Posts Tagged ‘Dark History’

Edgar Saltus: Bluebeard (via

Juli 4, 2014


Robert Southey: God´s Judgement on a Wicked Bishop

Mai 23, 2014





Konstantin Makovsky: Murder of False Dmitry

Mai 21, 2014


MacDougall 078

Sidonia von Bork, aus `Horsts Zauberbibliothek´

Mai 6, 2014

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Sidonia von Borcke (Wikipedia)

Mai 6, 2014

Sidonia von Borcke

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Sidonia von Borcke
Sydonia Borek.jpg

Sidonia von Borcke in her youth and old age (artist unknown)
Noble family von Borcke
Father Otto von Borcke zu Stramehl-Regenwalde
Mother Anna von Schwiechelt
Born 1548
Stramehl, Duchy of Pomerania
Died 1620
Stettin, Duchy of Pomerania

Sidonia von Borcke (1548–1620) was a Pomeranian noblewoman who was tried and executed for witchcraft. In posthumous legends, she is depicted as a femme fatale, and she has entered English literature as Sidonia the Sorceress. She lived in the city of Stettin, Germany (today Szczecin, Poland).

Alternative spellings

Her name may also be spelled as Sidonie von Bork, Borke, or Borken.


The coat of arms of the von Borcke family, showing two wolves wearing golden crowns.[1]

The Marienfließ Abbey in 1618.

Sidonia von Borcke was born in 1548 into a wealthy noble Pomeranian family.[2] Her father, Otto von Borcke zu Stramehl-Regenwalde, died in 1551, and her mother, Anna von Schwiechelt, died in 1568.[3]

Subsequent to the death of her sister in 1600, she took residence in 1604 in the Lutheran Noble Damsels‘ Foundation in Marienfließ Abbey which, since 1569 and following the Protestant Reformation, was a convent for unmarried noblewomen.

Prior to that time, she had been involved in several lawsuits concerning support payments which, she claimed, were owed to her. Defendants in the suits were her brother, Ulrich, and Johann Friedrich, Duke of Pomerania (died 1600). One of these suits was even heard in the imperial court in Vienna.[4]

While living in Marienfließ, Sidonia engaged in several private and judicial conflicts with her (mostly younger) co-residents and with the administrative staff of the abbey.[5] When in 1606 she was dismissed from her post as an Unterpriorin (sub-prioress) by the convent’s prioress, Magdalena von Petersdorff, she appealed her dismissal to Bogislaw XIII, Duke of Pomerania.

Bogislaw sent a Commission, headed by Joachim von Wedel, to investigate the dispute.[5] The interaction between the Commission and Sidonia soon metamorphosed into a major feud. Von Wedel met in private with the Marienfließ Hauptmann (captain), Johannes von Hechthausen, to consider „getting rid of this poisonous snake.“ The feud ended with the death of Bogislaw XIII in 1606 and the deaths of von Petersdorff, von Wedel, and von Hechthausen (all in 1609).[6]

Two years later, Sidonia filed complaints against the new prioress, Agnes von Kleist. These complaints were addressed to Philip II, Bogislaw’s successor. Like his predecessor, Philip sent a Commission to investigate the complaints — a Commission headed by Jost von Borcke, a relative of Sidonia’s[6] who had already been humiliated when he was involved in prior lawsuits brought by Sidonia.[7]

The new Commission did not succeed in calming the dispute, and Jost von Borcke described the situation at Marienfließ as one of chaos, mistrust, name-calling, and occasional violence.[6] Philip II died in 1618 and was succeeded by Duke Francis I. Jost von Borcke was in good standing at Francis’s court and remained head of the investigating Commission.[8]

In July 1619, a dispute between Sidonia and Unterpriorin (sub-prioress) Dorothea von Stettin escalated out of control during a mass, and both women were arrested. Dorothea von Stettin then accused Sidonia of witchcraft, specifically of forcing a former Marienfließ factotum, Wolde Albrechts,[9] to ask the devil about her (Sidonia’s) future.[7]

Wolde Albrechts made her living from fortune-telling and begging after she lost her position at Marienfließ (this loss was a consequence of the death of Johannes von Hechthausen). She had travelled with gypsies in her youth, was known to have had several unstable sexual relationships, and was unmarried with an illegitimate child.[7]

Dorothea von Stettin persuaded Anna von Apenburg, her Marienfließ roommate, to support her accusation of Sidonia.[6] According to contemporary law, the Constitutio Criminalis Carolina, two eyewitnesses were sufficient to convict both Sidonia and Wolde. Anna, however, withdrew her support of the accusation when she was asked to repeat her statement under oath.[8]


The trials of Sidonia von Borcke and Wolde Albrechts were held at the court in Stettin. These trials are well documented, with more than a thousand pages of the original trial record available in an archive in Greifswald (Rep 40 II Nr.37 Bd.I-III).[2] The recent unexpected deaths of several Pomeranian dukes, along with widespread superstition, had created an atmosphere in which the public was prepared to blame the dukes‘ deaths on Sidonia’s alleged witchcraft.[10][11][12] This bias was strengthened when the Pomeranian dynasty became extinct in 1637.[13]

Wolde Albrechts

The trial of Wolde Albrechts was a preface to the trial of Sidonia.

Albrechts was arrested on 28 July 1619. On 18 August, she was charged with maleficium and Teufelsbuhlschaft (i.e., sexual relations with the devil).

On 2 September, torture was admitted as a legitimate means of interrogation by the supreme court at Magdeburg.

On 7 September, Albrechts confessed under torture and accused Sidonia and two other women of witchcraft.[14] She repeated these confessions in the presence of Sidonia during Sidonia’s trial, which began on 1 October 1619.

Albrechts was burned at the stake on 9 October 1619.

Sidonia von Borcke

Sidonia Von Bork by Edward Burne-Jones, 1860 (Tate Gallery, London).

Sidonia, who had been imprisoned in the Marienfließ Abbey, attempted to escape but failed. She also attempted suicide, but this also failed.[15]

On 18 November 1619, she was transferred to a prison in Stettin.

In December, 72 charges were brought against her.[16] The most important of these were:

  • murder of her nephew, Otto von Borcke[2]
  • murder of a priest, David Lüdecke[2]
  • murder of duke Philip II of Pomerania-Stettin (died 1618)[2]
  • murder of Magdalena von Petersdorff, prioress of Marienfließ[2]
  • murder of Matthias Winterfeld, gatekeeper at Marienfließ[2]
  • murder of Consistorial Counsellor Dr. Heinrich Schwalenberg[2]
  • paralyzation of Katharina Hanow, a noblewoman at Marienfließ[2]
  • consultation with soothsayers[2]
  • knowledge of future and distant events[2]
  • sexual contacts with the devil (who allegedly materialized in animals, such as Sidonia’s cat, whose name was Chim)[16]
  • magical practices, such as praying the „Judas psalm“ (Psalm 109) and crossing brooms beneath a kitchen table[16]

In January 1620, a man named Elias Pauli was appointed as Sidonia’s defender. Although he presented a defense showing that those allegedly murdered had died natural deaths, he also dissociated himself from statements of Sidonia which had incriminated Jost von Borcke and other officials.

About fifty witnesses were questioned at the trial.

On 28 June, the Magdeburg court permitted the Stettin court to use torture.[16] When torture was applied on 28 July,[16] Sidonia confessed. The verdict of death was read to her when she was dragged to the execution site and her body was „ruptured“ four times with pliers.

When Sidonia recanted her confession, she was tortured anew on 16 August.[17]

On 1 September 1620, the final verdict was rendered. Sidonia was sentenced to death by beheading and subsequent burning of her body.[11][17] The sentence was carried out in Stettin, outside the mill gate.[11] The exact date of her death is not known.[17]

In fiction

After Sidonia’s death, her fate became legendary and was even more strongly associated with the extinction of the House of Pomerania.

Portrayed as a femme fatale, she became the subject of several fictional works in German and English, especially during the 19th century.[13] Johann Wolfgang von Goethe’s brother-in-law, Christian August Vulpius, in 1812 included Sidonia in his book Pantheon berühmter und merkwürdiger Frauen (Pantheon of Famous and Noteworthy Women).[18] A Gothic romance,[19] Sidonia von Bork, die Klosterhexe, was written in 1847–1848 by Wilhelm Meinhold, a Pomeranian priest and author.[13] It was published in three volumes in 1848.[20][nb 1]

An English translation of this novel, titled Sidonia the Sorceress, was published in 1849 by Oscar Wilde’s mother, Jane Wilde (later known as Lady Wilde).[21][22] This translation was also published by William Morris in his Kelmscott Press in 1894.[23][nb 2]

The English translations achieved a popularity in Great Britain that was unmatched by any other German book in British literary history.[19] Especially in the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood, whose members included William Morris, Dante Gabriel Rossetti, and Edward Burne-Jones, enthusiasm for Sidonia as a Medusa-type femme fatale was widespread.[24] Rossetti is said to have referred to and quoted from the novel „incessantly“.[25] Several members created paintings based on the novel,[25] the most famous being Sidonia Von Bork and Clara Von Bork by Burne-Jones in 1860.[26] For his Sidonia painting, Rossetti’s mistress Fanny Cornforth served as the model.[27]

Other authors who wrote novels based Sidonia’s life were Albert Emil Brachvogel (1824–1878) and Paul Jaromar Wendt (1840–1919).[13] Theodor Fontane (1819-1898)[13] had prepared a novel, Sidonie von Borcke, since 1879. However, he did not finish it. The fragments of it were published in 1966.[28]

See also


  1. Rudolph (2004), p. 161.
  2. Riedl (2004), p. 138.
  3. Riedl (2004), p. 139.
  4. Riedl (2004), pp. 140-141.
  5. Riedl (2004), p. 142.
  6. Riedl (2004), p. 143.
  7. Riedl (2004), p. 145.
  8. Riedl (2004), p. 144.
  9. Branig (1997), p. 172.
  10. Riedl (2004), p. 136.
  11. Inachim (2008), p. 65.
  12. Hildisch (1980), p. 69.
  13. Riedl (2004), p. 137.
  14. Riedl (2004), p. 146.
  15. Riedl (2004), p. 148.
  16. Riedl (2004), p.149
  17. Riedl (2004), p. 150.
  18. Vulpius (1812)
  19. Bridgwater (2000), p. 213.
  20. Rudolph (2004) p. 155.
  21. O’Neill (1985), p. 119.
  22. Rudolph (2004) p. 156.
  23. Peterson (1984), p. 50.
  24. Bridgwater (2000), pp. 217-218.
  25. Bridgwater (2000), p. 216.
  26. Bridgwater (2000), p. 218.
  27. Bridgwater (2000), p. 220.
  28. Nürnberger (1996), p. 705.


  1. Full title in German: Sidonia von Bork, die Klosterhexe, angebliche Vertilgerin des gesamten herzoglich-pommerschen Regentenhauses (preview at google books)
  2. Full title of the English version: Sidonia the Sorceress: The Supposed Destroyer of the Whole Reigning Ducal House of Pomerania (full text at Internet Archive, Google Books and Project Gutenberg). Also referred to as The Convent Witch, a translation of the German subtitle Die Klosterhexe (Daguerreotype of 1848)


  • Riedl, Gerda (2004). „Alles von rechts wegen!‘ Frühneuzeitliches Hexenprozeß-(un-)wesen am Beispiel des Falles der Sidonia von Borcke“. In George, Marion; Rudolph, Andrea. Hexen: Historische Faktizität und fiktive Bildlichkeit (in German). J.H.Röll Verlag. ISBN 3-89754-225-0.
  • Rudolph, Andrea (2004). „Wilhelm Meinholds Hexenroman ‚Sidonia von Bork‘ (1847/48) – eine Abrechnung mit der libertinen Frauenemanzipation als ein ‚Leiden unserer Zeit„. In George, Marion; Rudolph, Andrea. Hexen: Historische Faktizität und fiktive Bildlichkeit (in German). J.H.Röll Verlag. ISBN 3-89754-225-0.
  • Inachim, Kyra (2008). „Herrschaft der letzten Greifengeneration“. Die Geschichte Pommerns (in German). Rostock: Hinstorff. ISBN 978-3-356-01044-2.
  • Branig, Hans; Buchholz, Werner (1997). Geschichte Pommerns: Vom Werden des neuzeitlichen Staates bis zum Verlust der staatlichen Selbständigkeit, 1300-1648 (in German). Böhlau. ISBN 3-412-07189-7.
  • Hildisch, Johannes (1980). Die Münzen der pommerschen Herzöge von 1569 bis zum Erlöschen des Greifengeschlechtes (in German). Böhlau. ISBN 3-412-04679-5.
  • O’Neill, Patrick (1985). Ireland and Germany: A study in literary relations. P. Lang. ISBN 0-8204-0173-0.
  • Nürnberger, Helmuth; Fontane, Theodor (1996). „Sidonie v. Borcke“. In Nürnberger, Helmuth. Theodor Fontane. Sämtliche Romane, Erzählungen, Gedichte, Nachgelassenes (in German). Hanser, Carl GmbH + Co. ISBN 3-446-18300-0. Retrieved 2009-07-13.
  • Vulpius, Christian August (1812). „Sidonia von Borke“. Pantheon berühmter und merkwürdiger Frauen (in German). Leipzig: Hahnsche Verlagsbuchhandlung. Retrieved 2009-07-13.
  • Peterson, William S. (1984). „A19 William Meinhold, Sidonia the Sorceress“. A bibliography of the Kelmscott Press. Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0-19-818199-6. Retrieved 2009-07-13.
  • Bridgwater, Patrick (2000). „Who’s Afraid of Sidonia von Bork?“. In Stark, Susanne. The novel in Anglo-German context: cultural cross-currents and affinities ; papers from the conference held at the University of Leeds from 15 to 17 September 1997. Rodopi. ISBN 90-420-0698-6. Retrieved 2009-07-14.

External links

Jacob und Wilhelm Grimm: Geisterkirche ( aus `Deutsche Sagen´)

April 26, 2014

 Um das Jahr 1516 hat sich eine wunderbare, doch wahrhaftige Geschichte in St.-Lorenz-Kirche und auf desselben Kirchhof zugetragen. Als eine andächtige, alte, fromme Frau ihrer Gewohnheit nach einsmals frühmorgens vor Tag hinaus gen St. Lorenz in die Engelmesse gehen wollen, in der Meinung, es sei die rechte Zeit, kommt sie um Mitternacht vor das obere Tor, findet es offen und geht also hinaus in die Kirche, wo sie dann einen alten, unbekannten Pfaffen die Messe vor dem Altar verrichten sieht. Viele Leut, mehrersteils unbekannte, sitzen hin und wieder in den Stühlen zu beiden Seiten, einesteils ohne Kopf, auch unter denselben etliche, die unlängst verstorben waren und die sie in ihrem Leben wohlgekannt hatte.

Das Weib setzt sich mit großer Furcht und Schrecken in der Stühle einen und, weil sie nichts denn verstorbene Leute, bekannte und unbekannte, siehet, vermeint, es wären der Verstorbenen Seelen; weiß auch nicht, ob sie wieder aus der Kirche gehen oder drinnen bleiben soll, weil sie viel zu früh kommen war, und Haut und Haar ihr zu Berge steigen. Da geht eine aus dem Haufen, welche bei Leben, wie sie meinte, ihre Gevatterin gewesen und vor dreien Wochen gestorben war, ohne Zweifel ein guter Engel Gottes, hin zu ihr, zupfet sie bei der Kursen (Mantel), beutet ihr einen guten Morgen und spricht: »Ei, liebe Gevatterin, behüt uns der allmächtige Gott, wie kommt Ihr daher? Ich bitte Euch um Gottes und seiner lieben Mutter willen, habt eben acht auf, wann der Priester wandelt und segnet, so laufet, wie Ihr laufen könnt, und sehet Euch nur nicht um, es kostet Euch sonst Euer Leben.« Darauf sie, als der Priester wandeln will, aus der Kirche geeilet, sosehr sie gekonnt, und hat hinter ihr ein gewaltig Prasseln, als wann die ganze Kirche einfiele, gehöret, ist ihr auch alles Gespenst aus der Kirche nachgelaufen und hat sie noch auf dem Kirchhof erwischt, ihr auch die Kursen (wie die Weiber damals trugen) vom Hals gerissen, welche sie dann hinter sich gelassen, und ist sie also unversehret davonkommen und entronnen. Da sie nun wiederum zum obern Tor kommt und herein in die Stadt gehen will, findet sie es noch verschlossen, dann es etwa um ein Uhr nach Mitternacht gewesen: mußt derowegen wohl bei dreien Stunden in einem Haus verharren, bis das Tor geöffnet wird, und kann hieraus vermerken, daß kein guter Geist ihr zuvor durch das Tor geholfen habe und daß die Schweine, die sie anfangs vor dem Tor gesehen und gehört, gleich als wenn es Zeit wäre, das Vieh auszutreiben, nichts anders dann der leidige Teufel gewesen. Doch weil es ein beherztes Weib ohnedas gewesen und sie dem Unglück entgangen, hat sie sich des Dings nicht mehr angenommen, sondern ist zu Haus gegangen und am Leben unbeschädigt blieben, obwohl sie wegen des eingenommenen Schreckens zwei Tag zu Bett hat liegen müssen. Denselben Morgen aber, da ihr solches zuhanden gestoßen, hat sie, als es nun Tag worden, auf den Kirchhof hinausgeschicket und nach ihrer Kursen, ob dieselbe noch vorhanden, umsehen und suchen lassen; da ist dieselbe zu kleinen Stücklein zerrissen gefunden worden, also daß auf jedem Grabe ein kleines Flecklein gelegen, darob sich die Leut, die haufenweis derohalben hinaus auf den Kirchhof liefen, nicht wenig wunderten.

Diese Geschichte ist unsern Eltern sehr wohl bekannt gewesen, da man nicht allein hie in der Stadt, sondern auch auf dem Land in den benachbarten Orten und Flecken davon zu sagen gewußt, wie dann noch heutigestags Leute gefunden werden, die es vor der Zeit von ihren Eltern gehört und vernommen haben. –

Nach mündlichen Erzählungen hat es sich in der Nacht vor dem Allerseelentag zugetragen, an welchem die Kirche feierlich das Gedächtnis der abgeschiedenen Seelen begeht. Als die Messe zu Ende ist, verschwindet plötzlich alles Volk aus der Kirche, so voll sie vorher war, und sie wird ganz leer und finster. Sie sucht ängstlich den Weg zur Kirchentür, und wie sie heraustritt, schlägt die Glocke im Turm ein Uhr, und die Türe fährt mit solcher Gewalt gleich hinter ihr zu, daß ihr schwarzer Regenmantel eingeklemmt wird. Sie läßt ihn, eilt fort, und als sie am Morgen kommt, ihn zu holen, ist er zerrissen, und auf jedem Grabhügel liegt ein Stücklein davon.

Nachtgeist zu Kendenich / Der lange Mann in der Mordgasse zu Hof (aus Jakob und Wilhelm Grimm, Deutsche Sagen)

April 25, 2014

Auf dem alten Rittersitz Kendenich, etwa zwei Stunden von Köln am Rhein, ist ein mooriger, von Schilf und Erlensträuchen dicht bewachsener Sumpf. Dort sitzt eine Nonne verborgen, und keiner mag am Abend an ihr vorübergehen, dem sie nicht auf den Rücken zu springen sucht. Wen sie erreicht, der muß sie tragen, und sie treibt und jagt ihn durch die ganze Nacht, bis er ohnmächtig zur Erde stürzt.


Vor diesem Sterben (der Pest zu Hof im Jahr 1519) hat sich bei Nacht ein großer, schwarzer, langer Mann in der Mordgasse sehen lassen, welcher mit seinen ausgebreiteten Schenkeln die zwei Seiten der Gassen betreten und mit dem Kopf hoch über die Häuser gereicht hat; welchen meine Ahnfrau Walburg Widmännin, da sie einen Abend durch gedachte Gasse gehen müssen, selbst gesehen, daß er den einen Fuß bei der Einfurt des Wirtshauses, den andern gegenüber auf der andern Seite bei dem großen Haus gehabt. Als sie aber vor Schrecken nicht gewußt, ob sie zurück- oder fortgehen sollen, hat sie es in Gottes Namen gewagt, ein Kreuz vor sich gemacht und ist mitten durch die Gasse und also zwischen seinen Beinen hindurchgegangen, weil sie ohne das besorgen müssen, solch Gespenst möchte ihr nacheilen. Da sie kaum hindurchgekommen, schlägt das Gespenst seine beiden Beine hinter ihr so hart zusammen, daß sich ein solch großes Geprassel erhebet, als wann die Häuser der ganzen Mordgasse einfielen. Es folgte darauf die große Pest und fing das Sterben in der Mordgasse am ersten an.

Maurice Baring: Edward II. at Berkeley Castle, by an Eye-Witness (with Apologies to Mr. H. Belloc)

Januar 29, 2014

The King had not slept for three nights. He looked at his face in the muddy pool of water which had settled in the worn flagstones of his prison floor, and noticed that his beard was of a week’s growth. Beads of sweat stood on his forehead, and his eyes were bloodshot. In the room next door, which was the canteen, the soldiers were playing on a drum. Over the tall hills the dawn was ruffling the clouds. There was a faint glimmer on the waters of the river. The footsteps of the gaolers were heard on the outer rampart. At seven o’clock they brought the King a good dinner: they allowed him burgundy from France, and yellow mead, and white bread baked in the ovens of the Abbey, although he was constrained to drink out of pewter, and plates were forbidden him. Eustace, his page, timidly offered him music. The King bade him sing the „Lay of the Sussex Lass,“ which begins thus:


     Triumphant, oh! triumphant now she stands,
     Above my Sussex, and above my sea!
     She stretches out her thin ulterior hands
     Across the morning . . .


But the King, to whom memories were portentous, called for another song and Eustace sang a stave of that ballad which was made on the Pyrenees, and which is still unfinished (for the modern world has no need of these things), telling of how Lord Raymond drank in a little tent with Charlemagne:


     Enormous through the morning the tall battalions run:
     The men who fought with Charlemagne are very dearly done;
     The wine is dark beneath the night, the stars are in the sky,
     The hammer's in the blacksmith's hand in case he wants to try.
     We'll ride to Fontarabia, we'll storm the stubborn wall,
     And I call.

     And Uriel and his Seraphim are hammering a shield;
     And twice along the valley has the horn of Roland pealed;
     And Cleopatra on the Nile, Iseult in Brittany,
     And Lancelot in Camelot, and Drake upon the sea;
     And behind the young Republic are the fellows with the flag,
     And I brag!


The King listlessly opened his eyes and said that he had no stomach for such song, and from the next door came the mutter of the drums. For on that night—which was Candlemas—Thursday, or as we should now call it „Friday“—the gaolers were keeping holiday, and drinking English beer brewed in Sussex; for the beer of West England was not to their liking, as any one who has walked down the old Roman Road through Daglingworth, Brimpsfield, and Birdlip towards Cardigan on a warm summer’s day can know. For a man may tramp that road and stop and ask for drink at an inn, and receive nothing but Imperialist whisky, and drinks that annoy rather than satisfy the great thirst of a Christian.


Outside, a little breeze had crept out of the West. The morning star was paling over the Quantock Hills, and the King was mortally weary. „This day three years ago,“ he thought, „I was spurred and harnessed for the lists in a tunic of mail, with an emerald on my shoulder-strap, and I was tilting with my lord of Cleremont before Queen Isabella of France. The birds were singing in Touraine, and the sun was beating on the lists; and the minstrels of Val-es-Dunes were chanting the song of the men who died for the Faith when they stormed Jerusalem. What is the lilt of that song,“ said the King, „which the singers of Val-es-Dunes sang?“ And Eustace pondered, for his memory was weak and he was overwrought by nights of watching and days of vigilance; but presently he touched his strings and sang:


     The captains came from Normandy
     In clamorous ships across the sea;
     And from the trees in Gascony
     The masts were cloven, tall and free.
     And Turpin swung the helm and sang;
     And stars like all the bells at Brie
     From cloudy steeples rang.

     The rotten leaves are whirling down
     Dishevelled from September's crown;
     The Emperors have left the town;
     The Weald of Sussex, burnt and brown,
     Is trampled by the kings.
     And Harmuth gallops up the Down,
     And, as he rides, he sings.

     He sings of battles and of wine,
     Of boats that leap the bellowing brine,
     Of April eyes that smile and shine,
     Of Raymond and Lord Catiline
     And Carthage by the sea,
     Of saints, and of the Muses Nine
     That dwell in Gascony.


And to the King, as he heard this stave, came visions of his youth; of how he had galloped from Woodstock to Stonesfield on a night of June within eleven hours, with a company of minstrels, and of how during that long feast at Arundel he made a song in the vernacular in praise of St. Anselm. And he remembered that he owed a candle to that saint. For he had vowed that if the wife of Westermain should meet him after the tournament he would burn a tall candle at Canterbury before Michaelmas. But this had escaped his mind, for it had been tossed hither and thither during days of conflict which had come later, and he was not loth to believe that the neglect of this service and the idle vow had been corner-stone of his misfortunes, and had helped to bring about his miserable plight.


While these threads of memory glimmered in his mind the small tallow rush-light which lit the dungeon flickered and went out. The chapel clock struck six. The King made a gesture which meant that the time of music was over, and Eustace went back to the canteen, where the men of the guard were playing at dice by the light of smoky rush-lights. The King lay down on his wooden pallet, whose linen was delicate and of lawn, embroidered with his own cipher and crown. The pillow, which was stuffed with scented rushes, was delicious to the cheek, and yielding.



All that night in London Queen Isabella had been waiting for the news from France. A storm was blowing across the Channel, and the ships (their pilots were Germans, and bungled in reading the stars) making for the port turned back towards Dunquerque. It was a storm such as, if you are in a small boat, turns you back from Broughty Ferry to the Goodwin Sands. The Queen, who took counsel of no one, was in two minds as to her daring deed, and her hostage trembled in an uncertain grasp. In Saxony the banished favourites talked wildly, cursing the counsels of London; but Saxony was heedless and unmoved. And Piers Gaveston spoke heated words in vain.


The King, who was in that lethargic state of slumber, between sleep and waking, heard a shuffle of steps beyond the door; a cold sweat broke once more on his forehead, and he waved his left hand listlessly. Outside the sun had risen, and a broad daylight flooded the wet meadows and the brimming tide of the Severn, catching the sails of the boats that were heeling and trembling on the ripple of the water, which was stirred by the South wind. The King looked towards the window with weariness, expecting, as far as his lethargy allowed, the advent of another monotonous day.


The door opened. The faces he saw by the gaoler’s torch were not those he expected. The King, I say, looked towards them, and his hands trembled, and the moisture on them glistened. They were dark, and one of them was concealed by a silken mask.


Three men entered the dungeon. In the hands of the foremost of the three glowed a red-hot iron, which was to be the manner of his doom.




Grigory Myasoedov

Januar 28, 2014



What Marie Saw Through Her Prison Window

Januar 23, 2014