Chateau de Salm

Constructed 809m up on a rocky hill of red sandstone with a northeast-southwest orientation, the castle extends on different levels over an area of approximately 120 metres by 50 metres. The primitive castle of the 13th century was built between 1205 and 1225 by Henry III, Count of Salm (of Haute Lorraine), on the territory of the Senones Abbey of which he was the lawyer. The Salm dynasty originated in the 13th century with the Counts of Bar (Bar-le-Duc), one of the more powerful families of Lorraine. The Salm-Lorraine dynasty came from the Luxembourg family. Henry IV, grandson of Henry III, reorganized the saltpans situated close by. Industrial politics provoked a military reaction around 1259 from the Bishop of Metz, who occupied the installations and forced the count to sell him the castle at Salm and the Château de Pierre-Percée and to swear fealty to him.

When the bishop left the castles, the count retook the fortresses. In 1285, the trouvère from Lorraine, Jacques Bretel, spent several days at the castle where he met Count Henry IV. He recounted his stay in his work le Tournoi de Chauvency. The area was the site of an important occupation throughout the 14th and 15th centuries (with foundry, metallurgy and pottery activities), without a doubt the after-effects of the acquisition by Jean de Salm of the lower valley of Bruche in 1366, from Mutzig to Schirmeck. The large works completed around 1400 considerably altered the castle’s defences with the construction of a thick shielding tower, a barbican and a new gate. The old shield wall was torn down and adapted for new functional requirements.

The castle seems, however, to have been ruined around 1500 because it is recorded as a ruin in 1564, though no documentary record of violent destruction is known. Prince Constantin Alexander of Salm-Salm visited the castle in 1779 in the company of the prince of Hohenlohe-Schillingsfürst, to see an inscription on the bas-relief of an outside wall. The ruins served as a quarry soon after the annexation of the Principality of Salm-Salm by the French Republic in 1793. It was bombarded by French artillery during the First World War in 1914 because a German observation post had been established there. Integrated into German territory by the Treaty of Frankfort in 1870, the vestiges of it were classified as a historic monument by the Imperial Administration of Alsace-Lorraine on 6 December. In 1919, the territory was attached to the French Department of Bas-Rhin.


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