Löwenburg Castle – Kassel, Germany
Welcome back to Germany in the beautiful town of Kassel.
When we last met we were leaving the palace that had been turned into a stunning art museum. If you missed that one you can click Wilhelmshöhe Palace Museum in Kassel Germany to find it.
Now we are off to the Lowenburg Castle or literally lion castle. This beauty sits like a crown on an over 300-foot hill in the Bavarian Alps in the middle of the Berg Park (Mountain Park). You get to the castle by walking through a magical forest that is something out of a fairytale. When you come to your first view of this magnificent edifice you think it is something out of the middle ages and wonder if you won’t see knights in shining armor ride up on their trusty steed. The truth be told it is relatively new (by European standards) and was built for the landgrave Wilhelm the IX. He hired the architect Heinrich Christoph Jussow to build this not as a fortress but as a retreat for Wilhelm and (ok cover the children’s ears – or rather eyes) his mistress Karoline of Schlotheim.
Wilhelm (1743-1821) and his future wife Wilhelmina Caroline of Denmark grew up as playmates always knowing they would one day be man and wife. Their fathers had arranged their marriage but Caroline’s mother Louise of Wales did not like arranged marriages. Her own being one and not very happy. Louise’s husband (Frederick Crown Prince of Denmark and Norway) was known to be an adulterer and they were never in love.
December 19, 1751, pregnant with her sixth child Louise died after complications from the miscarriage of the child. In Louise’s absence, her sister Mary came to raise the children that she left behind. Mary was estranged from her own husband Frederick II of Hesse and had taken her children, including the heir with her when she fled, escaping her abusive husband. They moved to Denmark and her children were then raised with Caroline and her siblings. Mary’s sons all married Danish princesses and only her eldest son returned to take over the rule of his father.
Interesting Side Note For History Lovers: Mary’s husband Frederick was the ruler that rented out Hessian soldiers to his nephew King George III of England for fighting against the American Colonists during the American Revolution.
Caroline married her first cousin Wilhelm IX on September 1, 1764, at Christiansborg Palace where they lived for some until 1785 when her husband inherited the Landgrave title from his father. The Landgrave of Hesse-Kassel was one of the richest in Europe which made Wilhelm a very wealthy man. In the year 1803, Wilhelm became the Elector of Hesse-Kassel and he was known as Wilhelm I. He hired a Jewish Banker to handle his properties and tax gathering by the name of Mayer Amschel Rothchild. Rothchild and the landgrave had a very strong relationship and he handled the payments of Britain for the hire of Hessian mercenaries and was the personal international banker for Wilhelm.
Rothchild’s fortunes grew and he began issuing his own international loans borrowing the money lent from the landgrave as well as importing goods around Napoleon’s blockades this founded the Rothchild family dynasty. Rothchild was named the father of international finance and ranked #7 by Forbes Magazine as the 20 most successful businessmen of all time. The Rothchild fortune ended up surpassing that of the landgrave.
Caroline and Wilhelm’s marriage was not a happy one, her husband being unfaithful and having many affairs and at least 20 known children from these affairs. One of those mistresses was Katherine Von Schlotheim, that he kidnapped and made his mistress. It was for her that he built this castle. They had ten children together.
In 1806 this area was conquered by Emperor Napoleon and occupied by France making this area a vassal state of France in Germany. Over two million people lived here at the time. It became known as the Kindom of Westphalia. When the news came to Wilhelm of the fall of Kassel, Wilhelm took his eldest son Wilhelm II and mistress Katherine and escaped to the home of his brother-in-law Charles of Hesse in Schleswig leaving behind his wife. Caroline remained until a governor was set up and she then fled and sought refuge in the home of her daughter Karoline Amalie (b.1777- d. 1848). Caroline spent 1806-1813 traveling Europe to Prague and Schleswig among other towns seeking refuge in exile until the French would be defeated.
The French made Kassel a model state that was to be a picture of Napoleonic ideals. They made reforms and set up the first monarchy in Germany with a modern constitution. They made the poor males have the equal rights as the wealthy men and gave the Jewish people living within the borders of Westphalia rights and equality dismantling discriminatory laws against them.
In September of 1813 The Russan army defeated the occupying French forces and by October the 1st they were in control of the entire kingdom giving Wilhelm back his title. Wilhelm and Caroline returned to Kassel and Wilhelm appealed to the Congress of Vienna to be given the title of king but the congress ruled against him.
Caroline died Jan 14, 1820. I don’t know where she was buried.
Wilhelm died in 1821 and is buried at Lowenburg Castle Cathedral.
The castle was bombed by the Royal Airforce during World War II leaving it in ruin (there was but a tower and a few walls) and was reconstructed in the post- war era. It is under construction now as we visit it. There are two rooms that can be toured today. One is the armory and the other a chapel. The armory has weapons from the 16th and 17th century on display.
I was also told that the Grimm Brothers (the writer of the famous fairytales of Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty, Rapunzel, and many others) stayed here also. From here we went back down to the main pathway and headed towards Hercules Monument.
To tour the castle if you plan on visiting Germany you can call +49 (0) 561-316 80244
Well from here all that is left is the Monument called Hercules…but that will be next time.
Don’t miss the video of Löwenburg Castle, walk with us through this beautiful ruin!