Concept

Stahleck Castle

Summary
Stahleck Castle (Burg Stahleck) is a 12th-century fortified castle in the Upper Middle Rhine Valley at Bacharach in Rhineland-Palatinate, Germany. It stands on a crag approximately above sea level on the left bank of the river at the mouth of the Steeg valley, approximately south of Koblenz, and offers a commanding view of the Lorelei valley. Its name means "impregnable castle on a crag", from the Middle High German words stahel (steel) and ecke (here: crag). It has a water-filled partial moat, a rarity in Germany. Built on the orders of the Archbishop of Cologne, it was destroyed in the late 17th century but rebuilt in the 20th and is now a hostel. From about 1000 AD, Bacharach is presumed to have been a possession of the Archbishops of Cologne. They had the castle built, perhaps as a southern outpost to guard the far-flung archbishopric; their Vogt resided there. It is uncertain when the present castle was built to replace an earlier fortification; perhaps around 1135. It was the first large castle north of Bingen and Rüdesheim. A "Gozwin von Stalecke" is first mentioned in charters in 1120–21. This was Goswin von Falkenburg, who is also referred to in 1135 by the Latin translation "Cozwinus de Staelechae" and was the first attested holder of the castle in fief. He was a member of a Main-Frankish family and had come into possession of the castle through marriage to Luitgard von Hengebach, the widow of Heinrich I of Katzenelnbogen, who died in 1102. From then on he called himself Goswin von Stahleck. In 1125, Goswin's son Hermann married Gertrud of Swabia, sister of King Conrad III of Germany. After receiving Stahleck Castle in fief from his brother in law in 1140, in 1140 he was additionally granted the County of Palatinate by Rhine. This made him one of the greatest lords of the Holy Roman Empire and the Four Valley Region, which consisted of the settlements of Bacharach, Steeg (now part of Bacharach), Diebach and Manubach plus the castles of Stahleck, Fürstenberg and Stahlberg, and made Stahleck the centre of power of the heart of what later became the Rhineland territory of the Counts Palatine.
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