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The history of Castle Horn

The contracts of inheritance agreed by the Lords of Maissau meant that the important noble family of Puchheim came into possession of the castle and the town of Horn - a family that had played an important role here in the city until the beginning of the 17th century, as well as beyond its borders.

Soon after the Puchheim family took over Horn, the local castle came severely under attack against which the occupying forces could not always successfully defend themselves. Thus in 1461, Viktorin, the son of the Bohemian King Georg Podiebrad, invaded Horn and a quarter of a century later, the troops of the Hungarian King Matthias Corvinus besieged Castle Horn and conquered it. However, the siege did not last long, for after the death of the Hungarian king in 1490, the Hungarians were driven away from occupied castles by imperial troops - and thus, from Horn as well. As a result, the castle remained in the possession of the Lords of Puchheim unchallenged from 1493. Soon afterwards they started giving their rather modest seat in Horn a character more befitting their social status. The alterations and expansions to the castle that started at the beginning of the 16th century turned the fortified, yet not very comfortable castle Horn into a representative Renaissance castle.

Just like many other Lower Austrian nobles of that time, the Lords of Puchheim were committed to Martin Luther’s teachings. Horn was without a doubt a centre of reformation in Lower Austria at the turn of the 16th century; and it is in the Puchheim residence of Horn that in 1608, protestant members of state gathered to submit their conditions to Archduke Matthias concerning the oath of allegiance he wished for. In the end, their advocacy of Luther’s teachings became the downfall of the powerful Puchheim family; in 1620, Reichart von Puchheim, along with other noble members of his faith, was branded as a “rebel” and all of his possessions were seized.

After the counter-reformation promoted by Emperor Ferdinand II, it was ensured that the castle and lordship of Horn quickly went to a nice catholic lord. This new lord of Castle Horn was the Emperor’s Councel Vinzenz von Muschinger, Lord of Gumpendorf. His son- in-law Ferdinand Freiherr von Kurz (Imperial Count since 1636) inherited the castle in 1628.

As Count Kurz died in 1659, his son-in-law Ferdinand Maximilian, Count of Sprinzenstein, accepted this rich inheritance. However, this ruler of Castle Horn did not have any male descendants either. This is why after his death in 1679, his two daughters inherited his possessions; the castle and lordship of Horn belonged to the share in the inheritance of his younger daughter Maria Regina. Maria Regina, Countess of Sprinzenstein, married Count Leopold Carl Hoyos in 1681 - this is how the head of the Counts of Hoyos received Horn as part of the dowry.

The appearance of Castle Horn today is characterised by the constructions ordered by the Counts of Hoyos in the 18th and 19th century. Thus, Count Philipp Joseph Innozenz (1695 - 1762) ordered the existing building parts reinforced and the expansion of the castle, turning it into a three-winged complex, during the first quarter of the 18th century. The medieval St. Pancratius chapel may have been modified by reconstructions at that time. A new licence to celebrate mass was obtained for it in 1736. Special attention was paid to the artistic design of the façades - today, the western and southern façade that represent the tastes of the early 18th century still bear witness of this: Gigantic pilasters structure the surface, the lintel beams of the first floor windows are adorned with shells, busts and foliage. The garden gate located next to the so-called “Piarists meadow” on the western side of the castle - the actual main gate - is crowned by a stone coat of arms of the Hoyos family, richly decorated with acanthus leaves.

Since Castle Horn had clearly become the preferred seat of the Counts of Hoyos - since the first half of the 19th century to be precise - larger construction works once again needed to be carried out on the castle. In order to meet the wishes of the castle’s inhabitants, the northern side of the castle was changed greatly by an expansion towards the street under Count Johann Ernst Hoyos-Sprinzenstein (died 1849). Because of these massive construction works, the “Mice tower” in the western wing collapsed. This is why they then built a polygonal tower at the north-western corner of the castle. After the relocation on Count Johann Ernst’s orders of the castle’s chapel from the room at the north end of the western wing (today’s library) to the middle of said wing proved a failure, the count ordered for a new chapel to be built on the second floor of the northern wing. The old theatre room had to yield to this very sober and simple chapel room. After the first half of the 19th century, the extensive “Counts of Hoyos Family Archive” (whose inventories date back to the 13th century) that used to be located at different places, started to be concentrated in Castle Horn, and the rooms of the “Landgericht” had to be adapted to that effect.

A few significant representatives of the Counts of Hoyos, who have felt specially connected to Castle Horn, should be mentioned:

Ernst Karl, Count of Hoyos-Sprinzenstein (1830-1903), the saviour of Rosenburg, that at the time had already become a ruin, his son Ernst, Count of Hoyos-Sprinzenstein (1856- 1940) who became known as a big game hunter, and finally Rudolf, Count of Hoyos- Sprinzenstein (1884-1972), President of the State Council from 1934 to 1938.

Castle Horn, whose outside as well as inside were beautifully restored by Dipl. Ing. Hans, Count of Hoyos and Dipl. Ing. Markus, Count of Hoyos during the last decades, still belongs to the Hoyos family.

A very pretty English park belongs to the castle, which stretches towards the south and is enclosed by a wall. The two stone lions located in the front of Castle Horn’s main access from the street, were brought from Vienna in 1953: they came from the demolished Aspern bridge - the second matching couple of lions was installed in Castle Gobelsburg.

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