The House of Hachberg-Sausenberg

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Sausenberg Castle today is a modest ruin, barely sign-posted, gradually being reclaimed by the trees at the western edge of the Black Forest, near the modern day town of Kandern. In its day, however, Sausenberg was the seat of the Margrave of Hachberg-Sausenberg, a near 200 year dynasty out of the House of Baden that accumulated most of the land of the south western corner of Germany, that today is called Markgräflerland (Margrave's Land).

The Castle of Sausenberg

The Path to Sausenberg - part of the WestwegThe first record of Sausenberg is dated to 1120, when the 668m (c. 2200ft) peak is part of a grant of land to the monastery of St. Blasien. In 1232 Heinrich (Henry) II, Margrave of Hachberg - based at Hochburg Castle near Emmendingen, just north of Freiberg - acquires Sausenberg, and by 1246 the construction of the castle is completed, modelled after the Castle of Zähringen in Freiburg.

The House of Hachberg-Sausenberg

Entrance to SausenbergIn 1306 Rudolph, the younger son of Heinrich II, makes Sausenberg Castle his base, and establishes the House and Margraviate of Hachberg-Sausenberg, a branch of the Hachberg line (itself a branch of the main House of Baden). In 1311 The Hachberg-Sausenbergers inherit Rötteln Castle, above Lörrach near the modern day Swiss border, and in 1314 (some sources say 1315) relocate there. Sausenberg Castle is occupied by a Hachberg-Sausenberger deputy. At this time the Hachberg-Sausenberger territory is bounded by the Rötteln land in the south, the Rhine to the west, Badenweiler to the north, and the "Austrian Black Forest" to the east.

The Birth of Markgräflerland in the Margraviate of Baden

Entrance to Sausenberg TowerIn 1444 Rudolph IV (and his brother Hugo, who succeeds to the Margraviate of Hachberg-Sausenberg after him) inherit the Lordship of Badenweiler from the last count of Freiburg. 1444 is thus the birth of the modern day Markgräflerland (Margrave's Land) region of south west Germany, an area centred on the town of Müllheim and extending from just south of Freiburg to the Swiss border. In 1503 Rudolph's son Philip is the last Margrave of Hachberg-Sausenberg. On his death, the Hachberg-Sausenberg title and possessions pass back into the main House of Baden line, from whence the Hachberg-Sausenberg line originally came.

The Long Fall of Sausenberg

At the Top of Sausenberg TowerDuring the German Peasants' War (1524-1526) Sausenberg Castle was occupied by the citizens' militia, but not destroyed. In 1533 (some sources date it to 1535) the former Hachberg-Sausenberg territories; along with land to the east of Freiburg; the Margraviate of Hachberg; and the area around Karlsruhe; all become part of the soon-to-be Protestant Margraviate of Baden-Durlach, when the House of Baden is split once more (the remainder of the former House of Baden possessions become part of the Catholic Margraviate of Baden-Baden). In 1633 During the Thirty Years' War - a war that was significantly religious in its causes - Sausenberg was occupied first by the Catholic troops of the Holy Roman Empire, then by the Swedish troops allied to the opposing Protestant cause. It nevertheless survived. However, in 1678, at the end of the Franco-Dutch War, Sausenberg shared the fate of its sister castles at Badenweiler and Rötteln; razed to the ground by the retreating French forces of Louis XIV after his offensive against the German allies of his Dutch opponents. 

Sausenberg Today

Sausenberg - a Defenders ViewSince 1960 the site has been secured and renovated by various agencies, most recently the State Palaces and Gardens of Baden-Württemberg ("Staatliche Schlösser und Gärten Baden-Württemberg" or, thankfully, "SSG" for short), a government agency of the State of Baden-Württemberg. The site comprises an inner courtyard surrounded by semi-derelict walls, in the centre of which the old well has been converted to a BBQ pit (not long abandoned by some earlier visitors). In the north corner is an approximately 20m (60ft) high, intact tower with modern staircase, granting to those who do not suffer from vertigo fantastic views of the surrounding area - views that were also, at the time of Alamanicus' visit, being enjoyed by about 50 billion flying ants that chased Alamanicus back down the tower not long after his arrival at the top. Thereafter ol' Scaredy-Cat Al enjoyed the ambience of the ruins whilst sat in the still gently smoking BBQ pit.

Getting There

Sausenberg Castle sits in the forest, near the tiny village of Vogelbach (so tiny it is not named in Google Maps), between the towns of Sitzenkirch and Malsburg. From Sitzenkirch take the K6313 signposted Käsacker, drive on through Käsacker, and immediately after entering Vogelbach village, park at the junction and follow the signpost for "Sausenberg bergruine" on foot. Alternatively, from Malsburg take the road to Kandern, but before reaching Kandern turn right onto the K6312 to Vogelbach and drive through the village to reach the parking area. The c.800m (900yd/half a mile) walk from the parking area is along the Westweg (marked by a red diamond), a 100+ year old, c.285km long Black Forest trail that Alamanicus has no qualms about ticking off as done by virtue of this 800m stretch, no matter how many hints Mrs Alamanicus makes about how scenic the whole Westweg must be.
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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.


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Guest Monday, 23 April 2018

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