See trips hub: Europe Road Ways

For themes of conflict, present in any country, see Studying War.

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Wartburg Castle - Siege, Architecture, Half-Timber, Cannon. Duke Ludwig

Wartburg - the castle on the hill - was founded in 1067 AD by Duke Ludwig de Springer - long before Martin Luther at the start of the Reformation 16th Century  needed it for a safe haven, and translated the New Testament into German here.

If only medieval geneologies were more comprehensible to outsiders.  We looked up Duke Ludwig, and lost our wits in names, cum barba or not (with beard, or not, we think) to find out more about the one who found a fabulous view of the Alps there, and started a fortress on this site.  See://  Did the good duke have his wife's first husband murdered so he could marry her? That may have been the "cum barba."

The lands here, known as Thuringia, were part of the Soviet allocation after WWII - East Germany, the Iron Curtain. During the Middle Ages, the castle was known for its minstrel festivals and contests.

See glimpses of Romanesque, Gothic and  Renaissance architecture by now. 

We forget that, during times of siege, the castle enclosed an entire living space, a mini-town.The defense could be sustained for a long period, so long as the well water and food held out. This cannon, of course, is not medieval. Perhaps 19th Century? See the history of small cannon at ://

The half-timber style is durable. Some of the oldest, tiltiest, biggest buildings from medieval Germany are half-timber.  The timber framework was solid, and then the spaces filled with plaster, horsehair, straw, grease, mud, matter that retained some flexibility - instead of a crack that weakened the building when it shifted, it bulged. 

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Wartburg - A mighty fortress and a hurdy gurdiy

Wartburg Castle, Germany, walls, tower

Wartburg, at Eisenach - that great castle where Martin Luther found refuge, and wrote, they say, "A Mighty Fortress." This is a World Heritage site, see, where Martin Luther found refuge 1521-22.

On the way up was an organ grinder, a hurdy-gurdy. There is a website on organ grinders at

Wartburg Castle, hurdy-gurdy

Here is a musical site for organ grinder music, if you have the plug-in. Note that the use of "hurdy-gurdy" in connection with the grinder's barrel organ is deplored my many. See this site, a maker of real hurdy-gurdies:

This one, at Wartburg, has a practical alternative to a real monkey.

Here are sound samples. Here is someone who makes them. Elegant. See the closeup at like a dulcimer. This one called a synphonia, looks very different. Also listen. for a square hurdy gurdy.

See the post here on Cologne (Koln) for a big hurdy-gurdy.

Monday, June 09, 2008

The Vends - Wends - Ancient Culture Subserved But With Traces

 The Fate of the Wends
History of a Wise People

Imagine our current maps of Germany and Slovenia, with a wide swath of population stretching from Slovenia, where it dominated, through Eastern and Central Germany. These were the lands of the Vends, the Vendic culture, with similarities to the Celts. Here is a fine site: "The Vends and the Germans" at

Once to be feared, their name now is hardly known.  See them pushed into the now Denmark, at

Maypole - Traces of the Vends, Germany

See them in the old Carantania, overview at Slovenia Road Ways, Expunged Ancient Dynasty of Carantania. That reviews the Vendic culture in the area then known as Carantania, and the rights of women to rule and conduct business was identical with that of men. Until another Germanic group, the Swabians, took over and poof- there went the ancient Slavica Lex and its equality. In marched the Germans, tramp tramp.

Place and people names and cultural traces that are Vendic, still there, customs living -
  • Buchwald now Buchenwald, the name of the forced labor camp
  • Several Berlin street names
  • The Maypole, the tree of life for the village, sometimes with a wreath beneath (see the "Vends and the Germans" site for pictures). See more Germany maypoles, including with the suspended wreath at the top, at Germany Road Ways, Maypoles.
  • Veneration of the Linden tree (not the oak, as other celtic groups chose). Note that Hitler had the Lindens cut down before WWII along that great boulevard, UnterDen Linden - and put up flagpoles - see :// Lindens have been replanted in Berlin now, still little ones, but just you wait.
  • Language - Ven vill I see you again; and commerce: Vendy's. Lighten up here.
  • "House Order of the Vendic Crown" established 19th Century, Mecklenburg-Schwerin roots
  • Legend at Schildhorn, read it at the Vends and the Germans site - miraculous rescue from a watery death in it
Now - speak German language, and Polish. Earlier absorbed into much of Prussia?

Sunday, June 08, 2008

Schwabisch Hall - Swabians

Schwabisch Hall. Swabians. The remains of a Celtic settlement were found here in 1939, dating from 500BC. See If Schwabisch Hall had been bombed, all that would be gone, just as history is being bombed out elsewhere.  But Swabians are resilient, and by way of update to 2013, are flinging their delicious spaetzle, or spatzle pasta-noodles, in order to gain more autonomy in their neighborhoods, now in the news in Berlin, see

Look at the huge size of these medieval buildings. Schwabisch Hall is a town less commercial-touristy than another medieval town, Rothenberg. See for one of the best city websites we found.

Climb the long stairs up to the church, and look back.

Schwabisch Hall, Germany. Medieval building (large)

Schwabians or Swabians. The Brothers Grimm in 1857 wrote a politically incorrect story about The Seven Swabians. See The site says, at the source section, that stories like these are taken in good humor. Doubtful.

They deserve better. They have played a large role in many countries.  Find their history at

Frederick of Swabia, son of Barbarossa, supported the founding of the Teutonic Knights as a medical order to aid pilgrims and the wounded in the Crusades. See

Many Swabians migrated to Hungary and the Balkans and elsewhere. See

We found Germanic settlements in Romania, see Romania Road Ways, saxons at The names mix - they seem to have been known as Saxons as well as Swabians, so I am not sure of the separation of the ethnic groups there, for more on Saxons-Swabians, Romania (temporary file - may be moved, it says). See the Swabians taking over Slovenia at Slovenia Road Ways, Expunged Ancient Dynasty of Carantania and destroying the grand Slavica Lex tradition of successors to the throne as either male or female . Thanks a lot, German machos.

The Saxons in Romania were known for their fortified churches. I understand many are returning, or financing the rebuilding of the old churches, after expulsions in WWII. This does not look like the Swabian heritage group?

The Swabians also went to Sicily - even ruling there as an extension of the Normans - and other parts of Italy. See Swabians in Italy. That site says that the Swabians in the 12th Century lived in territory extending through Bavaria and Switzerland.

Saxons: This site oriented to schoolchildren, about germanic tribes in Great Britain, uses the same term - Swabians and Saxons. See, on Saxons and Swabians. That seems too broad, even for kids.

This next and more comprehensive Teutonic-origins site says that some Saxons were descended from Alexander the Great's army in Macedonia, and some from Danes and Northmen; and that the Swabians also descend from Northmen, but that they (read all about it) undertook a long boat journey to the Elbe and other places - a different sea tack. See This lays out the Saxon and Swabian Migration Saga. Bloody battles all around.