Bishop Hatto and the Mauseturm

Over a thousand years ago, Mainz along the River Rhine was home to Bishop Hatto. In those days, holy men often held titles of nobility. Accordingly, Bishop Hatto also lived as a prince. The city prospered, and Hatto amassed a fortune collecting his share as Lord of the land.

The Mauseturm


But Hatto was greedy and soon felt the acquired wealth was insufficient. Accordingly, he planned to exploit the ships traveling along the Rhine. To stop passing ships and collect tribute, Hatto built a stone tower on the small island in the middle of the river near Bingen.

After a few years of robbing his subjects and those traveling along the river, inclement weather arrived, bringing vast amounts of rain. The drenching rains caused the river to overflow and, consequently, ruined crops and vineyards in the area. The famished and oppressed people suffered while Hatto continued to thrive and demand tribute as he did during prosperous years.

The villagers traveled to the palace to beg the Bishop for food and supplies from his vast stockpiles. In response, the Bishop laughed and stated he would rather share his stock with the mice. This angered the villagers, who began to launch an assault. The Bishop quickly directed them to a barn with the promise of food. Consequently, the villagers happily entered the barn but soon discovered they had been locked inside. Trapped therein, Hatto ordered the barn set ablaze. Slowly, it began to burn, killing the trapped villagers. In addition, the flames scattered hundreds of thousands of mice which began consuming the accumulated stockpiles. The dispersed mice migrated toward the palace in search of food. As they finished the food in the palace, Bishop Hatto panicked and fled for the stone tower in the middle of the river to escape from the mice. He incorrectly assumed the mice would be unable to cross the river. As he crossed the river to the castle tower, the mice followed in close pursuit. While many mice drowned in the river, much more successfully crossed. The remaining mice trapped Hatto in the tower and eventually ate him alive.

Consequently, the Mouse Tower, or Mauseturm as it is still referenced today, serves as an appropriate name for the tower on the island near Bingen.