Guttenberg Castle was founded at the end of the 12th century in connection with the Staufer palace in Wimpfen. We do not know who the real builder was and who inhabited the castle at the beginning, as there are no longer any records of this. Historians assume that the castle, as a Wormsian fief, quickly came into the possession of the Lords of Weinsberg, who took up their ancestral seat here after their “expulsion” from the castle “Weibertreu” in Weinsberg.
The first documentary mention of Guttenberg Castle dates from the late 13th century – the Chapel of St Nicholas below Guttenberg Castle is mentioned in 1296. At that time the Lords of Weinsberg owned the castle. They remained until the middle of the 15th century. Most recently, the royal hereditary treasurer Conrad von Weinsberg was the lord of the castle. Since Conrad von Weinsberg lent considerable sums of money to the king, which he did not get back, however, and thus he himself came into financial distress, he felt compelled to sell the castle.
On St. Andrew’s Day in 1449, Hans “the Rich” of Gemmingen bought Guttenberg Castle from the heirs of Conrad von Weinsberg, who had died almost two years earlier, for 6,000 Rhenish guilders. Hans von Gemmingen was also set by the wedding with the wealthy Katharina Landschädin von Steinach in the position not only to buy the castle, but also to expand it extensively. An important milestone in the history of the castle.
In 1497, Emperor Maximilian I granted the lords of Gemmingen the right of high jurisdiction. This privilege (and also this duty) was exercised in the entire dominion until the end of the Old Empire at the beginning of the 19th century and was only relinquished by the introduction of the separation of powers in the Napoleonic era. High jurisdiction also included the right to impose the death penalty. However, this was only very rarely used.
At the end of 1521 the Lords of Gemmingen joined the Reformation. In later Baden the family thus belonged to the first followers of the teachings > Martin Luther. Guttenberg was spared the destruction during the Peasant War and the Thirty Years’ War by fortunate circumstances, for already in 1622 a great battle raged at Wimpfen, which resulted in numerous lootings and destruction. In 1689 Guttenberg also escaped the French troops who cremated Heidelberg and many of the Neckar castles.
The second field battle of the 30 Years’ War took place very close to the castle on 6 May 1622. Here the Protestant troops under the Margrave of Baden met the Catholic League under General Tilly. Tilly won this battle in significant outnumbering and moved to Heidelberg to seize the city (and the famous university library – the “Bibliotheca Palatina”). The castle miraculously remained unscathed.
1688 - 1697
At the end of the 17th century, looting and pillaging French troops roamed the Neckar valley and the Palatinate in the “Palatine-Orléans War of Succession”. They set fire to every castle, including Guttenberg. However, it was thanks to the courage of a brave carpenter who threw the fire torches from the roof and thus saved the castle from the fire.
This botanical treasure of the castle museum was created at the end of the 18th century. The Austrian forest botanist Carl v. Hinterlang produced a book of every tree and shrub species found in the local forests at that time, in which the specific components of the plant can be seen on moss. A total of 93 volumes can be marvelled at, some of them of tree species that have long since ceased to exist here.
With the proclamation of the Grand Duchy of Baden in 1806, the Lords of Gemmingen lost their ruling function. But they remained owners of the castle and its lands. In the early 19th century, the history of the castle was connected above all with the stay of the poet Wilhelm Hauff, who was the tutor of a family member.
Today the castle is the centre of the family estate and one of the most popular excursion destinations in the region, as it has been opened to the interested public.
The well-known writer and author of many works that are still popular today, such as “Lichtenstein”, “Das Wirtshaus im Spessart” or his fairy tales like “Zwerg Nase”, stayed at the castle as tutor to the Württemberg Minister of War Ernst von Hügel and his wife, Luise Ernestine von Gemmingen-Guttenberg. He enjoyed this time very much and wrote some chapters of “Lichtenstein” here in the summer of 1825 on the Guttenberg. He also described the castle in his novella “The Image of the Emperor” under the name “Thierberg Castle”.
Guttenberg Castle is still owned by the family of the Barons v. Gemmingen-Guttenberg. In the meantime, it is inhabited, lived in and renovated by the 16th and 17th generations of the family. The family takes care of the castle, the birds of prey, manages the forest and looks to the future. The proceeds from their entrance fees go to the preservation of this castle. Many thanks for that!