Altdahn Castle Group part II
After the passing of the last count von Sponheim in 1437, Grafendahn passed to the Mark Count von Baden. In 1462 it fell by conquest to the Cure Palatinate when Friedrich the triumphant captured and destroyed it. In 1480 he gave the castle as a fief to the holder of Castle Berwartstein, Hans von Drodt, a Thüringian knight of the Trotha family, who is known yet today as Hans Trapp through certain empire and horror stories (see Berwartstein). In 1485 von Drodt bought Grafendahn and Berwartstein in Erlenbach with all associated rights. At this time, the castle was already counted as uninhabitable. In the subsequent years, Grafendahn belonged to the von Fleckensteins, in whose possession it remained until 1637. From 1642 to 1793 it belonged to castle stewards von Waldenburg, after that the fief fell again to the Speyer diocese and was lent out no longer. The remainder of the Castle was destroyed by the French in 1689, since then it has remained a ruin.
Back to Altdahn/Tanstein
Altdahn was destroyed several times during it's history. The first time was in a feud with the von Fleckensteins in the year 1363. Subsequently after, a knight named Stophes von Dahn established himself in the castle, and was completely a robber knight. He was driven out in 1372 by a coalition from Speyer, the von Leiningers, and various other nearby cities. Altdahn was partly destroyed. in result. In 1406 during the four-gentleman war (a local feud between castles) it also suffered destruction, and in both 1426 and 1438 devastating fires destroyed it further. It was no longer inhabited by 1603 , when the last of the von Dahn line died in his castle at Burrweiler. Also during the 30 years war, the castle was time and again the victim of destruction. The troops of Melacs based in it during the Palatine succession war of 1689, further degrading it.
Castle Tanstein remained in the possession and habitation of the Lords of Dahn until 1523. In the year 1512 Tanstein was ruled by Heinrich von Dahn, who was an ally of Franz von Sickingen and the Southern German Knights order . This same von Sickingen had revolted against the increasingly powerful Cure princes and tried to seize a cure principality by feud. In 1523, the overwhelming force of the combined armies of the Archbishop of Trier, land Count Philipp von Hessen, and Cure prince Ludwig von der Pfalz came to battle. They defeated von Sickingen and destroyed all his castles and the castles of all the knights of the order that had supported him. Castle Tanstein escaped the destructive fate of it's confederate only for the reason that it's owner, bishop Georg von Speyer, was a brother of Cure prince Ludwig.
The Trier Archbishop occupied the castle until 1544. It was then returned to one of the inheriting descendants of the deceased Heinrich von Dahn who had been in refuge at Birlenbach in the Alsace. This was only under the condition that it could not be fortified ever again. The conditions of delivery initiated the decline of the castle, no new or larger reinforcements were allowed to be constructed. This and the short 1551 occupation of Tanstein by Palatine troops contributed to the downfall of the castle. Since 1571 it has remained uninhabited
After Altdahn castle was abandoned, the villagers used the buildings as a quarry for their private housing. In 1820, A rock slide caused all the palace of Altdahn to collapse, leading to the total ruin of the formerly powerful castle. The ruins still served in times of distress as shelter for the village inhabitants in time of need, in 1690, 1793, and again during the second world. First restorations began in 1877 and were continued until 1936. Since WWII, these historical landmarks have been state dedicated for preservation.
In contrast, Altdahn castle remained residence of the Dahners to the year 1603, in spite of multiple destructions (1363, 1372, 1406, 1426, and 1438). The Thirty Year War and Melac's troops in 1689 provide for the ultimate destruction of the castle group.
The castle has a great museum that was arranged with much care and honor by the members of the castle's preservation society. I highly suggest a visit.
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