Roman and Mediaeval History, Illlustrated Travel Journals, Mediaeval Literature, Geology


31.1.16
  Harbour Impressions from Stralsund

Since I stayed in a hotel on the harbour island adjacent to Stralsund's old town, I had plenty of chances to catch impressions of the harbour district from various angles and in different light. Here are a few of them.

View to the town harbour entrance, with Rügen island in the background

Stralsund started out as a Slavonic fishing village in the 10th century. In 1168, King Valdemar I of Denmark conquered the tribe of the Rujani and made their princes his vassals. The Danes then used the stragegically well positioned settlement with its sea front facing the Rügen pensinsula and the lagoon as their harbour for campaings further inland. Stralsund received the rights of town according to the Lübeck Charta in 1234 and rose to one of the preeminent members of the Hanseatic League in the 14th century.

View from my hotel room to St.Nikolai Church

Stralsund fell to Sweden in the Peace of Westphalia which ended the Thirty Years Was (1648) and would remain in Swedish possession until the late 19th century when the town came to Prussia. Like so many other places, the old town of Stralsund which had already been hit by several bombs at the end of WW2, suffered neglect during the GDR (the government was more interested in erecting large panel-system buildings - Plattenbauten - in the suburbs which could house more people than restoring old buildings) but was renovated after the reunion. The old town is now part of the Unesco World Heritage.

Stralsund seen from the sea: St.John's Church to the left, St.Nikolai to the right

The town looked a bit different during the Middle Ages, of course, though the churches were already dominating the skyline. The harbour island did not exist; instead long wooden quays were built into the shallow waters of the lagoon. The cogs anchored further out and the wares were shifted to smaller vessels which could be unloaded at the quays. The wares were then transported into the town on well kept cobblestone ways.

Stralsund seen from the sea: Gorch Fock (right), Oceanographic Museum, some hotels
(I took these pictures from the ferry to Hiddensee)

Another feature that has changed is the town wall which once surrounded the entire town since the 13th century, with additional fortifications from later times. Now, only some ruins at the land side remain; the harbour walls had been dismantled 1873 because they stood in the way of expanding the town.

Part of the harbour isle (the red and white house is the hotel I've been staying)

One of the expanding industries were shipyards. To give the shipwrights more space, an artificial insula was constructed outside the old town in 1860. Where once the quays for the Hansa cogs stretched into the shallow waters of the lagoon between Rügen and Hiddensee, piles were rammed into the ground and earth deposited. Twenty new sailing ships were built on the harbour isle in 1862.

View from my hotel room to the canals separating the harbour isle from the old town

But the ship building industry declined with the rise of steam engines, and other uses for the isle had to be found, mostly by building warehouses. A number of those today house hotels and restaurants. The newest addition to the harbour isle is the Oceanographic Museum which opened in 2008. Due to its shape it is nicknamed the toilet paper roll.

St.Nikolai and one of the warehouses (left) on the harbour isle, seen from the sea

Stralsund has a town harbour, a sea harbour for cargo vessels, and several marinas. The sea harbour manages the handling of bulk goods and piece goods, especially salt. The transhipping in 2013 was 1.5 million tons. The town harbour is the starting point for the ferries to Hiddensee and harbour cruises; it also offers anchorage for river cruise ships. A pretty addition to the town harbour is the sail training ship Gorch Fock I.

One of the marinas in the morning light

I took the chance to visit the ship, but that will be a post of its own. Here are some basic informations about her history. The Gorch Fock I is a three mast barque built for the Reichsmarine in 1933. She was used as training ship until the beginning of the war and then as stationary office ship in Kiel and Stralsund. She was briefly activated towards the end of the war and finally sunk by its crew. The Sovjets had her salvaged and restored. She was renamed Tovarishch and used as training ship for the Russian Marine until 1991. During that time she participated in several tall ships' races around the world.

Gorch Fock I

From 1991 the ship sailed under Ukrainian flag, but the money for necessary repairs was lacking, so she ended up in a dock in Wilhelmshaven until 2003, when she was bought by the Tall Ships Society, transfered to Stralsund and renamed Gorch Fock. The society plans to restore the ship so she can sail again, but money is still an issue. New engines have been installed and the decks made useable for events like weddings. But much remains to be done until the Gorch Fock I can safely sail around the world again.

Gorch Fock I, from a different angle

A feature you can see on several photos is the new Rügen Bridge across the Strelasund which separates the island of Rügen from the mainland. The sound is about ten metres deep which is unusually deep for the waters in the area. The sound was crossed by ferries between Stralsund and Altefähr via the island of Stralov, later named Dänholm, already in the 13th century. During the time Stralsund belonged to Sweden, the ferries - in form of sailing vessels - were part of the Swedish postal service from Ystad to Stralsund and operated on a regular schedule since 1684.

View from the upper deck of the Gorch Fock to one of the inner quays, the Rügen Bridge,
the outer dockyard and a warehouse (right)

But increasing traffic made the building of a bridge necessary. The first one was the Rügen Causeway with railway and double lane road, completed in 1936. It consists of a 133 metres long bridge spanning the Ziegelgraben, the part of the sound between Stralsund and Dänholm island. It is constructed as bascule drawbridge in its middle part. The bridge is still in use, esp. for the railway connection, and opens at regular times to allow taller ships passage. The second part is an embankment extending from Dänholm and a second bridge that connects to Rügen.

The new bridge to Rügen

The new bridge, or rather a set of bridges and embankments, was finished in 2007. It has three lanes for car traffic and an overall length of 583 metres. It too, uses the Dänholm as crossing and consists of a viadcut spanning the Ziegelgraben and another bridge across the Strelasund to Rügen. The 126 metres long viaduct is the most stunning feature. It is a cable-stayed bridge that allows passage to ships up to 42 metres height. The pylon is 128 metres high and grounded in the sound by 40 bored pilings with a 1.5 metre diameter. The 32 cables that spread in harp shape have a three layered protection against corrosion and can carry a tension of 4,000 kN.

Rügen Bridge and Dänholm in the morning light

Since Rügen has a number of pretty sea bath towns, it is a popular holiday spot, and the new bridge was needed to cope with the increasing traffic. Since I didn't have so much time, I decided for a trip to Hiddensee instead. It is easier to get there by public transport and it is quieter, too. But Rügen is still on my list.

View from the bow of the Gorch Fock to the lagoon

I hope you liked the little tour through the harbour of Stralsund. The weather offered everything form sunshine to lightning storms during the three days I stayed in Stralsund, thus the photos show very different moods.
 


12.1.16
  The Crown of Franconia - The Architecture of Coburg Fortress

I concentrated on photos of the fortifications and those buildings that date back - at least in some remaining parts - to the Middle Ages in the first post about Coburg Fortress, which is also known as the Crown of Franconia due to its size and good state of preservation. This post will give you some more fortifications and some younger buildings which were added to the vast complex over time.

The inner curtain wall and the first zwinger wall

No traces remain of the first chapel and provost's house on the hill. The buildings may have been protected by a timber palisade, but we can't say for sure. Excavations have only found remains of a churchyard on the plateau, but since the site is covered by buildings now, older ruins may be lost forever.

Parapets on the curtain walls

The inner bailey with the palas, kitchen house and chapel, the bower, a keep and a wall tower to protect the eastern side, is the oldest part of the castle. The Romanesque remains of the wall tower have been integrated into the High Bastion built 1533. Engravings by Lucas Cranach from 1506 still show that tower in its original shape.

The palace with the annex and the chapel (to the right)

Some of the buildings had been severely damaged in a fire in 1500 and were altered upon repair. The bower got a staircase tower, and the palace was extended four metres into the yard by addition of a half timbered annex; its former outer stone wall is now an interior one (see also below).

Walls with the High House

The Gothic or High House in the outer bailey, dating to the late 14th century, is the oldest part of the castle that remains mostly unaltered except for repair of fire damage here as well (1489). It was originally used as arsenal. We can trace a chatellain from that time: Count Ernst of Hohenstein-Lohra, most likely a member of the family I blogged about here. They had become important vassals of House Wettin. Count Ernst commissioned the repair. The building now houses the museum administration.

The High Bastion built on the remains of a Romanesque tower

The fortifications already surrounded the entire plateau on the hill; the Blue Tower mentioned several times in the previous post, still shows Romanesque stonework in its lower storeys. There are also remains of Romanesque cellars. Remains of another Romanesque tower have been found in the outer bailey. It is assumed that the first main gate may have been between that tower (today the Bear Bastion) and the Blue Tower, which would make sense since gates usually led to the outer bailey.

Gate tunnel under the walls leading to the Bear Bastion, 1553

From 1553 to 1660, the main entrance was a tunnel under the Red Tower, leading to the Bear Bastion, thus restoring the gate to the outer bailey. The mighty cellar vaults under the Carl-Eduard House and the Duchess' House date to the same time (see below).

Another view of the fortifications

The outer defenses were fortified during the Hussite Wars by Duke Friedrich the Warlike (~1425; see first post). A double, in part triple, row of walls was set up, with zwingers in between, towers, and powder magazines. Gunpowder started to play a role in warfare, and its storage was tricky since it must be kept away from fire. Several of the towers were dismantled when the fortifications were increased further in the 17th century.

View across the zwinger to the bridge

The main entrance today leads into the inner bailey again (like in the 14th and 15th century). The tunnel under the curtain wall dates to the 15th century, but the decorated Baroque gate in front of it was added in 1670. The zwinger was crossed by a a wooden drawbridge which was replaced by a stone bridge in 1859.

The old gate tunnel with portcullis

Duke Johann Ernst (1521-1553), the first Duke of Saxe-Coburg (the Wettin family split into several branches that had to be provided for with lands) moved to live in Ehrenburg Palace at the foot of the castle hill, since the living quarters in the castle had become uncomfortable by the standard of his time. Coburg castle was turned into a Bavarian state fortress, partly financed by the state diet. Bastions were added to the fortifications during 1533 to 1615, the time of Duke Johann Casimir.

The Bear Bastion on the west side from 1614

After the fortress was returned to Duke Johann Ernst (another one; they don't even get numbers because the various family branches are such a shrubbery) during the Thirty Yeas War in May 1635, the fortifications were strengthened further.

But modern warfare made fortified castles increasingly obsolete, and in 1802, the garrison was disbanded; Coburg lost its status as state fortress. The buildings were used as hospital and prison (the High House); since 1838 they housed the art and armour collections of the dukes. The trench was filled in and turned into a park, including a walk around the fortress.

An angle of the Bear Bastion with remains of the old gate foundations

Duke Ernest I put some effort into restoring the fortress in the neo-Romanesque style popular in the 19th century (starting in 1838). Most of the changes were made inside the buildings, but he also altered the chapel, the parapets and the gate tower, and put extra oriels on the towers.

Closeup of the palace / Duke's House

Coburg Fortress had come into possession of the County of Bavaria in 1918, but since Duke Carl Eduard and his family had the right to live in the fortress, extensive repairs were done to the palace, chapel, guest house, the fomer sheep stables and several bastions. The architect, Bodo Ebhardt, removed the pseudo-historical additions of the 19th century and replaced them with more 'modern' and less fancy elements.

The palace seen from the curtain wall side

Duke Carl Eduard was heavily involved in the repairs. He often visited the site and had an input in the plans. He also set up a lottery to fund the renovations (though the County of Bavaria invested money as well).

The palace, now called Duke's House, was completed in 1920. Today the palace is used to present parts of the art collection. The extended structure with the half timbered annex from the late 15th century was kept; the style ties in well with the curtain wall side of the building.

The Guest House

The ducal family also lived in the Guest House in the inner bailey - they were large enough to need more than one house, I suppose. The building replaced a 19th century inn. Prior to that, half timbered buildings from various times had occupied the site, Mediaeval outbuildings as well as 18th century barracks.

A hall in the Stone Bower

The Stone Bower which I already mentioned in the first post was restored in the early 1980ies. Massive foundations were discovered under the ground floor, maybe the remains of the first building (before the fire of 1500). When Luther stayed in Coburg Fortress, he got a room in this house.

Carl Eduard House

Several buildings frame the yard of the outer bailey:

The Carl-Eduard House was erected on the ruins of an older building known as the Red Bower. Its 16th century cellar vaults still exist. The new house was finished in 1924. One of the rooms in the house is a great hall which is called the congress hall, though I could not figure out where the name comes from.

Duchess' House

The Duchess' House originally was a sheep- and grain house from the 16th century. It too, was modernised in the 1920ies.

Both the Carl-Edward House and the Duchess' House suffered damage during the last days of WW2; they were repaired in the 1950ies and 60ies, and again between 2003-2008, after the last member of the ducal family who had the living rights of the fortress died in 1998. Today, the State of Bavaria has the care of the fortress.

View from the High Bastion to the Thuringian forests and Sonneberg

Literature
Guidebook: Kunstsammlungen der Veste Coburg. Regensburg, 2008
 


6.1.16
  Dower of a Polish Queen, Wettin Stronghold, Martin Luther's Hideout - The History of Coburg Fortress

I have mentioned Coburg Fortress, the Veste Coburg in German, in this post where I also gave some tidbits of the geneaology of Queen Victoria of England. The Royal family was known as Saxe-Coburg-Gotha before they changed their name to Windsor, because both Victoria and her Consort Albert came from branches of that House. Today we'll have a look at the history of the fortress. The architecture will be covered in another post.

Coburg Fortress, curtain walls of the old castle
with the Blue Tower in the foreground and the Red Tower in the background

The fortress is situated on a hill 167 metres above the town of the same name. It measures 135 x 260 metres including its triple fortifications, their oldest part (the Romanesque stonework of the lower storeys of the Blue Tower) dating to 1230, the newest (one of its round towers can be seen on the photo below) to the early 17th century. Coburg is thus one of the largest fortresses in Germany.

Towers of the outermost zwinger walls

The castle of Coburg is first mentioned in 1226 (1), but the name itself first appears in a charte in 1056 wherein Queen Richeza of Poland donates her possessions in Saalfeld and Coburg (mons Coburg) to the archbishop Anno II of Cologne.

Here's an historical excursus for Kasia: Richeza of Lotharingia was the daughter of Ezzo Count Palatine of Lotharingia and Mathilde, a daughter of Emperor Otto II and the Byzantine Princess Theophanu. She was betrothed to Mieszko II Lambert, the son of Duke Bolesław Chrobry of Poland, at the congress of Gniesno in AD 1000.

During the congress, Otto III, Richeza's uncle, elevated Gniesno (German: Gnesen) to the rank of archbishopric and swore formal amicitia with Duke Bolesław (2), an act that was more a political symbol than a personal friendship, unlike the way we regard these relationships today. The betrothal served as additional tie of their relationship. The girl was about five at the time.

View through the outer gate, with the High House in the background

Unfortunately, Otto III died in January 1002, without male heirs. The crown was contested between Margrave Ekkehard of Meissen and Duke Heinrich of Bavaria from a sideline of the Liudolfing/Ottonian House (3).

Bolesław supported Ekkehard, and after the margrave was assassinated, used his chance to snatch some lands in Lusatia and Meissen. That brought him in conflict with King Heinrich II which lasted for years, including several battles and peace negotiations which never really held. All the time, Richeza was still betrothed to Mieszko. Finally, they were married during the peace negotiations in Merseburg in 1013.. Heinrich II also gave the lands of Saalfeld/Coburg to Richeza's father Ezzo of Lotharingia. I suppose they may have been intended as her dower in case of a divorce.

If Heinrich thought Bolesław would stop being a pain in the behind, he was wrong though. I leave it to Kasia to sort out the troubles the duke of Poland had with Heinrich and other eastern rulers like Duke Jaroslav of Kiev (allied with Heinrich) or the duke of Bohemia. When Heinrich died in 1024, Bolesław was crowned King of Poland (4). He died but a year later, and his son Mieszko II became king (ousting an older half-brother in the process).

Fortifications, with a view of the Blue Tower

Mieszko did not get along with Jaroslav of Kiev any better than his father. The relationship with Heinrich's successor Konrad II (5) was not exactly amicable, either. Mieszko also managed to alienate the nobles of his realm. He lost Lusatia to King Konrad, was replaced by his ousted half-brother Bezprym - supported by Jaroslav - for a while, but regained the kingship after Bezprym's death. When Mieszko died in 1034, the situation in Poland and the relationship with the nobility was so poisoned that Richeza and her children fled back to Germany.

Richeza was granted the lands of Saalfeld and Coburg for a living (6); Konrad II also allowed her to keep the title of Queen of Poland. Konrad's son, Heinrich III, supported Richeza's son Casimir to reclaim the throne of Poland (1041). Casimir managed to reconquer the land and reunite the nobility; he made peace with Jaroslav of Kiev and renewed the position of the Church; those feasts gained him the name of Casimir the Restorer.

Coburg Fortress, inner bailey with the palace and chapel (right)

Richeza, like so many widows at the time, became a nun when her her last surviving brother Hermann, archbishop of Cologne, died in 1056 (her other brother, count palatine Otto, had died in 1047), living solely for the memoria of the family, which included donations of land to the Church, so churches and monasteries could be build where prayers would be said for the dead. She gave both her Saalburg possessions and her share of the Ezzonian lands at the Rhine to the archbishop of Cologne. Richeza died in 1063.

Archbishop Anno, Hermann's successor, founded a chapel dedicated to St.Peter and Paul on the Coburg Hill in 1074, which was a filiation (Nebenkloster) of the monastery in Saalfeld. The chapel and a house for the provost are the first traceable buildings on the hill.

View into the inner bailey

The next time we can trace Saalfeld/Coburg, it is again part of the imperial lands in possession of the emperor Friedrich Barbarossa (1180). I would like to know how the lands got wrestled out of the paws of the archbishopric of Cologne, but I could not find any information.

The castle (translated as sloss, 'palace', implying there must have been a great hall) is mentioned as possession of the Dukes of Andechs-Merania in 1226 (7). The oldest buildings of which remains can still be found date from that time.

The dukes of Andechs-Merania were among the winners of the redistribution of lands after the fall of Duke Heinrich the Lion. His former duchies of Saxony and Bavaria were split - the emperor Friedrich Barbarossa did not want one such powerful and rich magnate in his realm again. Parts of Bavaria were thrown together with other lands, creating the new duchies of Bavaria (held by the Wittelsbach line), Styria, and Merania (8). The line of the dukes of Andechs-Merania died out in 1248 and the duchy became defunct.

The 14th century Gothic House, or High House

The Coburg and adjacent lands then came into possession of the counts of Henneberg, one of the ancient Franconian noble families who settled in Thuringia (documented since 1078). They soon split into several branches. Count Poppo IV of Henneberg (†1190) had married Sophia of Andechs-Istria, and the counts of Henneberg took their claim to Coburg from that connection.

Poppo's grandson Hermann I of Henneberg-Coburg not only gained those possessions but more lands in Thuringia when the Ludowing line died out, establishing the so-called New Lordship (Neue Herrschaft). His mother was Jutta of Thuringia who before had been married to the margrave of Meissen. The son from that marriage, Heinrich 'the Illustrious' founded the House Wettin. Hermann himself married the sister of William of Holland, who became King of the Germans in 1247.

The Coburg lands fell to Margrave Otto V of Brandenburg-Salzwedel of House Ascania, by marriage to Hermann's daughter, another Jutta (1291). But they came back to the Henneberg family in 1312 when their granddaughter Jutta (yes, I know *sigh*) married Heinrich VIII of Henneberg-Schleusingen.

The Mediaeval Steinerne Kemenate (bower or ladies' chambers)

Heinrich died without male heirs and the heritage was split between his widow - who got the New Lordship - and his younger brother. Part of the New Lordship, including Coburg, then went as dowry to House Wettin when Heinrich's daughter Katharina (born ~1334) married Friedrich the Severe, Landgrave of Thuringia and Margrave of Meissen, the grandson of of Friedrich the Brave. But the complicated heritage succession meant that Friedrich could only claim the lands after Jutta's death, something he did not seem particularly happy about. At least he wasted no time getting the fief confirmed by Emperor Karl IV in Prague but eight days after Jutta died (February 9, 1353).

Legend has it that Katharina was sent back to her mother for a time, because the dowry was not delivered, but that tale is more likely a result of her producing children only 20 years after the wedding night. Well, she spent most of her time in Coburg after her mother's death, while her husband traveled around in his lands, so it may have been a problem of logistics, lol. When Friedrich died in 1381, his sons were minors. Katharina acted as regent until her death in 1397, which meant that during the last years she ruled the lands together with her sons who were of age then (9). An unusual arrangement for what seems to have been an unusual woman.

Gatehouse with tower

Katharina's and Friedrich's eldest son, another Friedrich, nicknamed 'the Warlike' (der Streitbare), participated in the Hussite Wars (1419-1436) at the side of the emperor Sigismund, son of Karl IV. As acknowledgement of his assistance, Sigismund created Friedrich Duke of Saxe-Wittenberg - which made him one of the prince electors - and Count Palatine of Saxony (1425). From that time the name Saxony / Saxe (Sachsen) was used for all the lands in possession of the Wettin family.

His grandsons Ernest and Albert split the House in two lines (1485). Coburg fell to the older, the Ernestinian line. That line would later divide into several branches, among them Saxe-Coburg-Saalfeld and Saxe-Altenburg-Gotha. And here we tie in with the geneaology presented in the post linked above.

I'll spare you the various Ernests, Eduards and Friedrichs and the changes of borders between inherited lands. The Coburg remained in possession of the Wettin family until 1918 when the fortress was taken over by the County of Bavaria.

Luther's chamber in the former bower

One incident is worth mentioning, though. Ernest's sons were stout supporters of Martin Luther and the Protestant movement. Friedrich the Sage, Elector of Saxony († 1525) had saved Luther by giving him shelter in the Wartburg in 1522, after the diet at Worms resulted in the Edict of Worms and the imperial ban for Luther. His brother and successor, Johann the Steadfast, gave Luther shelter in the Coburg during the diet of Augsburg in 1530, since Luther was still officially under ban, and it would have been too dangerous for him to appear in Augsburg.

Luther used the time to continue his translation of the Bible, and wrote letters to Philipp Melanchthon who was sort of his spokesman at the diet. Luther was involved in the composition of the Confession of Augsburg (Confessio Augustana) which stated the position of the Protestant Church and was signed by several German princes (among them the Elector of Saxony, the Landgrave of Hessia and the Duke of Braunschweig-Lüneburg) and imperial towns like Nuremberg (10). The emperor Karl V refused to acknowledge the Confession, though, thus the Protestant duchies, counties, and free towns established the Schmalkaldic League in opposition to the emperor.

A view of the three layers of curtain walls

The Thirty Years War was the final result of these events. The guidebook says that Coburg Fortress was never taken by military force, but that it was conquered due to a forged letter which ordered the capitulation in the name of Duke Johann Ernest, after general Lamboy had laid siege to the fortress for five months in 1635. Well, Lamboy turned from supporter of Wallenstein to supporter of the emperor Ferdinand II while Wallenstein's body (assassinated by order of Ferdinand II) was still warm, so I would not put it beyond him to resort to tricks, but I could not find any proof aside from the guidebook. The duke got the Coburg back in the following year and strengthened the fortifications further. It was the last time the fortress played a military role.

More impressive curtain walls

Footnotes
1) There is a mention of a castrum Choburg from 1207 I found in an online timetable, but it is not backed up by the guidebook.
2) The - not exactly unbiased - Polish Chronicle of Gallus Anonymous says Bolesław was fratrem et cooperatorem imperii constituit and Otto put a diadem on his head. The act of swearing amicitia included the exchange of presents, but there is no implication that Otto indeed elevated Bolesław to king as some researchers assume. Bolesław was officially crowned as king in 1025.
3) Heinrich II was the son of Heinrich 'the Troublemaker' (der Zänker) Duke of Bavaria and Gisela of Burgundy. Heinrich the Troublemaker in turn was a son of Judith of Bavaria and Heinrich, a younger son of Heinrich the Fowler, the first Ottonian king. Heinrich had been installed as Duke in Bavaria by his brother, the emperor Otto I, after they finally reconciled. His grandson Heinrich II became king in 1002 and emperor in 1014.
4) The coronation was done by a papal legate. Bolesław had to wait so long for papal approval since Heinrich II always opposed his elevation to king.
5) Konrad II (990-1039), the first king and emperor of the Salian dynasty.
6) Richeza's father died about the same time she returned to Germany and received the lands of Saalfeld/Coburg; that coincidence blurs the question whether Saalfeld may have been her dower or her inheritance. Richeza's brother, Count Palatine Otto of Lotharingia, inherited the ancient family possessions at the Rhine; several sisters were abbesses of nunneries at the Rhine.
7) There is some genaological connection between House Andechs and the former margraves of Schweinfurt who had possessions around Saalfeld/Coburg before Richeza and Anno. It seems those old claims were brought up again.
8) Austria had been split off already in 1154 when Heinrich the Lion was granted Bavaria.
9) Friedrich was born 1370, Wilhelm 1371.
10) An English translation was presented to King Henry VIII of England.

Literature
Gerd Althoff: Die Ottonen. 3rd revised edition, Stuttgart, 2013
Egon Boshof: Die Salier. 5th revised edition, Stuttgart, 2008
Odilo Engels: Die Staufer. 9th revised edition, Stuttgart, 2010
Bernd Schneidmüller: Die Welfen - Herrschaft und Erinnerung. Stuttgart, 2000
Wilfried Warsitzka: Die Thüringer Landgrafen. 2nd revised edition, Erfurt, 2009
Guidebook: Kunstsammlungen der Veste Coburg. Regensburg, 2008
 


30.12.15
  Happy New Year

I wish everyone a Happy New Year!


The dragon is a symbol of luck in the Chinese mythology, so I think it's an appropriate decoration for this post. I found the snow carving in the ice hotel in Kirkenes during my Norway tour in 2011.
 


23.12.15
  Merry Christmas

I wish my friends and visitors of this blog a merry and peaceful Christmas holiday. I hope you can enjoy a bit of quiet after the stress of the last weeks, nice gifts, a good dinner, family, purring cats, and whatever else you may wish for.


These two angels are a Swedish Christmas decoration I set up in the bedroom every year.


Here is a version done with the flash to better show the details. But the other one is more atmospheric.
 


18.12.15
  Llama, llama ...

Just a bit of fun today. When I returned from a long stroll in the Open Air Museum Gross-Raden, I found a few interesting guys ouside the entrance hall.

Llamas outside the museum

They were surely not resembling any domesticated amimals the Slavic tribes whose life is shown is the museum would have bred. Indeed, they looked distinctly un-European. So, how did they end up in the German woods?

Making contact with a llama

There is a farm nearby, the Kamelhof Sternberger Burg, where llamas and Bactrian camels are bred. They also have reindeer, yaks and ostrichs. The family offers guided tours with the llamas and camels, among other events. That's how the long-necked fuzzy furs ended up outside the museum.

Another shot of the guys

Only the male llamas are used for the tours because the dams stay with their crias (babies). Domesticated and well treated llamas are gentle animals and rarely spit at humans. They may spit at other llamas occasionally, though.

Selfie with llama

Not exactly a selfie, I admit; the nice guide with the llamas took the shots. Too bad I had no time to visit the farm. I'm sure it would have been fun, especially since I'm fond of Bactrian camels.
 


Miscellaneous musings of an aspiring Historical Fiction author. Illustrated essays on Roman, Dark Age and Mediaeval history, Mediaeval literature, and Geology. Some poetry translations and writing stuff. And lots of photos of old castles, cathedrals, Roman remains, and beautiful landscapes from Germany, the UK, Scandinavia, and the Baltic States.

All texts (except comments by guests) and photos (if no other copyright is noted) on this blog are copyright of Gabriele Campbell.

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Location: Germany

I'm a writer of Historical Fiction living in Germany. I got a MA in Literature, Scandinavian Studies, Linguistics and History, I'm interested in Archaeology and everything Roman and Mediaeval, an avid reader, opera enthusiast, traveller with a liking for foreign languages and odd rocks, and photographer.


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