The Lost Fort

My Travel and History Blog, Focussing mostly on Roman and Mediaeval Times


19 Oct 2006
  Another Exhibition in Magdeburg

The Holy Roman Empire 962-1806 - From Otto the Great to the Close of the Middle Ages

Magdeburg is a days tour from my place, involving a lot of driving, but I'm going to share the job with my father who furtunately likes the Middle Ages, too. We plan to go come Sunday.

I still have some pics from last years tour to share, so here's a detail from the interior of the cathedral.

Otto I (the Great, 912-973) founded a Benedictine monastery in 937, destined to be the burial place for him and his wife Editha. In 968, Magdeburg became seat of an archbishop, in this context the cathedral St. Maurice was enlarged and beautifully equipped with antique porphyr and marble pillars Otto had brought all the way from Ravenna in Italy, together with a collection of relics.

During an incendiary in 1207 most of the cathedral was destroyed, only a few items from the interior decoration could be saved. Two years later, a new cathedral was built in the place, the first Gothic church in Germany. The main part of the cathedral was finished in 1363 (took them some time, lol) but the towers were finished only in 1520. Money problems seem to have been one of the reasons for the delay. The Magdeburg cathedral is even today one of the largest Gothic churches in Germans, the main hall is 120 metres long and the ceiling vaults are 34 metres above ground, the towers rise to 104 metres.

The cathedral was badly damanged in WW2 and rebuilt in 1955. Additional repairs are taking place since the German reunion.

The porphyr pillars in the middle of the picture are from the original building Otto I commissioned.
 


14 Oct 2006
  Roman Spears and Axes

Most of the artefacts excavated at Hedemünden Fort were shown in the local museum of Northeim, a small town north of Göttingen. Photographing in museums is a challenge, if allowed at all, but I managed to get a few decent pics.

Spear points found at Hedemünden

The iron hasta points were attached to wooden shafts. In the right upper corner you can see the iron butt spikes of the shaft end, and the yellowish one in the middle of the pic has been left uncleaned after finding to show what the archaeologists deal with.

Hasta points would be more permanently fixed to the shaft than in case of the pila because those lances are used for stabbing rather than throwing.

Same display seen from the other side

The three points in the middle are classified as iaculum points. Iacula were smaller javelins used by the cavalry. The exhibit to the very right is a spear point as it would look like when it comes fresh out of the earth. TV documentaries showing archaeologists digging out shiny stuff are always edited for the public. Those artefacts need professional cleaing and conservation first.

To the left is the drawing of a fully equipped 1st century legionary (taken from one of the tablets at Hedemünden). They were called 'Marius' Mules' after the consul Gaius Marius (175 - 86 BC) who restructured the Roman army and standardised the equipment. Note that during Marius' time the soldiers would still have been wearing a mail shirt; the lorica segmentata came into fashion only in the first century AD.

The legionary is equipped with the traditional two pila, and you can clearly see the points differ from the hasta ones. The pilum has a solid pyramidal point at the end of a slender iron shank; the shank is then attached to the wooden haft. The idea is that, when thrown, the pilum will continue to penetrate whatever it hits, to a greater depth than a spear. It may even punch through a shield and continue into the body of the shield-bearer. Nice, eh?"

Oh yes, very nice - depending what side you're on. *grin*

The points are also designed to break off the shaft after they got stuck which makes removal even more difficult.

Here is a more recent post about pila, showing a display of pilum points.


Below are some photos of doloabrae. A dolabra is a so called pioneer axe, used to fell trees and such, though it could also be used as weapon if needs be. What is left nowadays are the iron parts; the wooden handles usually have decayed. But the design hasn't changed much over times.

Dolabrae (left) and part of a shovel blade (right) from the Hedemünden finds.

Shovels were needed for digging trenches which formed part of Roman forts and marching camps. It is amazing to imagine that the Romans - according to the sources - on the first night of the Varus battle, after the German attack had already begun albeit not yet full scale, still managed to build a proper marching camp complete with entrenchments and walls. Says something about Roman discipline.

dolabrae

The pic shows some pioneer axes from the Hedemünden finds that were presented in an exhibition in Hannoversch-Münden in 2009 - the year of the 2000 year anniversary of the Varus battle.
 


11 Oct 2006
  69 Operas in 5 Genres

Composed in 25 years. Not to mention a nice collection of chamber music, a few symphonies, and a bunch of religious works (masses, requiems, etc.).

That's the output of Gaetano Donizetti (1797-1848). Makes even Sheila look slow. *grin*

Donizetti's first work that has come to us in complete manuscript is Enrico di Borgogna from 1818. His last opera was Dom Sébastien in 1843; the last years of his life he spent in hospital, suffering from what today is thought to have been syphilis.

Some of the operas are shorter, one act pieces (novellas or novelettes) that were played before the main opera by someone else. An evening at the theatre was a society event and general fun, a lot louder than today. And the public was more fickle than some Amazon reviewers.

But most of Donizetti's operas are full fledged novels in the 80-120K range, a few even longer. Also, he had to deal with an Italian censorship which makes the banned book lists of schools in Planet Utah look tolerant.
You couldn't kill a king in an opera, adultery was bad (both influenced fe. the libretto of Ugo Conte di Parigi), no confession scene onstage (which caused troubles for Maria Stuarda), and you could never know what else the censors might come up with.

His genres were:
  • farsa - the shorter pieces I mentioned, of lighthearted content (with an exception, Elvida is a short opera but rather dramatic albeit with happy end)
  • opera buffa - operas with strong humorous elements, though lyrical love is also ok (L'elisir d'amore, Don Pasquale)
  • opera semiseria - operas with a dramatic main plot and humorous subplot/characters, happy end (Linda di Chamonix, Gli esiliati di Siberia)
  • opera seria - the main corpus of Donizett's work, operas with lots of drama, betrayal, unrequited love and usually at least one dead character at the end, his best known is Lucia di Lammermoor (a few have a deus-ex-machina sort of happy ending after all the drama, like L'esule di Roma)
  • grande opéra - operas with drama and unhappy endings that follow the special conditions of the Opéra in Paris, fe. they must include a ballett (Dom Sébastien)


  • Donizetti also rewrote some Italian operas for Paris or the other way round (La Favorita).

    Composers were badly paid (does that sound familiar?) and had almost no copyright protection. To make a living as composer, most of them had to write more than they felt up to (Verdi would later call the times when was obliged to come up with at least one opera a year as his 'galley slave years'). Donizetti doesn't seem to have had problems with the high output but as we've seen, it took its toll later in his life.

    Many composers are forgotten today, their work gathering dust in archives and seldom being revived (like Callas did for Cherubini's Medea). Some, like Donizetti, managed to write a few operas that became so popular they were restaged (usually an opera played only one season in Italy) and still have their place in the theatres today. Rossini is another of those who has a way larger backlist than the popular Il Barbiere di Seviglia.

    In case of Donizetti it was mostly the opere buffe L'elisir d'amore and Don Pasquale, as well as the opera seria Lucia di Lammermoor that survived. Maria Callas already dug out Anna Bolena, an opera seria with lots of coloratura singing and great drama that would let her shine as singer/actress. The Turkish soprano Leyla Gencer revived Maria Stuarda, Roberto Devereux and Belisario, and thus since the 60ies there was some interest in the unknown Donizetti. In the 80ies, Edita Gruberova staged Roberto Devereux and Linda di Chamonix (both were shown in German TV). The interest long concentrated on the later, more mature works of the composer, but recently, his early operas have gained some interest as well, not at least as examples for the development of the Italian opera scene spread over several towns in the early 19th century (Naples, Milan, Venice, Rome, etc.).

    More than half of his oeuvre is avaliable on CD today (some thanks to Opera Rara who have recorded, among others, the early Elvida and Gabriella di Vergy). I now have 24 and I'm going to get my hands on everything I can find, except the above named farsa ones.

    Next time: fun for our Edward fans: L'assedio di Calais (The Siege of Calais - ok, it's Edward III but still an interesting opera)
     




    The Lost Fort is a travel and history blog based on my journeys in Germany, the UK, Scandinavia, and central / eastern Europe. It includes virtual town and castle tours with a focus on history, museum visits, hiking tours, and essays on Roman and Mediaeval history, illustrated with my own photos.


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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 still hasn't got an Instagram account.
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    Russia

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    Estonia

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    Poland

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    France

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    Hiking Tours and Cruises

    Germany

    The Baltic Sea Coast
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    A Tour on the Wakenitz River

    Harz National Park
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    Wildlife
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    Ozeaneum Stralsund: The Baltic Sea Life
    Ozeaneum Stralsund: The North Sea Life

    Seasons
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    Spring at the 'Kiessee' Lake
    Spring in the Rossbach Heath (Meissner)
    Memories of Summer
    Summer Hiking Tours 2016
    Autumn in the Meissner
    Autumn at Werra and Weser
    Winter at the 'Kiessee' Lake
    Winter Wonderland - Views from my Balcony


    United Kingdom

    Mountains and Valleys
    West Highland Railway

    The East Coast
    By Ferry to Newcastle
    Highland Mountains - Inverness to John o'Groats
    Some Photos from the East Coast

    Scottish Sea Shores
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    Mull - Craignure to Fionnphort
    Pentland Firth
    Castles Seen from Afar (Dunollie and Kilchurn)
    Staffa
    Summer Days in Oban
    Summer Nights in Oban

    Wild Wales - With Castles
    Views of Snowdownia
    Views from Castle Battlements

    Wildlife
    Sea Gulls


    Scandinavia

    The Hurtigruten-Tour / Norway
    A Voyage into Winter
    Along the Coast of Norway - Light and Darkness
    Along the Coast of Norway - North of the Polar Circle

    Norway by Train
    From Oslo to Bergen
    From Trondheim to Oslo

    Wildlife
    Bearded Seals
    Dog Sledding With Huskies
    Eagles and Gulls in the Trollfjord


    The Baltic Sea

    A Baltic Sea Cruise

    The Curonian Spit in Lithuania
    Beaches at the Curonian Spit
    Geology of the Curonian Spit






    Roman History
    General Essays

    Provinces
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    - Gallia Belgica
    - Britannia

    Mediaeval History
    General Essays

    By Country
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    Other Times
    - Prehistoric Times
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    Miscellanea
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    Roman History

    General Essays

    The Romans at War

    Forts and Fortifications
    Exercise Halls
    Mile Castles and Watch Towers
    Soldiers' Living Quarters
    Cavalry Barracks

    Roman Militaria

    Armour
    Early Imperial Helmets
    Late Roman Helmets
    The Negau B Helmet

    Weapons
    Weapon Finds at Hedemünden
    The pilum
    Daggers
    Swords

    Other Equipment
    Roman Saddles

    Life and Religion

    Religion
    The Mithras Cult
    Isis Worship
    Curse Tablets and Good Luck Charms

    Public Life
    Roman Transport - Barges
    Roman Transport - Amphorae and Barrels
    Roman Water Supply

    Roman villae
    Villa Urbana Longuich
    Villa Rustica Wachenheim

    Everyday Life
    Bathing Habits
    Children's Toys
    Face Pots

    Miscellaneous Essays

    The Legend of Alaric's Burial


    Germania

    Wars and Frontiers

    Maps
    Romans in Germania

    Traces of the Pre-Varus Conquest
    Roman Camp Hedemünden
    New Finds in 2008

    The Battle of the Teutoburg Forest
    Museum Park at Kalkriese

    The Battle at the Harzhorn
    Introduction

    Along the Limes
    The Cavalry Fort Aalen
    Limes Fort Osterburken
    Limes Fort Saalburg


    Gallia Belgica

    The Batavians

    The Batavian Rebellion
    A Short Introduction


    Britannia

    Roman Frontiers in Britain

    The Hadrian's Wall
    Introduction
    The Fort at Segedunum / Wallsend


    Mediaeval History

    General Essays

    Mediaeval Art and Craft

    Mediaeval Art
    Carved Monsters
    The Choir Screen in the Cathedral of Mainz
    The Gospels of Heinrich the Lion
    Mediaeval Monster Carvings
    The Viking Treasure of Hiddensee

    Medieaval Craftmanship
    Goldsmithery
    Medical Instruments

    Mediaeval Warfare

    Mediaeval Weapons
    Swords
    Trebuchets

    Castles and Fortifications
    Dungeons and Oubliettes

    Essays about Specific Topics

    Feudalism

    The History of Feudalism
    The Beginnings
    Feudalism in the 10th Century

    Privileges and Special Relationships
    The Privilege of the deditio
    A Note on handgenginn maðr

    The Hanseatic League

    The History of the Hanseatic League
    Introduction and Beginnings

    Hanesatic Architecture
    Examples of Brick Architecture

    Goods and Trade
    Stockfish Trade

    The Order of the Teutonic Knights

    Wars and Battles
    The Conquest of Danzig
    The Siege of Vilnius 1390

    The Vikings

    Viking Ships
    The Nydam Ship


    Germany

    Geneaology

    List of Mediaeval German Emperors

    Geneaologies
    Anglo-German Marriage Connections
    Heinrich the Lion's Ancestors

    Kings and Emperors

    The Salian Dynasty
    King Heinrich IV

    House Welf and House Staufen
    Emperor Otto IV, Introduction

    Princes and Lords

    Princes
    Otto the Quarrelsome of Braunschweig-Göttingen
    The Dukes of Braunschweig-Grubenhagen
    Otto of Northeim
    The Ludowing Landgraves of Thuringia
    Albrecht II and Friedrich I of Thuringia

    Counts and Local Lords
    The Marshals of Ebersburg
    The Counts of Everstein
    The Counts of Hohnstein
    The Lords of Plesse
    The Counts of Reichenbach
    The Counts of Winzenburg

    Famous Feuds

    Royal Troubles
    Otto IV and Bishop Adalbert II of Magdeburg

    Local Feuds
    The Lüneburg Succession War
    The Thuringian Succession War - Introduction
    The Star Wars


    England

    Kings of England

    King Henry IV
    King Henry's Lithuanian Crusade

    Normans, Britons, Angevins

    Great Fiefs - The Honour of Richmond
    The Dukes of Brittany and the Honour of Richmond
    The Earldom of Richmond and the Duchy of Brittany

    Contested Borders

    Northumbria
    King Stephen's Troubles with King David of Scots


    Scotland

    Kings of Scots

    House Dunkeld
    Malcolm III and Northumbria
    Struggle for the Throne: Malcolm III to David I
    King David and the Civil War, Part 1
    King David and the Civil War, Part 2

    Houses Bruce and Stewart
    Robert the Bruce and Stirling Castle
    The Early Stewart Kings

    Scottish Nobles and their Quarrels

    Clan Feuds
    MacLeans and MacDonalds
    A Scottish Wedding


    Wales

    Welsh Princes

    The Princes of Gwynedd
    The Rise of House Aberffraw

    Rebels

    A History of Rebellion
    From Llywellyn ap Gruffudd to Owain Glyn Dŵr


    Denmark

    Kings of Denmark

    House of Knýtlinga
    Harald Bluetooth's Flight to Pomerania

    Danish Rule in the Baltic Sea

    The Duchy of Estonia
    Danish Kings and German Sword Brothers


    Norway

    Kings of Norway

    Foreign Relations
    King Eirik's Scottish Marriages
    King Håkon V's Swedish Politics
    Beginnings of the Kalmar Union

    A Time of Feuds

    Famous Nobles and their Feuds
    Alv Erlingsson of Tønsberg


    Sweden

    Troubles and Alliances

    Scandinavian Unity
    Beginnings of the Kalmar Union


    Russia

    The History of St.Petersburg
    (to come)


    Livonia
    (Latvia and Estonia)

    Towns of the Hanseatic League

    Tallinn
    The History of Mediaeval Tallinn


    Lithuania

    The Northern Crusades

    The Wars in Lithuania
    The Siege of Vilnius 1390

    Lithuanian Princes

    The Geminid Dynasty
    Troublesome Cousins - Jogaila and Vytautas


    Poland

    The Northern Crusades

    The Conquest of Pomerania / Prussia
    The Conquest of Danzig

    Royal Dynasties

    The Jagiełłonian Kings
    Władysław Jagiełło and the Polish-Lithuanian Union


    Bohemia
    (Including Silesia and Moravia)

    The Bohemian Kings of House Luxembourg
    (to come)


    Other Times

    Prehistoric Times

    Germany

    Development of Civilisation
    European Bread Museum, Ebergötzen
    Open Air Museum Oerlinghausen

    Orkney

    Neolithic Orkney
    The Neolithic Landscape of Orkney
    Ring of Brodgar
    Skara Brae
    Life in Skara Brae

    Scandinavia

    Gotland
    The Ship Setting of Gnisvärd


    Post-Mediaeval History

    Explorers and Discoveries

    Explorers
    Fram Expedition to the North Pole
    Fram Expedition to the South Pole

    Discoveries
    Otto von Guericke and the Magdeburg Hemispheres
    Raising a Wreck, Now and Then (Vasa Museum in Stockholm)

    Biographies

    European Nobility
    Prince Wilhelm Malte of Putbus


    Miscellanea

    History in Literature and Music

    History in Literature

    Biographies of German Poets and Writers
    Theodor Fontane

    Historical Ballads by Theodor Fontane
    (Translated by me)
    Archibald Douglas
    Gorm Grymme
    Sir Walter Scott in Abbotsford
    The Tragedy of Afghanistan

    History in Opera

    Belcanto and Historicism
    Maria Padilla - Mistress Royal
    The Siege of Calais in Donizetti's Opera

    Not so Serious History

    Romans
    Building Hadrian's Wall
    Playmobil Romans

    Mediaeval Times
    Kings Having a Bad Hair Day
    The Case of the Vanished Wine Cask

    Other
    Rules for Writing Scottish Romances
    Tourist Kitsch in St.Petersburg


    Geology

    Geological Landscapes

    The Baltic Sea
    Geology of the Curonian Spit
    Chalk Cliffs on Rugia
    Flint Fields on Rugia

    The Harz
    Bode Valley and Rosstrappe Cliff
    The 'Hübichenstein' Rock
    Karst Formations in the Southern Harz
    The Lonau Falls
    The Rhume Springs

    Meissner / Kaufunger Wald
    Blue Dome near Eschwege
    Diabase and Basalt Formations
    Karst Formations

    Solling-Vogler
    Raised Bog Mecklenbruch
    Hannover Cliffs

    The Shores of Scotland
    Staffa

    Fossils and Other Odd Rocks

    Fossilized Ammonites
    The Loket Meteorite


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