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What a saga…

Sagas and myths handed down over the generations contain a lot of folk culture. At some we shudder, some entertain us, all of them teach us something about everyday life and beliefs of the time.

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History & stories

A time without a story is a time without a face If that’s true, then Nauders has a distinctive face. The holiday destination on the Reschen Pass loves to show it, as it looks back on a turbulent, moving past.

All roads lead to Rome, in fact via the Reschen Pass. For the history of Nauders begins with the Roman Alpine road, the Via Claudia Augusta. Having said that, there is evidence of the first settlement in the bronze age....

The beginnings

Nauders was the most northerly outpost of the Rhaetian Venoste (VInschgau) against the neighbouring tribes in the Inn valley, who they grouped together as the “Oeniates” (Inn dwellers) which led to the name “Oeniatina Vallis” or Engadine. With military conquest and occupation of Rhaetia by the Romans in 16 and 15 B.C.E., the area came under Roman control, and the construction of the Via Claudia Augusta followed. A map found in Alexandria indicates a post “Inutrium” marked on the Via Claudia Augusta. This probably indicates the later “Nudres” mentioned in records from 1150. The place name Nauders corresponds to a largely hidden Roman language layer and is ascribed to the Veneto-Illyrians.

With the conquest of the Alpine countries by the Romans, the province of Rhaetia was created. Many names of rivers, and in part, family names, hark back to the process of Romanisation: Tantervals, Munt, Quadra, Kastelmunt, Labaun, Zadres, Verpiens, Vatals, Sates, Pazöl, Valdafuor, Compatsch, Pradanolf, Galstira, Dallamorta, Pardej, Feldrijauna, Partoangs, Turalei, Arsangs, Giamres, Selles, Riatsch, Spondelles.

Naudersberg Court

In Emperor Charlemagne’s local districts, the dukes he had put in place ruled, who gathered the freemen on court days. Nauders was a High Court and a Blood Court, judgements were enforced in the meadows south of Nauders. In the 10th century Nauders was already one of the four courts in the Duchy of Vinschgau. Even today, the fields on the Arsangbach are known as “By the High Court”. As a consequence of the partition of the Tirol (1919), Naudersberg Court was dissolved and made part of the Ried District Court. Naudersberg was at one time the highest court in the Austro Hungarian Empire, in terms of elevation, not authority!

Plague and disasters

As the plague raged throughout Europe in the 14th century, the village was reduced to just a few inhabitants in 1348. In 1609, Nauders was rocked by an avalanche, 22 dwellings were destroyed. 1880 the elements struck once more: A major fire burned down 83 houses and 72 commercial buildings.

War with the French

After a long period of internal peace, the Wars of the Coalition between Napoleon and the allied Austrians, Prussians and Russians brought war to Nauders in 1799. The French dug in in the village - it was completely plundered. Buildings were torn down and all reserves of food were shamefully thrown in the stream.

Legends

The Devil's Teeth

At Piz Mondin you will find the “Luziferschartln.” - Lucifer’s Teeth. These are three sharp.jagged teeth which can be seen from Nauders, and add character to the whole area. The saga goes like this: In olden days, the mountain crest was an enclosed belt. At that, there lived in Nauders a wench of very disreputable standing. She lived a very immoral life, and all warnings went unheeded. Then one day, Lucifer came along, took her up in his wings and flew to the Piz Mondin with her. In her terror, she began to look back on her childhood, as she sat on Lucifer’s wings. Her mother had often told her that if you make the sign of the cross, the devil can do you no harm. So she made the sign of the cross, and Lucifer let her go. She is said to have gone home unharmed, and lived a very pious life from that time on. But in his rage, it is said the devil hacked out these three jagged peaks. Source: Dr. Hermann v. Tschiggfrey, Nauders am Reschen-Scheideck, Tirol, Innsbruck 1932, Pg. 50..

 

Stegmandl of the forest

Opposite the fort which guards the pass at Nauders with its Montalembert towers, lies a farmhouse called Perdisch: here lived a goblin, who liked to look out over the forest path near the farmhouse, and see what was going on And as the path was in a wooded area, he was called “s waldige Stegmandl” - the little man of the woods. Otherwise he was good and upstanding by nature, just occasionally prone to teasing, like all goblins and sprites, which there were a lot of around Nauders and further up into the Vinschgau, and there still are. Many chased them because of this, out of fear. Something was peculiar about Stegmandl of the forest: His legs went all the way up to his head, so that he had no body, where normally goblins have short legs, thick bodies and short necks. His feet were also like the cloven feet of a goat.

Source: Deutsche Alpensagen. - German Alpine Sagas. Collected and published by Johann Nepomuk Ritter von Alpenburg, Vienna 1861, No. 229.

 

The holy tree

Before the olden days, there was a tower by the holy tree. This tower was supposed to be connected to the castle by an underground passage, and two maidens were said to live in this tower. These maidens were very sweet, little creatures, and at harvest time they helped the farmers bring in the harvest from the fields. But nobody could invite them to the Marende, or offer them a gift. They never came back to work for anyone who dared to. At the same time in Nauders stood a mighty lime tree by the church. The boys used to play by this lime tree. But they could only play until the evening bell sounded, and then they all had to go home. One day, a farmer’s wife sent her little boy, who had bright red hair, to the mill to get the flour. On the way home, the boy amused himself with the other lads by the lime tree, until the evening bell sounded. Then one of the two maidens came down the lane and waved to the boy, who had the leather flour bag on his head. He went over to her and she invited him to go with her. He went along quite willingly, and the maiden said this: “You are offspring of our line, you can free us if you do as I say, otherwise it will be centuries before another is born, who can free us. Tomorrow, at 12.00 midnight, come to the holy tree and stand by the tower. I will come out of the tower as a snake, I will crawl up to you, and when this is done, my sister and I will be freed. All the treasure stored in the tower, will belong to you. She repeated herself insistently: Look only at me, the snake is only me, have no fear, let me touch your temples and do not shake me off. Just then the evening bell sounded, the lad promised he would do everything she had told him, and he ran home. A sleepless night followed for the poor boy, nor could he find any rest during the day, and he could only think about what the maiden had said to him. When evening fell. he went out and stood in front of the tower at midnight on the dot. He heard a little noise, and the snake came slithering up to him. It crawled over his feet, drew itself up over his body and reached his arm. The poor lad shook then, terror overcame him, and the snake lay on the ground. A terrible noise came from the tower, as if thousands of glass jars had been thrown over, and both maidens cried in a way that went through you to the bone. They fled to the mountains around Martannes and Planort, but the boy could still hear their shrieks and cries. In fear and horror he ran home and told his mother everything. The lad fell ill and died three days later,

Source: Sagen, Märchen und Gebräuche aus Tirol, (Sagas, Fairy Tales and Customs from South Tirol), collected and published by Ignaz Vinzenz Zingerle, Innsbruck 1891, N0. 258, S. 158ff.

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