The Lost Fort

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


28 Mar 2009
  More Anglo-German Marriage Connections and Geneaology Fun

When the German king Heinrich the Fowler looked for a suitable bride for his son Otto (912-979), he contacted King Æthelstan of Wessex who sent two of his-half sisters on a visit. Otto, the future Duke of Saxony and King of East Francia, would make a fitting brother-in-law for the king of Wessex, and both Æthelstan and Otto shared an enemy in the Danes who had that habit of making unannounced visits to the coasts of England and northern Germany. For the young House of the Liudolfings on the other hand, a daughter of Edward the Elder and granddaughter of Alfred the Great would support their claim to the kingship. After all, the West Francian Carolingians still presented some competition.

Otto decided for Editha (Eadgytha) who was said to have been of royal bearing and sweet disposition (1). The marriage took place in 930 and Editha got the income from the bishopric of Magdeburg as morning gift. Her tomb was discovered in the cathedral of Magdeburg in November 2008.

Heinrich the Fowler died in 936, and Otto I became King of East Francia. But it took until 962 before he was crowned Emperor of the Holy Roman Empire as well.

The daughter of Otto and Editha, Liutgard (931-953), married Konrad of Lotharingia, the ancestor of the Salian Royal House - he was the great grandfather of Konrad II, the first Salian Emperor (1027). Konrad II in turn was grandfather of Heinrich IV (1050-1106), the one who got into so much trouble with the pope in Rome (see my list of German Emperors).

Heinrich IV's daughter Agnes of Waiblingen married Friedrich I Duke of Swabia of the House Staufen, their son Friedrich II of Swabia married Judith, daughter of Heinrich the Black, Duke of Bavaria (1075-1126) of the Welfen family (2). Their son would later be known as Emperor Friedrich Barbarossa (1122-1190).

Heinrich IV's son Heinrich V, a charming young man who took his own father captive in order to get the throne, was was married to Maud (Mathilda), daughter of Henry I of England, who after his death married Geoffrey of Anjou. She was the grandmother of Richard Lionheart and Mathilda, the wife of Henry the Lion.

Heinrich the Black's son Heinrich the Proud married Gertrud, daughter of the Emperor Lothar of Süpplingenburg; their son was Heinrich the Lion, Duke of Saxony and Bavaria (1129-1195). That makes Heinrich the Lion and Friedrich Barbarossa cousins, and members of the two most powerful families in Germany. Heinrich the Lion married Mathilda of England, daughter of Henry II and Eleanor of Aquitaine, in 1168 (3).

The Welfen lost the power struggle with the Staufen after Otto IV died, but the family exists until today. Georg Ludwig of the House Braunschweig-Lüneburg, Prince Elector of the Holy Roman Empire and King of Hannover (4), ascended the English throne as George I in 1714. He was not closest in line to the English throne, but he was the closest Protestant.

Notes
1) Editha's sister Eadgifu married King Charles III (879-929) of West Francia who got into so much trouble with the nobles of his realm that he ended his days in the dungeons of one of them. Eadgifu and her son Louis fled to England. He would return to France and become king under the name of Louis IV d'Outre-Mer in 936, with the help of Duke Hugo 'the Great' who was married to another of Eduard's daughters, Edhilda. Louis in turn married Otto's sister Gerberga.
2) Heinrich the Black was the son of Welf IV - the one who had divorced Ethelind of Northeim when he supported Emperor Heinrich IV against Otto of Northeim - and Judith of Flanders, a daughter of Balduin IV and widow of Tostig Godwinson Earl of Northumbria who fell at Stamford Bridge in 1066.
3) Their youngest son Wilhelm of Lüneburg (also known as William of Winchester) would continue the family.
4) House Hannover was a cadet branch of House Braunschweig (Brunswick)-Lüneburg; at the time the only surviving branch of the family.
 


23 Mar 2009
  An Unfortunate Emperor

Here is the first of the posts about Otto IV in honour of the 800 year anniversary of his coronation as Holy German Emperor.

Some pictures of the Harzburg where Otto died in 1218 will illustrate this post. The Harzburg is a hilltop castle, one of the few that could have competed with the Norman whoppers once. Today not much is left, but a few featuers have been reconstruced to give an impression of its former splendour.

The castle had been built by Heinrich IV, was destroyed during his wars with the Saxon nobles and rebuilt in the 12th century when it was an Imperial possession. Later it fell to the Welfen family.

Harzburg, outer curtain wall

Otto was born in 1175 or 1176 as third son of Henrich the Lion (1133 - 1195) and Mathilda, daughter of Henry II of England and Eleanor of Aquitaine. When the emperor Friedrich Barbarossa exiled Heinrich in 1183, the family spent the time in exile with their English relations, first in Normandy and later in England. Little is known how life among the most dysfunctional family in Europe turned out for them, except that Richard Lionheart took an interest in his nephew Otto and made sure the boy got the best education his time could offer. Otto not only learned the knightly and military ways, but also benefitted from the Plantagenets' interest in literature, arts and music.

Remains of the lower gate of the Ostburg (Eastern Castle)

When Heinrich the Lion got pardoned and his allodial possessions of Braunschweig and Lüneburg were returned to him in 1185, the family went back to Germany, except for Otto who stayed at the English court. Richard, crowned king in 1189 and childless, wanted to make Otto his heir, but his attempts to endear him to the English barons by creating him Earl of York did not work out, and nor did a planned marriage with the Scottish royal heiress Margaretha. Imagine Otto had become king after Richard - in addition to the many Henrys/Heinrichs we'd have to deal with a second bunch of Ottos as well. *grin*

In the end Richard had to be content to give him the Poitou as fief and make Otto Duke of Aquitaine in 1196. Not a bad position for a third son - his oldest brother, another Heinrich, would inherit the Welfen possessions.

View from Otto's Tower across the remains of the Ostburg

When Richard was released from captivity in 1194, Otto was one of the hostages who stood in for him until the rest of the ransom was paid, and later fought at Richard's side in the war against the King of France.

Emperor Heinrich died in 1197. With Richard's support, Otto got himself elected King of Germany, but so did Barbarossa's youngest son, Philipp of Swabia. Philipp had the regal insignia, but the coronation was done by the wrong bishop in the wrong place. Otto had the right bishop and place (and the support of the pope), but no insignia.

The two men fought for power for the next ten years. Otto's brother Heinrich took example from the dysfunctional Plantagenet relations and changed sides a few times.

View towards the partly reconstruced Otto's Tower in the Westburg (Western Castle)

But when it finally looked like an agreement between both kings could be reached, and Philipp offered Otto his daughter Beatrix in marriage, he was assassinated by the Count of Wittelsbach. The count had been betrothed to Beatrix, so jealousy has been assumed as motiv - though, considering the fact the girl was only ten, it doesn't seem very probable. Offended honour and/or a larger conspiracy is a more likely reason, imho.

After Philipp's death, Otto IV became King of Germany, and in 1209 was anointed Emperor of the Holy Roman Empire by pope Innocent III.

Bridge spanning the dike between Ostburg and Westburg

But trouble began anew when Otto turned his attention towards Sicily where Barbarossa's grandson Friedrich II had reached adulthood and faced an opposition of Sicilian nobles against the German House of Staufen. Otto supported those nobles who'd obviously have prefered a mostly absent Welfen ruler to a very present Staufen one. Pope Innocent didn't want to see Sicily and Germany united in one hand again, considered Otto an oathbreaker (Otto had previously promised to not contest papal supremacy in Italy) and excommunicated him. Why Innocent then allowed Friedrich to claim the German kingship is beyond me, because a united kingdom of Germany and Sicily is exactly what he got that way.

Friedrich received the support of most of the nobles and the free towns in southern Germany, the traditional Staufen territory. Otto's excommunication may also have played a role. Thus Friedrich was crowned King of Germany in 1212, and we're back to the situation of 1198-1209, only with Otto IV still being emperor.

Westburg, curtain wall

Luck began to abandon Otto. His wife Beatrix died only a few weeks after their wedding in 1212, thus ending his family ties to the House Staufen and any hope of an heir who might have united both lines.

In 1214, the armies of the allies of Philippe August of France and Friedrich II fought against the hosts of the English king John Lackland (aka John Battle Shirker, because he was absent) and Otto IV, and defeated them in the battle of Bouvines. The outcome weakened John's position towards the barons and he had to accept the Magna Charta, but the situation was worse for Otto. In the years to follow his last allies abandoned him and he died, politically isolated, on the Harzburg in 1218, probably from a digestive disease. His remains are buried in St.Blasius Cathedral in Braunschweig.

After the short, unhappy Welfen intermezzo, the Staufen king Friedrich II became Emperor.
 


22 Mar 2009
  A Year of Anniversaries

2009 is a year of anniversaries in Germany. The most important one is the Varus Battle / Battle of the Teutoburg Forest which took place 2000 years ago, an event that already gets a lot of media coverage, including a TV 'documentary' that turned Arminius into the German Braveheart. The only positive aspect of that one was that I couldn't detect any stirrups. ;-)

(To the left: The museum building at Kalkriese, modeled after a Roman watchtower. It wouldn't have gotten any architecture prize from me, though.)

There will be exhibitions in Kalkriese (which I've seen in 2006), Detmold (concentrating on the Arminius myth during history) and in Haltern, one of the Roman forts in Germania. I'd love to get a chance and visit that one.

I will continue my series about the Romans in Germany after I've read up on the new publications. I also need to get a better grip on Varus' character (esp. concerning A Land Unconquered) - it's too easy to make him Teh Evul Roman where he probably just failed to understand that the methods which worked in Syria didn't work in Germania.

But there is another anniversary which centers more around Braunschweig: 800 years ago Otto IV, son of Heinrich 'the Lion' of Saxony and Mathilde of England, was crowned Emperor of the Holy Roman Empire. He was the one and only emperor of the House Welfen, and for a few years Braunschweig became urbs regia, the imperial seat in Germany. Of course, Braunschweig will celebrate this anniversary with an exhibition in late summer and a number of other events. Since Braunschweig is only a bit more than an hours drive from Göttingen, you can expect some Otto IV-related posts and photos in 2009.

The Lion of Braunschweig
(Copyright: Official website of the town)

The statue stands in front of Dankwarderode Castle. I have analog photos of that one and the cathedral, but I'll rather get some new, digital ones for the blog instead of scanning the old pics.
 


2 Mar 2009
  The Ffwrwm

No, not an unknown prehistoric lizard or some mythological wyrm, but a garden in Caerleon. The name derives from the Latin forum, and with its craft shops, art gallery and restaurant the ffwrwm resembles an odd miniature forum cozily cuddled between the walls of an 18th century town garden. I found it by chance when looking for a place to have a lunch snack.

The Ffwrwm Garden in Caerleon, with one of Harrison's carved thrones to the left

The garden is a charming mix of shrubs and trees - most of the old and gnarled - antique statues, and modern art showing scenes from the Arthurian myths that are connected with Caerleon. The wood carvings, inspired by the Mabinogion, were done by Ed Harrison. There is also a metal statue depicting the final battle between Arthur and Mordred.

Statue showing the final duel between Arthur and Mordred

One of the attractions is an ancient life sized bull's head carved from stone. The bull was said to confer health, potency, wealth and prosperity; the reason it was an important animal in several religions and myths of old, from the Aegyptian Chapi to Mithras' bull sacrifice.

Another view of the garden; the bull's head is to the left

The ffwrwm also encloses the site of one of the former Roman fortress gates. Makes you wonder what they would have said to the sight of a legendary figure that might have been a Roman or half-Roman dressed in artistic late Medieaval plate armour.
 




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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Location: Goettingen, Germany

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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Roman History
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Roman Militaria

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Roman Water Supply

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Villa Rustica Wachenheim

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The Legend of Alaric's Burial


Germania

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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


Livonia
(Latvia and Estonia)

Towns of the Hanseatic League

Riga
The History of Mediaeval Riga

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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