Perchta of Rozmberk – the White Lady of Bohemia

To Be Cursed

This tale of the Lady in White is probably one of the earliest accounts. Perchta of Rozmberk at the age of twenty was married off by her father to a man she doesn’t agree with, Lord John of Lichtenstejn (also known as Jan and Johann). Recently widowed and living with his mother in law and sister, all three of them made her life hell. It’s well documented in the letters Perchta writes herself, “Take me away from these evil people and you will merit praise, as if you released a soul from purgatory.”1

            Indeed, she goes on to write to her father, “they treat me, for at present I need this greatly; I would like to know Your Grace’s will about how I am supposed to exist in this [situation]; but you should know already that I feel exceedingly lonely and desperate.”2

      So here she is, married off and the only reason he marries her, is because he’s in debt and thinks she will have a large dowry. However her father failed to pay what was promised, leaving her to have to beg her brothers for funds.

      “That a number of his aristocratic peers intervened with him to improve his treatment of Perchta shows, however, that his neglect of his bride exceeded even male tolerance for how one mistreated one’s wife, at least if she were a Rozmberk daughter.”2 and “Perchta reiterates her human status in late December 1450 (Letter 16). Writing to her father, she reminds him that she is his child and that he should have buried her rather than married her to Lichtenstejn, and pointing out that there is a limit to the shame a person can humanly bear.”2

The Tales Begin

      It is said that on John’s death bed he asked for her forgiveness and when it was denied he cursed her.4 I found one site claiming she was burned at the stake when she practiced black magic in a church to get her beloved Jan to love her after he abandoned her for another woman. Either there was another Perchta and Jan of Rozmberk or yet another example of how legends morph.5 Besides a biographer of Perchta states she died from the plague.1

      The widely reported sightings are of her family seeing her in a white dress with keys around her waist. If she was smiling it was a sign of good luck. If she wore black gloves and appeared solemn it foreshadowed tragedy.3

      There are legends surrounding her and treasure as well. The most common story was that she looked out for the children in her family. The last child in her family, Peter Wok von Rosenberg was said to have found it.

When Peter was a baby, his nurse had fallen asleep. She woke to find Perchta taking care of him. The nurse yelled at her, and Perchta having taken great offense says she will never take care of the child again. To tell him when he is older about how much she loved and took care of him, and where she would enter and leave again. Having said that she turned and walked through the wall. When he got older he demolished the wall and discovered treasure.3

The second story regarding treasure involves a portrait of Perchta, or believed to be here. She is surrounded by Enochian script, and if you figure decipher the symbols painted there you would free her ghost and find silver treasure. However, the Enochian script6 was created in the sixteenth century by court astrologer and magician, Dr. John Dee (1527-1608), and his associate, Sir Edward Kelly (1555-1597), a decent hundred years after Perchta had died.

          Finally, the most recent recorded sighting of Perchta was when the Nazi’s were hoisting their flag, many witnesses saw a white figure in the Jakobínka tower. When they went to investigate they found no way to gain entry to the tower. There was no staircase or other method, so what did they see? 7

References

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