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The Legend of Franz the Green - A History Lesson

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n_wilson

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Banner for the Legend of Franz the Green

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After the legend the foundation of the town of GRUNEN is closely connected with the destiny of the hunter Franz Rehthal. The “Green Franz” is said to have lived at the middle of the 14th century in a small village on the edge of the Sukower Noor, a dark swampy water. Later, come into money, he is said to have built the castle “Gruneburg” which is today a tourist magnet of the area around GRUNEN. The legend tells the foundation of the town as follows:

 

The Legend of Franz the Green

Sophie, Daughter of the Duke von Sigel

Once a hunter called Franz Rehthal lived it on the edge of the dark and inaccessible woods of the Sukower Noor. He presided over a small village, the population of which was poor in goods, but not in strength, will and luck.

At the same time it came to pass that the Duke von Sigel had to go to war to defend his country. Back he left his lovely daughter and his nephew, the Baron von Sigel-Pack which carried on the administration of the country in his absence. The Baron had interest in the daughter of the Duke and courted her. However, she rejected him.

The Baron became raving furious and jealous and feared to lose his face. Without further ado he gave order to kidnap the daughter of the Duke. He gave order to hide her in a small hut in the midst of the dark woods near the Sukower Noor.

Crayon drawing of the hut Sophie was held hostage in

 

After his return, when the Duke recognised that his daughter was kidnapped, he heralded that he should marry his daughter who would bring her back to him unscathed. The Baron von Sigel-Pack departed with attendance, accused Franz Rehthal of the kidnapping and burnt down his village. Rehthal could escape by the skin of the teeth and lived from now on hidden in the dark woods of his native country.

Burning of Rethal's village, contemporary oil

Microfilm copy of the kidnaping letter of Baron von Sigel-Pack

One day a band of robbers attacked him. There was a short fight. Rehthal could kill one of the robbers and found in his bag a letter of the Baron containing instructions about the kidnapping of the Duke’s daughter.

After he thus had recognised the betrayal of the Baron, he rode with a small but courageous crowd of followers to the castle of the Duke seeking to restore his honour. Come there he had to recognise that the wedding of the Baron with the Duke’s daughter approached. Disguised as a juggler Rehthal snuck off on the place before the church where he challenged the Baron publicly to a duel. This caused great tumult and Rehthal could flee into the church where he met the Duke. To him he handed over the letter and reported about the betrayal of the Baron. The Duke saddened and became deeply aggrieved.

Duel between Franz Rehthal and Baron von Sigel-Pack

At this moment the Baron stepped into the hall. The Duke, incapable against his nephew to decide, allowed for the duel between Rehthal and the Baron. A wild fight flamed up at whose end Rehthal could wound the baron fatally. Besides, he lost his left hand when he reached in the sword of the Baron to repulse an otherwise deadly blow.

To Rehthal and his followers the Duke gave the country on the shore of the Sukower Noor as a compensation for all the grief suffered. However, due to Rehthal’s low origin a marriage with the Duke’s daughter was not tolerable. The Duke permitted to him and his followers as a sign of their honour carrying a belt in the colours of the dukedom: the Green Belt.

Green Belt, Medal of th City of GRUNEN, 1736

The town which originated on the shores of the Sukower Noor was called from now on the Stadt der Grünen, the Town of the Greens. For its protection Franz Rehthal built a castle which was called the Grüne Burg, the Green Castle.

And Rehthal and is followers lived happily ever after.

Still today the main house of the Green Castle – which is called today Gruneburg – is preserved. Also the Green Belt still has a meaning. It is the highest honouring the town of GRUNEN grants.

Die Gruneburg, the castle of Grunen

The truth of this fabled town foundation is unknown till this day. However, it is secured that a hunter with the name Franz Rehthal which should have lived in the woods near the Sukower Noor received a high cash payment by the Duke von Sigel. Nevertheless, the background of this payment is not cleared. Besides, there are indications that the Baron von Sigel-Pack left the dukedom in 1385 and did not return time of his life. Whether both incidents are connected, could not be cleared until now.

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