Seven sisters who lived in Schoumlnburg castle, which is above what was then known as "Wesel in the Mountains", now, less romantically, simply as Oberwesel on the banks of the Rhine. Fabled to be both very beautiful and equaly proud. Angered the knights who came to woo them with mockery and derision. When the suitors forced the issue by demanding they choose from among them, the seven sisters made a spectacle by crossing the Rhine in a small boat towards another castle further to the north. The sisters were never seen again.
Just below Oberwesel, the tops of seven rocks can be seen in the river whenever the water is low. The people of the district call them the "Seven Virgins", for they believe that Father Rhine turned the loveless sisters to stone as a warning to all disdainful maidens. The legend continues to say that if one day a prince takes these seven rocks out of the river to build a chapel, then the spell of the seven virgins of Schoumlnburg will be broken.

I hate to engage in "politically correct" deconstruction of a fairy tale/legend, simply because it's been done so much. But this one begs it.

In an age when women, especially women of high caste, wer treated as chattel and accessories to political unions, it would simply not do for the daughters of a noble house to refuse suitors simply because they didn't like them. Female mate choice was seen as dangerous, especially since many of the potential mates would be warlike, abusive brutes. Who would choose that? So in this story, the consequence of the seven virgins refusing their societal role is demonstrated - they get turned into rocks. Obviously, their father should have been around to set them straight!

See also uppity women.

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