Roman and Mediaeval History, Illlustrated Travel Journals, Mediaeval Literature, Geology


26.4.07
  Not a Bunny

But a squirrel. A red squirrel, to be exact - we still have them here. This bushy tailed cutie squirreled over a meadow in the Harz and I had barely time to take a pic. It's not a very sharp pic because, well, squirrels move fast.

At least they don't carry plots - I thought.

 


19.4.07
  Books, Bunnies and Birch Pollen

First, allergies are no fun. And a warm spring means very active birch pollen. Acheee.

Allergy medicines do make you sleepy, not matter what the instructions say.

I did some reading, but I have become increasingly critical since I started to take my writing seriously. There are still new books I like, but I'm more picky these days and sometimes keep going back to classics and old favourites for comfort reading.

The new book of an author whose first Fantasy series is among my favourites, failed to grip me, which is a pity because I would have liked to read something of the epic beauty of his first trilogy again. High time GRR Martin finishes Dance with Dragons so I can indulge in more epic Fantasy. *grin*

Lois McMaster Bujold's Curse of Chalion and Paladin of Souls make for a good read. She invents an interesting world, and one can't have big battle scenes in every book. I also started on a collection of Moorcock's Elric of Melniboné stories. Love his style. I may buy a second collection if I can figure out which stories come next. Moorcock's work needs something in the way of the new Conan editions with an introduction that helps to sort out the 'chronology' of the tales.

I managed to write some scenes for A Land Unconquered but I'm not content with them yet. Tiberius is not a fun character to write, and another reads like the dialogue of a play - I need to insert some setting and action there. Though it gave me a good idea what drives Arminius to rebellion; a mix of motives most of which are not mentioned in Tacitus, lol.

For the last point on my list I blame Scott. He is the one who got me hooked on the good ol' Sword and Sorcery. And now I have a Sword and Sorcery plotbunny that insists on playing with Kings and Rebels and expanding the novel - as if that monster needs any more words, lol.

Detail from a Roman grave monument
Rheinisches Landesmuseum, Trier

PS: Paul Vitols has a series of posts with an excellent in-depth analysis of the problems of the first scene of Dan Brown's Da Vinci Code.
 


13.4.07
  Busy Weekend

I'm attending a symposium about Mythos in Scandinavian Plays and Films this weekend, so there won't be any posts. I also did some reading up on half forgotten essays about Ibsen, Strindberg and other Scandianvian authors the last days, that's the reason I was a lazy commenter. I always have a reason, lol.

On another note, my journey to York and the Hadrian's Wall is now booked. I'll be off hunting Romans and the odd Saxon in the beginning of June.

Here's another pic from one of my Roman hunts in Germany. :)

Trier, Imperial Baths, detail

After the connections between Edward III's sons and the Spanish House of Castille, I stumbled across more English/Spanish connections during the Edwards on Alianore's blog. Now I'm really curious about a list that sorts out the mess of alliances and marriages.
 


6.4.07
  Some of Heinrich the Lion's Ancestors

You got the Edwards, I got the Heinrichs. *grin*

There's a tie in with my local history. The Abbey of Bursfelde was founded in 1093 as Benedictine monastery by Heinrich nicknamed 'the Fat' of Northeim. His father was Otto of Northeim, Duke of Bavaria, leader of the Saxon rebels against Emperor Heinrich IV (1050-1106; the one who had big troubles with Pope Gregor VII and whose name is best known in connection with the events taking place at Canossa 1077 - ouch, looks like another blogpost).

Saxony at that time encompassed an aera that roughly corresponds to todays counties of Lower Saxony, Saxony and Saxony-Anhalt. Heinrich the Lion extended Saxony to what is now the border to Poland in the 12th century. It was a checkerboard of feudal and allodial lands and complex loyalties.

Emperor Heinrich wanted to get more land for the Crown, Otto of Northeim (1020-1083) wanted to expand his possessions in the southern Harz area, which brought them into conflict, and since Otto was not the only Saxon noble who had problems with a king claiming lands and rights they were not willing to abandon, he soon found himself head of a rebellion - not against the institution of a King of Germany and Emperor of the Holy Roman Empire, but against the person of Heinrich IV. Otto lost a decisive battle, was captured and lost his possessions, was received back in the grace of the Emperor some years later and got his allodial Saxon lands back but not the dukedom of Bavaria, only to start another rising. Rinse and repeat until his death.

Closeup of the Westwerk of the Church.

His son Heinrich inherited the family lands in 1083 and remained one of the most influential Saxon nobles. Among the lands and positions he held in different parts of Saxony (Northeim, Eichsfeld, lands around Braunschweig) were the positions of Protector of Helmarshausen and Bursfelde.

At first, Heinrich followed his father's politics and supported the counter-king Hermann von Salm against the Emperor, but in 1086 he decided to side with Heinrich IV, though I don't know what brought about this change. It did not get him the dukedom of Bavaria back, if that was his wish.

He was married to Gertrud of Braunschweig and added more lands to his possessions. Gertrud was the sister of Ekbert II Margrave of Meißen and Friesland (two lands in different parts of Germany, Friesland is at the North Sea, Meißen at the Elbe near Dresden). He too, belonged to the rebels against the Emperor, and promptly lost Meißen when Heinrich IV got the upper hand. After Otto's death, Ekbert was one of the main leaders, forfeited his life and was assassinated in 1090. At that time, his son-in-law Heinrich already supported the Emperor.

Since Ekbert died without offspring, the county of Friesland fell to Gertrud, and Heinrich managed to coax the Emperor into granting the rights to him instead of the bishop Konrad of Utrecht who had ursurped (?) the fief. Turned out Heinrich had picked the right side in the Saxon Wars. *grin*

(Original 12th century fresco inside the church: the Scourging of Jesus)

The ministeriales (a special feudal group only found in Germany) of Utrecht, the Frisian sailors and merchants whose taxes Heinrich planned to reorganise, and the town of Staveren fearing the loss of its rights were not happy about the changes. It is said that they welcomed Heinrich and Gertrud friendly, but plotted behind their back. When open rebellion broke out almost upon his arrival, Heinrich fled onto the North Sea but was drowned by some sailors. His wife escaped with luck.

The exact date of Heinrich's death is not known, but he was entombed in Bursfelde Abbey April 10, 1101. I'd love to find out more details about that dramatic episode on sea.

Heinrich's and Gertrud's daughter Richenza of Northeim married Lothar of Süpplingenburg of the House Welfen (1075-1137), Emperor of the Holy Roman Empire since 1133. Their daughter Gertrud of Süpplingenburg married Duke Heinrich the Proud (1108-1139), also of the House Welfen. He was Duke of Saxony and of Bavaria, and thus that dukedom came back into the family some 150 years after Otto of Northeim had lost it.

The son of Heinrich the Pround and Gertrud of Süpplingenburg was Heinrich the Lion. He married Mathilde Plantagenet of England in second marriage; their son Otto (1175-1218) would become Emperor, though his reign was unfortunate and short.
 


3.4.07
  A Royal Mess .... eh, Mistress

I'm preparing a post about Donizetti's opera Maria Padilla but got a bit sidetracked by the historical background. Since it ties in with Edward III (whom we already have met in L'assedio di Calais), I think there might be some interest among my readers. Unfortunately, the Wikipedia article is a mess, but I don't want to get so sidetracked as to look for books in the University Library. The Spanish version is more detailed and obviously makes more sense, but my Spanish doesn't make any, lol. Maybe David can read it and add some interesting details.

Maria de Padilla (1134-1361) was mistress and later the wife of King Pedro the Cruel of Castille (1334-1369; he's also called 'el Justiciero', the Law-Abiding?, depending on the sources).

The first connection of the young King of Castille with Edward III is that he was supposed to marry Edward's daughter Joan, but she caught the plague on her way to Castille and died. Next candidate for marriage was Blanche of Bourbon - first England and now France, and with the Hudred Years War going on. Makes one wonder. Pedro's mother and her Portugesian favourite Alfonso de Albuquerque may have talked him into that alliance.

At that time Pedro was already living with Maria de Padilla. She was of the Spanish noblity and daughter of Juan García de Padilla, Señor de Villagera. So when Blanche arrived, Pedro took one look and put her off to the Alcazar in Toledo, which did not please the French and Albuquerque one bit. Nor did it please the Pope. Pedro didn't care about Albuquerque who fell from favour faster than a Bavarian peasant boy falls off the ladder to the window of a girl who doesn't like him. France and the Pope were another matter, but not even the latter could talk Pedro into sending off Maria instead of his wife.

And here's where part of the confusion comes in. Blanche died in 1359, but it is said Pedro married Maria in 1353. Was the marriage to Blanche annuled, or was she indeed killed by instigation of the king because the Pope would not annul the marriage, and would Pedro and Maria then have married in 1359? And what role plays another woman, Juana de Castro, who seems to have seeked to replace Maria but without success? Well, fact is that the children of Pedro and Maria must have been legitimized at some point, or Edward III would scarcely have married his younger sons to them: John of Gaunt married Constance, and Edmund of Langley Isabella. There's the next connection to the Plantagenets. Alliances with England again. Don't you love politics?.

Maria de Padilla died in 1361 but I have not found any details (childbirth, illness?).

Pedro was not popular among the Castillian nobility, and he had some troublesome half-brothers - his dad Alfonso looked for fun outside the marriage bed as well. The most important of the lot was Enrique de Trastamara who led the rebellion, or became its figurehead - depending whether one sees it as a rebellion of the nobles against a king, or the result of Enrique's ambitions. In the following period of turmoil, Pedro may have been imprisoned for a time, but I could not find proof for that. Following the not unusual politics that the best means against inside troubles is an outside war, Pedro attacked the kingdom of Aragon, but without success.

What followed was the the Castillian Civil War (1366-69). Enrique had the support of France, the Pope, and Aragon (Pedro had a talent collecting enemies) and could use French mercenaries led by Bertrand du Guesclin, and I bet French money as well. Pedro got kicked off the throne and was obliged to flee to Gascony, then held by the English. He implored Edward Prince of Wales, the Black Prince, oldest son of Edward III, for aid in exchange of some land in Castille and other compensations.

The Black Prince managed to send Enrique packing after the battle of Navarette (Najéra, 1367). But Pedro didn't keep his promises to Edward who soon got sick both in real and of Pedro and left Castille.

Enrique meanwhile signed a treaty with Charles of France (who now was promised the bits of Castille Pedro failed to give Edward of Wales) and when he saw that Black fellow had left, went back to Castille. Pedro lost the Battle of Montiel, and Enrique killed - or had him killed - his half-brother in the tent of du Guesclin to make sure Pedro would not cause any more trouble. But what was Pedro doing in the tent of the leader of the French mercenaries in the first place?

If anyone can sort out the confusions and add more interesting tidbits, feel free to comment.

Picture: Pedro's beheading, from a 14th century manuscript. Public license.
(Strange how they were all running around with their crowns on all day long)
 


Miscellaneous musings of an aspiring Historical Fiction author. Illustrated essays on Roman, Dark Age and Mediaeval history, Mediaeval literature, and Geology. Some poetry translations and writing stuff. And lots of photos of old castles, cathedrals, Roman remains, and beautiful landscapes from Germany, the UK, Scandinavia, and the Baltic States.

All texts (except comments by guests) and photos (if no other copyright is noted) on this blog are copyright of Gabriele Campbell.

My Photo
Name:
Location: Germany

I'm a writer of Historical Fiction living in Germany. I got a MA in Literature, Scandinavian Studies, Linguistics and History, I'm interested in Archaeology and everything Roman and Mediaeval, an avid reader, opera enthusiast, traveller with a liking for foreign languages and odd rocks, and photographer.


e-mail

Twitter