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


26.11.10
  Happy Thanksgiving

To everyone who celebrates it.

It's another holiday not very important in Germany. So no turkey for me (since I never had any, I don't know what I'm missing) and no huge family gathering (I'm sure I won't miss anything there *wink*).

Candelabra in the Imperial Cathedral Speyer

This huge candelabra that looks a bit like a stylised plane tree with odd shapes in the background was created by Burghildis Roth, one of the most elusive artists. She is / has been (?) a Sister of the Dominican order living in Speyer. Her art is called 'modern'; that's pretty much all I could find out. Well, the candelabra looks pretty with all those votive candles.
 


20.11.10
  Blogging Frequency and Blog Focus

My regular readers may have noticed that I've posted once per week on average those last months, instead of 2-3 posts per week, and that the posts tend to be longer. This is due to the fact that I noticed my blog popping up prominently in Google searches, esp. for the German castles, Roman finds, etc., which made me feel more responsible for the content of my posts. The statistics features Blogger introduced this summer also show a readership that is much larger than the comments made me think (*waves hello to the lurkers*).

Thus blogging has changed from something I did for myself and a few friends to building an online archive of information about Roman and Mediaeval history, architecture, literature and more. And that means I need to do more research for posts.

(It also means that I did a lot of background work those last days and need to so some more: merging short posts, editing posts, rearranging the archive links in the sidebar. A few older posts need to be completely rewritten; those will appear as new posts here.)

Moreover, I reconsidered the focus of my blog. It had started out as a blog about my writing with the odd photo and history post, but over the years developed into an illustrated travel diary with lots of history posts and a few about writing and other topics thrown in.

The writing posts are now gone with exception of a few about writing historical fiction. There will still be the occasional translated poem, opera and review posts, and musings about writing historical fiction. Mediaeval literature will remain a small but important part since what I got there is material from my PhD and thus academic in nature.

But history, from Imperial Roman times to the 13th century, with the focus on Germany and the UK, will now be the main theme of my blog. The illustrated posts about Roman remains, castles and cathedrals, and other interesting places will continue to feature prominently, of course.
 


14.11.10
  The Kugelsburg - Part 3: War and Decline

I've already posted about the history of the Kugelsburg here and here. This will be the final post, a little coda to the fascinating history of that castle and its role in the tapestry of local and sometimes larger scale politics.

The square keep

Corvey renounced all rights to the castle in favour of the Electorate of Cologne in 1507, and the Electorate would remain in possession of the Kugelsburg until 1803, at least theoretically because wars led to occupations a few times.

The Kugelsburg played a role in the Thirty Years' War. This is interesting insofar as there are no signs of 'modern' additions and changes to the castle to cope with cannons and other advanced siege technology. We know such additions from some German castles (fe. Regenstein). The Catholic general Tilly sent a troop of Bavarian mercenaries to reinforce the garrison against the Protestant army led by Christian 'the Mad' of Brunswick in 1622. His recklessness as military leader didn't help Christian, though, he lost a decisive battle and had to flee deep into Protestant territory in northern Germany where he died at the age of 27. The Kugelsburg garrison was replaced by Imperial troops, also Catholics - or at least mercenaries following that side.

Ten years later the war moved back to the area, and this time an army of Landgrave Wilhelm of Hessia, ally of the Protestant leader King Gustav Adolf of Sweden, plundered the town Volkmarsen and destroyed some of the castle's defenses. But in 1637, the Imperial forces were back in Hessia, ousted Wilhelm from his lands (he had to flee into exile), and mounted a punitive expedition that destroyed several towns, settlements, and castles. The Kugelsburg escaped that new wave of war, though. Maybe there wasn't much of a garrison left in the partly destroyed castle to attract a siege force.

The round keep

The next war that affected the - obviously repaired - Kugelsburg was the Seven Year's War (1756 - 1763) between Prussia and Great Britain / Electorate of Hannover on one side and an alliance involving France, Austria, and Russia on the other side. The castle was occupied and partly destroyed by French troops in 1758.

With the ... ok, take a deep breath first .... Reichsdeputationshauptschluss (Principal Conclusion of the Extraordinary Imperial Delegation) of 1803, Volkmarsen and the Kugelsburg came to Hessia-Darmstadt. This last law of the Holy Roman Empire before its dissolution in 1806 besically redistributed some of the land in Germany which was splintered into a tapestry of small states with some larger ones (Prussia, Hannover, Hessia, Saxony fe.) thrown in. Now the smaller realms were annexed by the larger ones with their sovereigns retaining some rights. Towns with imperial immediacy lost that (with the exception of Hamburg and Bremen which until today are counties in their own right), and the possessions of the Church were secularised - that was why Cologne finally lost the Kugelsburg to Hessia.

The Kugelsburg fell into ruins and was bought by the town of Volkmarsen in 1885. First measures to prevent further decay date back to that time.

Nature laying siege to the curtain wall

What remains today are the square keep dating to the 12th century, the early 14th century round keep, several walls of the Gothic palas , the staircase connected to it, and most of the inner curtain wall. The cellar of the palace, called Witches' Cellar, also remains but I didn't go down because it was obviously used as toilet by a fox or something. Or maybe it was the remains of a witch that caused the stink, lol. The outer defenses are lost except for traces of the trench between inner and outer bailey and a few layers of stone of the outer curtain wall. The castle is a local tourist attraction with a restaurant in the former outer bailey.
 


7.11.10
  Romantic Mills

Autumn has released the rains and storms now, and the days are getting shorter. But last Sunday was still beautiful, so we took a little trip to the European Bread Museum in Ebergötzen. The museum is situated in a park with some mills, old trees, and other features that make for pretty photos.

The post mill

Post mills are the earliest type of wind mills in Europe (water mills are older), first appearing in the 11th and 12th centuries. The house that contains the machinery is mounted on a single post - usually oak wood and about 65 cm in diameter - which in turn is anchored in a timber stand. That way the entire body of the mill can be turned into the wind by the lever beam or tail pole.

Closeup of the mill against the sky

You can see the tail pole on the right, opposite the sails. The miller turned the mill around while we were there. He used a tractor - I'm not sure what has been used in former times, anything from humans to oxen and horses, I suppose.

I went up the stairs to get inside. It was a bit scary because the staircase moves with the mill and is not anchored in the ground and thus swayed with every step. But the view from above was worth the climb.

View to the water mill from the balcony of the post mill

Post mills were in use until the 19th century when steam technology and later electricity started to drive the engines of mills. But a number of them survived in museums all over Europe. In England they're also called stob mills.

The Bockwindmühle in the museum park was built in the Hannover area in 1812 and made it to another museum after it was no longer used. In 2004, the mill was relocated to the European Bread Museum and is today fully functional.

Post mill after turning

The European Bread Museum - openend in 2004 - displays exhibits about the history of bread-making and related subjects (processing of grain, milling, baking) under the motto From Grain to Bread. The artifacts encompass 8000 years of history from a reconstructed Neolithic oven to post-war toasters. There are demonstrations at scheduled times as well but we didn't witness any. But I'll watch out and go back to the place if they are ever going to use the reconstructed Roman oven.

The water mill

The water mill originally came from the Alpes and was brought to another German museum in 1971, and then moved to Ebergötzen in 2004. The mill has an undershot wheel (the water is moving beneath the wheel to drive it). The technology represents a very old type of mill; already the Romans used those.

Another view of the water mill

There are other interesting things to be found, like old harvesting machines, models of mills, a grain garden (which only shows freshly ploughed earth at this time of the year), and beautiful old trees. The place of the museum had been a park with an arboretum before and the exhibits were integrated in the setting. There's a nice café with its own bakery as well.

View to the post mill from the grain garden

The late autum afternoon made for such a beautiful, quiet atmosphere, almost like going back in time when the harvest was still done with a scythe and the waggon to bring the grain home was drawn by oxen, where women would sit and spin beside the door to catch the last warm rays of the sun.

Other buildings in the park

View from the water mill to the park. In the foreground is the carriage house with the old machines, and the large roof in the background is the Baroque building that houses the main museum. It had once been the seat of the forester.
 


Miscellaneous musings of an aspiring Historical Fiction and Fantasy 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.

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Location: Germany

I'm a writer of Historical Fiction and Fantasy 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.


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