Lenningen, The county of Esslingen
Height: Circa 492 Meter
The Sulzburg, built around 1300 by the Neidlingen family on top of a mountain spur in the Lenninger valley, is one of the oldest inhabited medieval castles and only turned into a ruin in the 18th century. The castle’s name stems from the marshy terrain around the spur. Its remains were restored in 1966 and 1967.
In written sources, the Sulzburg was first mentioned in 1335 in a treaty of assistance to Württemberg, in which Henry of Neidlingen promised to never use “unser fest Sulzpurch” against Württemberg. After his death in 1341, the castle was divided among his four male descendants. However, the Sulzburg’s guarding, gatekeeping and maintenance remained the task of all brothers. When Agnes of Neidlingen and a certain Funk Speth married in 1370, part of the castle was passed to the Speth family, who later bought the entire castle, which from then on was classified as a so-called Mannlehen, meaning it could only be inherited by male descendants, of the “Speth of Sulzburg´” family.
However, this only affected the castle itself and a small area outside its fortifications. The rights to rule over Unterlenningen and the estate remained in the possession of the Speth family, who enlarged their sphere of influence through the acquisition of the nearby Diepoldsburg in 1510. This led to endless inheritance and property disputes among the descendants and heirs of the Speth of Sulzburg family, especially when the male line of the Sulzburg family died out in the 16th century. In the end, the so-called Burglehen was given to a collateral line of the Speth of Sulzburg, which still had male heirs.
During the Thirty Years’ War in 1634, the castle was plundered and devastated in the absence of the lord of the castle, Johann Friedrich Speth, who in the war fought on the imperial Catholic side. Philipp Ludwig Schilling took over the castle in 1641 and had it restored for around 3.000 guilders. In 1692, the Schilling family sold the castle to Duchess Magdalena Sybille of Württemberg, who set up a farm with livestock there to supply the Württemberg Witwenhof located in the Kirchheim castle. Around twenty years later, the castle and its associated goods were given to the noble family of Mentzingen, who had temporarily served as steward to the dowager duchess. A steward lived in the castle. In 1725, the last bailiff of the Sulzburg died and consequently the complex deteriorated. The tenant planned on dismantling the complex in 1751, which was only put to a halt when Württemberg tax officials from Kirchheim made an objection, which did not stop the castle’s decay. In 1819, the Mentzingen family sold its remains and the estates to the mayor of Unterlenningen, Johann Caspar Dangel, who represented the city, which in turn sold it, together with the fishing grounds of the Lauter, to the so-called Verwaltungsaktuar Gottlieb Sigel in 1825. The castle remained in the possession of the Sigel family until it was bought by the Landkreis (administrative district) of Nürtingen in 1965.
With the help of numerous volunteers from the Lenninger valley, especially those of the Schwäbischer Albverein, the remains were restored and made accessible to the public between 1966 and 1967.