15 May 1381 – Eppelein von Gailingen

Eppelein von GailingenWe head to Medieval Germany for today’s gruesome execution.

It’s a tall tale about Eppelein von Gailingen – a baron who was having trouble holding on to his castle in the heartlands of Nuremburg.

It was post-Crusades and the knights of the realm who’d been so helpful during the wars were now left to pick up their own pieces at home. Meanwhile the middle classes were burgeoning – and their growth was at the expense of the knights, who naturally looked on with resentment. Not so Eppelein von Gailingen – he wanted a piece of the action. So he’d jump the merchant trails and secure the necessary booty that kept him in the money.

Horsing around

Sadly, our German’s pretty ropey so we couldn’t glean a whole lot of information about our dastardly baron’s activities, only that he was impoverished, so he’d steal in order to maintain his castle. But there is one story where he apparently busted in on a wedding, scooped up the bride-to-be and kissed her in full view of her betrothed.

Our caddish anti-hero was finally caught and for his crimes, he had been due to be hanged. But he was offered a final wish – and he opted to ride his horse. Naively they granted von Gailingen his wish and of course he leaped over the wall into the moat in a break for freedom.

This is where the romantic legend ends, but the harsh reality was that he was apprehended again. For his second stab at execution there was no such naivety – he was painfully slung on the breaking wheel before being beheaded.

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