Grimm’s Saga No. 535: Andreas von Sangerwitz, Grand Master of Christburg
600 years ago (plus one week) a famous Teutonic knight broke with tradition and wished for love and peace in his time: his pleas went unheard and the consequences were dire (see fairy tale below). Today on July 7th 2010, we find ourselves wishing for the same thing as Ringo Starr celebrates his 70th birthday with a concert at Radio City Music Hall. Today Ringo instructs us to break with tradition and wish for peace and love in our time. (Click here to read about about Ringo's Birthday with a Little Help from his Friends.) But back to the world of the fairy tale.
The saga below recalls a bloody and violent historical event, which ended poorly for the knights involved. After the battle described in the story, the power and influence of the Teutonic Knights were greatly curtailed (perhaps ultimately bringing a bit more peace and love to the region). The self-igniting beard and other weird hair themes of this story should be read within the overall context of supernatural hair, which you can read about by clicking on the link.
And finally, to find out more about Teutonic Knights, hit the Wiki-link.
On July 15 in the year 1410 near Tannenberg a great battle was fought in Prussia between the Teutonic Knights and Vladislav, King of Poland. It ended in utter defeat for the order of Teutonic Knights. Even Grand Master Ulrich von Jungingen was killed in battle. The Polish King Vladislav had the Grand Master’s corpse sent to the Brothers of Osterode and they buried him in Marienburg. But the Grand Master’s chin and beard were cut off and sent to Krakau, where they are still shown today (that is, in the time of Caspar Schuetzen). But at the war council when the Grand Master consulted his advisors, the Grand Master of Christburg, Andreas Sangerwitz a German nobleman by birth, called out for peace even though almost everyone was in favor of war and the enemy was already advancing in the country. This vexed von Sangerwitz to no end for everyone thought he held back out of fear or timidity. But he, having no less heart and even more good humor and intelligence, said: “I have advised Your Grace to strike up peace, because I think and understand it to be the best option in these trying times. But because God has determined otherwise and it is also Your Grace’s pleasure, I must follow you into the future battle, come what may. I will stand by you like a man and give life and limb for you as faithfully as I advised you to seek peace.” As an honorable knight, Andreas Sangerwitz also did what he said. Like the Grand Master, he fell in battle at Walstatt after fighting bravely against the enemy. When Grand Master von Sangerwitz was riding out to battle in full armament, he met the Master of the Choir who ridiculed him and asked him scornfully whom he had left behind in charge of his castle during his absence. Enraged he replied: “I leave it to you and the devils who have advised this war!”
Afterward, when the battle was over and the Grand Master was dead, devilry and ghostly specters began to shake and rule that place, so that no human being could remain or dwell within the castle. As soon as the brothers of the order sat down to eat, all bowls and goblets were instantly full of blood. (But when the surviving knights ate outside of the castle, nothing of the sort happened.) When the servants wanted to enter the stable, they found themselves in the cellar instead and drank so much wine that they could not remember their actions. When the cook and his helpers entered the kitchen, they found horses standing there. The room had become a stall. If the master of the cellar wanted to do his work, instead of finding wine and beer barrels in the cellar he found pots, bellows and water troughs. The same nonsense occurred in all matters and in all places. Things were even stranger and much worse for the new Grand Master who came from Frauenberg. Once he was hung up by his beard in the castle fountain. Another time he was thrown onto the top-most roof of the castle. It was only with enormous difficulty and great peril to his person that he was brought down safely from the roof. A third time his beard self-ignited and began to burn, so that his face was severely injured. He also could not extinguish the flames with water and only when he ran out of the doomed castle did the fire go out. That is why no more Grand Masters wanted to live there. It was abandoned by all successors and called the devil’s dwelling according to the deceased Grand Master’s prophecy.
Two years after the battle a man from Christburg returned home. He had been on pilgrimage to Rome during the war. When he heard of the ghostly presence in the castle, he went there at noon one day. He wanted to experience the truth himself or perhaps he had brought a relic with him, which he thought to use against the ghosts. He met the Grand Master’s brother on the bridge, who had also laid down his life in the battle. He quickly recognized the man, because he had stood as godfather for one of his children. His name was Otto von Sangerwitz and because he thought it was a living man that he met, he approached and said: “Dear Godfather, how happy am I to see you so healthy and fresh; someone tried to convince me you had been killed. I am happy that things are better than I thought. And how are things in this castle, of which so many strange things are said?”The devil’s ghost replied: “Come along and you shall see how house is kept here.” The smithy followed him up the spiral stair; when they reached the first floor, they found it jammed full people playing cards and throwing dice; everyone was laughing, cursing both the wounded and martyrs alike. In the next room throngs of people sat crowded around a table. Only gluttony and drinking could be seen in that room. From there they went into the great hall where they found many men, women, maidens and gallants. But only the music of strumming, singing and dancing could be heard and only wanton behavior and disgraceful acts seen. Now they entered the chapel. A priest stood before the altar as if he wanted to say mass, but the members of the choir sat on their chairs sleeping. Afterward when they left the castle, they immediately heard such mournful howling, crying and screaming, that the smithy became scared and thought the place couldn’t be more wretched than hell itself.His godfather spoke to him: “Go and tell the new Grand Master what you have seen and heard.” With these words he vanished, but the smithy was so terrified that a shudder went through his body, chilling him down to his toes. Still intending to follow the command, he returned to the new Grand Master and told him everything as it had happened. The Grand Master was enraged, said these were only imagined things that would bring shame upon his honorable order. And so, he had the smithy thrown into a pool of water and drowned.
External links for further reading:
To read more about the Grand Master Ulrich von Jungingen:
To understand the meaning and usage of the term Grand Master: