„Wart’, Berg, du sollst mir eine Burg tragen!“
As legend would have it, the Wartburg Castle in Thüringen, Germany was founded in 1067 by Ludwig der Springer, also known as Count Ludwig von Schauenburg. Ludwig was a member of the German dynastic family of Ludowinger. Little is certain about the man, but he lives on in his legends and in his castle.
His nickname comes from a bold leap into the Saale River. After he’d attempted to take hold of the area west of the Saale River, called Saale-Unstrut, and stabbed the Count Palatine Fredrick III to death, he was imprisoned in the castle Giebichenstein. Ludwig was held captive for three years and faced execution. He took advantage of his stay in the castle tower and jumped into the Saale River. A servant awaited him with a boat and his favorite snow-white horse, Swan. As punishment for his murder, he built the church of St. Ulrich in Sangerhausen and later founded the monastery Reinhardsbrunn, which became the family monastery of Ludowinger.
In 1067, as legend has it, Ludwig der Springer discovered the future site of the Wartburg Castle while out hunting. He looked up to the mountain and said, “Wait, mountain, thou shalt bear a castle.” The mountain was not part of his territories, so he had his men carry soil from the land he did own up the mountain top, to the place he planned to build his castle. The Emperor approved after twelve of Ludwig’s most loyal knights drew their swords, stuck them into the soil and swore on Ludwig’s honor that the land rightfully belonged to him.
The Wartburg Castle was also the setting of Martin Luther’s secret detention by Friedrich der Weise. After being declared an outlaw, Vogelfrei or ‘free as a bird,’ as mercenary soldiers might call it, which simply put meant any one could kill him if they wanted to, Friedrich’s soldiers abducted Martin Luther and brought him to safety, in disguise, to the Wartburg where he, in the winter of 1521-1522, translated the New Testament into German in eleven weeks.