Around 1600, the County of Bentheim achieved its greatest territorial expansion. The universally educated Count Arnold II instigated important initiatives in the area of culture. He introduced the reformed faith to the territory he ruled and founded the first universities.
His descendants were not so successful at administering his legacy, however, and the territorial divisions and the devastations of the Thirty Years War were to take care of the rest. The decline led to the pawning of County of Grafschaft Bentheim and the end of its sovereignty in 1753.
All of this was in contrast to general developmental tendencies of the 17th and 18th centuries. After the Peace of Westphalia in 1648, Germany consisted of a patchwork of sovereign states, ruled by aristocratic courts, which were the stage of a rich cultural life.
Everywhere castles were being converted to Baroque palaces, for which the weakened Grafschaft lacked the necessary funds, however—a condition we may ultimately be thankful for since it is responsible for the preservation of the medieval and early Renaissance building substance of Castle Bentheim.