Rotta

I have been a bit busy. Come, sit and warm yourself by the fire. Over the past few weeks I have made my house in order for the coming winter and I have packed several belongings for my trip. It will be a while before I see my beloved Allecmere.

I have travelled Rotta, and it took me three days to get here on foot. I am spending the colder months in Rotta, with my amazing family. This is their farm. I do this most winters, did you not know?

Rotta is a settlement that became modern day Rotterdam. It was founded on the river Rotta and dates from the 9th century. Recent excavations gave us an idea of the type of houses, which are now being recreated just outside Rotterdam. We know the township was called Rotta, from two church records in Latin, dated 1028 and 1050.

Here is a clip of what Old Dutch sounded like in those days. I have transcribed the first minute for you:

Language in Rotta, how did Old Dutch sound in 11th century Rotterdam?

Old Dutch is the eldest language phase of the Dutch language and was spoken from the 7th century till the middle of the 12th century.

In the early middle ages, Old Dutch was spoken from the north of France, in Belgium, till the middle and south of The Netherlands. It has several characteristics of the German language and it has characteristics of English and Frisian.

We know Old Dutch from the short poem Hebban olla vogalan, but luckily there are more sources. Important are the Wachtendonk Psalms and the Williram from Egmond. From these texts and from more language sources and deeds, we were able to get a very clear picture of how Dutch sounded in the 11th century.

The oldest house in my town

Have a seat! My dear traveller, have I got a story for you today!

Allow me to take you to the 15th century. The city of Leiden was a large town, growing fast with the weaving industry. The hustle & bustle must have been amazing in those days.

The growing town attracted plenty of newcomers, many looking for a fortune. One of them, a person without a name sadly, was able to build a house right in the city centre.

The house was built between 1460-1466, according to architectural study and dendrochronology. The main part and front part of the house were built of wood and the facade was later, in the 17th century, replaced by a stone facade.

The back of the house was added later and dates from 1488-1500. From the early days, till about 2019, the building has always been used as a family home. But not too long ago, it became part of a hotel and was beautifully restored. So, yes! You can actually sleep here! You know you want that!

**disclaimer: this is NOT a sponsored post, I receive nothing if you book a room in this hotel!

The fire place was also examined and research has shown it is more than 500 years old.

During the 2019 restoration, a cellar was re-discovered. For centuries it was buried underneath the house. It has now been restored back to its original purpose; isn’t this a wine cellar to die for?

Leuven

I am happy to tell you about this gorgeous city in Belgium today. Leuven, or Louvain, is a beautiful medieval city about 25 kilometres from the Belgian capitol of Brussels.

The earliest mention of Leuven (Loven) dates from 891, when a Viking army was defeated by the Frankish king Arnulf of Carinthia. According to a legend, the city’s red and white arms depict the blood-stained shores of the river Dyle after this battle. After several excavations conclusive evidence of this legendary battle was never found, so this story is probably just a myth. A nice one, but still a myth.

Leuven became the most important centre of trade in the duchy of Brabant between the 11th and 14th centuries. A token of its former importance as a centre of cloth manufacture is shown in that ordinary linen cloth was known, in late-14th-century and 15th-century texts, as lewyn (other spellings: Leuwyn, Levyne, Lewan(e), Lovanium, Louvain).

In the 15th century, a new golden era began with the founding of what is now the largest and oldest university in the Low Countries, the Catholic University of Leuven , in 1425. The city then became a major European center for art and knowledge with humanists like Erasmus working there. This period also saw the completion of many of the city’s most grandiose monuments such as the Town Hall.

Town Hall

The Groot Begijnhof of Leuven is a well preserved beguinage (from the French term béguinage, is an architectural complex, created to house beguines: unmarried lay religious women who lived in community without taking vows or retiring from the world) and completely restored historical quarter containing a dozen streets in the south of downtown Leuven.

Begijnhof

About 3 hectares (7.5 acres) in size, with some 300 apartments in almost 100 houses, it is one of the largest remaining beguinages in the Low Countries. It stretches on both sides of the river Dijle, which splits into two canals inside the beguinage, thus forming an island. Three bridges connect the parts of the beguinage.

Begijnhof

It will not surprise you, that in 1998, the Begijnhof was officially recognised by Unesco as a World Heritage Site.

source: Unesco

September Giveaway

Yes, it is that time again, the Giveaway for September 2020 is around the corner! Are you a subscriber yet? If not, you can’t participate… you don’t want to miss it 🙂

Do you remember the May Giveaway? Here’s a picture of what I made back then and the lovely Lady Branwen was the winner.

For September it’ll be a surprise but you can be sure it will be handmade with a lot of love, by me of course. I am thinking…. blue & green…. or brown…..

I have just one question: send me an email, so that I know you are ACTUALLY reading this and tell me what you would like me to change/add to this blog.

Sign up!

Compleat Anachronist

In July of 2020 my first Compleat Anachronist was published! I am so happy I was finally able to finish it and to share bits of it with you here. Now, if this isn’t a good campfire story, then I don’t know!

I am aware that some of my followers already know this, but there are those who don’t. So, if you like and this is new to you: read on!

The CA is about the care for orphans in the Middle Ages in Holland; these children stood out because they wore distinctive garments that immediately identified them as orphans.

You can order your copy of this Compleat Anachronist here, at about $5.

Entre le boeuf et l’âne gris

Yes, I know it is July! And yet, I am sharing a Christmas song with you! But why?

Have a seat, I will tell you. Entre le boeuf et l’ane gris is one of the oldest songs in Europe, still sung today and it just happens to be a Christmas song. The title translates into: Between the ox and the grey donkey.

The song has been dated between the 13th and 16th century. This is, of course, quite a time gap, but there just happen to be different sources.

You can find the sheet music here.

Here, on You Tube, is my favourite version, but you will be able to find other versions as well.

Never stop singing!

Oudewater

Bad weather, failed harvest, illness or even death … In the middle ages and long after that people believed that witches and their demonic, magic powers were responsible for this.

At night, they would fly around on their brooms or on goats. To expel the witches they must be hunted, traced, tested, and if they were indeed proven to be witches, punished.

Many of the accused travelled to Oudewater, where you can find the world famous Witches’ Scale. What happened here and why is this scale so famous? Like many medieval towns, Oudewater was a market town. The Weigh house was rebuilt in 1595, by order of emperor Karel V; the first scales date back to 1482. Merchants would come to the Weigh house to weigh their merchandise after which they needed to pay tax. Hemp, flax, cheese and rope, and much more, was weighed here.

After some time, it was also people who were put on the scales! This strange change was a result of the 16th century witch hunts.

In those days, it wasn’t very difficult to accuse someone of witch craft. Not only could famine or disease be a ‘good’ reason, adultery or just disliking someone was enough oftentimes to be accused. And it wasn’t a light accusation! According to the church, users of witch craft have a pact with the devil. It was Satan who gave them their magic powers.

Before an accused could be prosecuted, evidence must be presented that proved the person really was witch.  How did they prove this? In the 16th century the most logical theory was that you had no weight, otherwise you wouldn’t be able to fly on your broomstick at night. Now, that makes sense, right? Based on these ‘characteristics’ it was possible to prove someone was indeed a user of black magic. The scales in Oudewater were used to weigh a person and because of its fame, even in the 16th century, people travelled from near and far to be weighed in Oudewater.  But why? What made Oudewater so special?

The witch hunters knew no mercy. The accused were tortured to force a confession. The weigh masters were often corrupt because they were prepared to accuse a person for money or goods. In total about 50.000 people were accused and executed in Europe between 1450-1700!

But Oudewater was an exception. In this Weigh house not a single witch (male or female) was ever proven guilty. The weighing process in Oudewater was remarkably honest, so much so that emperor Karel V heard about it.

It is for this reason that Oudewater was granted, by Karel V, a special ‘De Certificaet van Weginghe‘, a Weighing Certificate. People who were declared innocent could go home free with this certificate.

Men or women who were accused were put on the scale. The accused could be acquitted if their weight was considered normal for their age and height, and after that they would receive their Weighing Certificate that proved they weren’t light weights and therefore no witch.  After 1595, no witch was ever again accused in Oudewater.