|Pelgrim van der Leede|
|The Castle Pelgrim had built in Leerdam, by Abraham Rademaker (1676 - 1735)|
|Also Known As||Pelegrinus van der Leede|
Pelgrim van der Leede or Pelegrinus van der Leede was a relentless landlord in the region of Leerdam in Zuid Holland, just south of Utrecht. Like his father Folperd van der Leede, it is said the man lost his soul in a vassal contract with the devil himself and died on August 16th, 1304. This contract allowed Pelgrim to sin to his heart's content, with the exception that he should never cross water on a black horse. He used his influence to pillage and was especially infamous for raping women and robbing churches.
How Sir Pelgrim Lost His Soul
Sir Pelgrim realized all too well what the terms of his contract entailed, so he forbade his men from owning any black horses and even fired his moors. On a fateful night, he and his men pulled north across the Lek river to plunder in the stift of Utrecht. After plundering a church and setting it on fire, a brave bell-ringer sounded the alarm and notified surrounding villages. The alarm was picked up and passed onto other villages, until the message arrived miles away to the bishop of Utrecht. He equipped himself with mail and a banner of Sint Maarten and wasting no time, he gathered an army to stride out for the red-lit horizon where many fight-savvy farmers tagged along the way. Sir Pelgrim and his men were just getting ready to pull their loot-filled boat off the shore towards Beuzichem when the bishop and his legion arrived. They watched on from afar as Pelgrim made his escape, but then it happened. Some say it came from the depths of the river, others say it caught up with the horde until it strode right in front of them: A black horse with red glowing eyes made a fantastic leap into their boat, causing it to slope and catch water. The men aboard were heavily clad with armor and weapons and watched on as their boat could not be saved from sinking. Everyone drowned, including sir Pelgrim who latched onto the horse for just a second but could not hold on and finally found his watery grave along with the rest of his men.
A Family Of Sinners
Sir Pelgrim van der Leede used to inhabit a castle in the countryside which was rumored to be haunted by his ill mannered father Folperd van der Leede. Some say sir Pelgrim had the old castle destroyed for this very reason and started construction of a new castle in Leerdam in 1270. However, sir Pelgrim moved out without actually destroying the castle, as sources from 1306 (two years after his death) still speak of its existence. What happened to the castle exactly is unknown, but it disappeared during the 18th century. The Leerdam castle too was eventually destroyed years later by the invasion of Spanish troops.
The Haunting of Sir Pelgrim
Rumors of sir Pelgrim's hauntings suggest that his castle was inhabited by the Arckel family after his passing. Priests have attempted to cleanse the castle with prayers and holy water but it appears sir Pelgrim continued to come back even after the castle was torn down. Floating among the rush plants, he sometimes briefly appeared as a wandering light before disappearing.
Rumors of the sunken loot have spawned stories of people trying to find it. One tale speaks of a man who dug all day to finally stumble upon a treasure box but at that very moment got bit by a huge rat and found himself surrounded by rodents. He managed to escape to his accommodation in Gorinchem where he died later of gas gangrene.
- Jacobus Kok: Vaderlandsch Woordenboek - Deel VI (2de Druk)
- Jacques R.W. Sinninghe: Nederlands Sagenboek
- J. van Lennep: Nederlandsche Legenden In Rijm Gebracht - Het Huis Ter Leede / Adegild (2de Druk)
- https://archive.org/stream/geschiedenisderc01haar/geschiedenisderc01haar_djvu.txt (part 324)