The perforated armour
In a side valley of the Mosel between Koblenz and Cochem Castle Eltz is enthroned on a steep crag – the castle with more than 850 years of history, since 1157 residence of the Lords and Counts of Eltz. Due to its unique architecture and its picturesque location, many visitors consider Castle Eltz to be the epitome of a German knight’s castle. The guided tour through the castle takes the visitor on a time journey through eight centuries. In the cellar vaults of Castle Eltz the visitor is awaited by the most significant treasury within Europe.
From 1961 to 1995 Castle Eltz decorated the back of the old 500 German mark note.
In the fifteenth century Castle Eltz was inhabited by an Earl and his daughter Agnes. At that time it was common practice for heirs to already exchange wedding vows when they were still children. Also Agnes von Eltz was intended to become the later wife of the squire of Braunsberg.
Time passed and both children grew up. When the engagement day came near, it turned out that the two young people, promised to each other, did not at all match, as the damsel was good-natured, modest and gentle, the squire of Braunsberg, however, remorseless and rude towards his fellow human beings. When Agnes became aware of this, she asked her father to no longer insist on a marriage between her and the squire, but his daughter’s words could not change his mind.
Numerous guests had come to the engagement party, among them many knights with their ladies from the neighbourhood. With a frowning face the squire of Braunsberg led his festively dressed bride to her place in the big hall. Not by loving behaviour he tried to win the bride’s heart, but by unfaltering toughness.
At first negotiations about dowry and heritage took place in the presence of all invited guests. When everything was sealed, the groom wanted to give the bride the engagement kiss, but his fiancée’s reluctance was so strong that she refused him. Now the squire’s suppressed anger burst out vehemently and he swore at Agnes most shamefully. In the end he even threw his glove into her face.
Among the bride’s family this caused great indignation and they took up their arms; Agnes could only just prevent bloodshed. The Braunsberger and his entourage left the castle, however, not without announcing vendetta to the Eltzer. One year passed, but nothing had happened. And then, one day, the Braunsberger squire outwitted the Eltzer residents so that they left their castle. Then in the night the Braunsberger penetrated the castle with his vassals.
Through the clash of arms and loud noise in the narrow bailey Agnes woke up, went to the window and looked outside where she saw her refused suitor with a superiority of henchmen fighting against a handful of Eltzer servants who stayed behind. She realized that she would soon fall into the hands of the enraged squire and be carried away into his castle. She quickly took a brave decision, rushed into the armoury, put on the most stunning breast plate of her brother, took a sword and shortly after stood in the middle of the small group of defenders. It was an unequal fight, but the young woman’s courage motivated the Eltzer and they steadfastly fought against the mighty enemy. Suddenly the brave defender fell to the ground, lethally struck by an arrow of the squire. When the Eltzer saw this, they gathered all their strength and at first killed the Braunsberger squire. Most of his vassals suffered the same fate.
The defeat of the Braunsberger also put an end to the feud. The legend, however, tells that since then at midnight the spirit of poor Agnes has appeared in the castle courtyard many times.
Source: Hans-Peter Pracht, “Sagen und Legenden der Eifel“ [Myths and Legends of the Eifel], J.P. Bachem Verlag Cologne, 1994, p. 158-160
Further information on Castle Eltz is found here.