#loveMW: Our love to salon culture around 1800

LogoMW_PostersteinThe last day of #MuseumWeek 2016 on Twitter is dedicated to LOVE and we guess the motto of the day is not only about all the Twitter hearts given to favorite tweets in this week. That’s why we want to present one of our favorite research subjects: European salon culture around 1800, which is involving a lot of love stories, too.

Napoleon's death mask next to a bust of Dorothee de Dino-Talleyrand at Museum Burg Posterstein.
Napoleon’s death mask next to a bust of Dorothee de Dino-Talleyrand at Museum Burg Posterstein.
Not the first thing to think of when talking about a medievial castle. But only a view kilometres away from the regional history museum Burg Posterstein a popular salon hostess had her summer residence: Anna Dorothea of Courland (1761–1821) in the castle of Löbichau. Born in today’s Latvia the rich Duchess had wide connections to Europe’s high society.

That’s why Napoleon’s death mask is one of the first things to see, when you enter the salon culture exhibition in Posterstein. First enthousiastic about him, the Duchess of Courland became much more opposed against Napoleon during the time. She cultivated a livelong friendship to the French statesman Charles Maurice de Talleyrand (1754–1834). Tsar Alexander I. (1777-1825) visited her 1808 in Löbichau and conveyed the marriage of her youngest daughter Dorothée (1793–1862) to Talleyrand’s nephew. At the Congress of Vienna Dorothee de Dino-Talleyrand accompanied Talleyrand and after his death she became his sole heir.

Bertel Thorvaldsen: Wilhelmine Benigna Biron, 1818, Originalmodel. Gips. 58 cm; Thorvaldsens Museum, Inv.-Nr.: A312[/caption]Anna Dorothea of Courlands oldest daughter Wilhelmine von Sagan (1781–1839) gained great influence an the congress as well, as she led a popular salon in Schenkenstraße in Vienna. From 1813 to 1815 she had a passonate relationship with Clemens von Metternich (1773–1859), the leader of the congress.

Roland Martinet from the association Les Amis de Talleyrand and Sabine Hofmann from Museumsverein Burg Posterstein in Löbichau in 2015
Roland Martinet from the association Les Amis de Talleyrand and Sabine Hofmann from Museumsverein Burg Posterstein in Löbichau in 2015
In Löbichau Anna Dorothea of Courland brought together poets, politicans and artists. Museum Burg Posterstein has been doing intensive research about her live and the lives of her daughters for more than 20 years. The museum is cooperating with the French history society Les Amis de Talleyrand. The cooperation was officially recorded with a contract between the Museum society Burg Posterstein (Museumsverein Burg Posterstein) and Les Amis de Talleyrand in 2015.

Von Marlene Hofmann / Museum Burg Posterstein

Further reading:
A cultural salon in Löbichau
Cooperation with Les Amis de Talleyrand (in German)
Bertel Thorvaldsen’s busts of Wilhelmine von Sagan (in German)

#heritageMW: Beautiful and mystical baroque carvings in Posterstein Church

LogoMW_PostersteinA whole week on Twitter is dedicated to the museums in the world: #MuseumWeek. At Posterstein Castle we blog on each days hashtag. Today everybody tweets and talks about #heritageMW, our chance to point at the mystical boroque castle church in Posterstein:

Burg Posterstein mit Kirche
Posterstein castle and church

Seen from outside, nobody would expect something special inside the small church of Posterstein. Built inside the former castle mout, the church looks small compared to the castle itself. After fights with the neighbouring landlords in Nöbdenitz, the owners of Posterstein Castle built their own church in the second half of the 16th century.

Legendary baroque splendour

Detail des barocken Schnitzwerkes in der Burgkirche Posterstein (Picture: Museum Burg Posterstein)
Detail of the varoque carvings in the church of Posterstein (Foto: Museum Burg Posterstein)

Although the church community always has been protestant, the church looks nearly cathlic style inside. The church became famous for the extremely rich equipment with baroque carvings that demonstrate masterly craftsmanship. The altar is seen as the highlight of the works. The baldachin, on which the passion is shown, is supported by four open-work, spiral hollow columns, made of one piece and decorated with leaves, tendrils and grapes. The pulpit shows the figures of the four evangelists and is crowned by a “roof” with a tall angel on top.

The artwork and the murder case

Inschrift unter der Empore in der Postersteiner Burgkirche
Inscribtion underneath the gallery of Posterstein church (Picture: Museum Burg Posterstein)

The only lead to the artist of Posterstein church’s wood carvings is a small inscription underneath the gallery: “Johannis Hopf 1689”. An old Posterstein legend tells that Johannis Hopf was a wood carver who committed a deadly crime on his way through the local region and was sent to the prison of the fortress. During his captivity he is supposed to make the carvings in the chapel. It is said that Hopf’s death penalty was changed into life long imprisonment as a reward for the magnificent decoration of the church.

In spite of intensive research the true story of the Posterstein carvings could not be explored yet.

Marlene Hofmann / Museum Burg Posterstein

Read more:
The Church of Posterstein

An important strategically centre: Altenburg during the battle of Leipzig

Karl Philipp Fürst zu Schwarzenberg was commander-in-chief of the allied armies against Napoleon in 1813
Karl Philipp Fürst zu Schwarzenberg was commander-in-chief of the allied armies against Napoleon in 1813 (picture: Museum Burg Posterstein)

Karl Philipp Fürst zu Schwarzenberg, commander-in-chief of the 1813 allied armies against Napoleon, planned to occupy the town Altenburg as a strategically important place. From Altenburg further military actions against Napoleon could be planned. Also the Saxon, Russian and Prussian general Johann Adolf Freiherr von Thielemann (1765-1824) emphasized in a letter to Schwarzenberg on October 3rd 1813 the militarily advantages of the town, that has a castle lying high up on a hill that could easily be defended.

Tsar Alexander I. arrived in the evening

In fact Altenburg was the right place to accommodate thousands of soldiers as well as supreme commanders, generals, diplomats and their entourage over a longer period. On October 7th 1813 the allied troops occupied Altenburg. The headquarters were moved there from the town Penig. Tsar Alexander I. arrived on the same day and resided in Altenburg castle. Thereafter the Austrian foreign minister Metternich, the English legate Cathcart, the Russian diplomat Nesselrode and other politicians and important brass arrived.

On October 14th the Austrian emperor Franz received a message from Schwarzenberg that a stay in Altenburg would be save. The Prussian king and the Austrian emperor reached Altenburg on October 15th and stayed in the castle as well.

A town with 10.000 inhabitants accommodated more than 500.000 soldiers

Special exhibition on the battle of Leipzig in the museum Posterstein Castle near Altenburg
Special exhibition on the battle of Leipzig in the museum Posterstein Castle near Altenburg

In the year 1813 altogether 671 generals, 46.617 officers and 472.399 soldiers have been accommodated in the small town Altenburg, that had about 10.000 inhabitants at that time. Only in September and October 1813 the town spent the unbelievable amount of 147.681 thaler on the supply of the troops.

There is existing a detailed record (view here on Google books) on the year 1813 in Altenburg, written by the minister of finance of the town Altenburg, Friedrich Wagner (1792-1859). He is describing, how the citizens of Altenburg, all the villages and farms near-by and other towns in the neighbourhood (as Borna, Meuselwitz, Gera, Zeitz) had to deliver a substantial quantity of food, cattle, textiles and other things to the different armies.

All houses had to shelter 2, 3 or more wounded soldiers

Prisoners and wounded soldiers had to be accommodated and taken care of as well. The canon fire of the battle of Leipzig, 9 hours walk from Altenburg, could be heard in the town as well. After the first fights, masses of wounded soldiers arrived in Altenburg – and with them epidemic deceases. Nearly all official buildings of the town were already used some military hospitals, so that all houses in the Altenburg had to house 2, 3 or more wounded soldiers.

“Heaven help us to harvest”

The farms and manors in the region felt the war as well. Anna Dorothea Duchess of Courland, who owned the manor Löbichau near Posterstein, wrote in her letters from July and August 1813 that there was no day without soldiers who had to be accommodated. Often they took all food and horses with them. Special war taxes had to be paid and workers and farmers were recruited as soldiers. “Heaven help us to harvest”, the Duchess wrote to her friend. – Years after the wars of liberation from Napoleon the people of Altenburg had to pay special taxes to pay the war debts of the Duchy of Saxon-Altenburg.

Special exhibition at Museum Posterstein Castle

Plakat Sonderausstellung "Napoleon - IM Spiegel zeitgenössischer Karikaturen" im Museum Burg Posterstein
Poster of the special exhibition “Napoleon – IM Spiegel zeitgenössischer Karikaturen” in Museum Posterstein Castle in 2013

The Museum Posterstein Castle, regional history museum in the county of Altenburg, shows from September 1st to November 17th 2013 a special exhibition on the battle of Leipzig, which now is 200 years ago. Basis for the exhibitions are about 50 Napoleon caricatures, Wagner’s record of Altenburg in 1813 and original military letters from 1813. On October 13th a book will be published as well (in German). For more information, contact the museum at info@burg-posterstein.de.
(Marlene Hofmann / Museum Burg Posterstein)

The earth shakes in Posterstein

Since the end of August once in a while the earth judders in Posterstein Region. The nearest seismometer station in Heukewalde, driven by Jena University, noted light earthquake swarms in that time. In the so-called Vogtland region and parts of West Saxony quakes measuring 4.0 on the Richter magnitude scale were documented (see: Ostthüringer Zeitung). You can have a look at the latest seismometer graphs on the university’s web page, where you can search after the station with the name HKWD (Heukewalde)

Seismometer graph from the station in Heukewalde, September 4th 2011

Why does the earth shake?

The earth is divided in different tectonic plates. Especially on the borders of a plate, where two plates are pushing against each other, heavy earthquakes can occur. But Posterstein region lies far away from the borders of the Eurasian plate. Responsible for the mostly harmless so-called intra plate quakes, that happen once in a while, is pressure on the Eurasian plate from West and South. In the Vogtland region there are many smaller blocks and cracks that also earlier in the history have led to lighter earthquake swarms. Today the Seismic network of Thuringia monitors and scientifically explores the region. Earlier there was a seismometer installed in the cellar of Posterstein castle as well, but as vibrations caused by the castle’s visitors climbing on the tower distorted the measuring, the station was moved to near-by Heukewalde.

The Middle-European earthquake of 1872

The heaviest earthquake in the region was registered on March 6th 1872 – its centre lay between Posterstein and Schmölln. Karl Theordor Liebe (1828-1894), professor at the Princely Grammar School in Gera, was reporting on the earthquake’s impacts in Posterstein. Among others, he writes that the castle’s tower was shaking and bigger rocks came rolling down the hill. At that time deep cracks occurred in the three metre thick wall of the tower and in the walls of the castle’s bridge:

Crack in the castle's bridge before the restoration (picture from 1985, Museum Burg Posterstein)

„On the old castle we have seen a lot of new cracks, which took there way through grout and stone. In the cellar of the old castle came so much material off the ceiling that more than a 100 litres of milk became useless. The new castle (manor house), which is standing next to the old castle, has 1.2 metre thick walls and in the first floor 0.9 metre thick walls. But there doesn’t exist a single room without cracks in the walls and ceiling”, wrote Karl Theodor Liebe.

The crack in the bridge was repaired during the restoration in 1997, but you still can see the crack in the tower on your way to the top of the tower.

Contemporary witnesses report

Crack in the castle's tower's wall

The teacher and historian Ernst Bräunlich from Posterstein recorded the memories of the pastor Johann Michael Nürnberger from Nöbdenitz, who had witnessed the 1872 earthquake himself: „In the village people came running out of their houses from all ways and they told that they were hasty leaving their houses in fear. The trees had been shaking and on the road they had heard a ratting as if 6 or 8 wagons with heavy load passed by in trot. In the village seven chimneys collapsed. The incidence was the main topic of conversation in a long time.”

The light quake from September 4th 2011 was noted by locals, too. The heaviest vibration could be observed between 4 and 5 in the morning. On our Facebook wall a witness wrote that she woke up because of the chattering in the sleeping room.

Seismometer in Posterstein

In the castle’s permanent exhibition you can have a look at a seismometer and read more about earthquakes in the Posterstein region – more information on www.burg-posterstein.de.

(Text: Marlene Hofmann)

Every half hour a chime of the bell

The turret clock of Posterstein Castle
The turret clock of Posterstein Castle

The clock hands are shining golden in the sun. When you stand on the bridge in front of Posterstein castle, you can see the turret clock. It strikes the full and the half hours.

Many intelligent people have commented on time during the years: Ovid, for example, is said to have spoken the words: “Times are changing and we are changing with them” and Orwell noted: “Times does not pass quicker than earlier, but we pass it in a hurry”. And already Einstein knew: “Time is what we read off the clock”. – How true!

Already Einstein knew: Time is what we read off the clock

That takes us back to the turret clock of Posterstein. Its clockwork dates back to the year 1902 and it was restored the last time in 2010. The gilding is authentic. On the clock face you can see the date 1869, probably the year when it was installed.

The gilding is authentic.
The gilding is authentic.

The chime, which you can hear every half hour, is even older. The bell is dating back to 1571 and it is garnished by the family crest of the knights Pflugk, which owned the castle for several generations. On the clock is written: “Caesar Pflugk of Stein let cast me in Freiberg Anno MDLXXI”. Earlier on the manor Posterstein the bell rang when work had to begin and end and when there was fire, the chime of the bell signalized fire alarm.

Loebichau Manor – occasionally 300 guests

Loebichau castle, postcard from 1904 (Museum Burg Posterstein)
Loebichau castle, postcard from 1904 (Museum Burg Posterstein)

Loebichau was mentioned for the first time in the13th century as a moated castle. The old manor house dates back to the 16th century and was rebuilt in 1908.

The neo-classical castle was built in 1796/98 on behalf of Anna Dorothea of Courland. In the castle’s park stood a small theatre at that time. The duchess’ cultural salon had illustrious international visitors; the most famous among them was probably Tsar Alexander I. of Russia. Occasionally more than 300 guests stayed in Loebichau at the same time. The guests were free to time their day at the „court of muses“; and the highlight of the day was the tea time in the evening hours in the grand hall of the castle. Then there was time for small-talk, philosophy, poetry, dance and music – sometimes the guests played theatre plays themselves; also in the smaller castle Tannenfeld, close to Loebichau.

Tannenfeld castle in 2000 (Museum Burg Posterstein)
Tannenfeld castle in 2000 (Museum Burg Posterstein)

As a result of the East German land reform in 1945 the manor’s owners were expropriated. The castle and the economical buildings were strongly modified after 1945. The buildings are housing a nursing home since DDR time. In 2009 the castle and the manor house were pulled down to make room for a new nursing home building of the operating company from Schmoelln. The remaining economical buildings are restored and host the communal administration.

View the about 60 manors of the county of Altenburg on our google map: http://tiny.cc/o27p6.

A part of the museum Burg Posterstein’s permanent exhibition is dedicated to the court of muses in Loebichau and the museum has published the following books, which can be bought in the museum or ordered per e-mail to info@burg-posterstein.de:

Das alte Schloss sehn wir noch heut…
Aus der Geschichte der Rittergüter im Altenburger Land (Teil II)
© Museum Burg Posterstein 2010

…Und nachmittags fuhren wir nach Nöbdenitz segeln!
Rittergüter im Altenburger Land und ihre Gärten
© Museum Burg Posterstein 2007

Text: Marlene Hofmann / Museum Burg Posterstein

Which castle resisted an air attack but not the East German land reform?

Rittergut Meuselwitz / Meuselwitz Manor (c) Museum Burg Posterstein
Rittergut Meuselwitz / Meuselwitz Manor (c) Museum Burg Posterstein

Between 1724 and 1724 the German statesman Veit Ludwig von Seckendorff (1626-1692) let build a castle with park and orangery on his manor in Meuselwitz. A baroque gate led into the estate.

Von Seckendorff, born in Herzogenaurach, had graduated at a grammar school in Gotha, Thuringia, and was later on supported by Ernst I, Duke of Saxe-Gotha and Altenburg. During the Thirty Years’ War the Swedes executed his father in Salzwedel because of high treason. Von Seckendorff studied philosophy, law and history in Strasbourg. In 1655 he published his book “Der deutsche Fürstenstaat“, a handbook of German public law. This book, which long time had been a benchmark for political science at German universities, was already in von Seckendorffs lifetime published in several editions.

From 1651 to 1663 he achieved a number of important functions at the duke’s court in Gotha. In 1664 he started working for the duke Maurice of Zeitz (†1681). In 1680 he stopped working as a chancellor and retired to his estate in Meuselwitz. But he still had political positions as a chief tax collector in Altenburg and as landscape director. In 1685 his book “Christenstaat“ (the Christian state) was published. Shortly before his dead he was appointed to chancellor of the new founded university in Halle. He died in Halle and was buried in the church in Meuselwitz at December 30th in 1692.

Under an air attack against Meuselwitz at February 20th in 1945 the economical buildings of Meuselwitz Manor were badly damaged. The castle itself suffered from only small damages.  But as a consequence of the East German land reform in 1945 all buildings were pulled down. Only the badly damaged orangery and the well preserved baroque gate were conserved. In spite of protests from the local office for preservation of historical monuments the gate was pulled down, too, in 1950. The orangery could be restored by Walter Gruner, an architect from Leipzig, in 1957. An historic mill, belonging to the old estate, was pulled down in 1988. The free space, where Meuselwitz manor once had been standing, is today used as a parking space.

View the about 60 manors of the county of Altenburg on our google map: http://tiny.cc/o27p6.

Read more about castles and manor houses in Altenburg region in the following books, which can be bought in the museum or ordered per e-mail to info@burg-posterstein.de:

Das alte Schloss sehn wir noch heut…
Aus der Geschichte der Rittergüter im Altenburger Land (Teil II)
© Museum Burg Posterstein 2010

…Und nachmittags fuhren wir nach Nöbdenitz segeln!
Rittergüter im Altenburger Land und ihre Gärten
© Museum Burg Posterstein 2007

Text: Marlene Hofmann / Museum Burg Posterstein

What does a sphinx in the county of Altenburg?

Die Sphinx von Prößdorf / the sphinx of Proessdorf (c) Museum Burg Posterstein
Die Sphinx von Prößdorf / the sphinx of Proessdorf (c) Museum Burg Posterstein

In the 15th century a knight’s residence in Proessdorf was mentioned in the records for the first time. The manor’s high period started in 1818, when Carl Heinrich von Tettenborn bought the property. He was said to be a strong admirer of fine arts like architecture, sculpture and painting. He decorated the buildings and the park according to his taste. That included enlargement and rearrangement of the park. After Tettenborns treatment shady access balconies decorated the pleasure garden. An antic pavilion invited the guests to stay. Grots, a number of statues as lions and a sphinx as well as small fountains decorated the park. Exotic plants of all kind blossomed in beds and flower buckets.

The castle Proessdorf, dating back to 18th century, was converted into an apartment building in 1969. The estate buildings, which were built in the 19th century, were expanded in 1906/07. As a consequence of the East German land reform the manor’s owner were expropriated. In the following time the farm buildings were pulled down bit by bit, lastly in 1998. By the installation of apartments between 1969 and 1973 the castle was strongly deformed. Rests of the impressing port are still remaining.

View the about 60 manors of the county of Altenburg on our google map: http://tiny.cc/o27p6.

Read more about castles and manor houses in Altenburg region in the following books, which can be bought in the museum or ordered per e-mail to info@burg-posterstein.de:

Das alte Schloss sehn wir noch heut…
Aus der Geschichte der Rittergüter im Altenburger Land (Teil II)
© Museum Burg Posterstein 2010

…Und nachmittags fuhren wir nach Nöbdenitz segeln!
Rittergüter im Altenburger Land und ihre Gärten
© Museum Burg Posterstein 2007

Text: Marlene Hofmann / Museum Burg Posterstein

Where stands “half of a castle“?

(c) Museum Burg Posterstein, Schloss Langenleuba-Niederhain
(c) Museum Burg Posterstein, Schloss Langenleuba-Niederhain

The Langenleuba-Niederhain manor is a former medieval castle with moat, which was surrounded by water. The manor house was rebuilt during 1707 and 1711. In 1838 one part of the castle was pulled down – that is why the manor got the nickname “the half castle”. In 1805 the half castle was still surrounded by water and the farm buildings could only be reached by a bridge. In 1946 the owners were expropriated in the aftermath of the East-German land reform. On the manor’s land new farms were built during DDR time. The manor house, the half castle, served as a school building. Since ca. 1980 the building is vacant and decaying. The farming houses and the manor’s guest house are preserved in a good condition.

View the about 60 manors of the county of Altenburg on our google map: http://tiny.cc/o27p6.

Read more about castles and manor houses in Altenburg region in the following books, which can be bought in the museum or ordered per e-mail to info@burg-posterstein.de:

Das alte Schloss sehn wir noch heut…
Aus der Geschichte der Rittergüter im Altenburger Land (Teil II)
© Museum Burg Posterstein 2010

…Und nachmittags fuhren wir nach Nöbdenitz segeln!
Rittergüter im Altenburger Land und ihre Gärten
© Museum Burg Posterstein 2007

Text: Marlene Hofmann / Museum Burg Posterstein

The Langenleuba-Niederhain manor is a former medieval castle with moat, which was surrounded by water. The manor house was rebuilt during 1707 and 1711. In 1838 one part of the castle was pulled down – that is why the manor got the nickname “the half castle”. In 1805 the half castle was still surrounded by water and the farm buildings could only be reached by a bridge. In 1946 the owners were expropriated in the aftermath of the East-German land reform. On the manor’s land new farms were built during DDR time. The manor house, the half castle, served as a school building. Since ca. 1980 the building is vacant and decaying. The farming houses and the manor’s guest house are preserved in a good condition.