The next stop on my tour of the Danube Valley was the lovely village of Dürnstein with its iconic blue abbey tower. Dürnstein’s claim to fame is that the English king Richard I, the Lionheart, was held captive here in the 12th century. Leopold V, the Duke of Austria, captured Richard on the accusation that the English king had arranged the murder of Conrad of Montferrat. Apparently Richard had also thrown (or had thrown) Leopold’s standard from the walls of Acre during a battle there while on Crusade. Eleanor of Aquitaine, Richard’s mother, was charged with not only ruling his kingdom while he was away on Crusade, but then she gathered and paid his ransom. The fruits Richard should have learned from this adventure? Don’t be a jerk.
Dürnstein Abbey has a beautiful church with its distinctive blue tower as mentioned; however, the abbey itself was dissolved by Emperor Joseph II in 1788. Joseph was a frugal man but also a student of the Enlightenment. He believed that faith should compel men to action, so he closed any abbey or monastery that didn’t have a direct service to the people. He insisted the church redistribute the monks to new parishes to better serve their congregants.
Title quote: Eleanor of Aquitaine