The Pfalz Island in the Rhine
On the tiny Pfalz Island in the middle of the Rhine River near Kaub Germany, stands Pfalzgrafenstein Castle. It was built for the sole purpose of generating revenue from boats traveling along the river. While Pfalzgrafenstein is one of many toll castles on the Rhine, its location in the middle of the river on the extremely small island renders it unique.
Approximately 800 years ago, only a single tower existed on the island rather than the castle standing today. It is during this time that our story takes place...
Cousins Emperor Friedrich Barbarossa and Duke Henry the Lion of Brunswick lived as enemies due to an ongoing feud. Near the island along the Rhine resides Burg Stahleck, which served as home to Count Palatine, Konrad, a loyal friend of Emperor Barbarossa.
Eventually, the time arrived for the count's beautiful daughter, Agnes, to wed a suitable bachelor. However, lack of male offspring meant her husband would eventually serve as his legacy. Nonetheless, Agnes was not concerned whether her suitor possessed nobility. She was attracted to young Henry, the son of Henry the Lion.
Consequently, the count was enraged with her choice of husband. How could his only daughter marry the son of the Emperor's enemy cousin? He could not tolerate this union, particularly since his family name and titles would be slighted. Conversely, the count's wife supported Agnes as she realized true love was more important than monetary possessions and titles of nobility. The count, who was outnumbered two to one, knew he could not convince Agnes otherwise. In desperation, he locked his wife and Agnes in the tower on the island. He rationalized they would be safe from Henry's advances since he would be unable to visit Agnes. However, the count was incorrect as Henry simply needed a boat to visit the island. One moonlit night, a ferryman rowed Henry to the island. Agnes was overjoyed to see Henry and fell into his arms. The mother witnessed their happiness, and consequently, provided her blessing. A few nights later, the ferryman transported a priest to the island and young Henry and Agnes were married.
Nine moons later, the count's wife requested her husband to visit the island. Unaware of Henry's visits, the count assumed the women were finally ready to concede and return from the island. Accordingly, the count made his way to the island as requested by his wife. The count was in shock when he learned young Henry became his son-in-law without his knowledge. Agnes explained he not only gained a son-in-law but a grandchild as well. Upon hearing the news, the count was speechless.
Thereafter, the count departed to visit the Emperor. How could he explain their marriage? How would the Emperor ever forgive him for allowing young Henry into his family? Surprisingly, the Emperor was ecstatic and even insisted on becoming the child's godfather upon hearing the news. Unwittingly, Agnes managed to reunite the two feuding cousins. A huge celebration was held at Burg Stahleck as everyone rejoiced. But it was the tower on the island, which played a vital role in the marriage and subsequent birth of the count's grandchild, which ultimately reunited the families.
In the old tower of Pfalzgrafenstein, you can visit the room where the child's cradle once stood.