Lenningen, The county of Esslingen
Height: Circa 728 Meter
The castle dates back to an 11th century aristocratic residence and is in parts the forerunner of the Hohenneuffen. It was built by the so-called Sulmetingen family, which from then on named themselves “of Sperberseck,” and was once protected by a mighty shield wall, which nowadays is dilapidated.
Sperberseck was founded around 1090 by Berthold of Sulmetingen, a noble man from Upper Swabia. The possessions on the northern edge of the Swabian Alps were given to the Sulmetingen family in the 11th century probably because of their relations with the Counts of Neckargau. The family, which at the time was part of the leading Swabian aristocracy, maintained close relationships with the Dukes of Zähringen, the Counts of Nellenburg and the Counts of Achalm-Urach. The nearby village of Böhringen was part of the Sperberseck family’s sphere of influence as well.
At the latest at the beginning of the 12th century, one of Bertold’s sons, Mangold of Sulmetingen-Sperberseck, built a castle on the Neuffen Mountain after which he, from then on, named himself. Sperberseck remained the home of one part of the family, but became less and less important. Around the 13th century, the Sperberseck family lost its aristocratic rank, which possibly is why they put themselves into the service and under the feudal sovereignty of the neighboring Dukes of Teck. Shortly after, they seem to have been regarded as equal to the lesser noble, unfree Ministerialis. In the 14th century, some members of the family are mentioned as mercenary knights in the service of Italian cities.
After the acquisition of the Lordship of Teck by Württemberg at the end of the 14th century, Sperberseck was consequently given to the latter as a fief and to servants of the lower nobility, such as the Nachtigall family. The subsequent loss of importance of the castle can be seen in a number of sales, for example the meadow in front of the castle in 1386 or the former farmyard in 1388. Nevertheless, the family, who no longer resided in the Sperberseck castle, still held offices in the service of Württemberg, such as Ulrich of Sperberseck, who was Ministerialis at Hohengutenberg or William of Sperberseck, who is being mentioned as bailiff of the Hohenneuffen castle in 1486. In 1718, Philipp Heinrich of Sperberseck, who was the last representative of the family, died. However, the castle itself was already described as a Burgstall in 1623, referring to a dilapidated and abandoned castle. In 1978, the Forstdirektion Stuttgart together with the Staatliche Forstamt Kirchheim carried out conservational measures, but today, the shield wall once again is in poor condition.