Legend of the Singer Blondel

In 1188 the English King Richard – „The Lionhearted“ – and the Austrian Duke Leopold V. went on a crusade to the Holy Land.

Soon rivalry for leadership developed between them. Furthermore Richard offended Leopold by tearing down the Austrian flag from a rampart that had just been conquered by the Austrians. This was a serious offense and the Duke swore to take revenge.

On his way home to England King Richard`s ship stranded on the coast of the Adriatic Sea. Now he had to cross Austria to get to England. He disguised himself as a pilgrim, but was recognized, when his servant paid an innkeeper with a striking Byzantine coin. Duke Leopold had him taken prisoner and handed him over to his reliable vassal – a Kuenringer knight – who kept Richard imprisoned at his castle in Dürnstein.

England assumed Richard had died in the ship wreck, so his brother John became King of England. Only Richard`s servant Blondel – so the legend goes – did not believe in his master`s death. He travelled from castle to castle singing a song which was only known to King Richard.

So – according to the legend – one day Blondel came to Dürnstein Castle and to his great relief he heard Richard`s voice singing the refrain. Now Blondel knew where the King was kept prisoner. He returned to England and collected a ransom and in 1193 King Richard was released after 13 month of imprisonment and returned safely to England.

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