Illustrated Travel Journal with Essays about Roman and Mediaeval History
Aelius Rufus Visits the Future, part 2
Most people we met wore trousers and some sort of longsleeved tunica with weird collars, or a sagum with sleeves, but a few were dressed in Roman attire. They do it for fun, Merlinus explained, and call it reenactment or creative anachronism. It had one advantage: we fitted right in and didn't create much of a stir. Though some people stopped in front of us and held little metal boxes into the air, stared at them, and then smiled at us and aimed their little boxes at the cranes or some other object.
"What are they doing," I asked.
"They're taking pictures," Merlinus said.
Merlinus waved a man to join us and spoke to him in a strange language. The man held the little box so we could see a tiny glass plate, and there was indeed a little picture of Gaius and me. The man smiled, and I smiled back, hiding my nervousness. "It's magic," I whispered to Merlinus.
"No, there's an explanation, but it is very complicated."
The man said something that sounded like, "ur Italian?"
I recognised the last word. "Italia," I nodded.
"Ah, Italia, Roma .... beautiful." He said something else and left us with a wave of his hand. I waved back; Gaius shook his head in disbelief. "People from the future still remember us?"
"He wished us a good journey," Merlinus translated. "And yes, the Empire of Rome is remembered in the future. They get some things wrong, but they still read Roman books, and keep Roman artifacts they've found."
With that he led us into a building. That it was a building we could see, but it looked different from anything we knew. It was an oversized barrack made of stone, dominated by a high tower, but the tower had an unusual form, a bit like a snake that had swallowed a discus. The discus had glass windows all around.
It was a museum, Merlinus explained, where objects from our time were displayed. Our attention was immediately caught by this.
"I've seen such tableware in the general's tent sometimes, when I had to make report," Gaius said. "It's pretty, isn't it?"
Our prefect had a few silver pieces as well, but not as beautiful. Beside me, a few children wriggled their way to the glassed box and gaped. School kids, I realised, accompanied by their magister. Some things had not changed in the future, it seemed. It was nice to know that they would have some memories of us. Two of them carried wooden swords.
That, too, had not changed.
Aelius Rufus Visits the Future, part 1
Salvete, carissimi amici. It's me, Aelius Rufus. You may remember me from a guided tour through the castellum Saalburg in Germania. I'm visiting my friend Gaius Fannius. He's a centurion with Gaul auxiliary stationed in Arbeia and just helped building the Antonine Wall - his lads covered the legionaries from local surprises. *grin* He's on holiday now and promised to show me some places in Britannia. But what is even better, he has a friend from the Caledonian tribes, one Merlinus who is a druid, a sorcerer or something, and he'll show us the future. Let's hope that Tony won't find out about it; he and his generals don't like soldiers to dabble in tribal magic.
So I took a ship from Bononia to Arbeia harbour where the Tinea river flows into the Mare Germanicum and where my friend Gaius awaited me. I recognised him at once in the crowd lining the pier. The soldiers nicknamed him Ursus because of his broad shoulders and hairy arms; some say also because of his temper, but he's a nice guy. He only shows his temper when some inept recruits still don't keep formation after a month's training. Then he can get quite formidable as I've once witnessed. Those recruits probably longed for a good fight against the Chatti if that got them away from Ursus.
Roman recruits from the future; they call it reenactment. Look at those funny sandals they wear. Can't keep formation either. I could hear Gaius mumble some not so nice comments, but Merlinus told us they don't speak Latin in the future, though some people still understand it.
Together, we walked the few miles to Segedunum - Roman soldiers are very good at walking - the place where Hadrian's Great Wall
begins. It's very impressive and a far cry from the earthern walls, trenches and palisades of the limes Germanicus
. Gaius told me the Antonine Wall was more like the German defenses, and it didn't really keep the tribes out. Not to mention there were tribes south of it as well with doubtful alliances. Northern Britannia is a worse mess than Germania.
The next morning we met with Merlinus. He had explained that it was the best place to travel to the future because it would change so much. It was cool and misty, the sky covered with grey clouds, and we huddled in our sagum
cloaks. Merlinus didn't look like one might expect a druid to look, he was rather handsome, slender and with long hair the colour of dark red wine, dressed in a simple tunica and a chequered cloak. And he spoke a pretty good Latin.
We found an unobtrusive place behind one of the barracks, touched hands, Merlinus murmured an incantation in an unknown language, and we found ourselves ....
... surrounded by dragons. The low, graphite sky was the same, the air still smelled slightly tangy from the sea, but the sounds were different. There were roars and screeches unheard in a Roman fort, and one of the dragons swung its head towards us. I grasped my gladius
- not that it would have been of much avail against a beast standing higher than a Roman insula
- and then I realised the dragon was made of iron. It was a giant crane. I could not imagine how many slaves it must have needed to swing it around and to pull the thick ropes with the heavy chest hanging from a hook - no, it were not ropes as we knew them, they were made of steel.
"It's a harbour," Merlinus said in a soft, dark voice. "We're in the year 2007 as it will be called in the future when there are no consuls to count the calendar by - 1863 years into the future. The place is called Wallsend now.
"How large must the ships be that need such giant cranes to unload them," Gaius murmured.
"We'll see the ships in due time," Merlinus said. "Let us have a look around."
Do you see any snow here?
No, you don't because there isn't any. Some sun, some clouds and rain, some more sun, and too warm for the time of the year. I want snow, dangit.
This beautiful building - the Gate Hall of Lorsch monastery - is one of the few remaining examples of post-Roman but pre-Romanesque architecture in Germany; its style is called Carolingian.
Gate Hall Lorsch, west facade
A monastery was established in Lorsch (former Lauresham) in the Rhine valley in 764. It received some popular relics and soon developed into an important place, especially after Charlemagne took an interest in it. The minster was consecrated in 774 in presence of King Charles, the future emperor. Closeup of the mural ornaments
At the beginning of the 9th century, news about construction work in Lorsch come to an end, so we can't say for sure when the gate hall was built, but it seems to date into the 9th century, not the time of Charlemagne. A pity, it would be nice to know he already walked under those vaults.
There is one vague mention of an ecclesia varia
(a 'colourful church') in the 870ies that could refer to the hall, but we can't be sure.Closeup of a pillar
Today, the hall is the only part that remains of the Carolingian building, and the monastery no longer exists. The Gate Hall in Lorsch is part of the World Cultural Heritage.
List of Medieaval German Emperors until 1250
To get some of the German kings and emperors of the Holy Roman Empire sorted out, I've listed the German Emperors of the Carolingian, Ottonian, Salian and Staufen dynasties. Dates are birth and death.
Karl der Große (Charlemagne) 742-814, Carolingian, first Holy Roman Emperor (800)
After Charlemagne's death, the reign was split between his surviving son and his grandsons, and a divide between West and East Francia (Regnum Teutonicum) took place, albeit there have still been power overlaps during the Carolingian dynasty.
The West Francian line (Carolingian):
Ludwig (the Pious), Charlemagne's son, 778-840Lothar I, his son, 795-855Ludwig II of Italy, his son, 825-875Karl II (the Bald), youngest son of Ludwig the Pious, 823-877
The East Francian line (Carolingian):
Ludwig (the German), 806-876Karlmann, 830-880, King of BavariaKarl III (the Fat), Ludiwg's son, 839-888 (Emperor since 881)
Arnulf of Kärnten, 850-899, King of East Francia (Emperor since 896)Ludwig (the Child) 893-911
Konrad I, 881-918, King of East Francia
With the coronation of Otto I as Emperor, and the rise of the House Capet in West Francia about 960, the divide of the two realms was completed. The eastern, or German part concentrated on Italy and the Slavic tribes they conquered, and they provided most of the Holy Roman Emperors. France had its interests in England (and vice versa) and to some extent in Spain, and so a west-east power split developed, but with a shared culture.
Heinrich I (the Fowler) 876-936, first of the Ottonian Kings of East FranciaOtto I (the Great), his son, 912-973 (Emperor since 962)Otto II, his son, 955-983Otto III, his son, 980-1002Heinrich II (the Saint, sideline of the Ottonians) ) 973-1024
Antipope Clemens III with Emperor Heinrich IV.
(Codex Jenesis Bose q.6, dated 1157. Wikipedia Common License)
Salian:Konrad II (the first Salian Emperor) 990-1039Heinrich III, his son, 1017-1056Heinrich IV, his son, 1050-1106Heinrich V, his son, 1086-1125
Süpplingenburg:Lothar of Süpplingenburg (Lothar III) 1075-1137
Staufen line 1:Konrad III, 1093-1152, King of Germany and ItalyHeinrich IV, died 1150, King with his father KonradFriedrich I (Barbarossa), 1122-1190 (Emperor since 1155)Heinrich VI, his son, 1165-1197
Welfen:Otto IV of Braunschweig, son of Duke Heinrich the Lion of Saxony*, 1175-1218
Staufen line 2:Friedrich II (called stupor mundi) son of Heinrich VI, 1194-1250Konrad IV, his son (last of the Staufen) 1228-1254
Of course, this is not the end of the lists of German Emperors. There followed the lines of Luxembourg, Wittelsbach, and Hapsburg, but the time until 1250 is the one I concentrate on in this blog.Note
* Duke Heinrich (Henry) the Lion of the Welfen family (1129-1195) was Friedrich Barbarossa's most formidable opponent which led to his spending several years in exile at the English court of Henry II.His descendants would later provide England with several kings named George. :) And since Heinrich's mother Gertrud was the great-granddaughter of Otto of Northeim, the English Georges I-III go back to that line as well.
A History Meme (Emperor Heinrich IV)
This time I haven't been tagged, but I found a fun meme on this blog as well as here, and decided to play along. I have a number of historical characters about whom I post occasionally, all the way from Arminius to Charlemagne and to Duke Henry 'the Lion' of Saxony. But I decided for a man I've so far only mentioned a few times in my posts about Otto of Northeim: King Heinrich IV (1050 - 1106, crowned Emperor in 1084).
Heinrich IV is one of the most controversial characters in Mediaeval history, and he already divided his contemporaries. Some chronicles treat him like a second Nero or Caligula, while others blame his enemies for causing so much trouble. The truth, as usual, lies somewhere in the middle. With the Holy Roman Empire exhibition in Magdeburg in 2006 and Gerd Althoff's new biography, interest in Heinrich IV has recently grown.
(Magdeburg Cathedral, westwork)
1) Heinrich became king upon his father's death in 1056, under regentship of his mother Agnes. In 1062, he was kidnapped by a group of nobles who didn't agree with the way Agnes conducted affairs. They lured Heinrich onto a ship on the Rhine and when he noticed what was going on, the young king jumped overboard so that one of the conspirators had to jump after him to prevent Heinrich from drowning. A few years later, in 1065, Heinrich was officially proclaimed adult and he'd have used the sword he got during the ceremony (the so called Schwertleite) to chop off the head of the conspirators' leader, Bishop Anno of Cologne, if not his mother had held him back.
2) Heinrich wanted to get a divorce from his wife Bertha of Turin because "he just could not live with her, and btw, she's still a virgin." That might have worked today, but it didn't in the 11th century, and he got stuck with Bertha until her death in 1089. Also, the papal legate told Heinrich to sleep with his wife already.
3) Heinrich managed to get excommunicated four times by three different popes. The most famous one was the first banishment by pope Gregor VII in 1076. Excommunication meant that the nobles of the realm were no longer bound to the oaths towards the king, and with an increasing opposition that turned out such a big problem that Heinrich prefered to travel to Canossa in northern Italy where Gregor resided, and formally humiliated himself to get accepted back into Church. The pope could not refuse because a repentant sinner was to be forgiven (and the opposing nobles suddenly found themselves oathbreakers). But the troubles didn't get away, so a few years later, Heinrich was excommunicated again. This time he went to Rome with an army, sent Gregor packing and put a pope of his choice, Clemens III, onto St.Peter's See. Clemens then crowned Heinrich as Emperor. During the ensuing schism, two more Gregorian popes excommunicated Heinrich, but he no longer cared, and even part of the German nobles had their fill of those games.
4) After Bertha's death, Heinrich married Adelheid-Praxedis of Kiev. I'm sorry to say that this marriage didn't work any better. Their mutual accusations of adultery, rape, violence, and sodomy makes the quarrels between Paul McCartney and Heather Mills look like an amicable separation.
Speyer Cathedral, crypt
5) Since northern Italy was part of the Holy Roman Empire, Heinrich could not stand idly by when the schism led to military conflicts. He interfered on behalf of Pope Clemens, but then got stuck in Italy - in the surroundings of Verona - because Mathilde of Tuscany blocked the Alpine passes against him. The fun part of this is that Mathilde was married to Welf V of Bavaria, the son of that Welf whom Heinrich gave the duchy of Bavaria after he took it away from Otto of Northeim. Otto was dead by then, or he might have thought something along the lines of neiner, neiner. It took Heinrich three years until he managed to negotiate his way home.
6) Heinrich had not much luck in his sons, either. Both plotted to send him into early retirement and take over his job. Konrad was the first to join the party of the Gregorian popes, Saxon nobles and whoever else thought Heinrich sucked, but the affair ended in nothing and Konrad died early. During that time, Heinrich had his younger son, another Heinrich, proclamied co-regent under the condition that he promised not to plot against daddy. Ever. But young Heinrich did, and more successfully than his older brother. In 1105, he took his father prisoner and forced him to abdicate. Heinrich IV died soon thereafter.
7) Heinrich was first buried in the place of his death, in Liège. But since he was still excommunicated, the church was put under interdict. The body was transfered to Speyer, the traditonal burial place of the German emperors, whereof the Speyer Cathedral
was put under interdict as well and the sarcophagus had to be buried outside the sacred ground. Heinrich V finally got the pope to lift the ban in 1111, and Heinrich IV could be properly put to rest in the Speyer Cathedral.
Speyer Cathedral, some tombs of Mediaeval German emperors.
I tag the usual suspects, and then some, lol.