Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Maienfeld - Heidi, Grandather and Goats. Johanna Spyri's Book.

Then, finally, from Altdorf, over the Klausen Pass, and then some, find Maienfeld. The place and people that inspired the Heidi story, by Johanna Spyri. (1807-1901).  We were told that there was a real child whose life broadly was the pattern for Heidi. And she lived here. In this house, at this little farm, at this little hamlet.  If that were so, we would have found some corroboration?  So far, none.

There is a road just outside, and some outbuildings. Arrive by car across the pasture, park rather far away, walk a narrow path all the way across, with the views, wildflowers, smells, sounds, and you are there. Feeling very Heidi-ish.

Goats everywhere.  This one will follow if you go Mnahhh mnnnnaahhh.

Goats everywhere, Heidi House, Maienfeld, Switzerland

Also chickens. And some ducks.

Grandfather's and Heidi's House, Maienfeld, Switzerland (same goat - still following)

Grandfather's little house up the slope, is a good way up a mountainside, but not hard to walk, we heard.  We were in the car.  Walks are nice, but then walks require the walk back, and there goes the whole afternoon.

But road signs for cars are not helpful.

Most people seem to come by train, and take a taxi or a long walk up the mountain to the Heidi House, as it is called. By car, simply give up on the map, go to the railway station, and pretend you are walking.  Follow those signs.

Museum,Grandfather's house, kitchen, Maienfeld, Switzerland

Shed, and 1930's caretakers' cottage beyond, Heidi House, Maienfeld, Switzerland

There is a sizable residence built in the 1930's and we understand it is for the caretakers - tending the animals, overseeing the museum and shop, and all that go with being famous.  Just turn your head away and pretend it is not there.

Fave Goat. Heidi House, Maienfeld, Switzerland.

Mnaaaahhhh. Mmmmmnnnnaaaaah.

Johanna Spyri, the author of Heidi, remains largely a mystery.  She died a widow, but ordered that all her correspondence be destroyed at her death. See http://www.swissinfo.ch/eng/archive.html?siteSect=883&sid=742902&ty=st/. She had children, they died, as did her husband, and none of her other works attained the popularity of Heidi.  She is buried in Zurich. See ://www.online-literature.com/spyri/

Monday, October 19, 2009

Maypole - Klausen Pass - Altdorf (William Tell) to Maienfeld (Heidi). MAYPOLE.

The route:  Starting from Altdorf, aiming for Maienfeld.  From William Tell on the lake (who wasn't) to Heidi in the Alps, whose story at least some say was inspired by the life of a real person.

And on the way toward the Klausen Pass was this Maypole.

This is the only one we saw in Switzerland.  There had been many in Germany. See Germany Road Ways, Maypoles.

The series of passes from Altdorf to Maienfeld do take time - see the views at Passes: Brunigen, Susten, Sarnen, Klausen.  Next time we would not rely on seeing Switzerland west to east, but north-south, like a cardiogram. We had to hurry at the end of the trip, using the autobahn, but would not have missed these views.

Important:  Gas up.

Drive back down if you have to to find a station if you forget.  There are automated gas stations occasionally, no attendant, just the pump and slots for money in the more remote areas. Until those are familiar, don't try them. Stop only if someone else is there to help the first time, just in case.

Kilometers vs. Miles Per Hour. Speed conversions.

Speed conversions. Rules of the Road.

Take traffic rules seriously, and expect them to be enforced.  See ://www.ricksteves.com/graffiti/helpline/index.cfm/rurl/topic/23345/foreign-traffic-lawsamerican-scofflaws.html/  Computers now make pursuit by mail likely, so they say.

There will always be something unknown, like Austria's law that cars must contain a reflector vest in case of accident, as the Rick Steves site says, but that will be no excuse.

To avoid trouble, memorize for each country the speed limits applicable to every type of situation. There is radar there, just as here. Get accustomed to the mental changeover from 58 kmh to 38 mph or so.

Use the easy converters before you leave, as at ://www.calculateme.com/Speed/KilometersperHour/ToMilesperHour.htm/

You will find that the speeds are not so different from ours, even on the autobahns - although those seem to get ignored more. For example, 100 kmh on an autobahn is just 62 mph. Those whizzing by at what looks like 140 in kmh are getting more up there - 87.

Do not expect speeds to be posted.  Do not expect the pay-kiosks to be easily visible, or even on that particular block side.  Prepare to walk to look for it.  Trust no apparent-freebie spot.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Altdorf and Burglen: William Tell Country

William Tell: Apple on the Son's Head. 
An Oppressor. 
Fabulous Shot Splitting the Apple, Not the Son's Head. 
Fiction or Fact?

William Tell! Who dares question the story.  His own town does. So:  Get there.  Up and back the switchbacks, higher, higher, pass the last snowfield, and melt-lake in the Alps. 

Alpine snowfield, glacier, Switzerland

Pass another lovely chalet.

Chalet, Switzerland

See another beautiful Alpine village.

Alpine village, Switzerland

And arrive at ... Altdorf. Think the William Tell Overture.  Now - quick.  Open your window so you can turn up the volume, and go toYoutube at ://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6TOW_4TXJ2Q/  Got it?  Turn up the volume even more.  This is Rossini, folks. It's only 3 minutes.  You can listen and watch that long.  Riccardo Muti conducting.

And this is ... Altdorf!

Altdorf, Switzerland. William Tell and Son, statue, center square

Just up the road is Burglen, the smaller village that claims William Tell as its own.

Stay at the William Tell Hotel, but take your earplugs.  This is the bell-tower and the view of it from our window.  It gongs every quarter hour.

Burglen, Church Bell Tower at night, Switzerland.  Bong.

See a live videotaping of the sport of flagging. These swirled about for a length of time. There is William Tell on the pedestal. Was this a holiday?

Burglen, Switzerland, flaggers flagging

Next to the church is a graveyard where people's occupations are carved instead of dull stone headstones.

Church graveyard, carved markers, Burglen, Switzerland

Wake up to the view.

Alpine view, Burglen, William Tell Hotel

The view changes every few minutes.

Burglen Alps view, from William Tell Hotel

Here, we are told,  is the mother of little Boy Tell, and wife of William.

Sculpture, Mrs. William Tell, and son, pre-apple anxiety

And the museum that houses the documents (or copies? they looked original, but hard to tell) that have anything to do with William Tell and the story. 

William Tell Museum, Burglen, Switzerland, old print

Reread the story, FN 1.  The problem is, there is no documentation for it.  There is nothing in any contemporary record of his birth, life, events, the arrow, the apple.  There is no real William Tell.

What? No William Tell?? Burglen, Switzerland acknowledges.

It was only a century later that, given events at that later time, it became important to show roots of Swiss independence, of cantons banding together to oppose oppression (here by the Habsburgs of Austria who had moved south).  William Tell evolved in the public consciousness as embodying all the virtues they needed, and wanted to believe had been really in one person. 

Graveyard, Burglen, Switzerland. Individualized. Add some legends here ....

Back to the lovely graveyard.  Sometimes people die, but the stories that people need to believe, live on or get created if they were not there to begin with. 

William, you never were; but tell that to the angels. See http://www.nytimes.com/1994/03/30/world/lausanne-journal-the-swiss-debunk-william-tell-and-all-that.html/. We want our overture. Read the story at ://www.mainlesson.com/display.php?author=baldwin&book=fifty&story=tell/  How can you not believe? Don't tell me about debunk. No way.

This is like Robin Hood. Go to Nottingham. There they do have record books, but with dozens, if not a hundred, Robin Hoods (the John Doe name of the time) for any unknown miscreant, whose exploits were eventually attributed to one RobinhoodRobinhoodRidingthroughtheglen ....

Back to Rossini.
Ba-da-bump, Ba-da-bump, Ba-da BUMP BUMP BUMP
FN 1.  The William Tell Story, retold

Who was he?  We all think we know.

We think apples on heads, oppression by invaders, a strong father who would not bow to the foreign ruler's hat up there on the pole. The penalty:  shoot the apple off your son's head, with a crossbow. A distraught mother. The child at the tree, the bowshot, yes! the apple splits and the child lives!

It gets better. The Bailiff sees a second arrow in Tell's quiver. What is this second arrow, asks Gessler, the Bailiff of Uri, the foreign oppressor for the Habsburgs, Austrian variety.

It was for you if I had missed, hisses Tell.

Arrest him! They do.

They put him, tied, in a boat to go across the lake. Storm. Only William can save them. Untie him so he can help! They do, he does, and escapes, only to return another time and kill the evil Bailiff Gessler. Or mayor. Whatever. See ://www.1911encyclopedia.org/William_Tell/

Yes, say the Swiss, recalling. Independence, no bowing to foreign rule. We are Swiss. The cantons were stirred to band together with the story and the rest is history - the Swiss federation, the Confederation Helvetia (Helvetii, the original tribes), CH on the license plates, Switzerland.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Bern to Altdorf: Interior, Rural Cross-Country, Dicey Traverse W-E, Interior Ski Areas

You can't get some places from where you are, easily. 

A road may look fine at the outset, with a level area, but it will change to switchbacks and Alpine passes if you are going non-Autobahn.

If time matters, don't try going cross-country, no matter how inviting the first level area looks. Use the Autobahns and prepare to be bored. For speed plus dull, see FN 1

Our preference:  If you want to see the country, set off cross-country.  The problem is that Alps seem to go north to south, and if you are trying to go west to east, you will need time, patience, and care. But it is worth it.

Be prepared.  Roads stop.  They just stop.  No more.  Nada. Little yellow signs show where hikers may head, and how long it will take to get there (1 1/2 hours to this village or that);  and there are separate biking signs for the wheeled.  Cars?  Turn back.

Alpine road, Switzerland; interior ski-hike community. Road stops.

Meanwhile, remember that you are very high up here, and weather will change fast.  We had a rain-sun, cloud-clear day, and the odd part was looking up and seeing gray, then looking back as clouds scudded by and there is a huge mountain on top of you.  Love it.

Dead end, Swiss Alpine road, ski-hike-bike area, interior rural. Go back.

Just beyond the sudden dead end was the area we had wanted to follow. The map did show the line stopping. We couldn't believe it.  Believe it.  If the map shows roads stopping, that is so.

Switzerland Alpine area. No road through.

So, there we were, trying to go from Bern, trying to get around Lucerne to get, from the southern end of the lake, up to Altdorf and Burglen and William Tell country.  And we were stuck.  There are intermittent level-ish areas, with farms and cowbells, but finding your way around and through takes time.  Time well spent. Stop the car, open the window, hear the cowbells. Breathe.  Aah.  Inhale.  Oops.

Alpine farm, Switzerland, cows. Not all are chalets.

Then another interior recreation settlement area - small houses, nothing like the big resorts with the flowery chalets and pubs.  There are even modest apartments up here, very sensible, within reach - and all the signs for the hiking and biking.  Everyman's Switzerland.
Swiss ski area, interior, Everyman's Switzerland, modest homes, apartments

Down to one lane here.
Alpine ski-hike modest apartments area, Switzerland

Then, back on a more mainstream road, there will be a road house somewhere. These probably do not have gas, so watch the gauge and aim for a town fast.

Alpine road house, but no gas, Switzerland

Back up the switchbacks, another pass, up high enough and the rescue huts or perhaps these are for longer-term residents, we could not tell.

Then up again, seeing beyond the forage and trees.

One lane paved road - that becomes a one land dirt road soon after.  Go back. No lay-bys.  Generally, on one lane roads, there will be periodic broader areas so cars can pass.  The one closest to the lay-by is supposed to back back into it, and stop while the other goes by.  On switchbacks and other tight turns, usually there is a little broader area right at the turn. Strategy:  sneak, peak, little beep, and go.

Interior hike and ski settlement, Switzerland: one lane, no turnaround. Back up. Now.

Now:  GPS for getting out of places.  Our GPS, that we took for the first time, did not work because the rental car connection in the lighter had been worn out by the boor before us, who apparently did not report it to Hertz, or Hertz just doesn't check those things.  A GPS would help, but then again, when it did work, it just chose the boring roads. We would take a GPS again, though, because Swiss signs often are for the next nearest town, or pass, much of the time. We would want to plug in our ultimate destination instead.

So, study your map and decide if you want to go over and through the passes, because those roads will be narrow and slow for novice Alp drivers: two lanes where you are lucky, but 1 1/2 lanes much of the time, and the switchbacks go on and on.  Up to summits way beyond treelines, to sheer rockface.


FN 1  For speed, take the Autobahn from major city to major city, if you must; and you will have level, multi-lane megalithic roadways with people whizzing past at far more than 100km per hour - more like 140 km per hour, we estimated. On six lane roads: speeds say slow lane, converted to mph, might be 30-40 mph. Middle lane might be 60 mph. Fast lane might be 85-90. Does that sound right? We saw no Autobahn accidents, even where people were going over 140 km and that might be 110 mph. Roads built for speed, people self-select how fast to go. See someone on your tail, move over.  We avoided all Autobahns, or Autostrasses, unless we also needed to make time, as at the end of the trip, not at the beginning.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Bern - Alpine Horns; and Cathedral Drama: the Munster Imp.

1.  Alpine horns at Bern's Clock Tower, Gate. Really big. Great sound. Slow. Measured. Toss a shiny franc in the young man's hat.

Note the frescoes on buildings.

And what do you call, in architecture, those corner catch-all-viewing places,  the sitting areas at the building second floor area?  In Philadelphia, find the Philadelphia Busybody, an arrangement of mirrors that someone could affix to the outside of a second story window did the same thing.  See up, down, around, without disturbing the curtain. Similar purpose.

The old clock, figures go round each hour. See ://switzerland.isyours.com/e/guide/bern/zytglogge.html/

Close-up, Alpine Horn group, Bern, Switzerland; frescoes
The Alpine Horn group has a website, but until I find this particular one, here is another, with more horns, and an older group:  ://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L6qy8RVo4v4&feature=PlayList&p=173EBB938420F48F&playnext=1&index=9; or at :// www.travelistic.com/video/show/2934/Alpine-Horn-Performance-at-Lucerne-Restaurant/

2.  Now, on to the Cathedral.  Blame Rick Steves for this one.  He alerted us to the front, the facade, the archway with lovely painted figures sculpted inside the framing, with the usual heaven and earth lessons... but 

Closeup, Facade, Bern Cathedral, The Compulsory Abbreviation

There is the group going to hell, up there on the right.  Get closer.  Squint.  No!  Yes!  An imp up there with nippers is about to make the gentleman next in line less of a one.  Honest.  That is what is going on. See http://www.stonemfg.net/stone.htm/
From a distance, can't tell a thing. And, we listened in when we could, and guides didn't point it out either.  Even the angels look sad.

Munster means Church or Cathedral, we understand, thus Bernmunster.  Or the Munster of Bern. This site notes the scene, but calls it "harassing" - see ://www.sacred-destinations.com/switzerland/bern-cathedral.htm/  Can't we call a spade a spade?

NYT Archives:  The Times' articles on travel are worth looking up, even after years, because they are so clear.  No clutter.  Go to "What's Doing in Bern" from Sunday, March 9, 1980, and find bits. Bern means bear and is named that at its founding in 1191 by Berthold V of Behringen, Germany area. The name reflects the first animal seen on a hunt. It became a free city in 1218, and joined the Swiss Confederation (CH now, for Confederation of Helveticans) in1353. Then came a terrible fire in 1405, buring the wooden buildings; the rebuilt ones are of local sandstone. Big time administration: 50 territories, then reduced by Napoleon's administrators.  Next time we will see the Paul Klee collection.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

The Moor Motif in Switzerland - Origins. The Blackamoor. And Saint Maurice.

Black and white. Not unusual in itself as a motif for coats of arms, but we are interested in the extension of it to the Moor motif we saw in several places in Switzerland.  Our conclusion so far is that the Blackamoors in Switzerland related to St. Maurice, a man of dark skin, but not possibly a Moor because he lived in the 3rd Century, and Mohammed did not arrive until the 600's.  There were no "Moors" in Maurice's time.  Nonetheless, Maurice morphed into a Moor, possibly as the slave trade demanded that blacks be shown in servitudinous garb.  He had been in a higher role, serving as patron to various trades, but without the Moor garb. Follow as we try to figure things out.

Summary of issue:  St. Maurice lived in the 3d Century, leading a Theban Legion (Thebes, Egypt, Africa, black?) under a Roman Commander.  The Commander ordered an attack against an enemy, we understand, that had Christians in it.  Maurice (Moritz, Morris) was Christian, as was the Legion of some 6000+ soldiers, apparently from Thebes, and all black or Egyptian dark perhaps?

Maurice refused to kill Christians, the Commander insisted, and perhaps began to decimate the Legion (kill one of ten), and ended up killing them all for refusal to fight against Christians.   Is that really martydrom, or just disobedience of military orders, discipline, also in there.

The point is that none of these Legions or Maurice himself were Moors - Mohammed was not born until the 7th century.  How could Maurice be a Moor when Muslims did not evolve until three hundred years later?

History.  A mess.  Illogical, but beliefs persist. So we have Maurice now portrayed as a Moor, perhaps a result of the post-medieval slave trade, where blacks were to be in their place.  Is that so?

And retain your own option to choose what to believe.  As a Third Century soldier-saint, for example, Maurice as a Black Moor would not have worn this outfit, but the Blackamoor is dubbed with it, perhaps influenced by the Renaissance-Reformation era form of slave trade and monarchies obsessing about roles and threats. Symbolism and cultural fancy win over fact every time, even in theology.
So, see black and white  1) as a pattern, and also, 2)  in human form, as The Blackamoor.  Find Saint Maurice; and other roots leading possibly to  a) Prester John (of legend, but also some fact rootings); b) Roman Catholics vs. Reformists; and  c) back to the Bern cloth guild's use of the Blackamoor as a patron saint of a weaver or clothmaker guild. Then go back further to  d) Sardinia and Corsica. See their coats of arms; with a Black figure head, and different traditions from the Blackamoor.  The roots here are spread.

Wikipedia, that overall orienting source, lists the origins of St. Maurice as the Black Moor, see ://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Saint_Maurice/  Apparently there is a carving at the Cathedral at Magdeburg, Germany, from 1240 showing St. Maurice as a Moor. See also Maurice as Egyptian.
A.  So far, we have found these depictions of Moors in Switzerland:

A.1.  Bern. 

In Bern, there is a statue of a Moor, installed as other statues in the street, at the second story level of the buildings.  The Moor represented the cloth guild. See Statue, Moor, Bern.   Bern is in the German-speaking area of Switzerland.

See St. Maurice (St. Moritz) discussion below - is this really St. Maurice.  Note the spear in the Moor's right hand the Holy Lance of Vienna, one of the relics said to have pierced Christ's side?  See that at ://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Saint_Maurice/. With Wiki, reliability depends on the contributor, but what else is that spear?

Demotion to a cloth merchant??  Not necessarily. As a patron saint of many things, including soldiers, armies, swordsmiths, dyers, and so weavers are just one of many, including against menstrual cramps, says Wikipedia at ://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Saint_Maurice/ A man of many trades.
Or is it the Spear of Destiny that St. Maurice carried into battle.  See same Wikipedia site.
A.2.  Avenches.

We also saw a Black figure, a face and head, in Avenches, a Roman-origin town in the French-speaking area.

Look to the right.  There is a banner, and there were many of those banners around, showing a different figure from the cloth guild, but Black, and it even looks like a slave.  Or is it? There is a headband. We asked a waitress about it, and she had no idea.
Avenches, Moor, motif, associated with banner: liberte et patrie, Switzerland

This looks like the Sardinian-Corsican form, see below. If the pattern goes through the cloth, then from the other side, the face would (obviously) be reversed, and look like the Corsican one.
A.3.  At Chillon Castle, Montreux: 

There is what appears to be a Moorish motif on the ceiling, religious figures perhaps, on a coat of arms, camera slipped.

B.  We looked up The Blackamoor in Heraldry.

B.1  Familiar to us already is the "Blackamoor" idea, as in Othello.
The Moor in Renaissance literature is highly intelligent, a full participant in the society.  Look up this source:  Many coats of arms showed a Blackamoor motif in the 13th-15th Centuries in Europe.  See Frontline,  Sigillum Secretum (Secret Seal) on the Image of the Blackamoor in European Heraldry, at://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/shows/secret/famous/ssecretum.html/. The author is Mario de Valdes y Cocom. This is a site with all the positives of the traditions of the Blackamoor.
B.2  Blackamoor in Avenches. 

Look back at the Avenches banner with the Black man's head, and the white angled headband. It resembles the Corsican-Sardinian Moor, not the Shakespearean Othello or other Blackamoor.  Should we distinguish from Moor and Blackamoor?
B.3  Blackamoor in Sardinia. says the site. That same head, in reverse, appears on a coat of arms from the island of Sardinia, and in four separate quadrants, with a cross separating them. Here is Sardinia's symbolism with the four Blackamoors.
This fair use from ://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flag_of_Sardinia
There are traditional explanations, serving the interests of the white Christians, and then there are ones emerging historically.  Read some at the Wikipedia site. Then keep going. For example, a traditional white explanation is that the four heads represent four emirs, muslim leaders, defeated by a king of Aragon, Spain, in the 11th Century. From this idea grew another:  that the figureheads represent evil, the things to be overcome. Beginnings of racism, perhaps.

Blackamoor in Corsica:  See this one - from the mid 18th Century, see ://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flag_of_Corsica/

B.4  The Blackamoor himself:  Was it St. Maurice. St. Moritz.

Is St. Maurice Roman Catholic, or Coptic?  Does it matter?? His story was laid out by one St. Eucher.  He was Bishop of Lyons, France, in 494 AD.  See site ://www.copticchurch.net/topics/synexarion/maurice.html
The historical research, however, suggests that the head is not a negative precursor of racism, but represents a saint, a Christian saint, Saint Maurice.  Maurice was the patron saint of the Holy Roman Empire in the 10th Century, a "soldier saint."  Apparently he chose martyrdom, retaining his faithfulness to Christ, and refusing to kill Christians as Emperor Maximian demanded. He died along with a (isn't this a highly symbolic, magic number? *) number, 6666, of his fellows, Christians from Upper Egypt, see ://www.copticchurch.net/topics/synexarion/maurice.html - his "Theban Legion". PBS says they were Ethopian. Thebes is Egypt or Ethopia?  Where were boundaries then? Either way, the race symbolized Christ's universality.  St. Maurice, the soldier, the armed warrior.

The massacre of them all occurred at St. Maurice, Switzerland, then known as Aquanum.  If that is St. Moritz,Maurice in the German name way rather than the French tilt, then it is the ski resort.

Read at the Coptic site the names and circumstances, including these: There is an altar at St. Peters' for St. Maurice, many churches bear his name (he was new to us) and St. Maurice's lance (see a lance in the Blackamoor's hand, Bern) was bargained in exchange for a Swiss canton. Also read about his sword. There are not separate iconography in the Coptic Church, except in Canada.  Maurice is venerated in the Roman Catholic. For 500 years, a service with chant called Tasbeha has been performed at St. Maurice in Switzerland for 24/7, without stop.

Yes.  Without stop, 24/7 for 500 years, says ://www.copticchurch.net/topics/synexarion/maurice.html/ site.  So,  Maurice and Switzerland.  Clear connects.

Maurice later symbolized the authority of the old Roman church against the reformers.
C.  Then we looked up other uses or symbolisms related to Black and White

Black and White and Reformation / Counter-Reformation.
The symbolism of black and white developed in important ways for the Germans, and for the Pope.  Reformation vs. Counter-Reformation.  The concept of the black and the white came to represent the old order versus the reformers.  Luther, Calvin et al.

So, look back at the symbolism on the coat of arms here, at the top, with half the lion rampant in white, and half in black. Reformation, Counter-Reformation. Is that so? All this about black and white representing those two forces is from the PBS Frontline site above.

D.  Other uses of the Blackamoor in Contemporary Heraldry

D.1.  Pope Benedict XVI has the Blackamoor, Crowned, on his coat of arms:

This includes the Blackamoor, but a crowned one (allusion to the perhaps not so mythical Prester John?  Or to Saint Maurice?).  This depiction was first on the coat of arms of Otto of Friesing. See ://www.erzbistum-muenchen-und-freising.de/EMF207/EMF020624.asp/,  This is a site of the Archdiocese of Munich.

Here is a fair use copy of the Pope's coat of arms, with the Blackamoor, crowned.  It also has on it the (Bern?) Bear, it looks like; bearing (pun) the burden of office; and the traditional Pilgrim's Scallop shell. It is called "The Friesing Moor" at the site. The "Head of the Ethiopian" is also used on other coats of arms.

D.2. Friesing.

The Head of the Ethiopian is also on the coat of arms of the German district of Friesing, fair use of it here, see ://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Freising_%28district%29 / Coat of arms
That site, only as reliable as the people putting stuff in, says the head could be saints traditionally known as Moors:  St. Mauritius (Maurice?), St. Sigismund of Burgundy (no connection that we can see, except he was involved with starting the abbey at Aguanum, see ://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Saint_Maurice), or St. Zeno of Verona, who may have been from North Africa, Mauritania; even St. Corbinian who is associated at the Pope Benedict site with the bear, but the Wikipedia site says the only reason they bring Corbinian up in the context of the Moor idea is that Corbinian's face could have darkened over time.  Lame.

Maurice:  add spellings Moritz, and Morris, and Mauritius. See://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Saint_Maurice/  Wikipedia's contributors so far call the Theban Legion "legendary."  From legend, or so find that their stuff is worthy of legend?  Wiki?
E.   Ideas.
  • Now, if the black symbolized the old Roman church and its teachings; and the white symbolized the reformers, no wonder the reformers were offended at the prominence given St. Maurice, as the PBS site says.  Is that why, in Bern, then, in Protestant Bern, the figure appears as a mere cloth guild "union member" symbol.  Religion idea expunged.  That would be so if the representation did not mean "patron saint of".  Is that is?
So, the practicalities of the marketplace take over 1) if the use of the Saint not as just a Corsican style head as seen in Avenches is rejected; and on purpose, to demean him perhaps, he is shown in Bern as 2) the nearly naked Blackamoor kind. Protestant Bern and commerce, with a religious dig.  Avenches, in the Catholic French-speaking area, retained it as St. Maurice.
  • St. Maurice, the Town:  Switzerland's connection.  St. Maurice of Theba/. See Coptic Church site, at ://www.copticchurch.net/topics/synexarion/maurice.html/  So - Maurice was Coptic. That is its own research into earliest Christianity.  No time here.  
 If it is the same as St. Moritz, the resort, we intentionally passed it by.  Enough of resorts, but we'll go next time to see the Abbey.
Either way, all considered, Switzerland clearly has close ties with St. Maurice. Look again at the town named for him, the contemporary use of the banner.

St. Moritz-St.Maurice is just past Martigny where the Grand San Bernardino Pass leaves us off, after coming from Italy and Aosta.  Famous pass. Historic road. See it at http://images.google.com/images?hl=en&sa=N&tab=li&q=st.+maurice+switzerland/.  It is right there, on the road to Montreux.  At the southern end, it goes to Rome. We must have passed it because we went across that pass (so did Napoleon) coming from Italy back to Switzerland. That site says 6600 of his soldiers died with him.  Not the fateful 6666.  Read the Golden Legend about him at ://www.catholic-forum.com/saints/golden277.htm


Fancy flying. There could be another connection.  Prester John was ruler of Ethiopia (legend, or with which facts, as these do not appear to have been checked out much - go back to the East, not just to Ethiopia, as some sites are doing now), and was both priest and king. ruling wisely and in a land that prospered under him.  He came to symbolize, as a Black figure with crown, the ideal state. See ://www.dacb.org/stories/ethiopia/prester_john.html/
Is he legend, partial legend, real, what is what. How impossible is it and was it for White Europe to imagine a Black revered head of state. We are supposed to look up the coat of arms of the see of Friesing to see the motif of the Black crowned king.  It is later on the same site.

St. Maurice and his Legion became associated with Prester John, the ideal, and - here we go, white Christians, the only ones who could claim a bloodline with Jesus because they descended from Solomon. This gets beyond my ken, so go to the site and read.  Only Prester John had the right to carry the cross, the crucifix.  Look at the earring on the Blackamoor - a symbol of that privilege. Blackness as an allusion to God. To Wisdom.

This gets beyond a mere tourist in Switzerland noting themes. FN 1

And all rounds back to the Sardinian heraldry. And now, we see, Corsican as well.  FN 2.


FN 1  For your own research:

The PBS site continues with many possible connections, tracing the tradition of the earring, with the legitimacy of the line from Solomon, and the Black Madonna, noting the earliest stories of the Grail being in Ethopia (story still strong), the Black Wise Man of the Epiphany, Balthazar (later treated as a King), and ultimately the symbolism of sun, moon and six-pointed stars on mythical heraldry developed for the Wise Men. And the black St. Dismas, thief on the cross who recognized Jesus.  These are Christian allusions, Biblical, but they stem not from a religious bent here, but on research about who the Blackamoor in Switzerland represents through these many centuries. Also find the Black double-headed Eagle of Justice,

Jumping ahead, is that connection between the traditions of St. Maurice, and Balthazar, and Prester John and all, an explanation why there is the six-pointed star, the hexagram, "Solomon's Seal", "Star of David", on the roof tiles as a pattern on the church in the medieval city of Murten, also in Switzerland? Experts, on your marks.


FN 2.  More on the symbolism.  There are also negative allusions to Blackamoors, but these appear to be uses of the term as a reaction, to denigrate, intentionally, regardless of historical roots.  See literature at a cursory site, ://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/blackamoor/

A Blackamoor also appears in Scots heraldry, with varying explanations, one being the killing of a black man (like the Sardinian coat of arms once said to represent the conquest of the four emirs); and a reference to Sardinia's originally showing blindfolded figures (at PBS that meant a symbol of justice, not captivity), and later the blindfold is moved up to become a headband, see ://wapedia.mo/en/Blackamoors_%28decorative_arts%29?t=2/. 

The Maur, or Maure:  This is a term for the single head.  See ://wapedia.mobi/en/Maure/.  Does that not sound like Maurice, as in St. Maurice in the PBS account?  But why the Greek and Phoenician origins suggested, without supporting information.

Corsican coat of arms shows the Maure. "U Moru".  But it was a female, blindfolded. Much more there. Clearly, the Moor is not anywhere by accident, but has meanings that by now blend and evade.

Now, after all the fair use thumbnails, meet the man in the public domain: at ://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Hochstift_Freising_coat_of_arms.png