North of Munich, the oldest continuously operated brewery, founded by monks, is nearing its 1,000th birthday

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If you want to talk the history of beer over a pint, what better place than the world’s oldest continuously operating brewery? Forty miles due north of Munich, braumeisters at the Weihenstephan Abbey have been boiling hops for nearly 1,000 years.

And the seeds of beer history were planted even earlier. In the year 725, Saint Korbinian, along with 12 traveling companions, founded a Benedictine monastery on Nährberg Hill in Weihenstephan, in an area now called Freising. By the year 768, a hops garden was established on the grounds. Records show that farmers were obligated to pay a 10 percent tithe to the monastery for the privilege of growing hops on the land.

In the year 955, the Weihenstephan monastery was destroyed for the first but not the last time when Hungarians plundered the site, forcing the monks to reconstruct.

In 1040, brewing officially began when Abbott Arnold obtained a license from the city of Freising to brew and sell beer.

In its first 400 years, the Weihenstephan Monastery burned completely down four times, endured three plagues, and suffered the effects of one massively destructive earthquake. During that time, the monastery was destroyed and plundered time and again, by the Swedes, the French, and the Austrians. But still, the undaunted monks returned to rebuild—and to brew and sell beer.

In 1516, Duke Wilhelm IV of Bavaria issued the Bavarian Purity Law, or, in German, Reinheitsgebot. This mandated that only barley, hops, and water be used in the crafting of beer (yeast was later added to the list), thereby establishing the primacy of Bavarian and Weihenstephan beer. The law also set the price of beer, limited the profits innkeepers could collect, and made confiscation the penalty of impure brewing practices.

(Interestingly, Reinheitsgebot is still German law. Modern brewers have lobbied to modify the restrictions so that they can compete with flavored American craft beers. A revised version of the law passed in 1993 allows for a wider variety of malted grains in top-fermented beers.)

In 1803, the Wesihenstephan Monastery was secularized. With the stroke of a governmental pen, all of the land and structures became property of the Bavarian State. Nevertheless, the brewery persisted.

In the late 1800s, an agricultural school was established at Weihenstephan, and by 1919 it had been elevated to the University for Agriculture and Brewery, which was further affiliated with the Technical University in Munich in 1930. Today Weihenstephan shares its site with the University of Munich’s Faculty of Brewing, the most renowned in the industry. The most popular academic disciplines are brew master and brew engineer.

 Today you can take a tour of the nearly 1,000-year history of the brewery, guided by an aspiring beer master from the university. Though the building has been reconstructed many times, the physical footprint and layout haven’t changed much over the past hundreds of years. There are still vaulted ceilings and dark basements, where vast stainless steel vats have replaced the old oak barrels. Tours end with beer-tasting in a souvenir wheat-beer glass. Weihenstephan produces around 6 million gallons of beer a year. Its wheat beer makes up about 88 percent of the brewery’s total output, though 12 different types of beer are on offer, including a dark beer, a pilsner, a seasonal lager, and an alcohol-free version.

The Bavarian region is famously rife with breweries, some of which have challenged Weihenstephan’s claim to be the oldest. The nearby Hofbrauhaus in Freising has been in operation since the 1100s. Some 90 kilometers north, Weltenburg Abbey brewery is by some reckonings the oldest monastic brewery in the world, having been in operation since 1050.

Obviously, the only thing to do is to take a tour of all the breweries and decide for yourself not just which one is oldest but which is best. Perhaps in the year 2040, when Weihenstephan turns 1,000. Prost!

 E.L. Hamilton

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Germans find ‘Harald Bluetooth’ medieval treasure

Part of Schaprode treasure trove, 13 Apr 18Image copyrightAFP
Image captionHarald Bluetooth might have buried the treasure while fleeing from enemies

Treasure linked to the reign of 10th-century Danish King Harald Bluetooth has been dug up in northern Germany.

An amateur archaeologist and a 13-year-old boy found a silver coin on the Baltic island of Rügen in January when scanning a field with metal detectors.

Experts kept the find secret until a team dug up 400sq metres (4,300sq ft) of land at the weekend.

They found braided necklaces, a Thor’s hammer, brooches, rings and about 600 coins, probably buried in the 980s.

“This trove is the biggest single discovery of Bluetooth coins in the southern Baltic sea region and is therefore of great significance,” said lead archaeologist Michael Schirren.

Schaprode coins, 13 Apr 18Image copyrightAFP
Image captionChristian crosses feature on many of the coins, but there is quite a variety

Harald Bluetooth was born a Viking and is credited with unifying Denmark and introducing Christianity there during his reign.

In the 980s he fled to Pomerania, now in north Germany, after losing a big sea battle against forces loyal to his son Sweyn Forkbeard. Bluetooth died in 987.

The king was immortalised by Nordic technology firms when they embedded their wireless “Bluetooth” technology in digital gadgets.

Amateur archaeologist Rene Schoen (L) and 13-year-old student Luca Malaschnichenko look for a treasure with a metal detector in Schaprode, northern Germany on April 13, 2018Image copyrightAFP
Image captionRene Schoen (L) and 13-year-old student Luca Malaschnichenko were the first to find the treasure

The site of the treasure trove, Schaprode, is a few kilometres from Hiddensee, where a 16-piece gold hoard dating from Bluetooth’s reign was found in the 19th Century.

The Schaprode discoverers – 13-year-old Luca Malaschnitschenko and amateur archaeologist René Schön – are in a group of enthusiasts looking after historical sites in Mecklenburg-West Pomerania state in north-eastern Germany.

Warrior king

Bluetooth led his warriors in campaigns against Frankish nobles who ruled parts of France and Germany in the Carolingian Age.

After converting to Christianity in 950, he set up bishoprics in Denmark, consolidated his kingdom with forts and seized some territory in Norway and north Germany.

The earliest coin in the Schaprode hoard is reckoned to be a Damascus dirham dating from 714, and the latest ones are Frankish Otto-Adelheid pennies minted in 983.

More than 100 of the 600 coins are believed to have been minted in Bluetooth’s kingdom. They have Christian crosses on them and were given to Danish nobles.

By BBC News 16th April 2018

 

Rare Photos of Martin Laurello, the Man Who Could Turn His Head Around Backwards

Martin Joe Laurello (1885-1955), aka “The Man with the Revolving Head,” “The Human Owl,” or “Bobby, The Boy with the Revolving Head,” was born in May 1885 in Nuremburg, Germany. He was born with a twisted spine that allowed his head to turn a complete 180°. When he had his head turned, his spine was in the shape of a question mark. He was married to Amelia Emmerling, and was a Nazi sympathizer.

He moved to America from Germany in 1921 and began performing with sideshows such as Ripley’s Believe it or Not, Ringling Brothers, and Barnum & Bailey. Aside from turning his head around, Martin Laurello (formally Martin Emmerling) trained dogs to do acrobatics and was a ventriloquist.

When Laurello would turn his head around, he could not breathe, however he was able to drink. Laurello was at Robert Ripley’s first ever Odditorium at the 1933-34 Chicago World’s Fair and had performed at many Ripley’s odditoriums in the 1930s.

His last recorded appearance was on the show “You Asked For It” on March 24, 1952. He died of a heart attack and was cremated in 1955, at age 70. The video below was taken from the movie “The Incredible Life and Times of Robert Ripley: Believe it or Not!.”

(via wikia.com)

How Martin Luther’s ideas lasted 500 years

Wittenberg is considered the cradle of the Reformation, and Luther its father

However, the doors that occupy the North Portal today are not the original wooden ones from Luther’s time, which were destroyed by a fire in 1760 during the Seven Years War. In their place stand sturdy bronze doors, embossed with the Latin words of Luther’s 95 Theses. The words are solid, fixed in place, unquestionable. But as Luther himself recognised, words have the ability to move. Just as he was moved by his reading of the Bible to question the established order, his words in turn travelled out of this small town, creating a new religious self-awareness that split the church and rocked Europe, rippling out into the world.

Perhaps that’s why I found the lofty, open space inside the church more evocative of Luther and the Reformation than those closed doors. Here, statues of Luther and his contemporaries line the nave, and it’s said that every evening after the visitors have left, the statues continue their theological discussions deep into the night. The tale reminds us that Luther was not the only figure of the Reformation; he was part of an ongoing conversation – one that continues to this day. But although other people had ideas about reforming the church, Wittenberg is still considered the cradle of the Reformation, and Luther its father.

Martin Luther nailed his 95 Theses on the doors of Castle Church on 31 October 1517 (Credit: Credit: Madhvi Ramani)

Martin Luther nailed his 95 Theses on the doors of Castle Church on 31 October 1517 (Credit: Madhvi Ramani)

As I walked through Wittenberg, I wondered how such a small place could have had such a tremendous impact. The old town has not changed much since Luther’s time, especially since the Allies agreed not to bomb it because of its religious significance. The park that surrounds the old town starts at one end of Castle Church, and it only takes about 15 minutes to walk through the middle of town to Luther House, where the theologian lived for most of his life, beyond which the greenery starts again. However, it was partly because of Wittenberg’s size that Luther’s ideas were able to flourish. The high concentration of great minds in this small university town meant that people frequently bumped into each other and exchanged ideas. On my short walk, I passed the courtyard where Lucas Cranach the Elder, known as the painter of the Reformation, had his workshop and printing press, as well as the house of chief Reformation theologian Philip Melanchthon.

Moreover, Luther was able to utilise the new media tools of his time, such as woodcuts and the printing press, to spread his ideas beyond Wittenberg. John T McQuillen, assistant curator of printed books and bindings at New York’s Morgan Library & Museum explained that “Luther wrote his ideas in short, concise texts – pamphlets of eight or 16 pages – that could be quickly printed and easily distributed. Without the printing press, the Reformation would never have been the historical event that it was.”

Martin Luther essentially shaped the German language as we know it today

Often credited for creating the first media revolution, Luther quickly realised how to use language, music and images to spread his messages. He increasingly published his writings in German (rather than Latin), often with images, and his catchy, vernacular hymns helped the Reformation flourish. His musical contributions have even led to him being called the father of the protest song.

Not only did his use of everyday language help spread his ideas, but using it in religious matters was essential to Luther’s revolutionary idea that salvation could be reached through personal faith alone. Therefore, he wanted everyone to be able to read the Bible themselves. In 1534, Luther published his translation of the holy book, using vivid, simple language that would be understandable to all. To do this, he had to unite the many different German dialects to create one standardised German – essentially shaping the German language as we know it today.

Martin Luther was the father of the Reformation (Credit: Credit: Hans-Peter Merten/Getty Images)

Martin Luther was the father of the Reformation (Credit: Hans-Peter Merten/Getty Images)

This new emphasis on the vernacular also affected the development of other languages. Protestant missionaries from Europe and North America who went to Africa in the second half of the 19th Century believed, like Luther, that the Bible should be translated into vernacular languages. “This of course included making the language fit, ie inventing writing systems where none existed and finding terms they deemed suitable for God, devil, sin, salvation and so on,” Dr Jörg Haustein, senior lecturer in Religions in Africa at SOAS, University of London, explained.

However, although the missionaries wanted to convert the Africans in a way that relied on the power of personal belief, they were also convinced of their own faith’s superiority and opposed traditional beliefs and practices. This attitude encapsulates the paradox of Luther and the Reformation, which was democratising yet authoritarian. It is also demonstrated in Luther’s stance towards the Jews. After he realised that he would not be able to convert them to his version of Christianity, he unleashed a tirade of anti-Semitic writings, arguing that Jewish synagogues, schools and homes be set on fire, their assets confiscated and that they should be used as forced labour and expelled.

On the south-east facade of Wittenberg’s town church where Luther regularly preached is a Judensau (anti-Semitic sculpture) dating back to 1305. Above the relief is an inscription with the words ‘Rabini Shem Hamphoras’ (a disrespectful corruption of the ineffable name of god in Kabbalah), which was added later and refers to a derogatory comment from Luther’s writings. His texts, such as On the Jews and Their Lies, were used extensively by the Nazis, and historians have debated the Sonderweg theory, which traces a direct path from Luther to the Nazis.

The doors of Castle Church now bear Martin Luther's 95 Theses (Credit: Credit: Madhvi Ramani)

The doors of Castle Church now bear Martin Luther’s 95 Theses (Credit: Madhvi Ramani)

Luther’s aim was to unite everyone under one reformed church, but his ideas had implications that went beyond what he wanted or could have imagined.

“Luther unified the German language, but his religious ideas also created divisions that are still painfully felt today. The war of words was followed by religious war,” said Dr Alexander Weber from the department of Cultures and Languages at Birkbeck College in London, referring to the religion-induced conflicts that waged through Europe between 1524 to 1648. In the place of a single church, there were now competing claims to reform. Political alliances were often formed on the basis of confessional unity, and minorities were persecuted by all confessions. This resulted in waves of migration, such as French Protestants who fled to England, Scotland, Denmark and Sweden, as well as overseas, or the English Puritans who boarded the Mayflower to North America.

Luther’s effect has been so far-reaching that it has filtered into contemporary culture. For example, Luther’s conviction and his zeal to spread his words to convince others is a forerunner of evangelism today – be it tele-evangelism or radio shows such as The Lutheran Hour, the world’s longest-running Christian outreach radio program that began broadcasting in 1930 and has more than one million listeners. In 1966, Martin Luther King echoed the act performed in Wittenberg by the man he was named after when he posted a list of demands to the door of Chicago’s City Hall.

Legends say the statues inside the Church debate theology into the night (Credit: Credit: Madhavi Ramani)

Legends say the statues inside the Church debate theology into the night (Credit: Madhavi Ramani)

Parallels can even be drawn between Luther and American whistle-blower Edward Snowden, both of whom set their own consciences above all else and challenged the superpowers of their day by using the latest means of communication to denounce abuses of power.

The words and ideas that originated in Wittenberg spun out into the world, inspiring new words and ideas, such as those by Dostoyevsky, who explored ideas of Protestantism (which in his opinion destroyed community and was too weak to stand up to faiths such as Russian Orthodoxy) in A Writer’s Diary and The Brothers Karamazov. Nietzsche, similarly, was prompted to expand on the ideas of Luther, proclaiming, “After Goethe and Luther, there was a third step to take”. He took that third step by proclaiming the death of God, most famously associated with his work Thus Spoke Zarathustra. What started in Wittenberg has been seen to influence ideas of modern liberalism, capitalism, democracy, individualism, subjectivism, secularism and more.

In the park past Luther House, mirrored walkways have been installed to celebrate 500 years of the Reformation. As I walked along them, I saw multiple reflections of myself, as well as a fractured view of the trees and shrubs around me. This, I thought, was a good representation of Wittenberg’s impact on the world – one that recreated reality and stretched infinitely.

By Madhvi Ramani  24 October 2017