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Judicial Corporal Punishment Of Women: Stories And Novels

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Jon Smithie

I haven't posted about Doris Ritter for a while -- real life has intervened -- but I'm still looking into factual and fictional material on her fate. Here are two fictionalisations I have come across.

The first is the 1921 silent movie "Fridericus Rex" which I mentioned in the previous post quoted above. The film is not online, although it does appear to have survived -- a restored version was shown at an Italian film festival a few years ago. There are 22 stills from the film at this Italian site. As we know that they did cast Doris Ritter (played by Lilly Alexandra), I have thought from the outset that the whipping must be part of the plot and that it must have been shown on screen -- it's a silent movie, so you have to show everything in the absense of explanatory dialogue. Looking closer, I now found confirmation of that. Firstly, I found several mentions of the movie causing a scandal with press articles complaining not only about the movie being pro-monarchy propaganda (the monarchy having been toppled only three years previously) but also specifically about the brutality of the on-screen execution and flogging scenes, presumably referring to Katte and to Doris, respectively, which the papers say should never have been cleared for juvenile viewers. One article mentions that the flogging shows the lashes on her bare back, although it says that the girl herself cannot be seen (presumably meaning we just see the back, not the entire body or face). There is no still of the flogging scene, but we do have one of Katte's execution, which gives some idea of the scale of the production -- that was an expensive film to make in 1921!:

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Secondly, I found the plot summary as published in 1921 in the Illustrierter Film-Kurier. These were published for every silent movie at the time for sale in the cinema in the same way as an opera programme, to help the audience understand the plot of what happens on screen. The plot summary for Fridericus Rex is here. From this, the film makers took considerable liberty with the historical events, and in particular reversed the cause and effect of Doris's flogging:

"Fritz, der das Bild seiner zukünftigen aus London schon in der Tasche hat, eilt allabendliche mit der Flöte unter dem Mantel zu Dorris Ritter, der schönen Kantorstochter. (...) Am Morgen auf dem Exerzierplatz erregt er den Zorn des Königs, und ehe er sich versieht, sitzt er in Stubenarrest. Aber es gibt noch Fenster, schnell die Flöte her und dann zu Dorris, während der König in der Tabagie seinen Groll in großen Wolken von sich bläst und denkt, sein Sohn werde wohl verwahrt und zur Reue geneigt. Gumbkow aber hat einen Brief des Kronprinzen nach England aufgefangen, indem Fritz einen höchst aufsässigen Standpunkt in der er Heiratsgeschichte vertritt. Der König will seinen Sohn zur Rede stellen. Aber das Zimmer ist leer. Der Adressant ist entflohen. Der König schäumt! Patrouillen werden in Trab gesetzt. Der treue Katte bekommt Wind von der Sache, er eilt und reißt Fritz vom Spinett. Die Wache findet nur die arme Jungfer und schleppt sie vor den König. „Auspeitschen“ befiehlt der außer sich, und schon sausen die Hiebe auf einen harten Rücken. Da stürzt Fritz hinzu und springt den Vater fast an die Kehle. Ein Bruch nicht mehr zu kitten! Fritz will fliehen. Preußen ist für ihn ein Gefängnis. Also fort! Katte ist dabei. Auch ihn lockt Freiheit und Gefahr. Zwei Koffer sind schnell gepackt."

"Fritz, a picture of his future bride from London already in his pocket, rushes every evening with the flute hidden under his coat to Doris Ritter, the beautiful daughter of the cantor. That morning he arouses the ire of the King on the parade ground, and finds himself confined to his chamber. But there is a window, so he grabs the flute and heads for Doris's while the King sits in his smoking room puffing out his wrath in a cloud of tobacco and thinks his son is well confined and rueful. Minister Gumbkow has intercepted a letter by the Crown Prince to England where he takes a most rebellious position on the marriage front. The King wants to confront his son. But the chamber is empty. The delinquent has fled. The King is outraged! Patrols are sent out. Faithful Katte hears of it, he rushes and drags Frits away from the harpsichord. The guards find only the poor maiden and drag her to the presence of the King. "Flogging" he orders in high rage, and immediately the lashes rain down onto a hard back. At that moment, Fritz stroms into the room and almost jumbs at his father's throat. The falling-out cannot be mended any more! Frtis wants to run away. Prussia is a prison to him. So, let's be away! Katte is willing. He is also tempted by liberty and danger. Two suitcases are quickly packed."

So, here Doris is flogged for making music with Fritz against the King's orders, which in turn leads to the quarrel between Prince and King and to the Prince's and Katte's attempted desertion, which ends in the Prince's arrest and Katte's execution. That would put the flogging immediately after this sedate scene:

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Another fictional treatment is from around 1853, in the play "Prinz Friedrich" by the German dramatist and theatre director Heinrich Laube. The play is on Google Books in its entirety as a free PDF (link), and its main characters are all the names I have posted in this thread: apart from the royal family, we have Katte, Doris, Eversmann und Grumbkow all in major speaking roles -- indeed the very first scene is a meeting of Katte and Doris.

The key confrontation is in Act 3, Scene 9, where the King has a stand-off with Friedrich and Doris in front of the Queen, Eversmann and Grumbkow in a scene very reminiscent of Schiller's "Kabale und Liebe" (a play that as I posted earlier is in my opinion based on the Doris Ritter story). At one point, the King grabs Doris and drags her over to the Queen, shouting "Do you know this girl? Did you know that she is your son's harlot?" triggering emotional protestations of innocence from Prince and Doris, and then later speaks the verdict "This girl, demurely clad in gray linen, is to be paraded in front of all folk on the market square to stand in the pillory, and then she is to suffer the Staupenschlag (public flogging)." The scene (and the act) end with the Prince and Doris both asking to be killed outright rather than her having to suffer this shame. In a later scene, Doris begs the Prince to save her "from the pillory and the mob, who will shame and dishonour her and driver her father to despair" by giving her a dagger so that she can kill herself. At that very moment, they hear Katte's execution off-stage. However, on my reading of the play, the King and his son get reconciled in the final act without Doris ever getting actually flogged, which is a bit of an anti-climax.

Altogether, I have to say for a woman who has supposedly been forgotten, Doris has notched up an impressive number of fictional appearances. Clearly, in the 19th and early 20th century her role in the quarrel between King and Prince (an integral part of the foundation myth of the Prussian state) was still universally known in popular culture, always closely associated with the unjust flogging. She has only become obscure in more recent times.
Strong work, nsur! One can only hope there will be yet another celluloid retelling of the Doris Ritter story, only including the whipping. I think it's an equally compelling story to the Affair of the Diamond Necklace incident of pre-revolutionary France that has also spawned film treatments.

One can only hope that perhaps you're working on a historical/fictional retelling yourself?



Strong work, nsur! One can only hope there will be yet another celluloid retelling of the Doris Ritter story, only including the whipping. I think it's an equally compelling story to the Affair of the Diamond Necklace incident of pre-revolutionary France that has also spawned film treatments.

One can only hope that perhaps you're working on a historical/fictional retelling yourself?

Thanks, Jon. There is at least one other, the 1979 TV mini series "Der Thronfolger" (The Heir To The Throne), which has Dietlinde Turban cast as Doris, with the very famous Günter Strack as the old king. It's on DVD but not online, and I haven't seen it. Not sure if Doris is the girl seen in the bedroom scene directly to the right of the film title on the below DVD cover -- looks a bit like Dietlinde Turban:


Also no idea if this treatment has the whipping scene -- a 1979 TV treatment may well have kept that off-screen. It's based on the 1930s novel "Vater und Sohn", which is highly non-historical and treats Doris as a hysterical teenager bringing on her own doom by imagining herself as the Prince's soulmate and defender, but it's possible the TV script treated her more sympathetically.

Quite separately from any research into the Doris story, I have also recently read "Iron Kingdom" by Christopher Clark, a serious historical book on the history of Prussia which I believe was a bestseller in its German translation (although I have read the English original). Inevitably, it has a fairly detailed retelling of the Crown Prince's attempted desertion and the Katte trial and execution (including what Katte had for breakfast the day of his death...), but it mentions Doris only in passing:

"While Frederick’s fate remained undecided, the king vented his rage on the prince’s friends and collaborators. Two of his closest military companions, the subalterns Spaen and Ingersleben, were thrown into gaol. Doris Ritter, the sixteen-year-old daughter of a Potsdam burgher with whom Frederick had engaged in some tentative adolescent flirtation, was whipped through the streets of Potsdam by the hangman and incarcerated in the workhouse at Spandau, where she remained until her release in 1733."

Interesting that Clark chose the "whipped through the streets of Potsdam" version rather than "flogged six times", but hard to say whether he gave the mechanics of the flogging much thought or research. However, quite separately from that, the book is fascinating in its description of the Prussian state in 1730 in terms of religion and education, which makes much more sense of how Doris's father ever came to be appointed to his position in Potsdam and what the signifiance of the Pietist movement was in Friedrich Wilhelm's policy of reconciling the Lutheran and Calvinist faiths amongst his subjects. The book has several pages on August Hermann Francke, the most important Prussian pietist, who was Matthias Ritter's professor at the University of Halle -- and the godfather of his daughter, Doris. Friedrich Wilhelm deliberately appointed pietist teachers to strategic posts in the nascent state education system, so the appointment of a Francke student to the post of rector of the principal grammar school in the King's own residence of Potsdam was of great importance to the King's policy of religious reconciliation and universal education. That's how Doris got to Potsdam in the first place, and it may explain why the King reacted so violently when she became (in his eyes) complicit in his son's intrigues and suspected immoral conduct.

As for my own re-telling, I'm still hopeful but haven't made that much progress. I want it to be historically accurate but also speculate wildly on the details of the punishment. There's a balance to be struck on how much backstory to include to make the character real and her suffering involving to the reader beyond the mere mechanics of the flogging.
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Jon Smithie

There's a balance to be struck on how much backstory to include to make the character real and her suffering involving to the reader beyond the mere mechanics of the flogging.
Couldn't agree more. I really appreciate it when a writer goes to the trouble of making the setting and the character believable. Of course, when there is a vivid description of the mechanics of the flogging, that's always great too!


In a discovery that is equally frustrating and exciting, I have just discovered the existence of two books with the same title, "Der Kronprinzenprozess: Friedrich und Katte" (The Trial of the Crown Prince), one written by Carl Hinrichs and published in 1936 and one written by Rainer Ahnert and published in 1982. Both have clearly been scanned by Google Books, as they are listed and searchable, but as they're in copyright, the full text search only gives a maximum of three hits for each search term and only about five lines of text in context. From this it is clear that the Hinrichs book is a collection of verbatim historical records with a connecting narrative, whereas the Ahnert book follows Hinrichs closely but paraphrases the records with considerable personal interpolation by the author which are not directly based on the records.

The Google Books links are:

Hinrichs: "Der Kronprinzenprozess: Friedrich und Katte" (1936)

Ahnert: "Friedrich und Katte: der Kronprinzen-Prozess" (1982)

I can only roughly stitch together some snippets of information by combining the results from various searches. As an example, the above links are for a full-text search on the term "Jungfrau" (virgin or maiden), and they both lead to the same detail, namely the virginity probe performed on Doris on the order to the King. Hinrichs says:

Hinrichs virginity.jpgHinrichs virginity 2.jpg

"[The King] ordered the girl to be examined by a midwife and a military surgeon, both of whom assured the King: she is still a maiden. Notwithstanding this, as it transpired that the Prince gave the parents of the maiden a present of 50 crowns to buy an outfit for the daughter, the King ordered: she was to be [whipped] through the town by the common hangman."

Ahnert fleshes the scene out with what can only be fictionalised details:

Ahnert virginity a.jpg
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"... in all secrecy and as innocuous as a plain cantor's daughter could be. Both seems to be of importance to the King, as what he orders now is brutal: he rules like a medieval prince who practices the jus primae noctis in his county. Friedrich Wilhelm abruptly orders: The girl is to be examined by a midwife and a military surgeon simultaneously, to see if she was still in possession of her innocence. A matter that appeared to the King truly important for the sake of the State? Or after all only to accuse his son of whoring? The midwife was quickly summoned, a surgeon found, and what choice did little Dorothea Ritter have: Bright red in her face, unable to comprehend in her mortification, she had to strip off her skirt in front of the strange woman and the strange man, take off the linen shift and lie down on her back on the sofa in the room. Both examined the girl and both were immediately satisfied that Doris Ritter was still a maiden. The news was sent by horseback courier relay without delay to the King. However, in the meantime the interrogation of the completely distressed parents had not stopped and it came to light that the Prince had made the two of them a gift of 50 crowns "to buy an outfit for the daughter". That was enough for the King to act, after the other news could not be enough. The girl Doris Ritter, so he orders, was to be whipped through the town by a common hangman and imprisoned for life at Spandau." This is followed by the direct quote of the King's order to the Mayor of Potsdam to have Doris whipped, as already posted earlier by me.

Now, the Ahnert retelling above is nicely atmospheric and clearly based on Hinrich's barebones account with added details. Pity these details are almost certainly spurious. For one, the King was at the Town Palace and Doris was under arrest at the Town Hall. The two buildings are less than 100m apart, so where does the horseback courier relay come in? How does he know about a sofa (!) in the room where the examination takes place?

Still, there appears to be enough in these books to be worthwhile to seek them out -- for example, it seems both of them are quoting verbatim the entire interrogation transcript of Doris that was prepared after her initial arrest on 1 September. That would be the only chance to hear Doris's voice directly in the documents, relatively unfiltered through re-telling.

As it happens, both books are available second-hand. Hinrich is pretty expensive, but there are several cheap copies of the Ahnert book available. I've ordered one for a couple of Euros, so I should know more about what is and what isn't in the book shortly. I suspect only about three or four pages are relevant to Doris, but it wasn't a lot of money.
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The 2012 movie "The Diamond Necklace" was a great disappointment. In the actual affair, the noblewoman Jeanne de la Motte was sentenced to be stripped completely naked in public and thoroughly whipped before being branded as a thief on both shoulders. Although she physically fought against the constables assigned to carry out the sentence, she was eventually subdued so she could be stripped, whipped and branded as hundreds watched. But the movie gave a "vanilla" account of her whipping, which left me disappointed.


The 2012 movie "The Diamond Necklace" was a great disappointment. In the actual affair, the noblewoman Jeanne de la Motte was sentenced to be stripped completely naked in public and thoroughly whipped before being branded as a thief on both shoulders. Although she physically fought against the constables assigned to carry out the sentence, she was eventually subdued so she could be stripped, whipped and branded as hundreds watched. But the movie gave a "vanilla" account of her whipping, which left me disappointed.
Indeed, the Sanson's would be more through then what was portrayed!


The 2012 movie "The Diamond Necklace" was a great disappointment. In the actual affair, the noblewoman Jeanne de la Motte was sentenced to be stripped completely naked in public and thoroughly whipped before being branded as a thief on both shoulders. Although she physically fought against the constables assigned to carry out the sentence, she was eventually subdued so she could be stripped, whipped and branded as hundreds watched. But the movie gave a "vanilla" account of her whipping, which left me disappointed.
Some historians have hinted that Marie Antoinette was instrumental in Jeanne receiving a much more severe sentence than than her co-conspirators, and that she, in fact, discreetly watched the punishment from a nearby apartment window.
Some contemporary reports suggest, that as the result of her struggles, Jeanne was actually branded on the breast.


Altogether, I have to say for a woman who has supposedly been forgotten, Doris has notched up an impressive number of fictional appearances. Clearly, in the 19th and early 20th century her role in the quarrel between King and Prince (an integral part of the foundation myth of the Prussian state) was still universally known in popular culture, always closely associated with the unjust flogging. She has only become obscure in more recent times.

Just to illustrate that point, in addition to the two films/TV adaptations and being written about by intellectual giants such as Voltaire and Thomas Carlyle, Doris also managed to be the main romantic heroine in at least two novels of the early 20th century.

In my very first post in this thread I mentioned the fact that Rafael Sabatini (of "Captain Blood" fame) made Doris the heroine of his 1942 novel "King In Prussia" although he wimped out of having her actually whipped and instead had her rescued from jail by his (fictional) hero, Alverley, who flees with her to France for a novel's-worth of romantic adventures. That's Doris at the harpsichord on the cover:

King in Prussia.jpg

Having just read the (more-or-less) factual account of the virginity probe in the Ahnert book in my previous post, here is how Sabatini recounts it -- note that all those names I've been using in this thread make an appearance:


The King had had a bad night, following upon yesterday's Tabagie, in the course of which he had drunk too much. He was being tormented in body by an attack of the gout and in soul by the wailings and plaints of the Queen and by what he accounted the mutinous conduct of Schulenberg and his court martial. So Gundling found his Majesty in savage mood.

He was still dealing with the day's correspondence. Two secretaries stood receiving his petulant instructions. Alverley lounged in a window embrasure, awaiting the end of the business, and marvelling that a man should dissipate so much energy in unnecessary ill-humour.

"Be brief," he sourly admonished Gundling. "I have to go to Potsdam."

The President smirked, lisped and washed his hands in the air. There was a flush on his flabby face, a glitter in his red-rimmed, watery eyes.

"May it please your Majesty, I have discovered the siren whose music decoyed his Highness."

It was a moment before Majesty's mind absorbed the fellow's meaning. Then there was a wicked eagerness in the long, interrogative intake of breath. "Ah—h?"

"The strumpet's name, Majesty, is Dorothea Ritter. The daughter of Pastor Ritter."

Alverley, who from one of the windows, was watching the changing of the guard in the courtyard, span round on his heel with an involuntary start, his face set. But Gundling was too intent to observe the movement, and the King's back was turned upon his aide-de-camp.

"So! Pastor Ritter has a daughter, has he?"

"Who lured the Crown Prince regularly to her house...to make music. I leave your Majesty to surmise what else they did." He giggled as he spoke, and Alverley, eyeing him in disgust, accounted him the very incarnation of Silenus.

"Grosser Gott!" Majesty's fist crashed down on the table. "You are sure—quite sure?"

"Should I venture otherwise to trouble your Majesty? Oh, there is no possibility of error." And he advanced in evidence the information gleaned from Böhme the bookseller.

"So! So! Now we know why he bought diamond bracelets. And I suppose that all Berlin knows of this." Majesty groaned. "Is there no shame that this dissolute, godless son of mine will spare me?"

His gross bulk sagged over the writing-table, on which he had set an elbow, resting his head on his hand. Thus he remained, in silent brooding, his eyes narrowed, his lips tight, until Katzenstein arrived with word that his Majesty's carriage waited with the escort.

He nodded gloomily "In a moment. In a moment. You can go, Gundling. You'll find the Staatsrat Klinte waiting in the ante-room. Send him in to me. By God! I'll make an example of this wench. I'll send her somewhere where sirens won't feel disposed to sing."

Then he dismissed the secretaries. "Here, take these papers. They'll have to wait. I'm too bedevilled now Almighty! To be so plagued and vexed."

They withdrew as Klinte, the State Councillor, came in, a stocky, keen-faced man in a yellow wig. He bowed low to the King, and nodded pleasantly to Katzenstein and Alverley.

"Pay attention, Klinte," snapped the King. "You'll send me a sergeant's guard to Pastor Ritter's house in the Nikolaistrasse at once with a warrant to arrest his trull of a daughter. You'll have her lodged in the town gaol until I send you further orders."

He set his hands on the table to heave himself up. Then with a gasp sat down again. "Ah! Curse this gout. As if I had not enough to plague me! As if the Lord God did not punish me enough in giving me a son without religion, morals, or even decency. By God, Katzenstein, the worst disservice you ever did me was when you prevented me from running a sword through him. A vile seducer who has been whoring with this daughter of that doddering old fool Ritter."

Out of his deep devotion to the Prince, Katzenstein was surprised into an exclamation of protest. "Sire!"

"Well? What? Do you doubt it?" roared the King.

"I cannot judge, sire. I do not know the evidence."

Then Alverley spoke, uttering his indignation. His face was grey "There is none yet. At present it is no more than the tale of a drunkard."

Majesty slewed round in his chair to stare at him in furious amazement. "Is that the way to speak of the Worshipful President of the Academy?"

"With submission, sire, the President's way was not the way to speak of the Crown Prince of Prussia, of an intercourse that may well be innocent and of a lady who may well be virtuous."

"Virtuous!" The King's face was empurpling. "Do virtuous women in her station entertain crown princes? Do they receive diamond bracelets from crown princes?"

"It is not impossible, sire."

Majesty vented angry scorn in laughter. "Not impossible! Righteous God! Where have you lived, Margrave? In a cloister? Not impossible? Perhaps not. But highly improbable. And, anyway, we'll make certain. It shall never be said that I want for justice; that I act rashly upon assumption. That is not at all my way. Attend to me, Klinte. When you've lodged this girl of Ritter's in gaol, you'll send a surgeon and a midwife to examine her, and then report to me. You shall have my final orders for her disposal after that. And meanwhile, chaste or not, the girl shall be taught not to practise her blandishments on the Prince of Prussia. Have her publicly whipped tomorrow morning. If Madam finds the weather chill for stripping, the whips will warm her. Let her be whipped first before the Town Hall, then before her father's house, before the Cathedral and before the Zeughaus. That should suffice as a beginning. Afterwards I shall probably have her shut up for life at Spandau. Such women must be sent where they can do no harm. You can go."

The Councillor's face betrayed something of his distaste for the loathsome task imposed upon him. Not for him, however, to argue with Majesty. He bowed himself out.

Behind the King's back Alverley and Katzenstein exchanged a look of sheer horror.

Then his Majesty stirred again, and Katzenstein stepped forward to assist him to rise. Leaning on the Baron's arm, and further supporting himself on his cane, he limped and grunted his way to the door.

Alverley followed, walking like an automaton. His dominant thought was that, cost what it might, these bestialities must not be perpetrated upon Dorothea. Merely to think of that pure, delicate body subjected to treatment that would be brutal if administered to a harlot's was to be taken with physical nausea. This, as it happened, was to help Alverley to his ends whilst still his wits were beating themselves frenziedly against the problems of how to avail her. That rescue her he must if it cost him his life was a thought as natural as the drawing of breath.

Alverley, who had waited without dismounting, led the way at a sharp trot over the bridges spanning first the narrow and then the wider arm of the sluggish Spree, swung right along a narrow street, driving the wayfarers against the walls, crossed the Nikolai Platz with the carriage trundling after him, and brought up at Pastor Ritter's house.

In an instant he was out of the saddle, tossing the reins to the post-boy and hammering on the door. It was opened at once by the broad bosomed Theresa, her jolly countenance disfigured, her apple cheeks besmeared with tears.

"Your mistress?" cried Alverley

"Gott sei uns gnädig! The Fräulein has been taken...arrested...the soldiers came..."

Alverley turned cold. He cursed Klinte's diligence. And then, espying the tall, bowed figure of the pastor in the gloom of the passage, he strode past Theresa, and went in.

"What is this?" the afflicted cleric hailed him. "In God's name, what is this? What does it mean? I always feared that no good would come of receiving the Prince's visits. But this...Just Heaven! This passes everything. This is wicked. Monstrous. To be publicly whipped like a common harlot! My Dorothea! A tender, innocent child of eighteen!" He clutched his head in anguish.

"So! Klinte has not only been prompt; he has been communicative." Alverley bowed his head. "Let me think, sir. Let me think. I came to save her. I have brought a carriage, so that you might take her away at once, beyond their reach. But Councillor Klinte in his zeal has been too quick for me. What now?" he demanded. "What now? What is there we can do?"

"Why, what I intended. I am going to Potsdam at once: to the King. They tell me he has gone there. He shall give me reason. He must. They have told me what else he intends out of his foul suspicions. But it shall not be. God will not permit that a pure and innocent virgin be so abused."

"The calendar of saints is full of virgin martyrs, sir."

"In other times, sir." The pastor was impatient. "These are enlightened days."

"Not at the Court of Prussia, by what I have seen."

"I shall know how to plead. I am a father, and I have ever been a faithful servant of the Gospel. The Almighty will prompt me. The King shall hear reason from me."

"That madman!" Alverley scoffed. "He doesn't know the language. Sir, you don't understand the King's unspeakable mind. He cares nothing for your daughter. It is the Prince whom he desires to mortify and shame. Himself and his own brutality that he seeks to justify. To that end he uses Dorothea as he is using others: Katte, Keith, Spaen, Ingersleben, Duhan, even the Princess Wilhelmina. How can you hope, then, to prevail with such a maniac acting from policy?"

The deepening pain in the pastor's eyes showed the yielding of his mind. "What then, my God? What then?"

"What I came to enjoin. You must take your daughter beyond the King's reach."

"But she is in prison already." The voice rose in exasperation.

"I must get her out. Leave me to try. Pray that I accomplish it. Whilst I am about it, prepare for the journey. Get together your valuables, your money and what else is of immediate need to yourself and Dorothea. Make haste. Let Theresa pack such things as Dorothea will need so that you are ready to set out as soon as I return."

Already he was turning away when the old man seized his arm. "Set out, do you say? But where am Ito go?"

"Anywhere out of the dominions of the King of Prussia."

"But my work here!" the pastor plaintively protested. "How am I to live away from Berlin? It is unimaginable."

Alverley was stern. "What is unimaginable is that your child should be martyred. For the rest, you are a churchman. At least have faith in what you preach that the Lord will provide. I cannot stay to argue, sir."

He was gone, followed by quavering supplications which it is fortunate that he did not stay to heed, for he had not overstated Klinte's swift zeal.

He came briskly into Klinte's office on the ground floor of the Schloss, and demanded to see the Staatsrat at once, announcing himself as from the King. In a moment he was ushered into the Councillor's presence.

Klinte rose to receive him. "At your orders, Monsieur le Marquis."

Alverley was stiffly formal. "In the matter of the girl Ritter, it will not now be necessary for you to take action. His Majesty has considered further and has decided himself to examine her in the first instance. My orders are to conduct her to Potsdam. That is all, sir."

The Councillor of State looked perplexed. "But action has already been taken. Not only is the girl already in prison, but Hochbauer, the surgeon, and a midwife have this moment left me, to carry out his Majesty's instructions." His solemnity was overspread by a complacent smile. "I do not dare to permit myself delays in the execution of the King's wishes."

"Neither do I. Therefore, my dear Councillor, you will oblige me with an order on the prison. I will then do my part."

"At once." Klinte sat down, and took up a pen. "I trust that his Majesty's questioning of the girl may remove the need for the further measures he had in mind."

"The hope does you credit, sir. I permit myself to share it; for it must give pain to Prince Frederick to have this lady subjected to such indignities."

"Indeed I understand." The Councillor sighed, dusted his writing with pounce, rose and handed the sheet to the aide-de-camp.

Within ten minutes Alverley was drawing rein before the gloomy portal of the penitentiary, the carriage ever at his heels.

The head gaoler put on his spectacles to read the order.

"The Fräulein Ritter again! She keeps us busy. The Herr Doktor Hochbauer is with her now He has just gone to her."

Alverley repressed a shiver of disgust.

"Then we will hasten so as to save him trouble. His offices are no longer necessary." His voice was firm and hard, and for all that his pulses raced, his countenance was that of the emotionless officer on duty.

He hurried the too-leisurely gaoler along a vaulted gallery, wherein presently he caught the echo of voices: first a woman's whose words were inaudible; then a man's, loud, clear, stern: "Idle to protest, Fräulein. We are in our duty, by the King's orders. Resistance will only increase your distress."

The gaoler had reached a door, and he paused there to grin over his shoulder at the officer. "The Fräulein is being coy, and..."

"Open, you dog."

"Almighty!" The gaoler was taken aback by the sudden fierceness. He made haste to fling wide the door.

Within the bare, narrow cell a small man and a large woman turned sharply as Alverley crossed the threshold. Beyond them, her shoulders touching the wall, in an attitude of fierce defiance, her face deathly, her eyes wild, a hand to her heaving breast, stood Dorothea. She wore a simple, high-necked gown of sapphire blue; she was without hat, but a shawl of purple silk draped her shoulders, its ends entwined about either arm.

At sight of Alverley her eyes seemed to dilate still further, the heave of her breast increased, her breath came in dry, hard sobs.

He made haste to end her horrible suspense. He spoke sharply, rapidly "You will be Doctor Hochbauer. I have to tell you that your services are no longer required here. His Majesty has changed his mind." He stood aside, and motioned them out.

"My instructions are from the Herr Staatsrat Klinte," the surgeon objected.

"This cancels them." Alverley thrust his order under the man's nose.

Hochbauer scanned the order, and bowed. "Perfectly. The Fräulein will be relieved. My duty to you, Herr Rittmeister." He bowed again. "Come, Frau Schacht." He led his female companion out.

There was a gasping sob from Dorothea. Her arms sank inertly to her sides, and she swayed a little in that sudden release from unutterable tension.

Under the eyes of the gaoler, Alverley maintained a stiff, military formality "Be good enough to accompany me, Fräulein."

She inclined her head, and kept it lowered after that, looking neither to right nor to left, faltering a little at first in her stride as she paced beside him along the stone gallery and out to the waiting carriage.

Leaving the order of release with the gaoler, Alverley handed her into the chaise, closed the door, and mounted. "Follow me," he bade the postilion, and again led the way to the Nikolaistrasse.

In the chaise Dorothea sat quietly weeping, in reaction from the abominable horror that had confronted her. Thus Alverley found her when he opened the door of the chaise.


Stirring stuff - Sabatini did his research (give or take a few liberties with the geography, placing Doris's house in Berlin rather than Potsdam, and the biography of Doris's father who was all of 41 at the time) and even gave that midwife and military surgeon a walk-on part. However, this being written in 1942, he stops the scene just before Doris is forced to strip off and spread her legs to show off her virginity. Note how Sabatini aged Doris from sixteen to eighteen for decency's sake -- given policy on this site, I expect I shall have to do the same when I get around to her story.

Recently, I have come across another romance novel with Doris as the heroine -- this one was was written in 1930 by German hack Günther Holm and was issue No. 133 in a series of historical romance novels called "Frauen der Liebe" ("Women of Love"), each named after a real historical figure. See Doris on the cover in a demure black gown and bonnet, with a rolled-up music score in her hand:

Doris Ritter Frauen der Liebe cover.jpgDoris Ritter Frauen der Liebe inner cover.jpg

No idea of the plot, but I expect a sort of precursor to Mills & Boon. There are antiquarian copies of this paperback available but I don't feel like spending 25 Euros or so to find out.

Interestingly, this is not the only issue in this series about the Crown Prince's juvenile lovers (or not, as may be the case for proven virgin Doris). No. 116 in the series is about the Countess Orzelska, who was Friedrich's actual first lover, meeting him two years before Doris in 1728 during a state visit with his father to Saxony and having an illegimitate child thought to be Friedrich's. Remarkably in view of how he treated Doris, the old King knew all about the affair with Countess Orzelska and had no objection at all. The King also knew all about Friedrich's subsequent adulterous affair with another noblewoman in 1731, the married Baroness Luise Eleonore von Wreech, who also had a child with him (named Friederike, just to make sure everybody knew who the Dad was). The King thought that was a splendid sign for future legitimate offspring to keep the family line going. Which is rather rich, seeing that at the time poor Doris was still imprisoned and subjected to unspeakable corporal and (probably) sexual abuse at the Spinnhaus in Spandau for a disproven allegation of immoral conduct with the Crown Prince. So, the King's objection doesn't appear to have been that he thought Doris was Friedrich's mistress, but rather that she was a commoner above her station and/or that she was playing music with Friedrich which the King had expressively forbidden his son to do.

Compare and contrast the dress of Countess Orzelska on the cover of her novel with that of Doris:

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Jon Smithie

This takes me back. Rafael Sabatini's "Captain Blood" was one of my favorite books back in the day. I regret I didn't read his "King In Prussia," though I think even back then, I would have smelled a rat with Alverley rescuing Doris so precipitously.

It is kind of amusing to note the differences in the depictions of Doris on the covers of the different books. In Sabatini's she looks like a high fashion model on the glam, and in Holm's she looks a little more like what I would expect a pastor's daughter to look; rather sedately dressed and not overly made up. The kind of girl who would give you a real rise out of a thorough inspection of her maidenhead, and a thorough and severe flogging through the town.
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