Roman and Mediaeval History, Illlustrated Travel Journals, Mediaeval Literature, Geology


26.3.12
  Time for the Annual 'Birch Pollen Suck'-Post

And this year it's particularly bad because the sudden rise in temperature got the birch pollen production started off like a Formula 1 car. But that doesn't prevent me from going out and looking for more castles.

I'm not going to let them pollen win, I tell ya. :)

Castle Heldenburg at Salzderhelden

This one was one of the favourite seats of several generations of Welfen, namely the Princes of Braunschweig-Grubenhagen. It's not my fault the possessions of the family were split into principalities with that sort of names; in the 15th century, we get fe. Braunschweig-Calenberg-Göttingen (that totally beats Saxe-Coburg-Gotha, from which Queen Victoria's husband Prince Albert came). Later, the major part of the Braunschweig heritage of the Welfen became the Electorate of Brunswick-Lüneburg, known for exporting kings to England since 1714. *grin*

Remains of the keep and the palas

The first prince of the newfounded (1291) House was Heinrich 'the Exalted', a great-grandson of Heinrich the Lion and Mathilde of England (daughter of Henry II) and that makes him a cousin several times removed of King Edward II (Kathryn, I'll get back to that juicy bit of geneaology). He was married to Agnes of Meissen, a daughter of Albrecht the Degenerate whom we already met in this blog. Heinrich seems to have been on the spendthrift side, too. He died on the Heldenburg in 1322.

View to the Prince's House and the chapel

The castle predates the time of Prince Heinrich though information is sparse. It was likely built to protect the nearby saline of Salzderhelden. Thanks to the frequent presence of the Princes of Braunschweig-Grubenhagen in the 14th and 15th centuries, the castle developed into a considerable structure for living and defense - it withstood at least two sieges. Today the lower part of the keep and the outer palas wall remain, as well as part of the Prince's House and the chapel, and one of the cellars.

Another view to the chapel (right) and Prince's House (left)

At that time, Castle Heldenburg and the village of Salzderhelden could well compete with the nearby town of Einbeck, renowned for its beer until today. But the princes had their family burial in the Chapter of St.Alexander in Einbeck, and members of the family held important positions there. Today only the church itself remains of the chapter; it's one of the largest Gothic stone churches in northern Germany.

St. Alexander Church Einbeck; south side

The funny thing is that the castle from which the branch of the Welfen family took their name, Castle Grubenhagen, never played an important role in their history. The name Braunschweig-Grubenhagen is first mentioned in 1617; it is not known what they called themselves before, but today they go by Grubenhagen' even for earlier times to distinguish them from the other branches.

Castle Grubenhagen, the keep

Somewhat fittingly, the only part that survives of the castle today is the - partly restored - keep. The castle may date back to the time of Heinrich the Lion (1129-1195), though. Well, maybe the princes didn't want to trudge uphill for half an hour every time they visited and thus didn't go there often. They had a hunting lodge in the village of Rotenkirchen at the foot of the hill, though.

Not a bad booty for one day, isn't it? And material for more posts.
 
Comments:
Great Pictures.

That would have been a good hike to visit Castle Grubenhagen.
 
Heinrich the Exalted, a kinsman of Edward II - excellent. :-) :-)
 
Albrect the Degenerate.

What a great name.

Sounds like the lead character in a bad Sci Fi film from the thirties.
 
Hank, it was a good hike. :)

Kathryn and Stag, the nicknmaes are a hoot, sometimes.
 
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Miscellaneous musings of an aspiring Historical Fiction and Fantasy author. Illustrated essays on Roman, Dark Age and Mediaeval history, Mediaeval literature, and Geology. Some poetry translations and writing stuff. And lots of photos of old castles, cathedrals, Roman remains, and beautiful landscapes from Germany, the UK and Scandinavia.

All texts (except comments by guests) and photos (if no other copyright is noted) on this blog are copyright of Gabriele Campbell.

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I'm a writer of Historical Fiction living in Germany. I got a MA in Literature, Scandinavian Studies, Linguistics and History, I'm interested in Archaeology and everything Roman and Mediaeval, an avid reader, opera enthusiast, traveller with a liking for foreign languages and odd rocks, and photographer.

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