Wednesday, 19 July 2017

The Radziwiłł family at Nesvizh (Belarus)

The Radziwiłł family was a powerful magnate family originating from the Grand Duchy of Lithuania. The family was highly prominent for centuries and has produced many individuals notable in European history and culture. In 1547 the Radziwiłł family received the title of Reichsfürst from the Holy Roman Empire. Until the first half of the 17th century the Radziwiłłs were the most influential and richest family among the magnate dynasties of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania. After the three partitions of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth in the late 18th century the property of the Radziwiłłs was located in Russia, Prussia and Austria, but the title of princes of the Radziwiłł dynasty was recognized in all three states.

The Radziwiłł family owned a total of 23 palaces, of which the Nesvizh Castle is probably one of the most famous. It was owned by the Radziwiłł family from 1533 and later the family turned the castle into an impressive Baroque complex, the first in Eastern Europe. Since 2005 is the Architectural, Residential and Cultural Complex of the Radziwiłł Family at Nesvizh on the UNESCO World Heritage List.

The Corpus Christi Church at Nesvizh is one of the oldest baroque structures outside Italy and was commissioned by Mikołaj Krzysztof "the Orphan" Radziwiłł.

Sunday, 16 July 2017

The North German Confederation (Germany)

The defeat of Austria in the Austro-Prussian War in 1866 resulted in a shift in power among the German states away from Austrian hegemony and the abolition of the German Confederation. Prussia, the new sole hegemonic power, subsequently founded the North German Confederation, the first federal state in Germany, which united 22 free cities, small and middle states north of the river Main under Prussian dominance. The new constitution became effective on 1st July 1867, after a draft constitution was presented by Bismarck which was altered by a konstituierender Reichstag. Bismarck planned to make the federal state attractive to southern German states which might later join. The North German Constitution created a national parliament, the Reichstag, and the Bundesrat, the council of the representatives of the allied governments. During the Franco-Prussian War Baden, Bavaria, Württemberg and the North German Confederation united to form a new nation state, which later got the name German Empire. The King of Prussia became German Emperor and the constitution of the Empire was nearly identical to that of the North German Confederation.

The member states of the North German Confederation were 
the Kingdoms of Prussia and Saxony, 
the Grand Duchies of Hesse (only the northern part), Mecklenburg-Schwerin, Mecklenburg-Strelitz, Oldenburg and Saxe-Weimar-Eisenach, 
the Duchies of Anhalt, Brunswick, Saxe-Altenburg, Saxe-Coburg and Gotha and Saxe-Meiningen, 
the Principalities of Lippe, Reuss-Gera, Reuss-Greiz, Schaumburg-Lippe, Schwarzburg-Rudolstadt, Schwarzburg-Sondershausen and Waldeck and Pyrmont and 
the Free and Hanseatic Cities of Bremen, Hamburg and Lübeck.

Sun Yat-sen and the Revolution in China (China, Hong Kong)

Sun Yat-sen was born in Cuiheng in 1866. In 1878 he went to a school in Honolulu and in 1886 he started to study medicine in Hong Kong, where he afterwards worked as doctor. The time he spent in the West nurtured his dissatisfaction with the government of the Qing dynasty and so he started to be active in politics. After he failed riot in 1895 he went into exile in Europe, the USA, Canada and Japan for 16 years. After he heard of the Wuchang Uprising in 1911 he convinced the Western Powers to stop their credit payment for the Qing and returned to China. The Wuchang Uprising became the catalyst to the Xinhai Revolution, which ended the Qing Dynasty and two millennia of imperial rule in China. In 1912 he became the first president of the Republic of China and founded the Nationalist Party, which preceded the Kuomintang. Due to inner conflicts he had to leave China again in 1913 and only returned in 1917. In 1923 he delivered a speech in which he proclaimed his Three Principles of the People. Sun Yat-sen died in Beijing in 1925 and left China in a unfavourable situation.

Today Sun Yat-sen is admired as Father of the Nation in the Republic of China on Taiwan and as Forerunner of the Revolution in the People's Republic of China.

Hong Kong, Macau and the PR China issued a joint stamp
for his 150th birthday on 12th November 2016. 

The Sun Yat-sen Residence Memorial Museum was opened in 1956 next to his former residence in Cuiheng. It is a nationally protected cultural site.

The card is a maxicard with one of the joint stamps from the PR China.

The Dr Sun Yat-sen Museum in Hong Kong was opened in 2006 in the Kom Tong Hall. It shows various relics of Sun Yat-sen and focuses on the years he spent in Hong Kong.

Saturday, 15 July 2017

European Cities of the Reformation (Austria, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Italy, Latvia, Slovenia, Switzerland)

If you hear City of the Reformation most people would probably think of Wittenberg and Eisleben, but in fact the Community of Protestant Churches in Europe has so far honoured 96 cities in 17 countries with the title European City of the Reformation. Some of them I want to present here.

1520s flourishing Protestant community, 1572: arrival of the Jesuits, by 1598 the Protestant were expelled, 1781: Protestant religious life was again allowed, Protestants helped the city to recover

1514: a fire destroys Klagenfurt, the Emperor did not have enough money to rebuilt it, he gifted it to the Protestant Landesstände, which rebuilt it according to Protestant ideals

St Pölten
early Protestant community, imminent Recatholisation, since 1998 seat of the superintendenture of Lower Austria

Huldrych Zwingli studied in Vienna, early large Protestant community, Recatholisation in the 17th century, headquarters of the Community of Protestant Churches in Europe

Early Protestant community, since 1533 confession to Luther's ideas, Lutheranism is an important part of the local identity

Early Protestant community, 1530s Lutheran Church Order, 1554: Estonian translation of Martin Luther's catechism, centre of the education of Lutheran pastors in the Russian Empire

1523: first Protestant preachings, centre of the Reformation in Finland, in Turku Mikael Agricola translated the New Testament into Finnish, centre of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Finland

1572: mass violence by Catholics against Protestant Huguenots in the St. Bartholomew's Day Massacres

1539: Introduction of the Reformation to Prussia in Berlin, accommodation of Protestant Huguenots, 2017: German Evangelical Church Assembly

1522: first Lutheran preachings, 1534: Lutheran Church Order, later conversion to the Reformed Church, peaceful coexistence of Lutheran and Reformed Christians

Birthplace of Philipp Melanchthon

Residence of Ernst the Confessor

During the Diet of Augsburg in 1530 Martin Luther lived at the Veste Coburg

Martin Luther lived in Eisenach during his school time, later he translated the New Testament into German at the Wartburg

Centre of the Humanism, Martin Luther studied in Erfurt

bulwark of the Catholic Church, Johannes Bugenhagen studied in Greifswald, 1534: Introduction of the Reformation

located within the heartland of the Reformation, Martin Luther preached there multiple times

1519: Leipzig Debate, 1539: Martin Luther preaches at the Thomaskirche and introduces the Reformation to Saxony

Centre of the Lutheran Reformation in the County of Lippe and later centre of the Witch Trials

Centre of the Humanism, 1522: Introduction of the Reformation, 1526: Philipp Melanchthon founds a high school, 1529: part of the Protestation at Speyer, 1533: Church Order

1542: Introduction of the Reformation, Centre of the Reformation in Southeast Europe

1529: part of the Protestation at Speyer


Centre of the Confessing Church during the Nazi regime, 1934: Barmen Declaration of Faith

Protestants were allowed to have their own church

Early Protestant community, 1530s Lutheran Church Order

place of activity of Primož Trubar

1516: Erasmus of Rotterdam publishes the first printed Latin translation of the New Testament, 1529: Enforcement of the Reformation, 1535: Johannes Calvin finds refuge in Basel during his flight to France and publishes his Institutio Christianae religionis

Key role during the spread of the Reformation in Switzerland

St Gall
One of the first Swiss cities which joined the Reformation, coined the Reformation in Eastern Switzerland, 1529: Protestation at Speyer

Cradle of the Reformed Church and place of activity of Huldrych Zwingli, 1530: Zürich Bible

Wednesday, 12 July 2017

Genoa's seafaring past (Italy, Turkey)

Genoa was in the Middle Ages the capital of the Republic of Genoa, a powerful maritime republic and colonial power. In 1451 Christopher Columbus was born in Genoa. The Republic of Genoa was an independent state until it was replaced by the Ligurian Republic in 1797, when it became a client state of the Napoleonic France. 

Genoa is today the sixth largest city of Italy and Italy's largest seaport. It is also the capital of the Italian Region of Liguria. In 2004 it was the European Capital of Culture. The Strade Nuove and the system of the Palazzi dei Rolli in Genoa are since 2006 on the UNESCO World Heritage List.

Via Garibaldi (Strade Nuove) and the Palazzo Doria-Tursi

Palazzo Doria Tursi - Palazzo Reale -
 Palazzo Pantaleo Spinola - Palazzo Rosso

In the middle of 13th century the Republic of Genoa was actively trading all over the Mediterranean and the Black Sea. It was one of the most important trading nations in the Middle Ages and made its fortunes by maritime trade. The Treaty of Nymphaeum, signed with the Byzantine emperor Michael VIII Palaeologus in 1261, helped the Genoese to virtually monopolize the trade in the Black Sea. 

The communities of Genoese merchants were located at key points of trade and communication in the Mediterranean and the Black Sea. One of their trading posts was the Galata Tower in Istanbul, their main hub in Anatolia. The Trading Posts and Fortifications on Genoese Trade Routes from the Mediterranean to the Black Sea are currently on Turkey's Tentative List, as they are considered to be exceptional structures which reflect trading and international relationships of the medieval era.


Tuesday, 11 July 2017

The Iberian Peninsula between Christianity and Islam (Spain)

The Umayyad Caliphate had conquered the Iberian peninsula in 8th century, but already in 718 the Reconquista started and the Christians began to establish new kingdoms to foster the power of Christianity on the peninsula. The first kingdom, that was founded by the Christians, was the Kingdom of Asturias in 718. First it was just a small state, but soon started its expansion.

One of the churches built in the Kingdom of Asturias was San Miguel de Lillo in the kingdom's capital Oviedo. The Monuments of Oviedo and the Kingdom of the Asturias are since 1985 on the UNESCO World Heritage List.

Cordoba had its period of greatest glory after it had been conquered by the Moorish armies in 711. In 766 it became the capital of the Emirate of al-Andalus and also remained the capital after the emirate became the Caliphate of Cordoba under the Umayyad dynasty in 929. It was an important centre of education and had a big library. In 1236 Cordoba was captured by King Ferdinand III of Castile.

The Great Mosque was built between 784 and 987. After Cordoba had been captured by the Christians, it was turned into a Catholic church.

The Great Mosque of Cordoba is since 1984 on the UNESCO World Heritage List, in 1994 the rest of the city's historic centre was added.

The Alhambra was first built in the 9th century. In the 13th century it was largely renovated by the Moorish Emir Mohammed ben Al-Ahmar of Granada and in 1333 it was converted into a royal palace by Yusuf I, Sultan of Granada. 

In 1492 the Reconquista ended when the Emirate of Granada surrendered to the Christian monarchs after the Granada War. 

Afterwards the Alhambra became the Royal Court of Ferdinand II of Aragon and Isabella I of Castile. There Christopher Columbus received the royal endorsement for his expedition. 

The Alhambra is today the best example of Islamic architecture in Spain and also one of the country's most visited sights. Since 1984 is the Alhambra on the UNESCO World Heritage List.


Sunday, 9 July 2017

The Parks of Prince Hermann von Pückler-Muskau (Germany, Poland)

Prince Hermann von Pückler-Muskau was born in 1785. In his youth he travelled through France and Italy. In 1811 he inherited the Barony of Muskau and later he joined the War of Liberation against Napoleon. After the war and again in 1828 he toured Great Britain. Later he also visited Africa, the Ottoman Empire and Vienna. He is considered to be one of the most important European landscape gardeners and also wrote various books about his travels. Prince Hermann von Pückler-Muskau died in 1871.

The Muskau Park was laid out from 1815 onwards at the behest of Prince Hermann von Pückler-Muskau. It is the largest and one of the most famous English gardens in Central Europe. The park is located on the Lusatian Neisse and was divided between Germany and Poland after World War II, when the river became the new German-Polish border. The Muskauer Park / Park Mużakowski is since 2004 a shared UNESCO World Heritage Site of Germany and Poland.

In 2012 Germany and Poland issued a
joint stamp about Muskau Park.

Due to financial problems Prince Hermann von Pückler-Muskau had to sell the Muskau Park in 1845 and started with the creation of the Branitz Park, a landscape garden in Cottbus where he spent the last years of his life. In the park there are two special pyramids which are unique in the World. Some years ago attempts failed, which planned an addition of the Branitz Park to the UNESCO World Heritage List.