My History Blog, Focussing mostly on Roman and Mediaeval Times


29/03/2014
  Built To Protect a Chapel – Krukenburg Castle

I know I've been neglecting this blog lately. Poor little blog, here's a new post for you, and my readers. :-) So here's a longer post about Krukenburg Castle, with a few detours beyond the local history to the larger events involving the politics in which the Krukenburg only played a marginal role.

Krukenburg Castle, the keep

The Krukenburg sits on an 80 metres high spur above the village and former monastery of Helmarshausen, near Karlshafen where the Diemel river confluences into the Weser. The place is a ruin nowadays, but a pretty one – esp. in sunshine – and of somewhat unusual layout. I’ve been there several times, and the last time - in 2010 - I got the digital camera so I could share some photos.

Krukenburg, gate with view to the chapel

The oldest dateable building on the hill is the church dedicated to John the Baptist which was built 1107 – 1126. The nearby Benedictine monastery of Helmarshausen is even older; it dates to 997. But it is possible that the place on the spur has been used before esp. for baptism rites (which may have been the reason the chapel was dedicated to John the Baptist), and it may trace back to a pagan religious site. Charlemagne spent quite some time in the area of the Weser and Diemel rivers during his Saxon wars and missions. He may have turned the place to the new worship.

Rotunda of the chapel with remains of the west nave

The design of the chapel is somewhat unusual. Its centre is a rotunda of 13 metres diameter with a cupola roof (instead of the crossing common in Romanesque churches); added to it are a long western nave, a choir with apse to the east and two short transepts. The same layout can be found in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem. There is a rectangular crypt in the centre of the rotunda, again following the example of the Rock Cave in Jerusalem. It may be even older than the church and had been excavated in the 1930ies, but it turned out too expensive to restore it safely for public access, and so the space was filled in again.

Chapel from the north, with remains of the north transept in the foreground

How did this unusual layout find its way to Germany? Wino, the abbot of Helmarshausen, traveled to Jerusalem in 1033. He got a commission from bishop Meinwerk of Paderborn to acquire the plans for the Church of the Holy Sepulchre for a similar building in Paderborn. The church in Jerusalem had been destroyed in 1009 and rebuilt in slightly altered fashion in the 1030ies; so the plans Wino got were from that period. The bishop then had the Jerusalem Church in Paderborn-Busdorf constructed according to those plans.

Chapel seen from the inside; view to the south transept

In 1107 Bishop Heinrich II of Paderborn and Count of Werl, from an old and influential family in the area, commissioned the chapel on the Krukenberg hill to compensate for the pilgrimage to the Holy Land he had pledged but could not make due to his age. When the church was consecrated in 1126, Bishop Heinrich was too ill to attend; he died the following year.

In that context, the unusual choice of design makes sense. After the Busdorf Church had been replaced with a more ‘modern’ building after a fire in 1289; the remains of the chapel in the Krukenburg are a rare example of an ecclesiastical building of that shape north of the Alpes.

Rotunda from the inside

The main cupola once had been double the height of the naves and transepts. Those were all covered by a barrel vault roof. One can still find traces of the lips for the ceiling; esp. in the remains of the rotunda and the choir. There are also remains of decorated skirtings.

A rectangular tower with an open hall formed the westwork. Adjacent was a smaller tower with a staircase, so there must have been a second storey – some sort of gallery maybe – at least in the western nave and perhaps the rotunda.

Keep (left) and chapel (right)

In 1126, relationships with the monastery in Helmarshausen seem to have been amiable. Bishop Heinrich granted the monastery several hides of land with the peasants living on it, to celebrate the consecration of the chapel on the Krukenberg hill.

But the increasing power play of the bishops of Paderborn endangered the status of Helmarshausen monastery, and may have woken memories of Bishop Meinward of Paderborn who had transferred the superiority over the monastery to Paderborn a century earlier. There were esp. two bishops whose politics brought them at loggerhead with other spheres of clerical influence: Bishop Bernhard II of Ibbenbüren, who took the bailiwick of Paderborn as well (in 1189) and used the combined power to found castles and towns that would remain dependant on the see.

(Paderborn House)

The other one was his successor Bernhard III of Oesede. He supported Philipp of Swabia against Otto IV (the son of Heinrich the Lion) in the strive for the German kingship and thus incurred the wrath of the pope, but turned his coat after Otto’s death and got back into papal grace. In 1222, the burghers of Paderborn rose against him, backed by the archbishop Engelbert I of Cologne who in turn wanted to expand his influence.

The monastery in Helmarshausen got dragged into the quarrels between the sees of Paderborn and Cologne. The abbot decided to apply to Archbishop Engelbert for support. It was Engelbert who built the fortifications of the Krukenburg to protect both the monastery and the chapel (1216-1220). The fortifications consisted of a curtain wall with a trench, a double gate with drawbridge, as well as two watch towers, but no outer bailey. The other buildings, including the keep, are later additions.

The bailey in the evening sun

Here’s some more historical background to connect my local history with the larger events: Engelbert’s predecessor and cousin Adolf of Altena was one of the men involved in releasing Richard Lionheart from captivity, and he crowned Otto IV of the Welfen family as King of the Germans in 1198; the coronation was confirmed by Pope Innocent III who was interested in balancing the strong position of the Staufen family in Italy. But Otto obviously was not an easy man to get along with, so Adolf started negotiations with Philipp of Swabia and in January 1205 crowned him as well. Ops. :-)

Keep with remains of the House of Mainz (left)

Pope Innocent did not like that one bit, so he sent Archbishop Adolf of Cologne a letter of dismissal and banned him. But the Rhineland was mostly pro-Staufen, so Adolf's successor didn't have much success in forcing papal policies against Adolf who refused to pack his laptop and leave his office, thus creating a nice, messy schism. Adolf even went to Rome in hope to get reinstalled (which proved vain), but the assassination of the Staufen candidate Philipp of Swabia in June 1208 changed the situation. Adolf submitted to the pope and talked his followers into accepting his successor. He got out of the whole mess with a handsome annual retirement funds, much like failed politicians (or bishops) these days.

Paderborn House, interior

His cousin Engelbert, provost of the chapter of Cologne since 1198, who supported Adolf during the schism and who had been discharged and excommunicated in 1205 because of the destruction his military actions caused, got away better. He came back into grace and into his position as provost in 1208. It seems he developed a better sensibility for the political currents and played along.

Otto IV could not resist trying to reconquer Sicily (which had been part of the German realm under his successor, Heinrich VI, son of Friedrich Barbarossa) thus breaking his promise to Pope Innocent to stay out of Sicily. That earned him an excommunication. It also gave the Staufen party in Germany a boost. Friedrich II (the son of Heinrich VI) was elected king and Otto was forced to return from Italy to sort out things at home in spring 1212. Friedrich also traveled to Germany to receive the oaths of the princes and nobles, and the conflict continued in Germany both on the political and the battlefield. Otto died, politically isolated in May 1218.

Gate and curtain wall seen from the bailey

Adolf was in no position to play a role in these conflicts, though he tried to regain his job in Cologne, while his cousin Eberhard laid low. His neutrality payed out for Eberhard in 1216. Eberhard was elected archbishop of Cologne in February and consecrated in September 1217 with the blessing of both the new pope, Honorius III, and the emperor Friedrich II.

The good relationship with Friedrich would last. Engelbert was named guardian of Friedrich's son Heinrich who was crowned king in 1222, and regent in Germany (Friedrich spent a lot of time in Sicily and on crusade). That made him one of the most influential people of the realm. He was assassinated in November 1225 on his was back from Soest to Cologne.

Curtain wall from the outside; also the out-facing wall of Paderborn house

Engelbert used his position to strengthen the dominion of the see and to expand its territories. One wonders how voluntary the pledge of the abbot of Helmarshausen was. The information I got focusses on the increasing power of Paderborn, but that brought the bishopric in conflict with Eberhard of Cologne and it could well have been that he *ahem* suggested they better called for his protection. The monastery of Helmarshausen with its artisans who created beautiful book illuminations (Gospel Book of Heinrich the Lion) was a prestige object worth having.

Engelbert pawned the castle out to Count Hermann of Everstein in 1223; in 1238 it was pawned out to the archbishop of Paderborn who erected the Paderborn House.

Paderborn House with the parapet in the foreground

Paderborn House is what one may call a tower house. The entrance was in the first storey to make access more difficult. The outer walls only have small windows but the inner side facing the bailey had larger windows and overall gave a rather representative look. Which makes me wonder how safe the place really was when you could throw heavy objects inside. Well, maybe they used thick wooden shutters. Remains of beam holes and fireplaces can still be seen inside. There also was a cellar for storage and perhaps prison.

In the following times the castle - and with it the hold over Helmarshausen monastery - changed possession a few times between the sees of Paderborn, Cologne and Mainz, sometimes also in part only, which meant that for a few years there were two bailiffs living in the castle. The Mainzer House was built in 1405 (of this only the cellar and one outer wall that also was the curtain wall, remain).

Another view from the gate to the chapel

I could not find much detailed information about the role of the Krukenburg in the later Middle Ages. It was conquered by Ludwig II Landgrave of Hessia who set up a garrison there during a feud with Paderborn in 1465, but the bishop bought it back in 1496 and installed a bailiff again.

After the Reformation, the monastery of Helmarshausen - and with it the Krukenburg - lost its importance; the castle fell into decay after 1617.

The 22 metres high keep has been repaired in 1968. There is a platform on its top with a great view over the Diemel valley, and the forests of Solling and Rheinhardswald. But it was closed last time I went there.
 


02/03/2014
  Travel Plans

I'll stay in Germany for my spring tour this year and travel to some places in southern Germany, namely Bamberg, Nuremberg and Regensburg which will bring me all the way to the Danube. There should be old cathedrals, pretty houses, Mediaeval town fortifications and the odd castle. Those towns have a long history going back to early Mediaeval and even Roman (Regensburg) times. I've been to Nuremberg as child and have fond memories of the place - I liked old stuff even then.

The Horseman of Bamberg, early 13th century
(This is a copy from an exhibition in Naumburg we visited in 2012; the original stands in Bamberg Cathedral)

And Aelius Rufus will be glad to hear there should be Roman remains, too. I plan a tour to the cavalry fort and Limesmuseum in Aalen, and there's some fun stuff in Weissenburg, the Roman Biriciana, near Nuremberg. Including the remains of a bath. :-) Regensburg, the ancient Castra Regina, was an important Roman site as well, but is has been built over during the Middle Ages, and so most remains can be only found in the underground, for example under the cathedral (like in York), but I'm not sure if photographing will be allowed there.

Grave monument in shape of a sella curulis
(The decoration of the back shows a battle scene; Varus Exhibition 2009, Haltern.
The monument is usually in Hever Castle)

The tour is scheduled for April (9 days, after Easter) since the were no affordable rooms to be found in Nuremberg during May. Let's hope the weather won't be too bad.
 




The Lost Fort is a history blog based on my journeys in Germany, the UK, Scandinavia, and other places. It includes essays on Roman and Mediaeval history and architecture, as well as some geology, illustrated with my own photos of old castles and churches, Roman remains, pretty towns and beautiful landscapes.

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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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Villa Rustica Wachenheim

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Legend of Alaric's Burial


Mediaeval History

Feudalism
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Feudalism, 10th Century
The Privilege of the deditio
A Note on handgenginn maðr

The Hanseatic League
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Stockfish Trade


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List of Mediaeval German Emperors

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Heinrich the Lion's Ancestors

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King Heinrich IV
Emperor Otto IV, Introduction

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

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

Famous Feuds

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

Royal Troubles
Otto IV and Bishop Adalbert II of Magdeburg


England and Normandy

From the Conquest to King John

Normans, Britons, and Angevins
The Dukes of Brittany and the Honour of Richmond

From Henry III to the War of the Roses

Great Fiefs
The Earldom of Richmond and the Duchy of Brittany


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 (1)
King David and the Civil War (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

Princes and Rebels

The Princes of Gwynedd
The Rise of House Aberffraw

The Rebellions
From Llywellyn ap Gruffudd to Owain Glyn Dŵr


Scandinavia

Kings and Vikings

Kings of Norway
King Eirik's Scottish Marriages

Famous Nobles and their Feuds
Alv Erlingsson of Tønsberg


Other Times and Miscellanea

Post-Mediaeval History

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

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

History in Opera and Literature

Opera

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

Historical Ballads

Ballads by Th. Fontane, translated by me
About Theodor Fontane
Archibald Douglas
Gorm Grymme
Sir Walter Scott in Abbotsford
The Tragedy of Afghanistan


Geological Landscapes

The Baltic Sea
Geology of the Curonian Spit

The Harz
Karst Landscape
Karst - Lonau Falls
Karst - Rhume Springs

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

Solling-Vogler
Raised Bogs
The Hannover Cliffs

The Shores of Scotland
Staffa

Paleontology

Fossils
Ammonites


Fun Stuff

Not So Serious Romans
Aelius Rufus Visits the Future Series
Building Hadrian's Wall
Playmobil Romans

Royal (Hi)Stories
Kings Having a Bad Hair Day
The Case of the Vanished Wine Cask

Historical Memes
Charlemagne meme
Historical Christmas Wishes
New Year Resolutions
Aelius Rufus does a Meme
Rules for Writing Scottish Romances

Funny Sights
Tourist Kitsch in St.Petersburg

My Novels in Progress / Planning

I'm a bit of a writer, too; here are the novel projects on which I'm currently working

Roman Novels (Historical Fiction)
The Saga of House Sichelstein (Historical Fiction)
Kings and Rebels (Fantasy)


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Links leading outside my blog will open in a new window. I do not take any responsibility for the content of linked sites.

History Blogs - Ancient

Roman History Today
Ancient Times (Mary Harrsch)
Bread and Circuses (Adrian Murdoch)
Following Hadrian (Carole Raddato)
Mike Anderson's Ancient History Blog
Mos Maiorum - Der römische Weg
Per Lineam Valli (M.C. Bishop)
Zenobia (Judith Weingarten)

Digging Up Fun Stuff
The Anglo-Saxon Archaeology Blog
Arkeologi i Nord
The Journal of Antiquities (Britain)
The Northern Antiquarian
The Roman Archaeology Blog

History Blogs - Mediaeval

Þaér wæs Hearpan Swég
Anglo Saxon, Norse & Celtic Blog
Casting Light upon the Shadow (A. Whitehead)
Norse and Viking Ramblings
Outtakes of a Historical Novelist (Kim Rendfeld)

Beholden Ye Aulde Blogges
A Clerk of Oxford
Daily Medieval
Historical Britain Blog (Mercedes Rochelle)
Magistra et Mater (Rachel Stone)
Michelle of Heavenfield (Michelle Ziegler)
Senchus (Tim Clarkson)

Royal and Other Troubles
Edward II (Kathryn Warner)
Henry the Young King (Kasia Ogrodnik)
Piers Gaveston (Anerje)
Lady Despenser's Scribery
Simon de Montfort (Darren Baker)
Weaving the Tapestry (Scottish Houses Dunkeld and Stewart)

A Mixed Bag of History
English Historical Fiction Authors
The Freelance History Writer (Susan Abernethy)
The History Blog
History, the Interesting Bits (S.B. Connolly)
Mediaeval Manuscripts Blog
Mediaeval News (Niall O'Brian)
Time Present and Time Past (Mark Patton)

Thoughts and Images

Reading and Reviews
Black Gate Blog
The Blog That Time Forgot (Al Harron)
Parmenion Books
Reading the Past
The Wertzone

Imaginations
David Blixt
Ex Urbe (Ada Palmer)
Constance A. Brewer
Jenny Dolfen Illustrations
Wild and Wonderful (Caroline Gill)

German Travel Blogs
Alte Steine
Blickgewinkelt
Meerblog
Reiseaufnahmen
Sonne und Wolken
Teilzeitreisender
Travelita
Unterwegs und Daheim

Highland Mountains
The Hazel Tree (Jo Woolf)
Helen in Wales
Mountains and Sea Scotland

The Colours of the World
Shutterbugs


Research

Archaeology
Past Horizons
Archaeology in Europe
Orkneyar

Roman History
Deutsche Limeskommission
Internet Ancient Sourcebook
Livius.org
Roman Army
Roman Britain
The Romans in Britain
Vindolanda Tablets

Not so Dark Ages
Burgundians in the Mist
Viking Society for Northern Research

Mediaeval History
De Re Militari
Internet Mediaeval Sourcebook
Kulturzeit
The Labyrinth
Mediaeval Crusades
Medievalists.Net

Castles
Burgenarchiv
Burgerbe
Burgenwelt
Exploring Castles
The World of Castles

Miscellaneous History
Heritage Daily
The History Files

Mythology
Ancient History
Encyclopedia Mythica

Online Journals
Ancient Warfare
The Heroic Age
The History Files

Travel and Guide Sites

Germany - History
Antike Stätten in Deutschland
Burgenarchiv
Strasse der Romanik

Germany - Nature
HarzLife
Naturpark Meissner
Naturpark Solling-Vogler

England
English Heritage
Visit Northumberland

Scotland
The Chain Mail (Scottish History)
Historic Scotland
National Trust Scotland

Books and Writing

Interesting Author Websites
Bernard Cornwell
Dorothy Dunnett
Steven Erikson
Diana Gabaldon
Guy Gavriel Kay
George R.R. Martin
Sharon Kay Penman
Brandon Sanderson
J.R.R. Tolkien
Tad Williams

Historical Fiction
Historical Novel Society
Historia Magazine

Writing Sites
Absolute Write
TheLitForum.com
National Novel Writing Month


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