History of Lipnice castle
In the harsh and wild region, in the country with ancient impenetrable forests, one of many Bohemian castles was founded in the beginning of the 14th century. Though it wasn’t a royal one, it was similar to royal castles with its sheer size, a pride of the mighty House of Lichtenburg – Lipnice. Almost seven hundred years ago, it was built on the rocky bump between two hills, to protect its wide surroundings, the town of Brod with its silver mines, and trade routes that ran through this region of the Sázava River, on the border of the Kingdom of Bohemia and the Margraviate of Moravia. The Lipnice castle was founded around 1310 by the Lichtenburg house, one of the lines of the ancient Bohemian House of Ronovci. Raimund of Lichtenburg owned the nearby town Německý Brod, which provided sufficient resources for the construction of a residence castle. The first direct reference of the Lipnice castle dates back to 1314, and mentions Burgrave Bernard. In 1316, Henry of Lichtenburg, together with other Bohemian noblemen and their eight castles, pledged Lipnice to a young Bohemian King John of Luxembourg, in exchange for his relative Henry of Lipá, then imprisoned at the Týřov castle. In 1319, the castle became a royal property for a short period of time, and King John pledged it to Henry of Lipá in exchange for the Zittau region. Thus Lipnice was under control of the leading aristocrat of the country, the man who already served to the fifth king in a row, and his house was just as important as foreign duke houses. After Henry’s death in 1329, the control over Lipnice came into the hands of his sons. In 1335, they invited King John and his son Charles to the castle. Charles IV later acquired the castle and on November 9, 1370, he granted the town rights to the town of Lipnice (specifically to brew beer and sell it). As the chronicle has it: This statement used to be the oldest and the rarest privilege of the Lipnice archive, and also a nice memory of the Father of the Homeland who, despite many things on his mind, never forget about drinks for his loving subjects. In 1376, the king pledged Lipnice to the Kunstat house, and 1379 it was sold to Vitus of Landstein. King Wenceslas IV then made Lipnice a hereditary domain of the House of Landstein. Vitus’s son Wilhelm founded a chapter as part of the castle chapel, and built the village of Vilémovec under the castle, still bearing his name. After Wilhelm’s death, the domain of Lipnice was inherited by his daughter Catherine, who gave it to Čeněk of Wartenberg as a dowry. Čeněk, the burgrave of Prague and an avid supporter of Master Jan Hus, initiated the complaint to the Constance Council in 1415, protesting against Hus’s sentence. On March 6, 1417, the lord of Wartenberg captured the Prague bishop Herrmann, and forced him, under threat of violence, to consecrate the first Hussite priests in the Lipnice chapel (later, in 1482, this tradition was followed up by the consecration of priests by the Protestant bishop Augustin of Sankturien at Lipnice). After Čeněk’s death, Lipnice became property of Oldřich of Rosenberg. The real ruler of Lipnice, however, was the commander of Tabor hussites and the burgrave of Lipnice, Jan Smil of Krems. At first, Oldřich made concessions and confirmed Smil’s right for the Lipnice domain, but in 1436, he imprisoned Smil and had him executed. Then he sold Lipnice to another Hussite commander, Nicolas Trčka of Lípa. Thus, the castle became the center of the domain of one of the most important Bohemian protestant houses. Nicolas’s son Burian had already became famous during the Hussite wars, and later he was a loyal supporter and advisor to King George Podiebrad. At this time, the importance of Lipnice as a defensive fortress increased, to protect the region against the raids of George’s opponents, led by Zdeněk of Sternberg, based in nearby Jihlava. Burian II. Trčka of Lípa, son of Burian, was the junior royal chamberlain; during his reign, the House of Trčka rose to a new level. It was him and his son John who rebuilt Lipnice into a late Gothic residential castle in the beginning of the 16th century. The domain remained in the hands of the house until 1561, when it was bought by Count Francis of Thurn. The Thurns rebuilt the castle again, this time in Renaissance style. Lipnice was the place where the famous general Matthias Thurn was born and brought up. In 1693, the domain was acquired by John Rudolph Trčka of Lípa, so the castle was returned to the hands of its previous owners. The early 17th century was the time of the tragic Bohemian Revolt, which resulted in the downfall of the independent Kingdom of Bohemia, and the breakout of the Thirty Years War. The Trčkas, one of the leading protestant houses in the country, took surprisingly little action in the revolt, and later even converted to catholic faith. John Rudolph’s son Adam Erdman Trčka connected his career to the greatest Bohemian commander of the Thirty Years War, Albrecht of Wallenstein, and became not only his general but also his brother-in-law. Together with his commander, he was murdered in 1634 in Cheb, on the impulse of Ferdinanda II. John Rudolph Trčka died shortly after his son on September 29, 1634, and with him, the glory of the Trčka house vanished. The property of the house, one of the biggest in the country at that time, was confiscated and distributed to foreigners fighting in the Habsburg army. The Lipnice castle was acquired by a Burgundy nobleman Matthias Vernier de Rougemont in 1636. In 1645, the castle was seized by Swedish troops, and they caused such damage to the surroundings that the imperial army besieged Lipnice in 1646, and conquered it after four weeks of fighting. Neither the castle nor the town fully recovered from the blow of the Thirty Years War. The Verniers tried to help the domain (by the Baroque renovation of the castle chapel, town church and belfry), but all their efforts eventually vanished in debts and in the hands of the creditors. The downfall of a small provincial domain wasn’t stopped by the next owners, the houses of Palm and Trauttsmandorff in the 18th and 19th century. At that time, the castle was only used as the headquarters of the estate management, with offices, several apartments, and storage areas. On Sunday, September 19, 1869, Lipnice was severely damaged by disastrous fire that devastated not only the whole castle but also most of the town. People from all around came watching the flames in the place where the castle had proudly overseen its surroundings for centuries. The burned ruin remained vacant until 1913, when the rescue and renovation works began. The Committee for the Rescue of Lipnice Castle was founded, and in 1924, the castle was acquired by the Czechoslovak Tourist Club. The club secured the ruin statically, and opened the castle museum. The rescue works went on until 1953, when the castle became state property. In the 1970s and 1980s, a partial reconstruction started, but it wasn’t finished, and the renovation has still been in progress. These days, the castle is gently conserved by the National Heritage Institute, section České Budějovice; after the correction of some unsuitable reconstruction attempts from the last century, the public accessible area increases.