© Gernot Weyrich

Starkenburg castle ruins

  • Starkenburg

The Starkenburg was the seat of a distinguished family, which ruled over a considerable area, and determined the fortunes of their homeland for over 300 years.

Loretta of Sponheim (born ca. 1300; died 1346) was a countess of the noble house of Sponheim-Starkenburg, regent of the County of Sponheim for her son, count John III, from 1324 to 1331.

In 1315 Loretta was betrothed to Henry II, Count of Sponheim-Starkenburg. In the course of their eight-year-long marriage she gave birth to three sons. After the death of her husband of an illness in 1323, she changed her residence from Wolfstein on the River Lauter to Starkenburg on the Moselle. Her father-in-law, John II, died in 1324, so that the young widow thenceforward had to direct the destinies of the county as regent for her son John throughout an exceedingly difficult time, both politically and economically.

Widespread poverty and the scarcity of currency set great problems for the young widow in a period marked by territorial conflicts, crop failures, and desertion to the cities by the peasantry. In this unpromising position Loretta was forced to engage in a trial of strength with one of the most powerful and influential princes of her time, the Elector Baldwin of Luxembourg, Archbishop of Trier (1285–1354), the brother of the Holy Roman Emperor Henry VII.

In 1326 Loretta imprisoned the stubborn Wildgrave of Kyrburg until he pledged obedience to her son.

In May 1328, despite a declared armistice, Loretta undertook a drastic action: as the unsuspecting Elector was passing her reputedly impregnable Castle Starkenburg on a voyage down the Moselle to Koblenz, his cog was stopped by a chain drawn across the river and surrounded by boats filled with her troops, who conveyed him to a dignified captivity there. Despite the excommunication she incurred for an attack on a churchman, with its associated political and social sanctions, Loretta held the Archbishop and, by means of skillful negotiation, forced concessions from him, including a ransom, the yielding of his claims to certain parts of her son’s territories, and his personal intercession with Pope John XXII for the lifting of her excommunication.

Thereafter Loretta devoted herself to putting Sponheim on a firm political and economic footing. It is a measure of the skill of the Countess’s diplomacy that when she found it necessary to borrow certain monies, the surety for the loan was none other than her old rival, Baldwin of Luxembourg.

In 1331, her regency over the county of Sponheim ended with the accession of her son as John III of Sponheim-Starkenburg.

(source: Wikipedia)

On the map

Schlosstraße 1

56843 Starkenburg



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