Category Archives: Castles

What Inspires a Novel? #MondayBlogs #GermanHistory

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. Only members of these families could be part of the city council. These families were strictly documented and numbered between 37 and 42. The term patrician comes from ancient Rome, meaning either a member of the upper class or a hereditary title given to the aristocracy.

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.

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. Here’s a link to their website: Museum Tucherschloss

Here’s the book trailer for The Master and the Maid: #booktrailer The Master and the Maid #historicalfiction

What inspires the setting of a story? #bookworm #booklovers

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, read the historical novel The Master and the Maid. The forgotten hamlet comes alive again, its story just waiting to be told!

 

#booktrailer The Master and the Maid #historicalfiction

 

The Thirty Years War. Known as The Great War in Germany up until the 20th century. Still regarded as the most devastating era in Germany history. We know what the history books say. We know what the church fathers say. But what really happened?

Imagine life in the 17th century, through this revolutionary time in history:
1600 years after the dawn of Christianity, 200 years after the invention of the printing press. 100 years after the protests of Martin Luther. Nuremberg, Germany was the center of European trade in the middle ages. A flourishing city built on the strength of diverse and superior craftsman. A free city state. Independent of the Holy Roman Empire. Imagine the year 1616. Mankind had made leaps in terms of science, humanities, language, learning. The Renissance was giving birth to the early modern age, but there was a dark side to this period. Not everyone wanted this revolution of thought and practice. Some forces were fighting to keep progress down. A war was brewing.

But people were trying to live their lives as they saw fit. Women wanted to live their lives. A young woman named Andra-Angela refuses to obey. She is executed for witchcraft and leaves a newborn baby behind. Another young woman named Katarina is traded to a rich patrician in order to pay her fiancé’s debts. Katarina is forced to relocate to the patrician’s country manor. There she meets the newborn baby’s father, a crazed archer who forces the care of the child on her at sword point.

Protecting the child puts Katarina at risk. She could fall into disfavor with her master. She could be hunted by the zealots who killed the archer’s beloved. She could be executed herself. Can Katarina’s love for the baby and Sebald Tucher’s desire for her keep the wrath of the zealots at bay?

 The Master and the Maid is the first book in the Heaven’s Pond Trilogy. So begins the saga of Isabeau, how she came to be and the events that formed the beginning of her life.

Castle Coburg #Germany #History

Veste Coburg www.coburg.de

The Veste Coburg

Today we’re riding on a regional train from Nürnberg. The journey takes an hour and a half and costs 20€. We’re feeling quite fit, the weather is perfect, so we take on the half hour walk from the train station in Coburg up to the fortress, The Veste Coburg.

In the 11th Century, the hilltop above Coburg housed a monastery. Over the generations, the buildings underwent exstensive expansion the walls were fortified. Today the fortress houses an impressive collection of historical artifacts, paintings and sculptures.

The collection of historical weapons and armor dates from the 16th and 17th Century and is the largest collection of its kind in Germany.

Exhibits from the armoury

The huge collection of historical hunting weapons dates from the 16th Century to the present and includes weapons from all across the European continent.

Exhibits of hunting weapons

On the ground floor of the Duchess’s wing, carriages and sleighs are on display; a bridal carriage from 1560 and Queen Victoria’s Gala Coupe from 1840.

Carriages and sleighs

And the high point of this visit is the Intarsia Hunting Room. This masterpiece of 60 panels of inlaid wood was completed in 1632. Follow the link under the picture for an impressive panoramic view of the room.

Intarsia hunting room

The Veste Coburg has an informative website, translated into English. Check them out here:  Veste Coburg

Here’s the link to the city’s website:  www.coburg.de

Riding the train in Germany is great:  Deutsche Bahn

The Outlaw-A German Legend #history

Eppelein awaiting execution

The Legend of Eppelein von Gailingen

After The Men lost their fervor for the Crusades and the power of the German Emperor faded, knighthood in Germany became irrelevant. The knights sat in their castles and lived on what they could take from their farmers. Slowly, this whole rank of men became impoverished. They needed to change professions. And they saw the cause of their poverty in the ever-increasing rich city dwellers and traders. This angered the old knights.

Since the Emperor did nothing more for them, they soon took to robbing the travelling merchants and thus became Raubritter or robber barons. Nuremberg suffered from this development. Many castles surrounded this rich medieval city. The robber barons lurked not only in the Fränkische Schweiz or Franconian Switzerland, but also in the west and south of the city. And the most notorious of these was Eppelein von Gailingen.

He was known to be the lord of the castles at Gunzenhausen and the one near Illesheim. His numerous attacks on trade wagons began in 1360. And still his name lives on in song and verse: in disguise he stole the golden bird house from the middle of the city of Nuremberg; another time he ambushed a rich patrician bride on her wedding day and kissed her. He was put under an imperial ban in 1369, losing all his rights and possessions.

An accomplished equestrian, he is most famous for the reckless escape right before his first scheduled execution by hanging. He made a daring leap with his horse over the trench around the castle of Nuremberg. Two hoof prints in the city wall still bear witness to this defying act.

Nevertheless, Eppelein von Gailingen paid for his crimes with his life: in 1381, he was finally caught in Neumarkt, broken on the wheel and beheaded.

 

Nuremberg and the Imperial Castle

 Nürnberg und die Kaiserburg
     Despite industrialization, Nuremberg was considered the best-preserved German city until its destruction on January 2, 1945, when 90 percent of the city’s medieval core was destroyed. The five-day Battle of Nuremberg in April 1945 left the rest of the city so badly beaten that the city’s fathers had thoughts of abandoning the city and rebuilding elsewhere. 
     At that time, other bombed-out German cities decided to clear away medieval debris and build anew. But in Nuremberg, after a 1948 competition for plans to reconstruct the city’s medieval core brought in 188 proposals from local architects, it was decided that old Nuremberg would be rebuilt like the old city plan.

     Following a proposal from Nuremberg architects Heinz Schmeißner and William Schlegtendal, the basic structure of the inner city, with its characteristic sequence of streets and squares would remain basically the same. The city should rise again as it was. Only the most important historical buildings such as the Rathaus, the Frauenkirche, the Sebalduskirche and the Kaiserburg castle should be exactly reconstructed. The basic plan described exactly what building materials, colors, roof-eaves and fixed angle each newly constructed building should use. (Today one is not just allowed to build a house however one wants. There are reams of building statues-reams and reams.)

     The Kaiserburg is regarded as the most important art and architectural monuments of the city and belongs to the Historical Mile Nuremberg. Archeologists have dated the foundation at or around the year 1000, but the castle’s existence is first documented in 1105. The Deep Well, dug down into the sandstone foundation has a diameter of two meters and is fifty-three meters deep. (Mind you, dug in the year 1000.) A second well by the Fünfeckigen Turm, twenty meters deep, guaranteed the water supply in times of unrest.
     Hoof prints from the daring escape of Eppelein von Gailingen can still be seen on the wall around the now-dry moat.
     Over the years after 1948, the Kaiserburg slowly took on its remembered panoramic silhouette. After 34 years, in 1981, the castle was finally deemed as ‘finished,’ that is to say, all war scars cleared away, but renovations continue today because of the damaging effect of acid rain on sandstone.
Here’s more info in English:  Imperial Castle Nuremberg