Saturday, 19 February 2022

๐Ÿ‘‍๐Ÿ—จ

Via the always interesting Web Curios, we are quite impressed with the comprehensive skill demonstrated by a AI museum docent called Digital Curator and its ability to instantly assembly a sizeable exhibition sourced from the collections of institutions in Austria, Germany, the Czech Republic and Slovakia to explore the evolution of the depiction of an object, artefact or theme across the ages, styles and movements. Of course one can select from a range of parameters and enter one’s own key terms (however disparate and juxtaposed)—or like this gallery generated for the nonce, ask for a random curation. Try it out and be sure to send us an invitation to your showing.

Saturday, 18 December 2021

legenda sanctorum

Born a prince into a sainted and royal family, issue of Richard the Saxon and Wunna of Wessex, Winibald (Winebald, Wunebald) is fรชted on this day on the occasion of his passing in 761 (*702), who along with his siblings Willibald and Walpurga were persuaded to first undertake a pilgrimage and commit to a course of study in Rome (his brother settling down from his travels and became a monk at Monte Cassino) then all to go on a mission to Germany by their uncle Boniface. Abbot at his home double-monastery in Heidenheim in Middle Franconia, Winibald is considered the patron of construction workers and established a network of cloisters across the region and is generally depicted with the iconography of a brick trowel and carrying a miniature church.

Sunday, 14 November 2021

landshuter hochzeit

Recreated every four years by the city of Landshut in celebration of one of the largest historical processions and pageants of medieval times, the so-called Landshut Wedding between Duke George of Bavaria (Herzog Georg, called the Rich) and Princess Hedwig (Jagwiga) Jagiellon, daughter of King Casimir IV of Poland, the lavish, sumptuous ceremony and feast, took place on this day in 1475. Though the couple continued in happy for over a quarter of a century until George’s death, because all male heirs pre-deceased their father and Salic laws at the time in the kingdom prevented their capable and savvy daughters Elisabeth or Margaret from inheritance and the power-vacuum and counter-claims led to a succession crisis that split the duchy into four.

Saturday, 25 September 2021

day-trip: gemรผnden am main

Taking advantage of the nice weather, H and I took a tour past the outskirts of Bad Kissingen and beyond Hammelburg to explore again the small town at the confluence of four rivers, the Sinn, Saale and Werra all discharging into the River Main—first stopping at the ruins of a hill castle (Hรถhenburg) above the village of Gรถssenheim, one of the largest of its kind in Frankonia. 




First erected in the eleventh century for a ministerialis family—that is those ennobled from the ranks of serfdom but yet unfree—in service of the bishopric of Wรผrzburg, later divided between the counts of Rieneck, the dukes of Henneburg and the imperial abbey of Fulda, the hereditary owner’s family branch eventually going extinct. Though surviving the Peasants’ War in the early fifteenth century, the castle lost its strategic importance, efforts forced on holding the waterways and one of the last caretakers, Prince-Bishop Rudolf II von Scherenberg (namesake of our next destination), gifted the lands back to the monastery of Wรผrzburg and established fortress in order to control trade (particularly in wine) and river traffic. 






It was a lot of fun to explore and imagine what it looked like before falling into neglect and disrepair. The aerial shots are courtesy of H’s drone. Gemรผnden am Main was just a short drive further on and first explored the ruins of the Schrenburg—a customs post, a Zollburg, that dominated the town and commanded view of the river valley below. The remaining curtain wall and bergfried—now a home to bats—hosts open-air theatre in the summer.

Sunday, 12 September 2021

bergruine hutsburg

Having lost the trail a couple weeks ago trying to hike up to the ruined donjon, isolated and nearly forgotten though once one of the most imposing fortifications in the area due to its location on the former border between East and West Germany, whilst trying to approach it from the Bavarian side, we ventured up the Hutsburg to see the eponymous fortress from the thรผringischer side.
First passing through the ghostly remnants of villages deemed a liability owing to their nearness to the border (previously here and here), we slowly climbed up the mountain and at the wooded summit encountered the tall of the shield wall and foundations, with the sun shining through the otherwise dark forest through the ancient portal.
Though far older than its first documented reference in the early twelfth century (possibly from the four hundreds in some form of fort), I suspect that these runes were a more recent graffito. It was a strategic possession of the counts of Henneberg and degenerated over the years as the power of the family waned to little more than an outpost for slum lords—Raubritter, literal robber barons in the sense of unscrupulous feudal landowners who imposed higher taxes without the approval of a higher authority and expropriation, culminating with the intervention of the king in the fabled execution of a gang of such bandits after a a siege lasting weeks (the subject of a German nursery rhyme:
Ernst war sie eine stoles Feste / doch heute sieht man our noch Reste. Mit Nรผrnberge Schraubenzeug ward sie gebrochen / Und zweiundviersig Rรคuber kamen hervorgekrochen. Noch erhobenen Hauptes und voller Stolz, / kรผrtze man sie gleich um selbiges, was Solls.
Basically, Once a proud Fort, but today only rubble remains / Battered with catapults / forty-two robbers emerged / Hoisted by their own petard) and was passed through the lordship of Tann and Kere.
The bulwark was not to meet its final fate and fall into ruin and disrepair until the Peasants’ Revolt of 1525 (die Bauernkrieg, see also) when the rebellion successfully stormed and took the castle, the Hutsburg being one of the few castles of the Rhรถn active at the time of its taking, most empty and irrelevant at this point in history and under the administration of a bailiff. Though the victory was not strategically significant, it was important symbolically as overthrowing the trapping and tool of oppression and serfdom.

Tuesday, 24 August 2021

7x7

roll out the barrel: eighteen spots that celebrate beer 

what fresh hell is this: a 1894, illustrated updating of Dante’s Inferno  

contraption: a soothing pinball drop render—see also   

kurzgesagt: a guided tour of our Solar System, unsere zu Hause im Weltall  

sifl & olly: the United States of Whatever (1999) 

landsat 9: a retrospective look at how the past five decades of satellite imagery has informed and transformed our world view 

klosterbrauerei: a visit with Germany’s last beer-brewing nun—see also

Thursday, 12 August 2021

veruca salt

 

Released in cinemas in the United Kingdom on this day in 1971, Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory starring Gene Wilder and Peter Ostrum was a commercial success, the box office taking in more than the film’s budget in its first run and was produced over the course of five months at the City of Mรผnchen gasworks in West Germany, costs at the time being significantly cheaper than elsewhere with the final sequence of the Wonkavator flying over the rooftops an aerial shot of Nรถrdlingen, the town built in an ancient meteor crater. The author of the original story, Roald Dahl, ultimately disowned the finished product with the over-emphasis on Wonka rather than Charlie and the addition of musical numbers outside the Oompa Loopa choruses, including Ach, so fromm from the romantic opera from Friedrich von Flotow’s Martha during the rather terrifying Wonkawash segment, appearing in Phantom of Opera, re-worked as a swing song, performed on the Disney short “The Whale Who Wanted to Sing at the Met”.

Friday, 6 August 2021

the nomi song

Born Klaus Sperber in Swรคbish Immenstadt in 1944, aspiring counter tenor who adopted the stage persona Klaus Nomi, worked as an usher in the opera houses of West Berlin, entertaining the crew during set breakdowns with arias and studied music yet was unable to secure a steady position and so switched to the confectionary business which later became somewhat of a trademark. Moving to New York City in 1973, Nomi received more professional training and took various gigs performing and developing his presence. His breakthrough moment came in 1979 when David Bowie engaged Nomi as a background singer during performances on Saturday Night Live as musical guest. Being discovered afforded more venues for his unique shows whose robotic demeanour and elaborate costuming both anticipating and reflected the stage presence of acts like Bowie’s and Peter Gabriel and reinterpreted songs like Marlene Dietrich’s “Falling in Love Again” and Chubby Checker’s “Twist” as well as classical, operatic numbers in an abstract, highly synthesised fashion. The black and white palette complemented by cubist clothes and hair-styles that referenced both the Bauhaus theatre movement, kabuki and the retro-future vision of the 1920s—particularly the film Metropolis. A decade after coming to New York, Nomi was diagnosed with AIDS and though growing sick and weak already embarked on a European tour and the talk show circuit, anticipating it would be his last, Nomi dying of complications of the disease on this day in 1983. One of the first figures from the arts community to publically die from the relatively then unknown illness, Nomi became posthumously the subject of many tributes and homages, acknowledging his stylistic influence.

Wednesday, 7 July 2021

zwischenstopp: fladungen

Much like with our last entry about the anchor town of Mellrichstadt to the southeast, we realise that we hadn’t made the time lately to take in the sites of another larger town to the northwest that defines the region’s character in the eigthth century settlement called Fladungen (see previously here, here and here) that from the fourteenth century until modern times was the primary marketplace of the Franconian Rhรถn. As with many other smaller ducal holdings, with the 1814 Treaty of Paris, Fladungen was absorbed into the Kingdom of Bavaria. The central Altstadt is well preserved and dominated the parish church of Sankt Kilian plus an ensemble of administrative buildings. Along the former border, Fladungen was made a virtual exclave of West Germany, deprived much of its hinterland for agricultural purposes but since reunification, traditional industry has returned. 

Tuesday, 6 July 2021

zwischenstopp: mellrichstadt

While we’ve mentioned the next bigger town numerous times especially in connection with the dying out of the Henneberg line and Count Poppo and go there regularly (see previously here, here and here), we realised that we’ve not dedicated much writing to the place itself, elevated to the status of a city within the Grand Duchy of Wรผrzburg in the thirteenth century and its importance as a seat of learning with a Latin school in medieval times before desecularisation and joining the Kingdom of Bavaria. 

Friday, 2 July 2021

zwischestopp: oberwaldbehrungen

After an running some errands on an overcast day, I decided to take a quick detour and make the time to stop and investigate a village that I often pass but always seemed too rushed or liminally close to visit, just a few kilometres away dominated by a church on a hill above a jumble of Fachwerk houses. 

Among the oldest settlements in the Besengau landscape of the northern reaches of the Rhรถn (the placename referring to the practise of crafting brooms, Besen, out of birch twigs which outside of harvest season was the area’s primary economy activity) Oberwaldbehrungen has its first document in 795, I learned it was formerly the last village in this region to have no street names (see also). 



Once under the auspices of the bishopric of Wรผrzburg, it was given as a fiefdom to the lords of Tann, an exclave, in 1480—joining neighbouring Urspringen in 1670 as part of the Henneberg holdings, finally being restored to the Kingdom of Bavaria under the provisions of the Congress of Vienna in 1814. I took the long way up to the Dorfkirche on the hill but discovered a quite nice path—despite the weather—through the woods leading back down to the village.


Sunday, 6 June 2021

overnighter: frรคnkische weinorte

H and I took a drive in familiar territory through the vineyards of Franconia in the Main River valley between Kitzigen and Schweinfurt, taking a couple of ferries that crossed the winding Main as it coursed through the hills and came to the storied vineyard there where we had previously been treated to a wine-tasting tour, after a visit of the town of Volkach with an ensemble of medieval buildings in its walked centre. 

Next we marvelled at the Mainschleife—a closed bend technically but a way to describe a river form with sinuous curves, otherwise a Mรคander, Meander, from the vantage point of the Vogelsberg, a small retreat and gastronomy at the top of a promontory. 

 

 

Fording the river with another ferry, we stopped next in the village of Escherndorf—another spot full of character and vintners plus a wedding chapel with a grotto on a hill overlooking the settlement below dedicated to Our Lady of Lourdes, built after a Franciscan nun from Volkach made a pilgrimage there and returned with a keepsake, with the support of the original community on the Franco-Spanish border in the Pyrenees. Instead of the usual Stations of the Cross, the path up to the chapel was lined with decorated wine barrels and there was a giant cast that could be loaned out as a tiny party room, complete with coolers for the wine. 


Next we left for our last stop on the Weininseln, the Wine Islands with the village Sommerach, not only known for the viticulture and area monopoly for the Cloister Schwarzach (previously, which we didn’t visit this time around due to a dramatic shift in the weather) but also for the unique character of the estuaries and their protected status as nature reserves. 

Staying at a pitch just outside of one of the more famous wine-producers, regionally known for its Silvaner, I needed to self-administer my first COVID Schnelltests, letting it rest on the floorboard until we were sure it was negative—something unexpected but that I was happy to do to keep us all happy campers. We explored Sommerach some more, which was in the process of reopening itself and everyone was wonderfully day-drunk—last time we visited, it was ill-timed in the middle of their wine fest, a very serious and well-attended undertaking. 

The central part of the Old Town, flanked with cafes and wine-sellers was the church of Saint Eucharius and the monumental fountain featuring the archangel Michael—not Saint George—slaying a dragon. Returning to the campgrounds, we explored the shoreline and encountered a gaggle of strange ducks.
While I had noticed the odd tall—or long duck before, seeing them act as a group, not waddling but marching double-quick time headlong, H and I were amused and a little confused—learning later that this particular breed of mostly flightless, mostly quackless ducks are called Laufente, Indian Runner Ducks (possibly from Jakarta—see also—but no one really knows their origin, bred to be walked to market), which while prolific egg-layers don’t possess the instinct to nest or rear their young and so have to be watched over by their caretakers.