Was lange währt …

Some moons ago (nearly seven years) I mentioned European castrated slaves (Carzimasier), and we had a little conversation about the topic of European slavery.
So for the one (or two) readers, who still remember this, it may be interesting to learn that a conference is announced that will address exactly this subject :
“Spuren des Sklavenhandels im Heiligen Römischen Reich und seinen Nachfolgestaaten: Diskurse, Praktiken und Objekte, 1500-1850” will take place in Bremen at the end of November / start of December (link), s’il vous plait. There should be answers to the questions from some years ago. A publication is planned for 2019. À votre service

Schwobe’ …

On my desk lies a small book titled Kleine Schriften zur deutschen Literatur im 17. Jahrhundert, Amsterdam 1977 (Beihefte zum Daphnis 1; also Daphnis vol. 6, nr. 4, 1977) by the great Leonard FORSTER (1913-1997) (obituary), one of the eminent scholars of German and Renaissance studies of the 20th century. Strangely there is no Wikipedia article about him, nor German nor English.
One of FORSTER’s main subjects of research was Georg Rudolph WECKHERLIN (1584-1653) (Ger., Eng.), poet and statesman.
WECKHERLIN was a Suebian, born in Stuttgart. He was a kinsman of the English court, from 1626 until shortly before his death he held important positions in the English administration, mainly as secretary of the state secretary – I am not familiar with the names of the ranks:  It is what we today would call the department of foreign affairs. Minister or secretaries came and went, WECKHERLIN stayed, for 25 years. He reached the rank of a Latin Secretary, his successor was another poet, John MILTON (1608-1674) (Ger., Eng.).
WECKHERLIN’s father was an official at the court of Wuerttemberg (Ger., Eng.), and his son was meant to follow him. From 1606 onwards we find young Rudolph in the entourage of Suebian diplomats on travels through Europe, in France, England and Italy. On one of these travels he met Elisabeth, the daughter of the Town clerk of Dover (Ger., Eng. ) (“Doof, Dover, Calais”), his later wife. He is abroad until 1615 an shortly after his return to Stuttgart he shows up as poet. He makes poems on persons of interest and influence, helps to organize the festivities for the baptismal of Prince Friedrich von Wurttemberg (Ger., Eng.) etc. – what the humanist has to do at court. He receives a fixed position as secretarius and court historiographer, and again serves in diplomatic affaires. He shows a remarkable talent for foreign languages.
After the outbreak of the Thirty-Years-War Rudolph goes to England, he will stay there from 1619 until his death 1653. He seems to have quit the Wuerttembergian and to have joined the kurfürstlich pfälzischen service – that is Heidelberg, the Palatinate (Ger., Eng.). 1627 he is in English service for the first time.
He is 43 years old, a skilful and experienced diplomat with special knowledge in the area of  “German”, especially palatine politics. The main aim of English foreign politics in this time is to restore the rule of the unfortunate Winterkönig Friedrich V. (Ger., Eng.), married to a sister of the English king, Elisabeth Stuart (Ger., Eng.). In the beginning of the war a front of the Protestant powers had been formed, but this alliance has been destroyed by the Emperor and the Spaniards, England seemed to be the last hope for the Protestant case.
Around 1622, when Wurttemberg took an exit out of the Protestant Union (Ger., Eng.) WECKHERLIN joined the palatinate services; after 1626 – the year count Peter Ernst von  Mansfeld (Ger., Eng.) died and the palatinate power only existed on paper and in emigration – he turnes towards England; he shows idealistic loyalty towards Protestantism, not too common in the 17th century.
Rudolph had lived for eight years in Dover and Canterbury, but now he goes to London. He is confirmed in his office and will keep it until 1641, when the civil war (Ger., Eng.) starts.
In this crucial situation WECKHERLIN decides against his upcoming, against his höfische Erziehung and his whole way of living (Er ist ein Hofmann!) in favour of the Parliament. But first he tries to find an exit and turns towards the European Protestant powers, like Sweden, Kurland, Wuerttemberg, offering his services as consul or representative – he is not accepted. So in 1643 he takes the side of the Parliament (Ger., Eng.) and in February 1644 becomes secretary of the Committee of Both Kingdoms (Eng.). Shortly after the execution of the king (Ger., Eng.; 1649, the French did it 144 years later, 1793) he asks for his demission of office. He is shortly reactivated when MILTON takes over.
From his marriage with Elizabeth RAWORTH origin a son and a daughter. His son follows the king into exile and only returns to England after his father’s death, he has no children. The daughter marries a William TRUMBULL (?) in 1638, her first son of the same name also becomes a diplomat and plays an important role in the literary life of the early 18th century. In the Hausarchiv of these descendants a lot of papers, letters and other source materials of the German-English poet and statesman WECKHERLIN were found – by FORSTER in the 1940s ! Strangely enough I find no mention of this, nor in FORSTER’s obituary, nor in the very short articles about WECKHERLIN.
FORSTER btw was a colleague of George Smiley, whom he met in Tuebingen and Koenigsberg in the 1930s, when they both were teaching at German universities; they seemingly met later in the war (maybe in hut 6 or 8, but it’s not confirmed).

Ashes to Ashes

Over the last 10 or 15 years large German commercial enterprises, those that are around not just since yesterday and have developed a kind of tradition and pride, but also political institutions, have decided to write their own history –  or allowed historians to write their history, especially covering the 12 years from 1933 to 1945. A common practice is to form a commission of historians, of course accepted scholars, and allow them access to the own archive. Emphasis is put on the fact that the commission is independent. Basically that is what Deutsche Bank does, Daimler Benz accepted its responsibility, and of course the Auswärtige Amt did it exemplary.
So maybe it is about time for the German foreign intelligence service, BND, to have a look into the own history. The soon retiring head of the organisation Ernst UHRLAU (Ger., Eng.) had exactly this idea and established a commission of historians (German article – the author is not quite content with the whole action, and describes it as a nice cover-up – in January 2011).
Said commission, regardless whether the members are qualified or not in the eyes of critics, should basically see anything in the archives.
Yesterday, the commission made public (Ger. example) that the BND destroyed the personnel files of circa 250 former officials, who had held high positions in the SS, SD, or Gestapo (English article here) – in 2007.
It’s not very likely that Herr UHRLAU even knew about this, and indicates that a part of the organisation simply took things in its own hands.
How terribly stupid and short-sighted. As if it would be great news that the BND and it’s predecessor institution Organisation Gehlen (Ger., Eng., pre 1945 known as Fremde Heere Ost (Ger., Eng.)) was a collecting tank for old Nazis, there was nobody unencumbered and free of guilt.

BTW I found this interesting website, they have a weekly newsletter for free.

380, 2

MONRO was a soldier of fortune. He had seen heavy action in Breitenfeld (Ger., Eng.) and  was part of the marching Kolonne which made its way from Leipzig through the Thuringian forrest, via Schmalkalden (Ger., Eng.), Neustadt (Saale) (Ger., Eng.), Münnerstadt (Ger., Eng.), Gemünden (Ger., Eng.), Karlstadt (Ger., Eng.), where they reached the valley of the Main river. While they advanced towards Würzburg king GUSTAV had taken the city by accord, but the fortress  (Ger., Eng.) was another affaire. King GUSTAV had only two possibilities: Take the fortress as fast as possible or stop the whole action. TILLY was reported not only to collect troops, but to advance through the Main valley, thus appearing in the back of the king’s army, only in three days marching distance.
The defenders had taken out an arch of the Alte Mainbrücke (Ger. only), only a plank was put over the gap. GUSTAV ordered the highlanders to attack, die Obersten  RAMSEY and HAMILTON should solve the problem. In the end they engaged the enemy at the bridge in a gunfight while they crossed the river in small boats, establishing a small bridge-head. When this had happened the troops run one by one over the plank and fierce fighting broke loose. RAMSEY received a shot in the left arm and HAMILTON took over. They swept the enemy literally out of the way, up the hill and into the fortress, but could not take the fortress itself. For the coming night the king ordered Swedish and German troops to attack and they found the weak spot, coming over the top of the wall and taking the whole place in one fierce and brutal attack taking no prisoners. This happened on the 18th of October 1631.
Some days later MONRO was billeted in Würzburg when the king ordered him to come down on the street. TILLY finally advanced and GUSTAV felt the need to take Ochsenfurt (Ger., Eng.) in possession, a small town up the river important because of a ford and a bridge. He took MONRO and his musketeers, riders and the necessary forces and they started the march to Ochsenfurt in the middle of the night. Arriving in the town in the early morning they realised that enemy forces were already in the area. Later in the day MONRO and his musketeers fought the enemy back under the king’s eyes. They put the town in fighting order as well as they could and stayed there until TILLY’s forces withdraw into the Oberpfalz.
The Scottish Oberst Robert MONRO ( Eng.) comes from the family Monro of Obsdale, a branch of the Monro of Foulis from Rossshire in Scotland. The date and place of his birth are unknown, as are the date of his death and his grave today. His father George died 1589, so Robert may be born in the 1580s, he may have died in the 1670s. Sir John HEPBURN (Ger., Eng.) calls MONRO a friend from school, so he may have attended St.Leonard’s College (Eng.) in St.Andrews. Together with HEPBURN he travels to Paris in 1615 and serves in the guard of Ludwig XIII (Ger., Eng.). 1626 he joins the Scottish regiment Mackay together with his brother John and his cousin Robert (Eng.), called the Black Baron, the 18th chief of the Monro clan. He will serve in Breitenfeld under his cousin’s command. The Scots first fought for CHRISTIAN of Denmark (Ger., Eng.) against the Emperor until they become demitted after the peace of Lübeck 1629 (Ger., Eng.). MONRO together with 1.400 men of the Mackay regiment enters the service for the Swedish king GUSTAV that year. They are first stationed in Eastern Prussia but see action in Rügenwalde, Frankfurt (Oder) and Breitenfeld, where he helps to secure the kings victory together with HEPBURN. The following Swedish triumphal procession leads him via Würzburg to Frankfurt (Main) up to the Mosel river. He can be found in the surroundings of the king, finally commanding the king’s Scottish guard (Leibgarde), taking accommodation together with GUSTAV in the residence in München. MONRO does not take part in the battle of Lützen (Ger., Eng.), where GUTAV dies in November 1632 – he is left behind in Bavaria with the Scots, still fighting onwards. He finally returns to Britain in 1637, soldiering on; retired since the mid 1650s, he lives quietly on  his estate in Comber, Northern Ireland (Ger., Eng.) until his death maybe 1680. The house he lived in is nearly totally destroyed today, his grave in The Old Priory of Newtownards (Eng.) is lost. The graves of his brother John in Bacharach and his cousin Robert in Ulm also vanished, no portrait of the old warhorse survived, his book does.