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The castle of Ebernburg is situated near Kreuznach, the medicinal well of which is visited every year by thousands of people seeking health and recreation.
The foundation of this castle dates back as far as the 11th. century. It was at that time in the possession of the Salic emperor. It then descended to a race of counts from Sponheim in the 14th. century, and a hundred years later was inherited by the Sickingen family. The "Asylum of Justice," as it was called, served as a place of refuge to Franz of Sickingen, an outlaw, and also to many of his followers. After Sickingen's death it was destroyed, and was again rebuilt by one of his descendants. Finally it fell into ruins under the hands of the French a hundred years ago.
Over the gateway of this ruin which has passed through so many hands, the head of boar is carved on the wall. A legend tells us how the castle received its strange name.
In olden times near Kreuznach there was a beautiful castle called Ebernburg, inhabited by Count Rupert of Kreuznach. He had long been a suitor for the hand of the beautiful and rich Countess of Monfort. One day he proposed marriage to her, but she refused him, as her choice had already been made. The favoured suitor was Count Rupert's own friend, Rhine Count Henry.
Count Rupert, angry at the slight which he was obliged to submit to, withdrew his friendship from his old comrade; he was no longer to be seen at tournaments or banquets, and his companions told with sorrow how he had become quite a misanthrope. Only to the chase did he remain faithful, and for days on end he would roam about through his extensive forests, sometimes quite alone, sometimes in the company of his faithful hounds.
It happened once as he was returning from the chase, that he came across an enormous boar near Count Henry's stronghold. A bigger one had never been seen before in the neighbourhood. The angry animal drove the hounds back, and was about to make a rush at Rupert whose spear had only wounded it and increased its rage.
The count stood unarmed before this wild monster, and-knowing its ferocity he gave himself up as lost. But suddenly the boar which was close upon him fell dead at his feet, pierced by a lance from an invisible hand in the bushes. Accidentally coming to the spot, Henry had seen the desperate condition of the count, and by a fortunate blow had killed the animal. He now hurried to his old friend. Rupert, greatly moved by this noble action, clasped his hand and said in a deep, earnest voice:
"You stole my love from me, but you have saved my life also."
His friend then told him how he had been looking for this boar for three days already in the neighbourhood, and in his eager chase had thus entered his old friend's ground.
"Seeking my own pleasure, I have unwittingly been the means of saving a noble comrade's life whose friendship I have never ceased to covet."
The ill-will which Rupert had fostered was now at an end. On the day when Henry led his lovely bride, the Countess of Montfort, to the altar, Rupert caused a carved boar's head to be placed over the door of his castle, as a sign to all succeeding generations of his friend's noble deed. He also called his castle from that time forward Ebernburg, which name it retains to the present day.Click to go to the next section of the Legends of the Rhine