July 18: Holiday of the very first Protector of the Hambach Forest

Arnold of Arnoldsweiler in the coat of arms of Arnoldsweiler
Source: Wikipedia

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This text came to us via carrier pigeon. We are pleased to be so well appreciated in this unexpected scene. This letter shows us that the struggle for the Hambach Forest is already more than a thousand years old, and that also then it was already a fight against robber barons. By the way, today is the holiday of the sender of this letter.

Hello, may I introduce myself? My stage name is Arnold of Arnoldsweiler. I used to be musician at the court of Charlemagne and I was the first saviour of Hambach Forest. Without me, it would have ceased to exist already since a long time, it would have been transformed into farmland like everything else in the area. The villagers around have thanked me very much for that, because Karl guaranteed to them and their descendants the right to use the forest forever. This is the origin of its name Bürgewald = Guaranteed Forest (See below for the whole story) This way I actually managed, that the forest was saved from the aristocracy and became the property of the surrounding villages. That’s why I have been worshipped there since my death like a saint. But my soul wanders still by „my“ forest and I have to see helplessly, how the current gentry, more powerful than ever, makes the forest simply be dredged away. No Charlemagne, nor any actual “mother of the country” stops them to do so.

I was therefore very pleased when a few years ago a group of undaunted went in to battle against these land-eating dragons. Evenings I like to sit down at their campfire and listen to their stories, without being seen. This way I learned that these dragons are much more dangerous than those of my songs. And I learned that the dragons are not the machines but their handlers. They have their castle tower in Essen, many times higher than the one of my boss in Aachen.

The reason why I write this letter: I want to encourage you. ye have set out like once the shepherd boy David who felled the mighty Goliath with his slingshot. Also you will make it. Not by slingshots, but simply because the time has come. The giant already is wavering. My sources in the sky tell me that shareholders will contunue to leave the sinking ship, even the municipalities. But this giant is still very dangerous, he wants to destroy even the rest of our forest before his final fall. So be imaginative and nimble. Do always what is least expected in that moment. I’m just an old man and I am not familiar so much in your modern world. So I’m counting on you.

I’m patron saint of the musicians. Of course. But I am also invoked as intercessor for a gentle death. In the case of RWE however, I am an intercessor for a quick death. And remember: As long as only one of these giants is still standing, the country is not free!

Still Yours
Arnold of Arnoldsweiler

The whole story

Arnold was a musician at the court of Charlemagne. Like every year, the emperor once invited his vassals for the St. Hubert’s hunt on November 3th, to the forest near his estate in Düren, a day’s ride from his residence in Aachen. The villagers were not allowed to enter the forest to prevent them to make the game shy, they were not allowed to search for firewood nor to send their pigs into the forest to search for the acorns. These farmers went to Arnold with their complaint because they knew that the emperor liked him. The emperor and his aristocratic entourage made a proposal to Arnold: “As much of the forest as you can ride around while we are eating here, the farmers are allowed to keep for themselves.” But the poor Arnold could not ride. So the farmers tied him to a horse and at several places they put fresh horses for him, his companions and the imperial inspectors. Thus they freed a large area for the farmers from the possessory title of the aristocracy. This forest was therefore called the Bürgewald (guaranteed forest): common ownership was guaranteed by the emperor to the residents of the surrounding villages. While in the whole country around, the forests of the aristocratic landowners were converted into farmland, the Guaranteed Forest stayed what it was: the last remnant of the extensive forest that stood here since the last ice age. So it is a primary forest. It is not called a virgin forest, because it has been used by the villagers for centuries, to find timber and firewood. The villagers always remained aware whom they owe this forest. During the novena of St. Arnold, they organised pilgrimages from each of the villages around the Guaranteed Forest to his grave. But since the ownership of the Guaranteed Forest has been transferred from the villages on the municipalities, this awareness and thus this tradition has waned. Pilgrimages have become less, the novena is not celebrated anymore and for most people it’s just folklore.

Ritt um den Bürgewald wikipedia in German

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