Friday, 24 June 2022

daytrip: bacharach am rhein

For a work-outing, we took a cruise on the Rhein from Rรผdesheim to the picturesque village dominated by the twelfth century fortified castle, Burg Stahleck, overlooking the Steeg gorge and Lorelei valley, and once residence to the advocatus (Vogt) of the archbishop of Kรถln but now a youth hostel. We spent the afternoon on the portico taking in the view, having hiked up from the river bank. Along the way we passed not so much as an architectural folly—though it looked the part and the castle itself was destroyed during the Thirty Years War, abandoned and not restored in its present form until 1927 (see also) and pointedly as a retreat for Hitler Youth and re-education centre, in the Gothic ruins of the Wernerkapelle, the unfinished chapel preserved in this state as a reminder of Germany’s and Christianity’s rampant, historical intolerance of other peoples and other faith traditions, the shell of a structure itself originally dedicated to the memory of a youth supposedly murdered by the region’s Jewish residents who were in turn expelled and their property seized—a common ploy and false excuse at time, and put into context with a dedication and prayer from Pope John XXIII, asking for forgiveness and reconciliation. It was a bright and glorious day out of the office by the privilege of the photogenic ought not sanitise the past but rather enhance our understanding of it. 


 

Wednesday, 11 May 2022

7x7

homo loquax: Futility Closet refers us to an expanded listing for the taxonomical name sapient human with some choice Latinate adjectives to describe us 

crate-digging: Jimmy Carter’s grandson is exploring the White House’s surprisingly hip vinyl collection—via Messy Nessy Chic  

le bestiaire fabuleux: a 1948 artists’ collaboration of a surreal and abstract menagerie—see also  

sabbatical: Jason Kottke takes a break from blogging and poses the questions that probably haunt everyone in this community—come back soon  

mรถrkrets makter: the very different (though retaining the epistolary format) unauthorised translation of Bram Stoker’s Dracula familiar to Icelanders  

stratification: exploring the historic map layers of London—via Things Magazine  

word-horde: daily vocabulary lessons in Anglo-Saxon words

Saturday, 30 April 2022

illuminated manuscripts

We quite enjoyed reflecting on this survey of the allure of modern medievalism for commercial clients and image-makers through the lens of the portfolio of commissions of Riga-based graphic designer Robert Rurans, who in turn takes his inspiration from source materials like fourteenth century catechisms, almanacs, herbals and alchemical guides. Clientele include fashion house Hermรฉs, Coca-Cola and numerous jobs for the New York Times, who’ve twice nominated Rurans for illustrator of the year. Much more at It’s Nice That at the link up top.

Saturday, 23 April 2022

digital mnemonics

With early antecedents in committing the pillars of Buddhism to heart or for a manual reckoning of the date of Easter for any year—the Venerable Bede’s ‘loquela digitorum’ of the eighth century—contributing correspondent for Public Domain Review Kensy Cooperrider guides on a comprehensive survey of the ways that people used the topologies of the hand and fingers as a mnemonic device (see also) as a way to recall processes and protocols, notation and geography. The illustration of the oversized Guidonian Hand (named after ninth century music theorist Guido d’Arezzo) was a choral aid to facilitate learning of sight-singing—or rather how to read a musical score, the first documented use of solfรจge. Spanning three full octaves and spilling into a fourth—from (ab) ฮ‘ to ฮ“ (Gamma) ut—this diagram is the source of the phrase ‘running the gamut,’ that is—the full range. Much more at the links above.

Friday, 15 April 2022

7x7

who’s in your wallet: personalities and personages on banknotes—via Waxy (who is turning twenty)

simoom: a decade of dust storms 

hurrian hymn: paean to Mesopotamian goddess Nikkal is the oldest know surviving work of notated music

found photos: saved from oblivion and shared—via Things Magazine (plus a lot more to check out)  

alphabet truck: the whole ABCs on the backside of lorries captured by Eric Tabuchi—via Pasa Bon!  

meme-maker: Dutch national library offers a tool to scour medieval illustrations and marginalia—see also here and here  

the colour of money: a survey of banknote hues from the archives

Monday, 21 March 2022

benedictus

Fรชted on this day prior to the calendar reforms of 1970 on the occasion of his passing in 547 (*480), twin brother of Saint Scholastica and patron protector of Officers at Arms, spelunkers, Europe nettles and architects Benedict of Nursia is venerated in all Christian communions as the founder of Western monasticism. After establishing communities in Lazio near Rome, Benedict went to the mountains and founded an order at Monte Cassino that sought balance and moderation with his Rule promulgated in 516 that outlaid a hierarchy in the brotherhood with an abbot in charge. With chapters including both spiritual and administrative guidance, the communities adhered to the golden rule of “Ora et Labora”—prayer and work, with the days quartered and eight hours each allotted for prayer and study, sleep, manual work and charity.

Sunday, 13 March 2022

sant’ansovino

Fรชted on this day, the sainted bishop of Camerino-San Severino Marche in the Apennines refused the high office until could secure personal guarantees from Holy Roman Emperor, Louis II—for who Ansovinus was former confessor—that his congregation would be exempt from military conscription, one of the chief jobs of bishops during that time was as recruiter for the imperial army. Reportedly having the gift of inexhaustibly multiplying stores of wheat in the regional granary in Castel Raimondo and for producing a copious amount of crops from his own meagre plot of land, never refusing to share, this ninth century figure is named the patron of agriculture and the protector of small farmers.

Thursday, 17 February 2022

to know wisdom and instruction—to perceive the words of understanding

Venerated as a saint in multiple faith traditions, Mesrop Mashtots (ี„ีฅีฝึ€ีธีบ ี„ีกีทีฟีธึ), early medieval linguist, theologian and statesman, passing away on this day in 440 (*362), was the inventor of the Armenian alphabet—the first phrase rendered in that new script said to be the above passage from the Book of Proverbs. Further credited by some scholars as the creator of the Caucasian Albanian and Georgian forms of writing, Mashtot’s contribution first in royal court in service to the king and later after taking holy orders ensured that Armenian literature and identity was preserved rather than being absorbed by its larger neighbouring empires of Persia and Syria. Finalised around the year 405, the Greek-modelled system endured in its original form of thirty-six letters until the twelfth century when three additional ones were added—for f- and o-sounds, the Armenian word for alphabet, aybuben (ีกีตีขีธึ‚ีขีฅีถ) comes from the first two letters, ayb (ีก) and ben (ีข).

Friday, 7 January 2022

saint distaff’s day

Observed in medieval Europe on the day after the Feast of the Epiphany and also known as Roc or Rock Day (used with a spindle to make fabric) is an unofficial solemnity (see also) to mark going back to the grind with spinners and weavers resuming their work after the holiday break. Regarded traditionally as women’s work, there would be a gathering and some merry-making, recently seeing a revival, and men held their own parallel party, letting the short week run its course, called Plough Monday.

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, 9 October 2021

burgruine osterburg

Taking advantage of the sunny Autumn weather, we took a drive through the countryside and made the short hike up to the clearing on a summit facing the Kreuzburg to explore the ruins of the hilltop fortress called Osterburg near Bischofheim, a tenth century fortification that was the stuff of legend until its accidental rediscovery in 1897 by a forester, its strategic importance having waned into oblivion as the valley below gained in strength and control of the region’s trade. The aerial shots are courtesy of H’s drone and we enjoyed the impressive vistas all around. 

 One could easily imagine what the grounds might have been like intact and manned. The outpost mysterious and isolated among the peaks, the place was imbued in the last centuries with a few elements of folklore including a lost treasure whose finding would prove redemptive for some souls tethered to castle and keep.

Tuesday, 5 October 2021

8x8

heir apparent: after over a century, Russia hosts a royal wedding for a member of the Romanoff family

9m²:a luxury apartment in Tokyo that makes very efficient use of space—at more than twice the size, my work-week flat feels rather sprawling and and ilunder-utilised 

pandora’s box: a trove of leaked records, following on from the Panama papers shows how the wealthy and connected hide their riches 

faux mcdoo: a fake McDonald’s in Los Angeles for filming purposes, via Messy Nessy Chic 

tx-33: new lows attained in gerrymandering and voter-marginalisation 

full circle: a retrospective exhibit of Judy Chicago  

deuce court: a demonstration of medieval tennis  

ะฒั‹ะทะพะฒ: cast joins crew aboard ISS to film scenes of the first movie shot in microgravity

Tuesday, 28 September 2021

7x7

pyroclastic flow: paintings of the 1776 eruption of Mount Vesuvius (previously)—via Everlasting Blรถrt  

don jumpedo in the character of harlequin jumping down his own throat: an apology for the man in the bottle

twist and bend: superlative balloon art recreating iconic classics 

eisenbahnbetriebsfeld: a model railway in Darmstadt used to train train traffic-controllers  

store-brand: Kmarto table wine  

licorice pizza: a trailer for a 1970s coming-of-age film set in California’s San Fernando Valley—via Waxy

social justice: artist Kerry James Marshall designs new stained glass windows for Washington’s National Cathedral to replace Confederate ones

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.

Friday, 24 September 2021

6x6

social distancing: a racier version of Bernie Sanders inauguration getup (previously)—via Everlasting Blรถrt  

directory assistance: file folders are a foreign concept to younger pupils—via Waxy  

street view: a stroll around New York City in 1914 

the matter of britain: early fragment of the Arthurian legend discovered and translated 

we are on the worst timeline: the future used to be cool 

apocalypse no: as a global community, we have overcome some high-hurdles

Sunday, 1 August 2021

the woman with seven sons

The martyred family known as the Holy Maccabees after the epigraphical account in that book who are venerated in some traditions on this day is included in a the poetically entitled list of ‘Names for the Biblically Nameless,’ many apocryphally sourced to the Golden Legend, such as the sisters of Cain and Abel—Aclima (also Luluwa) and Delbora, Nimrod’s Wife—“a mighty hunter in the face of the Lord,” possibly the Amazon Semiramis, and Pharaoh’s (and whole human being in their own right) Daughter, who drew infant Moses from the reeds, possibly Merris according to Eusebius of Cรฆsarea. The Wife of Job who advises him to finally curse God and die, is perhaps called Sitis or Dinah, the Queen of Sheba either Makeda, Nicaule or Bilqis according to different traditions. Proper names are also assigned to the Magi who are also called the Three Wise Men as well as the seven archangels, the thieves crucified with Jesus and the Roman soldier who prodded him on the cross. The woman known variously as Solomonia, Hannah or Miriam is reserved special honour for courageously enduring the torment and dismemberment of her sons and then herself (see also) for refusing to submit to a cruel and capricious king and remaining steadfast in her faith as did the band of brothers.

Sunday, 25 July 2021

queenhithe

The Gentle Author of Spitalfield’s Life directs our attention to a new, epic mosaic along the Thames path that illustrates two millennia and more of human history with the estuary’s natural course at the inlet named ‘the Queen’s Harbour’ after Matilda granted around 1104 the establishment of a dock there and the excise of duties on goods delivered. Learn more at the link above, including a treasury of panels from the procession, pictorial chronicle of the ages.

Thursday, 15 July 2021

elder fuรพark

https://drive.google.com/uc?export=view&id=1EME3e0K_iUmPU71K8-AZ872w8vCkgTSehttps://drive.google.com/uc?export=view&id=1asRT-dloZSBsIUa3v57-U0zk2CAm-rNXhttps://drive.google.com/uc?export=view&id=1Yia7UdIcRvpAowBzvOa17T9JvRr0wt9vAfter visiting the impressive cloister ruins of Avestra, we doubled back before continuing through ร–stergรถtland to the village of Rรถk Whose parish church hosts the famous runestone (Rรถkstenen, Rundata inscription number 136), the five tonne megalith considered the first written document of Sweden and thus the starting point of recorded history was rediscovered in the nineteenth century as part of the medieval church’s wall. Removing it for study and conservation—revived interest in such artefacts coinciding the 1865 deciphering of the runic alphabet by Norwegian academics retrieving a lexicon lost to the ages, at around seven hundred characters, the inscription represents the longest extant pre-Christian passage and contains a bit of Norde mythology and a reference to the Roman emperor of the latter day rump state—dating the writing to the ninth century. https://drive.google.com/uc?export=view&id=1QXoXtRtGb0664uL27MpVkd3KQGas9Y-yhttps://drive.google.com/uc?export=view&id=1PlPY2tDeUIc9AWptctz5sZLPTVp5JYKB Most scholars agree on the translation but many forward competing theories on allegorical interpretation. There was also an informative exhibit on runic writing in an outdoor pavilion and signs reminding that the church was open and welcomed one’s visit as well.

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.