The Saxon Kidnapping of princes in Altenburg
One of the most spectacular kidnapping in German history took its beginning in the 15th century in the castle of Altenburg. In the night on 7th to 8th of July in 1455 the knight Kunz von Kauffungen kidnapped the sons of the Saxon elector “Frederic the meek” (1428-1464), Ernst and Albrecht, from their chambers in Altenburg castle.
Kunz von Kauffungen wanted enforce a recompense for its lost land.
The dispute between the elector and Kunz went back of the Saxon fratricidal war (1446-1449). Frederic alleged asked Kunz to take part at the war. Kunz became captured and had to pay ransom of 4000 guilder for his release. After cessation of the war Kunz demanded a recompense from the elector. These included a reparation for the ransom and for the demolition of his property in Thuringia and his manors in Schweikershain.
In Kunzs sense wasn’t a ruling therefor the idea matured the assumed right to enforce in one’s own initiative. He availed oneself of so called feud right. Together with the knight Wilhelm von Mosen and Wilhelm von Schönfels he formed up a troop with 30 horsemen. In the night on 8th of July the baggage marched to the electoral castle in Altenburg. The previous day the letter of feud were composed and sent to the court. Von Kauffungens knowleges of the place stand in good stead because he was castellan in Altenburg castle. The further fact that the elector was at a wedding ceremony, with all his royal suite, accomplished the notion. The captors dispersed after the action.
The plan included to carry the princes to Bohemia because Kunz wanted use the political situation between Saxon and Bohemia to fortify the bargaining-counter. Wilhelm von Mosen and Wilhelm von Schönfels wanted arrive Bohemia with the prince Ernst on the way through the „Vogtland“ when von Kauffungen tried to arrive his manors across Stollberg with prince Albrecht. But Albrecht succeeded the elopement.
The men who were sent for overcome Kunz. Ernst got kept imprisoned in a grotto near Hartenstein in Erzgebirge. After the message of the detention of Kunz, Mosen and Schönfels surrendered the prince to Friedrich von Schönburg with the demand for freely leaving. The opprobrium was to big. Shortly Kauffungen was executed on the market place in Freiberg.
In the castle museum an exhibition is dedicated this event. It shows the visitors in the historical and political coherences and demonstrate the background of the act. There are to see two „Garleiter“ (a kind of a rope ladder), a sword which probably is from Kunz. The visitors get informations about this time and the judiciary from there per exhibits. Visual demonstrations come to the fore and reach to the modernity.
All Over the land were a lot of myths, legends and adventurous stories.
Kurz nachdem die Prinzen wieder in der Obhut des Hofes waren, ging eine Welle von Sagen, Legenden und abenteuerlichen Erzählungen übers Land.
The material about the kidnapping in Altenburg got to the most favour individual theme in Saxon-Thuringia regional history.