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The Taunua Mountains
On the steep rocks near the lovely little town of Schwalbach, the ruins of a knight's stronghold are still to be seen. It was called Adolfseck, and belonged to the Emperor Adolphus of Nassau, who inhabited it six hundred years ago. He concealed his paramour in this castle, which lay in the depths of the forest far from the turmoil of the world.
Often he was to be seen riding through the silent woods towards this little fortress. There the fair and frail one would be waiting for him on the balcony, and would greet him with a loving welcome. She was always closely attended by a little white dog, which would rush forward to meet the proud knight, barking briskly and wagging its tail with delight.
The emperor and this beautiful woman had first met each other in a strange way. It happened once that Adolphus had been severely wounded in battle, and had been carried to a cloister near the Rhine where She had nursed him. At that time she wore a nun's veil, but that did not save her woman's heart from being awakened, and a love for the proud knight stole into her soul, kindling a fire there which she was unable to quench. She struggled desperately with herself, and by the aid of prayers and tears, she hoped to quench the longing in her soul. But in vain, and when the knight spoke to her of his love she could resist no longer. Under protection of the darkness Adolphus escaped from the cloister with her, and hid his beloved one in his stronghold of Adolfseck.
But the beautiful sinful creature knew that what she had done was wrong, and that Heaven would surely punish them both. The fate she feared, was to befall them sooner than she expected. The Archbishop of Mayence, Gerhard of Eppstein, a very strict and severe man, heard of the shameful .elopement, and in great wrath he excommunicated his audacious nephew. But as the curse had no effect on the latter, who continued to visit his lady-love, the archbishop called the electors together at Mayence, and demanded in righteous indignation the abdication of the imperial evil-doer. The electors obeyed the chancellor's demand and chose Albrecht, son of Rudolf of Habsburg, emperor under the name of Albrecht IV.
But Adolphus was not inclined to give up his rights so quietly, and gathered his troops together against his opponent. He soon found however that the number of those who remained faithful to him, was very small. With the exception of the Count Palatinate, and a few faithful cities on the Rhine, no one supported his rights. It was agreed that the decision between these two combatants should take place on the property of the Count Palatinate. A day before the event Adolphus rode over to Adolfseck for the last time, tried to comfort his weeping ladylove, and at last bade her good-bye.
He wanted the fight to take place early in the morning, so that in the evening he might return to her either as a conqueror or as a dethroned emperor. With a heavy heart he rode forth, and the weeping lady did not close an eye that night, but stared out into the darkness; she could neither pray nor weep; it seemed to her that the curse was coming nearer and nearer, and would soon fasten on that unholy deed of hers; she felt she had done irreparable wrong, she had torn her nun's veil from her head to her own disgrace and to his destruction.
At last day dawned, but the light was even more hateful to her, since she knew he must be in the heat of the fight, striving for his crown, and that his life was in imminent danger. What if he lost both? The thought seemed to pierce her very heart, and thus she passed the dreadful hours in anguish and torment.
These two wearers of the German crown fought a desperate fight. Like lions they struggled for the possession of the kingdom, but fate was against Adolf, even though he strove with heroic courage. His followers became less and less, and Albrecht became more and more successful. At last in despair he dashed through the ranks of his enemies, until he reached his terrible opponent, Albrecht; then the two closed together in a deadly fight. Desperation lent strength to Adolf, but his eyes were dazzled and soon he sank lifeless to the ground, pierced by Albrecht's sword.
When night was sinking over the battlefield, a woman's figure was seen wandering about the dead and dying in a distracted way. She was followed by a little white dog that seemed also intent upon finding some object. Soon the dog's whimpering led her to where Adolf's corpse lay, and With a piercing cry the unhappy woman threw herself upon it.
The Emperor Adolf's body was brought to the cloister of Rosenthal and was buried there. Not till much later was the body of this unhappy ruler given a place among the tombs of the emperors in Speyer. The poor creature who had sorrowed for him so deeply, died shortly afterwards of a broken heart, after having sincerely repented of her sins.Click to go to the next section of the Legends of the Rhine