Friday, January 4, 2013

Harbinger: Radiant Boys

Radiant Boys, which have been seen in Europe, mostly in Germany and Northern England, are believed to be the spirits of children who were murdered by their parents—mostly their mothers. 

These spirits, when they appear, are considered to be harmful or evil harbingers. It is believed when they are seen, it means the witness will have bad luck and die. In German folklore, where they originated, they are called “kindermorderinn.”

Children murdered by their parents became a prominent theme in ghost folklore in the 1700s. 

Considering the fact that mothers who were seduced and abandoned would not have wanted the disgrace of a child out of wedlock—and the fact many women were not able to provide for their offspring-- sadly led to the desperate act of murder. 

Historians also point to the medieval law where second wives could inherit their husband’s property if all his children had passed away. Hence stepmothers had an incentive to get rid of their stepchildren. 

Fairy tales written at the time reflect this theme—Hansel and Gretel and Sleeping Beauty, to name just two.

The spirits of these murdered children, in England, are called "Radiant Boys" because they glow brightly when they appear. 

They are described as being young boys who have blonde hair and are often described as almost being on fire. These apparitions appear briefly and then just fade away. 

They were most often seen in Cumberland and Northumberland in the northern part of England—this area had many German immigrants who came to find work during the late 18th and early 19th centuries at the height of the Industrial Revolution. 

It is believed the Germans passed on their beliefs and fascination with kindermordrinn to the British. Most of the sightings of Radiant Boys were recorded during this period.

One well-known Englishman, who encountered a Radiant Boy ghost in Ireland, was Captain Robert Stewart who later would become Viscount Castlereagh after his older brother died in a tragic accident. 

Out hunting in a remote part of Ireland, he got lost and was unable to find his way home in the dark. He finally stumbled upon a country house and requested shelter. 

The owner of the house who was hosting a large number of houseguests ordered his servant to find a place for the young Stewart to sleep.

This servant led the young man to a large room, which appeared to be neglected. After lighting a large fire, the servant left the young man alone. 

Stewart exhausted fell asleep quickly, but a bright light in the room later awakened him. At first, he thought it must be the large fire the servant had lit, but when he looked at the fireplace, he noticed the fire had burnt out. 

Startled, he then saw a boy floating above him, this figure was glowing brightly. The boy looked down at him intently and then just disappeared.

The next morning when he announced he was leaving he mentioned what he had seen to the owner, this man immediately summoned the servant who had led him to the room. 

When questioned, this man admitted that he had taken the young Stewart to the “haunted room” where the Radiant Boy was seen. He defended his actions by stating that he had lit a massive fire to keep the ghost at bay. 

The owner now angry, explained that he had forbidden anyone from entering the room. He apologized to the young Stewart and went on to explain his home’s history.

It seems that the ghost of the Radiant Boy was one of his ancestors who had been killed by his demented mother. He warned the young man that when the spirit appeared to someone, it meant they would rise to great power, but then they would die a sudden violent death. 

The young Captain laughed at this warning, not believing it. But unfortunately, this prediction came true.

Robert Stewart after becoming the Viscount left the military and entered politics. He ascended quickly in his new career choice. He served as the British Foreign Secretary during the Napoleonic Wars. He also served as the leader of the House of Commons. 

Never a popular leader the Viscount not able to handle the pressures of his position descended into madness. In 1822, he committed suicide by cutting his own throat. 

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