23The Ursula Altar

The altarpiece, which was painted by Peter Candid in 1588, depicts the death of St. Ursula and her companions on the Rhine just outside the city of Cologne. According to the legend she is the daughter of the king of Britain. On her pilgrimage to Rome, she was accompanied by 11,000 virgins – a number that is due to a clerical error. On their return they were battered to death by Huns, who besieged Cologne in the 3rd century. In the Cologne War (1583-1588) the Archbishop of Cologne, who inclined towards the reformation, was expelled by troops of the Habsburgs and Wittelsbachs. Ernst, the brother of Duke Wilhelm V, was invested as the Archbishop of Cologne. Through his intervention, Wilhelm received many relics from Cologne. Recording to the belief of that time, relics of saints were the true treasures of a church.