The History of the Grammar School

 ’Hohe Schule’ 

Loosdorf, Melk/ Danube,  Austria

 

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The Grammar School ‘Hohe Schule’ (‘High School’) was founded in 1574 by the Losenstein family. This was an important family in Upper Austria that since the 12th century was called after their possession Losenstein in Upper Austria. The first plans for this school were made by Christoph II of Losenstein. In 1536 he had inherited the castles Schallaburg and Weißenburg from his uncle, the knight Sebastian of Losenstein, one of the first followers of the new Lutheran teachings. In 1532 he had installed a Lutheran preacher on the Schallaburg. Christoph II married a daughter of a Polish princess, Christina, countess of Montfort. She was lady-in-waiting of the queen. Christoph was highly esteemed at the Austrian court and got the titles of royal and later imperial counsellor of Ferdinand of Habsburg.

For Christoph of Losenstein the castle Schallaburg in Lower Austria was best suited for becoming the centre of his possessions, because of his frequent visits to Vienna. He extended the castle Schallaburg and acquired the rights of the parish church of Loosdorf. He planned the rebuilding of this church, which had suffered much under the Turkish invasion in 1529. He also planned the building of a Lutheran grammar school in order to prepare the youth of the nobility for the university. He couldn’t realize the latter plan by himself, because he died unexpectedly in Prague in 1558.

His two sons inherited his possessions. The younger one, Hans Wilhelm, inherited the castle Schallaburg with Loosdorf along with other estates.  He went on to renovate the castle Schallaburg and the parish church of Loosdorf in Renaissance style and then built the Grammar School ‘Hohe Schule’, which was finished around 1574. In 1582 he got the honorary title of treasurer and in 1588 that of chief court marshal of archduke, later emperor Matthias of Habsburg. In 1591 he got the title of imperial counsellor. However, all these titles were without real influence.

 

 

 

Because of all his building activity Hans Wilhelm of Losenstein got into financial  problems and from 1580 on he had to sell some of his properties. In 1592 the ‘Hohe Schule’ turned from a private school into a public school. In 1601 Hans Wilhelm died and was buried in the parish church of Loosdorf. The tombstone of his grave that he designed himself depicts him as a knight.

Because both his marriages remained without children, his nephew Georg Christoph inherited the castle Schallaburg with the huge debts of 120,000 guilder. He married Anna of Stubenberg. Her father, a very wealthy Styrian count with much possessions, paid out all the creditors. Georg Christoph died young and Georg of Stubenberg took over the castle Schallaburg with Loosdorf, which from then on was managed from Styria.

 

In 1617 Matthias, emperor of the Holy Roman Empire, archduke of Austria, king of Bohemia, etc., etc., was forced to appoint his cousin Ferdinand as his successor. Ferdinand was less tolerant to the Lutheran teaching. In 1618 a Bohemian uprising meant the beginning of the Thirty Year War. Although this war was fought elsewhere, in 1619 the castle Schallaburg - and probably the school too - did suffer from plundering by imperial troops that had relieved the monastery of Melk that was besieged by rebellious protestant noblemen from Upper Austria. Because of this and other plundering the archives of the Schallaburg on the ‘Hohe Schule’ were lost. The new emperor Ferdinand II and the Catholic cause ended as victors. In 1627 the grammar school in Loosdorf and other Protestant schools had to close by imperial decree.

Georg of Stubenberg, the owner of the Schallaburg and the school sold his possessions in Austria in 1660 and left Austria because of his Lutheran belief. The ‘Hohe Schule’ has changed owners several times, but it remained in the possession of nobility until the beginning of the 20th century.