History Timeline Part III
With Abbot Marquard I (1150 - 1165), things started looking up for the monastery and the city. He reformed the monastery economy, improved water distribution and vanquished the marauding bands of robbers. In order to prevent future raids, he equipped the city with a surrounding wall and a set of watch towers.
In Fulda a Reichstag (Imperial Parliament Session) took place with Emperor Frederick Barbarossa. In his presence the east section of the basilica was consecrated on Palm Sunday, which had collapsed in 1120 when a damaged bell tower had fallen on it.
Abbott Kuno received, along with other Imperial Abbots, the sovereign authority for the Abbey lands from King Frederick II, and thus became an Imperial Prince. From this day on, Fulda was governed by “Prince Abbots”.
After Prince Abbot Henry IV of Erthal (1249 - 1261) had attacked the robber barons, Prince Abbot Bertho II of Leibolz topped him: he destroyed 15 castles – among them Blankenwald, Ebersberg, Eisenbach and Frankenstein.
Through the conspiracy of the robber baron who was battling him, Prince Henry IV was murdered in the chapel of the old Abbey Castle during mass. Although the murderers were caught and executed, the Fulda Abbot Princes had to continuously engage in battle against the robber barons.
A peasant uprising took place in Fulda, which was crushed.
The plague came to Fulda; not only in this year, but in 1350 and 1364.
The Radgar Basilica was partially destroyed by a lightning bold. It took more than 30 years to rebuild it.
On the Münster Field near Fulda, a battle took place. It was the result of an on-going feud between the Archbishop of Mainz and the Hessian Landgraves and the City of Fulda.
The "Reformer of Hesse", Adam Kraft, was born in Fulda, who taught Luther’s Preachings in the City Pastorial Church in 1523.
Baroque Quarter in Fulda
In the center of the City of Fulda is the "Baroque Quarter", which includes the City Castle building group, and runs from the St. Paul's Gate through the Orangery, the castle gardens, the cathedral and the cathedral chancellory to the Baroque
The Half-Timbered House Road
"Discovering a New Road in Germany"
When many people come to visit Germany, they are often recommened to tour along the Romantic Road, because they want to see the quaint little towns in Bavaria, with those cute half-timbered houses. But did you know, that the most half-timbered houses that can be seen in Germany, are not even on this road? In Germany there are other "roads" with names, such as the Allee (tree-lined) Road, the Fairy-tale Road, the Wine Road, and of course, the Half-timbered House (Fachwerkstrasse) Road. The Half-timbered House Road is 2000 km long, and runs from Stade in the North towards Reichelsheim in the South.
I found out about this one day, when Uwe, our town carpenter master was over to our house. I live in one of those "cute" half-timbered houses, and fixing it up to be fit for the 21st century is neither cute nor cheap. We decided to remove two walls to make a fair amount of living space, and we needed a carpenter who understood the old way of building to help us.
"Half-Timbered Houses in Germany"
Uwe is a "Zimmermann-Meister" - a Master Carpenter. He came over to inspect our degree of demolition one Saturday. He stood there in our would-be kitchen studying the timber and bricks in his traditional double-fly black velvet corduroy jeans and vest.
"I've got an aged fir beam up in the shed we can use for a vertical support beam. We’ll have to use fir, because the cross beams are fir. The only problem is, I'm all out of fir dowels."
"Well why don’t you just nail it?" I asked naively.
Uwe looked stricken. "Heaven forbid!" he gasped, "you can’t use nails to join the support beams in a half-timbered house! If you do that, it won’t hold a single century. Nails will slowly destroy the wood".
Being a German Master Carpenter, Uwe could't possibly imagine, that after my death, I as an American wouldn't care what becomes of the house – but that's the Germans; they build houses to last an eternity. Our house is over five hundred years old, although the second story was only added in 1926. Before it was a house, it was barn for the local gentry's animals. We still have the hand-drawn blue prints from the carpenters when they added the story in 1926.
Uwe came back later with the fir beam, a saw and what looked like a gigantic cork extractor. "Oh, where's the bottle of wine that will fit this?", I laughed picking the tool up.
Uwe laughed and said, "That's my augur."
"My augur. That's what I use to drill the holes for the wooden pegs to use instead of nails."
I ran down to the cellar and proudly brought back Uwe our new electric drill. "Here, use this, and you’ll be done in a jiffy!"
Uwe sighed. "You can’t use that. An electric drill causes to much tension too quickly, and the beam will eventually crack. You have to drill by hand slowly, so the wood doesn't get too much internal pressure."
I stood there dumbly. No nails, no electric drills? Uwe explained to me, like a small child about some of the details of half-timbered house restoration. He has restored more than 150 such structures, many located on the "Half-timbered House Road".
He told me, that it was well worth a drive, and it is. And now I'll introduce you to the section running through the Wetterau-Vogelsberg-Rhön area, for those of you who want to plan 3 to 10 day trip along the Half-timbered House Road.
In the meantime, my husband pressed a square medium-sized hammer in my hand, that the Germans call "a little fist" or "Fäustel". I was supposed to bang away on the inside walls to break up the plaster.
Bam- a cloud of dust went up and the plaster crumbled to red dust. Geez, I thought there's straw sticking out of the wall. "Look at that!" I shouted at my husband,
"There's straw in the walls."
"Ja, ja, ja...." said my husband, "and if you find manure there too, then you get to clean it up."
"So what's straw doing in the wall?"
"That's adobe plaster."
"Good grief, did that build this house while Caesar was still here?"
"No, but the recipie is still the same is in the bible when Moses built the pyramids."
"Yep, 3 parts clay, 1 part straw or manure. It can't go wrong, the pyramids are still standing today."
"I don't want this in MY bedroom!"
"Don't worry, that's why we are removing it. We're replacing it with styrofoam-backed plaster-board walls."
"Oh," I said, a little relieved, "How much do we have to remove, the whole section?"
"No, just until we get to the stones", my husband said, and added, "you know, we are really lucky that my grandfather didn't built this in the old tradition."
"The old tradition?" I asked.
"Yeah, they used to fill in the sections with sort of baskets, and slather the adobe plaster onto it. It held better. But then we wouldn't be able to insulate with stryrofoam - so we're kind of lucky."
"The Half-Timbered House Road"
The tour I suggest starts in Grünberg, goes on to Lich, then Butzbach, followed by Gelnhausen, Steinau an der Strasse, Fulda, Lauterbach, Schlitz, Bad Hersfeld and ends in Rotenburg (an der Fulda) not Rotenburg ob der Tauber.
This tour can be done in 2-10 days depending on how much time you want to spend, is ideal for families and bicycle tourists.
To see more details about the towns, I have written a seperate page for each stop. Exit this traveloge and see the pages on the towns:
Steinau an der Strasse
Rotenburg an der Fulda
If you would like to find out where the Rhön is try this map, which you can zoom in and out of to view the area.