22. Severus well

We are standing in front of the Severus well. The Severus well, or the „Bur“, as the entire complex is called, was a spring well. Along with 9 other public and private wells, it was essential for the water supply of the town in the Middle Ages. From the foundation of the town until a public water pipeline was built in 1893, water supply remained the same. Every citizen had the right to draw water at the public or „common“ wells without charge.
The wells were renovated over the centuries, for example in 1772 when a new spout was added.

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Brunnenauslauf- 1772
Spout of the well, 1772

The pilgrims of St. Severus took holy water home to heal themselves and their cattle. St. Severus was venerated in the Maifeld area as helper and advocate.

Der Heilige Severus-Stiftskirche
St. Severus-cathedral

At the end of the 19th c. there were 6 tanneries in the town.

Gerberhäuser, 1953
Tanneries, 1953

On our right, the last remaining one. It was a disreputable place. The last executioner and knacker of the town, Theodor Herschler, lived in a little house next to the “Lauffenburg“. The „Bur“ also included a drinking trough and fire pond. Behind us on the left, the renovated washerwomen‘s house, reminding us that clothes were washed here and spread out on the grass to be bleached by the sun.

Bleichwiese, um 1900
Meadow-ground for bleaching, about 1900


Waschtag, um 1900
Washing-day, about 1900

The Lauffenburg is a prominent landmark. It was a part of the town wall, completed by Balduin of Luxembourg in the 14th c. For centuries, the tower was a place to take refuge, store gunpowder, stand watch and keep prisoners. It also housed the torture chamber where 26 witches and sorcerers were tortured in the 17th c. The upper floor and a conical roof were added in 1981.
The tower is open to the public.

Behind us is one of the last remnants of the town wall.  It is said that Count Siegfried from the Genevieve legend once lived in a castle at the end of the present-day wall.

Genovevas Weise
Painting of Adrian Ludwig Richter "Genoveva in der Waldeinsamkeit"


Alte, gezeichnete Grundrisskarte der Stadt
Site of "Siegfrieds Schloss" in a ground-plan of the town, 18th c.




Saint Severus (6th century), not to be confused with Severus, who was venerated in Boppard and was Bishop of Ravena in the 4th century, came from Antrodoco in the present-day province of Rieti. His relics were first brought to Trier by Archbishop Ruotbert (931-956) and from there years later via Hatzenport to the Maifeld. The legend that accompanied him told of the raising of a dead man who died without final consolation because of Severus' negligence. After the revival, Severus gave him the sacraments and was thus able to let him die in peace. Severus was regarded in the Maifeld as a helper and intercessor in cases of illness, famine and drought.


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Occupational name for the activity of recycling and disposing of animal carcasses. Another term was Wasenmeister. The Wasen, lawn, was covered over the carcass. The office of executioner and that of coverer were often connected. They were considered dishonest professions. Dishonest did not mean fraudulent, but not honourable in the sense of the estates' order. The executioner, who was also responsible for the torture, knew human anatomy and with this knowledge also acted as a healer. The profession was often inherited in families. In Münstermaifeld, for example, the Wüst family carried out these activities for over 100 years (1650-1750). The penultimate executioner of this family, Johann Peter Wüst, had to leave the town in disgrace because he had done a bad job with the sword during the execution of Peter Frank in 1761.


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Archbishop and Elector of Trier (1307-1354). Balduin of the House of Luxembourg, brother of the German king and Roman emperor Henry VII. (1308-1313) was one of the most influential imperial princes in the first half of the 14th century. During his reign, Münstermaifeld became an important base for the territorial policy of the Archbishop of Trier. Thus the completion of the construction of the collegiate church was also a demonstration of Trier's presence vis-à-vis neighbouring Cologne. The reinforcement of the town fortifications confirmed the importance of the Münstermaifeld office for securing the rule of the Archbishop of Trier. The enforcement of the land peace protected urban development against encroachments by the nobility.


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Genoveva Legend

When Count Palatine Siegfried went to war as a retainer of the King of the Franks, Genoveva was coveted by Siegfried's governor Golo. His courtship was spurned by the faithful Genoveva. He then accused Genoveva of adultery with a cook and sentenced her to death. However, she was spared by the executioner and set free. She then lived with her newborn son in a cave for six years, where Mary, the Mother of God, cared for them by means of a hind. Eventually, her husband Siegfried, who always believed in her innocence but accepted Golo's decision as governor, found her again and built a pilgrimage church in gratitude for Genoveva's salvation. Golo was quartered on Siegfried's orders after the true course of history was revealed. The places that fit the names and contents of the Genoveva legend, such as the Fraukirch near Thür, the Genoveva Castle in Mayen or the Genoveva Cave near Ettringen, lie in the neighbouring Pellenz. Büchel, the chronicler of our town, also wanted Münstermaifeld to share in the legend. So, referring to old tales, he made the third tower of the town fortifications, which was demolished in 1774, into the castle of Count Siegfried von Mayfeld, the husband of Genoveva. See the map of 1819 with the foundation walls of a larger complex.


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