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The Secret of Countess Barbara Bella

In this novel, I combine a love story, a piece of our local history with peasant revolts, Turkish invasions, legends and the life of people in the early 16th century.


This book is a mixture of history, legends, love, and my imagination.


The story takes place in the early 16 th century when the land of Carniola was shaken by Turkish invasions and peasant uprisings. In 1515, a great Slovenian peasant uprising occurred. The peasants seized and burned many castles, including the one at Raka. The lord of Raka, together with his family, was dressed in peasant clothes and forced to work in the fields. Later, the family was imprisoned in the Cave named Hell, from which they were rescued by the Lords of Rajhenburg after being notified by a woman from the nearby village called Ardro. The woman was later killed by the peasants as revenge.

The countess at the castle becomes Barbara Bella. Partly because of her surname and also because of the attractiveness of the story, I portrayed the countess as a young lady of considerable external beauty. Among the locals, there is still a legend that the countess ordered disobedient peasants to be whipped. For this purpose, a pillory (or pranger), which still stands today, was erected next to the castle's economic buildings. The same countess have freed all the residents of the nearby village of Ardro due to her fondness (love) for a freeman from Ardro. That's why people from the surrounding area still call them The dog breeders (Pesjajnarji). 

The story mentions a knight named Marko from Klis who successfully obtained help from the Croatian ban in the fight against the Turks and thus gained considerable favor with the regional estates. It is presumed that Knight Marko from Klis or Heartless Marko, who was said to have sold the families of rebellious peasants to Dalmatia, are the same person, but there is  no evidence to support this claim. His connection with Countess Barbara Bella is a product of my imagination.

Near Krško, towards Brestanica (Rajhenburg), there is a hill called Grmada (Pyre), where witches were burned in history. The torture chair in the basement of Raka Castle is still there today, as mentioned in the book. I made up the connection between Grmada, the mentioned torture chair, and Countess Barbara Bella.

The peasant uprising that broke out in 1515 was suppressed by Knight Herberstein and his army. He brutally dealt with the defeated peasants, beheading their leaders or impaling them. Other rebels, and in some lordships even all peasants, were forced to pay an additional tax called the punter pfennig.


Barbara stumbled towards the pyre, carefully arranged by those who either passionately hated her or, perhaps, loved her so tragically that they skillfully wove a garland of lies and tightened a noose around her neck. Groups of people were arranged all around her. Some were so close that the smell of their sweaty bodies made her stomach turn. "But it wasn't just their smell that repulsed her. More than the smell, it was the hatred emanating from them, the desire for revenge. By taking revenge on her, they were revenging all the rich and landowners who, in their arrogance, had ignored the suffering of the poor peasants.  

Many peasants had been whipped on the pillory for a small sum of money. Barbara, too, had ordered the whipping for some of them, and now she regretted it, but the deeds could not be erased. She looked at the almost overwhelming crowd of people, eager for her suffering, but she couldn't see them. She felt like it was all happening somewhere else, in some other dimension, separate from reality. Her lips trembled with fear. She used up all the energy she had left for just one word: 

"Mother!" It seemed to her that she was shouting at the top of her lungs, but in reality, only a faint articulation of one syllable emerged from her lips: 'Mom, mom!'" 

"Are you here? Can you see me? Why didn't you help me when you could have? Are all the castles and estates worth more than my love? Worth more than me, your daughter? Do you feel ashamed of me when they take me all ragged to the place of execution? Has your heart hardened like the stones you love so much? These questions screamed in her head and pounded inside her skull, as if trying to fight their way to freedom. 

They tightly tied her to the stake, and the next moment, thick smoke began to swirl around her feet, causing tears to well up in her eyes. She lowered her eyelids.  

»For the last time,« she thought and surrendered to fate. The unbearable pain that snaked from her feet all the way to her brain briefly erased the tranquility from her face. At that moment, she saw a beautiful shiny being in front of her.

"Your time has not come yet, Barbara," was its message. The all-encompassing love she felt at that moment gently led her to the world beyond fire and suffering ..."

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