Fairy tales for the Yuletide season!

Friday, April 26, 2013

King Redbeard or Frederick Barbarossa of Kyffhaeser



Emperor Barbarossa and his sons, Henry, King of Rome and Frederick, Duke of Swabia

Grimm’s Saga No. 23  Frederick Barbarossa at Kyffhaeuser 

Many stories have circulated about this Kaiser which assert that he is not really dead but shall live until Doomsday. Also no other rightful king shall ever come after him. Until then he sits concealed within the Kyffhausen Mountain and when he emerges he shall hang his shield on a barren branch, whereupon the tree shall sprout and better times shall come. Sometimes he speaks to the people who arrive at the mountain. At other times he shows himself to them. Often he sits on a bench by a round stone table, holds his head in his hand and sleeps. He bobs his head and blinks his eyes. His beard has grown long; some say it has grown through the stone table. Others have said his beard winds around the table in such a way that it must go around three times before he wakes up. But until now his beard has only encircled the table twice.

A farmer from the village of Reblingen wanted to transport his corn to Nordhausen in 1669 but he was stopped by a man of diminutive size and led into the mountain. There he was instructed to empty his sack of corn and fill it with gold instead. This farmer saw the Kaiser sitting but he did not move.

A gnome also once led a shepherd into the cave. He was whistling a song that the Kaiser enjoyed, whereupon the Kaiser stood up and asked “Are the ravens still flying around the mountain?” When the shepherd replied yes the king cried out: “Now I must sleep one hundred years longer.”


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