Heinrich von Bülow

Heinrich von Bülow, also known as Grotekop (Big Head) was a 14th century knight and came to fame as a supporter of Prince Albrecht II of Mecklenburg and Sweden. The name Grotekop most likely refers to his ancestral home at Castle Preensberg, 10km east of Wismar, which was close to the main trade routes towards Rostock, an important trading city in the east of Germany. 

Jakob Friedrich Joachim Bülow, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

Heinrich von Bülow was an infamous robber baron, feuding with a number of his contemporaries. In 1383 he burned down the small town of Wilsnack when he entered in a vendetta with the Bishop of Havelberg, which ironically led to the discovery of what was believed to be three portions of Christ’s blood. The town prospered with hundreds of thousands of pilgrims coming to Wilsnack to see the holy relic. 

After Albrecht II of Mecklenburg finally had enough of Grotenkops plundering, he formed an alliance against him and burned down several strongholds, before changing his mind and appointing him to be his leading warlord and thus Heinrich became one of the most powerful men in the area. 

It is unclear when Heinrich von Bülow died. Some put his death before 1395, whilst there are some reports that he purchased the freedom of his lord Albrecht III from Queen Margaret of Denmark which was recorded in 1395. Others even suggest he might not have died until 1415. Either way, his name is still synonymous with the idea of the robber baron and he is one of the most notorious knights of the region. 

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