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A Brave Woman Steals the Royal Crown – Helene Kottannerin (c. 1400-after 1458)

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And when we reached the other side, they carried the young king in the cradle – for there were always four armed men to carry him – and I, his servant, rode beside the cradle. But when they had carried him only a little while, he began to cry loudly and would not stay in the cradle. So I stepped down from my horse and carried him in my arms. It rained so hard that I had trouble walking, but there was a pious knight, named Hanns of Pielach, who guided me through the puddles. It was already very dark when we reached Totis, and we stayed there for the night. The next morning, I rode in front with the young king, while my gracious lady stayed in the back with her youngest daughter, because her grace had business to discuss with the Great Count, who spoke flattering words to her and said that he had led his army honorably and was willing to bring it to its death honorably as well. This was all a sham, however, for he really did not want to travel with her grace to Stuhlweissenburg and turned around mid-way and rode off to Ofen to await the arrival of the Polish king.

And as I rode in front with the young king, we arrived at a beautiful hunting lodge, the German name of which is Grintsechdel. Since we were going to stay there for the night, we would have liked to eat, but we did not find much, because it was Friday and we were supposed to fast. And we stayed there for the night and waited for my gracious lady to catch up with us.

Then we traveled on to Stuhlweissenburg. When we were almost there, the Lord of Freistadt, Nicholas Ujláki, rode out to meet us with at least five hundred horses (9). When we went through the marshland, the young king began to cry and wanted to stay neither in the cradle nor in the carriage. And I had to carry his grace in my arms until we were inside the city of Stuhlweissenburg. Then the lords dismounted from their horses and formed a wide circle of armored men, holding naked swords in their hands, and into the middle of that circle I, Helene Kottanner, had to carry the young king, with on one side Count Bartholomeus of Croatia and on the other side someone else, and both accompanied me in honor of the noble king, and so we went through the city until we were inside the inn. That was on the eve of Pentecost [14 May 1440].

Then my gracious lady summoned the oldest citizens, who have to be present, and showed them the Holy Crown and ordered them to proceed according to the tradition and as had always been done. And there were some among these citizens who remembered that Emperor Sigmund had been crowned there too and who had been present at his coronation (10).

On the morning of the day of Pentecost [15 May 1440], I rose early and bathed the noble king and prepared him as well as I could. Then they carried him into the church where all kings are crowned. And many persons of quality, ecclesiastics as well as lay people, were present there, as you have heard before. And when we had entered the church, they carried the young king to the choir. But the door to the choir was closed, and the citizens were inside, while my gracious lady stood outside the door with her son, the noble king. And then my gracious lady spoke to them in Hungarian, and the citizens likewise answered her grace back in Hungarian. They said that her grace should swear the oath on behalf of her son, the noble king, for on that day his grace was exactly twelve weeks old (11). When this had been done according to their old custom, they opened the door and admitted their natural lord and lady as well as the other people, clergy and laymen, who had been summoned to attend. And the young queen, the Lady Elizabeth, stood upstairs, near the organ, so that she would not get hurt in the crowd, for she was not yet four years old.

(9) Wojwode Nicholas Ujláki, whom Elizabeth had made Captain of Stuhlweissenburg shortly before.
(10) Sigmund was crowned in Stuhlweissenburg on 31 March 1387.
(11) The oath probably concerned the rights and privileges of the citizens of Stuhlweissenburg which Elizabeth had to guarantee.

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