Online Encyclopedia


Online Encyclopedia
Originally appearing in Volume V11, Page 96 of the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica.
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FREISCHUTZ, in German folklore, a marksman who by a compact with the devil has obtained a certain number of bullets destined to hit without fail whatever object he wishes. As the legend is usually told, six of the Freikugeln or " free bullets " are thus subservient to the marksman's will, but the seventh is at the absolute disposal of the devil himself. Various methods were adopted in order to procure possession of the marvellous missiles. According to one the marksman, instead of swallowing the sacramental host, kept it and fixed it on a tree, s''ot at it and caused it to bleed great drops of blood, gathered the drops on a piece of cloth and reduced the whole to ashes, and then with these ashes added the requisite virtue to the lead of which his bullets were made. Various vegetable or animal substances had the reputation of serving the same purpose. Stories about the Freischutz were especially common in Germany during the 14th, 15th and 16th centuries; but the first time that the legend was turned to literary profit is said to have been by Apel in the Gespensterbuch or " Book of Ghosts." It formed the subject of Weber's opera Der Freischutz (1821), the libretto of which was written by Friedrich Kind, who had suggested Apel's story as an excellent theme for the composer. The name by which the Freischutz is known in French is Robin des Bois. See Kind, Freyschiitzbuch (Leipzig, 1843) ; Revue des deux mondes (February 1855); Grasse, Die Quelle des Freischutz (Dresden, 1875).
End of Article: FREISCHUTZ

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