Murder at Neuenfels

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The small castle of Neuenfels is located just inside the Black Forest, above the village of Britzingen, with panoramic views across the Rhine plain to the Vosges mountains in France. Originally built before 1250, the castle was until the 16th century the seat of the noble von Neuenfels family, who are first mentioned in 1307. In the course of time the von Neuenfels held offices as bailiffs in Badenweiler and Staufen, as the Reeve* in Rötteln, and as Abbot of St. Trudpert. The family acquired through purchase or marriage property in Britzingen, Auggen, Schliengen, Steinenstadt, and Müllheim.

Unfortunately in 1538 the last Lord - Christoph von Neuenfels - was so impoverished that he had to sell his property, including the castle, to the nearby town of Britzingen for 420 gold florins. The still surviving "Lagerbuch" of 1620 - 1635 (a record of properties and the revenues arising from them) of Peter Kaltenbach, Reeve of Britzingen, tells the tragic fate of the last Lord von Neuenfels at the lonely castle...

"Around 1540 Christoph von Neuenfels, his wife, their daughter, two maids, and other servants, altogether numbering eight persons were cruelly murdered at night in the castle, and not found until the third day. They are buried at Britzingen.

The murderer was never found, and since then, the house has been no longer inhabited. Piece by piece the castle fell to ruin where it stood, and it is a wonder how such a strong building could fall into such disrepair in so short a time."

As the story goes, the murder was only discovered when Christoph von Neuenfels' dog, which was regularly sent down to Britzingen for supplies, failed to turn up as usual, and someone went up to the castle to investigate. Today the castle is owned by the nearby town of Müllheim.

Alamanicus is pleased to have translated, albeit badly, most of the above text from the German language plaque fastened to the wall at the castle. He may, however, have made up the story about the dog.

* A Reeve (Vogt in German) was an overlord, usually a noble, with responsibilities for military protection and secular justice in a given area.

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Alamanicus is wandering his old Alemanni haunts, revisiting the places where once he used to drink, carouse, and beat up the odd Roman legionnaire or two. Things have moved on since his day, and the old Alemanni country now lies across south west Germany, French Alsace, and northern Switzerland. Cut through by the mighty Rhine, it is an area of great beauty, and a lot has happened there since Alamanicus last walked this land.


  • Guest
    billie ricks Wednesday, 03 September 2014

    If only I had seen your site a few weeks ago...

    We just returned from our Germany trip, trying to locate ancestral homelands. We were right here. Family is from Dattingen, Britzingen, etc. Kaltenbach line.
    I found you because I have been searching for an explanation or more data (I don't read German) on the Jakobuskirche bell in Dattingen. The plaque mentions my ancestor but no real understanding of it. Care to tackle another tidbit from the area and let me know if there are any more? Thanks. BTW....I LOVED the area!

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