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Dirk Puehl
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Dirk Puehl

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“Oh, give me again the rover's life — the joy, the thrill, the whirl! Let me feel thee again, old sea! let me leap into thy saddle once more. I am sick of these terra firma toils and cares; sick of the dust and reek of towns. Let me hear the clatter of hailstones on icebergs, and not the dull tramp of these plodders, plodding their dull way from their cradles to their graves. Let me snuff thee up, sea-breeze! and whinny in thy spray. Forbid it, sea-gods! intercede for me with Neptune, O sweet Amphitrite, that no dull clod may fall on my coffin! Be mine the tomb that swallowed up Pharaoh and all his hosts; let me lie down with Drake, where he sleeps in the sea.”… sang Tirpitz the Sea Pig, quoting Herman Melville.
 
Tirpitz’ head depicted below came as a loan to the #wunderkammer   from the Imperial War Museum were it is usually on display since 1920.

Unnamed yet, the giant pig’s seafaring days began in December 1913 in Kiel when she was drafted on board of the light cruiser “Dresden”, as a living food supply, the poor thing, a custom not unheard of since the Phoenicians put out to sea 3.000 years ago. The outbreak of the Great War saw SMS “Dresden” and her pig in Mexico, she joined von Spee’s East Asia Squadron, took part in the Battle of Coronel and the Battle of the Falklands, made her escape from the latter only to be brought to bay by HMS “Glasgow” and “Kent” off the coast of Robinson Crusoe’s island, St Juan Bautista, in March 1915. The “Dresden’s” captain decided to scuttle his ship, her crew found refuge on the island but the poor porker was forgotten on the sinking cruiser – and the disappointed sea pig jumped over board and struck out towards “Glasgow” – an hour later, she was rescued by one of the British cruiser’s petty officers at the peril of his life, the pig was christened Tirpitz by her new shipmates, after the Kaiser’s Secretary of State of the Imperial Naval Office.
 
Actually, Tirpitz was supposed to become the “Glasgow’s” mascot, she was awarded by the crew with an Iron Cross for having survived the sinking of the “Dresden” and was the last one to come off the ship, she was petted and generally had a real fine time – but wily Tirpitz was obviously a double agent for the Kaiser, since she behaved pig-headed and hoggish to such an extent that she had to be removed from the cruiser a year later. In 1917, she ended up in the care of “Glasgow’s” former commander John Luce again, now stationed in Lincolnshire, who promptly put her up for a charity auction. Tirpitz was said to have raised 400 guineas, about £ 20.000 in today’s money – and, very probably, made the final sacrifice and was eaten in 1919 in connection with a Red Cross charity event. Her head was preserved by William Cavendish-Bentinck, 6th Duke of Portland and donated to the newly found Imperial War Museum and put on display there – and now at the #wunderkammer where the visitors can contemplate her weird and wonderful story and marvel at a true sea pig’s tale.

And more on:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tirpitz_%28pig%29

and don’t miss Henry Nicholls’ wonderful feature from August 2013:

http://www.theguardian.com/science/blog/2013/aug/14/pig-tale-porker-first-world-war-tirpitz  
The picture of Tirpitz’ head was found on:
http://www.ravishingbeasts.com/
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Now that was a good story.
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#onthisday  in 1840, the French symbolist painter Bertrand-Jean, better known as Odilon Redon, was born in Bordeaux.

“The Artist submits from day to day to the fatal rhythm of the impulses of the universal world which encloses him, continual centre of sensations, always pliant, hypnotized by the marvels of nature which he loves, he scrutinizes. His eyes, like his soul, are in perpetual communion with the most fortuitous of phenomena.“ (Odilon Redon)

It was all about dreams and young Redon was always a bit of an oddity. A sickly, sensitive child suffering from epilepsy, grown up in the rural Gironde, supposed to become an architect and far more interested in music, natural sciences and drawing, drawing, drawing. He failed his architect’s exam twice, was overwhelmed by the works of Courbet, Manet, Pissarro and Corot, then war broke out in 1870, Redon joined the army and stayed in Paris afterwards for good and drew and painted and dreamed. More or less unknown, he achieved an unhoped-for artistic breakthrough, when in 1884 Joris-Karl Huysmans’ decadent cult classic À rebours, the "poisonous French novel" that lead to Dorian Gray’s downfall, featured an eccentric aristocrat who had drawings of Redon in his collection, “inconceivable apparitions in their rough, gold-striped pear-tree wood. … These designs were beyond anything imaginable; they leaped, for the most part, beyond the limits of painting and introduced a fantasy that was unique, the fantasy of a diseased and delirious mind.“ 
 
By then, Redon had already moved away from his “black phase”, charcoal drawings and prints depicting smiling and crying spiders, severed heads, a giant eye that formed the gondola of a hot-air balloon, an egg with a constricted face, wedged in an eggcup and whatnot. Now, along with the Symbolist movement, he created dreamscapes full of Christian and Ancient mythological motives in surroundings full of colour and light, multi-layered and nevertheless dazing, since Redon remained an oddity, even among the Symbolists, anticipating Expressionism and Surrealism and when others dissolved form in favour of colour and colours for geometry in the early years of the 20th century, he imagined Apollo’s Sun Chariot in swirls of light and St Sebastian nailed to a tree, as if the night-and-day residues of the 19th century and its infatuation with unfathomable myths were processed into a dream dreamed apart from Modernity in full bloom already and the looming horrors of the 20th century.

Depicted below is Odilon Redon’s “Cyclops” (1914), Rijksmuseum Kröller-Müller, Otterlo, Netherlands

A monographic show can be found on:

http://www.wikipaintings.org/en/odilon-redon/mode/all-paintings

And more on:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Odilon_Redon

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That means he's about to eat up the hapless female like Sordatos surmised, Rodna? :-)
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#onthisday  in 1864, 150 years ago, the key battle of the Second Schleswig War between Prussia and Denmark was fought at the Battle of Dybbøl, ending with a decisive Danish defeat.

“One of the consequences of this attitude was that Sapper Klinke, who, at the cost of his life had blown up the palisade support of Bastion Three of the Düppel fortifications, was the genuine hero of all three wars in Kluckhuhn’s eyes, and when all was said and done, had but one single rival. This one single rival, however, had been on the side of the Danes and was, in fact, not a person at all, but a ship instead named “Rolf Krake”. “Yes sir, boys, while we were floatin’ across there like that, there lay that black beast staying right up close to us, lookin’ just like a coffin. And if it had wanted to, it would have been all over with us and plop, down we’d have gone right into Flensburg Bay. And since we all knew that, we just kept on blasting away at her, because when a fellow feels like that, he just keeps on shooting.” (Theodor Fontane, “The Stechlin”)

If it was the Danes’ new king Christian IX’s brightest idea from a political and legal point of view to answer the lingering Schleswig-Holstein Question along with a constitutional reform by virtually annexing Schleswig, a more or less autonomous region and right in the middle of an ethnic conflict between Germans and Danes, remains rather doubtful. It was exactly the pretence Bismarck was waiting for to unify Germany with blood and iron. He played strictly by the book, though, Prussian troops occupied the Duchies of Holstein and Lauenburg along with Austrian units and those of other German states to protect their autonomy according to the Protocol of London from 1852, that had ensured self-administration of the three regions after the first Schleswig War (1848 – 1851). King Christian was given an ultimatum in January 1864 to abandon Schleswig within 48 hours, he didn’t react and on February 1st, Prussian and Austrian troops crossed the Eider, the border river between Holstein and Schleswig.

The Danish commander-in-chief Lieutenant General de Meza decided to quit the border fortifications of the Dannevirke, a shock for the Danish public, and left most of his heavy artillery in Flensburg to avoid being surrounded, a decision that saved most of his army, but the retreat towards Jutland in ice and snow felt like Napoleon’s from Moscow and the Prussians caught up with him at the half finished fortifications of Dybbøl close to Flensburg Bay. Outnumbered, outgunned and demoralised after almost two weeks of the Prussian barrage of their positions, the only advantage the Danes had was their brand new ironclad “Rolf Krake” in the bay who could at least harass the Prussians with her 8’’ guns. Without a navy, the Prussians could do nothing to stop her except prevent her with field artillery from coming to close. On April 18th however, the Prussian commander Prince Frederick Charles decided, the Danish entrenchments of Dybbøl were softened up enough and prepared his men to storm the “Düppeler Schanzen”. Allegedly, the sapper Carl Klinke cried “Ick bin Klinke. Ick öffne dit Tor.“ (I’m Klinke – German for door handle – I’ll open this gate), blew up a 30 pound sack full of powder at the outworks of Redoubt II with a match at the cost of his life after the blasting fuse was lost during the approach. Klinke was a subject of German hero worship for the following decades, even though the author Theodor Fontane, who was present as war correspondent, could resist the door handle pun and made the story up.

However, the whole first line of the six redoubts of Dybbøl Banke were taken 15 minutes later after fierce Danish resistance to the strains of Beethoven’s “Yorkscher Marsch” performed by four army brass bands of the Prussian music corps under the direction of Gottfried Piefke, who got his baton shot out of his hand by a Danish cannon ball, wrote the “Düppeler Schanzen Marsch” in situ and inspired the Austrians to their epithet for Germans: Piefkes. By 13:30, the whole Danish resistance had collapsed, 700 Danes and 260 Prussians were dead, 1.500 wounded on both sides and for the first in history taken care of by the Red Cross. The war was over by August of 1864, Schleswig and Holstein became an Austro-Prussian condominium, a state of affairs that led to the next of Bismarck’s wars, this time against the former Austrian allies.

Depicted below is an imagination of the storming of the Danish redoubts by the German painter Wilhelm Camphausen (1818 – 1885), Düsseldorf, 1866

and more on:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_Dybb%C3%B8l

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Do we have any hopes that the series will be released in English as well?
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#onthisday in 1755, the French painter Louise Élisabeth Vigée Le Brun was born in Paris.

“Painting and living have always been one and the same thing for me.” (Elisabeth Vigée Le Brun)

The French Revolution came as a bit of a shock for Elisabeth, already an accomplished paintress, sought after as portraitist by the local aristos, ill-fated Queen Marie Antoinette among them and her downright PR work for the latter monarch gave a point to her taking her daughter and step on it towards Italy. Her popularity and live expectancy in France had zeroed overnight, but brave Elizabeth kept her chin up and was soon moving in upper-class circles again, always one step ahead of the armies of the Revolution, first in Florence, then portraying in Rome, Milan, Vienna, St Petersburg and Berlin until it was safe enough for her to return to Imperial France. “I will not attempt to describe my feelings at setting foot on the soil of France”, she wrote, “from which I had been absent twelve years. I was stirred by terror, grief and joy in turn. I mourned the friends who had died on the scaffold; but I was to see those again who still lived. " and painting, of course, the rich and famous.

With an oeuvre encompassing more than 600 portraits and 200 landscapes, Élisabeth Vigée-Lebrun’s first two decades as a paintress still bear reminiscences of the Rococo style that was slowly replaced by the Neoclassical movement and by the turn of 18th century, she had fully embraced this new outlook. She never got out of the line, accommodating to the now classicist tastes of her clientele, Prinny of England, Napoleon’s sister Caroline Murat, Lady Hamilton, Madame de Staël as well as Austrian, German and Russian nobility. However, her portraits all bear as a signature tune a distinct liveliness, in expression, looks, the blinking of an eye that rises above the common, detached pantomime of typical neoclassicist painting. Besides being one of the few highly honoured female artists of her age and one of the most famous and successful ones of all times.
 
Depicted below is a self portrait of her, dating from 1800, probably painted in St Petersburg.

And more on:

http://www.wikipaintings.org/en/louise-elisabeth-vigee-le-brun/mode/all-paintings

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Louise_%C3%89lisabeth_Vig%C3%A9e_Le_Brun

#art #arthistory #europeanart #history  
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:-)
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#onthisday   in 1910, the Russian painter Mikhail Aleksandrovich Vrubel died at the age of 54 in St Petersburg.

“Elevate the soul by grandiose images beyond all everyday pettiness.“ (Mikhail Vrubel)

If it was tertiary syphilis or tuberculosis that finally did for him, both admittedly afflictions befitting his rank as extraordinary late 19th century artist, is not quite clear, but legend has it, that Vrubel, then patient of a mental clinic for several years, deliberately caught a cold and, thus, committed suicide. His mental state always gave reason to worry, Vrubel suffered from wild mood swings and was a bit of a maniac, climaxing in a continuous rework of his painting “The Demon Downcast”, up to 40 times a day, even when the work already hung in the exhibition hall, but he and his art were extraordinary anyway. Having a determining influence on Symbolism and Art Nouveau in Russia, he wittingly kept himself apart from contemporary art trends and drew his inspiration from Byzantine and Renaissance paintings, ornamenting the interior of churches as well as creating stages sets for Moscow and St Petersburg operas and theatres.

Besides eternalising his wife, the then famous opera singer Nadezhda Ivanovna Zabela-Vrubel, in fairytale-like costumes in her lead roles of fairy-tale operas, Rimsky-Korsakov’s Swan Princess from the “Tale of Tsar Saltan” or the Snegurochka from the “Snow Princess”, Vrubel found profound equivalents for his art by illustrating literature, “Hamlet”, “Faust” as well as “Anna Karenina”, but the deepest influence came from the tales of Mikhail Lermontov. Vrubel’s interpretations of the Byronic “Demon” and his fatal relationship with the beautiful Tatiana set in the dramatic scenery of the Caucasus Mountains are certainly a congenial approach in depicting one of the Romantic masterpieces of world literature. The topic engaged Vrubel for decades even beyond his terminal breakdown in health that provided for his institutionalisation late in 1903. 

Depicted below is another approach of Vrubel’s of one of the masters of Russian Romantic literature, the six-winged seraph from Alexander Pushkin’s poem “The Prophet”, the second version of the sujet from 1905, reflecting Vrubel’s state quite aptly:

Alexander Pushkin, “The Prophet”
  
Parched with the spirit's thirst, I crossed 
An endless desert sunk in gloom, 
And a six-winged seraph came 
Where the tracks met and I stood lost. 
Fingers light as dream he laid 
Upon my lids; I opened wide 
My eagle eyes, and gazed around. 
He laid his fingers on my ears 
And they were filled with roaring sound: 
I heard the music of the spheres, 
The flight of angels through the skies, 
The beasts that crept beneath the sea, 
The heady uprush of the vine; 
And, like a lover kissing me, 
He rooted out this tongue of mine 
Fluent in lies and vanity; 
He tore my fainting lips apart 
And, with his right hand steeped in blood, 
He armed me with a serpent's dart; 
With his bright sword he split my breast; 
My heart leapt to him with a bound; 
A glowing livid coal he pressed 
Into the hollow of the wound. 
There in the desert I lay dead, 
And God called out to me and said: 
'Rise, prophet, rise, and hear, and see, 
And let my works be seen and heard 
By all who turn aside from me, 
And burn them with my fiery word.' 

More about Mikhail Vrubel on 

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mikhail_Vrubel

and a monographic show can be found on

http://www.wikipaintings.org/en/mikhail-vrubel/mode/all-paintings

#art   #arthistory   #europeanart   #literature  
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;-)
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Have him in circles
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#onthisday  in 1519, Hernán Cortés landed at the coast of Mexico near the island of San Juan de Ulúa, scuttling his fleet and beginning the conquest of the Aztec Empire.

“We Spaniards know a sickness of the heart that only gold can cure.” (Hernán Cortés)

There was no turning back for Cortés when he left Havana in February 1519. The 34-years old student of the jurisprudence from Extremadura was in the New World for 15 years already, highly valued for his competency, mistrusted for his ambitions, at least went on to become the Governor of Cuba, Don Diego Velázquez’, secretary and alcalde of Santiago, was shotgun-wedded to the daughter of a local dignitary and badly in debt after more or less financing the expedition that was to exploit the riches of the mainland himself. Velázquez finally got cold feet, when Cortesillo, little Cortés, as the Cubans had dubbed him for his so far non-existent achievements he liked to brag about, was about to leave with his 11 ships and 670 men, tried to recall him and was duly ignored.

After sailing around Yucatán, the expedition made landfall at the mouth of the Tabasco River, now known as Río Grijalva, four weeks later, trying to gather provisions and were told by the local Chontal Maya frankly to bugger off and Cortés decided to fight it out. He took their village Potonchan by storm after having celebrated the first mass on the Mexican mainland and on the next day, his second-in-command Pedro de Alvarado defeated the Chontal Maya’s leader Taabscoob and his several thousand warriors with 400 men, armoured, well equipped with artillery, small arms and steel weapons, cavalry and war dogs. The Battle of Centla, as the action was called later, gave rise of the idea of the hence unknown horses and their armoured riders were one being and the firearms used were an important factor in the construction of the myth of the invincibility of the conquistadors. At least as important were the 20 slaves given to Cortés as part of a tribute by Taabscoob. One of them was Malinalli, later known as La Malinche or Doña Marina, who became Cortés’ mistress, interpreter and most important counsellor during the conquest of the Aztec Empire looming ahead.

In April the conquistadors made their next landfall 350 miles to the west known to the indigenous people as Chalchihuecan near the island of San Juan de Ulúa, discovered by Juan de Grijalva, and Bernal Díaz del Castillo on the feast day of St John the Baptist during the previous year, along with the rumours of rich gold deposits and the empire occupying the hinterland – Ulúa derives from the name the locals gave their feared and hated Aztec overlords: coluha. Cortés decided to make a stand here near the mouth of the Antigua River on Good Friday of 1519 and pointed the way for his men. He ordered his ships to be scuttled, thus burning his bridges. From now on it was either conquest of the mainland or an ignominious dead in the middle of nowhere. The next sign followed three days later on April 22nd with the foundation of a city with the fine-sounding name of Villa Rica de la Vera Cruz, the “rich city of the True Cross”, creating himself General Captain and assigning the place directly to Emperor Charles V and not to the immediate authority of his nominal employer, Governor Velázquez whose worst fears had become true. He’d see nothing of the profits to be gained on the Main. Soon ambassadors of the Aztec ruler Moctezuma II arrived from Tenochtitlan, 250 miles away, and showered the foreigners with gold and jewels, actually to make them pack their things and leave. Cortés famously didn’t. The march on Tenochtitlan with 600 men, 15 of them mounted, 15 cannon and an army of indigenous warriors and carriers began in mid-August 1519.
 
Depicted below is a condensation of the events during Cortés’ arrival and the foundation of Veracruz by an unknown artist, second half of the 17th century, with Cortés and his men showing off with their weapons technology when Moctezuma’s ambassadors arrived.

And more on:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spanish_conquest_of_the_Aztec_Empire

#history   #americanhistory   #mexicanhistory   #europeanhistory   #ageofexploration  
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Nor would I - to quote Faust: "I’ll rob no man of his church and faith." - and I have far too high a respect for religion as a culture-endowing identity-establishing and soothing force as to just disregard it as a justification to terrorise political opponents or make the rabble toe the line. 
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#onthisday  in 1824, 190 years ago, the poet George Gordon Noel, 6th Baron Byron, or simply Lord Byron, died of a fever during the Greek War of Independence in Missolonghi at the age of 36.

“I am reading them now for the second time. I should not like to miss them although they leave behind a painful impression. How much gossip often about the most futile things ; what offences taken at each silly  judgment of journalists ; what a wild life with dogs,  monkeys, peacocks, horses; everything without connecting links! Only as regards taking a view on a thing, Byron judges well and clearly ; reflection is not his. His judgments and combinations are often those of children. With what patience he allows himself to be reproached with plagiarisms, firing only small shot at his antagonists for his defence, instead of thundering down upon them with heavy cannons. Does not everything that the past and the present have done belong by right light to the poet ? Why should he feel afraid of culling flowers wherever he finds them ? Only by appropriating the very best part of other people's [mental] treasures, something great can be produced. Have I not myself made use of Job and of a Shakespeare-song for Mephistopheles ? Byron was mostly unknown to himself a great poet; seldom he fully enjoyed his own self.'" (Goethe)

When “Childe Harold’s Pilgrimage” was published and his lordship “awoke one morning and found myself famous", his course was set for him to become the greatest cultural icon of the 19th century, rivalled only by Napoleon. As it seems, the contemporary public, softened up by a few decades of widely read Gothic fiction and the earlies of the Romantic Movement, had just waited for the libertinous offshoot of eccentric Scottish nobility, his very own meanderings through the Mediterranean world and the racy tales he told and versified – condensed into a new cult figure: the Byronic Hero, smart, passionate, courageous, marked by a cruel fate, restless, sensitive, lonely. And while the female audience, from chambermaid to duchess, from John O’Groates to Moscow, swooned over the verses of the doomed poet and the jeunesse dorée’s menfolk wore their shirt collar open with flying scarves wound around them, striking pensive poses á la Byron. And the scandals, of course. Allegedly buggering everything with a heartbeat, girls, married women, men, boys, his own half-sister. Byron was the prime mover for a rock star image. He literally wrote the book.

It is very probably quite an exaggeration that Byron had laid down his life for the freedom of Greece. In fact, he was already sick unto death when he arrived there in 1823, completely spent at the age of 35 and died barely a year later as the leader of a Greek rebel army from various ailments, topped by a sever fever. There were speculations, however, that he might have been crowned as the King of Greece, he who pondered Prinny’s idea of making him poet laureate: “The other night, at a ball, I was presented by order to our gracious Regent, who honoured me with some conversation, and professed a predilection for poetry.—I confess it was a most unexpected honour, and I thought of poor Brummell's adventure, with some apprehension of a similar blunder. I have now great hope, in the event of Mr. Pye's decease, of "warbling truth at court," like Mr. Mallet of indifferent memory.—Consider, one hundred marks a year! besides the wine and the disgrace; but then remorse would make me drown myself in my own butt before the year's end, or the finishing of my first dithyrambic”

Byron’s death in Missolonghi, along with his writings, set an unprecedented public awareness campaign in motion and his fans and followers, often well connected or in high positions themselves, caused the intervention of Europe’s major powers in Greece that finally lead to her independence in 1829 – against the arrangements made during the Congress of Vienna, a beacon that shone among the peoples of Central and Eastern Europe, longing for their own freedom and while the Byronic Hero got out of vogue during the second half of the century, Byron, the poet of liberty, became all the rage and most national poets of the age owed deliberate allegiance to Byron, often playing the Byronic Hero, at least a bit, and versifying Byronic romances that are known by heart to this day. Even if Byron himself is more or less forgotten outside the English-speaking world after the turmoil of the 20th century, when various totalitarian regimes found it no longer comme il faut to encourage the discourse and reception of a freedom loving English rock star poet. In his beloved Greece alone, the tradition of venerating Byron remains unbroken to this day.

Depicted below is the Flemish painter Joseph Denis Odevaere’s (1775–1830) imagination of “Lord Byron on his Death-bed” 1826, Groeningemuseum, Bruges

And more on:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lord_Byron

#history   #literature   #europeanhistory   #europeanliterature   #europeanart  
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+ : )
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Me pinguem et nitidum bene curata cute vises, ...Epicuri de grege porcum (You may see me, fat and shining, with well-cared for hide,—...a hog from Epicurus' herd. Horace)

When the Second Schleswig War was over in 1864, the Danes living in Schleswig and Holstein all of a sudden had become Austrians and Prussians and after 1871 Germans, citizenship-wise. From now on, they were forbidden to fly the Dannebrog, the Danish flag, red with the white Scandinavian cross, on their farmsteads and came up with a rather curious idea to show their allegiance: out of Holsteinian and Jutlandian marsh pigs, Tamworth and reddish Angeln Saddlebacks, a 36’' tall and 770 lbs race of red pigs with a white saddle on their backs was bred, thus coloured like the Dannebrog. The pigs were called det danske protestsvin or Danish Protest Pigs and from now on, the Dannebrog was not flying but running about the Danish farms.

Today, det danske protestsvin is one of the endangered domestic animal breeds with only 140 pigs alive worldwide and institutions such as the Arche Warder in Schleswig-Holstein, a centre for the preservation of domestic animals threatened with extinction (https://www.arche-warder.de/en/index.php) and a few zoos do their best to keep the breed alive. And a few found a new home in the open-air enclosure of the #wunderkammer  to preserve the memory of an unusual and very creative form of non-violent resistance.

The picture of the three little protest pigs below was taken by Silke (eska2203_Sil) on June 17th, 2011 at the Gelsenkirchen Zoo and found on https://www.flickr.com/photos/8930168@N06/5922947287 

And more about Danish Protest Pigs on

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Danish_Protest_Pig

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Agreed :-)
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#onthisday   in 1397, Geoffrey Chaucer told his Canterbury Tales for the first time at the court of Richard II at Westminster Great Hall.

“Whan that Aprill with his shoures soote / The droghte of March hath perced to the roote, / And bathed every veyne in swych licour / Of which vertu engendred is the flour; / Whan Zephirus eek with his sweete breeth / Inspired hath in every holt and heath / The tendre croppes, and the yonge sonne / Hath in the Ram his halve cours yronne, / And smale foweles maken melodye, / That slepen al the nyght with open ye / (So priketh hem nature in hir corages); /Thanne longen folk to goon on pilgrimages. (Geoffrey Chaucer, “The Canterbury Tales”)

It was a very subtle revolution when Geoffrey Chaucer, a staunch supporter of "Old John of Gaunt, time-honoured Lancaster" and recently back in royal favour, read for the first time parts of his Canterbury Tales at the Plantagenet's court. Not in Norman French or scholarly Latin but in English. Three years later, Richard would tell a different tale, of the death of kings; How some have been deposed; some slain in war, Some haunted by the ghosts they have deposed; Some poisoned by their wives: some sleeping killed; All murdered, as he himself would be when his nephew and John of Gaunt’s son Henry of Bolingbroke took the throne as Henry IV. But on this day, the tales turned on a travelling party on a pilgrimage to the shrine of St Thomas á Becket in Canterbury, telling a story or two for a free meal at Tabard Inn in Southwark.

Byron once found Chaucer to be obscene and contemptible, owing his fame only to his venerable age, but, even if he was only part of a trend of writing in vernacular English that started with Wycliffe’s Bible translation some ten years before, he gave voice to others characters than the nobility and the clergy, a process of democratisation in the choice of fictional characters, along the lines of Boccaccio’s “Il Decamerone”, with the same fair amount of church criticism on the eve of the Reformation. The 29 characters of the tales and the narrator tell stories of utmost cultural relevancy in the days, when the Middle Ages ended in Europe, besides nagging questions about religion they tell of love, betrayal and greed and most haven’t lost their actuality in more than 600 years.

Depicted below is an imagination of the pilgrims’ progress through the English countryside by the illustrator Paul Hardy (1862 – 1942), a regular contributor to the “Strand Magazine”, from 1903. Canterbury City Council Museums and Galleries.

And more on:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Canterbury_Tales

#history #literature #europeanhistory #europeanliterature #medievalhistory  
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I don't even agree with him in regards to Chaucer :-)
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#onthisday in 1450 near the town of Bayeux in Normandy, a French army under Charles de Clermont and Connétable Arthur III, Duke of Brittany, decisively defeated the English under Thomas Kyriell in the Battle of Formigny during the last phase of the Hundred Years’ War.

“It is no longer with hammer blows but with cannon shots that Europe philosophizes.” (Albert Camus)

When the Burgundians and English burned the Maid of Orleans at the stake in 1431, the tide of the endless slaughter known as the Hundred Years’ War had already turned against them and the days of Edward III, the Black Prince and Henry V along with their indomitable knights and feared archers who won at Crecy, Poitiers and Agincourt were long gone. In 1435, Burgundy broke the alliance with King Henry VI, Paris was returned to Charles VII of France, who reorganised his kingdom along with his army on the dawn of the modern age. And while the English were beginning to be quite busy picking red and white roses respectively, a French army appeared in Normandy. Rouen fell in October 1449, Harfleur in December and in January, the French marched on Caen. With a small army of 3.000 arriving in Cherbourg in March 1450, bolstered by Caen’s garrison of 2.000, the English under Thomas Kyriell moved to counter them. The two armies met two miles south of the place that would be known as Omaha Beach 500 years later near the village of Formigny.

The French under Clermont advanced towards the English positions in the afternoon with one part of the army, while the other half under Connétable Arthur de Richemont, a veteran of Agincourt, was somewhere off to the south. The English in their traditional formation with their 2.500 archers entrenched behind stakes and low earthworks, strengthened by billmen and dismounted knights, could repulse the first French assault, then two French guns opened fire, disrupted the English lines, the archers sallied, captured the guns and everything looked like the day would end in a stalemate, de Richemont however, drawn to the battlefield by the sound of the gunfire, arrived and was about to take Kyriell in the flank. The English had to give up their secure position, drew up in a half circle but could no longer sustain the concentrated fire of the longbows. De Richemont’s 1.200 heavy Breton cavalry simply overrun them. When the sun sank at Formigny, at least half of Kyriell’s army was dead, 900 were captured along with their commander and the rest scattered to the winds.

That the two French cannon had played a decisive role at Formigny is at least doubtful, even if they showed the potential to disrupt the English field fortifications – as they did at Castillon three years later and it was certainly not the first time artillery was used on a battlefield, the Hussites did that a generation before in Bohemia already with great success. The sound of their fire, however, was crucial in drawing de Richemont to the fight and that proved to be decisive indeed. Normandy was lost for the English and Gascony fell in 1453, a major cause for the outbreak of the War of the Roses back in England in 1455. The Hundred Years’ War itself finally ended with the Treaty of Picquigny in 1475, 20 years after the fighting on the continent had ceased.

Depicted below is the monument commemorating the battle at the crossroads near Formigny with de Richemont to the left and de Clermont to the right with the goddess of victory wearing a crown with the French fleur-de-lis and holding a laurel wreath over the two victorious commanders.

The picture by jp hamon was found on http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/4/47/Formigny_memorial_bataille01.png

And more about the Battle of Formigny on:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_Formigny
 
#history #medievalhistory #hundredyearswar #militaryhistory #europeanhistory  
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I wonder, though, how many things we'd still have in common. Might end up with a bit of a surprise.
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"I deny nothing, but doubt everything.” Lord Byron
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About what I do and post here on Mother Google her networks:

Blood and thunder, artsy things, curiosities and lots of ships, everything featured in my little #onthisday-series. I post a daily feature about something that happened “on this day”, weather permitting.

Usually, the posts turn on Literature with a heavy focus on the 19th and early 20th century and silver screen adaptions. The dark and macabre, vampires, ghosts and ghoulies, the plain fantastic, the Byronic tradition in Europe, dandyism as well as Thomas Mann, Dostoevsky and Nietzsche. History, often military history, from antiquity to the dawn of the 20th century and everything an armchair sailor can come up with. Fine arts with pretty much the same foci during the said period as well as Mythology.

And besides that I currently collect curiosities online, often with a touch of #steampunk and collect them in my virtual #wunderkammer, an online cabinet of curiosities. 

Speaking of what. I don’t discuss politics on the Internet.

There is a legend from the beginning of the Great War: The German High Command cabled to their allies in Vienna: “The situation is serious but not hopeless!” and some wisecrack in Vienna cabled back: “No. The situation is hopeless but not serious.” That pretty much sums it up. ‘nuff said.

The same is true for religion. Although I am willing to discuss religion from a historical point of view, I am not interested to hear people’s personal persuasions on god(s) or atheism. If you are interested in my opinion – read The Brothers Karamazov.
It’s all in there.
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Pellinore