Castle Trifels and the Staufer
The Trifels is a medieval castle complex, which had its period of glory in the time of the Hohenstaufen emperors. Through the 12th and 13th century the Holy Roman Empire of the German nation’s emperor was from the house of Hohenstaufen. The Empire contained land in the nowadays Germany, parts of France and North Italy.
During that period the so-called “Reichskleinodien”, the symbols of power were stored several times on the castle Trifels. These symbols are the crown, scepter, sword and orb. Through that time, the castle was the safest castle in the whole empire. For this reason, it was also used as a state prison.
Supposedly emperor Barbarossa or in English Redbeard really liked the Trifels and visited it often. In 1219, Emperor Frederick II. of Hohenstaufen conferred upon the village the status of a free imperial town, thereby making it the second oldest town in the Palatinate.
Richard Lionheart and the castle Trifels
The English king Richard Lionheart was the most famous prisoner that was held captive on the Trifels. In 1192 Lionheart was going back to England after the third crusade when emperor Heinrich VI. captured him. He was released when England payed a ransom of 150.000 mark silver.
A legend says that Lionheart’s loyal singer Blondel was searching for his king, when he passed the castle Trifels and sang a song that only Lionheart could know other than him. Suddenly someone sang along with Blondel and so he knew that his king was held captive there and he could rescue him together with Lionheart’s men.
Tanners and the Huguenots
You can see the tanner’s influence in Annweiler am Trifels still by going through the “Gerbergasse”. If you translate this in English, it means tanners alley. It is proven that tanners are in Annweiler since the 16th century. The Huguenots brought the tanners craft to Annweiler. Many Huguenots fled France because of their faith and sought refuge in the Palatinate.
Sometimes there were up to 36 tanners living and working in Annweiler. They came to Annweiler because the river Queich gave them the huge amounts of water they needed for their business. The tanner’s houses can still be recognized by their gradated roofs, which they needed for storing their furs.
Emperor Frederick II. and the town Annweiler
In 1116/1118, Annweiler was first mentioned in a document. In 1219, Emperor Frederick II. of Hohenstaufen conferred upon the village the status of a free imperial town . In a medieval town, every inhabitant was free, which means that he didn’t belong to any knight or count. The towns also possessed the right to have a market and to mint coins.
On the highest mountain peak over Annweiler towers the castle Trifels. Once it was the Hohenstaufen Empires center point. In 1081, the castle was first mentioned but there were discoveries of Celtics and roman weir systems as well. The castles period of glory was during the Hohenstaufens reign. At this time, the castle was the empires treasury and state prison. Its most famous prisoner was the English king Richard Lionheart.
In 1602 lightning stroke the castle and in 1635 the plague erupted. After these unfortunate events, the castle was used as a quarry. Between 1938 and 1966 the castle was rebuilt according to a plan of professor Rudolf Esterer. The reconstruction wasn’t true to original. Nowadays you can see the replicas of crown, sword, scepter and orb on the castle.