The Legend of the Swan Knight
Our setting is the banks of the river Scheldt. There King Heinrich is holding court. His heralds call forth the Count of Telramund to explain the strife in his Duchy of Brabant.
The Count reveals that Gottfried, who is the heir to the Brabant Dynasty, has disappeared, and accuses his ward, Elsa, of his murder.
Elsa is summoned to defend herself, and she declares her innocence. She tells the King about a dream she had that a knight in shining armor will come to champion her cause. The King orders his heralds to call for the champion.
Twice the heralds call, and noone appears. Elsa lends her prayers to the third call, and a boat appears, drawn by a swan, and bearing a knight, fully arrayed for battle. The mysterious knight pledges himself to Elsa on the condition that she never ask his name.
She agrees, and he defeats the Count in combat, sparing his life. Thus he establishes the innocence of his new bride, and they are married.
They spend many years in blissful marriage and raise two strong sons.
But Count Telramund's wife plants seeds of doubt and suspicion in Elsa's mind, and though she loves him, one day she asks the swan knight for his true identity. Before he can reply, he is attacked by the Count. Elsa delivers him his sword, and he slays the Count.
Here are my horn and my sword, keep them carefully; and here, my wife, is the ring my mother gave me - never part with it.
The boat and swan have returned for him, but before he goes, he kneels in prayer. His prayers break the evil spell and transform the swan back into the boy Gottfried, who he names as the true heir of Brabant.
Lohengrin boards the boat and departs, and Elsa falls, lifeless, calling out the name of her beloved Swan Knight.
Return to the Legends of the Swan Tournament page
Lord Crispin d'Ardenne