You are looking at a medieval market place on a clearing in the forest near the Saxonian city of Salzhausen in Northern Germany. Nobody knows the origin or the whereabouts of this mysterious stranger who all of a sudden seems to have appeared from nowhere.
Is he just one of these guys looking to buy clothes, hand tools or food?
Is he looking to enjoy music and songs which are performed by bards and bands?
Or is the stranger going to attend the upcoming knights tournament in which Henry the Lion will participate?
Or does he have a more sinister plan in mind?
The year is around 1170 and the ruler of this area is the aforementioned Henry III from the House of Welf, called ‚The Lion‘, the Duke of Saxony. But Henry has powerful enemies in the counties of the area who have formed an alliance which until recently was at war with the Duke. The intervention and mediation by German Emperor Frederic III Barbarossa seems to have settled the dispute by now. Still, some of Henry’s opponents may wish him dead to bring an end to the Duke’s continuing ambition to gain ever more power.
In addition to that, Henry’s relationship with Frederic Barbarossa (his cousin) is not unclouded. While Hernry’s support was essential for Frederic’s election to become German King in 1152 (followed by the Imperial Crowning in 1155) in more recent times they have been at odds with the inheritance of their uncle Welf VI (age 55 in 1170) who is governing over Tuscany and major parts of Northern and Middle Italy. Might Frederic want to eliminate his cousin Henry as an unwelcome rival to the heritage issue? We certainly do not want to believe this to be true.
Henry is eager to participate in person in the tournament scheduled for later in the afternoon (we will report on the outcome of the tournament shortly). Security forces have received orders to be on highest alertness.
But despite all security measurements and the nice weather on this Sunday afternoon, remember that these are dark times and that nobody can be trusted…
Therefore: Who knows this mysterious man?
(Hamburg, this twenty second day of April in the year of our Lord, eleven hundred and seventy)