Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Battle of Murten: Ramparts, Roofs, Allotment Gardens

Murten:  Commerce, Ramparts, Secrets, Allotment Gardens

Murten has always served as a commercial crossroads.  The main square is busy. Fuchs is a big business, with several storefronts.

Climb around the ramparts, however, and find locked doors with big keyholes.  Look in and find a nice room with an inviting door to the outer walkways - no access for you.

Peer down the alley, where the houses share a party wall with the City Walls, and see a mannequin on the balcony staring back at you, there midway up, at the center; and then a nice chair on the cobbles for people-watching.  This is not a museum city. 

The Battle of Murten, see://www.muellerscience.com/ENGLISH/Switzerland.htm/.

In 1476, the Confederation was attacked by the Burgundians from the French side of things; and sent out runners to get help. The other Swiss groups indeed responded, and - to the surprise of the better-equipped Burgundians - the Swiss Confederation combined army won.  Here are cannonballs from that battle, still in the walls of Murten.

This angle showing cannonballs shows how high the walls are - remember that there are two to three story buildings on the other side, sharing the wall.  Houses, Inns, shops.   The Burgundians were driven into the lake, and tales are told of thousands drowning in armor; so that for years after, parts of bodies and equipment were coming up on shore.

Battle of Murten, cannonballs, Burgundians defeated, Switzerland

See the diorama of the battle at ://www.murtenpanorama.ch/en/schlacht/221.php/  This is also known as the Battle of Morat. See ://home.eckerd.edu/~oberhot/morat.htm

Murtensee, Lake Murten, beyond City Walls, Murten Switzerland

Go outside again, the other side from the cannonballs, and see nice gardens for vegetables and flowers all along the City Walls.  Even - what do you call those shaped wall plants climbing up?

In many European cities, there will be an allotment garden area outside or in the town, where people get a small plot and set up a mini-house, not just for equipment, but also for a bed and a chair for a get-away.   Gardener's time off.

Dizzying climb up to the ramparts, interior wooden stair.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Murten: Heraldry, Gates, Sgraffito

Walled City - Murten
Heraldry, Gates, Sgraffito

1.  City gates.  The entry ways show the depth of the walls. The walls are not always freestanding. Here, there are houses and businesses abutting, even part of it.  See the slant back at the facade of the building just through the gateway - its own kind of buttressing.  Many city walls have a second line of defense past the main gate, before entering the city: a second huge door, or iron portcullis to drop down the slots.  Some have a murder hole above, where defenders can rain down arrows, pitch, on those stuck in the midway before getting through to the town.

Note that an invader has successfully passed through and is waiting for lunch.

Murten, Switzerland, city gate with heraldry

This gate is sectioned into the big swinger, and then its own little door with its own little window - allows the watchmen to let one person in without the vulnerability of the entire gate opening; and the little window to check identities.  No body scanners yet.

2. Heraldry.  There is a heraldry motif on this gate to the city of Murten:  See  a red and white wavy line pattern, seen also on shutters, doors.

Look up heraldry to see meanings, if any. Or it is just personal taste spread about. The white (also silver, or "argent"), according to://www.fleurdelis.com/meanings.htm/ means peace and sincerity; the red ("gules") means "Warrior, martyr; Military strength and magnanimity." A wavy line means water, sea.  Fine:  this city knew many sieges, and it is on Lake Murten, or Murtensee.  The site also notes, however, that there is no one interpretation of any of this. 

3.  View from inside the city.  Here is the other side of the gateway, looking back at the tower and its warning bell, and a cafe next door.

There is ornamentation known as "sgraffito" on the cafe built into the wall, visible from the inside. 

4. Sgraffito.  Sgraffito is a multiple-step decorative process, where one color of pigment is covered with another; sometimes a layer of plaster will be covered with another layer, then the top one is scratched deep enough to reveal the contrast beneath. See entire pictures on buildings; or designs that can be made to look like stonework, ironwork. Do an images search for sgraffito technique.

5.  Clockworks

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Murten - Walled City. Celt or Saintly Roots? Looks Celtic.

among others

Names carry history within them.  Murten. The city of Murten, Switzerland, on the Murtensee.  Lake Murten. Murten. A name not glamorous in sound. Brings to mind an eccentric uncle, or friends of Lucy and Desi as in I Love, and not a name to draw you in off the roadway. 

Think again.  The roots of Murten are ancient.  Explore some possible connections:

1.  Early name migration to the British Isles.

Is there a connection to "Morton", coming maybe from "Moortown"; or "Marton" that tilts us toward "Martin."  All sound veddy British.  Morton alone is said to be English in origin, but only from the 19th Century, and this city in Switzerland goes for millennia before that: see all this at ://www.thinkbabynames.com/meaning/1/Morton/.

2.  Moors

We are interested in the "Moortown" idea because of the tradition of the blackamoor in Switzerland, see Moor as St. Maurice, patron saint of weavers in Bern; and on the district flag at Avenches, town to the south.  See Moor Motif in Switzerland.  His name also appears as St. Moritz, now of ski fame, Is this the same as St. Martin of Tours? Not by comparing biographies. See Martin at ://st-martins.net/martbio.htm/; and Maurice at A History of Christianity in Egypt, The Saints, at ://www.touregypt.net/chiste3.htm/.

St. Moritz, St. Maurice, was black - the Ethiopian commander of an African legion, from Thebes, in Egypt, that fought with the Romans, but was comprised Christians.  Maurice refused to attack a tribe that had Christians in it, and many were martyred for that refusal to follow orders.   Read the ancient Golden Legend about him, his name is also called Moris, at The Golden Legend, at ://www.catholic-forum.com/saints/golden277.htm. Does Murten, the lake as Murtensee or Lake Murten; and the walled town on its shores;  as a name have any connection with "Moortown", from something about the black Maurice-Moritz.

Here is a Star of David, as we know it, formed by a different color roof tile as seen from the ramparts.  This did not signify a Jewish population, apparently, but was a form used commonly by Christians and signified 

the journey of the Magi at the time of the birth of Christ.  The five-pointed star has a long history, not just in Judaism.  Do not go to ://christianity.about.com/od/symbolspictures/ig/Christian-Symbols-Glossary/Christian-Stars.htm/ because you will be hit with ugly ads for teeth whiteners all across the top. Skip that one and go to something more exotic, like Religious Symbols at ://www.jesusfamilytomb.com/back_to_basics/alternative/secret/star.html/

3.  Celts

Looking elsewhere for Murten's roots, see Celtic civilization.  Here is the really ancient; and it is tied to many of us. See http://www.joellessacredgrove.com/Celtic/history.html/  They were here, there, everywhere, pre-Christian, shoved about by the Romans and Slavs and others ultimately, and many landed in the British Isles.

The British Isles - Gaelic; one form in Ireland, another in Scotland, and versions in the off-islands?  "Mor" in Scots Gaelic means great, or big.  "Ton" or tun or dun means fort.  So Morton or Murten as a place of a big fort makes sense.  May not be it, but at least we came up with some explanation for a dull-sounding name. Scroll down at the Celtic history site to find the Swiss material.

There is a big Moortown in Leeds, England, and that supports a Celtic background, not necessarily a black one.