Treasures of Medieval Rome

Most people go to Rome for Cicero and the Caesars, Raphael and Michelangelo. But there is so much more. Check out some of the amazing early medieval churches and their amazing mosaic decorations. This is what would have greeted a German emperor coming down to Rome to be crowned by a reluctant pope.

Plaque from a Reliquary Shrine 1160–80

Among the most splendid objects in the great churches of Cologne are large architectural shrines containing relics associated with local as well as biblical saints. The most celebrated of these is the reliquary for the bones of the Three Kings which dates from around this period. But there were many more. These ambitious goldsmiths’ works…


An Aquamanile was just a waterjug used both for the celebration of mass and secular settings such as grand dinners. They gave room for artistic expression that reflects a loty of the medieval soul, featuring lions, griffins, dragons, centaurs as well as knights and al kinds of menagery.

Peace of Karlowitz Jan 26th, 1699

#OTD, January 26th 1699 the Great Turkish war ended when the Sublime Porte, the Holy Roman Empire, the Republic of Venice, the Tsar of Russia and the Kingdom of Poland signed the peace of Karlowitz. The peace of Karlowitz marks a turning point in European history, bringing over 200 years of Ottoman expansion into Europe…

Felix Hoffmann, Chemist

A German chemist involved in the development of two famous drugs, Aspirin and Heroin

Sebastian Münster (1488-1552)

#OTD, January 20th, 1488 the humanist, hebraist and cosmograph Sebastian Münster (1488-1552) was born in Ingelheim. He came from modest beginnings and rose to be rector of the university of Basel and the “German Strabo and Esra”. He was a true renaissance man with wide ranging interests, a renowned expert in Greek and Hebrew as…

Max Pechstein Born OTD 31/12/1881

#OTD, December 31st, 1881 the painter Max Pechstein was born in Zwickau, one of eight children of a textile worker. He trained initially as a decorator and then from 1902 to 1906 at the Kunstakademie in Dresden. He joined Die Brücke, a hugely influential association of expressionist artist. His works, together with those of Ernst…

Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas to you all and thanks for all the encouragement and support throughout this year. It really means a lot to me. Podcasting is a lonely business and getting an occasional positive comments, rating or even a  review makes all the difference. And if you become a Patron, that means even more. As one…

Schedelsche Weltchronik

#OTD, December 23rd, 1493 the German version of the Schedelsche Weltchronik (known as the Nuremberg Chronicle in English) was first published. Similar to other medieval chronicles, the Weltchronik covers the entire history of the world since its creation to the then present day. Like medieval chronicles, it comprises not just political history but saint’s miracles,…

Schmalkaldic League

#OTD, December 22nd, 1530 negotiations to forma protestant league began in the town of Schmalkalden in Thuringia. Led by Landgrave Phillip of Hesse and Elector John of Saxony several territories within the Holy Roman Empire agreed to support each other following the Diet of Augsburg in June 1530. At the Diet the emperor Charles V…

Schloss Weibertreu – The Castle of Wifely Loyalty

#OTD, December 21st, 1140 the women of Weinsberg saved their HaBs (Husbands and Boyfriends) from certain death by cunningly misinterpreting a royal command. Weinsberg was a possession of the immensely powerful House of Welf whose leader, Henry the Proud contested the election of Konrad III, of the House of Hohenstaufen as King of the Romans…

OTD in 1046 The Council of Sutri deposes three Popes

On this day, December 20, 1046, Emperor Henry III calls the Council of Sutri that removes a total of 3 popes. The next time this happens is in 1417 at the Council of Constance. The run-up to the council is quite unremarkable. King Henry III had planned to cruise down to Rome, get crowned emperor…

Henry II Plantagenet ascends the throne of England

What has that got to do with German history? Matilda was the widow of Emperor Henry V who had died in 1125. If he had lived the next chapters of English and German history could have developed quite differently.

The End of the Battle of Verdun

After 10 months and as many as 300,000 dead the “Bloodmill” of Verdun stopped on December 18th, 1916. At this symbolic place one of the most evocative pictures of Franco-German reconciliation was created in September 22, 1984

OTD in 546 Totila destroys the Aqueducts of Rome

Totila, king of the Ostrogoths fought for the survival of his people against the Emperor Justinian. The destruction of Rome was not his intention but a price he was prepared to pay…

Prussia occupies Silesia OTD in 1740

Frederick II’s raid for Silesia kicks off the first global conflict that brought Britain an empire and Prussia the hegemony in Germany

Episode 41 – the Duke’s Rebuke

In this week’s episode Henry V the last of the Salians will find that despite all his efforts, the tide of history cannot be stemmed, leaving him in almost exactly the same place his father ended up in 1076.

Arthur Berson (1859-1942) Meteorologist, Extreme Balloonist

On this day, December 3rd, 1942 the great German meteorologist and balloonist Arthur Berson (1859-1942) died of a stroke. Berson is credited with the discovery of the Stratosphere. His work on the structure of the Troposphere as well as his Climatology research were major advances in his field. But he was most famous for his…


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About Me

I am a history geek with no academic qualification in the field but a love for books and stories. I do this for fun and my personal self-aggrandisement.

I have been born, raised and educated in Germany but live in the UK for now over 20 years with my wife and two children. My professional background is in law, management consulting and banking. History has always been a hobby as are sailing, travelling, art, skiing and exercise (go BMF!).

My view of history is best summarised by Gregory of Tours (539-594): “A great many things keep happening, some good, some bad”. History has no beginning and no end and more importantly, it has no logic, no pattern and no purpose . But that does not mean there isn’t progress and sometimes we humans realise that doing the same thing again and again hoping for a different outcome is indeed madness. The great moments in history are those where we realise that we cannot go on as we were and things need to change. German history – as you will hopefully see – is full of these turning points, some good, some bad!

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1 Comment

  1. This is a very enjoyable podcast. I like the comments about the shift in perception of historical events. E.g., former historians valued the actions of the pope against the Empire as decisive blows that prohibited the
    Empire from becoming centralized and strong, whereas the modern perception is much more subtle than
    that. In fact the resolution of the investiture quarrel was in the end quite similar in the Empire and in states
    like France or England. It is very rewarding in this context to look at the antagonism of the ruler trying to
    establish an absolute rule, and the resistance this provoked in the church, the barons, townspeople etc.
    The equilibrium reached in this struggle defines the degree of centralization a state can finally reach.
    These struggles were different in France, England, and Germany, but there are similarities.
    I like the analysis regarding the codex of Justinian. It states that the rule of Augustus introduced autocratic
    rule in exchange for peace for the people. Before Augustus, Rome was in an anarchic state of civil war, and
    an autocracy offered a way out of that. So people complied. The situation was different in the early medieval
    ages. An autocratic ruler would have been a mere tyrant that restricted any freedoms subordinates had. So various groups rallied against that. After much ado over centuries the compromise was a co-ruler ship with
    the most powerful of these subordinates, introducing democratic elements into the governance. It is interesting
    to see that during the great depression when perspectives were bleak, people again turned to autocratic
    rulers like Mussolini, Hitler, Franco, or Stalin.

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