Monday, October 22, 2012

Scary Tales: Sweden's The Lord of Rosendal

Halloween is almost upon us so I decided to share some of the scary tales that I have collected over the years. And as I considered this, I thought of the scary tales I collected for Bluebeard Tales From Around the World (Surlalune Fairy Tale Series). Most of the scary tales I have collected are Bluebeard tales--there's not much that scares me more than a murderous husband. So I've picked several from the book to share with you over the coming days up to Halloween.

The Lord of Rosendal


This tale is not a Bluebeard tale. However, it contains the interesting element of a betrothed woman breaking her engagement after witnessing the cruel behavior of her fiancée, although he does not threaten her directly. Some scholars have thus considered The Lord of Rosendal a Bluebeard type of character even if his story does not contain enough elements to be classified as an ATU 311, 312 or 955.

IN THE beginning of the sixteenth century there lived in Skane a nobleman, Andres Bille, Lord of Rosendal, who was very severe toward his dependents, and it was not unusual that a disobedient servant was put in chains, and even into the castle dungeons.

One day Bille’s intended made a visit to Rosendal. Upon entering the courtyard almost the first object that attracted her attention was a peasant tethered like a horse. She inquiring as to the cause of such treatment, Bille informed her that the servant had come late to work, and was now suffering only well merited punishment. The young woman begged Bille to set the man at liberty, but this he refused to do, and told her, emphatically, that she must not interpose in his affairs.

“When the intended wife,” said the young lady, as she returned to her carriage, “is refused a boon so small, what will be the fate of the wife?” and thereupon she commanded her coachman to drive her home at once, and resolved to come no more to Rosendal.

People predicted that such a heartless man could not possibly be at rest in his grave, and true to the prediction, Bille, after his death and burial, came every night, in spirit, to Rosendal. Halting his white team in the courtyard, with stealthy steps he would make his way to his former bedchamber where he would spend the night until cock-crow. If the bed had been prepared all was quiet in the chamber, otherwise such a dreadful noise followed that there was no such thing as sleep in the castle. Always, upon going to the room in the morning, the bed clothes were found tossed about and soiled as if a dog had occupied the bed.

When the specter had gone on in this manner for a number of years, the new owner of the estate applied to a pious priest in Hässlunda, Master Steffan, and begged him to put a stop to these troublesome visits. To this end the priest, one day, accompanied by a fellow priest, set out for Kropp’s Church, where Bille was buried. On the stroke of 12 o’clock, midnight, the grave opened and the ghost of the dead lord stepped forth. Father Steffan’s companion at once took to his heels, but Father Steffan remained and began to read from a book he had with him. During the reading the ghost became larger and larger, but the priest would not be frightened. Finally the apparition interrupted the reading and addressed the priest.

“Is that you, Steffan, the goose thief?”

“It is, indeed, I,” replied the priest, “and it is true that in my boyhood I stole a goose, but with the money received for the goose I bought a Bible, and with that Bible I will send you to hell, you evil spirit.” Whereupon he struck the specter such a blow on the forehead with the Bible that it sank again into purgatory.

Unfortunately, because of the truth of Bille’s accusation and that it came from Bille, the priest’s prayers and reading lost much of potency, and he was unable to enforce upon the ghost entire quietude. Nevertheless, so much was accomplished that Bille now comes to Rosendal only once a year.

See G. Lundgren’s Skanska Herrgârdar, Vol. I.


Hofberg, Herman. Swedish Fairy Tales. W. H. Myers, translator. Chicago: Belford-Clarke Co., 1888, 1890.

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