Podcast: History of the Germans
Near the town of Andria in Puglia rising from a rock that makes it visible for miles stands entirely on its own a stone structure we call the Castel del Monte. Its ground plan is unique, and like many other of the Emperor's buildings it was probably sketched by Frederick himself: a regular octagon of yellowish limestone; its smooth perfectly-fitting blocks showing no joins and producing the effect of a monolith : at each of the eight corners a squat octagonal tower the height of the wall; two storeys identical in height, each containing eight large equal rooms, in the shape of a trapeze; an octagonal central courtyard adorned with antique sculptures and imitations of the antique, in the centre of which a large octagonal basin served as bath. Every fraction of the structure displays the mental make-up of the Hohenstaufen court: oriental massiveness of the whole, a portal foreshadowing the Renaissance, Gothic windows and rooms with groined and vaulted roofs. The defiant gloom of the tiny-windowed rooms was mitigated by the furnishings; the floors were of mosaic, the walls covered with sheets of reddish breccia or white marble, the groined vaults supported on pilasters with Corinthian capitals, or by delicate clustered columns of white marble. Majesty and grace were fused in one. Of all that remains of Frederick II nothing epitomises the personality of the great emperor more than this building, which may have been a fortification or a hunting lodge or an enormous marble crown celebrating the concept of universal imperial power. In this and the following episode we will look not at the emperor’s deeds but how he lived and what he did away from the world of power politics that made the English Chronicler Matthew Paris call him Stupor Mundi, the Wonder of the World. There is an episode webpage available on my website https://historyofthegermans.com/83-2/ The music for the show is Flute Sonata in E-flat major, H.545 by Carl Phillip Emmanuel Bach (or some claim it as BWV 1031 Johann Sebastian Bach) performed and arranged by Michel Rondeau under Common Creative Licence 3.0. As always: Homepage with maps, photos, transcripts and blog: www.historyofthegermans.com Facebook: @HOTGPod Twitter: @germanshistory Instagram: history_of_the_germans Reddit: u/historyofthegermans Patreon: https://www.patreon.com/Historyofthegermans
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