August 26, 2008
Rothenburg ob der Tauber is one of several Rothenburgs in Germany. This one, as its name implies, overlooks the Tauber River. It was a free imperial city from 1274 until 1803 and was a major city in the Holy Roman Empire in the 14th century. The photo above shows a portion of the Rothenburg Wall.
Rothenburg was a protestant holding in Bavaria (Germany). King Gustav-Adolf II, who aligned his forces with the Protestants during the Thirty Years’ War, had made his headquarters in this picturesque town during his invasion from Sweden, securing Rothenburg's allegiance to Gustav-Adolf. Catholic League forces led by Count von Tilly, defeated Rothenburg in 1631 only after losing men and time in a fierce battle trying to destroy the town. Legend has it that Tilly, enraged over the bitter resistance, ordered the immediate destruction of the town and the execution of four council members. However, shortly afterwards, when the 71-year old Belgium-born Tilly had just drunk from a 3 1/2 quart (3.3 liter) goblet wine, he had the idea to spare the town if anyone could drain the vessel in one draft. A former mayor of the town by the name of Nusch accepted and the challenge and won. This prodigious drinking feat saved the town and the heads of the council members. Nusch's achievement has been celebrated ever since in the annual event Meistertrunk or Master Drink. It takes place each year at Whitsuntide with local citizens enacting the roles of Tilly, Nusch and defending and opposing troops. Thousands of visitors fill every hotel and guest house in the vicinity.
The walls of the city are made of stone and timber, the former named for the red (rot) sandstone fortifications built here.