Saturday, 7 August 2021


Due to the above titled iconoclasm movement that left many Catholic churches bereft of their religious symbols and saintly relics from Protestant furore that sought to destroy what was regarded as idolatrous figures (see previously) during the Reformation of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, the Vatican ordered suitable replacements be found and promptly installed.

Thousands of skeletal remains were exhumed from the catacombs of Rome, lavishly dressed and decorated, like this day’s celebrant, Donatus of Mรผnstereifel, reportedly a second century Roman soldier and martyr. Quickly rising through the ranks after enlisting, Donatus (sharing his feast day with several other liked-named saints) was part of the famed XXII. Legion—known as Fulminatrix, the thundering ones, and was assigned to the personal security detail of Marcus Aurelius (previously). Engaged in the Marcomannic Wars on the Danube march, the legion was outnumbered and nearly defeated until saved by a sudden storm that frightened off the Goths and Samaritans. Although the emperor wanted to credit his magician with summoning the storm, Donatus insisted it was his Christian prayer circle and gave thanks to God. The emperor had them all killed. Said to have been entombed in the Catacombs of Saint Agnes, Donatus’ remains were re-discovered by Pope Innocent X in 1646 and translated to the town on the Rhein near Bonn, acclaimed patron and protector from lightning strikes and invoked for a good grape harvest. Popular throughout the Rhineland as well as Donauland, Donatus also enjoyed a cultus in the Czech Republic, Hungary and Luxembourg, Slovakia and Austria.

Sunday, 28 March 2021

radio caroline

Named after the daughter of JFK photographed dancing in the Oval Office and interpreted by the founder and chief backer Aodogรกn Ronan O’Rahilly (*1940 - †2020) as representing the playful disruption of government business and joyful rule-breaking, the pirate broadcaster (see also) that was never actually circumventing the law as it operated from international waters aired its first regular programme set on this day in 1964—transmitting from a retrofitted passenger ferry anchored off Felixstowne, Suffolk, just beyond the jurisdiction of any one who could object to their activity. Established like its Dutch and other European counterparts to undermine the monopoly that the BBC had over the radiowaves and the pressure that record companies exerted on stations, dictating that their popular songs dominate, Radio Caroline broadcasted from five different ships through 1990 before moving to satellite radio and community AM bands in select areas, continuing today on the internet. Limiting programming to day time hours so as not to interfere with Radio Luxembourg, the station, with news reports at the top of the hour, was extremely popular with homemakers and children and left a lasting impression and alterative from mainstream commercial music. Do give them a listen.

Saturday, 11 July 2020

bailey and bergfried

Though this castle built on a rocky spur (Spornburg) dominating an adjacent valley of the Moselle, a tributary called the Ehrbach, that we visited on the way home had the feeling of an empty playground for adults the Ehrenburg was quite unexpectedly spectacular and has a rich, well connected history dating back to at least the twelfth century.
In part conserved through all the tumult by its first documented mention in a deed by Barbarossa referred to as a slighting (Schleifung), that is the intentional damage to a high profile property to reduce its strategic value—
probably not making the castle worth the taking as it would have been a liability to defend. In this milieu, the castle, a baronet, was involved with territorial feuds among the knightly gentry and the Church for control of trade and taxes, forming an alliance against Trier and Luxembourg with Eltz and other occupied castles in the area, finally surrendering claim on the castle with the extinction of the family line after a conflict with the Koblenz erupted and brought in those new disruptive inventions of gunpowder and the canon in the fifteenth century, making Ehrenburg less tenable.In normal times, the venue outside of the town of Brodenbach is host to many cultural events and medieval re-enactments.

Thursday, 26 March 2020

schengen area

Coming into full effect on this day in 1995 nearly a decade after the treaty, letter of intent was signed on board the riverboat Princess Marie-Astrid cruising the Moselle near the dock of the Luxembourg town at the point where the borders of the grand duchy, France and Germany meet, the Schengen Agreement gradually led to the harmonisation of visa rules, freedom of movement and the abolishment  of border controls. Following the arrangement that one signatory had already established with its neighbours, the treaty developed from June 1985 independently of the European Union—despite of it—due to gridlock among the member states, eventually becoming itself enshrined in inalienable EU law with allowances for opting out and the ability to reconstitute national divides in emergency situations.

Monday, 3 February 2020


Since 1944, the governments in exile of the Kingdom of the Belgium and the Netherlands and the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg had agreed to a customs union until superseded on this day in 1958 when the three nations ratified the Treaty of Brussels that integrated further the signatories both economically and politically.
This bolstering of cooperation and transparency ran parallel to the European Communities (all of whom were also founding members—the so called Inner Six along with West Germany, France and Italy) created by the Treaty of Paris of 1952 that established the pooling of industrial resources and would eventually serve as the model for the successor European Union. The tight group considered opening membership in 1960 to the Outer Seven—Austria, Denmark, Norway, Portugal (Spain still under dictatorship) Sweden, Switzerland and the United Kingdom—the latter being particularly keen on joining as the Suez Crisis of 1956 (see previously here, here and here) with its intervention efforts undercut by the USA had shown Britain that it was no longer all-powerful and could not thrive without allies. Fearing that UK membership would become a Trojan Horse for American interests, France vetoed Britain joining for seven years until Georges Pompidou succeeded Charles de Gaulle as French president—with reassurances—accepted their application and began negotiations, the community finally expanding in 1972.

Tuesday, 5 February 2013


Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands recently announced that she would be abdicating this Spring, in favour of her son and successor.
Unfortunately, there are no such plans for Prince Charles of the United Kingdom. I do really admire Elizabeth II and certainly would not be eager to see her relinquish the throne, I do also sympathize with the prince, who’s got one of the most awkward posts in the world, as heir-apparent, since a promotion is only possible should someone pass away, as Charles himself has conceded many times. The celebratory mood in the Netherlands did not fail to permeate into Wiesbaden, which has an intimate connection with the royal family that I failed to register until this occasion. The line of Nassau hails from here, specifically with the palace in Biebrich as their primary residence. Vestiges of these connections abound, great and small, in endowments, architecture and institutions throughout the city (especially in the way they differentiate their portion of the national public banking system), with storied histories that defy the overlooking and wonder, but still sometimes it takes an out-of-the-ordinary event (and special guests) to excite heritage and legacy.