After posting my most recent entry I began to look more seriously for the “Vita S. Martini” by Venantius Fortunatus in translation. It hasn’t brought much to light. I cannot read medieval Latin, but there is an Italian translation available in book form, which might be my only option. There is also a German version available but which costs an arm and a leg (and really, I don’t want to spend that much on a hobby). There are plenty of English-language academic papers about aspects of the text, but I don’t believe that an English translation exists. If any buffs of early medieval literature can prove me wrong, please have at it, as I would love to know!
I have a confession to make. Beyond all the other things I am doing right now – singing, translating, assisting in a bookselling business – I have a project in mind for the future. I want to put together a guidebook for the Via Raetia.
There are guides and books for following the Via Claudia Augusta, the first Roman-made road to cross the Alps in this region, but I have yet to find a modern tourist guide in English for it’s younger sister, the Via Raetia. The Via Claudia has an “official” route which one can follow ona bike, and much of it may accurately follow the old road. The Via Raetia does not, and here you can see why:
Clearly one can’t just go traipsing across private property, let alone tell others to do so.
Walking, cycling, sights along the way, history, archaeology, culture, on the route between Augsburg and… well, how comprehensive do I want this to be? I could keep it within Bavaria (Augsburg to Mittenwald) or publish installments (Part 2, North Tyrol from Mittenwald to the Brenner Pass, Part 3 Italy: Brennero to Verona). Even if I had no other work, this would take a few years of research, travel, exploration. I’m not sure I’ll ever get to do it. (Note to any publishing houses: I’m here, “boots on the ground”, if you are considering something along these lines from a distance.)
But all this will have to wait another year at least, because for professional reasons I am going to be spending a considerable amount of time at the other end of Bavaria, namely closer to the Czech border.
Image from Google maps.
Continuing in the looking-up-one-thing-and-finding-the-tip-of-the-iceberg vein, I recently began looking into an assumption I had made a while back — that the name Tirol was derived from the Roman fortress Teriolis (from which the village of Zirl takes its name). It turns out that this is completely unsubstantiated, and that the name Tirol came to these lands by being ruled by the Earls of Tirol, who in turn took their name from their home, the castle Schloss Tirol, by around 1141.
Whence the castle got its name remains a mystery. Wikipedia mentions that tir meant territory or land in both Latin and Old Irish (Celtic), and that earlier written versions of the name include de Tirale and de Tyrols.
Ah, that mysterious “y” which one finds in the name when written in English! I had always wondered about that.
Then, poking around for anything on the internet concerning the origin of the name, I came across this interesting treatise (de). (I am not sure what to make of it, exactly — it reads a bit like Tolkien’s backstory in the appendices of “The Lord of the Rings”. It also shares some word-for-word passages with this.) The author (if he is the author) postulates that the rocky hill on which the castle sits had been taken in the early middle ages by conquering Germanic tribes, who named it in honor of the Germanic god Tyr (en) (aka Ziu*, both connected in turn to Zeus deus, deva, and our Tuesday). He adds that before the castle there had been an early Christian church on the site, and it is known that those early Christian churches often were built right atop pre-Christian holy sites. So it’s possible that the name Tirol (or Tyrol) is a very old, pre-Christian one.
The first Earls of Tirol were apparently Bavarian (Bavaria was running the place at the time) but they adopted the name of their castle rather than their family name, which lends a little credibility to the theory that the place name had some ancient meaning. Which nobody would have remembered by the 12th century.
The author also mentions a very curious book called Das erfundene Mittelalter (“the invented middle ages”) by a “chronology critic”, who claims that all the years between 614 and 911 didn’t exist, that everything purported to have happened in that time, didn’t, because of some sort of massive calendar jump. Scientists and archaeologists have debunked this theory.
And, completely unrelated to these places: the name Tauern, given to the Alpine mountain region of Salzburg and Carinthia, is evidently connected to the name of its earlier inhabitants, the Taurisci. After the Battle of Telamon in 225 B.C.E., the beaten Taurisci were allowed to resettle further southwest at what is now called – wait for it — Torino, or in English, Turin.
*Ziu and Zirl sound suspiciously alike. Is it not possible that, the Romans perhaps having latinized an already-given Raetian name for that hill there (now the Martinsbühel), the two names might indeed be related, by way of Ziu? The Roman name for Wilten, Veldidena, is thought to have come from a pre-existing name. Did the Raetians share any linguistic origins with their northern neighbors? One might assume yes, as Germanic and Celtic were both Indo-European. And gods are completely transferable, as history shows us.
The Tabula Peutingeriana is a 13th century copy of a Roman road map from around the 4th or 5th century CE, judging by the place names on it. It is named for Konrad Peutinger, a man of letters from 16th-century Augsburg, who had bequeathed it to his great-nephew Markus Welser (the Welser clan was a famous banker family in Augsburg, and had an Innsbruck representative in Philippine.) It is a very unusual map in that the road lengths are consistent (“längentreu”) but not the areas between them. In this way it resembles a subway map, where all the rail lines extend in directions beneficial to the space of the map but not true to actual geography. The lands on the Tabula extend from the British Isles to the Ganges Valley in India. // Die Tabula Peutingeriana ist eine im 13. Jhdt. N. Chr. angefertigte Kopie einer römischen Straßenkarte des 4 oder 5 Jhdt. N. Chr, wenn man von den verwendeten Ortsnamen ausgeht. Sie wurde nach Konrad Peutinger, einem Gelehrten des 16. Jahrhunderts in Augsburg, der es seinem Großneffen Markus Welser vermacht hatte, benannt (die Welser-Clan war eine berühmter Bankier-Familie in Augsburg, und hatte in Innsbruck einen Vertreter in Philippine). Es ist eine sehr ungewöhnliche Karte, da die Straßenlängen konsistent sind (“längentreu”), nicht aber die Gebiete zwischen ihnen. Auf diese Weise gleicht sie einer U-Bahn-Karte, in der alle Eisenbahnlinien so gerichtet sind, dass sie ins Papierformat der Karte gut passen, aber nicht tatsächliche Geographie abbilden. Die Länder auf der Tabula erstrecken sich von den Britischen Inseln bis zum Ganges-Tal in Indien.
I recently obtained a copy of Via Claudia Exkursionsführer (Via Claudia Excursion Guide) by Hermann J. Volkmann. It’s a rather academic booklet, put out by scholars of geography didactics, but not difficult to follow. To my delight, it shows with modern maps the presumed route of the Via Claudia from Augsburg to Füssen, almost to the meter, including information on where it is still accessible and where one has to detour. Volkmann says some interesting things about the famously straight Roman roads and their representation on the Tabula Peutingeriana. On the map below you will see that they are drawn as straight lines with kinks. According to Volkmann, these kinks represent stages or segments on the journey, and each joint was probably recognisable by landmarks (grave mounds, viereckschanzen, rivers, lakes) or guesthouses, found at regular intervals along the road and offering bed and board, stalls and supply depots. // Ich habe vor kurzem eine Kopie des Via Claudia Exkursionsführer (Via Claudia Wanderführer) von Hermann J. Volkmann erhalten. Es ist eine eher akademische Broschüre, die von Wissenschaftlern der Geographie erstellt wurde (Lehrstuhl für Didaktik der Geographie an d. Univ. Augsburg), aber nicht schwer zu folgen. Erfreulicherweise zeigt es mit modernen Karten die mutmaßliche Route der Via Claudia von Augsburg nach Füssen, fast auf den Meter, einschließlich Informationen darüber, wo sie noch zugänglich ist und wo man einen Umweg machen muss. Volkmann sagt einige interessante Dinge über die berühmte geraden Römerstraßen und deren Darstellung auf der Tabula Peutingeriana. Auf der Karte sieht man, dass sie als gerade Linien mit Knickstellen gezeichnet werden. Nach Volkmann, stellen Knicke Stufen oder Segmente auf der Reise dar, und jedes Gelenk war wohl erkennbar ein Wahrzeichen (Grabhügel, Viereckschanzen, Flüsse, Seen) oder Pensionen, in regelmäßigen Abständen entlang der Straße, die Unterkunft,Verpflegung, Ställe und Depots bieten.
Only two travel segments of the Via Claudia can be found on the Tabula Peutingeriana; from Augusta vindelicum (two towers near the top left corner, above) to Da novalis, and from there to Abodiacum. After that there seems to be a detour somewhere* over to the Via Raetia**, which was built later and runs through Innsbruck and the Brenner Pass. Volkmann posits that the Via Raetia was the more important route at the time, so it would have made sense to include it and not the older, longer route.
Here are the stops between Augusta vindelicum (Augsburg, Bavaria) and Tridentum (Trento, Italy). I have included the names on the Tabula Peutingeriana, a known Roman name (if different), and the modern name for that place. // Nur zwei Reise Segmente der Via Claudia konnten auf der Tabula Peutingeriana gefunden werden; von Augusta Vindelicum (zwei Türme in der Nähe der oberen linken Ecke, oben) nach Da Novalis, und von dort zu Abodiacum. Danach scheint es eine Umleitung irgendwo über der Via Raetia zu geben **, die später gebaut wurde und die durch Innsbruck und über den Brenner * verläuft. Volkmann geht davon aus, dass die Via Raetia zu der Zeit eine wichtigere Route an der Zeit war, so dass es sinnvoll war auf die Darstellung der alten Route zu verzichten. Hier sind die Rastplätze zwischen Augusta Vindelicum (Augsburg, Bayern) und Tridentum (Trento, Italien) zu sehen. Ich habe die Namen auf der Tabula Peutingeriana, bekannten römischen Namen (falls abweichend), und modernen Namen für diesen Ort gegenübergestellt.
Augusta vindelicum — Augsburg
Da novalis — possibly Obermeiting
Avodiaco — Abodiacum— Epfach
Coveliacas — “Köchel”, at Murnauer Moos***.
Tartena — Parthanum — Partenkirchen
Scarbia — Klais, where Scharnitz Abbey once stood. (The story of the name Klais is connected to the Via Raetia.)
“Vetonina” — Veldidena — Innsbruck – Wilten
Matreio — Matreium — Matrei am Brenner
Vipiteno — Vipiteno (Sterzing)
Sublavione — Chiusa (Klaussen)
Pentedrusi — Pons Drusi — Bolzano (Bozen)
Tredente — Tridentum — Trento (Trient)
*An east-west Roman road from Salzburg to Kempten connected Epfach, on the Via Claudia, with Raisting, south of the Ammersee and on the Via Raetia. Possibly one simply detoured there. // Eine Ost-West-Römerstraße von Salzburg nach Kempten verband Epfach, an der Via Claudia, mit Raisting, südlich des Ammersees und an der Via Raetia gelegen. Möglicherweise wurde sie hier einfach umgeleitet.
** The name Via Raetia is a later invention, the Roman name for this road is forgotten, if indeed it had ever had a name. // Der Name Via Raetia ist eine spätere Erfindung, der römische Name für diese Straße ist vergessen, wenn es denn jemals einen Namen hatte.
***Other researchers point to the Echelsbacher Bridge near Bad Bayersoien, but this doesn’t make sense to me. // Anderer Forscher weisen auf die Echelsbacher brücke bei Bad Bayersoien hin; mir leuchtet das aber nicht ein.
An artist’s rendition of the stone layers of an inside wall in the kleine Therme.
Kempten, in the Allgäu region, is one of Germany’s oldest cities. Earliest mention appears to be by the ancient Greek geographer Strabo, who called it Kambodunon and wrote that it was a town of the Celtic Estiones. When the Romans invaded in 15 BCE, they built a classical Roman city on the plateau overlooking the current modern town. Cambodunum‘s buildings were initially made of wood, and after a fire destroyed the town in 69 CE, it was rebuilt in stone, and it is these remains which the visitor sees at the Cambodunum Archaeology Park (g).
Above, the remains of the Temple District (top). The population of Cambodunum consisted not only of Romans but of assimilated (“romanized”) locals and immigrants, and each group had their own set of gods to worship. In Cambodunum, the temples of local gods and Roman gods existed side by side. The low stone walls define the excavated walls and foundations, as for example the Forum in what is now a large lawn.
The kleine Therme (“small bathhouse” — I was unable to figure out it there was a large one as well, possibly reburied for conservation purposes or lost to centuries of urban construction) is on display inside a protective building. It was built for the town’s chief magistrate, his staff and guests, and featured hot and cold baths, a steam room, and latrines. When Rome abandoned its transmontane colonies and eventually went down itself with the invading hordes, it unfortunately took its knowledge of its infrastructure maintenance with it. In a 2007 interview for Salon, historian Katherine Ashenburg explains why the following centuries of life in Europe were filthy ones.
Random piles of building stones within the park. Not everything can by reconstructed.
Inching my way out of this
bad cold flu bronchitis, I turned to facebook to ask my professional singer friends for their personal last-ditch remedies when a gig is getting near and the vocal folds are still swollen (and therefor not, as we say in singing circles, “approximating”). I don’t mean full-out injury, but rather that recovery time when you’re almost, but not quite, there. This question generated a long and entertaining discussion about the pros and cons of certain medications and methods, which I have boiled down to its essence here for you:
Bromelain, a clear winner with the singers in Germany. It’s made from pineapples, is available without a prescription and reduces swelling. My Austrian pharmacy sold me a less-powerful version of it called Wobenzym, but said that they could order Bromelain.
Ibuprofen. There was a bit of an debate about this. Ibubrofen is an NSAID (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug) which works by thinning the blood, like aspirin, but which might lead to real damage if your cords are so raw that the capillaries are near the surface. Some people say “absolutely no ibuprofen”, others say it’s the only option short of steroids, which come with their own set of risk factors.
Some prescription-only suggestions: Serrapeptase (in Germany called Aniflazym), dexibuprofen, and the once-in-a-decade last-ditch option of cortisone in the form of prednisone and its cousin prednisolone (I guess if you really can’t cancel without dire consequences. But you’ll be out of commission for a while afterward so it really is not often recommended.)
Non-prescription medications and home remedies: Inhaling sage tea with salt, steam, NO steam but cold mist, eating raw garlic, hot grape juice, Eibischwurzeltee (marsh mallow root tea) applied cold (onto the skin?), warm Dr. Pepper, GeloRevoice, diclofenac, lymphdiaral (homeopathic drops), fresh ginger in water with honey (ginger is supposed to shrink swelling), guafenisin (in America it’s in Vicks 44, not available in Austria), warmed honey, chicken soup, and cancelling the gig.
Here is a professional singer who recommends rubbing Preparation H (hemorrhoid cream!) directly on your Adam’s apple , which sounds weird. But who am I to say.
Here’s what I normally do, beyond what my doctor prescribes me:
Ibuprofen, Bromelain, inhaling the steam from elderflower (Hollunder) tea (the kind from the pharmacy, not the supermarket), gargling with salt water, nasal irrigation with salt water (boil the water first and let it cool to a usable temperature! This procedure led to a few deaths in the U.S. from people unwittingly using contaminated water from the tap. Better safe than sorry!)
My prescription-only throat spray is Locabiosol, which I get when I am see-the-doctor sick (usually once a year at the most) and then use what remains of it during the rest of year for those borderline cases. A good over-the-counter substitute is Klosterfrau Islandisch Moos throat spray, a little bottle of which I keep at the theater all through the season. I am also a big fan of Golia lozenges, especially the little ones, which are small enough and soft enough for me to keep pressed onto a back molar while I am onstage. I was told that they were also Pavarotti’s favorite throat lozenges. I believe they are only available in Italy (I have generous friends who get bags of them for me when they go to Milan.)
If you’ve come here in search of a remedy for your own swollen cords, then best of luck and get well soon!
What are your methods?
And here we tie the two previous posts together with a 15th-century ribbon:
Und hier fügen wir die beiden vorherigen Beiträge mit einem Band aus dem 15. Jahrhundert zusammen:
Albrecht Dürer, Brenner Road in the Eisack Valley, 1495. Made, as with the Innsbruck paintings, from a journey to Italy. Note the wheel tracks in the road. This was the “Brenner Autobahn” during the Middle Ages and probably long before then as well.
Albrecht Dürer, Brennerstraße im Eisacktal, 1495. Gemacht, wie auch die Innsbruck Gemälde, auf einer Reise nach Italien. Beachten Sie die Spurrillen auf der Straße. Dies war der “Brenner Autobahn” im Mittelalter und wahrscheinlich auch lange davor.
Image found here
This plaque, found on the stone wall underneath the Golden Roof in Innsbruck’s old town, says: Here, on 25 February 1536, Jakob Hutter, head of the Anabaptists in Tirol, was burned at the stake.
Jakob Hutter was born in what is now South Tirol, in northern Italy. After he joined the Anabaptists, he began to preach and form small congregations in the region. Tirol was persecuting Anabaptists, so Hutter eventually followed many of his fellow believers to Moravia (part of what is now Czech Republic), where conditions were a little better for them. (The Moravian Church,
not related not directly related but a possible antecedent to Hutter’s Anabaptists, got their name for this same reason — they had left Saxony for Moravia to escape religious persecution, and the name stuck when they moved elsewhere. Their founder, Jan Hus, was also burned at the stake.)
Good times in Moravia only lasted so long, however, and in 1535 the Hutterites were expelled. Jakob Hutter returned to Tirol, was soon afterward arrested, tortured, pressured to recant and inform on his fellow church members. He resisted, and was sentenced to burn. His wife was able to flee, was however later caught and executed at Schöneck Fortress in South Tirol. Online sources in German indicate that men were burned or beheaded, women drowned, and that 360 Anabaptists were executed in Tirol.
Yet another Tirolean burned at the stake was Mathias Perger, known as der Lauterfresser (g), which translates roughly to the Soup Eater. Perger was what one might call today a free spirit, occasionally working, learned in reading, writing, and astrology. In other words, someone the church considered dangerous. He was arrested on charges of witchcraft and “weather-making”, confessed under torture to such medieval horrors as “desecrating the Host”, and executed in 1645 in Mühlbach (near Brixen/Bressanone).
While Hutter was clearly pious (just the “wrong” religion), the Lauterfresser was odd enough (and perhaps heathen enough) for legends about him to crop up over time. He plays tricks on fellow inn patrons. He makes chickens fly over to the next field and lay their eggs for their owner’s neighbor. He changes at will into a bear and, for sport, chats with the hunting party trying to track it down. The legends make him a sympathetic, clever figure, a sort of alpine combination of Till Eulenspiegel and Fred and George Weasley, if you will. The quote in this title are his alleged words — “Das wird ein heißer Tag heute” — as he was fetched to be taken to the pyre.
BONUS LINK: And speaking of legends, a 1,200-year-old Coptic Egyptian text, recently translated, is found to tell the story of a shape-shifting Jesus who dined with a well-intentioned Pilate before his death. I suppose that it shows, like the stories of the Lauterfresser, that we humans want to hear these stories and be amazed.
The event began with an audio recording of of a man named Klaus W., from Hippach (deep in the Ziller Valley), recounting the day the recruiters came to family’s home in the 1940s and said, “one (of you) must go” into labor service. He was chosen, to spare his parents and his sister. A simple story to give light to how these things had been done.
On a recent evening in January, the Wagnersche Bookstore (now owned by Thalia) hosted a presentation by Matthias Breit about Innsbruck’s concentration camp, in a part of the city called Reichenau. The main part of the evening included audio recordings of the recollections of Walter Winterberg, an Austrian man who had been interned there. What follows is a general summary of what we learned and heard on that evening. If I have made any egregious errors, please blame it on the bad head cold I’d brought along (and feel free to correct me.)
Reichenau was planned and built as a work camp for Italian (mostly) forced laborers who — for whatever reason — were labeled as in breach of their work duties (arbeitsvertagsbrüchig, how’s that word for you?) and in need of a little re-education. Many had probably tried to escape from the farms or factories to which they had been sent. Winterberg came from a Viennese family with some Jewish ancestry. Being a “Mischling“, he was ordered to report for a labor in the Reich’s air defence service. He went, then at some point decided to flee over the Swiss border and into France, in order to aid the French Resistance. (Little did he know that there were Swiss Nazi sympathizers at the borders then.) He was caught while still in Austria and sent to KZ Reichenau for several months before being sent on to Buchenwald.
Winterberg tells of a boy who had been brought from some eastern country, possibly Ukraine, who had suffered a bad work accident and, receiving no treatment, could no longer walk properly. He was then simply written off as unwilling to work, and sent to Reichenau. Another boy from the east, forced to work in southern Bavaria, had been accused of mishandling a child and sent off. This boy underwent the infamous punishment of being forced to strip naked in midwinter and being doused repeatedly with ice cold water until he died. These boys, and many others, were referred to within the camp as piccoli, “the little ones”, all around 12 to 16 years old. There were about 40 of them, and they mostly did maid’s duties: washing up, preparing food, etc.
He tells of Ukrainian inmates, young men, being sent out to clear debris after Innsbruck was repeatedly bombed in 1943. There were strict orders against any kind of looting, but a woman in town came up to one of the inmates and gave him a jar of marmalade. She probably thought she was helping him, and I hope for her sake that, when she died, she still believed that. In fact, when the jar was discovered by the guards, he was hanged.
Others came and went quickly enough to make acquaintance difficult. The average stay was 3 months. Many of the inmates arrived with no idea where they were, little if any idea where they would land next, and did not speak German. On the audiotape, Winterberg wonders aloud what happened to them all after the capitulation.
After the war’s end, the KZ Reichenau became a camp for displaced persons and later on some kind of public housing. It was torn down in the 1970s, to make way for the city’s recycling yard. A stone monument can be found nearby, at the side of the road.
The presentation was followed by an invitation to discussion, and this is where things got a little interesting and awkward. The first to speak, a man who looked to be in his 70s but who must have been older than that, said that he had been in the Wehrmacht and in a POW camp, and that upon returning, found no one interested in what he had gone through, since everyone believed that “all Wehrmacht were criminals”. He tried the “both sides did it” attack, an argument I have heard before, but found no sympathy among the other listeners. A second man said that one cannot look at history this way; this is an chronicle of what happened here in this place. We hear of Mauthausen and Dachau but this is a local story which needs to be heard.
A third man stood to say that he found Winterberg had “prettified” the situation in the camp by not stressing that it was in fact “ein durchgangsstation ins KZ” (“a way station to the concentration camp”, as if it were something not quite so nasty as a concentration camp itself). Breit reiterated several of the points made by Winterberg that the man seemed to have missed, that people were constantly being shipped in and out with little knowledge as to what would happen to them.
At this point my concentration skills were fading, I had a rather bad cold and my head was completely stopped up, but words were spoken to the effect that Winterberg didn’t have anything to complain about, he got through it well enough, he doesn’t mention anything terrible happening to him. Breit reminded the speaker that Winterberg states he was 49 kilos lighter by war’s end (108 pounds lighter ) This is where a woman spoke up and said: these are terrible things. When they are not dramatic enough, when this story, or this story, is not bad enough to make one find it terrible, then…
Breit wrapped things up: If too little horror appears in the reports of Reichenau, think then of the millions who passed through here, headed to their fates. This tale presented here is an historic reconstruction, not a tale of horrors. (This got me thinking of the recent need to make Holocaust stories ever more shocking. Simply being imprisoned and treated badly isn’t enough, the public wants some new godawfulness that they’d never heard of before. I thought until now that this was an American thing, but now I am not so sure.)
As we made to leave, two more listeners chimed in, not with opinions but with requests for their own projects. One man was researching another camp (I did not hear which), the other must have been Herr Muigg, who is gathering information about the Wehrmacht execution site on the Paschberg (de). I have seen his flyers posted there.
Update: thanks to information supplied by, believe it or not, a spammer , I have found that there was apparently another work camp called Reichenau, in the Czech Republic (Rychnov).
I had already been toying with the idea of a series of alpine paintings accompanied by photos of the mountains which inspired them, when Paschberg sent me the link to this watercolor by the 18th century British artist John Robert Cozens, with the somewhat clunky but informative title The Valley of the Eisak Near Brixen in the Tyrol, 1783/84. It currently belongs to the Art Institute of Chicago.
Looking around online for more information, I found a “2.0” version; In the Tyrol, the Valley of the Eisack, near Brixen, 1791 The painting, like the name, is similar but not identical — the view looks to be from further down on the floodplain, closer to the winding river. This version belongs to the National Gallery of Canada.
Near Brixen, June 7 appears to be the original sketch for both paintings. The Yale Center for British Art, Paul Mellon Collection owns it…
…as well as this sketch with the same name. Since they are both dated June 7, one can assume the two scenes are not far away from each other. Perhaps all Cozens did was turn around, and sketch the view in the opposite direction.
There are tentative plans for a trip into that area next month. I can’t spend days hunting down this particular place but I’m going to keep my eyes open for it. The river may have changed since Cozen’s trip (dredged, straightened) but the mountains will still be there.
*Brixen is a town in the German-speaking, northernmost region of Italy. The Italian name, which may be all you find in an American atlas, is Bressanone.