Monthly Archives: March 2016

Historical Images of Franconia, Germany

Sichartshof, eine verschwundene Ortschaft
At the base of the low mountain range Steigerwald, in a fertile little hollow called the Edelgraben, there once stood a sheep farm. The first inkling of this farm appears in the Dachsbach registry in 1450 as ‘Sigartzhoffe’ belonging to a man named Peter Sighart. The good man paid a chicken and some grain to settle his taxes.  
Over the years, thorough searches in the archives have produced a few registry entries, a sentence here, a mere crumb of information there, regarding this mysterious farm: Sigartshoff, Sycharczhoff, Sichartshof. According to an undated entry in the Dachsbach registry that is believed to be before the Thirty Years War, around the year 1600, the little farm had grown into an accumulation of acreage of farmed fields, grasslands, and ponds for farming fish.
A patrician from Nuremberg named Sebald Tucher is then documented as having owned Sichartshof in 1629. He bought the farm from the widow Margarethe Hansen and had acquired more land to work. By this time, Sichartshof lay unprotected in the Aisch River Valley, the valley a well-travelled route for mercenary troops involved in the Thirty Years War.
Why would Sebald Tucher leave Nuremberg, a city protected behind massive, impenetrable walls, and move out to a country manor amid this time of agitation? Did he want to hunt? Did he want to drink? Did he need the products that the farm could yield for his family in Nuremberg? How did he live? Who lived there with him?
This forgotten hamlet is the inspiration for the farm named Sichardtshof in the historical novel series Heaven’s Pond. For the answer to these questions and more, watch for the new release of the historical novel The Master and the Maid. The forgotten hamlet comes alive again, its story just waiting to be told!
(Historical pictures taken at the beautiful Franconian Freiland Museum in Bad Windsheim. The collection of historical buildings, farm houses and villages is open to the public. Check out their web site:  http://freilandmuseum.de/startseite/information-en.html)

The Tucherschloss

Das Tucherschloss in Nürnberg. Stahlstich um 1854. (Bayerische Staatsbibliothek, Porträt- und Ansichtensammlung)
Sites of Nuremberg:
Medieval and early modern Nuremberg was considered a free imperial city, an independent city-state, until its absorption into the Bavarian kingdom in 1806. As an independent city-state, Nuremberg was free to rule itself without being subordinate to the surrounding territorial leaders. The only one they had to answer to was the Emperor of the Holy Roman Empire. 
In Nuremberg a closed caste of merchant families, termed ‘patricians’, ruled the city. (The term patrician comes from ancient Rome, meaning either a member of the upper class or a hereditary title given to the aristocracy.) Only members of these families could be part of the city council. These families were strictly documented and numbered between 37 and 42.

One family name that has survived this time period as more than just a street name or a plaque on a monument is the name Tucher. The Tucher family can trace its roots back to the 14th century and are still present in the Nuremberg landscape today. The first Tuchers were probably in service to the count of Castell and the first documented family member joined the Nuremberg city council in 1340.
A couple of good marriages here, a few successful business decisions there and the stance and the assets of the family grew. The early modern period saw the Tucher family as one of the most influential and richest families in Nuremberg, their businesses spreading throughout Europe.

During this time period, many of the merchant patrician families in Nuremberg withdrew from their businesses, opting for the lifestyle of the landed nobility. The Tuchers also owned quite a bit of property around Nuremberg but the Tucherschloss in Nuremberg was the main residence. Let’s take a closer look.
Built between 1533 and 1544, this Schloss on the Hirschelgasse is the inspiration for the home of the fictitious character from The Master and the Maid, Sebald Tucher. The building was for the most part destroyed in WW2 but was rebuilt in the sixties and now houses a museum. It is open to the public. An exhibition of photos of the war destruction and the reconstruction is on display until April 2016. 
Here’s a link to their website:  https://museen.nuernberg.de/tucherschloss/

Cover Reveal !

Blue Heron Book Works proudly reveals new book cover

In celebration of the upcoming release of the novel The Master and the Maid by Laura Libricz, Blue Heron Book Works of Allentown, PA USA has revealed the cover image for the first installation of the historical novel series, Heaven’s Pond.

The Master and the Maid
Book One of the Heaven’s Pond Trilogy

She’s lost her work, her home and her freedom. Now, harboring a mysterious newborn, she could lose her life.
In 17th Century Germany on the brink of the Thirty Years War, 24-year-old Katarina is traded to the patrician Sebald Tucher by her fiancé Willi Prutt in order to pay his debts. En route to her forced relocation to the Tucher country estate, Katarina is met by a crazed archer, Hans-Wolfgang, carrying a baby under his cloak. He tells her an incredible story of how his beloved was executed by a Jesuit priest for witchcraft right after the birth and makes Katarina—at sword point—swear on her life to protect the child. But protecting the child puts Katarina at risk. She could fall in disfavor with her master. She could be hunted by the zealots who killed his beloved. She could be executed for witchcraft herself. Can Katarina’s love for the baby and Sebald Tucher’s desire for her keep the wrath of the zealots at bay?
Set in Franconia, The Master and the Maid is an accurate, authentic account of a young woman’s life in Germany in the 1600’s, her struggle for freedom and her fight for those she loves.
About the Author 

Laura Libricz was born and raised in Bethlehem PA and moved to Upstate New York when she was 22. After working a few years building Steinberger guitars, she received a scholarship to go to college. She tried to ‘do the right thing’ and study something useful, but spent all her time reading German literature. 
She earned a BA in German at The College of New Paltz, NY in 1991 and moved to Germany, where she resides today. When she isn’t writing she can be found sifting through city archives, picking through castle ruins or aiding the steady flood of Höfner musical instruments into the world market.
Her first novel, The Master and the Maid, is the first book of the Heaven’s Pond Trilogy. The Soldier’s Return and Ash and Rubble are the second and third books in the series.

Museum Monday

Merian Franken 1648

The City of Forchheim:  The year is 1634. War rages though the German territories. Swedish troops rumble through Franconia, Germany. No village is safe or even left standing. Was any place safe in what became known to modern historians as the Thirty Years War? Yes, there were cities where the walls were impassable so that even under siege they could not be taken. At least not by land. One of these cities is Forchheim in the Upper Franconia region of Bavaria.
Forchheim was in its time the only new Baroque fortress to be built in southern Germany. During the Margrave Wars, in 1552, the city was occupied by the Margrave of Kulmbach, Albrecht Alkibiades. Having taken the city back in 1553, the Hochstift Bamberg decided to strengthen Forchheim to serve as its southern stronghold in order to protect the lands surrounding the Prince-Bishopric of Bamberg. And so construction began. After 1553, the city was never conquered. Ever.
The fortification of Forchheim slowed in the beginning of the 1600’s. Small reinforcements were made but the walls were for the most part finished. During the Thirty Years War, Forchheim was strategically situated and served as a assembly station for new troops. The walls proved themselves capable of holding back the Swedish troops and their canons.
My museum tip for #museummonday: the Erlebnismuseum Rote Mauer. In this literal ‘hole in the wall,’ the city of Forchheim has opened a casemate (sometimes erroneously rendered casement, a casemate is a fortified gun emplacement or armored structure from which guns are firedWiki) and turned it into a museum. The multimedia exhibitions recreate what daily life during the Thirty Years War could have been like, explaining the construction and the workings of the fortification and illustrating period artifacts like weapons and clothing.

Please visit the informative website from the city of Forchheim:  http://www.forchheim.de/content/erlebnismuseum-rote-mauer
For more information about the walls of Forchheim (in German):  https://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Festung_Forchheim