Richard I and Dürnstein

I thought it might be interesting to post a few holiday snaps that have an historical link. My wife and I have recently been on a Danube Cruise from Budapest to Vienna.

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Now there’s probably nothing worse than looking at somebody else’s holiday photos but I thought Dürnstein Castle might be of some interest.  Here are a few view of the castle and the town, initially from the boat on the river, then on foot and finally from the top. It was quite a climb on a cold and windy day

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Dürnstein is located in the Wachau valley in Lower Austria, a lovely scenic area known for wine growing among other things but I understand the castle is a major tourist attraction, having once been the place where Richard I was held captive by Leopold V, Duke of Austria following a dispute at the battle of Acre.

Local legend has it that the whereabouts of Richard I were finally discovered by a travelling bard/minstrel/faithful servant of Richard  by the name of Blondel. The story is that the minstrel sang the first stanza of a song and was alerted to Richard’s presence when a voice from the depth’s of the castle was heard singing a second stanza in response. Apparently the words were such that the response could only have come from his king and so his place of imprisonment became known.

Some time later an huge ransom was paid and the king was released. The local guide was at pains to point out that the lord/baron of the castle was a feared tyrant who terrorized the local populace extracting the equivalent of protection money from the surrounding area.

There is a far more eloquent account of its history here http://www.butterfield.com/blog/2015/08/25/in-deep-a-brief-history-on-durnstein-the-pearl-of-the-wachau/

This would probably make an excellent background setting for a medieval skirmish level campaign.

A little way from the village is a rather quirky statue of Richard & Blondel that further highlights the legend

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About valleyboynz

A Welsh wargamer living in NZ
This entry was posted in Holidays, medieval. Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to Richard I and Dürnstein

  1. Chris Gregg says:

    Very interesting thank you. Always good to see holiday snaps of old German or mid-European buildings

  2. valleyboynz says:

    Thanks Chris, I also got an explanation as to why the river is known as the Blue Danube – according to a guide there was a Napoleonic battle, I cannot recall which and the French dead were said to be numerous. They were apparently thrown in the river and with their coats were said to have made the Danube look blue

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