LEONHARD KISSEBERTH I and CASTLE BREUBURG
Leonhard Kisseberth (Kisibert) was born in 1590 in Kirch-Brombach where his father Alexander was the well known area parson/minister having followed the teachings of Martin Luther shortly after the Reformation. Leonhard during his lifetime had three occupations. Until the time of his appointment to Erbachischer Amtmann at Castle Breuburg in 1637 he was the Zentgraf at Kirch Brombach. He was even listed in the 1623 tax register of tavernkeepers in the dominion of Breuberg. As the Zentgraf (Criminal Judge) of Kirch-Bromach he was the Administrator of the Zent which in the high and middle ages was a judicial district of the county. The Zent or Cent was presided over by the Zentgraf (Centgraf) who was appointed by the ruler and it was almost exclusively a criminal court. Kirch-Brombach at that period in time was the principal or main center in a group of 14 villages that comprised The Brombach Zent or the Kirchspiel (parish or pastorate). The Kirch Brombach Zent comprised the following villages: Birkert, Bollstein, Gumpersberg, Hembach, Affhol¬lerbach, Kilsbach, Hollerbach, Lagen Brombach, Ober Kinzig, Mittel Kil¬zig, Nieder Kinzig, Stierbach, Wallbach and of course, Kirch Brombach.
A large amount of Leonhard Kisseberth's records and holdings are unavailable. Unfortunately the very valuable Graflich Erbaehische Gesamtarchiv (Comprehensive Archive of the Earldom of Erbach) was completely demolished in September 1944 when the heaviest air raid on Darmstadt reduced 75% of the city to rubble and ashes during World War II. Likewise 80% of the holdings of the Darmstadt State Archives were des¬troyed. The Erbach archive had very extensive holdings and went a long way back.
Leonhard at the age of 47 was appointed by the mediatized prince to the position of Erbachisher Amtmann (Official of Erbach) at Castle Breuberg in 1637. He was an administrative official or magistrate with a great amount of judicial responsibilities. He lived at the castle during the time of "The Thirty Years' War" (1618-1648). This conflict arose directly out of the religious and administrative settlement of the mid-sixteenth century known as the Peace of Ausburg. For religious affairs, this treaty aimed at freezing the positions achieved by the Catholics and the Lutherans. The position of Amtmann has many possible translations-district judge, magistrate, senior civil official, bailiff and steward. After the Graf (count) and his wife the most important person in the castle was the steward. He acted as the main deputy, holding courts in Breuberg. Leonhard also probably appointed officials such as other baliffs and reeves. He could have input on fixing rents arid tenancies of farms, supervisinglthe smooth running of everyday life and above all he was responsible for the castle's expenditures and the drawing-up of the daily account. Again, since most of the records were destroyed during WWII Leonhard's extensive duties at Castle Breuberg. are mostly conjecture on my part. The main idea we can infer from this"educated guesswork" is that Leonhard Kisseberth had a very important position at Breuberg undoubtedly a very important judicial position.
In a short historical story about Castle Breuberg titled "Der Breuberg im gemeinsamen Besitz der auser Erbach and Lowenstein" it tells of the mutual ownership of the Castle between Georg Albrecht I, the Luthern Count and Count Johann Dietrich von Lowenstein the Catholic leader. In the course of the Thirty Years War the Counts of Erbach who were Protestant, but first and foremost faithful to the Kaiser, were forced by the Swedish King Gustav Adolf to come to his aid, when he penetrated Southern Germany, while the Counts of Lowenstein, as renegades who had just converted back to the Catholic faith, remained especially avid followers of the Kaiser and the League. The commando and the occupation of Breuberg chanded hands, depending on which of these two parties had the luck of the war on their side at the time. The high point of the quarrels was the shooting of the Erbach councillor, Dr. Hinterhofer, by a Lowenstein soldier in the summer of 1639 as he was waiting with Count Ceorg Albrecht for the castle gate to open, and the ill-treatment of the 'Erbach Magistrate Kisseberth in 1641 at the order of Count Ferdinand Carl of Lowenstein, who had even challenged the Count of Erbach to a duel shortly before. However, the Erbacher's complaints to the imperial chamber court concerning these events were never processed.
Nevertheless, when they in turn decided not to waive their right to share the castle and Breuberg dominion, they laid siege to the castle in March 1644 and claimed possession of it until the Westphalian Peace of 1618. At this time, in the "Instrumentum pacis Osnabrugense", the common and equal rights of both housed were once again confirmed.
From "Die Geschichte der Dynasten and Grafen zu Erbach" (The History of the Dynasties and Counts of Erbach) by Simon in 1858: "Soon afterwards (after 1631), however, the castle was the scene of many quarrels between its two owners. Count Johann Dietrich von Lowenstein had converted to the Catholicism..., while Counts Ludwig the Knight and Georg Albrecht I of Erbach were equally avid followers of the Protestant faith... A small imperial commando under an ensign was further reinforced by Lowenstein musketeers, who constantly dealt the cruelest of excesses to the Erbach magistrate at Breuberg. But the worst incident of maltreatment of the Erbach magistrate at Breuberg was at the order and in the presence of Count Ferdinand Carl of Lowenstein. The Count had come to Breuberg for that very purpose and summoned Magistrate Kisseberth with friendly words on the first Sunday of Advent in the year 1641, in the morning before the church service, but meanwhile he had gone out of his home and across the bridge to the gallows. While he was still on the bridge, Kisseberth, an old man of 60 years, whose crime consisted of being a faithful servant to his master, was attacked from behind and beaten by three Lowenstein stable hands, driven to Count Ferdinand, and there, at the latter's command, was tied to the gallows with heavy ropes and beaten so mercilessly with thick birch switches in his presence that finally, with cries of torment and covered with blood, he fell over unconsicious and as a result became mortally ill. Several persons swore at the investigation that they had heard the tormented cries of the magistrate down at the Mumling(?) near Neustadt, where they were going to church and had discerned the words: "0 Jesus, come to my aid! 0 Jesus, do not forsake me!" There was an Erbach publication about this in 1644."
Somehow Leonard survived that painful and difficult experience and lived another thirteen years. He married Anna and together had four children. Margretha, born 1618 and married Peter Wolf in 1644. She died 28 March 1709. Another daughter Anna married Johann Daniel Mink 3 February 1647. Leonhard II his oldest son born 1627 lived only thirty years but became magistrate in the small town of Neustadt at the foot of Castle Breuberg. His forth child Jo.hann Michael was born 28 November 1637 and died March 3, 1694. He was Lord Mayor of Kirch¬Brombach.
Leonhard Kisseberth I, died September 6th 1654 and is buried in Kirch-Brombach, Germany.
Written September 1989
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