Frankfurt Park

The defensive walls of Frankfurt were dismantled, during the French Revolutionary War and replaced with an English landscape park.

On July 1, 1808, Goethe’s mother wrote to her son Wolfgang:

“Die alten Wälle sind abgetragen, die alten Tore eingerissen, um die ganze Stadt ein Park.”

The old barriers are levelled, the old gates torn down, around the whole city a park

When Goethe visited his native city for the last time in 1815, he encouraged the councilmen with the words:

“A free spirit befits a free city. It befits Frankfurt to shine in all directions and to be active in all directions.”

When in 1831 Arthur Schopenhauer moved from Berlin to Frankfurt, he justified it with the lines:

“Healthy climate, beautiful surroundings, the amenities of large cities, the Natural History Museum, better theatre, opera, and concerts, more Englishman, better coffee houses, no bad water and a better dentist.”

The Free City of Frankfurt on the Main was the seat of the Bundestag, the unofficial designation for the assembly of the sovereigns and mayors of the Monarchies and Free Cities which formed the German Confederation (1815–1866).

Friedrich Fröbel moved to Frankfurt-am-Main in 1805, where he took up a job in the building trade. In June 1805, Fröbel found employment in the local ‘model school’ in Frankfurt that was run on Pestalozzi’s principles of education. Fröbel felt that he had now found his true vocation. He wrote to his brother, Christoph:

It is as though I had been a teacher for a long time and was born for this profession; it seems to me that I have never wanted to live in any other circumstances than these (Lange, 1862, p. 533).

Contacts with the influential patrician family of the von Holzhausens in Frankfurt led Fröbel to travel to Yverdon in Switzerland in the autumn of 1806 to familiarize himself with Pestalozzi’s educational establishment. (The von Holzhausen family paid his travel costs.) Caroline von Holzhausen arranged to recruit Fröbel as the private tutor to her children. Between 1808 and 1810, Fröbel lived with his three young charges in Yverdon, where he acquired further training in Pestalozzi’s elementary method and also endeavoured to give the von Holzhausen children the best possible training and education.

One of the most respected families of the free imperial city Frankfurt since 1245, the Holzhausen family owned property, then far outside the fortified city of Frankfurt, which the family used for farming.

The Holzhausenschlösschen (Little Holzhausen palace) is a moated former country house built by the patrician Holzhausen family on their farm, then just north of Frankfurt. The present building was completed in 1729.

A memorial stone at the entrance, created in 1940 by Egon Schiffers, commemorates Friedrich Fröbel, a private teacher of the Holzhausen family from 1806 to 1808.

Bronze Age

Two armies clashed at a river crossing near the Baltic Sea, about 3200 years ago.

Why did so much military force converge on the narrow Tollense Valley? The size of the site and remains found so far suggest a warrior class of 4,000 people from across Europe.

Geomagnetic surveys in 2013, revealed evidence of a 120 meter long bridge or causeway stretching across the valley. The submerged structure was made of wooden posts and stone. Radiocarbon dating showed that although much of the structure predated the battle by more than 500 years, parts of it may have been built or restored around the time of the battle, suggesting the causeway had been in continuous use for centuries.

From the scale and brutality of the battle to the presence of a warrior class wielding sophisticated weapons, the Tollense Valley could be the first evidence of a turning point in social organization and warfare in Europe.

How warriors were equipped for battle:

Around 3200 years ago was a an era of significant upheaval from the Mediterranean to the Baltic. The scattered farmsteads of northern Europe gave way to concentrated, heavily fortified settlements, once seen only to the south. The sophisticated Mycenaean civilization collapsed and in Egypt, pharaohs boasted of besting the “Sea People,” marauders who toppled the Hittites.

Source: Unexpected and Gruesome Battle of 1250 BC Involved 4,000 Men from Across Northern Europe

Volkstedt porcelain

Johann Friedrich was the ruling Prince of Schwarzburg-Rudolstadt from 1744 to 1767.

After Georg Heinrich Macheleid had received the privilege to establish a porcelain manufactory in his native village Sitzendorf, the factory was relocated to the hamlet Volkstedt near Rudolstadt in 1762. The manufactory was run by a consortium of several noble men, Georg Heinrich Macheleid and Prince Johann Friedrich of Schwarzburg-Rudolstadt himself.

National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne. Presented in memory of Mrs L. May by her family, 1988

Gallery location: 17th & 18th Century Decorative Arts & Paintings Gallery, Level 2, NGV International.

Source: Johann Friedrich Prince of Schwarzburg-Rudolstadt, plaque | VOLKSTEDT PORCELAIN FACTORY, Volkstedt (manufacturer) | NGV | View Work

Paris Bible

In the late twelfth century, theologians at the University of Paris compiled a highly authoritative recension of St. Jerome’s Latin Bible. Whereas earlier Bibles almost invariably had appeared in multiple volumes, with the books in no canonical sequence, thirteenth-century Parisian scriptoria began producing single-volume manuscripts of the new Paris Vulgate in unprecedented quantities. Intended for individual rather than institutional use, these portable Bibles were often richly illuminated.

Thirteenth-Century Portable Paris Bible

Wandering scholar

Desiderius Erasmus, (born October 27, 1469, Rotterdam, Holland [now in the Netherlands]—died July 12, 1536, Basel, Switzerland), humanist who was the greatest scholar of the northern Renaissance, the first editor of the New Testament, and also an important figure in patristics and classical literature.

Using the philological methods pioneered by Italian humanists, Erasmus helped lay the groundwork for the historical-critical study of the past, especially in his studies of the Greek New Testament and the Church Fathers. His educational writings contributed to the replacement of the older scholastic curriculum by the new humanist emphasis on the classics.

Source: Desiderius Erasmus: The wandering scholar

To the sources! 

Rejecting a thousand years of commentary and discussion, new men in a new age sought truth in ancient sources.

The Seven Sages, depicted in the Nuremberg Chronicle 1493

Those who had the ability and the determination to master difficult ancient languages with the corresponding grammar, rhetoric, poetics, history and moral philosophy, became members of an intellectual nobility. These scholars of the studia humanitatis adopted classical names to identify them as a literary nobility, the nobilitas literaria.

Some took the name of their place of origin, others translated their names into Latin, and others derived their name from the occupation of their father.

All were engaged in the same noble pursuit: to find and study the manuscripts of the ancient civilizations of Rome and Greece. They hoped dissemination this knowledge could restore society to the former glory of thought, when free men of virtue and prudence, spoke and wrote with eloquence.
Ad fontes! They cry.  To the sources! 

Brethren schools

Originating in the Low Countries, Brethren schools provided poor students with food, books, paper, and lodging rather than forcing them to beg. The Brethren taught a new form of piety known as the Devotio Moderna, the modern devotion. True spirituality is within us, not in religious customs, for did not Jesus say, The kingdom of heaven is within you? In the inmost depths of our hearts, we may hear the voice of God.

What good does it do, Groote asked, for a man merely to go to church?  He must do more than listen to his preacher. A man must train his conscience by studying for himself.

Groote also said that devout women who serve God in the privacy of their homes, without taking monastic vows, are just as religious as nuns in their convents. To love God and worship him is religion; not the taking of special vows. If one’s goal is to live a religious life, then his life becomes religious in God’s opinion and according to the judgment of conscience. It all comes down to two things: Love God and love man.

Source: The Brethren of the Common Life

University of Basel

One of the centers of learning in the Renaissance.

Basel became an early center of book printing and humanism. The official opening ceremony was held on April 4, 1460. The University of Basel was decreed to have four faculties: arts, medicine, theology, and jurisprudence. The faculty of arts served until 1818 as the foundation for the other three.

Inauguration ceremony of the University of Basel, 1460
The Cathedral of Basel sits on a high bluff overlooking the Rhine where it bends and widens to begin its northward journey.


In the German speaking lands, six cities dominated printing: Cologne, Strasbourg, Leipzig, Basle, Augsburg, and Nuremberg.

Nuremberg Chronicle–The Ark

In the years following the appearance of Johannes Gutenberg’s Bible around 1455, printing spread through German speaking regions and other parts of Europe. The beginning of printing in Nuremberg is traced to the decade of the 1470s.

The Seven Sages, depicted in the Nuremberg Chronicle 1493

Charles’s Golden Bull of 1356 named Nuremberg as the city where newly elected kings of Germany must hold their first Imperial Diet, making Nuremberg one of the three highest cities of the Empire, along with Frankfurt, where kings were elected, and Aachen, where Emperors were crowned and which had been the capital of the old Frankish Empire. The royal and Imperial connection was strengthened when Sigismund of Luxembourg granted the Imperial regalia to be kept permanently in Nuremberg in 1423.

Gothic Bible

During the third century, the Goths lived on the northeast border of the Roman Empire, in what is now Ukraine, Bulgaria and Romania. The first Greek references to the Goths call them Scythians, based on the name for this region along the Black Sea.

During the fourth century, the Goths were converted to Christianity, largely through the efforts of Bishop Wulfila, who invented the Gothic alphabet and translated the Bible into the Gothic language in Nicopolis ad Istrum in today’s northern Bulgaria. Portions of this translation survive, affording the main surviving text written in the Gothic language.

During the fifth century, the Goths overran parts of the Western Roman Empire, including Italy, southern France, and Spain. Gothic Christianity reigned in these areas for two centuries.

Wulfila, literally “Little Wolf”, was of Cappadocian Greek descent. His parents were captured by plundering Goths in 264. Raised as a Goth, he later became proficient in both Greek and Latin. He was ordained a bishop by Eusebius of Nicomedia and returned to work as a missionary, converted many among the Goths to Arian Christianity. When they reached the western Mediterranean, this set them apart from their orthodox neighbours and subjects.

To escape religious persecution, he obtained permission from Constantius II in 348 to migrate with his flock of converts and settle near Nicopolis ad Istrum in modern northern Bulgaria, where he translated the Bible from Greek into the Gothic language and devised the Gothic alphabet. Fragments of his translation have survived, notably the Codex Argenteus held since 1648 in the University Library of Uppsala in Sweden.