Sunday, March 06, 2011

The real (?) Ulrich von Liechtenstein

Dr. Beachcombing propounds:
Ulrich von Liechtenstein (obit 1278) was a standard thirteenth-century knight. He had castles (three of them). He fought – above all, in Eastern Germany. And he also dressed up as a woman and rode from Maestre (Venice) up to Vienna.

Yes, yes, Beachcombing stopped too when he first read this many years ago. But now he no longer even notices. This is what comes of spending half your life in the Middle Ages…

The root of Ulrich’s unlikely transvestism was courtly love. In his poetical ‘autobiography’ – a word Beachcombing will return to – Ulrich describes how he decided to undertake his quest as an act of homage to one lady, but also, by extension to all women. Indeed, his autobiographical work – ich comes up frequently – is entitled Frauendienst (Lady Service).

As Ulrich rode through the hinterland of hellish medieval Europe – spending half your life in the Middle Ages also makes Beachcombing all too honest about what kind of world theirs was – he challenged the knights he met to jousts and gave gifts to ladies.
By the end of his little jaunt Queen Venus (i.e. Ulrich in drag) had broken 307 spears, donated 271 rings and unhorsed four knights. Included among his honoured opponents was a knight dressed as a monk that Beachcombing will let go without any comments. But also interestingly another knight dressed as a woman. How Beachcombing would have liked to have seen that joust. [There's more...]
Me, too.

Image:  Yes, that's him, according to the Manesse Codex.

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