The city of Konstanz (Ger., Eng.) made their entry on the stage of world history at the beginning of the fifteenth century, when the big concilium (Ger., Eng.) was held within their walls from 1414 until 1418. The Roman church had to sort out some small problems, like the schisma of 1378 (Ger., Eng.), and a threat to the holy unity of the western church, embodied in Jan HUS (Ger., Eng.). The driving force behind the conventus was the Roman-German king (since 1411, later (since 1433) Emperor) SIGISMUND (1368-1437) (Ger., Eng.): The problem with these rivalling popes was that each of them was supported by another European force – I do not want to use the word “nation” here – like f.e. the French king. Add to this religiously founded proto-national ideas like those HUS and friends were promoting and you see a situation that urgently needs to be addressed: SIGISMUND had to control all these centrifugal forces if he wanted to save the unity of the Reich – and that was exactly his aim, a unified Reich under one accepted Emperor, preferably himself. He reached his aim when he was crowned 1433, the first Emperor since the death of CHARLES IV. (1316-1378) (Ger., Eng.). Last pope standing was MARTIN V. in 1417 (1368-1431) (Ger., Eng.), HUS was burned at the stake 1415.
Konstanz was chosen as location for the concilium because it was on “neutral” soil, it was not automatically biased, standing on one side, like Avignon (Ger., Eng.), Bologna or other places; and it was a freie Reichsstadt (Ger., Eng.), a free city, obligated only to the Emperor, or – while there was none – to the Roman-German king.
The city counted only eight thousands inhabitants maximum at the beginning of the fifteenth century. Throughout the whole concilium circa 72.000 people showed up, at least 20.000 humans were constantly present. This gives an idea about the necessary organization for this extraordinary event: These humans wanted lodging, eating, drinking, and love. And while the transcendental angelic version would be out of reach, the more secular and earthly version would do.
The chronic of the concilium was written by Ulrich (von) RICHENTAL (ca. 1360-1437) (Ger.), who was involved in the preparations for the big meeting, and who (according to WEIDHASE *) was the Hurenweibel (Ger. article on Feldwebel) at least while the concilium lasted. RICHENTAL says that there were 700 public prostitutes in the public houses, additional to those, who had rented houses for themselves, and without the secret prostitutes, who went uncounted.

 If one enters the harbour of Konstanz from the lake side, one can not fail to notice a pretty large statue on the right side: 9 meters tall, and spinning around herself (some say 360° in three minutes, some say four), she wears a funny headpiece, shows her breasts, the gown is not closed,  and she sterns seemingly playfully and effortless two Männlein – two impostors who simply grabbed the insignia of power, Martin and Sigmund, as Peter LENK says, the man who built IMPERIA (Ger., Eng., 3 d model)
As far as I know it is the only public Denkmal, memorial to prostitutes, please correct me if you know another one. The smiling goddess of earthly love was erected on private grounds – the modern city fathers did not dare to build such an inappropriate figurine on public grounds – that (hear!hear!) belonged to the Deutsche Bahn AG, who possesses (or possessed) the harbour with all belongings. Meanwhile IMPERIA is attracting tourists and the public arousal is replaced by a more or less proud acceptance, after all she brings in money, wellwell …

Here are some pictures I took from the book by WEIDHASE, the ones I snapped while passing the great woman on a ship are not good, and if you follow the links you will find good photographs. But I like the two Männlein waiting for their destiny.





* Weidhase, Helmut: Imperia. Konstanzer Hafenfigur. Skulptur Peter  Lenk, Konstanz 3. Aufl. 2007, S. 11

10 thoughts on “Imperia

  1. Maybe he lost his spreading coefficient … what are You doing here in the early Sunday morning, MsScarlet? Are you still awake?

    I am sure, von Lax, if one searches a bit one will find The Vice. Konstanz today is oh so busy, proud of its university, and generally the “pearl of the Lake”, especially when you are from Konstanz. Other places I saw were Friedrichshafen, Bregenz (Oh GOtt!), and Überlingen (oh yeah!), and some villages.

  2. Your story probably has the beginnings of the explanation about why nowadays the border doesn’t do the simple obvious thing and follow the Rhine but takes a weird southern detour through some suburban streets.

    Btw, a pedant watching over my shoulder has pointed out: “The city of Konstanz made their entry…”

  3. Hello Looby, welcome and thank you for your first comment here. I think I saw you at Nurse Myra’s hospital. One of the suburbs is called Paradies.
    And regarding the pedant – I have no clue: If s/he wants to correct me, s/he shall speak out, it’s absolutely pointless to speak vaguely in this respect.

  4. Hello — yes, I came across you in the Hospital too, and I enjoy your accounts of mid-European bibliographic life.

    Konstanz is singular so it should be “The city of Konstanz made its entry…”

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