The Lost Fort

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


22 Apr 2010
  Spring in the Hardenberg Castle Gardens

Spring took its time this year, but now it's making up. All that pretty green comes out faster than you can look. Too bad the birch pollen come out faster than you can sneeze as well.

Hardenberg Castle Gardens

But that blasted allergy isn't going to keep me inside, not on a warm and sunny day. So I took a walk in the gardens of Hardenberg Castle last Sunday. I've mentioned in an older post that the family eventually left the castle on the mountain and built a Renaissance style palace in the valley, surrounded by a park. Part of it is open to the public.

View from one of the high paths

It's an English style landscape park where the plants are allowed to grow more or less naturally, and since the grounds reach from the valley up a slope, there are several levels of paths, opening to new views.

A carpet of blue flowers

Spring is the time where the sunrays still reach the ground, and the flowers are making good use of it. Soon the foliage will be too dense to let much sunshine through, but right now the light effects of a late afternoon sun can be amazing.

Closeup of a blue flower

I don't know what those blue flowers are called, but they are pretty. Anyone got an idea what those are? I'm not sure if it's a wild flower or maybe some domesticated sort that has run out of control and reconquered the forest ground.

A carpet of white flowers

More spring flowers, this time in white. Birds where everywhere, too, but they are too fast for my camera. There were not many visitors around, so everything was quiet (except for the birds, but I don't mind their 'look ate me; look at that pretty nest I built' chirping) and peaceful.

Garden art

The Hardenberg family also has a distillery plus shop, and a restaurant on the castle grounds, so my father and I had a nice dinner on local venison. And I got me a bottle of a special Hardenberg herbal liquor which is very yummy.

Garden art, a different angle

The distillery can be seen in the background of this photo. The Castle Gardens are sometimes used for art exhibitions, and there's a Mediaeval tournament in summer, riding competitions on the grounds outside the park, concerts, and other events.
 


17 Apr 2010
  The Gospels of Heinrich the Lion

The Evangeliar Heinrichs des Löwen may be somewhat less well known than the Book of Kells, but it's more expensive. And very pretty, too. The book is kept in a safe in the Herzog August Library in Wolfenbüttel (near Braunschweig) and is only shown to the public on rare occasions. But facsimiles are displayed in several places connected with Heinrich and/or the manuscript, fe. in the cathedral in Braunschweig and the parish church in Helmarshausen. Thus I've collected some photos last year.

Double page displayed in the cathedral in Braunschweig

The Gospels with their 50 miniatures had been commissioned by Duke Heinrich as donation for the St.Blasius Cathedral in Braunschweig, in particular the altar dedicated to Virgin Mary. The book was crafted in the Benedictine Abbey of Helmarshausen, one of the rich Mediaeval abbeys along the Weser (I've mentioned the abbeys of Bursfelde and Lippoldsberg in several posts, but not much remains of the buildings in Helmarshausen). Construction of the cathedral in Braunschweig started in 1173, the altar of Virgin Mary was consecrated in 1188. Thus, and because historians never agree on something, we get two possible dates for the Gospels: 1173-75 or 1188.

St.Blasius Cathedral in Braunschweig; the crypt,
with my father standing in the glow of the illuminated Gospels facsimile

The Gospels of Heinrich the Lion became a private possession of the Welfen family in 1866, who transfered the manuscript to Austria where it disappeared during the world wars. It popped up again as an anonymous delivery to Sotheby's in London in 1983. After it had been confirmed to be genuine, the German government, the counties of Lower Saxony and Bavaria (once Heinrich's dukedoms), the Prussian Cultural Heritage Foundation, and a number of private donators threw together a truckload of money and bought the book at an auction for 32.5 million D-Mark (£ 8,140,000, more worth in 1985 than today). Only Bill Gates spent more on a manuscript when he bought Leonardo da Vinci's so called Codex Hammer in 1994.

The Creation

The facsimiles are quite expensive as well and kept under glass which makes photographing a bit tricky, but I managed some unblurred shots.

When I saw the original I was amazed how well preserved the mansucript is. The facsimile versions don't tamper with the colours; all that gold, silver, purple and indigo is so bright and clear - in fact, the gold is somewhat duller in the facsimile version. A few letters have faded, but that's about it.

The Gospels of Heinrich the Lion contain 266 pages with the text of the four gospels, decorated with 50 full page miniatures, and further embellished with some 1500 smaller and 84 larger initials laid out in purple, gold and silver ink. It is one of the finest examples of Mediaeval manuscripts and counts as one of the most important works of Romanesque book illumination. The book was displayed in an exhibition in Braunschweig in 1986, so I had the rare chance to see the original.

The Coronation, closeup (cfr. first picture, lower left)

One of the most famous illuminations is the Coronation. It shows Heinrich the Lion kneeling in the centre, behind him stand his father Heinrich the Proud, his mother Gertrude, and her parents, Emperor Lothar of Süpplingenburg and Richenza of Northeim. Mathilde is accompanied by her father, King Henry II of England and his mother Maud (Mathilde). There is another 'unidentified person' on her side, but Henry didn't bring the rest of his dysfunctional family along which I find quite telling. Both Heinrich and Mathilde are richly dressed and hold golden crucifixes. The crowns which Jesus presents to them are probably to be interpreted as crowns of eternal life, not of some worldly rule, which is confirmed by the text in the banners.

Another double page, displayed in the parish church of Helmarshausen

Heinrich was never crowned, but one may wonder if there is not a political subtext to the picture, a claim to the position of emperor - Heinrich's claim was as good as Friedrich Barbarossa's in whose favour he had stepped down (in exchange for Saxony and Bavaria). If we assume the earlier date for the manuscript, it would fall into the time when Heinrich's conflict with Emperor Barbarossa started, while the latter date would be after Heinrich's first exile, thus in a time when he had lost most of his power and was less likely to have any ambitions towards a crown. Though Barbarossa never trusted Heinrich; when he went on crusade (where he died), he sent Heinrich back to England. The omission of Eleanor and any of King Henry's sons points to a time when that family had broken apart for good.

The Burial of Jesus

We can't say for sure, and a double meaning may well have been intended. The Gospels stand in a tradition of religious foundations to gain bonus points towards a place in Heaven, and it's clearly stated in the Dedication picture and text that Heinrich and Mathilde dedicated this 'gold-gleaming book' to Christus in hope of eternal life.

Mathilde's love for books extended to the vernacular - she comissioned the German translation of the Chanson de Roland. In that she was a worthy daughter of Eleanor of Aquitaine.

Christ's Ascension

The codex stands in a tradition of book illumination that had its first peak at the time of Charlemagne. But also the Ottonian emperors comissioned some beautiful manuscripts (pity that photographing wasn't allowed in the Magdeburg exhibition I visited some years ago).

Another interesting aspect is the fact that we know the name of the artist: a monk Heriman who names himself at the end of the Dedication poem. Abbot Konrad II had ordered him, Heriman, to create that codex which was comissioned by Duke Heinrich. It is very unusual for that time for an artist to identify himself. There were a few writers who added their name, beginning with the mysterious Turold who wrote the Chanson de Roland, to Jehan Bodel, Chretien de Troyes and others, but it was even less common for artists like manuscript illuminators. Though one can't blame Heriman for being proud of his creation.

Helmarshausen, seen from Krukenburg Castle

Helmarshausen is now part of the larger town of Bad Karlshafen. Landgrave Carl of Hessia wanted to establish an efficient and competitive textile industry and in 1685 invited Huguenot refugees from France to settle in Helmarshausen to help him in the endeavour. They built what later was to become Karlshafen (Carl's Harbour), a well structured town centered around a harbour. You can still see that the town was planned at the drawing board and didn't grow out of older settlements like many other places.

Karlshafen, Old Harbour

The harbour that gave the town access to the Weser river and the North Sea, was one of Landgrave Carl's favouite ideas because it offered him a chance to avoid the tolls of Münden, a town belonging to the House of Brunswick-Hannover. The harbour, built in 1713, is no longer in use but still graces the town with a nice water scenery.
 


9 Apr 2010
  Rhine Tour 2010

I'll be doing a somewhat shorter tour this year: 8 days along the Rhine in May, in search of Romans and other fun. I'll start with Xanten, the ancient Colonia Ulpia Traiana (and the castellum Castra Vetera) which has a shiny new Roman museum, an Archaeological Park, and some other remains, plus a Gothic cathedral. Xanten is also connected with the Song of the Nibelungs (there's a new Nibelung Museum as well), where it is named as the home of Siegfrid the Dragonslayer.

The next station will be Moguntiacum, aka Mainz. That one has two Roman-themed museums, the Römisch-Germanisches Nationalmuseum and the Nautic Museum, and other Roman remains spread all over the town: a temple, remains of an amphitheatre, aqueduct pillars and more. Gotta do some walking there. There's also another splendid cathedral, the Gutenberg Museum and other interesting things.

We're back to the Nibelungs with a visit to Worms. It was at the main gate of the cathedral where the two queens, Brünhild and Kriemhild (Gutrun in the Edda versions), quarreled about who was to enter the church first, which led to a really big desaster. I've seen the cathedral - another Romanesque one - as kid right at the age when I read all those epics for the first time, so it will be interesting to see the place again.

The mountains framing the Rhine between Mainz and Koblenz are dotted with castles (though a number of them are 19th century reconstructions which look a bit more Victorian than Mediaeval), so I'll try to catch at least one: the Rheinfels where old remains meet with 17th century fortifications. It's the largest castle in the area. I'll also plan for a ship cruise on the Rhine. Hold your thumbs for sunshine. :)

A little jewel will be Baudobriga, better known as Boppard today, a Celtic settlement turned Roman fort, turned Medieaval town. What put it on my list is the fact that it has the best preserved Roman walls in Germany. It may be of interest to Carla that a church has been built on the remains of the Roman baths, and later the bishop of Trier (or, according to a new essay, Richard of Cornwall) put a big rectangular donjon right into one corner of the old Roman fortifications; the one castle along the Middle Rhine not perching on top of some mountain.

In case anyone wonders why Cologne didn't make it onto the list - that one only has a big, gaping hole in the middle of the town and a dusty church right now. I'll wait for the underground to be finished before I go there.

The photos shows the trees outside my balcony with raindrops sparkling in the sunshine.
 


3 Apr 2010
  Happy Easter

I wish everyone a happy Easter.


 




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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Staffa
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Sea Gulls


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Along the Coast of Norway - North of the Polar Circle

Norway by Train
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From Trondheim to Oslo

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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
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Roman History

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Roman Militaria

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Late Roman Helmets
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Weapons
Weapon Finds at Hedemünden
The pilum
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Other Equipment
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Life and Religion

Religion
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Isis Worship
Curse Tablets and Good Luck Charms

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Roman Transport - Amphorae and Barrels
Roman Water Supply

Roman villae
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Villa Rustica Wachenheim

Everyday Life
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Children's Toys
Face Pots

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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


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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