Friday, 5 September 2014

A Return Engagement for Friedrich von der Trenck

I have acquired, of late, a reputation as a lady who favours tales of the guillotine. I cannot deny that I do like a full-blooded story of the National Razor and, last year, shared with you the escapades of Friedrich von der Trenck, a man who lived an adventurous, exciting life of espionage, danger and, no doubt, romance.

Shortly after I told this tale I was contacted via Twitter by De Zilveren Eeuw (aka Rob), a purveyor of wonderful antiquarian publications. Rob and I have corresponded on many matters of Georgian interest and he kindly furnished me with three Dutch illustrations that tell further episodes in the life of von der Trenck and were published in the adventurer's autobiography. It is my pleasure to share these with you today and Rob has also provided translations of the original text, for which I am eternally grateful!
Part II p 166 number VII / Trenck's visit to king Friedrich of Prussia. At last the Monarch was so touched, that he was getting up from his chair. – I noticed tears were flowing out of his eyes. – I – embraced his knees.
Part II p 166 number VII / Trenck's visit to king Friedrich of Prussia.
At last the Monarch was so touched, that he was getting up from his chair. – I noticed tears were flowing out of his eyes. – I – embraced his knees.

The first illustration shows von der Trenck being received by Frederick the Great. Once high in the king's favour, Frederick and von der Trenck were torn asunder by gossip and scandal. In this image we see the friends reunited, Frederick so adoring of his sometimes bodyguard that the monarch actually weeps to receive him.


Part II Ip.144 number X / Trenck is coming back from the Front with 4 heads of enemies and acquires a pardon from his condemnation to death by Field-Marshall Münnich And (I) was coming –  with 4 heads,  tied on the manes of the horse –  back
Part II Ip.144 number X / Trenck is coming back from the Front with 4 heads of enemies and acquires a pardon from his condemnation to death by Field-Marshall Münnich
And (I) was coming –  with 4 heads,  tied on the manes of the horse –  back

The second illustration shows von der Trenck returning from the Front carrying the severed heads of his enemies. Condemned to death for going against his commander's orders when fighting the Turks,  von der Trenck made a deal that he would bring the heads of three enemies or lose his own. Sure he would not be able to manage such a feat, Field-Marshall Münnich accepted the wager. In fact, our anti-hero returned with one to spare and once again saved his skin!

Part III p 180 number XI / Trenck ignores his house arrest in Vienna, goes to the theatre, meets his enemy Count Gossau and is trying to throw him out of the box.  He – snatches Count GOSSAU, and is intending to throw him – down on the pit. GOSSAU is drawing his sword.
Part III p 180 number XI / Trenck ignores his house arrest in Vienna, goes to the theatre, meets his enemy Count Gossau and is trying to throw him out of the box.
 He – snatches Count GOSSAU, and is intending to throw him – down on the pit. GOSSAU is drawing his sword.

In the third image we meet our man at the Viennese theatre. Not for him a peaceful evening of simulated drama, he has to create some of his own and instead becomes embroiled in an altercation with Count Gossau, a long time enemy. As the two men grapple, von der Trenck attempts to push the unfortunate Count out of his box and into the pit below; it took a number of men to pull the opponents apart and save Gossau's skin!

Finally Rob has treated us to a far more respectable image of von der Trenck, posed for a portrait in which he appears all innocence, though we know better.












2 comments:

Unknown said...

A man of action in all senses, Catherine. I thank you and Rob.

Catherine Curzon said...

A pleasure!