Because of the cold winter with no food, people starved to death, even inside the castle walls. And ever since then, the ghost of the queens chambermaid still haunts the castle, known as the Mantelgeist.
It was a hard winter in medieval times in Oslo in Norway, a place known for its cold and harsh winters. So far north, the cold was biting, sparing no one. The plague had returned to the country again, and the King’s coffins were empty.
There was nothing to buy food with and people fell dead were they were standing either by starvation or the cold. Not only by the deadly plague that killed every one it touched, but the hunger as well was a silent killer.
Norway was a much different country than today, yes it was in the middle ages, but even by medieval standard, the country was poor, uneducated, and ravaged by hunger, weather and wars. Even the royals didn’t escape the plagues clutch.
A hard winter in the 1370s, there was not much food at the Akershus fort, were the queen resided. King Håkon IV Magnusson was king, and the queen was Margrete I, the one that were going to rule all of Scandinavia. But before that, she would go through her hardest winter.
The Cold Winters in the North
There were only decades since the Black Death had put the country in ruins. No another plague was at it and even behind the heavy doors at the fortress the repercussion of the killing plague hit them.
The queen sat alone at the fortress as her husband was away. Pregnant, hungry and desperate. In a letter, she detailed that she and her servants no longer could sustain themselves on the food available. She asked a prayer, begging the King her husband make sure she got credit at a tradesman so that she could manage through the winter with the rest of the court. The nation was in her hands, that’s how bad it was.
The Starved Chambermaid
Queen Margrete made it through alive. As the queen she was, she got the food. Not everyone was that lucky. One of her chambermaids are supposed to have died of starvation that winter. A servant that was much closer to the queen than many, that dressed her and took care of her every need. No she will never leave the fortress.
It is said that she still wanders through the fortress, through the Margrete hall in particular, were she ended her days that cold winter with no food. Her ghostly figure enters in a long robe, thereby the name Mantel, meaning robe or cloak. When she turns to those in the room, she has no face, only a blank surface stares back.
We have no name to the poor girl at the fortress. She is only called the Maiden at the fortress or the Mantelgeist. And that is how she will spend the remaining years, nameless and faceless.
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