Child's, The English And Scottish Ballads

Volume 3 of 8 from 1860 edition -online book

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SIR ALDINGAB.                           239
her virginity to the Lord, and preserved it intact,— so that when at one time by the instigation of the en­emy of mankind a suspicion had been raised against her, she, to prove her innocence, walked with bare feet over burning ploughshares, and came off' un­scathed." Again, we read in a slightly more recent German chronicle, as follows : " The Devil, who hates all the righteous, and is ever seeking to bring them to shame, stirred up the Emperor against his wife, per­suading him, through a certain duke, that in contempt of her husband she had committed adultery with an­other man. The empress offered to undergo an ordeal, and a great many bishops came to see it car­ried out. Whereupon seven glowing ploughshares were laid on the ground, over which the empress was forced
to walk in bare feet, to attest her innocence,.....
which, when the king saw, he prostrated himself be­fore her with all his nobles." Adalbert's Life of St. Henry (which is, at the latest, of the 12th century), agreeing in all essentials with these accounts, adds an important particular, explaining how it was that the Devil brought the queen's honor into question, name­ly, that he was seen by many to go in and out of her private chamber, in the likeness of a handsome young man. — St. Cunigund is said to have undergone the ordeal at Bamberg, in the year 1017. The story, however, is without foundation, not being mentioned by any contemporary writers, but first appearing in various legends, towards the year 1200.
But St. Cunigund is by no means the first German empress of whom the story under consideration is told. A writer contemporary with her, who has nothing to say about the miracle just recounted, relates some-