircled Wildenstein and seized some after a seat several months, in August 1633. The Lorraine ones could freely withdraw castle with the honors.

For the inhabitants of the valley, the French presence did not change anything on the bottom. But once Master of the place, the colonel Of Bloquerie exerted in the area a tyranny without similar. Here the extract of a report given to the administrator of the abbey of Murbach:
"He wants his 119 imperatively Reichstaler. He also asks 20 to 30 men for the drudgeries, like all game and the fish which are caught in the valley. If it could tear off us the skin of the top of the head, it would do it ". The commander also required administrators of the three villages of the high valley "which one supplies the castle out of dry wooden, straw, hay, and flour". At the beginning of the year 1635, the duke Charles IV projecting to pass by again in Lorraine to be restored there by the force, the offensive began again. It entered to Alsace and took again the castle of Wildenstein after having cut in parts the French garrison which kept it. Lastly, in 1646, the Swedes accepted the order to seize the last imperial bastion in Sundgau and removed the castle of Wildenstein to the Lorraine ones. That was rather made by the trick that by the force of the weapons.

It is told that a peasant of Kruth, maltreated by the governor of the fortress, would have suggested with the Swedish commander making transport guns, the night, on the "hill" facing the castle and who dominated it. The General made good reception with this trick and gave the order to cover the way which carried out to the mountain with straw and hay, and to make cover the wheels with the guns with rags. From their position in overhang they drew on the fortress. The Lorraine ones considered resistance impossible. They left their position in the darkness and were turned over from there by the escarpment of the forest. They heard the formidable noise of the bombardment and the walls which fell in the depths, that reflected the echoes of the mountain. It was on April 7, 1646.

In 1693, the villages of Kruth, Oderen and Fellering were authorized to take the stones of size of the fortress to rebuild the parish church of Oderen, and others, for the construction of houses with Kruth. In 1699, Master-glass-makers solicited by the abbot of Murbach to exploit the forest settled in the funds of the valley. The hamlet named at the XVIIIe century "die Glasshütte hinter Wildenstein" (the glassmaking behind Wildenstein). It will be set up in independent commune in 1796.

- ruin

The castle occupies all punt forms summit of Schlossberg over a length of more than 200m. The vestiges date mainly from XVIe century. The access is done by a weephole. The entry consists of a gallery of 20m length entirely dug in the rock. It required the use of 10 minors during one one year period! In the medium of the place the site of the vault is discernible. An important joint construction on arched cellar was probably the dwelling of the administrator of the fortress. On the with dimensions one Is, the castle overhangs the road of a hundred meters. With dimensions South, the sight is superb on the surrounding villages. In North, takes shape the Wildenstein - Kruth Lake. The department, owner of the ruins, endeavoured to restore them during a few years.Footbridges should be installed soon with the site of the Weephole.

Writen by Wild but not translated

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