The legend of the chess village Ströbeck has it, that Gunzelin von Kuckenberg became prisoner in their village in the year 1009, and that this man taught them chess (which might have been the Courier game), initiating a great chess tradition in the village. Ströbeck is located in about 20 km of Quedlinburg, which became for ca. 200 years the Easter residence of the German emperors,so the story has internal logic.
The tower, which hosted the prisoner still exist. Official history indeed confirms, that Gunzelin was prisoner in Halberstadt (next city from Ströbeck, 8 km distance).
Gunzelin belonged to the family of the Ekkehardiner.
Günther von Merseburg (965–982), son of a count Ekkehard, had become Markgraf von Meißen in 965 by Otto I the Great. He participated in a crusade against the sarazenes in Southern Italy and died there in 982 in a battle.
He was followed by his son Ekkehard I. who reigned 985–1002. In 1001 he accompanied the young king Otto III to Italy - the king died during the operation January 1002. Ekkehard was one of three possible candidates for the throne in the new king's election. Another was chosen and Ekkehard was killed in April 1002. His brother Gunzelin (the assumed man in the chess tower) followed him as Markgraf, but was abdicated in a process 1009 and prisoned. A son of Ekkehard and nephew of Gunzelin followed him as Markgraf.
Gunzelin is said to have found further prison in Bamberg, after "he left his prison in Halberstadt" (Halberstadt has 8 km distance from Ströbeck). After 1017 he disappeared from the documents. But the last of the Ekkehardiner (at least he is called in this way), a Gunther, is said to have been born 1025 and became 1054 Reichskanzler, counselor of empress Agnes, and 1057 Bischof von Bamberg, and died 23th of July 1065 during this famous pilgrimage:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Great_Germ ... %80%931065
... this were 12.000 persons
http://www.mittelalter-genealogie.de/mi ... _1065.html
... says: "Aus vornehmen, dem Königshofe nahestehenden Geschlecht (Mutter: Gerbirg, aus dem Hause der EPPENSTEINER), erhielt Gunther seine Erziehung an der Bamberger Domschule.", but born in Ödenstein (= "Sopron"; Hungary), so "from a noble family near to the king (the mother from the house of the Eppensteiner), educated at the Bamberger cathedral school" ... in other words, they'd difficulties to explain, who was the father, but a modern research (it's pointed to an author Gabriele Rupp) seems to state, it was an "Ekkehardiner".
About Bamberg in this time one should know:
wikipedia wrote:: In 1007, Henry II, King of the Romans, made Bamberg a family inheritance, the seat of a separate diocese. The emperor's purpose in this was to make the Diocese of Würzburg less unwieldy in size and to give Christianity a firmer footing in the districts of Franconia, east of Bamberg. In 1008, after long negotiations with the Bishops of Würzburg and Eichstätt, who were to cede portions of their dioceses, the boundaries of the new diocese were defined, and Pope John XVIII granted the papal confirmation in the same year. Henry II ordered the building of a new cathedral, which was consecrated May 6, 1012. The church was enriched with gifts from the pope, and Henry II had it dedicated in honor of him. In 1017 Henry II also founded Michaelsberg Abbey on the Michaelsberg ("Mount St. Michael"), near Bamberg, a Benedictine abbey for the training of the clergy. The emperor and his wife Cunigunde gave large temporal possessions to the new diocese, and it received many privileges out of which grew the secular power of the bishop. Pope Benedict VIII during his visit to Bamberg (1020) placed the diocese in direct dependence on the Holy See. For a short time Bamberg was the centre of the Holy Roman Empire. Henry and Cunigunde were both buried in the cathedral.
As the story has it, the Diocese of Würzburg hadn't been happy, that it lost territory, later, when the winds changed and another King had arrived, partly Bamberg was reduced in favor of Würzburg.
Well, this is Adalbero, bishop of Würzburg in 1045 till 1085, when he was abdicated (he lived till 1090 in another cloister in his home town, Lambach), later, since 1883, he was declared Saint Adalbero. He first had the honor to lead the ceremony at the king's wedding (1065), later the king became his foe (Henry IV, the one, who had to walk to Canossa in 1077, for 50 years German king from 1056-1106).
Adalbero is suspected to be identical with the otherwise unknown monk Asilo, who in 1030 invented Rithmomachia, by Borst, the famous German expert for medieval times.
http://books.google.com/books?id=udptay ... rg&f=false
"Numerology, or, What Pythagoras wrought" By Underwood Dudley
The name Asilo sounds not like a short form of Adalbero, who "around 1030" was just a young man of 20 years. Asilo sounds like "Asylum" and a monk named Asilo might be somebody in disguise. The quick distribution story actually sounds, as if Asilo didn't stay in Würzburg, but took his way to the cloister Reichenau near Constance (around 1040), where he met another person with some mathematical genius:
Hermann of Reichenau the Lame (1013 July 18 – 1054 September 24), "scholar, composer, music theorist, mathematician, and astronomer", really the right man to spread a new clever game. The "humble monk Asilo" seems to have had no big problem to reach this important man.
Well, my Courier-Rithmomachia fiction
: If Gunzelin didn't die in 1017, but was given the task to make a visit to the holy country, from which he returned, but stranded in Hungary, where he married and got at least a son (the later Ekkehardiner bishop Gunter, * 1025). And if this man had been forbidden to reappear as "Gunzelin", a man and name connected to too much scandals in the past, he might have reappeared as a monk "Asilo", just caring for his son from the distance, and the son naturally became very successful, getting easily highest positions already with the age of ca. 25.
In this case the chess genius would have been just one man, who spread the Courier game to Ströbeck and the Rithnomachia to the world ... well, I overstretched history a little bit, it really isn't necessary, that Gunzelin operated this way, but simply 1009 and ca. 1030 are near to each other in time and the phenomenon chess village Ströbeck and the abbey of Würzburg have no great distance to each other, neither by locality (ca. 200 km) or by social context. Likely we have to assume a sort of general Golden Era of early chess, possibly initiated by the marriage of Otto II. to Theophanu, a relative of the court of Byzantium, who arrived in the West with a great delegation of Greeks.
Henry I the Fowler (23 April 919 — 2 July 936)
Otto I the Great (7 August 936 - emperor 2 February 962 - 7 May 973)
Son of Henry I; first king crowned in Aachen Cathedral since Lothair I; crowned Holy Roman Emperor in 961.
Otto II the Red (26 May 961 - emperor 25 December 967 - 7 December 983
Son of Otto I; King of Germany under his father 961–973; also crowned Emperor in his father's lifetime, married Theophano
973 Theophanu in Quedlinburg for the first time - big cultural impact, Theophanu eats with a fork, not with the fingers ... .-)
Otto III (25 December 983 - emperor 21 May 996 - 21 January 1002)
Son of Otto II and Theophano
Ekkehard was murdered 1002, brother Gunzelin became Markgraf
Henry II the Saint (7 June 1002 - emperor 26 April 1014 - 13 July 1024)
Great-grandson of Henry I
1009 Gunzelin becomes prisoner - in this time Theophanu's daughter is abbess in Quedlinburg
Conrad II (8 September 1024 - emperor 26 March 1027 - 4 June 1039)
Great-great-grandson of Otto I
Conrad was accompanied by two Ekkehardiner (sons of Ekkehard, killed in 1002), to Italy (emperor oronation)
Henry III (14 April 1028 - emperor 25 December 1046 - 5 October 1056)
Son of Conrad II; King of Germany under his father 1028–1039
He favors Würzburg in contrast to Bamberg
Henry IV (17 July 1054 - emperor 21 March 1084 - 31 December 1105)
Son of Henry III; King of Germany under his father 1054–1056
Quedlinburg ... a central place for the Ottonian time, later still used as an Easter residence to celebrate the ancestors of the German Empire. More than 60 visits of Emperors and German kings are recorded till a. 1200. The chess village Ströbeck has 22 km distance to Quedlinburg.
The fort of the Fürstbischof in Würzburg, a stronghold since very old times
I selected the general list, which I recently presented, to European entries around the critical time.
0801 Charlemagne (742-814) introduced to chess.
0895 GREEKS; Chess introduced to the Greeks; call it zatrikion.
0900 EUROPE; Chess introduced into Europe.
0999 EINSIEDELIN; Earlist known literary account of chess in Europe, the Einsiedeln Verses, Switzerland. Versus de scachis is a 98-line poem describing the game & its rules.
1000 OTTO II; The daughter of Otto II (955-983) was "won" from a chess match.
1000 RUSSIA; Chess reaches Russia from Byzantium and from the Vikings.
1008.07.28 ERMENGUAD; 1st written reference to chess in Europe, from a will of Ermengaud I, Count of Urgel.(that's an entry in Catalonia, Spain)
1050 GERMAN; Earliest reference of chess in the German literature, the Latin epic Ruodlieb.
1055 POEM; Chess poem, Ludus scacorum or Eligia de Ludo Scachorum, written.
1060 William the Conqueror breaks board over head of Prince of France.
1061.12 DAMIANI; Cardinal Damiani of Ostin forbids the clergy to play chess.
1066 BRITIAN; Chess introduced into Britain.
1078 ALFONSO; King Alfonso VI of Castile played chess with B. Ammar.
1078 Seville was spared from siege due to a chess game.
1080 Normans name the financial departments exchequer.
1081 ALEXIUS; Emperor Alexius I comes to power. Plays chess with his court.
1090 Boards with alternating light and dark squares are introduced.
1092 IBN-EZRA; Abraham Ben Ibn-Ezra b. in Tudela, Spain. Author of Hebrew chess works.
1093 CHURCH; Chess is condemned by the eastern orthodox church.
1097 FRENCH; 1st French reference to chess.
1100 POLAND; Chess introduced in Poland.
1110 ZONARES; John Zonares, Eastern Church monk, excommunicated chessplayers.
1115 BYZANTINE; The emperor of the Byzantine empire is a chess addict.
From this it seems, that chess reached German Empire and Christian Spain first, Spain likely from his Islamic inhabitants, Germany possibly by contacts to Byzanz and earlier by relations from Charlemain to Harun-al-Rashid.
France and England seems to have been reached a little later. "The daughter of Otto II (955-983) was "won" from a chess match" ... would be interesting to know this story.
The story of the text "Ruodlieb", above given to 1050, is interesting, however the English wikipedia is rather short, the German much better. The hero is lucky to create some peace between his own king and another (with the help of chess) and gets a reward, either money or wisdom. His choice is wisdom and he gets 12 sentences of wisdom and 2 breads, which the hero should eat much later at specific opportunities. The breads contain jewels and other worthwhile stuff.
The "Eligia de Ludo Scachorum" above is possibly dated too early.
http://books.google.com/books?id=bb3RCk ... de&f=false
... has much details to Ezzo, German language
The birth date of Matilde is confirmed for 1079, an agreement for the marriage is assumed to have been given in 1491. Otto II. was dead then, but the widow Theofanu spend a lot of her time in Cologne, near to Ezzo.
As source for the Chess note is is given die "Fundatio Brauweiler", which should be identical with "Fundatio monasterii Brunwilarensis", mentioned in a Wikipedia article ...
... and according this from a monk in the late 1th century, so a little too late.
The source to Ezzo above speaks of a board game, not directly "chess". The source of the 19th century chess master mentions it not. So - negative for the moment.
Here's an interesting list about religious prohibitions of chess:
http://dreamgreen.org/games/noble-celts ... idden.html
An interesting article to Alfonso book of chess 1284
http://etd.library.arizona.edu/etd/GetF ... cation/pdf
Zur Geschichte und Literatur des Schachspiels: Forschungen
By Tassilo von Heydebrand und der Lasa (2005, original from 1897 ?)
http://books.google.com/books?id=V04nIB ... ch&f=false
Seems to be a rather good source, though German language. Tassilo had been a 19th century German chessmaster.
To daughter of Otto II.:
"In Europe, too, where chess was often played for stakes, difficulties with the Church arise, as well they might when we hear that at the very beginning of the eleventh century Mathilda, daughter of Otto II, was "won" as the result of a chess match between Ezzo, the Count Palatine, and her brother, Otto III."
http://www.goddesschess.com/chessays/ch ... chess.html
http://books.google.com/books?id=bb3RCk ... de&f=false
Mathilde should have been born 979, the first birth year of a son is given as 995, though it is not the oldest. The marriage agreement was made 991, the wedding some time later.
"The Lotharingian palatines out of the Ezzonian dynasty were important commanders of the imperial army and were often employed during internal and external conflicts (e.g. to suppress rebelling counts or dukes, to settle frontier disputes with the Hungarian and the French kingdom and to lead imperial campaigns)."
The source with the chess passage is given as the "Brauweiler Foundatio", written at end of 11th century, so considerably later. A second source ...
Ottonian Germany: the Chronicon of Thietmar of Merseburg
By Thietmar (von Merseburg, Bishop of Merseburg), David Warner
http://books.google.com/books?id=RQFmHx ... ss&f=false
... which also talks about the marriage and doesn't mention chess.
991: Theohanu had died (15th of June Nimwegen), Otto II. was already 8 years dead. Otto III. was 11 years old, the bride 12 years.
The marriage contract likely was made to solve the difficult situation.
A few generations later a monk in Brauweiler near Cologne (that had been pro-Ezzo territory) writes, that Ezzo did win either in a "chess game" or in a "chess or dice game" or in a "board game" the hand of Mathilde either from Otto II. or Otto III. --- so far the contradictions, that I've read about this story.
An interesting document with (? copulating? fighting?) phantasy animals ... but an official and real marriage document for Theophanu and Otto II.
http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/c ... unde01.jpg