Category Archives: Nürnberg

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!

 

What Inspires a Novel? #video #history #MondayBlogs

 

 

The Weissgerbergasse is a street in the old town in Nuremberg, Germany. It means Tanners’ Lane in English. It is the inspiration for the Tannery Row, a setting in the opening scenes of the historical novel, The Master and the Maid.

This medieval street was named for its inhabitants, namely the Weissgerber. They were tanners who specialized in a tanning process using salts and alum to create soft, white leather for gloves, aprons and bookcovers.

Tanneries needed a lot of water and many of the houses on Tanners’ Lane have their own wells. They also made lots of dirty water so the street is close to the Pegnitz river and downstream away from the main town. Tanning hides was a very smelly business, and judging by these townhouses, a lucrative one as well.

In spite of the intense bombing of Nuremberg in 1945, the Weissgerbergasse was mostly unaffected. There are now about 20 of these painstakingly renovated half-timbered houses. They are part of Nuremberg’s Historical Mile, a tour of the city’s most important sights.

Today these town houses are occupied by hairdressers, art galleries, boutiques and cafes. The Weissgerbergasse 10 has been dated by experts as 1389 and belongs to the Altstadtfreunde, an organization dedicated to historic preservation in Nuremberg.

#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.

The Medieval Dungeon

On July 7, 1584, Franz Schmidt, the official executioner in Nürnberg, beheaded Annela Moser. The married woman had been known to have realtions with 21 different men. Schmidt, known  as “Meister Franz”, wrote this and other executions in his journal.

A popular destination for a pleasant day trip is the medieval dungeon in Nürnberg. The cells, for housing those held during pre-trial custody, and the torture chamber stand practically unchanged over the years.

The conditions in the dungeon, called Das Lochgefängnis in German, were less than comfortable. The completely dark cells were two meters by two meters and the walls were covered in wooden planks. A wooden bed and a bench stood in the cell, along with a bucket, for necessary business, covered with a wooden board that doubled as a table. Those being held had to pay for their accommodations. The well-to-do could afford more than bread and water and the destitute were at the mercy of charity or the city itself.

The dungeon dates back to 1322 with a well-documented history. The crimes, those that warranted such interrogations, were recorded in the city’s archives and ranged from slander and fornication to theft and murder. Once in custody, the accused would be encouraged to speak. The executioner showed the accused the torture instruments and perhaps demonstrated them. If the accused still refused, he or she would be further coaxed to talk by the executioner, who used the instruments to inflict pain: thumb screws, reverse hanging, fire (burning candles held under the armpits), or a combination of the above.

Once the accused confessed, many crimes carried a death sentence. Beheading was quick and dirty (if the executioner struck true between the cervical vertebrae—if not, well, it was messy and painful.) Other methods included the breaking wheel (the body being bound to a wagon wheel and then beaten), hanging, burning at the stake and drowning. Some were buried alive.

For more information about witch trials in Germany, click here: Bamberg Witch Trials

Also check out Das Lochgefängnis—Tortur und Richtung in Alt-Nürnberg, a reprint of the original book by Hermann Knapp from 1907, kindly released from the Geschichte Für Alle e.V., the historical society in Nürnberg.

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.