Dr. Thomas Reimer 08/20/2001
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The Andechs, led by Gertrud's brothers Count Berthold, with vast holdings in Tyrol, Bavaria, Carinthia, Istria and Dalmatia, and Ekbert, appointed bishop-prince of Bamberg, was a rising family in the Holy Roman Empire of the German Nation. Their sister Agnes even became the third wife of the French king Phillipe II, and Gertrud had married the king of Hungary. But Germany was torn by a terrible civil war between those who supported the decaying Hohenstaufen dynasty, and a variety of rival claimants. Unlike the kingdoms of France or England, the German Emperor was elected, and though usually an Emperor made certain his son was elected successor, when the Emperor was weak, that was not a foregone conclusion until the Habsburgs, who became Emperors in the 15th century, made the elections a formality from the late 16th century to the end of the Empire in 1806. The Andechs family took part in the high-stakes game about the future of the Empire on the side of the Hohenstaufen, and got badly burned. In 1208, bishop Ekbert hosted a truce parley at his castle in Bamberg, during which the leader of the other side, the Duke of Suebia, was found murdered. The good bishop and his brother Berthold were suspected of ordering the deed, and as punishment, the Imperial Diet ordered their home castle of Andechs at the Ammersee in Bavaria to be razed to the ground. Berthold and Ekbert fled immediatly to their sister in Hungary. Their brother-in-law at once made Berthold governor of Transsylvania (today in Romania) and Slavonia (today in Croatia--area of Vukovar), which irked the Magyar nobles who had coveted these positions. In 1213, when the king was absent, jealous nobles murdered Gertrud. By contrast, Ekbert wisely asked only for the nearly unpopulated Zips wilderness. An energetic man, he called the same year peasants from his holdings in South Tyrol, who founded Eisdorf in 1208 or 1209. The area of today's Slovakia was sparsely populated, and decent farmland available in the river valleys. Few locals wanted to eke out a living in the cold, wolf- and Tatar-infested, primeval forests of the high-plains of the Zips, where a few isolated shepherds, hunters, and border guards lived. Hence, few Magyar nobles begrudged Ekbert, and the German settlements survived the political troubles. Heartbroken by the murder of one sister, and the fate of his sister Agnes, who died in miserable poverty after her husband, the faithless King of France, deserted her, Berthold died. But the family as not finished yet. When the Hohenstaufen regained the upper hand through the election of Frederick II as German Emperor, Ekbert was rehabilitated, and died in 1237 in Vienna as a honored man. In 1248, the last male Count of Andechs died, and the family vanished from history.
Elisabeth's life fit the tragic mode of her family. In 1211, when she was four, her uncle Ekbert convinced her mother to betroth her to the 11 year old count Ludwig of Thueringia in Central Germany, (whose family also supported the Hohenstaufen, and whose allegiance to what seemed then a losing cause needed to be strengthened), and sent the next year to be raised with her in-laws. Far from home, the fate of her uncles, of her Aunt Agnes, the murder of her mother, and the suffering of her aunt Hedwig, another sister of Ekbert and Berthold, who had married the Duke of Silesia and who sought relief after his early death by helping the poor --becoming in the process Saint Hedwig, patron saint of Silesia--must have affected her. Elisabeth sought refuge in religion, despite the opposition of her in-laws, who felt that she was a bit too extreme. She married Ludwig in 1221, and had a happy marriage. Her husband, despite occasional irritations, notably about her refusal to eat or serve food gained by taxing the peasants--she only ate food harvested on her personnal estate--allowed her charities and even to build and run one of the very first hospices in Germany. After he died in 1227 during the 5th Crusade, she lived a life of poverty and active charity to the poor, and became a strong supporter of the new Franciscan order. The young widow courageously rebuffed her uncle Ekbert's plan to marry her off to the aging Emperor Friedrich II of Hohenstaufen, a widower who, excommunicated by the Pope, needed a wife with a saintly reputation, as well as her in-laws, who tried to have the young widow committed to a cloister. After her uncle Ekbert forced her in-laws to settle her widow's pension, she moved to Marburg in Hessen. She founded another hospice, served tirelessly the poor and sick while living in strict poverty and abnegation, and died after a few years of such a regimen. Strongly supported by the Franciscans, she was recognized as a Saint by the Pope in May 1235, a mere four years after her death. Her day is on November 19. The same year, the splendid Elisabeth-Cathedral in Marburg was begun.
This Pressburg child remained popular over the centuries as a patron of the downtrodden, especially sick children too poor to get medical care, who always were her favorites. In German lands, many churches were named for her. She also became popular among her fellow Germans in Hungary. When after the Mongol invasion of the 1240s, the church in Kezmark was rebuilt, it was named in St Elisabeth's honor. In Kaschau, the German burghers even put her into the city coat of arms. In Pressburg, there was the Elisabeth Cloister in the Spitalgasse (Hospice Alley), founded in the 18th century, and the Saint Elisabeth Memorial Church, nicknamed the "Blue Church," in the Raneysgasse, built in1907.
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There is an excellent English-language article on Zipser folk costume by Karin Gottier, "The Costume of Zipser Germans" in
VILTIS: A Magazine of Folklore and Folk Dance, vo. 47 No. 4 (December 1988), 5-10, Christmas, p. 19, and dances, p.20.
If you need a copy, the address of the magazine was then P.O. Box 1226, Denver, CO 80201.
Familynames/Housenames. In many areas of medieval Southern Germany, large farms had names, usually one derived from the first family that lived there, but not always. Very often, since peasants did not have well-defined family names until the late middle ages, a new family moving in was called according to their house. After the middle-ages, the habit remained though legal surnames now existed. In most of the German area, as well as most of the Zips and Hauerland, housenames became akin to a semi-official nickname: Legal records would state that so-and-so (real name), known in the community as (alias the housename), etc. Even when locals used exclusively the housename in their dealings with each other, there was a legal surname as well. But in some places, like Muennichwies (today Vricko) in the Hauerland, an isolated mountain village founded in 1450 in the uppermost Neutra Valley, the medieval usage continued. Until the late 19th century the husband marrying into a farm (when taking it over) legally received the housename, and it was used exclusively in all church entries about him and his children.
(from Johann Lasslob, in Heimatblatt Mai/June 2000, p. 5-6)
Cooking. Joachim Geburtig has a home page (in German) with recipes from Oberstuben in the Hauerland at Recipes.
A dancing song from the Zips
From Karpatenpost June 1968, p. j1.
Wu gejst hin, wu gejst hin, du schworzes Porailchen?
En die Mihl, en die Mihl, mein liebes Frailchen.
Wos sollst du en der Mihl, du schworzes Porailchen?
Mohln, mohln, mohln, mohln, mohln, mein liebes Frailchen.
Wos sollst med Mahl dank tun, du schworzes Porailchen?
Of mein Hochz, of mein Hochz, mein liebes Frailchen.
Wann wed dein schejn Hochz sein, du schworzes Porailchen?
Wanns Mihlchen pfeift, 's Korn a"uch reift, mein liebes Frailchen.
From the Hauerland, only first and last strophes. In Hauerlander, German "w" becomes "b," like Welt becomes Belt. From Karpatenpost September 1968, p, K1.
Bie ho mei Gellenztol ich gean
En liebsten off da Belt
met all sein Ta"len ond Gepia"gn
met all sein Bald ond Feld....
Es Volk es stark, es fromm ond gutt
ond liebt sein freien Stand
Bie ho mein Gellenztol ich gean
mei teua Votaland
Ein Hauerlied aus Pressburg
A wintner's song from Pressburg, only first strophe. From Karpatenpost Sept. 1968, p. j1.
Kaum kraht da Hohn die Moargenstund, do steht da Haua auf,
geht lusti u"ba Beach und Tol, is munta und wohlauf.
Di Sunn is sei Begleiterin von fru"ah bis in di Nocht,
wonn sie aus Osten freindli strohlt, he Leit, des is a Procht!
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