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Bebenhausen Monastery and Palace

Wild boar hunt at Bebenhausen, washed pen and ink drawing, 1576. Image: Wikipedia, in the public domain
A PRIVILEGE OF THE NOBILITY

HUNTS IN BEBENHAUSEN

In the Middle Ages, hunting gained a high value within court representation. It was not exclusively used to get food. Schönbuch, southwest of Stuttgart, was a beloved hunting grounds for the rulers of Württemberg, with Bebenhausen as its center.

Hunting trophies from Bebenhausen Palace. Image: Staatliche Schlösser und Gärten Baden-Württemberg, Bebenhausen palace administration

Hunting trophies from Bebenhausen.

Food, protection, and pastime

People secured their survival through hunting. Farming and raising cattle began much later. By the Middle Ages, hunting had increasingly become a privilege of the nobility. It no longer simply served as a means to acquire meat, but rather primarily to protect fields and cattle from wild animals. In the 18th century, court hunting culture achieved its climax as a pastime for aristocratic society. 

Bebenhausen Monastery between the conclave and palace. Image: Staatliche Schlösser und Gärten Baden-Württemberg, Steffen Hauswirth

Residence of many rulers of Württemberg during hunts.

Hunting in Schönbuch

The forests of Schönbuch have been a beloved hunting grounds for the rulers of Württemberg since time immemorial. As of 1342, the counts of Württemberg often lived in the monastery during their hunts. During the Thirty Years' War, the game around Bebenhausen was almost completely eradicated. It was not until the 18th century that there was once again enough game for extended hunts. Under King Friedrich I von Württemberg, Bebenhausen developed into a hub for large court hunts, and the former abbot's house was developed into a hunting lodge beginning in 1807.

Festival of Diana at Bebenhausen Monastery, painting by Johann Baptist Seele. Image: Württembergische Landesbibliothek

The festival of Diana: In a staged hunt, live game was driven into an enclosed area and could be shot from the hunting booth without much effort.

The Festival of Diana as a birthday celebration

The most magnificent court hunt took place on November 9, 1812, and was called the "Festival of Diana." It was the climax of several days of celebrations on the occasion of King Friedrich's 58th birthday. For the festival, temporary festival buildings were constructed in the Classic style according to designs by royal architect Nikolaus Thouret in a field south of the monastery complex. It took only two hours for King Friedrich and his guests to kill 823 wild animals that were driven in front of their guns. 

King Wilhelm and Queen Charlotte von Württemberg. Image: Landesmedienzentrum Baden-Württemberg, credit unknown.

The royal couple of Württemberg in Bebenhausen, photo circa 1915.

Sporting entertainment

King Wilhelm II von Württemberg and his wife, Queen Charlotte, often visited Bebenhausen. Both loved to spend time outdoors and they spent their time in Bebenhausen riding, hunting, and hiking. Although the royal court was not hunting simply to provide food, wild game was often on the menu.