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Representation of the Knights of Blanik.

The Knights of Blanik Mountain Are Ready to Face the Darkest Hour

The famous Czech legend of the Knights of Blanik tells of an army of knights sleeping in a cave in Blanik, a mountain not far from Prague. It states that the knights will awake and be led by a saint to save the country when it faces its darkest hour.

The legend of the Knights of Blanik is written in a book of Czech legends by Alois Jirásek. Although Jirásek’s work dates to 1894, it is believed the legend emerged in the 15th century and was probably invented by the ordinary folks living in the area.

The knights of Blaník set off from the mountain (Věnceslav Černý, 1898). Source: Public Domain

The knights of Blaník set off from the mountain (Věnceslav Černý, 1898). Source: Public Domain

Blanik Mountain in the Czech Legend

Jirásek’s version of the legend begins with a description of Blanik, “a mountain in the cloak of a dark forest, running from its summit down its slopes”. On the summit of the mountain are the ruins of stone battlements, beneath which, and within the mountain itself, so the legend goes, lies an army of sleeping knights. The commander of the knights is none other than Wenceslaus I, Duke of Bohemia.

Chapel of St. Mary Magdalene on Blanik mountain. (Public Domain)

Chapel of St. Mary Magdalene on Blanik mountain. ( Public Domain )

King Wenceslas

Wenceslaus I, known also as Saint Wenceslas, was a well-loved ruler of Bohemia, and is the patron saint of the Czech Republic. He lived during the 10th century AD and was considered a saint almost immediately after his death in 929 AD. In one version of the legend, Wenceslas is asleep with his knights, awaiting the day when his country will require his aid. In another version of the legend, it is King Wenceslas’ equestrian statue in Wenceslaus Square, Prague, that will come to life, raise the army of knights at Blanik, and rescue the Czech people.

Statue of St. Wenceslas in Wenceslas Square. Sculpture by Josef Václav Myslbek. (CC BY SA 3.0)

Statue of St. Wenceslas in Wenceslas Square. Sculpture by Josef Václav Myslbek. ( CC BY SA 3.0 )

Although the Knights of Blanik are said to be asleep in the mountain, Jirásek wrote that they would ride out from time to time under the moonlight. On such nights, the thundering of their horses, the muffled sound of a drum, and the cry of bugle horns can be heard around the mountain. When dawn arrives, the knights would return into the mountain, leaving only hoofprints in the surrounding meadows.

Encounters with the Knights of Blanik

There are also stories of people who have encountered the knights. One such tale involves a young girl who cut grass under the Blanik mountain. One day, a knight appeared and asked her to clean the inside of the mountain, to which she obliged.

She did so, and then went home. When she arrived in her village, however, people asked her where she had been. Although the young girl thought that only a day had passed, it turned out that she had been gone for a year. When the girl told the villagers the story, they understood what had happened. The girl is said to have died three days later.

The Knights of Blanik. (Andurb’s Blog)

The Knights of Blanik. ( Andurb’s Blog )

In another story, a blacksmith from Louňovice was invited by the knights to shoe the horses. The blacksmith did so, and as he was leaving he was given a small sack with rubble. The blacksmith angrily emptied the bag in front of the mountain, and went home.

When he arrived, the villagers were surprised, as the blacksmith, like the girl, was gone for a year. The blacksmith related his story, and showed them the bag. He shook the empty bag, and three ducats fell out. It was only then that the blacksmith realized the mistake he had made, and returned quickly to the mountain, but found neither rubble nor ducats.

The blacksmith with horses of the Knights of Blanik. (Andurb’s Blog)

The blacksmith with horses of the Knights of Blanik. ( Andurb’s Blog )

Statues of the Knights of Blanik

The legend of the Knights of Blanik inspired a Czech artist to create sculptures that represented these sleeping warriors. Stanislav Rolínek, a self-taught sculptor, chose a sandstone cave in Kunštát to create his works of art. An equestrian statue of Saint Wenceslas, along with 16 knights, can be found in the cave. Additionally, the statue of a giant lion is seen guarding the entrance of the cave. Unfortunately, Rolínek died of tuberculosis before his 30th birthday in 1931, and his work of art could not be completed.

The statue of the lion guarding the Cave of the Blanik Knights. (Ben Skála/ CC BY SA 3.0 )

Top image: Representation of the Knights of Blanik. (Jiří Komárek/ CC BY SA 4.0 )

By Wu Mingren

References

ahvenas, 2018. Cave of the Blanik Knights. Available at: https://www.atlasobscura.com/places/cave-of-blanik-knights

Prague Summer Program for Writers, 2018. Bohemian Legends III: The Knights Sleeping in Blaník Mountain. Available at: http://praguesummer.com/bohemian-legends-iii-the-knights-sleeping-in-blanik-mountain/

savedgtkcz.wordpress.com, 2013. Czech Legends: Blaník Knights. Available at: https://savedgtkcz.wordpress.com/2013/06/29/czech-legends-blanik-knights/

The Editors of Encyclopaedia Britannica, 2018. Wenceslas I. Available at: https://www.britannica.com/biography/Wenceslas-I-prince-of-Bohemia

Wagnerová, M., 2007. Old Prague Legends. Prague: Nakladatelství PLOT.

www.regionboskovicko.cz, 2018. Blanik Knights’ Cave, Rudka u Kunštátu. Available at: http://www.regionboskovicko.cz/en/vismo/o_utvar.asp?id_org=200251&id_u=1487&n=blanik-knights-cave-rudka-u-kunstatu

Comments

Thanks for this article. It's great that legends of my nation are published world wide. There are thousands of legends in the Czech Republic. Almost every town or region has couple of them. This one, though, is really important for it gives, and gave, hope to the Czech nation.

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