The Hohenstaufen is a table mountain off the Schwäbische Alb. It has a height of 684 m. Together with Rechberg and Stuifen these mountains are called the “Dreikaiserberge” (three emperor mountains).
They are located between the cities Göppingen and Schwäbisch Gmünd and its cone form is formative for the landscape around Göppingen.
At the summit there is the ruin of the family seat of the Staufer dynasty. From the summit you have a fantastic view to all sides. For the German kings between 1138 and 1254 this was a strategic place and because of its great view very difficult to attack.
The name “Hohenstaufen” came from its distinctive form which looks like a reversed chalice.
From the South:
Göppingen is in the East of Stuttgart. When you come by car you should drive the A 81, take the motorway exit „Göppingen“. From the exit in 10-15 minutes to Göppingen. To Wäschenbeuren in 15 minutes from Göppingen.
From the North:
Via the B 29, take the exit “Lorch”, then in 10-15 minutes to Wäschenbeuren or in 30 minutes to Göppingen.
From the West and East:
Via the B10, take the exit Göppingen. You can even see the Hohenstaufen from the highway.
No red tape there
There are several camping possibilities in this area:
Camping Klosterpark Adelberg
There are several possibilities and hiking trails. The shortest route is from Göppingen, from the district Göppingen-Hohenstaufen.
A really beautiful hiking trail starts at Wäschenbeuren at the Wäscherschloss (castle) (www.waescherschloss.de
There is a parking place in the woods behind the Wäscherschloss. Follow the red sign. You first descent through the forrest, cross a bridge and a small stream. Then you come to the small village Maitis. You hike through the village and follow always the red sign and the sign “Hohenstaufen”. After Maitis the trail gets steeper. After ca. 1 hour you reach the summit of Hohenstaufen.
Another beautiful route is to follow the blue sign from Wäschenbeuren and the Wäscherschloss. You reach a rocky area western of the summit 50 hm below the summit of Hohenstaufen. There are some rocks for climbing. (Time to descend this route on the way back: 1 ½ h).
House of Hohenstaufen:
The Hohenstaufen (or the Staufer(s)) were a dynasty of Germanic Kings (1138-1254), many of whom were also crowned Holy Roman Emperor and Dukes of Swabia. In 1194 the Hohenstaufen became also Kings of Sicily. The proper name, taken from their castle in Swabia, is Staufen. Therefore the dynasty is sometimes also called Swabian dynasty after the family's origin.
The dynasty is named after Hohenstaufen Castle, which was located on a mountain of the same name near Göppingen. The castle was built by the first known member of the dynasty, Frederick I, Duke of Swabia.
Origins as dukes of Swabia:
In 1079, King Henry IV appointed Frederick of Büren as duke of Swabia. At the same time, Frederick was engaged to the king's approximately seven-year old daughter, Agnes. Nothing is known about Frederick's life before this event. He proved to be a close ally of Henry IV in his struggle against other Swabian lords, namely Rudolf of Rheinfelden (the previous duke), and the Zähringen and Welf lords. Frederick's brother Otto became bishop of Strasbourg in 1082.
Frederick I was succeeded by his son Frederick II in 1105. Frederick II remained a close ally of the kings, and he and his brother Conrad were named the king's representatives in Germany when the king was in Italy. Around 1120, Frederick II married Judith of Bavaria from the rival House of Welf.
Ruling in Germany:
When the last male member of the Salian dynasty, Henry V, Holy Roman Emperor, died without an heir in 1125 there was controversy about the succession. Frederick and Conrad, the two current male Staufens, were grandsons of Henry IV, Holy Roman Emperor and nephews of Henry V. Frederick ran for king, but lost the election against Lothair II. This led to a civil war between the Staufens and the king, which ended with the submission of the Staufens in 1134. However, after the death of Lothair II in 1137, Conrad became King of the Romans. After Frederick II's death in 1147, he was succeeded as duke by his son Frederick III. When Conrad died without adult heir in 1152, Frederick III succeeded him as King Frederick I.
Frederick I (r. 1152-90), also known as Frederick Barbarossa because of his red beard, struggled throughout his reign to restore the power and prestige of the German monarchy, but he had little success. Because the German dukes had grown stronger both during and after the Investiture Controversy and because royal access to the resources of the church in Germany was much reduced, Frederick was forced to go to Italy to find the finances needed to restore the king's power in Germany. He was soon crowned emperor in Italy, but decades of warfare on the peninsula yielded scant results. The papacy and the prosperous city-states of northern Italy were traditional enemies, but the fear of imperial domination caused them to join ranks to fight Frederick. Under the skilled leadership of Pope Alexander III, the alliance suffered many defeats but ultimately was able to deny the emperor a complete victory in Italy. Frederick returned to Germany old and embittered. He had vanquished one notable opponent and member of the Welf family, Saxony's Henry the Lion, but his hopes of restoring the power and prestige of his family and the monarchy seemed unlikely to be met by the end of his life.
During Frederick's long stays in Italy, the German princes became stronger and began a successful colonization of Slavic lands. Offers of reduced taxes and manorial duties enticed many Germans to settle in the east as the area's original inhabitants were killed or driven away. Because of this colonization, the empire increased in size and came to include Pomerania, Silesia, Bohemia, and Moravia. A quickening economic life in Germany increased the number of towns and gave them greater importance. It was also during this period that castles and courts replaced monasteries as centers of culture. Growing out of this courtly culture, German medieval literature reached its peak in lyrical love poetry, the Minnesang , and in narrative epic poems such as Tristan, Parzival, and the Nibelungenlied.
Frederick died in 1190 while on a crusade and was succeeded by his son, Henry VI (r. 1190-97). Elected king even before his father's death, Henry went to Rome to be crowned emperor. A death in his wife's family gave him possession of Sicily, a source of vast wealth. Henry failed to make royal and imperial succession hereditary, but in 1196 he succeeded in gaining a pledge that his infant son Frederick would receive the German crown. Faced with difficulties in Italy and confident that he would realize his wishes in Germany at a later date, Henry returned to the south, where it appeared he might unify the peninsula under the Hohenstaufen name. After a series of military victories, however, he died of natural causes in Sicily in 1197.
Because the election of the three-year-old Frederick to be German king appeared likely to make orderly rule difficult, the boy's uncle, Philip, was chosen to serve in his place. Other factions elected a Welf candidate, Otto IV, as counterking, and a long civil war began. Philip was about to win when he was murdered by a relative in 1208. Otto IV in turn was beaten by the French at the Battle of Bouvines in 1214. Frederick returned to Germany in 1212 from Sicily, where he had grown up, and became king in 1215. As Frederick II (r. 1215-50), he spent little time in Germany because his main concerns lay in Italy. Frederick made significant concessions to the German nobles, such as those put forth in an imperial statute of 1232, which made princes virtually independent rulers within their territories. The clergy also became more powerful. Although Frederick was one of the most energetic, imaginative, and capable rulers of the Middle Ages, he did nothing to draw the disparate forces in Germany together. His legacy was thus that local rulers had more authority after his reign than before it.
By the time of Frederick's death in 1250, there was little centralized power in Germany. The Great Interregnum (1256-73), a period of anarchy in which there was no emperor and German princes vied for individual advantage, followed the death of Frederick's son Conrad IV in 1254. In this short period, the German nobility managed to strip many powers away from the already diminished monarchy. Rather than establish sovereign states, however, many nobles tended to look after their families. Their many heirs created more and smaller estates. A largely free class of officials also formed, many of whom eventually acquired hereditary rights to administrative and legal offices. These trends compounded political fragmentation within Germany.
Despite the political chaos of the Hohenstaufen period, the population grew from an estimated 8 million in 1200 to about 14 million in 1300, and the number of towns increased tenfold. The most heavily urbanized areas of Germany were located in the south and the west. Towns often developed a degree of independence, but many were subordinate to local rulers or the emperor. Colonization of the east also continued in the thirteenth century, most notably through the efforts of the Knights of the Teutonic Order, a society of soldier-monks. German merchants also began trading extensively on the Baltic.
End of the Hohenstaufen Dynasty:
Conrad IV was succeeded as duke of Swabia by his only son, two-year old Conrad. By this time, the office of duke of Swabia had been fully subsumed into the office of the king, and without royal authority had become meaningless. In 1261, attempts to elect the younger Conrad king were unsuccessful. Conrad was executed in 1268 after a failed campaign to retake control of Sicily. With him, both the House of Hohenstaufen and the Duchy of Swabia ceased to exist.
Members of the Hohenstaufen family:
Holy Roman Emperors and Kings of Germany
• Conrad III, king 1138-1152
• Frederick I Barbarossa, king 1152-1190, Emperor after 1155
• Henry VI, king 1190-1197, Emperor after 1191
• Philip of Swabia, king 1198-1208
• Frederick II, king 1208-1250, Emperor after 1220
• Henry (VII), king 1220 - 1235 (under his father Frederick II)
• Conrad IV, king 1237-1254 (until 1250 under his father Frederick II)
Like the first ruling Hohenstaufen, Conrad III, also the last one, Conrad IV, was never crowned emperor. After a 20 year period (Interregnum 1254-1273) the first Habsburg was elected king.
Kings of Sicily
Note: Some of the following kings are already listed above as German Kings
• Henry VI 1194-1197
• Frederick 1198-1250
• Henry (VII) 1212–1217 (nominal king under his father)
• Conrad 1250-1254
• (Conradin 1254-1258/1268)
• Manfred 1258-1266
Dukes of Swabia
Note: Some of the following dukes are already listed above as German Kings
• Frederick I, Duke of Swabia (Friedrich) (r. 1079 - 1105)
• Frederick II, Duke of Swabia (r. 1105 - 1147)
• Frederick I, Holy Roman Emperor (Frederick III of Swabia)(r. 1147 - 1152) King in 1152 and Holy Roman Emperor in 1155
• Frederick IV, Duke of Swabia (r. 1152 - 1167)
• Frederick V, Duke of Swabia (r. 1167 - 1170)
• Frederick VI, Duke of Swabia (r. 1170 - 1191)
• Conrad II, Duke of Swabia (r. 1191 - 1196)
• Philip of Swabia (r. 1196 - 1208) King in 1198
• Frederick II, Holy Roman Emperor (r. 1212 - 1216) King in 1212 and Holy Roman Emperor in 1220
• Henry (VII) of Germany (r. 1216 - 1235), King 1220 - 1235
• Conrad IV (r. 1235 - 1254) King in 1237
• Conrad V (Conradin) (r. 1254 - 1268)