Friday, May 13, 2016

A LIttle Joust, Anyone? Burg Satzvey

Burg Satzvey
Last year, I enjoyed a day at Burg Satzvey at their Knights Fest--basically a medieval fest with a jousting tournament. It was a fabulous day, with the standard medieval festival but an extra-special jousting tournament.
First, about Burg Satzvey. It is a delightfully cute castle just south of Cologne. It is one of the few moated castles in Germany. Most castles in Germany were built on the top of mountains, and did not have moats. Of course, the moat serves a defensive purpose for the castle so for castles that are not on top of mountains, such as Burg Satzvey, they were essential.

Satzvey was first mentioned in 1368 as an estate of Otto von Vey Vogt, who was a vassal of the Archbishop of Cologne. His grandson, Heinrich von Krauthausen built Burg Satzvey from 1396 to 1406 on an island in the middle of the Veybach pond.
Knights of Satzvey
In 1561, Heinrich Spies von Büllesheim acquired the castle. In 1574, his son, Frederick William became the first feudal lord of Satzvey. From 1577 to 1581, the Duke von Jülich and his troops occupied the castle, until Spies von Büllesheim and von Jülich had to swear their allegiance to the Archbishop of Cologne.

In 1737, the castle was sold to the von Gymnich family. With the death of Johanna Maria von Gymnich in 1825, the von Gymnich line became extinct and her godson, Count Max Felix Wolff von Metternich inherited the von Gymnich possessions to include Burg Satzvey and eight other castles. His son, Dietrich, expanded the castle in 1878 to make it what it is today.

In 1944, the Countess Adeline Wolff von Metternich married Count Franz Josef Beissel von Gymnich (the current Count’s father). In 1981, they began having medieval and other festivals at the castle.

Now, I can’t discuss Burg Satzvey without mentioning the impressive Countess Jeannette Beissel of Gymnich. She is an American! She is the daughter of U.S. diplomat John A. Brogan and spent her childhood in the U.S., South America and Europe. She studied languages and literature in the U.S. and in France. She fell in love with current Count Franz Josef Beissel von Gymnich and, in 1984, married him. They have two children.
Countess and Count Beissel von Gymnich (used with permission)
Since becoming a Countess, she has made an effort to make a positive impact on everything she touches. Castles are very expensive and difficult to maintain. She and the Count have made the castle a viable business enterprise by expanding the festivals and events that the castle holds, incorporating stores and restaurants into the castle, establishing rooms in the castle where guests can stay overnight, hosting medieval dinners and a ‘knights school’, and providing wedding services, among other things. She has become an advisor to other castle owners on how they can build businesses surrounding their castles.
She is also an author. In addition to writing a historical novel, she has written four or five coffee-table type books about castles and the people who live in them. They are all in German. She has a new book coming out soon.

She has been featured on German television a number of times. In addition to interviews and the standard things you would expect a countess to do, she also has participated in the German version of the television show “Wife Swap”. Can you imagine switching places with a countess and getting to live in a castle as the countess for two weeks?  How fun is that?

The Countess has also established a foundation which helps children and adolescents who have been the victims of abuse, violence or neglect. Her foundation has established homes for these victims and provides for the special needs of these victims, such as various therapies, wheelchairs, special beds, etc.

Knights of Satzvey
Their children have now taken an active role in the administration of the castle and the foundation.  The daughter of the Count and Countess, the Countess Patricia Beissel von Gymnich, has now taken on the responsibility of running the events that are held at the castle. And, she is doing a rather fine job of it. 

I mentioned earlier the jousting tournaments at Satzvey, which the Countess Patricia not only organizes but also participates in. They are truly something spectacular to see. The Satzvey jousting tournaments are basically full-blown theatrical plays, which end with the “good guys” and “bad guys” dueling it out in a joust.
Jousting Tournament
Even if you don’t understand German, you can follow along with the plot of the play and understand most of what is going on. The jousters and the young Countess are accomplished equestrians, and stuntmen and stuntwomen. 
Jousting Tournament

Many have worked on Hollywood films and they bring this expertise to the jousting field. It is definitely worth the time to go to the Satzvey Knight’s Fest and enjoy the jousting tournaments. They are held every May and September, and this spring it will be the weekend of 14-16 May 2016 and in the fall on the weekends of 3-4 Sep and 10-11 Sep 2016.