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Fort Joseph

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Fort Joseph with the monument for the soldiers of the foot artillery regiment “General-Feldzeugmeister” (Brandenburg) No. 3

Fort Joseph, also called Josephsschanze, was part of the second ring of fortifications of baroque Mainz, capital of the Kurmainz territory administered by the electors and archbishops in the Holy Roman Empire.

Geographical position

Joseph’s Redoubt was laid out on the right before the Gautor, on the height of the Linsenberg, where one goes down into the Zaybach valley to the piers of the Roman aqueduct, beside the former Roman army road which led out of the porta praetoria of the castrum. It faces the main stone and is separated from it only by the imaginary valley. It extends to the edge of the mound, and had two lunettes one in front of the other. With the main stone it was able to cover the whole of the Bingerstrasse and the so-called Dalheimer Grund, as far as beyond Zahlbach.[1]

The pointed stone walls of the remains of the fort, which are still visible today and to which the flanks adjoined at the back on both sides, are today bordered by Langenbeckstraße and Czernyweg in the upper town of Mainz, which lead to the University Medical Center of the Johannes Gutenberg University of Mainz.

History

Aisle at Fort Josef

Fort Joseph was built between May 1713[2] and 1730 according to plans by the fortress builder Johann Maximilian von Welsch, commissioned by the Elector Lothar Franz von Schönborn to protect Mainz interests on the Rhine. Twenty years earlier, the fortress had been liberated from French occupation by an imperial liberation army under the command of Duke Charles of Lorraine on 8 September 1689 after a three-month siege and shelling of the city and ramparts.

The 16 bastions of Johann Philipp von Schönborn around 1692: An engraving by the Mainz cartographer Nikolaus Person

Now five new forts were to contribute to the reinforcement of the fortress of Mainz, because the modernization of weaponry meant that the cannons now reached so far that enemy troops could simply shoot over the Schönborn bastions of the first fortress ring. Fort Joseph, together with the four other detached forts, was to relieve the 16 old bastions better to the west. Welsch was supported in this by the engineer lieutenant colonel Luttig, engineer colonel Gerhard Cornelius von Walrave and other engineer officers.[3]

Forts and redoubts of the compound

The Karlsschanze Fort Karl was located above the former Favorite pleasure palace, today’s city park, near the former Neutor. A crenellated wall with ditches and breastworks connected the Karlsschanze with Fort Welsch, also called the “Welsche Schänzchen”, built under Elector Philipp Karl. Likewise, the Elisabethenschanze Fort Elisabeth was connected with the Philippsschanze Fort Philipp by a crenellated wall. Between Forts Philipp and Elisabeth ran the Chaussee to Nieder-Olm and to the right in front of Fort Philipp ran a field path to Zahlbach. The double trench – “la double Tenaille” – with its three ravelins in front of it formed a tenaill system connecting Forts Elisabeth and Joseph. Fort Joseph had a blockhouse to cover the retirade (Latin-Italian-French place of retreat) and a large area in front of its top to cover the so-called “sacred valley”, which had already been used for burials in Roman times and until the 8th century.

The very large fortress placed a considerable burden on the budget of the electoral state. The “engineer command”, which was responsible for the entire fortifications of the city of Mainz, criticized the electoral administration for the lack of expansion and the lack of maintenance measures, through which it saw the facilities slowly deteriorating. Rudolf Eickemeyer addressed several reports directly to the Elector, pointing out the catastrophic condition of the fortifications. When French revolutionary troops under General Adam-Philippe de Custine approached Mainz in October 1792, they had to pay for this with the renewed loss of the fortress to France.

The remains of Fort Joseph are now a cultural monument in Mainz-Oberstadt.

Web links

Commons: Monument zone Fort Joseph (Mainz-Oberstadt)– Collection of pictures, videos and audio files

Individual references

  1. Karl Anton Schaab: Die Geschichte der Bundes-Festung Mainz, historisch und militärisch nach den Quellen bearbeitet. Own publication of the author, Mainz 1835
  2. Alfred Börckel: Mainz als Festung und Garnison von der Römerzeit bis zur Gegenwart. Published by J. Diemer, Mainz 1913, p. 71.
  3. Alfred Börckel: Mainz als Festung und Garnison von der Römerzeit bis zur Gegenwart. Published by J. Diemer, Mainz 1913, p. 71.

Coordinates 49° 59′ 43″ N, 8° 15′ 23″ O