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Richard the Lion-Hearted

     Near the little town of Landau among the wooded hills in the Annweiler Valley, there are three stately crags rising up into the air. The name, Trifels, by which these three rocky ridges are known, was given to the three castles which were built on them. The ruins of these fortresses are still visible, and at one time they were the property of one knight. The ancient chronicles tell us that the dynasties of Hohenstaufen and of Habsburg once owned these castles, and that the blood-thirsty Henry VI. son of Barbarossa, incarcerated many of his numerous enemies in these mighty towers.

     Brave Richard of England once spent a weary time in the dungeon of this stronghold. In order to wrest the Holy Sepulchre from the hands of the Saracens, the Lion-Hearted King of England together with the King of France and Duke Leopold of Austria, set out on a crusade for the Holy Land. But fierce feuds arose between Richard and Leopold, causing them to become the most deadly enemies. When the English king, after a long and bloody war in Palestine, turned homewards, he was unfortunately ship-wrecked in the Adriatic Sea, and fell into the hands of the cruel Duke of Austria who sent him to a stronghold called Castle Dürrenstein, near Krems. Later on the royal prisoner was delivered up to the German Emperor Henry, who imprisoned him in the castles of Trifels.

     Richard had one great adherent whose name is known to us all, Blondel the singer. This youth had long enjoyed the royal favour, and when the news was spread abroad in England that his beloved master had disappeared, and gloomy tales were whispered that the German Emperor had imprisoned him in one of his castles, Blondel took an oath that he would never rest again until his master was found. This faithful minstrel wandered along the banks of the Danube searching long and diligently for some trace of the king. At last coming one day to the Rhine, he arrived in the wild romantic valley of Annweiler and saw ahead the tower of Trifels. There he sat down wearily to rest, wondering with a great yearning in his heart if his beloved master could be within these mighty walls. Taking his beloved harp he sang an old touching song which had always been a great favourite of the king. Strange to say the song was answered from the tower. The king's handsome face was seen at the barred window, and the faithful harper raising his hands in gratitude to Heaven, greeted him with the low passionate cry "My Master and my King!"

     Blondel then hurried back to England with the joyful news that he had found the much-loved king. A large sum of money was soon collected as a ransom, and the Pope having remonstrated with the German Emperor, the prison doors of Trifels Castle were at last thrown open, and Richard once more returned to his country.

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