Welcome to Europe in the early 13th century. The Spanish are fighting the Moors, the French are fighting the Germans, the Russians are fighting the Mongols & the English are fighting each other. When not busy killing each other everyone is also finding time for a series of pointless & bloody crusades in the Baltic and Middle East.

 

Thankfully in Hapsburg ruled Tirol the situation is relatively peaceful. The economy is doing well,  locals are prospering and an increasingly wealthy gentry are building themselves grand fortified residences in dramatic, eye catching locations. Karneid Castle, situated in Southern Tirol overlooking the bustling market town of Bozen is an early example.

The core of the building stands on the ruins of an earlier watchtower and stems from around 1200 CE. The original builders are unknown but in the first 150 years of the castle's history, several prominent local families are recorded as owning the fief and extending the building by adding a chapel, generous living quarters & extensive fortifications.

 

In 1386 a local landowner named Heinrich von Liechtenstein takes possession. A few years later the local nobility rebel against their Hapsburg rulers, the Liechtensteins side with the rebels and Karneid is besieged. Heinrich and his sons are taken prisoner but after some smooth talking and the payment of a large ransom they are released and allowed to return to Karneid

 

Karneid continues to prosper until the mid 16th century but then things start to go downhill. Heinrich's descendant the notoriously cruel and corrupt Bartl v. Liechtenstein is fined and imprisoned by the Holy Roman Emperor Ferdinand II for numerous offences against the state, effectively bankrupting the family. His equally depraved son Wilhelm is murdered outside the castle walls by his cousin Erasmus and in 1616 Wilhelm's son Hans Paul dies, becoming the last Liechtenstein to be buried in Karneid. The castle is now effectively abandoned by the Leichtensteins and left in the hands of caretakers. The incomes from the estate are enough for emergency repairs but the castle falls into disrepair and at some point in the late 17th century the apse of the chapel collapses, destroying many of its rare 14th century frescoes. The chapel is patched up but Karneid's decline continues. In 1761 Count Franz Anton, the last male Liechtenstein dies and his heirs sell Karneid to the city of Bozen. Over the next hundred years the estate changes hands numerous times and from the early 19th century it is effectively deserted and falls into serious disrepair

 

In 1884 Baron Ferdinand von Miller, a wealthy Munich artisan & entrepreneur buys and lovingly restores Karneid. Today it is owned by his descendants and is one of the last intact, privately owned medieval fortresses in South Tirol. The castle plays an important role in the life of the local community and is partially open to the public.