Situated in the middle of the Rhine River, the castle Pfalzgrafenstein is found near the village of Kaub in Germany. Ludwig, Count Palatine of Bavaria, is responsible for building the castle, which was meant to take advantage of its location and take money and goods from boats that traveled about the river.
The castle served as one of many toll castles located on the Rhine. Some of the architectural features of the castle included a pentagonal curtain wall that was constructed to look like a ship. This is a distinct characteristic of the castle and not a common sight in structures built for military means.
The tiny island of Pfalz is what the castle calls home and 800 years ago; it was not the large building of today. In the past, it was just a single tower and with that came an intriguing ghost tale. The story begins with cousins Emperor Friedrich Barbarossa and Duke Henry the Lion of Brunswick, who engaged in an ongoing dispute that saw the two relatives challenging one another as enemies. Further down the Rhine, a loyal friend of the Emperor lived , Count Konrad.
The Count’s daughter, Agnes, was known as a beauty and when it came time to find her a suitable husband, her father had to make an important selection. Since he had no male offspring, the husband that his daughter was paired with would succeed him when he was no longer able to hold the title of count. Agnes was not interested in taking a husband that carried a title. She had become quite smitten with the son of Henry the Lion , the younger Henry.
The Count was not happy to say the least and could not believe that his only daughter was in love with the son of the Emperor’s enemy cousin. He was unwilling to give the union his blessing and risk having his family name and titles tainted with a dark cloud. However, Agnes was not completely abandoned. She did have the backing of her mother who wanted her daughter to find love rather than settle for money or titles. This made it extremely hard for the Count to win this debate. The only way to save face was to lick his wife and daughter in a tower located on Pfalz Island. He believed they would be safe and hidden from the intentions of Henry.
However, Henry did not give up so easily and one night, had a ferryman row him to the island. Overcome with joy, Agnes was reunited with her love. They both received her mother’s blessing and a couple of nights later, the ferryman brought a priest to the island and the two lovers became man and wife.
Time passed and the Count’s wife summoned for her husband to come to the island. Thinking that the women were return to follow his rules, he granted her request. However, what he had learned was greater than having a new son-in-law. Agnes had also given birth to a grandchild.
The Count paid a visit to the Emperor, hoping he could explain the mishap and gain assistance in the matter. However, when the Emperor heard of the news , he was the complete opposite of angry. He was actually pleased to hear the news. The daughter had succeeded in bringing two feuding cousins together again and the Emperor was pleased to become the godfather of the child. Celebrations broke out at Burg Stahleck with the tower on the Island of Pfalz holding special historical meaning for the two families. The room where the cradle once stood is still in the old tower of Pfalzgrafenstein.