Burg Maus- The Perfect Setting for a Mystery! Guest Post by Rachel Selle
Thanks so much to Rachel Selle, author of “Mystery at Castle Mouse” for writing this guest post to share the fascinating history of Burg Maus on the Rhine! (I do love when someone does my job for me). Enjoy the post… and then check out Rachel’s book series “The European Adventures” available in English AND German. Rachel will be giving a reading of her book AT Burg Maus on September 30th, 2023 at 2 PM.
Hills climb high on either side of the Rhine, and wine vineyards dot the countryside. The landscape is as interesting as it is diverse. Some hills are gentle and rounded, while others are full of rocky slate outcroppings and steep cliffs. The castles high up on the hills and tiny villages nestled against the riverbank look so quaint that you can’t help but feel you are in a
“Oh, there’s a castle! Hey, there’s another one. And another!” This might not have been exactly what I said to my sister as we cruised down the Rhine River, but it’s probably
close. After spotting the first castle, they seemed to follow rapidly until it was almost commonplace. Almost. But even as an American living in Germany, this will never be
ordinary. The sense of awe and discovery is one of the perks of living here. So, when I started writing books, I knew I wanted to honor this feeling somehow and make it more accessible
and relatable for children.
During the brainstorming phase of writing, I found a postcard that had slid underneath some books and was never sent. The stark, medieval castle on the front immediately called to me.
After reading the quick blurb on the back, I knew my story had found a setting. Mystery at Mouse Castle was born.
I set out to learn why these beautiful castles had been built. It’s common to romanticize the reason, but these castles served a purpose: control and protection.
Burg Maus History
Burg Maus (Mouse Castle) was constructed in 1356 by the Archbishop-Elector of Trier, Bohemond II. The seven prince-electors of the Holy Roman Empire were the most powerful
men in the realm, aside from the emperor, of course. But even the emperor had to win their approval.
Since the three most important electors were from Mainz, Trier, and Cologne, they had the special title of archbishop. The archbishop-electors had large territories of land under their
control. They collected money and goods from the people who lived on or traveled through their land. These were then passed on to the emperor. It was a very beneficial relationship for
both parties. And luckily for us, over the years, the rich electors built many of the beautiful castles we still visit today.
The archbishop-elector built Burg Maus to protect his newly acquired territory on the Rhine in the village of Wellmich, in the district of St. Goarshausen. Over the years, the castle has
gone through many name changes. Starting off as Burg Peterseck, then Deuernberg and Thurnberg, until it eventually settled into Burg Maus. But the name isn’t indicative of a rodent
problem. It was due to the most medieval of all circumstances: a feud.
Burg Katz and Burg Maus
Built by the Counts of Katzenelnbogen in 1371, Burg Katz (Cat Castle) sits atop the neighboring hill. Burg Katz was the counts’ power play after the Electorate of Trier built Burg
Maus across from their first castle, Burg Rheinfels. With each faction vying for river toll rights, power, and territory, the people in the villages said the two were spying and competing
with each other like a cat and mouse. Count Wilhelm II von Katzenelnbogen said his cat would catch the mouse and finish it off. The people in the surrounding villages used the
nickname so often that it eventually became the official name.
Burg Katz above St Goar
Burg Maus became the favorite residence of Kuno von Falkenstein and his successor Werner von Königstein. After that, it was seldom used or visited until Archbishop Jacob von Eltz began to frequent the castle. He had a thorough inventory done, and because of this, Burg Maus is a rarity among medieval castles. We know how many rooms it had, where they were
situated, and what they contained. Unfortunately, despite von Eltz’s attempts, Burg Maus gradually fell into such disrepair that it was sold at auction. Between 1900 and 1906, the
architect Wilhelm Gärtner started a major reconstruction of the castle using the inventory and plans made by Eltz in 1578. Although it suffered some structural damage during WWII, it was
Today, Mouse Castle is privately owned by Sigrid Eichelsbacher, whose father purchased it for her mother. It is open for weddings, wine tastings, concerts, private functions, and book readings. Burg Katz and Burg Rheinfels were bombed, raided, and destroyed during the Thirty Years’ War, Nine Years’ War, and the Seven Years’ War, while Burg Maus was spared.
One can’t help but think that the mouse had the last laugh.
Visit Burg Maus
You can find tickets here. Burg Maus (loreley-touristik.de)
Rachel Selle is the author of the children’s book series, The European Adventures. Her first book, Mystery at Mouse Castle, follows four American children as they discover their new home in Frankfurt, Germany. Rachel lives in Wiesbaden, Germany, and teaches at a local elementary school.
Her second reading at Burg Maus will be on Saturday, September 30th, at 2:00. Tour of the castle to follow.