(Crime of manor despotism? Murder of patrimonial scribe by Charles Maximilian of Bleyleben)
Abstract: The article deals with the circumstances of the murder committed in 1647 in North Bohemian town Krupka by young Baron Charles Maximilian of Bleyleben against Johannes Brosche, a serf and servant of his father. Thanks to the well-preserved sources, it is possible to trace the course of the case for several years, from the investigation of the crime, but unpunished, to the judicial recovery of compensation and the salary that Brosche was allegedly not paid during his seventeen years of service. At the end of the Thirty Years‘ War, in 1647, the North Bohemian mining town of Krupka was excited by the murder of the patrimonial scribe Johannes Brosche (1607–1647), committed by the young Baron Charles Maximilian of Bleyleben (1616–1648). Brosche was a serf and servant of his father Alexander Regniers of Bleyleben (1578/1579–1649), the imperial colonel and court war council, the owner of the North Bohemian estates Všebořice and Soběchleby. The extraordinary nature of the studied case does not lie in the event itself, but in the preservation of archival sources, which allow a relatively detailed follow-up of the whole case from its beginnings, albeit without gaps and question marks. Bleyleben committed the deed during a visit to the parish house in Krupka, with no apparent cause, apparently drunk. But it was not by far his first aggressive behavior, he had repeated problems with the law and stayed in both home and regular prison (skirmishes, an attempt to provoke a fight, violation of anti-quarantine, knocking a little boy by a horse). On the other hand, Brosche, 39, had been in the service of his father for seventeen years, had four children between the ages of one and thirteen, and he and his wife were among the most popular people in and around Krupka, which was confirmed by their frequent godmother role. The murder took place in a public place, in front of many eyewitnesses who were able to describe exactly what happened. Bleyleben, perhaps in order to prove to the pastor that he could answer the murder before God, had pierced Brosche with his sword.
The scribe died two days later. Against the young baron then came to the Prague authorities not only his accusation of murder, but also violation of marriage, because married Bleyleben supposedly fathered two illegitimate children with a girl from Krupka. The matter came before the Royal Prosecutor, but we do not know his judgment. Yet we know that the nobleman was not severely punished, neither by prison, nor by a financial fine, or at least by compensation of the survivors. Apparently, his lawyers were able to “prove” that the immediate cause of Brosche’s death was not a cord blow, but the subsequent poor after-care and the physical gathering of a 39-year-old scribe! Bleyleben himself was also murdered a year later by Saxon soldiers after a feast at his castle. Meanwhile, Brosche’s wife married for the second time, and in 1650 his oldest, fifteen-year-old daughter, too. Their husbands, together with the guardians of other orphans, hired a prominent Prague lawyer Christoph Kyblin of Waffenburg in 1651 and sued Bleyleben’s mother. They asked her to pay Brosche’s salary, which was allegedly not paid throughout his employment, as well as the so-called blood money as a compensation for killing. However, Anna Marie Bleyleben rejected any orphans‘ claims. She contradicted the allegation that Brosche would not be given his salary, and pointed out the possible embarrassment that the murdered servant was to commit. Last but not least, she claimed that she did not inherit anything from her son and therefore does not feel obliged to pay anything instead of him.
Author: KILIÁN Jan
Publication order reference: Univerzita Hradec Králové, Katedra pomocných věd historických a archivnictví, Rokitanského 62, 500 03 Hradec Králové 3, Czech Republic, mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Source: Studia Historica Nitriensia, year: 2020, vol.: 24, number: 2, pages: 339-353
Key words: Early modern time; Murder; Nobility; Serfs; Litigation; Family of Bleyleben;