Josef Menčík: The Last Knight We'll Ever See.


“Today the real knights are no more… The last one died in 1945."


Meet Josef Menčík. Not only well known for living in a castle without electricity or any other 20th-century tech, he's also known for the day in 1938 when he went alone on horseback in full knight's armour and with a halberd against… Nazi tanks. The Germans did not even shoot at him, but tapped their heads, assuming he was a 'local idiot'. After a moment of hesitation, they bypassed him and crossed the border on Šumava Bučina, thus starting the annexation of Czechoslovakia.

In 1911, part of the Dobrš fortress burned down. Josef Menčík bought the destroyed castle from the Schwarzenberg family and started its reconstruction. He collected medieval mementoes related to chivalry, often buying them on the black market or smuggling them out of France. He even placed a wooden crocodile in the moat as a reminder of a real crocodile that once lived there, brought by Kryštof Koce from one of his expeditions. Josef rode a horse around the surrounding lands dressed in armour and tried to interest young people in the history and ideals of the knighthood. He invited school trips to his castle.

Josef Menčík looking great on his horse

The Czech Don Quixote was a great fan of medieval history. Calling him crazy is rather an overinterpretation, the term a first-class reconstructor and propagator of chivalry is better suited here. He rejected modern conveniences, such as electricity, and used candles and torches as lighting in the castle. The local community called him "Fousatý táta" ("Bearded Tata") or "Poslední ryitíř" ("The Last Knight"). He was known among the locals for his nobility, honour, courage, hospitality and helpfulness. He was also famous for his unconventional rituals when eating meals. Before leaving the inn, he always swallowed the whole herring, washed it down with a glass of rum and roared loudly. Josef Menčík lived in his fortress until 1945, when it was nationalized. He died a few days later, on November 19, 1945, at the age of 75, probably of the proverbial broken heart. "

I think it's safe to say that Josef Menčík is someone I really would've loved to have met!