Investigating a Legend

Time, Heroes and Location of the Millstone Story

According Czech and German historians, the “legend of the milestone” takes place in Bohemia in 1081 (Sinapius, Hellbach, Hefner, Grässe, Sedláček). Some Polish and German heraldists have a dissident opinion and locate the story in Silesia. There are some differences between the Bohemian and Polish versions. The Czech version is much more detailed with names and places.

 

Both versions end with the same conclusion regarding the millstone coat of arms: the eight young heroes of the story put a millstone on their coat of arms to honour the miller who nurtured them. They are the ancestors of the Paprzyca/Kuszaba Clan. The PDF document above explores the facts of this legend with a focus on time, heroes and locations.  

Legend in Poland 

 

In ancient times, when a noble lady gave birth to multiple babies (more than two), she was suspected of adultery. In the Paprzyca / Kuszaba story, a noble woman gave birth to nine boys at the same time and feared a social outrage. She decided to keep only one and asked her maid to drown the eight others in the river. On her way with a big bag containing the eight babies, the maid met the father who was back from hunting. He asked what was in the bag and she replied that she wanted to get rid of some new-born puppies. The gentleman wanted to check if any of these puppies would be a good hunting dog. Opening the bag, the husband discovered the babies and the terrible intention of his wife. Secretly, he asked the miller who lived nearby to take care of the boys. He provided for their education until they became adults.

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One day, on the occasion of a feast in his manor, the gentleman asked his guests what would be the punishment for a mother who plans to drown her new-born children. Everybody agreed that for such crime, death would be the best punishment. As a reaction, the gentleman revealed the existence of his eight sons and proudly presented them to the assembly. The gentleman thanked God for his children and declared that public shame was the best divine punishment for his wife. Facing this terrible future, the wife retired in a convent. To express gratitude to the miller, the eight boys put a millstone on their coat of arms. 

Legend in Bohemia 

 

In Bohemia, a noble lady, the wife of Lord Dobrohost, mocked a poor woman who had triplets, accusing her of adultery. This lady was punished by God when she gave birth to nine baby boys the same day. Two old women who attended this multiple birth declared that this was an evil spell from a sorcerer who was burnt in Visherad a few days before. The lady kept one baby with her. The old women put the eight babies in a box and took them to be buried in some secret place.

 

On their way, they met Lord Dobrohost, the father, who was back from Vyserad where he had visited his suzerain Duke Vladislaus. He asked what was in the box and discovered the truth. The father took the babies home to be feed and baptized. Then, he asked the miller to nurture and educate them. The wife remained in the house and lived the rest of her life under the resentful watch of her husband. When they became adults, the eight boys put a millstone on their coat of arms