Great Castles Logo and Chateau de Chinon
Burg Sooneck, Rheinland-Pfalz Germany

Best Shot at Burg Sooneck

On the middle Rhine near Burg Sooneck there are many castles. Where there are many castles, there are often many quarrels. In early days, quarrels often led to tragic results. This was true for Burg Sooneck regarding the quarrel between Siebold of Sooneck and Hans Veit of Furstenberg. While the bickering began over nothing of great importance, Siebold held a grudge against Hans and refused to end the quarrel peacefully.

Most quarrels at the time were settled with some sort of challenge. However, as Hans was known to be the best bowman in the land, any challenge involving archery would result in a victorious Hans. Siebold who was larger, stronger and a better swordsman than Hans, challenged him to a hand-to-hand fight to the death.

Hans fought bravely but was no match against Siebold's strength. Nonetheless, Siebold had no intention of killing Hans as he wanted to prolong the suffering of his nemesis. Instead, Hans was taken to Burg Sooneck where both his eyes were burned out. "Now that you are blind, no longer are you the best shot in the land!" Siebold angrily shouted at his enemy. Hans was then taken to the dungeon and nursed back to health only to live as Siebold's captive. For months, Hans suffered in the dungeon.

One day, a large party was held at Burg Sooneck with laughter filling the knight's hall. Siebold who was partaking in the festivities and being cheered by all in attendance, decided this was the perfect occasion to humiliate Hans once again. After Hans was brought to the knight's hall, Siebold began to mock him in front of the crowd. "There he is, the master of all bowmen. He who could shoot a swallow in flight and hare in full run. Let us see how skillful you are now!" Then Hans was presented with a new challenge. Siebold offered to set him free if he hit a goblet in midair with an arrow.

The servants provided Hans with a crossbow and arrow. After a short pause, Siebold tossed the goblet in the air and yelled "shoot!" A split second later, the arrow raced across the hall and pierced Siebold in the neck. Siebold immediately fell to the ground and died. Not knowing who would be next to fall victim to the “best shot in the land,” everyone immediately fled. Hans lowered the crossbow and began to cry. Some say the tears were the result of pride or joy of being free while others say they were of longing for the lost pleasure of shooting his bow.