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Living History – Bundingen Castle, Germany

October 22, 2013

Budingen Castle was the redoubt of the Prince-Bishops who ruled the region during late Middle Ages, through the times of the Reformation and before the coming of German unification.  ‘Prince-Bishop’ refers to the dual offices combined in one person who exercise both temporal and ecclesiastical authority.  Before unification in 1871, Germany was a land, and the Germans a people, but they were not a nation, in the political sense.  The Reformation divided them, and figures like the Prince-Bishops played a major role in defending their territory from enemy inroads, as they had against external foes in olden times.  (Bundingen, situated just north of Frankfurt, was by no means unique in this combination of secular and ecclesiastical authority, nor was the practice confined to Germany; Durham was a English ‘County Palatine’ under the authority of a Prince-Bishop for much of the Middle Ages.)  Bundingen also served as a jumping-off point for ‘Volga Germansemigrating to Russia at the timer of Catherine the Great.

One weekend, on a four-day pass, I had an opportunity to leave Aschaffenburg, where I was stationed with the 1st Battalion, 4th Infantry, 3rd Infantry Division, U.S. Army, Europe (USAEUR) and travel to Bundingen Castle.  The pictures that follow I took while there on tour.

A Bundingen streetscape.

A Bundingen streetscape.

Street-level view of a portion of Bundingen Castle.

Street-level view of a portion of Bundingen Castle.

Wall painting in Bundigen Castle  -Photo by Author

Wall painting in Bundigen Castle
-Photo by Author

Battle Shield from the Budingen Castle armory -Photo by Author

Battle Shield from the Budingen Castle armory
-Photo by Author

Budingen5

These warrior-preists were of short stature, by modern standards. I doubt if anyone over 5’4″ could’ve worn this suite of plate-mail.

Arms of the Prince-Bishop: swords and cross-bow.  [Not pictured: the two-handed sword, 5' in length, meant for mounted employment.]

Arms of the Prince-Bishop: swords and cross-bow. [Not pictured: the two-handed sword, 5′ in length, meant for mounted employment.]

The end of the cycle of wars begun after Martin luther nailed his ’95 Theses’ to the door of a Wittenburg church marked the beginning of the end of the Prince-Bishop’ power.  Having outlived the hour of their greatest need, they gradually sunk into a respectable oblivion, finally surrendering all feudal rights and privileges with the rest of the German nobility in 1919 with the advent of the Weimar Republic.  The castle has, however, remained in the same family for over 700 years and is a popular tourist attraction down to the present time.

 

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