Weilheim an der Teck, The county of Esslingen
Height: Circa 598 Meter
In the 11th century, one of the most important fortresses of Swabia stood on the striking, unwooded mountain peak near Weilheim an der Teck. The Limburg towered over the countryside beneath. Only artificial terrain changes on the plateau and the slopes bear witness to the mighty castle, which belonged to the Bertolde family. At the end of the 11th century, they began to call themselves after the village of Zähringen near Freiburg and caused the Margraves of Baden to emerge in the following century.
Count Berthold I of Kärnten, who was one of the most powerful people in Swabia, built the Limburg in the middle of the 11th century. During the Investiture Controversy he opposed Emperor Henry IV and in 1077 was part of the princely opposition, which elected Duke Rudolf of Swabia as anti-king. As a result, Bertold was declared a traitor at court in Ulm and relieved of his offices and possessions. A devastating revenge campaign against the opposition caused him to seek refuge at Limburg, which is said to have driven him insane. He died in 1078, only a few days after the destruction of the Limburg castle.
Before 1100 the Bertolde family shifted their focus of rule to the Breisgau and Burgundy, where they were able to considerably increase the family’s possessions through the inheritance of the Rheinfelden family. In doing so, they became one of the most powerful families in the empire alongside the Stauffer and the House of Whelf and from then on called themselves after Zähringen. For some time, the Limburg continued to stay important, especially because they inherited the Teck and Kirchheim from the Counts of Nellenburg. Margrave Hermann I lived at the Limburg before he chose his name according to his castle in Baden, which is why he is considered to be the forefather of the Margraves of Baden.
In the 12th century, only Ministerialis from Zähringen seem to have lived at the Limburg. Their focus shifted in the direction of the Breisgau and Burgundy as well, which was due to donations to the monastery of St. Peter in the Black Forest. This caused the importance of the castle to fade. The ruling right of the Zähringer was passed on to the Dukes of Teck and the Counts of Aichelberg in the 12th century, which was probably due to a division of their inheritance and connections to the two families. The latter additionally received Weilheim, which they chose to give town privileges. The St. Peter Monastery was given large parts of former Zähringen estates, many of which remained in its possession until 1806.
For quite some time it was unclear whether the Limburg would be given to the St. Peter Monastery. It is most likely, because the monastery built the Michaelskapelle, which was demolished in 1578. The exact date is unknown, but it must haven been before the middle of the 15th century when Weilheim came into the castle’s possession. More than five centuries have passed since this change of ownership and the Limburg’s exposed location as well as its dilapidated state have caused it to disappear.