Frederick and Veronica – the love story

This story is based on real events, written in the 1600s AD by Johann Weichard Valvasor.

Castle Celje
Castle and city Celje in 1700s AD

…we will not just touch this tragic, sad story, but we will say something more about it, because it is worth reading. Count Hermann II from Celje with his wife e Anna of Schaunberg had two young sons. The first named Louis inherited lands of noble Counts of Ortenburg the Dutchy of Carinthia, the other by name Frederick  inherited more castles, namely Stanischeck, Samobor, Krško, MehovoNovo mesto and Kostanjevica. All these estates were managed by the Counts of Celje and were therefore in their possession.

Counts of Celje estates
Counts of Celje estates

Count Frederick had his own residence
and the court in Krško and could rule
independently. But in the year 1422, his wife Elizabeth Frankopan from Modruš died, and her body was taken to Celje where she was laid to eternal rest in the monastery. Around this event, a serious rumor came about, namely that Count Frederick was supposed to be responsible
for her death. She was probably strangled in bed, in order for Frederick to be with his mistress the noble girl Veronica from Desenice, for the beauty of which he was completely infatuated. He wanted to take her in the embrace of the marriage. And because they were married just three years after the death of his first wife, general distrust and suspicion grew even greater. Undoubtedly these suspicions convinced his father Count Hermann II, which was infuriated and his heart was filled with the desire of revenge against Veronica. This marriage even angered his brother-in-law, the Emperor Sigismund. The marriage was tried to be nullified by inequality regarding the noble status. Because although there was nothing outrageous when some Count married a lower nobleman, however Counts of Celje for their power and friendships with the highes of ranks in Europa were treated as the rank of a Princ. A large authority is not supposed to be connected with a lower rank, except for some great benefit. Because Veronica’s parents only held a knight title and because Count Frederick married without consent of his father and even without the recommendations of his Emperor, the Emperor called him to Hungary and when he came, he thrown him in jail and later handed him to his father. Father immediately had his son handcuffed, hid him in the covered carts and took him to castle Ojstrica in the county of Celje and put him in the tower jail. He spent some time there under constant guards, chained in his cell. After a

Count Fridrich
Count Frederick II

while, he was taken to castle Celje, where he was handed in care of the knight Jobst from Helffenberg. Here the old Count forced him, that he rescinded all the castles and estates that were inherited by him. Amongst the others Frederick had to renounce his own  Friedrichstein castle that he just finished building in the estate of Kočevje. Yes, even the stones would feel the anger of his father, he ordered to dismantle castle Friderichstein all the way to the ground. And this exessive anger sufficiently showed that it was not just the unequal wedding, but the main reason was suspicion of his sons alleged murder. Otherwise he would hardly have a reason to destroy the barely built new castle. And so lived noble Veronica, robbed of her husband and all of its castles and estates in constant fear of her own angry father-in-law from which she could not expect nothing good, because she was the reason for his ruthlessnes to his own son and put to fire such a beautiful castle. He certainly would not hesitate to brutally destroy her and any memory of her exsistence. That’s why she fled to the forest and had to resort to the wild animals and together with her maids hide through the forests and there tolerate fear, worry, everyday shortage of food and hunger, not the abundance like before. In the meantime the Old Count of Celje invaded Desenice, where her father was murdered, and his castle destroyed. Incorrect laws often produce such bitter fruits. Frederick was forced to marry Elizabeth and they had no love for each other. For the eyes of the mighty they see and hear very far, so a concern grew that Count Hermann had already find out where Veronica was hiding. Therefore, she was secretly transported to the tower in the middle of the field in front of city Ptuj, in a hope that she will not be found. But this turned into her misfortune. For the reigning old Count his underlings watched carefully, and they quickly found her, and reported back to the court. It’s from there He sent his knights and they took her away to the castle Ojstrica where she was thrown in a tower. There the beauty was locked for a long time and in a great misery she almost died of hunger. Finally, the old Count brought her to Celje and pronounced against her a very sharp accusation in inflamed effort, to give her judgment and a right to take her head and turn off the flare of her lovely eyes, which so fascinated his son. He accused her, that she used magic and enchanted his son with her witchcraft, and that she also tried to poison the old Count himself. But there was no solid evidence for the accusations, so the court could not persecute her and even the common people started to protest in favor of poor Veronica. A lawyer who was appointed to her fought and won, and so before this honest court a valid verdict prevailed in favor of the Veronica. But it is in the hearts of the mighty that a different system of what is supposed to be right is concealed, and a force strikes easily, if the law does not bent to their wishes. And those rights also served Count Hermann. Neither strong suspicion or revenge could not agree with the fact that he will

Count Hermann II

have to let her free, because the court could not punish her with the death penalty. That’s why he took her back to castle Ojstrica in her previous miserable residence, determined to make her suffer from hunger and thirst, until she stop breathing. But since death from hunger did not came fast enough, as his revenge desired, he sent two of his knights who escorted this most beautiful woman out from the dungeon and drowned her in a tub full of rainwater. Can we denote this as righteousness? Or as cruelty and tyranny, he should judge whoever is reasonable. The old Count from Celje was a devout man, who liked to care for peace between the poor and the rich, but in this case, it seems to be that he let go too fast to his anger and let his revenge free. For if he had all the right, to kill her, why he did not do it by law and justice? So in

Seal of Count Herman II

this case he did not act in a way, as he should, but in the way as he wanted. His hands were dirty with spilled blood of innocence. Assuming that the first wife of his son Frederick was really killed by him, that still does not mean that happened by the will of Veronica. Suspicion and mistrust is not evidence, even less justice. He had no right to attack her with sharp questions, torture her, and a lot less right to kill her. The dead body of so sad, ruthless and cruelly drowned Veronica was taken to Braslovče to be burried. After that Veronicas unhappy end, Count Friedrich fell ill of great sorrow and heartache due to ruthless treatment of his spouse. That’s why his father released him from the tower prison and made him well with the best medicines. After the old father cooled his own anger in the blood of the poor Veronica between father and son, peace was slowly restored. That’s why Friderich with all of his escorts was sent to Radovljica, where he had his court for two years, then left for Rome, probably to recive indulgence for the crime of the death of his first wife. On this trip he was captured by the Count of Ferrara, but his brother-in-law, Henry the Count of Gorizia, payed a sum of money for his release. Frederick began to build castles again and among first things, from a pile of stones he restored Friedrichstein, which his father had demolished. He also took the body of Veronica from Braslovče and took her in the Carthusian Monastery Žiče, where she was put to eternal rest. On October 13, 1435 eight or nine years after the death of Veronica the old Count Herman died. He was burried in a Monastery Pleterje which he build. Count Frederick nevertheless lived for a long ninety-three years old. But next years of his life were wasted with impurity and every possible disobedience. He put this words on his tombstone:

Haec mihi porta ad inferos est.
Scio quae reliqui: abundavi rebus
Ex quibus nihil mecum fero, nisi quod
Atque; edi, quodque; inexhausta Cupi-
ditas exhausit.

*In written records, the first witch trial in Slovenia was the accusation of Veronica from Desenice.

*After his father Hermann II forbade Frederick to marry Veronica, they nevertheless got married and escape to the safe shelter of the Jurklošter monastery. They lived in a secret room with a black kitchen inside the monastery wall for three years. There they had a son, who later became a monk.
*Sadly in one of later Turkish invasions, they breached the walls of Monastery Žiče and demolished sarcophagus of Veronica and stole her valuables.
*Barbara of Cilli (daughter of Count Hermann II) was the Holy Roman Empress and Queen of Hungary and Bohemia by marriage to Holy Roman Emperor Sigismund. Barbara and Sigismund created the Order of the Dragon in which only elite knights could be members. Amongst the first, Herman II and Frederick were members and also the noctorious Vlad the Impaler (Drakula).

Barbara of Cilli

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