Tag Archives: #earlymodern

#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.

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The Early Modern #Witch Burning Stronghold #MondayBlogs

A look into the city of Bamberg, Germany: The Early Modern Witch Burning Stronghold

History... the interesting bits!

Today I would like to extend a warm and hearty welcome to Laura Libricz, with my first ever guest blog post. Thank you to Laura for taking the time to write this wonderful article on witchcraft in Germany. Over to Laura:

Bamberg, Germany: The Early Modern Witch Burning Stronghold

Kirche-und-Teufel Kirche und Teufel

Throughout the dark ages, Christianity had difficulties setting down roots among the Germanic tribes. Stories are told of saints who came to the German people and destroyed sacred trees and mystical places in order to show the people that their gods had no power. Even after Christianity took hold and the Catholic Church was established in the Germanic territories of the Holy Roman Empire, evidence shows that the Germanic people held onto their beliefs in goddesses, magic, herbal remedies, and pagan practices.

Persecution of heathens and witches was regular but not widespread in Germany in the medieval period…

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RECONSTRUCTING HISTORY #MondayBlogs

1512_imperial_circles

THE THIRTY YEARS WAR

Judging by the images and the books that are popular today, can you imagine how someone 400 years from now will view our society? How will they reconstruct our day in age based on the records we leave behind? That is, if they can even access our information. What impressions will they have of our culture?

I take this into consideration as I research and write my 17th century historical novels. I have a good idea of what the time period looked like from paintings like those from the Dutch Golden Age. Objects and artifacts that survived the passing of time help illustrate how people lived their daily lives. But what people thought, what they felt, can only be taken from the work of those who wrote down their experiences. Even then, we only get the point of view of individuals with a certain standing in the community. We are subject to see history based on their beliefs and more importantly, what they wanted the reader to believe.

So, as I reconstruct the Thirty Years War and the impact the war had on the Aisch Valley in Franconia, Germany, I choose sources that give me a more realistic version of the world I am recreating. These include local historical almanacs, autobiographical accounts that survived over the years and current research of the Early Modern Period. I’d like to tell you about my most important ones.

The Thirty Years War was considered The Great War by the Germans up until WWI. The devastation it left behind was up until that time unmatched. The population was reduced by a third, some believe by half. Great tracks of land were left untouched by the war but other areas were set back 100 years in their development. Some of the villages in my area died out completely for more than two generations. And a surprising number of events that transpired there were written down and collected.

Germans call them Heimatbücher; village historical almanacs, written by local residents, village officials and clergy. Many small communities have them. Full of church records, local weather chronicles, tax records, marriage, birth and death registers, maps and photographs, you’ll find one on almost every bookshelf in Germany. They recorded everything from the Hussiten Wars to the Little Ice Age, the natural catastrophe believed to help fuel the Thirty Years War. Many of the troop movements that stain Germany’s war-torn history and the damage left behind can be found in these books. They tend to be overlooked by ‘real’ historians but they are a wealth of knowledge and now our little secret.

Around the time of the Thirty Years War, the early 1700’s, literacy in Germany was supposedly 2% to 4% of the population, without taking into consideration the difference between those who read regularly and those who could read at all. The reported literates were either of a high standing or involved in the church. More Protestants were known to be able to read than Catholics. Yes, there were those women who were learned but the majority of these were men. And some of these people felt the need to write their memoirs.

A local hero from the town of Uehlfeld in Franconia, Veit von Berg was a young Protestant pastor who was in the city of Neustadt an der Aisch when it was sacked in July 1632. After the war, in 1648, he was commissioned to serve the Evangelical parish in Uehlfeld. Thirty-five people survived the horrors that left this village in ash and rubble, a village that once had population of over 600. Veit von Berg spent his free time rebuilding Uehlfeld, teaching the savaged farmers how to sow seed and live life and writing his autobiography. This is a touching, explicit, insightful story of his fight to live through an unjust war.

A more famous story is Simplicius Simplicissimus by Grimmelshausen, considered to be the first German novel. It is the story of a peasant boy torn away from his family by marauding mercenaries. We follow him from the abduction, to the life with a hermit, to military service, to wealth and excess back to the life of a hermit. The adventures he experienced are considered to be the autobiographical account of Grimmelshausen’s life.

In 1988, Jan Peters, a German historian, found a hand-written document in the Berliner Staatsbibliotek, the Berlin Library. Peters set out to decipher the writings and search for the author, whose name is nowhere in the writings to be found. After much detective work, the writer is believed to the mercenary soldier, Peter Hagendorf. Hagendorf recorded his 25-year career as a mercenary and the 22,500 km travels that took him from Italy to Germany, to the Spanish Netherlands and France. He also took part in the famous Sack of Magdeburg in 1631.

Now, most of my reference books are in German and most of them are written by men. But I want to recreate this time period for an English-speaking audience and keep the language contemporary. I want to get close to the characters, inside their heads, and I also want to do this from the viewpoint of a woman. And I want to stay true to the events documented in my sources.

American historian, Joel Harrington, http://as.vanderbilt.edu/history/bio/joel-harrington professor at the Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee, specializes in the Early Modern Period in Germany and has written numerous books concerning this time period in the English language. In 2009, he published The Unwanted Child: The Fate of Foundlings, Orphans, and Juvenile Criminals in Early Modern Germany (University of Chicago Press, 2009). Harrington studies the situation of abandoned children in Nuremberg, Germany, their mothers and the role society played in all of this in the early modern world.

Over the years, the more information I searched for, the more I found. This is only a small outtake from all the sources I have collected. For me, the love of research equals the love of writing historical fiction. And as I reconstruct the Thirty Years War, these books and documents are as instrumental to my writing as my computer and a pad and paper. The stage is set and I can bring in the actors and raise the curtain.

 

 

 

 

The Dutch East India Company #history #earlymodern

The Vereenigde Oostindische Compagnie, the Dutch East India Company, was a trading company founded in 1602. Considered by some to be the first corporation in the world, the VOC was in any case the largest and most impressive trading company in Europe during the Early Modern Period. The Company ruled the trade zone between South Africa and Japan and was granted authority by the Dutch government to build forts, appoint a governing body and to form an army, as well as conducting trade and establishing colonies.

Some statistics:  The Company operated from 1602 until 1795. In a span of 193 years, they employed over a million workers—soldiers, sailors, clerks and merchants, sailed 4,785 ships and moved more that 2,5 million tons of Asian goods. By 1650, 50% of the merchant ships in Europe were owned by the Dutch.

Surviving today are over 25 million pages of documents, housed in Jakarta, Colombo, Chennai, Cape Town and The Hague. The VOC archives are the largest source of early modern history found anywhere in the world.

The Company was at home in Amsterdam and Amsterdam in the early 17th Century generated some impressive statistics itself. In 1567, the population was 25,000. In 1610, the population had doubled; in 1620 the city had grown to 100,000 people. In 1660, 200,000. Because Spain had taken control of the main hub of business and trading in central Europe, Antwerp (modern Belgium) in 1585, trading moved to Amsterdam. Skilled tradesmen flocked to the source of employment. This drastic rise in population reflected how many refugees were fleeing from Spanish troops and the fact that Amsterdam was known for religious tolerance.

But back to the VOC: what made men sail half way around the world? Compared to bulk goods like timber, tar and salt there was more money to be made trading luxury goods like spice and sugar. And the only place to get spice and sugar was half way around the world. Spice was in great demand because the taste of less-than-fresh meats did not satisfy the discerning palate.

Up until the end of the 16th century, the Spanish and the Portuguese were in control of the seaways and the routes were unknown to the Dutch. The Dutch merchants sailed their first voyages after 1596 when extensive information regarding Asian ports and navigation were brought back from abroad by a man named Jan Huyghen van Linschoten. Still, many of these routes were unknown, uncharted and somehow the early voyages were successful. In order to keep these newly flush Dutch merchants from competing against each other, the VOC was formed and claimed a monopoly over trade in the East.

But these sea voyages were long, grueling, dangerous, tedious, lasting up to six months, even longer. What sort of person voluntarily boarded a sailing ship? On to waters uncharted? Riches were to be had in the spice trade, yes, but those who earned the money were rich merchants who stayed home and got richer. Merchants living in the Indies had a life expectancy of about three years. For those who travelled with the Company, only one in three returned.

The type of person who travelled was one who had more or less nothing to lose. Cramped quarters, wormy water (if any fresh water at all), hard bread infested with weevils, disease, fleas, lice. A simple soldier had maybe a few square feet of space below deck. Was this life really so bad for these men? For many of them, the conditions on the ship, regular substantial meals and employment outweighed the disadvantageous life they were facing in Europe.

The Soldier’s Return #historicalfiction

Laura Libricz, Authoress

The Soldier’s Return

Book 2 in the Heaven’s Pond Trilogy

Germany, 1626

A senseless war rips through parts of Germany. Ongoing animosity between the Catholics and the Protestants has turned into an excuse to destroy much of the landscape in the territories situated between France, Italy and Denmark. But reliSoldiersReturn 700kgion only plays a minor role in this very lucrative business of war. What better way to wage war than with underpaid, starving, sick, desperate mercenary soldiers?

Direct in the path of these marauding mercenaries lies the once-idyllic farm called Sichardtshof. The master and the maid have lived here the last ten years in a semblance of peace but teetering on the edge of destruction. The attacks are more frequent and the soldiers are more brutal than before. With the soldiers come disease, the plague. And Franconia has found scapegoats to blame for all this misfortune. Witch hunts and executions…

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