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The legend of the "doctor" of Bernkastel

A popular legend in the Moselle town says that in the 14th century the Elector Boemund II of Trier became seriously ill during a stay at the castle Landshut. No medication helped and none of his famous doctors knew what to do.

Wein genießen an der Mosel. Zum Beispiel bei der Erlebnisführung "Doctor-Wein-Tour" in Bernkastel-Kues; im Hintergrund der historische Marktplatz.
© C. Arnoldi
Gästeführer der Doctor-Wein-Tour in Bernkastel-Kues hält Equipment (Spritze) in den Händen.
© C. Arnoldi
Ein Gästeführer der Stadt Bernkastel-Kues, gewandet als Bernkasteler Doctor.
© Augenfaellig
Wein trinken an der MosEine Flasche Wein von der berühmten Weinlage Bernkasteler Doctor.
© Wein- und Ferienregion Berkastel-Kues GmbH
Dieses Kunstwerk an der Mosel steht in Bernkastel-Kues. Der Doctorbrunnen. Er zeigt reliefartig die Geschichte des berühmten Bernkasteler Doctorweins.
© Wein- und Ferienregion Berkastel-Kues GmbH

Archbishop Boemund II was seriously ill and ruled the archdiocese of Trier from 1354 to 1362, which was elevated to electorate by Emperor Charles IV in 1356 by the Imperial Law "Golden Bull", at his castle "Landshut" near Bernkastel darnieder.

Many doctors approached the old man's camp of pain. But no one could bring him the hoped-for rescue. Boemund had already consumed an incredible amount of tea and bitter medicine; it was in vain. Then he made it known throughout the archdiocese who was able to banish the tiresome fever, he should come and help him. He will be sure of a reward.

At the same time, a very elderly knight lived in his castle Hunolstein in the Hunsrück. He had fought some hot battles as a young squire and in his manhood, defying some storms and rain as well as heat and cold. The snow of old age now covered his head, and deep furrows ran through his weather-beaten forehead. But his limbs were still strong, his neck tightened unbent, and to the white beard that framed the face, the youthfully reddened cheeks stood in blissful contrast.

When this knight in the old bone felt weak once, or when the chills shook his body on a cold December evening, only a drink of the fiery Bernkasteler wine, which he himself had drawn, helped him. The Hunolsteiner was wealthy in Bernkastel. He then took a firm, strong pull from the full tankard, not just a miserable sip.

When the knight heard of the bishop's infirmity, he did not hesitate to help his spiritual master with the often tried and tested means. He set off for the plagued sick man and took a keg of the best old wine with him. Boemund was shocked when he saw the strange healing artist: for he thought he now even had to enjoy a whole barrel full of bitter medicine.

But the knight lifted the roundish vessel from the shoulder, hit the crane, loosened the bung and filled a cup with the clear, golden water, whose spicy scent immediately poured through the whole room. The sick gentleman's concerns vanished. He straightened himself up from his pillows, received the food and emptied the cup to the bottom. Meanwhile, the other blamed quackery and doctors and was all called the cuckoo. The new cure struck the delighted prince of the church: he really enjoyed it, and gratefully he gave the health-giving fire wine the name "Bernkasteler Doctor", which he still carries today.

On the trail of a legend
This is how the "Bernkasteler Doctor" got his name. This legend inspired us to create a very special guided tour: the city tour with the Bernkasteler Doctor. The 90-minute tour through the old town of Bernkastel includes - Nomen est omen - 2 glasses of Doctor wine.