Four Castles for Refugees

What do Arenenberg Castle (Salenstein, Canton Thurgau), Wartegg Castle (Rorschacherberg, Canton St. Gallen), Coppet Castle and Prangins Castle (Canton Vaud) have in common? These four castles were places of refuge for monarchs in exile or for exiles from their regimes.

Coppet Castle in the municipality of the same name was the place of exile of Madame de Stäel (1766-1817) and her entourage for a long time during Napoleonic rule (1799-1813).

Arenenberg Castle was the residence of Hortense de Beauharnais (1783-1837) and her son Louis-Napoleon (1808-1873), French Emperor from 1851-1871, from 1817. Hortense was the wife of Louis Bonaparte (1778-1846), King of Holland (1806-1810).

Prangins Castle was the property and temporary residence of Joseph Bonaparte (1768-1844), King of Spain (1808-1813), from 1814-1827.

Wartegg Castle

Wartegg Castle was the destination of fugitive French aristocrats in 1789, including Marquis de Bombelles (1744-1822). Louise of Bourbon-Parma (1819-1864), Duchess and Regent of Parma, bought the castle in 1859 after the Italian Risorgimento. On the other side of Lake Constance, the Grand Duke of Tuscany Ferdinand IV (1835-1908) built his villa in Lindau after the Risorgimento.

Zita (1892-1989), the granddaughter of the duchess, married Archduke Charles I of Austria (1887-1922), the last Emperor of Austria (1916-1918), in 1911. The imperial family lived in the palace for a few months after leaving Vienna in 1919. Karl’s brother lived in Basel from 1919 to 1934.

Brief history

Wartegg Castle was built in 1557 by Kaspar Blarer von Wartensee (1524-1585). He lived in Wartensee Castle in Rorschacherberg. The castle is two centuries older. Rorschacherberg has two other castles: St. Anna Castle dates from the 12th century, and Wiggen Castle was built in 1573.

The territorial interests of the Abbey of St. Gallen and the Bishopric of Constance, the location on Lake Constance and the road from St. Gallen to Constance were the reason for this density of castles in a village with a few hundred inhabitants.

Another inhabitant of Wartegg is also of interest. Sebastian Peregrin Zwyer von Evibach (1597-1661) inhabited the castle around 1650. Together with Rudolf Wettstein (1594-1666, mayor of Basel), he was the Confederation’s most important negotiator in 1648 during the peace talks of Westfalia. At the end of the Thirty Years’ War (1618-1648), the peace treaty achieved (de facto) independence and recognition of the Confederation of 13 cantons as a sovereign state.

From an architectural point of view, however, Louise de Bourbon laid the foundations for the present splendour of the complex and the English Garden in the years 1860-1864. The de Bourbon-Parma family sold the castle in 1924, and today it is a hotel-restaurant and a venue for cultural events.


The English composer Robert Lucas Pearsall (1795-1856) bought the castle in 1842 and lived there until his death