When the knight Adelbert leaves his beloved Adelheit for the Crusades, her father arranges for her to marry the rich and powerful Robert von Rastenberg, whom she does not love. Several years later, while strolling through the forest, Adelheit encounters her former lover, who has returned to persuade her to run off with him. Torn between her love for Adelbert and her honor and duty as wife, Adelheit chooses to remain with Robert, but her manipulative stepson, Franz, hungry for his father's love and his inheritance, conspires to trick Adelheit into fleeing--and precipitates a series of events that end in tragedy.
Published in 1788 and purporting to chronicle historical events, Eleonore Thon's play reveals more about the changing roles of women at the dawn of the Industrial Age than it does about knightly conduct in the German Middle Ages. Adelheit von Rastenberg will be of interest to students of German literature, comparative literature, women's studies, and theater.
About the Author
Eleonore Thon (1753-1807) was a member of an impoverished noble family and the daughter of August Friedrich Röder, private secretary at the ducal court in Weimar. She wrote three novels, including the widely read Julie von Hirenthal (1780-83), and many poems, translations, and essays. Adelheit von Rastenberg is her only known play.
Karin A. Wurst is professor of German at Michigan State University. Her research interests include seventeenth- and eighteenth-century German literature and women's studies.