Countess Loretta

The Joan of Arc of the Moselle

It was a spring day in May or June 1328 when Countess Loretta von Sponheim stood on the battlements of her castle and gazed down intently into the river valley. The blue sky was reflected in the Mosel, which stretched like a glittering ribbon of water between fresh green vineyards. The picturesque little villages along the riverbank were bustling with activity. But this was not the countess's focus. Her gaze instead rested on a small squad of soldiers who had just halted a large magnificent travelling yacht with escort ships.

Her rival Elector Balduin of Trier, one of the most powerful men of the time, was once more on his way to his estates, accompanied by his bodyguard and all manner of servants. The ceasefire had made him feel safe, and besides, what could this woman do to him anyway? But he was mistaken: her retainers captured him and took him to Starkenburg Castle. An outrageous affront! For better or for worse, the powerful elector was forced to remain there as a prisoner.

Balduin had originally been on good political terms with Loretta's husband. But when Count Johann II died four years earlier and Loretta took over the regency on behalf of her young sons, he saw a favourableopportunity to expand the archbishopric's territory in the Hunsrück and along the Mosel. Loretta had already proved her mettle in other feuds, however.

Now he was trapped. And not only that, but the clever and strong-willed countess negotiated a unification treaty swung heavily in her favour. It is significant that an agreement was only reached when Balduin's nephew King John of Bohemia personally intervened in the negotiations. 


Sadly, only the ruined walls of Countess Loretta's Starkenburg can be seen today. But with ARGO's augmented reality, it appears in renewed splendour. Just download the app at


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