The story of Black Krzysztof - a knight by birth and a robber by vocation

The story of Black Krzysztof - a knight by birth and a robber by vocation

Categories: Europe | History

Adventure novels that describe the Middle Ages often tell the stories of knights and robbers. They are the embodiment of good and evil, positive or negative heroes. But in ancient times everything was much more complicated. The line between noble gentlemen in armor and highway bandits was not obvious. During the day, a knight could shine in tournaments, glorifying a beautiful lady, and at night, rob travelers in the vicinity of his castle. The Polish knight Krzysztof the Black was even worse. Having a noble origin, he did not even try to hide his bestial nature and became a bloodthirsty robber.

The story of Black Krzysztof - a knight by birth and a robber by vocation

Little is known about the first half of Krzysztof Czarny's life. He was born in the second half of the 15th century into a family of impoverished nobles. It is not known exactly what family he was from. Some sources classify him as a member of the Reisewitz family, and others as a member of the Seyditz clan. No one knows where the knight hung out before 1490 either. For the first time he was mentioned precisely this year, as a man who became the burgrave (manager) of Grief Castle in Lower Silesia.

The story of Black Krzysztof - a knight by birth and a robber by vocation

The owner of the castle was the German knight Ulrik Schoff, who trusted Krzysztof immensely. In 1491, he left for the coronation of King Vladislav II, leaving the farm to his favorite. Krzysztof wasted no time. As soon as the gates closed behind the overlord, he immediately raised taxes on the local residents. He invested the proceeds in his business - he organized and well-armed a gang of thugs.

Krzysztof and his gang had a simple and reliable scheme. Merchants passing by the castle paid a toll. Its size depended on the cost of transit goods. Thus, the bandits knew who and what they could profit from and whether the game was worth the candle. If there was supposed to be a fat catch, they waited until the merchant left the castle grounds, after which they attacked him. After robbing a merchant, the robbers always killed their victim so as not to leave witnesses.

The story of Black Krzysztof - a knight by birth and a robber by vocation

While Ulrich Schoff was drinking with the king and his retinue, Krzysztof Czarny and his comrades wasted no time. When they got tired of fussing with the merchants, they became so insolent that they attacked the neighboring city of Lubomierz. But modest booty awaited them there, and the frustrated robbers began to scour the surrounding area. Unfortunately, they came across a nunnery on their way. The scoundrels robbed him, and raped all the nuns who had not entered old age.

The valuables kept in the monastery did not impress Krzysztof. He decided that the abbot of the monastery had managed to hide the treasury. Trying to find out the secret of the monastery gold, the robber knight tortured the old man to death. On the way back, the gang also played some pretty good pranks, robbing several poorly fortified estates.

But soon news came that the owner of the castle was in a hurry home. The notoriously troubled Krzysztof gathered his things and left the fortification with his gang. The scoundrels fled to the lands known as Upper Lusatia. There they immediately launched a vigorous activity, of course, in their own style. In 1500, Krzysztof attacked the town of Lysa, plundering it and killing several townspeople and a priest.

The story of Black Krzysztof - a knight by birth and a robber by vocation

In 1506, a gang ambushed Lviv merchants returning from a fair along the road. They killed three, taking possession of 1,400 guilders. This was good money, since at that time a skilled craftsman earned no more than 40 guilders a month. A couple of months later, Black Krzysztof's gang attacked pilgrims returning from a pilgrimage. This time they were even luckier - they produced 2,200 guilders.

Not all pilgrims had money with them. Those who had nothing to profit from were tied to horses by the robbers and dragged along the ground for several kilometers. Then the wounded people were left by the road to die. In the same eventful year of 1506, Krzysztof took a group of townspeople and a chronicler monk hostage. He demanded a ransom for them, but they did not want to pay him. On the contrary, the local feudal lord gathered a detachment and went hunting for bandits. How everything went is unknown, but then there was no bloodshed and the two detachments, after talking, dispersed.

The story of Black Krzysztof - a knight by birth and a robber by vocation

The fame of Krzysztof and his gang spread. The one who caught the villainous nobleman was promised 500 guilders, and for the dead one they promised 250. The robber was not at all worried about this. He stole so much that in case of danger he could pay much more for his life. He was so daring that he once sneaked into the city where his accomplice was going to be hanged. He stabbed his friend to death just before the execution, saving him from a shameful reprisal for a nobleman. After this, the robber successfully escaped. But no matter how much the rope twists, it will end.

In 1512, Krzysztof, who had completely lost his human form, raped the daughter of Jerzy Kunta, the village elder. Her fiancé, who tried to intercede for his beloved, was crucified on the gate of the house. Jerzy Kunt was an authoritative and stern man. He found out where the bandits' lair was located and, enlisting the support of King Władysław II, attacked Krzysztof.

The elder and his friends, overwhelmed by righteous anger, killed all the robbers, except Krzysztof himself and his squire. They were tied up and taken to the nearest town, where they were handed over to the authorities. Krzysztof immediately remembered that he was a knight and deserved leniency. He wrote a letter to the king asking for pardon, but he did not consider it necessary to respond. Soon Black Krzysztof was tried and hanged in the square without delay, to the joy of the townsfolk and their children.

The story of Black Krzysztof - a knight by birth and a robber by vocation

It remains to add that the Black Knight received his nickname even before turning into a robber. He just had jet black hair and a beard. The place where the last camp of the robbers was located was in a swamp. A few years after Krzysztof’s death, it completely sank under water. Archaeologists found it only in 2003. Nowadays the Polish proverb “You lie like Black Krzysztof” reminds us of the ignoble robber knight.

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