Monument to eternal love

The Sepulchral Chapel on Württemberg Hill

Frontal view of the sepulchral chapel with staircase. Image: Staatsanzeiger für Baden-Württemberg, Petra Schaffrodt
A ROYAL HOUSE, A STATE, A HILL

WHAT'S IN A NAME?

The origin of the name "Württemberg" was a mystery even in the Middle Ages. Linguists today believe that Württemberg is a derivation of the Celtic word "Wirodunum", which contains a word for castle. A legend tells of a very different origin.

Württemberg hill with ancestral castle, lithograph, circa 1840. Image: Landesmedienzentrum Baden-Württemberg, Dieter Jäger

Württemberg hill was once home to an ancestral castle.

LOVE AGAINST ALL CONVENTIONS

The legend tells of how the lovely daughter of Emperor Frederick Barbarossa fell in love with a man beneath her station. Marriage was out of the question for the two. However, the lovers flew in the face of convention and fled together until they reached the Neckar Valley, where they put down roots and made their living at the foot of a hill.

Emperor Barbarossa, Kyffhäuser monument near Steinthaleben. Image: Landesmedienzentrum Baden-Württemberg, credit unknown

Frederick Barbarossa: the father.

A WAYSIDE REST WITH CONSEQUENCES

One day, this daughter's mighty father and his magnificent entourage traveled through the Neckar Valley. He came to the foot of the hill and stopped at the inn there, the Wirt am Berg. Barbarossa's daughter hid, but prepared him his favorite meal. This made the emperor sad and he spoke wistfully of his lost daughter. Upon hearing this, the daughter revealed herself and flung her arms around her beloved father's neck.

Historic view of Rotenberg hill with castle, 1685, from Kiesersches Forstlagerbuch 143, 24. Image: Landesmedienzentrum Baden-Württemberg, Robert Bothner

A hill as a gift, or so the legend tells.

HAPPILY EVER AFTER ON WÜRTTEMBERG HILL

Moved to tears and at the joy of having found the daughter he had thought lost, the emperor pardoned his son in law. In hindsight, he ennobled their love by elevating his son in law to counthood and gifting him the hill in the Neckar Valley. The "Wirt am Berg" became "Wirtemberg". Soon, a castle was built on the hilltop, the ancestral home of the House of Württemberg.

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