The castle dates from the days of the dukes of Zaringen (11th-12th centuries), the last of whom (Berchtold V.) built walls round the town at its foot, and granted it a charter of liberties.
The ancient castle of Nydeck, at the eastern end of the peninsula, guarded the passage over the Aar, and it was probably its existence that induced Berchtold V., duke of Zaringen, to found Bern in 1191 as a military post on the frontier between the Alamannians (German-speaking) and the Burgundians (French-speaking).
After the extinction of the Zaringen dynasty (1218) Bern became a free imperial city, but it had to fight hard for its independence, which was finally secured by the victories of Dornbuhl (1298) over Fribourg and the Habsburgs, and of Laupen (1339) over the neighbouring Burgundian nobles.
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