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Schloss Series


Susan Symons has written 6 books in the schloss series. Each book includes twenty-five schlösser in Germany and looks at these from two perspectives. The first is the author’s experience as an overseas visitor to each schloss; the other some of the colourful historical stories of the royal characters associated with them. Royalty have always been the celebrities of their day, and these stories from history can rival anything in modern-day television soap operas.


Schloss in Thuringia is the latest in the Schloss series.

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This book visits 25 beautiful schlösser (the plural of schloss) in Germany and tells the compelling personal stories of the colourful royalty that lived in them. It tells the colourful stories of some historical royal characters connected with them; characters such as the mistress of the king who tried to blackmail him and was imprisoned for 49 years and the crown princess who ran away from her husband and six children with their tutor.  The book looks at how the British royal family is descended from the rulers of these German kingdoms and duchies. It also brings out two themes; the lottery of arranged dynastic marriages for royal princesses, and the equally sad fate of their landless younger brothers. The German royal princes abdicated in 1918 at the end of World War I. As they lost their royal families, many of the schlösser went into decline and became prisons, workhouses and other institutions. Some were behind the iron curtain for 50 years. The book charts these difficult years and their resurgence and use today as museums, hotels and public buildings. It has more than 60 illustrations and 9 family trees. The schlösser included range from fortified castles of the middle ages, to grand palaces built in the 18th century in imitation of Louis XIV’s Versailles, to stately homes from the turn of the 20th century

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Schloss II is the second book about the fascinating royal history of German castles. It visits 25 more beautiful castles and palaces in north and central Germany and tells more colourful stories of the royal families that built and lived in them. Schloss II has more than sixty illustrations and fifteen family trees. For most of its history Germany was not a single country but a patchwork of independent states, each with its own royal family. These dukes and princes were passionate builders and left behind a rich legacy in the thousands of schlösser (the plural of schloss) that cover the German countryside. The schlösser in this book were built over many centuries and range in time from an eleventh century imperial palace, built to house the travelling court of an emperor who ruled from the back of a horse; to a schloss which only recently reopened after it was destroyed in World War II, and is now home to a shopping mall. The colourful stories in the book include the princess from a tiny German state who used her body and her brains to become the ruler of the vast Russian empire; and the prince who tried to run away from his bullying father and was forced as his punishment to witness the execution of the friend who had helped him.



Schloss III is the third in the series. It visits 25 beautiful castles and palaces in central Germany and tells the colourful stories of the royal families associated with them. It also looks at how these wonderful buildings have survived the century since the monarchy fell and how they are being used today. The historical royal stories in the book include the prince who defied his family to marry a pharmacist’s daughter and then bought the rank of royal princess for her; and the prince cheated out of his inheritance by his elder brothers after their father’s will disappeared. The schlösser (plural of schloss) in the book range in time from the twelfth-century hilltop palace that was home to St Elisabeth and inspired an opera by Richard Wagner; to a nineteenth-century make-believe medieval castle on the Rhine, holiday home of a Prussian king. Many of them are not well-known to overseas visitors and some rarely see an English speaker. After a thousand years of monarchy, the Kaiser abdicated in 1918, at the end of World War I, and Germany became a republic. Until then, the country was a patchwork of smaller royal states each with its own ruling family. Schloss III has more than 80 illustrations and 15 family trees.


This book visits twenty-five beautiful schlösser (the plural of schloss) in Bavaria and tells the colourful stories of historical royal characters connected with them. The history of Bavaria is closely linked with the glamorous Wittelsbach royal family, who produced such well-known celebrities as Mad King Ludwig II. This book tells their enthralling story. It also discovers other Bavarian dynasties – which got fabulously rich from inventing the postal service; specialised in being elected as church princes; or whose smart marriage policy brought them numerous thrones. In the days of the monarchy, Bavaria was a kaleidoscope of sovereign territories ruled by dukes, princes, and bishops. From Franconia in the north to the Alps in the south, the Bavarian countryside teems with their fascinating castles and palaces. The stories include the prince who sold his country and its people to Prussia and the princess who was expected to marry an emperor until he saw her little sister. The fairy-tale castles built by Ludwig II are visited by tourists from around the world, but other schlösser rarely see an English speaker. This book might encourage you to get off the beaten track and see these wonderful places yourself. Schloss Bavaria has over 100 illustrations and 14 family trees.


The south-west is a fascinating part of Germany for royal history. Before the French Revolution, what is now the federal state of Baden-Württemberg was made-up of dozens of royal duchies and sovereign territories as members of the Holy Roman Empire. Twenty years later, after Napoleon had cut a swathe through these small German courts, there were just four. The thrilling royal history and vanished kingdoms of Baden-Württemberg have left a rich legacy of beautiful castles and palaces. This book visits twenty-five schlösser in Baden-Württemberg and tells some colourful stories of the historical royal families connected with them. The royal states swept away had long and riveting histories – the Palatinate, Hohenlohe, a host of little territories around Lake Constance. Those that survived saw an increase in territory and an elevation in rank – Württemberg became a kingdom and Baden a grand duchy. Alliance with France was cemented by marriage into Napoleon’s family; enforced conscription meant there was a worse price to pay. Over twenty thousand men from Württemberg and Baden marched to Moscow with Napoleon’s army – only a few hundred came back. This is the fifth book about The Fascinating Royal History of German Castles. With over 80 illustrations and 20 family trees, this book should appeal to anyone who likes history, sightseeing, or is interested in people’s personal stories.


The state of Thuringia is unknown Germany to most English-speaking tourists. With its scenic landscape of pine-covered hills and picture-postcard villages, Thuringia is a setting for fairy tales. When Germany was a monarchy before World War I, Thuringia was home to eight royal duchies and principalities, each with their own royal family. The competitive urge of the sovereigns of these small courts to display their rank and splendour has left a glorious legacy of dazzling castles and palaces. Schloss is the German word for castle or palace. This book visits 25 castles and palaces in Thuringia and tells colourful stories of the historical royal families connected with them. The royal stories include the duke who bickered with his brothers for forty years over family rules on inheritance; a spinster princess unexpectedly elevated to become queen of Great Britain; and a duke who found fame as a theatre director, scandalizing royal circles by marrying an actress. With 100 illustrations and 22 family trees, Schloss in Thuringia is the sixth book in the Schloss series. It includes castles and palaces from all eight former royal duchies and principalities that made up the present-day state. It begins in what was the duchy of Saxe-Altenburg in the east of Thuringia, at an enchanting schloss named for the happy homecoming of a duke imprisoned for championing Martin Luther and the Reformation. It ends in the breath-taking scenery of the Thuringian Forest at Schwarzburg-Rudolstadt and the schloss home of the last princess of the German monarchy before she was evicted by Hitler.


In the early hours of 16 September 1942 there was a knock on the door of ten-year-old Gloria Webber’s home in Jersey. The caller was a local official with bad news. Gloria, her parents and four younger children were all on a list of Jersey civilians to be deported to Germany on the direct orders of Hitler. Gloria and her siblings, with hundreds of other Jersey children, spent the next years of their childhood interned in an old castle in the south of Germany, Wurzach. Schloss Wurzach was a grand baroque palace built in the eighteenth century by one of Germany’s noble families. But by World War II it had fallen on hard times and was used as a prison camp. The schloss was cold, damp, in poor condition, and very dirty. The internees were horrified by what they found. No arrangements had been made to accommodate women and children and sanitation was inadequate. This short book recalls Gloria’s childhood experience and is illustrated with vivid pictures of camp life painted by her father during their confinement using paints from Red Cross parcels. It also describes how she and other internees returned to Germany in later life to celebrate their liberation with the people of Wurzach, showing there can be reconciliation and friendship between former enemies.

Schloss II
Schloss III
Schloss Bavaria
Schloss in BW
Schloss in Thuringia
Schloss Wurzach
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