I was talking with my Austrian roommate about national legends when she offered me this one, a piece of her friend’s hometown’s legendary history.
Another Austrian legend that I know is one that is based in my friend’s hometown, which was once the last town to be occupied by Turkey. This fact is a very big part of her town’s history. They have signs and everything, as they were the only ones left standing during the Turkish invasion and occupation. And I remember this story. There was a king named Lowenerz, who was caught by someone and thrown in prison. Lowenherz began to sing a song that he used to sing with his friend. Lowenherz’s friend walked and walked and walked until he finally heard Lowenherz’s singing the song they always sang together, and rescued Lowenherz.
I did a bit of research, and found that the translation of Lowenherz is “Lionheart.” I was quite surprised when I found out that Lowenherz most likely referred to King Richard the Lionheart, the English King who went on the Crusades during the 12th century. Digging into his life, I found out that the Lionheart was imprisoned in Austria where he wrote a song that detailed his feelings on his capture. He was essentially ransomed by the European royalty to his brother King John. I find it interesting how the historical account of what happened to the Lionheart became changed, twisted, through the retellings of the story. Historically, the Austrians were the “bad guys” per se, the ones who had captured Lionheart and held him captive, but in my roommate’s version of the story, it is the Turkish who are the bad guys who captured Lionheart. To me, this shows how legends and stories can be created from factual events, of how the times changed. Lionheart was, while not overtly antagonistic of Leopold V, who was from Austria’s first ruling dynasty, was not exactly buddy-buddy with him either, and this story shows how the same story, simply told from a different tellers’ viewpoints, can be twisted by the tellers into showing the teller’s people as being in the good, while another’s viewpoint shows them in the bad.