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The Emperor Wenzel
In the middle of a beautiful meadow at Rhense near Coblentz stands the famous historical "king's chair". Here, where the lands of the three great prelates of Cologne, Mayence and Treves join together, the princely Seven met to choose the new ruler who was to direct the destiny of the Holy Roman Empire.
Here Charles IV. was chosen by the free will of the Electors; here also the Seven elected Wenzeslaus of the house of Luxembourg, Charles' son, emperor. During his life-time Charles had exerted himself very much over the election of his first-born son, and he even made a pilgrimage with him to Rhense on the Rhine where, at the renowned "Königsstuhl," the chancellor of the kingdom, Archbishop of Mayence, often held important conferences with their Graces of Treves and Cologne, and the Count Palatine.
This Wenzeslaus of Bohemia had a great predilection for the Rhine and its wines, and later on, when, less by his own merits, than by the exertions of his father and the favour of the electors, he became German emperor, his brother inheriting the sandy country of Brandenburg, he had even then paid more honours to the Rhine wine than any other of its lovers, it afforded him a greater pleasure than the enjoyment of wearing a crown. Finding that a good drink tasted better at the place of its origin, he often visited the brave Count Palatine of the Rhine who dwelt in this blissful country, and who had more casks in his cellar than there are saints' days in a year.
This proof of imperial confidence was by no means disagreeable to the very noble Elector Ruprecht of the Palatinate, and he neglected no opportunity of striving to ingratiate himself more and more in the emperor's favour.
Gallant Ruprecht would not unwillingly have exchanged his little Palatinate crown for an imperial one. Sometimes when his royal guest, becoming very jovial from the wine he had taken, confessed that the high dignity of emperor was becoming troublesome to him, the count agreed with him frankly, and never failed to let his imperial master know that the electors were discontented at his careless administration, and would be well pleased if he retired. Emperor Wenzel listened to all he said with perfect indifference, continuing in the meantime to revel in his wine.
One day the emperor was sitting with his gay companions at the Königsstuhl in Rhense. They were all very merry, as the cup. of Assmannshäuser wine had already been passed round many times. This delicious vintage was very pleasing to Wenzel, and the other drinkers could not find words enough to praise it.
While the goblets were being handed round, and sounds of joviality filled the royal hall, the emperor stood Up suddenly and, addressing himself to the count, said in a very light-hearted tone.
"I think the crown which was set on my head would not be very unsuitable to you. Well, I offer it to you, if you are able to place before me and my companions here, a wine which tastes better than this Assmannshäuser."
There was a cunning twinkle in the count's eyes as he beckoned to his page. After a while a servant roiled in a great cask, from which the cups were at once filled. The count stood up and presented the first goblet to the emperor.
"That is my Bacharacher wine, noble lords. Taste it; I can wait for your judgment without fear."
They all drank, and every face beamed with pleasure. The opinions were undivided in favour of the fiery Bacharacher. The emperor rose and loudly declared he preferred it to the Assmannshäuser. He could not praise it too highly, nor drink enough of it.
"This wine is worth more than a thousand crowns!" said he, enthusiastically. Wenzel kept his word and ceded his crown to Ruprecht of the Palatinate who, in his turn, made the emperor a present of six waggon-loads of Bacharacher wine.Click to go to the next section of the Legends of the Rhine