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Castle Kasperk

Castle Kasperk

Guarding the country frontier with Bavaria, protecting valuable deposits of gold, and securing an important trading route, so-called Golden Trail. These are the three reasons which guided the King of Bohemia and Holy Roman Emperor Karel IV to build the Kašperk castle at the north-eastern promontory of the Ždánov hill in 1356. An oblong hall and connected residential towers represent a self-contained castle kernel which is surrounded by continuous ramparts. The castle kernel then opens into the castle court which supports the domestic ranges. This form of the castle dates to the second half of the 14th century, and it was improved by various renovations, most often in the following century.

Although Kašperk was a royal castle, it was administered by the gentry and not by the royal chamber. The kings rented out the castle and the surrounding estates to so-called pledged castellans, who were understandably loyal to the crown. The castellans administered the castle, maintained it, or executed the right of lord justice which they obtained together with the castle rights. We can name just a few of the more influential or more interesting castellans. For example, from 1411 it was the royal master of the mint Petr of Svojšín and Orlík and his sons, ardent followers of the Chalice movement, this being the reason why the castle escaped the devastating siege by the Hussite armies. Also ranked among the pledged castellans was the powerful nobleman Zdeněk of Štenberk who earns merit for expanding the castle fortifications by an outwork fort, so-called Pustý hrádek (Empty castle). This was done so that the castle might withstand a possible siege by the forces of Jiří of Poděbrady, against whom Zdeněk led a mutiny, although Zdeněk was the first Bohemian noble to pledge allegiance to Jiří. On the other hand, one of the last castellans, vice-chancellor and clerk of Ferdinand I, Silesian knight Jiří of Lokšany, was much more loyal to his king. In 1547 Kašperk served him as a strongpoint during successful suppression of the first uprising of the estates in the Prácheň region. All this made the castle play its role in the history of Bohemia and, primarily because of lack of financing the castle fell out of repair and decayed while the surrounding estates were being sold out. The process culminated in 1616 when the royal chamber sold the already deserted and dilapidated castle to the town of Kašperské Hory, and it has remained in the ownership of the town until these days.

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