The Amt Gerstungen was a judicial and administrative unit of the ecclesiastical principality of Fulda and later a territorial administrative unit of the Duchy of Saxe-Eisenach. From 1741 it belonged to the Duchy of Saxe-Weimar-Eisenach, which became the Grand Duchy of Saxe-Weimar-Eisenach in 1815.
Until the administrative and territorial reform of the Grand Duchy of Saxony-Weimar-Eisenach in 1850 and the associated dissolution, it formed as an office the spatial reference point for the collection of sovereign duties and services, for police, jurisdiction and military succession.
The territory of the Gerstungen district lay in the Berka-Gerstungen basin on the left bank of the middle Werra on the western edge of the Thuringian Forest. A mountain spur, called “Böller” after its highest elevation, lies on the right bank of the Werra and separated the Amt from the Brandenburg court of the Wartburg (Eisenach) Amt. To the west of the Amt lies the Richelsdorfer Gebirge, to the southwest the Seulingswald.
After four villages in the middle part of the district had been annexed to Hesse in 1733, this Hessian corner with the exclave Obersuhl of the Rotenburg district extended into Thuringia and divided the Gerstungen district into two halves. The southern part of the office with Großensee and Dankmarshausen was enclosed by Hessian territory in the shape of a peninsula.
During its affiliation to the Grand Duchy of Saxony-Weimar-Eisenach, the office was located in the “Eisenach District”.
Today, the district lies in the west of the Free State of Thuringia and belongs to the towns of Gerstungen, Großensee and Dankmarshausen in the Wartburgkreis. The four Hessian places belong today to Heringen/Werra (Kleinensee), to Wildeck (Bosserode and Raßdorf), as well as to Nentershausen (Süß).
Neighbouring administrative units
|Exclave Obersuhl (to the office Rotenburg) (landgraviate Hessen-Kassel)||Amt Sontra (Landgraviate of Hesse-Kassel)|
|Amt Sontra (Landgraviate of Hesse-Kassel)||Amt Eisenach (Duchy of Saxony-Eisenach)|
|Rotenburg Office (Landgraviate of Hesse-Kassel)||Office Friedewald (Landgraviate Hesse-Kassel)||Amt Hausbreitenbach (Hessian-Saxon condominium, from 1733 part of the Duchy of Saxony-Weimar-Eisenach)|
The first documented mention of Gerstungen is a donation of the village to the monastery of Fulda, founded in 744, by the Frankish king Karlmann, mentioned in the Codex Eberhardi (created in the 12th century). Around 1015 there was a Fuldian high court in Gerstungen.
Always significant for the region was its location on an old military and trade route – the so-called “Kurze Hessen”. Coming from Friedewald, one route led via Großensee to Gerstungen. At that time, Gerstungen Castle was used to secure the crossing of the Werra River, over which this trade route continued in the direction of Eisenach. One of the numerous Nuremberg roads led through Untersuhl. Escort protection was also provided from Gerstungen Castle, later called the castle, for which the Untersuhl church in the form of a fortified tower with branch towers may have served as a lookout on all sides. There was visual contact with the Gerstungen castle tower.
After warlike conflicts between the monastery of Fulda and the Thuringian landgraves, Gerstungen Castle and the neighbouring Wildeck Castle were regained by the monastery in 1310. In the middle of the 14th century, the bishopric of Fulda created the offices of Gerstungen and Wildeck.
Due to the financial situation of the Fulda monastery, the office was pledged many times. In 1328 the office went with all rights to Hartung von Erfa, in 1335 to Simon von Landeck and in 1349 and 1351 to Apel von Buchenau.
In 1396 the monastery of Fulda pledged Gerstungen Castle to the knight Heimbrecht von Boyneburg. The extensive pledge of Bosserode, Großensee, Leimbach and Dankmarshausen was also stipulated. This situation lasted with changing pledge holders until the Boyneburgs died out at the end of the 18th century. The affiliation of the village Süß remains disputed for this time, because with the Gerstungen court boundary of 1450 the village Süß is enclosed.
Landgraves of Thuringia and Saxe-Eisenach
The monastery of Fulda was only able to hold the area around Gerstungen and Wildeck against the powerful Wettins for a short time. In 1402, the office of Gerstungen initially went by way of pledge, but ultimately for good, to the Wettin landgraves of Thuringia, while the office of Wildeck, together with Obersuhl and Hönebach, became the property of the landgraviate of Hesse in 1412 and protruded into the Gerstungen office territory like a narrow spur. Historically, and for a long time, it was the “Hessian corner” in Thuringia. Obersuhl, which later belonged to the office of Rotenburg, was mostly enclosed by the Saxon office of Gerstungen. Richelsdorf and Blankenbach belonged to the office of Sontra.
The office of Gerstungen was subsequently administratively connected with the neighbouring office of Hausbreitenbach. This had been under the joint administration of the Landgraves of Thuringia and Hersfeld Abbey since 1354. In 1525, the Hersfeld portion of the office was transferred to the Landgraviate of Hesse. The office of Hausbreitenbach was administered by two bailiffs, the one from Hersfeld and Hesse in Berka/Werra, the one from Thuringia, later Saxony, in Hausbreitenbach. As early as the 16th century, the Saxon part was also administered by the neighbouring office of Gerstungen with its official seat in Gerstungen. This is shown, among other things, by the interest registers of the two offices.
Border disputes between Saxony-Eisenach and Hesse
The joint ownership of the Hausbreitenbach office caused disagreements time and again, which became particularly acute after the death of Landgrave Karl of Hesse-Kassel in 1730. The Hessian administration demanded a funeral chime in the official places. When this was refused by the Eisenach duke, they had Berka occupied militarily.
The matter came to the Reichshofrat. The first settlement took place in 1733, as a result of which Landgrave Friedrich of Hesse dropped his claims to the Hausbreitenbach office and in return received the villages of Dippach and Gospenroda from the same, and from the Gerstungen office: Süß, Kleinensee, Bosserode and Raßdorf. With this, however, the conclusion was not yet reached, but Hesse stirred up the matter again, and other arrangements were made. This “Hausbreitenbacher Amtsaustauschungsvergleich” did not reach its end until March 19, 1742.
The villages Süß, Bosserode and Raßdorf were assigned to the Baumbach court Nentershausen in the Hessian office Sontra, which since then separated the office Gerstungen into two parts. Kleinensee and Dippach came to the Hessian office Friedewald and Gospenroda to the Hessian office Frauensee. The ecclesiastical affiliation to Gerstungen, however, remained in the case of Bosserode and Kleinensee (until 1970).
Another recurring point of contention was between the villages of Obersuhl and Untersuhl concerning the “Boßkaule” or “Poßkule”, which was located southeast of the Aumühle. On the part of the village Obersuhl this dispute was led very offensively, also understandable, if one considers that the village possessed only a very limited and in addition enclosed territory for the cultivation and supply of the own population. This dispute can be traced back in documents to the late 15th century and it ultimately lasted until the conclusion of the treaty of 1733.
Affiliation to Saxony-Weimar-Eisenach
When Gerstungen came to Duke Ernst August I of Saxony-Weimar-Eisenach in 1741, only outwork buildings of the castle still stood. The moated castle had fallen into disrepair. The new sovereign acquired the Knobelsdorf garden and united it with the outworks to form the Kammergut. The foundation walls of the medieval moated castle were used to build the castle in the 17th and 18th centuries, which was later the seat of the Gerstungen office.
According to an official description from 1756, the office of Hausbreitenbach was co-administered by the Amtmann of Gerstungen. Due to the effects of the Congress of Vienna, the Duchy was elevated to the Grand Duchy of Saxony-Weimar-Eisenach in 1815. This was connected with several territorial gains. In 1816, Hausbreitenbach received the four villages Dippach, Vitzeroda, Abteroda, and Gasteroda from the Electorate of Friedewald, which somewhat improved the territorial isolation of the southern part of the district.
In 1849/50, the judiciary was separated from the administration in the Grand Duchy of Saxony-Weimar-Eisenach. The judicial office Gerstungen with Hausbreitenbach came with other offices of the Eisenach district to the administrative district Eisenach, which was also called III administrative district. Gerstungen became the seat of a district court, to which the former Amt Frauensee and the Brandenburg court of the Eisenach district were also added.
- New Town
- Großensee with Steinhäuser Mill
- Bosserode (1733 to the hessian office Sontra)
- Kleinensee (1733 to the hessian office Friedewald)
- Raßdorf (1733 to the hessian office Sontra)
- Süß (1733 to the hessian office Sontra)
- Kronfeld, Constantin: Thüringisch-Sachsen-Weimarische Geschichte. – Weimar, Böhlau 1878 – (Landeskunde des Grossherzogthums Sachsen-Weimar-Eisenach; T. 1) / [reviewed by:] Ulrich Stechele.
- Anneliese Hofemann: Studien zur Entwicklung des Territoriums der Reichsabtei Fulda und seiner Ämter. 1958, S. 93–95.
- Gerhard Rösing:The Hausbreitenbach Exchange Treaty – a territorial reform 280 years ago.(PDF) Part 1. in: Neue Werra-Zeitung19/2013. municipality of Gerstungen, 20 September 2013, pp. 10-11, retrieved 5 July2017.
- Gerhard Rösing:The Hausbreitenbach Exchange Treaty – a territorial reform 280 years ago.(PDF) Part 2. in: Neue Werra-Zeitung20/2013. municipality of Gerstungen, 4 October 2013, pp. 18-19, retrieved 5 July2017.
- History of Gerstungen on the town homepage(Memento of 31. December 2016 in the Internet Archive)
- Thomas Bienert: Medieval Castles in Thuringia. Wartberg Verlag, 2000, ISBN 3-86134-631-1, p. 324.
- Michael Köhler: Thuringian castles and fortified pre- and medieval dwelling places. Jenzig-Verlag, 2001, ISBN 3-910141-43-9, pp. 108-109.
- Heiko Laß: Jagd- und Lustschlösser des 17. und 18. Jahrhunderts. Michael Imhof Verlag 2006, ISBN 3-86568-092-5, pp. 318/319.