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In 950 the weir system in today’s castle garden was constructed by the Count of Comburg-Rothenburg. In 1070, The Counts of Comburg-Rothenburg built Rothenburg castle on the mountain top high above the River Tauber. The Counts of the Comburg-Rothenburg dynasty died out in 1116. The last Count, Count Heinrich, Emperor Heinrich V appointed instead his nephew Konrad von Hohenstaufen as successor to the Comburg-Rothenburg properties. In 1142, Konrad von Hohenstaufen, who became Konrad III (1138–52), the self-styled King of the Romans, traded a part of the monastery Neumünster in Würzburg above the village Detwang and built the Stauffer-Castle Rothenburg on this cheaper land. He held court there and appointed officials called 'reeves' to act as caretakers. In 1170 the city of Rothenburg was founded at the time of the building of Staufer Castle. The center was the market place and St. James' Church (in German: the St. Jakob). Walls and towers were built in the 13th century. Preserved are the “White Tower” and the Markus Tower with the Röder Arch. From 1194 to 1254, the representatives of the Staufer dynasty governed the area around Rothenburg. Around this time the Order of St. John and other orders were founded near St. James' Church and a Dominican nunnery (1258). From 1241 to 1242, the Staufer Imperial tax statistics recorded the names of the Jews in Rothenburg. Rabbi Meir Ben Baruch of Rothenburg (died 1293, buried 1307 in Worms) had a great reputation as a jurist in Europe. His descendants include members of the dynastic family von Rothberg, noteworthy in that they were accorded noble status in the nineteenth century, becoming the hereditary Counts of Rothberg, later taking up residence in the city of Berlin where they were well known as jewelers until the 1930s. Most members of the family disappeared and are presumed to have been killed during the Second World War. Several of the von Rothbergs were laid to rest in a crypt located in the Weißensee Cemetery, while two members emigrated to the United States during the Second World War. In 1274 Rothenburg was accorded privileges by King Rudolf of Habsburg as a Free Imperial City. Three famous fairs were established in the city and in the following centuries the city expanded. The citizens of the city and the Knights of the Hinterland build the Franziskaner (Franciscan) Monastery and the Holy Ghost Hospital (1376/78 incorporated into the city walls). The German Order began the building of St. James' Church, which the citizens have used since 1336. The Heilig Blut (Holy Blood) pilgrimage attracted many pilgrims to Rothenburg, at the time one of the 20 largest cities of the Holy Roman Empire. The population was around 5,500 people within the city. The Staufer Castle was destroyed by an earthquake in 1356, the St. Blaise chapel is the last remnant today. In October 1631, during the Thirty Years' War, the Catholic Johann Tserclaes, Count of Tilly, wanted to quarter his 40,000 troops in Protestant Lutheran Rothenburg. Rather than allow entrance, the town defended itself and intended to withstand a siege. However, Tilly's troops quickly defeated Rothenburg, losing only 300 soldiers. After the winter they left the town poor and nearly empty, and in 1634 the Black Death killed many more. Without any money or power, Rothenburg stopped growing, thus preserving its 17th century state. Since 1803 the town has been a part of Bavaria. Romanticism artists (e.g. Carl Spitzweg) of the 1880s rediscovered Rothenburg, bringing tourism to the town. Laws were created to prevent major changes to the town. Rothenburg held a special significance for Nazi ideologists. For them, it was the epitome of the German 'Home Town', representing all that was quintessentially German. Throughout the 1930s the Nazi organisation "KDF" ("Kraft durch Freude") Strength through Joy organized regular day trips to Rothenburg from all across the Reich. This initiative was staunchly supported by Rothenburg's citizenry – many of whom were sympathetic to National Socialism – both for its perceived economic benefits and because Rothenburg was hailed as "the most German of German towns". In October 1938 Rothenburg expelled its Jewish citizens, much to the approval of Nazis and their supporters across Germany. In March 1945 in World War II, German soldiers were stationed in Rothenburg to defend it. On March 31, bombs were dropped over Rothenburg by 16 planes, killing 39 people and destroying 306 houses, six public buildings, nine watchtowers, and over 2,000 feet (610 m) of the wall. The U.S Assistant Secretary of War John J. McCloy knew about the historic importance and beauty of Rothenburg, so he ordered US Army General Jacob L. Devers not use artillery in taking Rothenburg. The local military commander Major Thömmes ignored the order of Adolf Hitler for all towns to fight to the end and gave up the town, thereby saving it from total destruction by artillery. American troops of the 12th Infantry Regiment, 4th Division occupied the town on April 17, 1945, and in November 1948 McCloy was named Honorable Protectorate of Rothenburg. After the war, the residents of the city quickly repaired the bombing damage. Donations for the rebuilding were received from all over the world. The rebuilt walls feature commemorative bricks with donor names.
Identifier: 474, Last Accessed: 2018-03-18 21:34:11
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Last Modified: Fri Jul 29 2016 09:10:20.