In addition to the above named personages, Linhart Wichperger of Erbach also belonged among Wilhelm’s group of alchemists. He worked in Prachatice around 1566. There was also Jaroš Griemiller z Třebska who practiced in the service of the Rosenbergs in the 70s; to Wilhelm he dedicated his preciously illuminated alchemistic miscellany written in Czech and dating from 1578 (today in the National Library in Prague). This fundamental work, entitled “Rosarium philosophorum” meaning “Rose Garden of Philosophers” ranks among the classical achievements of alchemistic literature. It contains a description of the preparation of the stone of sages.
According to his master, the renowned engineer of the pond and lake system in South Bohemia and Rosenberg regent Jakub Krčín of Jelčanydevoted himself to alchemy. But his interest in alchemy was simply for pleasure, not profit. He set up a laboratory at Nový hrádek in Křepenice near Sedlčany.
On the recommendation of Václav Vřesovec of Vřesovice (1532 – 1583), a Prague supporter of alchemy, the renowned Italian alchemist Claudius Syrrus came into Wilhelm’s employ as well. We have a preserved text of the work contract between the alchemist and the Rosenberg sovereign as recorded by the chronicler Václav Březan. In the contract listing seven conditions, it is written that the alchemist reserves the right to be spiritually and physically free and independent, and makes it a condition not to be disturbed by anybody, with the personal exception of Wilhelm von Rosenberg. Should the occasion arise that the philosophical stone is actually produced, it is arranged that Claudius Syrrus receives a half share of it. In addition, a note was anchored in the contract saying that a purely positive result was not guaranteed.
The younger of the two last Rosenbergs, Wilhelm’s brother Peter Wok von Rosenberg, was also interested in alchemy. He is even known as an author of a treatise on distillation. Nevertheless, he was not able to compete with Wilhelm’s financial capacity to sponsor such activities.
In conclusion, we must mention two architectural monuments of Český Krumlov containing elements of hermetic symbolism. One in particular is the Český Krumlov Castle Tower (Castle No.59 – Castle Tower) which became, after being reconstructed in the 1580s by the Italian master builder Baldassare Maggi of Arogne, a visible symbol of Wilhelm’s life-long efforts in seeking the path towards the Great Task. The second interesting building is a corner house – Latrán No. 53. On the, front facing Latrán, we can see Renaissance lunette paintings presenting the ten stages of human life. At the side opening into Klášterní ulička (Monastery Lane) are sgrafitti with spectacular geometrical symbols in which we see pictures of alchemistic furnaces, strange vessels, and apparently a geometrically expressed description of the Great Task. Up to the present day, nobody has managed to satisfactorily explain these unique figures.
In 1602, when Peter Wok von Rosenbergleft the Český Krumlov castle until 1622, Český Krumlov was part of the estate under Habsburg rule. One of the owners at that time was thus emperor Mathias who inherited the estates along with the castle from his brother Emperor Rudolf II. von Habsburg. He himself visited Český Krumlov several times from 1612 to 1619.
Astronomer, mathematician and alchemist
Born in 1527 in London to the family of a rich businessman. He studied mathematics and astronomy on the Paris and Cambridge universities, then extensively travelled, acquainting himself with alchemy and magic on his trips around Europe. He served as the astronomer and mathematician at the court of the English Queen Elizabeth who in 1583 entrusted him with a secret diplomatic mission at the emperor Rudolf II\’s court in Prague. Dee came to Prague with Edward Kelley. After losing favour in Prague, he came to the service of Wilhelm von Rosenberg. He lived most of his time at Třeboň castle, until in 1589 he left the service of Wilhelm and returned back to England.
One of the most ancient and distinguished families of the Roman nobility, whose members often played an important rôle in the history of Italy, particularly in that of Rome and of the Papal States.
The Roman or principal line of the family, from which branched off a series of collateral lines as time went on, may be traced back into the early middle Ages, and a legendary ancestry goes back even as far as early Roman times. The Roman line, as well as its branches, had large possessions in Italy and were the rulers of numerous and important dominions, fortified towns, and strongholds. In Rome, the Orsini were the hereditary enemies of the equally distinguished Colonna: in the great medieval conflict between papacy and empire, the latter were for the most part on the side of the emperor and the leaders of the Ghibelline party, while the Orsini were ordinarily champions of the papacy and leaders of the Guelph party. The Orsini gave three popes to the Church — Celestine III, Nicholas III, and Benedict XIII — as well as many cardinals and numerous bishops and prelates. Other members of the family.
The founder of the family was Vítek III, the son of Vítek z Prčice. The Rosenberg thus originated as one of family branches of the Vítkovci. The family residence, the Rosenberg castle, was founded around the year 1250 by Wok (1262) who was also at the establishment of the monastery in Vyšší Brod in 1259. After the Lords of Krumlovdied out in 1302, Jindřich I took over the Krumlov castle as well as the whole property of the allied family branch and he transferred the family residence to Krumlov.
The Krumlov castle thus became the residence of the Lords of Rosenberg for the next three hundred years. Peter I. von Rosenbergheld the post of the superior chamberlain at the court of John of Luxembourg. His wife was a widow of the Czech King Václav III. – Viola Těšínská. His oldest son Jindřich perished together with John of Luxembourg in the battle of Crecy in August of 1346. Another significant personage of the family was a son of Oldřich II. – Heinrich III.von Rosenbergwho lead the Union of Nobility, which was displeased by the reign of King Václav IV. The Union of Nobility therefore imprisoned the king in 1396 at the castle in Český Krumlov. Heinrich’s son Ulrich II von Rosenbergbelonged to the Czech members of the nobility who defended the interests of Czech Catholic nobility and of Sigismund of Luxembourg during the stirring times of the Hussite wars. A daughter of Ulrich II was Perchta von Rosenberg who is identified with the Rosenberg “White Lady” (see Tales of the White Lady). The renowned personage Peter IV. von Rosenbergmeant, for the Rosenberg dynasty, the development of economic activities (namely fishing and the mining of heavy metals), the beginnings of humanism and the Renaissance, and especially the affirmation of a significant position of the Rosenbergs among leading Bohemian families.
The decline of the family of Rosenberg is linked with Wilhelm and Peter Wok, the sons of Jošt III, who were brought up in the guardianship of their uncle Peter V. Wilhelm von Rosenbergwas indisputably the most significant representative of the family as he made Český Krumlov the centre of cultural and political life. After his death in 1592, his younger brother Peter Wok von Rosenbergassumed the reign. In 1601, he was forced to sell the Krumlov castle to the Emperor Rudolf II of Habsburg. Peter Wok transferred his residence after the sale to Třeboň where he died in 1611. Peter Wok brought to a close the three-hundred-year-long history of one of the most influential Czech noble families – the Rosenbergs.
Tales of the White Lady
Perchta von Rosenberg, a beautiful daughter of Ulrich II. von Rosenberg, had a happy childhood at her father\’s castle in Český Krumlov. When she grew up she had many suitors as the daughter of a powerful nobleman. Her father married her off against her will to Jan von Lichtenstein – on one hand a powerful lord of noble rank, and on the other a violent and boorish man who had been a widower for only a short time.
A life full of slights and suffering began for distinguished, noble-hearted Perchta. In the Lichtenstein castle lived the mother and sister of his deceased wife, who harassed Perchta and took every chance to make her life miserable. They teased her and assigned her to unpleasant jobs without a friendly word. Her marriage was a hell on earth from which there was no way out. Her prayers to soften her husband\’s heart were in vain, as were her desperate letters she wrote to her brother: “Take me away from these evil people and you will merit praise as if you released a soul from Purgatory.”
No one could help her, as the morals of the time wouldn\’t let a wife leave her husband even though he treated her in the worst way.
It was not until her husband\’s death that she was released from this prison. She happily returned to parental castle and became the good soul of the castle and kind-hearted patron of those who suffered. Her face indelibly mirrored the pain and suffering she had experienced, and no one ever saw her smile again. Sad, slender, prematurely faded, with curly golden hair covered by a white veil, she walked through the chambers and courtyards of the castle and watched over her brother\’s estates.
She was only 49 when she died in 1476. Her death was a terrible blow not only for the Rosenberg lords but also for the poor throughout the region. They never stopped mourning for her and soon began meeting her in their dreams.
The White Lady, as they called her, used to appear at the castles in Český Krumlov, Rožmberk or other castles in the Rosenberg property, wearing a simple white dress with keys around her waist and sauntering through the corridors and chambers, prepared to face the future events. A smile on her face was a sign of good tidings whereas black gloves in her hands and a solemn countenance foreshadowed impending disaster or death.
The White Lady took care of the children of her family and protected them from harm. When nurses fell asleep from tiredness she cradled and soothed the babies. The nurses who had known her let her do so. The White Lady took special care of the last child of her family, Peter Wok.
Once, when the nurses fell asleep again, she walked up to the cradle and caressed and comforted the little Peter. There was a nurse who had recently come in service at the castle and didn\’t know the White Lady. As she woke up and saw the baby Peter in arms of a strange, unknown lady she snapped at the White Lady, “How dare you hold the little Peter? You have nothing to do with that child!”
The nurse wanted to take the baby away from her but she clasped him to her heart, replying angrily, “It\’s my right to look after this child as he belongs to my family. How dare you blame me for anything?” The she turned to the nurses woken up by the noise and rebuked them, “Why don\’t you do your duty as is right and proper? From now on take care of the child yourselves!”
She stepped to the wet nurse and said, “Look after the baby. When he grows up tell him how much I have loved him and show him the place from which I used to come to his cradle and then leave it again.”
Saying those words she bent towards the child, gave him a smile and kiss and then disappeared in the wall, turning into a light white cloudlet.
Since that time no one saw her at the castle again.
When Petr Wok grew to manhood and heard the White Lady\’s message he had the wall where she had vanished demolished. It is believed that he found a treasure in that place.
m distinguished themselves in political history as warriors or statesmen, and others again won renown in the fields of art and science. The wars between the Orsini and Colonna form an important part of the medieval history of Rome and of Central Italy. Forming as they did a part of the conflicts waged by the emperors in Italy, they influenced in a very prominent manner the general historical development of that time.