My Illlustrated Travel Journal with Essays about Roman and Mediaeval History and some Geology


13.3.08
  Storms, Another Tower, and A Boring Book

Fine, this is the third major storm in three days. I'm tired of the lot, really. The low pressure gives me headaches and I don't sleep well with all that howling going on outside; there's a lot more traffic in my street because the Leine river has flooded the main road, and it's too warm for the time of the year. Can I blame the Woodvilles? It's easier if you can direct your curses somewhere. :)

To the left is another tower, the Altpörtel in Speyer. It's one of the highest (55 metres) town gates in Germany. It once was the west gate of the Mediaeval fortifications; here seen from the town side which is more beautiful. The outside has embrasures instead of windows. The lower part was built 1230-1250, the upper storey with its Gothic tracery was added in 1512, and the roof in 1708. Luckily, the tower survived the wrecking of the town during the Palatine Succession War in 1689 that also damanged the cathedral, and thus remains as one of the few rests of the Mediaeval fortifications.

The Altpörtel stands about hundred metres in direct line from the west side of the cathedral, connected by a street that today is reserved for pedestrians. When we visited Speyer, there was an event going on called Kaisertafel (Imperial Banquet Table) where tables were lined up almost all the way from the cathedral to the tower, and the restaurants and cafés along the street served food. Too bad they didn't use the chance to come up with some Mediaeval receipes; it was all Bratwürstchen, fish 'n chips, pizza and Mcdonalds. Argh. We finally found a café outside the tourist pathes which had some really good cakes and an Alsacien specialty I love: Flammkuchen (it's a bit like a giant, crisp crêpe with bacon, onions and crème fraîche). It shows that Rhineland-Palatinate, the county to which Speyer belongs, is close to France.

Some pretty half timbered houses in Speyer

Carla, I gave up on Jack Whyte's The Knights of Black and White. After his Arthur series which I liked, that book was a sore disappointment: Telling instead of showing, stilted dialogue interrupted by entire paragraphs of backstory and history, too many instances of As You Know Bob; and Whyte left out the chance to get some action in by glossing over the battles. In a book about the First Crusade. I want battle scenes in that sort of setting, especially with the MCs being Templars. I also wasn't enthused about the premisse Whyte used, the idea of an ancient order that existed all the way back before Jesus was born, Jesus' role as Christus as result of propaganda, lots of Catholic Church bashing, and the whole shenagian we know from a certain bestseller. Though I would have accepted it as alternate history if presented in a more interesting way. But this book is going to the second hand store and I'll stay away from the rest of the trilogy. Pity, he missed the chance to present an engaging tale about the real First Crusade which is less well represented in fiction than the famous Richard Lionheart / Saladin clash.
 
Comments:
You have so much history over there. Our country is young and our historic buildings few and far between.
 
I so love your pictures of keeps and castles.
The way I look at them is that somewhere, back in time, ancestors saw them too, perhaps when they were a-building, perhaps when they were under seige.
Many of them are part of the history of many in the New World.
 
Shelley, that's why I could not live in a land without so much history. I'd miss it too much.

Bernita, it's an interesting thought even for Europeans. Was one of my ancestors fighting the Romans at Arminius' side, or was he one of those who served in the auxiliaries? The first trace I have is a hint that some of the family was involved in Henry the Lion's settlement programs in the Abodrite country, but they first appear for sure centuries later.
 
Those are beautiful houses, Gabriele. I, too, love living in a place surrounded by history. Makes me wonder what my ancestors were up to, back in the day. :)
 
Well, them being Campbells, they probably sided with the Romans against the other Caledonians. ;-)
 
Lol, that would definitely account for the Samian pottery they've dug up in Argyll duns. ;)
 
Thanks for the review of Jack Whyte's Templar novel, Gabriele. I had similar thoughts about the later Camulod chronicles, which I found a bit slow and portentous for my liking. Maybe it's his style? I may give the trilogy a go from the library and see if I agree with you.

We had Flammkuchen, or something very like it, on a hike through the mountains of Alsace a few years ago - it seemed to be as ubiquitous as pizza :-)
 
Carla, I found traces of what I considered a problem with Knights already in his Camulod chronicles, but not as badly as in his new trilogy. Not only does he tell instead of show, but he tells boring stuff. :-) I didn't care for the characters, either, which made it really work to wade through the book.
 
I think there's something wrong with me. My first thought on seeing the tower picture... what a great trebuchet target! Gotta be those bloodthirsty Roman ancestors of mine...
 
Constance, you leave that tower alone. It has survived several wars, and it will survive you and your gnomes as well. :)
 
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The Lost Fort is a travel journal and history blog based on my travels in Germany, the UK, Scandinavia, and other places. It includes essays on Roman and Mediaeval history, as well as some geology, illustrated with photos of old castles and churches, Roman remains, and beautiful landscapes.

All texts (except comments by guests) and photos (if no other copyright is noted) on this blog are copyright of Gabriele Campbell.
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I'm a blogger from Germany with a MA in Literature and History which doesn't pay my bills, so I use it to research blogposts instead. I'm interested in everything Roman and Mediaeval, avid reader and sometimes writer, opera enthusiast, traveller with a liking for foreign languages and odd rocks, photographer, and tea aficionado. And an old-fashioned blogger who hasn't yet gotten an Instagram account. :-)


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