Friday, May 22, 2009

Called to the Barr

Spesbourg castle

Yesterday was a holiday in France, and we had company. And so, we rented a car and ventured into the countryside to hit the usual Alsatian countryside highlights: Mont St Odile, Kaysersberg, and the Wine Route, and one of my favourite local castles, Spesbourg.

The castle itself isn't all that interesting - it was built in the 12th century, and occupied by the Andlau family, local nobility. It is smaller, and less well preserved than many other castles decorating the Vosges mountains.

It does have an interesting story though - the knights of the Andlau family were supposed to protect the peasants of the nearby villages. In the 1400s, the villagers of Barr, were scandalized that one of the village girls - who worked as a servant in the castle - had been "dishonoured" by a scion of the Andlau family.

The village of Barr as seen from the castle. Imagine sitting here, watching the mob draw closer...

The villagers grabbed their pitchforks, lit their torches, and marched up the hill, and burned down the castle, mob justice being the only kind they could hope for against the local dukes. Discretion being the better part of valour, the family removed themselves to one of their many other castles, where the neighbours might be a little friendlier.

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