Photo ca. 1900
The history of the area around Eichberg does not just begin during the course of the occupation and land clearence by Bavarian and Frankish colonists at the end of the 12th century as Celts, Romans, Slavs and Avars had already settled here, in the border area, in earlier times.
After armed conflicts with Hungary, the border between the Holy Roman Empire and Hungary along the Lafnitz was established in around 1043. In this area, which was poorly populated due to the border situation, the construction of a belt of castles against warlike incursions from the east began at the end of the 12th century. A royal prince took over the existing settlement with a motte and expanded it. In 1250, an Aichberger was mentioned for the first time: Konrad von Aichberg, who probably also founded Kleinschlag, which is named after him. (Khuenschlag = blow or clearing of the Kuono / Konrad).
The knights of the Aichberg family resided here until the late 14th century. In 1378 the stone chapel, which today is the parish church, was built by Wulfing von Aichberg. At the beginning of the 15th century Aichberg came into the possession of the last Aichberg, a daughter, who married a Welzer, who in turn sold it on to Seyfried Steinpeiss in 1412. The following year, Steinpeiss also bought the tithe in Pinka, Friedberg, Dechantskirchen, Stegersbach, Kleinschlag, Limbach, Rohrbach and land between Lafnitz and Lungitz.
The knights of the Aichberg family
Steinpeiss Coat of Arms
Participation in the 1469/70 nobility uprising on the side of Andreas Baumkirchner’s Reformation and Counter-Reformation: already on the occasion of the visitation in 1528, it was established that Maximilian Steinpeiss von Aichberg was one of those who were attached to Martin Luther’s new teaching. His son Christoph was punished in 1603 – after the victory of the Counter-Reformation – for having his child baptized Protestant outside the country.
1715 Extension of Land Ownership
Multiple incursions by the Turks (1529, 1532, 1669, 1683), Haiducken (1605, 1621), Kuruc (1704 – 1711). Large parts of the village were burned down time and time again, the castle, the courtyard and the church were robbed and devastated, the subjects slain or kidnapped and the animals stolen.
The 1715 expansion of the estate was stopped after the construction of the Vorschloss (prominent buildings in the forecourt, demolished around April 1945). The estate was in debt – due to raids, looting and the burning down of properties. This resulted in heavy debts, from which it could never really recover.
After the death of the last Steinpeiss, Karl Joseph Graf von Steinpeiss in 1772, the estate was bequeathed to his cousin, Maximilian Baron von Waidmannsdorf.
Erko Coat of Arms
Lottery stake of 15 gulden
(today around Austrian Schilling 300/Euro 22.00)
His descendants leased the totally indebted estate in 1806. Finally, in 1817 it was offered for sale via a lottery with tickets of 15 gulden (today around Austrian Schilling 300/Euro 22.00). The Prague paper dealer Donat Hartmann wins and immediately sells the property to the cavalry captain Ludwig Count von Schönfeld for 200,000 gulden (the estimated value was 368,328 gulden). This Count von Schönfeld also acquired the Reitenau estate, but died soon afterwards in a riding accident in 1828.
Wimpffen Coat of Arms
Under the Wimpffen’s there followed in
1844 the conversion of the Loretto chapel (consecrated on November 6, 1742) to a crypt chapel in the neo-Gothic style.
1906 due to debts, the estate was sold to the Greek Prince Ypsilanti; Reitenau Castle was also sold.
1911 Prince Ypsilanti donated a piece of land for the construction of a new school building in Eichberg: replacing the 1882 single roomed converted farm building which later expanded into two rooms.
Between 1914 and 1918 the accommodation housed Galician refugees, during which the Vorschloss (buildings in the forecourt) were badly damaged. The wood from the roof trusses and tower were used as firewood.
1923 and 1929 large parts of the property were sold. Slowly the castle fell into decay, but during World War II provided refuge to the civilian population and also housed the German army.
Gril Coat of Arms