Friday, 8 October 2010

A Brief History

Like so much in Central Europe. the origins of the State are complex.

Since at least the Dark Ages there has been a lakeside settlement on the site.  The founder of Bad Löwensee was a Knight named Ulrich the Pious  (1053-1128).  At the end of what had been a somewhat disappointing foray into the Pagan lands, he claimed a mystical Lion "promised" him the territory in a vision.  Ulrich followed the "instructions" he had been given and the town fell to his retinue. Ulrich adopted the feline prophet as his badge and to this day the Coat-of-Arms proudly displays the legendary "Lion of Ulrich".

By the early Middle Ages, the settlement  had become an Imperial Free City, reknowned for both it's hot springs and the supposed "miracle".  Due to it's convenient location astride the pilrgimage route to Outremer, the city received many visitors and a good deal of revenue. 

Through aggressive means and dynastic marriages, the now renamed von Löwensee family came quickly to control the surrounding area including the commercial centre of Schönau and the heavily fortified outpost at Beimbach.   When granted the title of Markgraf,  (1223) Otto von Löwensee decided to recognise the importance of these towns in his choice of a new name for the Markgrafschaft.  In addition, he added three Suns to his standard, representing his domain's three main cities.  

Due to it's location on the fringes of the Holy Roman Empire and the decline in Pilgrimage traffic, Beimbach-Schönau was spared much of the devastation caused by the Black Death (1348-50).  Once the plague had passed, this left the area in an advantageous position in relation to other, more severely depopulated, States.  Many physicians attributed  the low mortality rate to the "miraculous" waters of the Löwensee.

The illustration shows Bad Löwensee in the mid-15th Century.  This flourishing town was severely damaged by marauding troops during "Thirty Years War" (1618-48).  Although a tragedy, the sack of the capital has enabled the Nobility to consolidate it's power by urging subjects to unite against the "Protestant Menace" beyond the borders.

The rebuilt town remains the ceremonial and cultural heart of the Markgraf's territory.  Perched atop a rocky outcrop overlooking the town, the imposing "Schloss Löwenstein" is the official residence of the Markgraf.  However, the main military and commercial functions have now been assumed by the larger cities of Beimbach and Schönau.

The Economy is tightly controlled by the Markgraf and is predominantly agrarian.   Fine glassware is produced in the Bad Löwensee area.  Schönau is famed for it's textiles and fine wines which some say rival "Tokaj" in terms of quality.   Beimbach is the major garrison city and has the workshops and artisans essential to support a modern military.

Beimbach-Schönau has an ethnically varied population comprising a German majority with sizable Czech and Magyar communities.  In addition there exists a large body of serfs working the Estates of the gentry. The official religion is Roman Catholicism and other Faiths are aggressively discouraged by the Nobility.  Politically the State is closely bound to the Emperor in Wien.

Currently enjoying an uneasy peace with it's Protestant and Slavic neighbours, The now Reichsfürstentum of Beimbach-Schönau quietly arms for the inevitable conflict between the Empire and it's many enemies.

1 comment:

  1. Excellent reading and background - looking eagerly forward for the next posts!