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

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Luneburg and German Exceptionalism. Henry the Lion. Mix it up.

Luneburg Between the Lines.

In the center of Luneburg is a statue of a lion, very modern. Luna or lune means moon in several languages. Lunar for us.

1.  History from another angle

History's essence can be recreated in imagined attitude, pending documentation of its actual accuracy, is that so?

Luneburg's Lion Statue is an example.

This shows Henry the Lion, who spearheaded (with Albert the Bear of Brandenburg) the Pope's Crusade against the Wends, a Slavic group that long earlier had migrated to northern and eastern Europe, but who resisted Germanization, and the forced conversions to "Christianity" (when did the Founder say to kill all who disagreed with his sermons and example, one may ask).  The Northern Crusades were brutal, and often against fellow Christians who had been converted already, but by Orthodox, not the Pope, after the Great Schism. See Crusades at

And see the History of the Wends,one of the targets of the Northern Crusades.  They had learned to hold their own in battle, and attack, and even become pirates (thank you, Harald Bluetooth, Dane), as they were beset over time on all sides:

Is this Henry the Lion at the top, Heinrich der Lowe, 1129-1195, Henry of Saxony (Luneberg is in Mecklenburg-West Pomerania) see

After 1142, he was known as Henry III, Duke of Saxony; and after 1156, as Henry XII,  Duke of Bavaria.  His Duchies remained under his control until 1180. He had a handsome face.
Fair use, Henry the Lion thumbnail, click for WikimediaThumbnail for version as of 17:13, 20 September 2010
But what happened?

2. Luneburg's subject matter:  The Moon.

What happened? Is that Henry the Lion being disrespected?  Mooning it is. Moon over Luneburg.  History is fun in Luneburg, at least from this persective on history. Pale moon rising.  Look closer. Back (pun intended) to the lion! A Fave among royalty.  Look at the base. Is this the "lion" prince reviewing his subjects who are mooning him?  

Why? What happened? After a great rise in power, he fell -- and his lands taken, see 12th Century warfaring, at this google book,  1910 Encyclopedia Britannica. No respect.  Mooning. A new meaning for Lune-burg. 

To moon. Verb. See://; as a prank, see ://  Slang, English since 1743

Don't forget the horse. Note that the horse's a___  is aimed at us, the viewers.  So who is laughing at whom.  Technically, this is an anachronism.  Mooning is supposed to date from the 14th Century, when Norman soldiers bared backs to Edward III's archers. See, at

Whole line-up of mooners-Luners.  Luneburg.  Lune.  Luna,  Moon.  We get it. Germany, pun-exceptional.

Who is that at the top of this side of the base of the Lion statue? War demon?

The chronology of events in medieval power-plays is complex, but do a search for Henry II and follow him at this timeline site, at  It does not make really clear why the big moon, but helps with the context in Europe 

3.  The Thirty Years' War

Spanish Bull - Philip IV

Luneburg featured prominently in the course of the later Thirty Years' War, 1618-1648, see

Luneburg DE, Spanish Bull Commemorating 30 Years' War

The Spanish joined the Austrians against the Protestants in the Luneburg-Hanover area, as the roughest of broad brush summaries, see 

See Philip at  There was Philip IV known as Philip the Fair, 1268-1314, King of  France;  he ordered the dismantling of the Knights' Templar, not at issue here as we understand it.  Then there was Philip IV of Spain, 1605-1665, era of the Thirty Years' War.

Thirty Years' War:  This was a series of declared wars, undeclared wars, religious and secular issues, well-summarized at the Pipeline site.  Teams:
  • House of Austria, comprised of Ferdinands II and II, of the House of Habsburg, Holy Roman Emperors; and Philip IV, who was their Spanish cousin. 
  • Danish, Dutch, French and Swedish
The Thirty Years' War was also a civil war in Germany.  Some principalities fought for the Habsburgs, or against them, back and forth. And it was a series of religious wars, Catholic, Lutheran, Calvinist identities in issue.  The Jesuit Counter-Reformation was supported by Ferdinand II, but Frederick V supported Calvinism.

4.  The crooked steeple of Luneburg - look past it to the rebuilding.

Luneburg has its crooked steeple, but also its own sense of revival.  Here off the square, with the Henry the Lion moon statue; and the church visible, see a Greek revival cafe, complete with Doric columns.  These are jarring at first, all jammed in.  Then think that medieval buildings also were crowded together, at all angles, wherever space was found on the pathways. Form and function, reimagined.

5.   Form and Function

The ultimate moon. Even the necessaries in Germany are forward-looking. Beam me up, Scotty.

Back to Germany's exceptionalism. 

Where in America will you find a public WC, where you step right up like in Star Trek, put in your coins, and the cylindrical stainless sphere magically slides open, revealing -- yes! An immaculate toilet!  Hey!  This is fun!

And when you enter and push the close button, it does.  

And you do what you do.  And when you are finished, you rise (or back up) and adjust, and only then push the Open Sesame Button, and the beam me up Scottie device does indeed open (that's a good thing), and you emerge, to imagined great applause, as at a debut.  Is it sanitized while you are out?  Sure.

6.  Mix it up

Luneburg's old half-timbers highlight the losses of history in the bombing of WWII. The reconstructed areas, where there are no original structures left, become the new norm, where efficiency and cost-watching predominate.

In Luneburg, enjoy the decorative, bending demarcations between floors, the the clear weight of the old timbers at higher levels.

Rostock. Obotrites, Tribes, Port. Ferries; Historic German Tribes.

Obotrites and Rostock
Wends, Vandals


We became restless in Germany -- so many lovely little towns, brick tidy buildings.  We followed the urge to move on to Sweden.  Rostock has been around for 800 years, but we did not tour around in it. We arrived about 8 at night, for an 11 PM --we hoped -- ferry out.

 It took us over an hour just to get to the correct dock. Navigating is not easy aaroudn the docks.  Here is a long history of the area -- medieval beginnings, trade, wars, fires, some parts survived, some did not, see ://

A.  Tribes

1.  Tribes -

The Obotrites

Obotrites.  This group was important in the founding of both the town of Schwerin, and Rostock, to the northwest, where the ferries dock now. See the timeline of the area and events at google book on historic German tribes,  history of the Obotrites.  Historic German Tribes.  Do a search for history of Obotrites in google, and scroll down to the timeline already outlined there.
 Obotrites also feature in gamesmanship, see lists of characters and armor at  Meet King Mieceslas III of the Obotrites, in the first millenium, at  in Mecklenburg, Luneburg and Holstein, Slavs who migrated across the Elbe and once inhabited all over Germany, claims the site; then fell into conflict with other Germanic tribes (and were absorbed?). In Luneburg, the last of the Slavs died in about 1750, so goes the narration.

2. The Vandals

An old source, that uses f's for s's, goes into more detail, suggesting that the Obotrites were similar to the Vandals, and it mentions a King Witzen  (Widukind?), at The Critical Review, Dr. Nugent's History of Vandalia, in a google book at The Monthly Review, Annals of Literature, Vol 21, 1766, by Tobias George Smollett  They were more curious than our age. What facts underlie?  We just refer.

We forget how mobile rulers, people and armies were in medieval and earlier times.  Even Henry the Lion, see Luneberg, carried on campaigns in Italy, and, back in Germany defeated the Obotrites, see Medieval History, Cambridge 

There is a long chronology of rulers, progeny, assassinations. Henry the Lion from the 12th Century recurs, find him also at Luneburg, Germany.

2.  The Wends

The Obotrites appear to be a Slavic group that also included the Wends, and we found Wends after they migrated south to Slovenia, I recall.  See their history in Germany at

3.  Religious tribes

Roman Catholicism claims a saint, Berno, a Cistercian Monk, as an Obotrite.  Read the history of the conversions of the multi-deists to Christianity, voluntary and not, at    Brno is also a city in the Czech Republic, see, near Slavkov, the Battle of Austerlitz (Encyclopedia Britannica) with Napoleon and the other two Emperors, from Austria and Russia.

4.  Qualities

Obotrite tenacity is legendary, along with other Germanic tribes. The ancient Romans stopped short of trying to subdue the Germanic tribes, in these northern areas, and in much of the Central German area we think of today.  That is a source of pride to the Germans in those areas. The tribes were ferocious, dedicated to their own way of life, and even the Roman regimentation could not conquer them.  There was also the geographic distance separating the Germanic conflicts from Rome,  thinning of supply lines.  Rome could meet its basic needs for resources by staying further south,  but the resistance of the Germanic tribes when attacked was a strong factor.

The Germanic language group is as old as the Latin.  All (is this so?) European languages stem from something called "Indo-European" -- and no one is superior to the other except (perhaps) in the view of those who happened to live south.  There, the warmer climes enabled people to put energies to matters other than sheer survival: other than famine and cold.
  • Geography and destiny.  In southern areas, there is a year-round ability to make clay tablets and parchment for writing, is that so? Institutions and destiny.   If it had not been for the Church in the West, as the controlling institution forcing compliance,  would even Latin have survived.  Interesting.  See the impact of geography and institutions, on history and culture, at essays on language, St. Thomas edu. 

B.  Travel:  Rostock the Port.  Ferries.

1.  Ferry from Germany to Sweden.  Make reservations in advance, but there are many ferries for easy time changes. Pay in advance, and they will put you where you want to be.

2.  Sleeping.  A cabin is not much more expense than sleeping in the lounge, and you get a shower and maybe 5 hours of sleep.  Food is in huge portions to serve the trucker trade.  One plate serves two non-trucker appetites.

3.  Getting back to the car.  Make a written note or photograph where your car is. Get the level etched in stone. There are designated car levels, say 6 levels on these big ferries, but those limits are not definitive -- if they need your car to balance somewhere else, they will keep waving you up the coiled inclines.  If you forget where your car is, you will have to run around and hope you get there before the line behind you is set to go. Your car will probably be walled in among the 19-wheelers, invisible. The off-loading is fast.


If you do not find your ferry dock immediately upon arriving at this big port, go to a big hotel and ask directions there.  There are different loading docks for different destinations, and they are far apart. A GPS is useless because you may not have the coordinates.

Schwerin and Surnames; Thirty Years' War

Castle and Lakes

Schwerin is the regional capital of Mecklenburg, West Pomerania -- founded in about 1100 -- and is surrounded by lakes, lakes, lakes.  The Thirty-Years War, 1619-1648 see ,  devastated it; the Swedes took over it, then came the fire.  A rebuilding set it to rights in the 1700's.  There is a massive palace on an island where two great lakes meet, right in town, and Mecklenburg royalty lived there from the 1300's to 1918.  This was a trade hub, and Arab writers mention it in writings from the 1100's we understand, see Mecklenburg.

The Thirty-Years War for Germany was a series of wars, declared and undeclared, between the House of Austria, the Habsburgs, Holy Roman Emperors Ferdinand II and Ferdinand III, and a Spanish cousin, Philip IV.  Opponents included variously Denmark, the Netherlands, Sweden, and France.  The Thirty Years War was also a civil war; and a religious war among Catholics, Lutherans and Calvinists.  Maximilian I represented the later Jesuit Counter-Reformation.  War, militance, bloodshed. What was really resolved: only that strong feelings will not die, regardless of the merit of the cause. Once feelings are entrenched, can anyone change because of facts?  Wait and see. Uneasy truces worldwide.

The palace itself dates mostly from the mid-1800's, with only a few very old parts.  The area was settled in about 1018 by a group of Slavic Obotrites (see where this large tribe's area was in about 900 at ).  This group of Slavs was known as the Zuarin. But by 1160, Duke Henry the Lion, who was a "Guelph" (of the Guelphs and the Ghibellines later in Italy, see  Guelph is the Italian for the German Welf) had overcome the Zuarin.  See,_state_capital/index.jsp/. 

Migration and surnames:  Surname from town.

Some immigrants and others from German towns, take the name of the town as their own -- look at the number of German towns that appear as surnames, including Schwerin, where the people claim no known connection to it.  This is not so in Sweden, where surnames for centuries derived from the first name of the father; and families emigrating then taking names from places to distinguish themselves.  See  Sweden Road Ways

Town surnames, other sources, see American Surnames:  by Elsdon Cole Smith. See Google book