Saturday, June 22, 2013

Nothing But God's Justice

500 years ago following three bad harvests the peasants in Lehen, a village near Freiburg, revolted against their corvée, high charges, tax burden, and demanded: Nichts denn die Gerechtigkeit Gottes (Nothing but God's justice). In their flag the peasants showed as a symbol of their movement the boot with straps they usually wore. I reported about the historical Bundschuh in an earlier blog.


Following the official commemoration and the academic reappraisal of the Bundschuh the lighter part took place during the second weekend in June. Red Baron was invited as a guest of honor to the opening of the Mittelalterlicher Markt (Medieval Market) in Lehen organized near the Bundschuhhalle (Hall of the boot with straps). This honor was probably due to my writing about the peasants' revolt on my historic website for the Bundschuh revolt is intrinsically connected with Freiburg's history.

As a guest of honor I carried a red ribbon, did not have to pay the entrance fee, and in addition I was offered one free drink. I was in good company. Bernhard Schätzle, Lehen's superintendent and member of Freiburg's city parliament, opened the market wearing a historical outfit.

Bernhard Schätzle in good spirits
I saw the ancient lord mayor, honorary citizen of Freiburg and my neighbor Dr. Rolf Böhme as well as the current mayor responsible for Freiburg's finances Otto Neideck.

Left: Dr. Böhme; right: Otto Neideck;
with his back turned: Bernard Schätzle talking to his wife.
The opening of the market was followed by the tapping of a barrel of Bundschuhbier. The special stone issued on the occasion I kept as a souvenir.


Men and women selling medieval food and handicrafts populated the surface around a central point, the Bundschuh oak.

Ladies selling medieval food are joined by a fortune teller wearing a watch
Splitting wood the hard way
More ladies not wearing watches offer beer and wine
The Bundschuh oak is a work of art by Thomas Rees commemorating the peasants' uprising, carved out of an upside down trunk of oak, and presenting the signs of the times 500 years ago. One side shows the crucified Christ, his head bent down by the weight of two oppressors. To the right sits a clergy man pointing with one hand to heaven and opening the other hand for a euro. To the left sits a drinking nobleman squeezing out a peasant. Below are shown some greatly astonished people, full of fear, reading in a book possibly finding out: It ain't necessarily so.


Further to the upper right Rees carved out events that changed the world at the outgoing Middle Ages: In 1439 Gutenberg started using movable type for printing books; around 1490 Leonardo drew the Vitruvian man; in 1492 Columbus discovered a new world; in 1506 there was the first stone laying of the new St. Peter's Basilica in Rome, that due to the abusive selling of indulgences for its financing eventually led to the schism of the only saving church with Luther's Reformation in 1517; starting in 1609 Galilei observed the universe and later proclaimed the heliocentric world: Eppur si muove! (And yet it moves).


Joß Fritz, the leader of the Bundschuh in Lehen, sticks out his head on the other side of the oak surrounded by his fellow conspirators raising the Bundschuh flag:


Above the heads of the revolting peasants you recognize the city of Freiburg and scenes showing the beheading of peasants. The airplanes on top remind the viewer of the bombing of Freiburg in World War II. When carving the wood Thomas Rees found bomb fragments lodged inside the trunk..

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