« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »
cavern extends to Hohenrechberg, where there is a similar entrance; this was proved by a cock who was driven into the cave at Hohenstaufen and reappeared at Hohenrechberg. There are also said to be two subterranean passages, one leading to the Monastery at Lorch, and the other to the Chapel at Oberhof. The latter went by Rechberg-Hausen and was formerly called the “Barbarossa Road,” because the great Emperor occasionally used it.
The old footpath, now almost deserted, leading over the Hohenstaufen, went by the name of “the Emperor's Path,” for Barbarossa used to walk along it to Church. He had his private entrance which is now walled up, and a particular seat, ornamented with beautiful carvings and inscriptions. Unfortunately during the last forty years, all this has been suffered to fall into decay.
About the middle of the fourteenth century a fierce warfare was raging between the Free Towns on the one hand and the Princes on the other. Duke Teck of Mindelheim advanced on Kaufbeuren with a large force and besieged it on all sides. Bravely did the citizens defend themselves, aided by their strong walls and towers; but they soon had to encounter the terrible foe, famine, for the Duke had swooped down on the town unexpectedly, and there had been no time to lay in a stock of provisions. The distress consequently was very great. It had reached its climax one day, when an old weaver, whose long beard was bleached to a snowy hue by age, chanced to make his way to the battlements. Filled with timid curiosity he ventured to peep at the enemy through a loophole. Hardly had he done so when he perceived a hurried stir in their camp, and the standards gradually disappeared from their anxious gaze. The townsmen were greatly surprised at this sudden, and apparently causeless retreat. Subse- . quently they learnt that the old weaver with his white beard had been taken for a goat, and as the only hope of the besiegers lay in vanquishing the city by hunger, the appearance of the goat convinced them that there was no lack of provisions, and that further operations would be useless. The gate whence the weaver looked out was henceforward called the “Gais Thor," or Goat Gate. It has long perished, but the Goat Inn close by still commemorates the tale.
Duke Eberhard II. of Würtemberg, nicknamed Eberhard "im Bart,"
“ with the Beard,” from the fact that he never shaved after returning from the Holy Land in 1468, has always been a popular hero. Perhaps the best proof of bis popularity is the episode, said to have
taken place after the Diet at Worms in 1495, when the Emperor Maximilian the First conferred on him the rank of Duke. It has been immortalised by the Swabian poet, Kerner, in a wellknown ballad,
THE RICHEST PRINCE.
Besides Eberhard's beard, he also brought back a hawthorn shoot from Palestine, which he planted in the garden of the monastery at Einsiedel, where it grew and flourished to such an extent, that forty stone pillars were necessary to support its branches. There is a fine statue of Duke Eberhard, mounted on his charger and waving his sword, to be seen in the inner court of the old castle at Stuttgart.
Tübingen boasts a linden tree which rivals the thorn. When Duke Ulrich regained possession of his fair dominions of Würtemberg in 1534, after fifteen years of exile, and revisited Tübingen for the first time, he took a lime spray from his cap, as he rode up to the Castle,
and flung it into the air ; somebody planted it, and it became the immense tree still in existence.
The following is a melancholy instance of human jealousy. The exquisite carvings on the choir stalls and the high altar at the church of Blaubeuren, near Ulm, were executed in 1496 by George Sürlin, a native of Ulm. When the artist had completed his work, the monks of the Benedictine Monastery asked him whether he were capable of carving a still more beautiful altar. He assented, and they immediately had his eyes put out, lest he should surpass his previous performance. In spite of this cruel treatment, the artist carved his own effigy in wood, which may still be seen on the wall close to the door of the sacristy.
A romantic tradition is connected with the fortress of Hohen Urach. It is a matter of history that the Poet Laureate Nicodemus Frischlin, of Balingen, was imprisoned there for having expressed his political opinions too freely. After some time had elapsed the confinement became intolerable to him, and he resolved on attempting to escape.
On the night of the 29th of November, 1590, he made his way out by crawling through the mouth of the stove. Tearing his linen into strips he manufactured a rope by which he let himself down on the Castle wall, and he then drove a piece of iron into the wall, to which he secured the rope. But the moonshine was deceptive, he had unfortunately selected the steepest place for his descent, and when he had partly accomplished the feat the rope broke against a projecting crag, and he fell headlong down the rocky precipice. Next morning he was found dashed to pieces at its foot.
No memorial marks Frischlin's grave in the churchyard at Urach. But ever since the fatal event a rare beautiful flower has sprung up amongst the rocks sprinkled with the life-blood of the hapless poet. The legend says that it only grows on Hohen Urach, and it goes by the name of “Todtenkopf,” “Death's Head,” or “ Uracher Todtenkopf.” Its Latin name is Ophrys arachnitis.
All possible misfortunes appear to have descended on unhappy Germany in the seventeenth century. The terrible Thirty Years' war was devastating the country, and those who escaped the sword fell victims to famine and pestilence.
This was the case in the peaceful valleys of the Immenstadt district in Swabian Allgäu. Between the years 1632 and 1639 the Swedes under their General, Count Mansfeld, had laid the whole country
waste, and now hunger and disease had succeeded to complete the desolation. The inhabitants were sunk in apathetic misery, and no one seemed to have a spark of energy left to resist these additional troubles. In the midst of this state of despair, a priest suggested that public dances and other amusements should be started in order to rouse the people from their trance of sorrow. His advice was taken, and all manner of processions, games, balls, and masques were organised. People became pleased and interested, and new life awoke in their minds. Even in 1854 public processions and entertainments took place nearly every year, in the market-place and the chief streets, to commemorate those dreadful times, long gone by, and this custom is still called the “ Pestilence Dance."
A similar practice existed at Munich, arising from the same cause.
The following account, taken from the “ Kölnische Zeitung” of February, 1875, is a testimony to the recent occurrence of the old custom. A correspondent of the “ Schwäbische Merkur," (from which paper the “Kölnische Zeitung" quotes,) writes from Hechingen under date of the 5th of February. “Yesterday the 'Narren Gericht,' (Fools'
· Tribunal,) at Grosselfingen, a market town of Hohenzollern Hechingen, with over twelve hundred inhabitants, held its interesting carnival. This festival is more than three hundred years old, and was established by the Counts Conrad and Hans of Bubenhofen, who lived in the Würtemberg towns of Binsdorf and Grosselfingen. It was instituted in order to cheer up the people's spirits after a visitation of the plague, and it has completely preserved its original character. The whole village and its precincts represent the · Venetian garden ;' whoever enters the domain falls into the clutches of justice, and is taken before the judges by the swarms of harlequins, clowns, buffoons, and mountebanks, who are hovering about. The prisoner has to give an account of himself. The Narrenvogt,' or 'Fools' prefect,' conducts the trial, and the Redmann,' or advocate, assigns the reason for the punishment proposed, which usually sounds very severe, but which may always be commuted to a fine.”
The whole proceeding is extremely ludicrous, and any remonstrance against the sentence is met by.witty rejoinders on the part of the judges, which soon have the effect of silencing the criminal. The festivity is concluded by the “ Theft of the Summer Bird,” which incident is taken from the old German Mythology, and is typical of summer's victory over winter. This “Narren Gericht” only takes place
after the lapse of a certain number of years, which gives it an additional interest.
For some unknown reason the Swabians have always been regarded as laughing-stocks, and the Germans often say to a person who has done something stupid, “Thou stupid Swabian !” Probably there is no more real cause for applying this epithet to a Swabian, than attributing blindness to a Hessian. But the comparative degrees in the German Fatherland used to be “Stupid as a Swabian, or Austrian;" “Blind as a Hessian ;” and “ Rude as a Prussian.” From personal experience under most trying circumstances, we can affirm that the latter statement is a calumny. In the beginning of the war of 1870, when the North German railway officials were overwhelmed with incessant telegrams, and perpetual trains full of troops, they were always most helpful and civil to English travellers. But we must return to our Swabians. The subject of one of Grimm's “ Märchen” is the
History of the Seven Swabians,” who sallied forth valiantly in search of adventures, but speedily were thrown into a state of great alarm at meeting a fearful monster, who turned out to be a hare.
Professor Meier in his book on Swabia, gives several anecdotes of like character, of which we will quote one or two examples, beginning with the celebrated Sparrow of Ulm.
Many, many years ago, when the good folks of Ulm were engaged in building their lovely cathedral, the workmen were one day endeavouring to bring a huge beam into the city. But as they carried it broadways, of course they could not get it through the gates. Long did they deliberate on the subject, till after many suggestions the only point left to be decided was whether the beam should be made smaller, or the gate wider. Just at that moment a sparrow flew by to his nest, bearing a straw also broadways in his beak. One of the town councillors espied the bird, and pointed him out to the assemblage. The sparrow, on reaching his nest, experienced the same difficulty as the citizens of Ulm, for the hole was too small to admit the straw, but the sparrow quickly solved the question by turning the straw lengthways. The burghers loudly applauded the clever sparrow, and followed his example, thereby conveying the beam triumphantly through the gate. Since that time, the Ulmers have borne the name of "Sparrows," and a likeness of the wise bird has been carved in stone with the straw in his beak high up under the eaves of the cathedral.
In the times when Rottweil was a Free Town of the Empire, the