Halle at the end of the 17th century. In 1680 Brandenburg-troups occupied the Protestant archbishopric, which was called afterwards dukedom Magdeburg. The new sovereign was Friedrich Wilhelm, the Great Elector. He had won the battle of Fehrbellin against the Swedish in 1675 and had led his troupes across the Kurische Nehrung in 1679 to push the Swedish out of East Prussia.
State Interference into Communal Power
Halle, for almost 200 years a town controlled by the country’s Catholic and Protestant archbishops or administrators, did not wish to regain political freedom. It hoped for economic prosperity. The Great Elector interfered strongly in the small amount of political autonomy the city had regained under his predecessor, August von Sachsen. In 1685 Friedrich Wilhelm raised the communal right to speak law. Until 1680 a stronghold of Lutheran Orthodoxy, the City of Halle had to accept a restriction of its right to influence the choice of preachers put onto a vacant parish. The Calvinist Sovereign made an end to the age of confessionalism in Magdeburg and Halle. As he had already done in Berlin in 1662, he prohibited any prayers against Calvinists.
Concentration of Communal Power
In 1718 Dr. Andreas Bastineller, whose father came to Halle from Switzerland, became the first “Oberbürgermeister” in the history of the town. The City Council ( = Magistrat) protested against the concentration of power in one man’s hand, but could not change things. In 1729 the title of “Oberbürgermeister” was changed into “Stadtpräsident”. This office got merged with the state-office of a war commissioner.
By this accumulation of formal power the council’s members lost influence on communal affairs. Nevertheless, the Sovereign’s will to reform the administration seemed to have met a corresponding readiness to support reforms on behalf of at least some citizens. Professional Competencies (= Stände) were not at once turned down, but could still co-operated for years to come.
Loss of Provincial Government – Gain of a Garrison
The biggest communal blood-letting had already happened in 1714. By the departure of the provincial government to Magdeburg the city had lost 100 affluent families. As a kind of compensation Halle received a regiment, under Prince Leopold von Anhalt-Dessau, the so called “Alte Dessauer”. The good reputation of the young university town got into conflict with the disastrous reputation of the army. At that time it was often said, that without the regiment Halle could have remained the first university in Northern Germany. Now the university had to worry about the security of its students, who constantly lived in the danger of getting pressed into the army.
Production of Salt looses Importance
In the 18th century, the salt-town Halle lost further signification. The autonomous administration of the “town in the valley” got integrated into the Prussian administration and jurisdiction. Between 1719 and 1721 modern salt-works were established under the King’s authority. Here surplus-brine, which could not be used by the city-salt-works, was processed into salt. Only after decades the city-salt-works, until 1720 working under medieval conditions, could catch up with the methods of the salt-works owned by the state.
New Manufactures Collapse – Traditional Industries Flourish
The attempt to settle down manufacturing industries in Halle did not succeed either. For a short time it seemed as if French Huguenots and refugees from the Palatinate could establish a centralised production in form of manufactures. Nevertheless, the impulses fizzled out. This was due to high tariff barriers, which diminished the sale of Halle products in Saxony. Around 1750 the city was cut off its markets. Instead traditional business flourished. In Halle and ist suburbs Glaucha and Neumarkt 57 starch-flour-producers had settled. As an effect of the starch-flour-industry countless distilleries easily received their raw material and thousands of pigs could be fed fat. Halle stank. The result of the economic developments is clear: Halle had no economic citizenry of a new type which had emerged in Magdeburg or Leipzig. Compared to the other towns, Halle´s citizenship was poor. At the top of the income-ladder stood civil servants, clerics and doctors of medicine. The 18th century was not a time of bloom in the city’s history.
A Den of Vice (text to be read in front of bronze model of old town hall)
In 1312 the whole town had burned down. A new townhall was erected on the later market-place. (In 1366 the townhall was mentioned in a document.) In the middle of the 16th century – already after Cardinal Albrecht von Brandenburg´s time - the townhall received its final form by the renaissance-architect Nickel Hoffmann. In 1575 the building was expanded to the north by a weigh- and marriage-house. You could see the fundaments of that house over there, if the wooden fence did not hinder you. Since 1694 parts of the weigh- and marriage-house were used as the main university building (2nd floor: council’s and library’s rooms; 3rd floor: juridical lecture-hall = audimax). In 1702, one year after Brandenburg became Prussia, the baroque wing was build. The Ratshof, which you see behind my back is a work of Wilhelm Jost, city-architect, from 1928/29. On the 31st of March 1945 the old townhall was partly put to ruins by allied bombs. In the following years, the remnants were torn down, although the majority of the city council had voted for their protection. Last year a board of trustees was founded, to rebuild the old house. As a first sign of the board’s will to give back to the market-place its original eastern front, this sculpture was erected on October, 28th 2001. Cathleen Meier, a pupil of the sculptor Bernd Goebel (*1942), has been the creator.
What happened here during the 18th century? The townhall did not only serve as a centre of communal administration. It was also the local jail. For example: On February 14th 1681 a man named Valentin was brought into custody. He had tried to rape a woman (= “Frauensmensch”) on an open field and in addition stolen 16 Groschen from her. Another example: A Dr. Schambettens had drunken alcohol with the son of a certain Schiede at the Red Yard on April 23rd 1700. The Red Yard was a stable-inn outside the town-wall east of the city-centre. The two men had tried to lay hands on one of the inn’s barmaids. The city-guard ( = Scharwache) was called and Schambetten and Schiede were thrown into the townhall´s dungeon. (From 1702 onwards the arrest cells were located behind the baroque wing.) Not only male delinquents were arrested:
In September 1687 two females took off their dresses
in front of a row of men at a brewery called “Vogelhütte”.
name can be translated with “bird’s hut”. The word “vogelen” or “vögeln” stems
from the copulation of birds. Breweries of this kind often served as stable-inns
for passing-through coach-men. The two women were taken to the town-hall,
put into custody and locked at the pillory ( = Pranger) on September 27th
1687. (The arrest cell for women was called “Blandinstube” (blandus
(lat.) = caress/fondle, entice/tempt). It was situated in an old small
building in the northern courtyard of the townhall.)
The next day gossip of the fabulous cellar spread out to the beer-drinking student-community. More and more academicians wanted to use this possibility to continue their parties after 22 hours. A beer-state with the name “Bumsia”, which means as much as “dark, obscure beer-cellar”, was founded. Each Thursday the students celebrated the beer-state’s foundation-date. After two semesters the students started to enter the old brandy-cellar already during day-light. They had arranged a chapel with a drum, pipes, a violin and cymbals ( = Becken) – which played loud enough. One day the police, sitting one storey higher, finally was fed up, entered the cellar and committed the students to the care of the university’s judge.
The University and the Regiment (Schmeerstrasse)
University and Regiment were in continuous dispute when it came to the question of recruiting students for the army. On August 10th 1719 the army had pressed the student Johann Christian Großmanns from Löbejün, a small town north of Halle, into its ranks. Rumour of the pressing reached the students in the early evening of the same day. They assembled in front of the prorector´s house. At that time the prorector of the alma mater hallensis was Nicolaus Hieronymus Gundling. Gundling had studied in Altdorf (close to Nürnberg), Jena and Leipzig and reached Halle as a 27-year-old “Hofmeister” in 1698. I translate “Hofmeister” into court manager. In this function Gundling was responsible for the conduct of several students from Nürnberg. He became a favourite pupil of Christian Thomasius. Since 1707 Gundling taught natural law and the law of nations. His wife, Augusta Sophia Kraut, had intimate relations to other members of the male sex. But, as one local historian wrote, Gundling seemed to care more for his scientific ambition than for the reputation of his promiscuous wife. Back to the days of August 1719: The pack of students rushed into Gundling´s house and demanded the release of Großmanns. Maybe they had not inquired thoroughly enough about Gundling´s neighbours. Next door to Gundling lived the commander of the regiment, Henning Alexander von Kleist. As soon as von Kleist realised the awkward situation Gundling was in, he threatened the rebellious students with the calling of the city-guard. The students gave in and left the house as well as the place. Kleist´s call to order had only a short-lived effect. The next day our sons of the Muses took up arms. Wooden sticks in their hands, they kicked up a row in the street we’re in now. The students were disguised and had their faces blackened with coal. They destroyed several window-panes. Some got arrested, others fled. Friedrich Wilhelm, King in Prussia, decreed that a thorough examination of the students´ rebellion be made. After the guilty students had been found out, the king gave command to the university to expel the authors “for ever cum infamia”.
Since January 1717 Handel lived again in London. One of the guests of the reproduction of Rinaldo at Haymarket had been the Duke of Chandos ( = James Brydged). Chandos invited Handel to follow Pepusch as his chapel master in Cannons. Handel felt obliged to give his consent – happily so! Life at Cannons was more than royal: King George himself once visited Cannons. He told Handel that it might be better for him to live with the rich Duke of Chandos than with the niggardly King of England, who had forgotten to pay any loan to his court chapel master for the last three years. On August 8th 1718 Handel’s beloved sister, Dorothea Sophia, died. Handel wanted to travel directly from Chandos to Halle – but “des affaires indispensables” (20.2.19), as he wrote to his brother-in-law in Halle, made him stay in England. These indispensable affairs were nothing less than the foundation of the Royal Academy of Music. Nevertheless, at the end of February 1719 Handel left England for the continent. He was commissioned to engage famous singers for the Academy. After a short stay in Düsseldorf, Handel reached Dresden on March 10th 1719. Here he heard Francesco Bernardi, called “Senesino”, for the first time. In secret negotiations with Francesca Durastanti, Maria Salvai, Senesino, Berselli and Boschi Handel achieved the conclusion of five contracts. After Dresden Handel made a visit to Halle. Here he met his mother and his niece Johanna Friederike. Had he remembered his days as a student? Had he seen soldiers of the Old Dessauer´s Regiment? We don´t know.
Murder in Märker-Street (Große Märkerstrasse 14)
Here we stand in front of Dürfeld´s House. Heinrich Dürfeld was born in Halle in 1611. From 1644 to 1656 he was “Ratsmeister” ( = city councillor), from 1655 onwards he did service at the court of Duke August. Dürfeld died on November 20th 1682 as a victim of the plague. The plague killed one half of the town’s population. The house burned down one year later – together with another 24 buildings. For fourteen years the area around the “Kleiner Berlin” remained unused. As a consequence of the foundation of the university in 1694 building activities sprang up.
Christoph Katsch, member of a family residing in Halle since 1470, married Dürfeld´s daughter Maria Elisabeth in 1696. With the marriage came the ownership of the plot of land, on which he build the house you see today. Three years later he died. With Katsch´s death the house changed ownership. The name of the new proprietor was Assur Marx. Marx was the co-founder of the Jewish Community in Halle. He had come to Halle in 1688 on invitation of the Great Elector Friedrich Wilhelm. In 1701 Marx received a Letter of Protection by the Saxon Great Elector August. Marx held very good business relations with several members of the university (for example with Samuel Stryk, Christoph Cellarius and Friedrich Hoffmann). He bought a garden and a house for the Jewish Community in order to establish a cemetery. After Marx´ death in 1733 the house remained in the hands of his descendants for decades.
The Victim: Elias Ruben Gumperts
Here a brutal murder happened at the night of August 12th to August 13th 1737. The victim was a Jew named Elias Ruben Gumperts from Cleve. He as well as Marx lived in Prussia under special protection of the King. In 1727 Gumperts asked the King for allowance to settle in Halle. Two years later the allowance was granted to him.
On August 12th, a sunny Saturday, Gumperts had been going to Bad Lauchstädt with his wife, his daughter, Mister Coppel Magnus and family Kleino. Bad Lauchstädt, a small spa some miles south of Halle, had become famous for its healing waters since its discovery in 1700. The society came back from Lauchstädt at 21.00 hours. Already an hour earlier the cabinet-maker Heydenreich had visited the house in Märker-Street 14. Gumpert´s servants had let in Heydenreich, a citizen of the Palatinate Colony. Heydenreich went into the children’s room and planed a cradle that he had brought here the day before. Gumpert´s wife was very near her confinement. After Heydenreich had done his job, he sat down with Gumpert´s other children, who played near the servants. The home-comers entered the house by the court-yard and each one headed for his room. Gumperts and his friend Magnus decided to play “Brett”, a game played on a board. At around 22.00 hours Heydenreich left the house by the street entrance. Magnus played another hour with Gumperts, before he went home, too.
Gumperts, a cautious patriarch, locked the street-door, took the street-door-key and hang it under a big mirror in the living-room. Afterwards he locked each window-shutter. A servant-boy brought Gumperts into his sleeping-chamber in the second floor. The boy took off his master’s clothes and put out the light shortly after Gumperts had found his into bed. The boy closed the door and – as usual – left the key in the lock. The house fell asleep. After midnight, maybe around 2 o´clock, the sister of the Jewish Community´s superintendent, Mrs Aaron, was torn out of her sleep. She had her room in the neighbouring house’s second floor. It was separated from Gumperts´ room only by a thin wall. Loud noises had awakened her. They came from Gumperts´ room. Mrs Aaron thought she knew the origin of these noises: now and than Gumperts beat his son, Daniel – night or day. With her hands she knocked at the wall. As the noise did not subside, she went to the window, opened it, leaned out and insulted Gumperts as loud as she could. As she wanted to take breath in order to continue her shouting, she heard that a window-shutter was being unscrewed.
Daniel and the rabbi of the Jewish Community slept in a room directly adjacent to Gumperts´. The son had not been beaten. The next day Daniel and the rabbi attested on oath that they had heard a groan emanating from Gumperts´ room. But they had not taken action because they strongly believed to be witness of a ghostly visitation. Meanwhile the Red Tower had sounded the third hour after midnight. Anne, the maid-servant, got up, went into the first floor and met disorder. The street-door key stuck in the street-door lock and one window-shutter was wide open. Anne did not seem to be distressed by the disorder. She thought Daniel had forgotten to close the shutter. At 9 o´ clock Mrs Gumperts called the locksmith. The door to Gumperts´ sleeping-chamber was locked, which was unusual. Although they had tried, the members of the family could not draw a sign of life from Gumperts. The locksmith opened the door and understood at once why the night at Märker-Street 14 had been a restless one. Gumperts lay dead on his bed, swimming in his own blood. He held a pillow in front of his breast. The result of the post-mortem examination showed the brutality of the murder: Gumperts had 50 wounds all over his body: Wounds in his face, wounds in his arms and hands as well as in his thighs. With a look at the quality of the wounds, the examiner came to the conclusion that the murderer’s weapon must have been blunt. The case of jewels, standing on the bedside-table, remained untouched.
Dreyhaupt (the famous baroque jurist and writer of the town’s history) dealt with the case as president of the Halle courts. He concluded: A person of unknown sex entered Gumperts´ room after midnight but before 2 o´ clock in order to kill the Jew. Gumperts, having been a robust man, defended himself with all his might. The pillow he had held in front of his breast, might have served as a protection for a certain time. Awoken by the uproar Mrs Aaron put the murderer to flight by drumming with her fists against the wall. Alarmed by the noise the murderer might have forgotten the case of jewels. The evil-doer fled Gumperts´ room, locked the door and took the street-door key from its place under the mirror. At the moment he wanted to open the street-door he heard Mrs Aaron insulting dead Gumperts. The murderer decided to escape by climbing out of a window heading to Sternstraße. It was here that Dreyhaupt had found tracks of blood.
A criminalist from Berlin gave order to imprison all Jews. He ordered the cabinet-maker Heydenreich before his desk and questioned him. The inquiry produced no new facts. Heydenreich was released, the Jews were kept in custody – although Dreyhaupt protested. A few weeks later a maid named Doblerin was arrested. She had poisoned her child and was caught in the act. Hopeless as she was, the maid-servant opened up her mouth and started to tell a very ugly story about the man from the Palatinate, Heydenreich. Doblerin had been maid-servant in Heydenreich´s house. The cabinet-maker impregnated his maid and hid her before his wife in an attic chamber. He gave Doblerin essences, which he believed to cause an abortion. One day after Gumperts´ death (the police heard from Doblerin) Heydenreich´s wife had come up to the attic to hang up a washed shirt; Heydenreich himself had been running around in his garden, twisting his hands. Doblerin received a death-sentence because of the poisoning. Before she was drowned in the river Saale on May 8th 1739, she corroborated her declaration. Heydenreich got arrested for a second time, did declare nothing, was tortured but nevertheless kept his mouth shut. Nobody could proof that Heydenreich had killed Gumperts. But Heydenreich was found guilty of adultery and attempted abortion. He was sent to the Magdeburg Citadel. The Jews were left free. The murderer was never convicted.
Did Georg Frederic Handel hear of the Murder in Märker-Street?
Would you know where G.F. Handel was during these days and weeks? For years Handel suffered from rheumatism; on April 13th 1737 Handel got seriously ill. Some weeks later Handel worked again, on command of the king. He played the harpsichord in his opera Giustino. Two days later Handel’s health collapsed – he decided to follow a medical treatment in one of the poshest spas in Europe: in Aix-la-Chapelle or Aachen, my home-town. He arrived in Aachen two days after Gumprechts´ death (15.8.37). His relatives in Halle had read or heard of Handel’s plans. It was Johanna Friederike Michaelsen, Handel´s niece, who visited the composer in the far west of Germany. We don’t know weather she told “Man-Mountain Handel” of the Murder in Märker-Street – but for the sake of our story we do assume it.
The All-Round Scholar and the Great Elector (Großer Berlin: House of Giants)
In 1709 an anonymous published a book called: “Kurzte Nachricht von der Stadt Halle und absonderlich von der Universität” – that is: “Short Message about the City of Halle and especially of its University”. The author described how desperately the city longed for the Brandenburger to take over government after the Thirty Years War. Looting and the passing through of Swedish and Imperial troops, hunger, the general rise of prices and further strokes of bad luck seemed to make the people of Halle hopeful that with the Great Elector better times would arise. The author wrote: “One sole consolation was left to her ( = Halle): that she should achieve her greatest bliss under the protection of Brandenburg. Her hope was fulfilled in good time.” The City of Halle, wrote the author, “could praise herself in a special way: She had up to now sufficiently enjoyed – before all other cities – Great Electoral Protection and Grace.”
In 1675, five years before the archbishopric fell to Brandenburg, the Great Elector, Friedrich Wilhelm, had triumphantly won the battle of Fehrbellin. The Swedish invaders were chased away from Brandenburg´s territory. The Fehrbellin victory was celebrated intensely – broad-sheets helped to make the name of the Great Elector famous. A relatively short military campaign had helped Friedrich Wilhelm to achieve a huge gain of prestige. In the winter of 1678 Swedish troops once again invaded parts of Prussia. Only by forced marches and by the often depicted crossing of the frozen Kurische Haff ( = fresh water lake adjoining the Baltic Sea) the occupiers could be thrown out in January 1679. From now on, Friedrich Wilhelm had a reputation as warrior-hero. The Great Elector took the city’s oath of allegiance ( = Huldigung) on June 4th 1681. Expectations of city council and citizenry were high. The whole town: The council, the salt-makers ( = Pfänner), citizenry and priests swore the oath of allegiance in front of the town hall, not on the residence. They hoped for an economic growth – why they did so, we don’t know.
Mateweis´ Call to Halle
Four days after the oath – and now we have arrived in front of the Giants House in an historic sense as well – the Great Elector called the vice-director of the Grey Monastery, a Berlin College, Friedrich Mateweis to Halle. Mateweis, 33 years of age, had studied in Jena and was called to Berlin in 1672. Here he gave private lectures to field-marshal-general Georg von Derfflinger´s sons. Von Derfflinger had been the Great Elector’s left hand in the battle of Fehrbellin. In Halle he organised the postal services in the years after 1681. In GFH´s year of birth Mateweis built a country-house upon the foundation stones of the old Trotha Castle north of Halle. Mateweis knew 14 languages, was well acquainted with mathematics and had the reputation to be an inventor of machines and instruments. Mateweis showed his “special relationship” to the Great Electoral House in celebrating its days of glory. With the construction of the House of Giants in 1697, Mateweis gave evidence of his affection for his protector Friedrich Wilhelm. Dreyhaupt, the city’s chronicler, wrote:
“He build upon the Berlin a precious house of his own invention. You could see at its exterior as well as at its interior pansophia, polihistoria, tam sacra quam profana especially res gesta magna of the Great Elector Friedrich Wilhelm…”
The precious house should give shelter to an academy. Mateweis himself called the project “Athenaeum Salomoneum ad Forum Neo Berolinense”. Theory and practice should have been taught under one roof starting in 1702 with nine teachers. His pedagogical concept has been called one of reform if not one of revolution. Until today we can see one of the signs of Mateweis´ affection for Friedrich Wilhelm. His portrait rests above the vertex of the portal’s bow. We can put the question to the fore whether the use of a portrait of the Great Elector – nine years after his death – did not show something of a sulky ( = schmollende) gesture against his son and successor. Friedrich III., who had lodged in Mateweis´ country house on the occasion of the University’s foundation (1694) , had listened to negative statements concerning Mateweis´ project. He never supported it.
Some Words about the Icons shown at the Portal
The Giants (Greek mythology – Italian artist?)
On the right we see Hercules. His symbols are the club, the skin of the Lion of Nemea and the Lernian Hydra. Hercules used the club against lion and hydra. After he had choked the lion to death, Hercules took its skin as an impenetrable armament. The Lernian Hydra wound one of its coils around Hercules' foot and made it difficult for the hero to escape. On the left we see Atlas: Atlas hated holding up the sky and the earth so much that he would agree to the task of fetching the Hesperidian apples, in order to pass his burden over to Hercules. Everything happened as Prometheus – who had been freed by Hercules from the eagle’s every-day-attack on his liver – had predicted, and Atlas went to get the apples while Hercules was stuck in Atlas's place, with the weight of the world literally on his shoulders. When Atlas returned with the golden apples, he told Hercules he would take them to Eurystheus himself, and asked Hercules to stay there and hold the heavy load for the rest of time. Hercules slyly agreed, but asked Atlas whether he could take it back again, just for a moment, while the hero put some soft padding on his shoulders to help him bear the weight of the sky and the earth. Atlas put the apples on the ground, and lifted the burden onto his own shoulders. And so Hercules picked up the apples and quickly ran off, carrying them back, uneventfully, to Eurystheus.
Hercules and Atlas serve as portal-guards. Sculptures of this kind and size seem to have been unusual before 1700 in the Middle- and North-German area. Two years before the Halle sculptures had been made, Giovanni Giuliani created the Giants Portal of the Palais Liechtenstein in Vienna (Minoritenplatz).
Eagles, Measuring-Instruments and Palm Fans
In each wedge-field ( = Zwickelfelder) left and right of the (basket-) bow we find one eagle. In their claws they hold four measuring-instruments. The left eagle holds a straight-egde (= Richtscheit) and an adjustable pair of compasses (= Reiß-Stellzirkel). The right eagle holds an angle-iron (= Winkeleisen) and a closed pair of touch-compasses (= Tastzirkel).
Signification of measuring-instruments: straight-edge:
straightforwardness in thinking and acting of a human being; a straight-edge
with a scale (24zöllige Ellen)
can signify a meaningful division of the day;
adjustable p.o.c.: the name “Zirkel” (= a drawing pair of
compasses) meant a closed community of persons (f.ex. members of student
in the 18th century;
angle-iron: the angle-iron was used by the stone-mason to draw the right
angle onto the quarry-stone (= Werkquader); it signified justice.
Palm Tree Branches
Behind the eagles palm fans stand as icons for victory,
peace, vital power and fertility. Palm fans were often used in baroque
decorative and poetical
art. The Great Elector was member of the “Fruchtbringende Gesellschaft
zum Palmbaum” ( = Fructiferous Society of the Palm Tree). The Society
aimed at the cultivation of German language and literature as well as the
uplifting of its reputation. Friedrich Wilhelm was its 401. member, Duke
August von Sachsen its 402. member.
The keystone of the portal’s bow shows a bowl-balance , a proportional pair of compasses, an angle-meter and a string of geometrical elements. The sentence on the stone strap reads: “PRO.RATIONE.STATUS.”, which means as much as: “For a state (of affairs) ordered by reason”. Instruments and elements symbolise a three-dimensional notion of science (according to Cusanus and Mateweis): “Science is counting, measuring and weighing.”
Zone of the Architrave (Dove): Above
the keystone rests the centre of the iconographic programme. It is the
ascending dove in the aureole of rays of light.
The dove symbolises
the Holy Ghost. The inscription “SYMB: FERIMUR. MOTORE. SUPREMO:
ACT.XVII v. 28” means: “We are carried by the highest mover.”
Helios (Phöbus Apoll) and Arthemis-Selene (Diana): To the left of FW a relief of the god of the sun, Helios, is placed. To his right a relief of Arthemis is symbolises “light in the darkness”. Next to Helios a plate depicts the sun, next to Arthemis the moon is modelled after reality (mountains, craters). Moon and sun represent all pairs of oppositions with ascending and descending character.
A.H. Francke and His Foundations
From here you can see the “Franckesche Stiftungen” or Francke´s Foundations. They are named after August Hermann Francke (1663-1727). The Foundations were a great orphanage and a school-town of its own. Francke had studied theology and the Hebrew language. In 1687 he had met Philipp Jacob Spener, a leading pietist, in Leipzig . Pietism at that time was a movement in the Protestant church to stress religious feeling and the community of love of earnest believers in Christ. Faith should be combined with piety, obedience and aspiration for virtue. Francke was called to Halle by the Great Elector Frederic III. of Brandenburg, the later King in Prussia Frederic I. Francke received a call to the philosophic faculty. In 1692 the pietist arrived in Halle, became preacher at St. George’s Church and began his lectures at university. St. George was situated in Glaucha, a small town separated from Halle by the town-wall. Social circumstances here were catastrophic. That is why Francke started to give out meals to the poor in July 1694. One year later he opened up the first poor´s school and founded the orphanage. The Great Elector supported his subject’s activities by granting privileges (1698). Francke was allowed to establish a baking- and brewing house, a book-shop with the right to publish, a pharmacy and a cloth-makery. In July 1698 the first stone for the New Orphanage was put into the ground, four years later the finished building could be consecrated. Francke described his first impressions of Glaucha in an account of his activities in 1697:
„Weil ich nun bei dem armen Volke solche grobe und gräuliche Unwissenheit fand, daß ich fast nicht wusste, wo ich anfangen sollte, ihnen einen festen Grund ihres Christentums beizubringen, bin ich von solcher Zeit her bekümmert gewesen, wie ihnen nachdrücklicher geholfen werden möchte...“
„As I found with the poor people such rude and fearful lack of knowledge, that I almost ignored where to start teaching them a firm footing of their Christianity, I have been worrying from that time onwards how one could help them with more vigour…”
“...wohl erwägend, daß dem christlichen und gemeinen Wesen ein sehr großer Schade daraus entstehe, daß so vieles Volk als das Vieh ohne alle Wissenschaft von Gott und göttlichen Dingen dahingehet...“
„I considered that a huge damage might arise for the Christian as well as the common community in that so many people walk around without any study of God and godly thinks like cattle…”
„...insonderheit aber, daß so viele Kinder, wegen Armuth ihrer Eltern weder zur Schule gehalten werden, noch sonst einiger guten Auferziehung genießen, sondern in der schändlichsten Unwissenheit und in aller Bosheit aufwachsen, daß sie bei zunehmenden Jahren zu nichts zu gebrauchen sein und daher sich auf Stehlen und andere böse Thaten begeben.“
„… in particular that so many children because of the poverty of their parents neither are treated to go to school nor do enjoy any other education. Instead they grow up within shameful ignorance and wickedness. What follows is that with growing age they are useful to nothing and therefore start to steal and do to bad things.”
In Francke´s time up to 2000 people lived on the territory of the Foundations. Until 1946 the foundations remained an autonomous body, although densely tied to the Prussian state. Under Soviet rule the foundations were merged with the university. Only after the reunification Francke´s Foundations received a second chance to prosper. During ten year of reconstruction 50 million € have been invested; another ten years will see investments of 80 million €.
„Goldener Adler“, “Goldene Rose” and “Raub- oder Glücksschiff”: A.H. Francke began his great work by buying the hotel “Golden Eagle” on April 6th 1698. The hotel received a different function, it became the forerunner of the huge orphanage building you can see today. South of it, on July 5th 1698, the excavation works for the new orphanage began. On July 13th the first stone was put into the ground. The “Golden Eagle” was torn down in 1732 in order to make room for a four storey massive building. Its sign-board was preserved at least until 1863 above the entry of the natural history collection. Mean tongues contended that Francke had taken the golden eagle of the sign-board as prototype for the black eagles in stucco-plaster, which decorate the gable-field. Francke bought up two other hotels. The “Golden Rose” and the “Ship of Prey” or “Ship of Luck”. The “Golden Rose”, bought in 1702 (7.6.), served as Francke´s residence for thirteen years. The “Ship of Prey” was (another) den of vice in Glaucha. It was bought in 1704 by a charitable person to serve as a home for aged ladies.
Countess Cosel´s Arrest in Halle
Who was Countess Constantia von Cosel? Cosel was August the Great´s mistress. After the Saxon King lost interest in her, Constantia fled at first to Berlin, then to Halle. She took with her a “promise of marriage”, which the King had given to his beloved in a second of weakness. The king was very much interested to receive back the promise, in order to be free of any tie. Constantia arrived in Halle at the time of the Leipzig Michaelis fair in 1716. She found a room in the “Prussian Crown” inn, which was led by Jean Michel. Michel had fled from Paris, where he had been tradesman and pastry-cook. The Prussian King, Friedrich Wilhelm I, the so called “Soldatenkönig”, had made clear to Constantia that he had no possibilities to protect her in his state. He opened up two alternatives to her: Either he would let her flee from Halle or, depending on a personal letter of extradition by August, he had to hand her over to the Saxon King. If she wanted to be free, she would have to pay him a reward. The lady did not want to pay. That is why she got arrested on November 22nd 1716. The Prussian military brought her to the border and handed her over to the Saxon side. Her next station on the way to Stolpen, where she should live in custody until the end of her life, was Leipzig. From here she wrote a letter to Lieutenant Karl Ludwig von Hautcharmoy back in Halle. She asked him to keep an eye on her “Mantelsack” (= suitcase, valise). This letter got into the hands of August. He gave notice to Friedrich Wilhelm, the Prussian King, that he wanted to know the number, content and whereabouts of the Countesses luggage. The Prussian King forwarded the letter to Prince Leopold. Friedrich Wilhelm told Leopold that if Hautcharmoy did not answer (confess) August’s questions correctly, he would punish the Lieutenant harshly. You may guess what the “Mantelsack” might have contained: the written “promise of marriage”. We don’t know whether Hautcharmoy ever answered the three questions. But we do know that Prince Leopold got hold of one of Constantia´s suitcases. It seems as if he kept the suitcase for years. On April 4th 1729, 13 years after the Countesses arrest in Halle, another letter by August reached Leopold. The king required the extradition of a piece of luggage that once belonged to Constantia. We can estimate the value the King accorded to the suitcase if we look at the price he was willing to pay. Prince Leopold demanded the investiture with Gräfenhainichen heath, a piece of earth famous for its good hunting grounds twenty kilometres south-east of Dessau. On April 26th 1730 he received the investiture and August after all his “promise of marriage”.
The Regiment Anhalt-Dessau
It was Albrecht Haller (1707-1777), who, in 1726, wrote about Prince Leopold´s regiment in Halle. Haller, who had studied medicine in Tübingen, was on his way to Leiden. There he wanted to continue his studies. In Halle Haller made a stop of a few days, to visit the university and the Franckesche Stiftungen. But he also remarked the good conditions, the regiment was in. One morning, at 10 o’clock, he walked on the parading place and saw a battalion marching. They did, as he said, their exercises very neatly, fastly and loaded their guns in an instance. Other movements they made slowly enough, but with assiduity. Prince Leopold, or “Der alte Dessauer” (The old man from Dessau), would have been pleased, had he heard of the young man’s power of observation. Leopold had worked hard for a more forceful and quicker army. Instead of match-lock-muskets and pikes Brandenburg regiments since 1692 used only flint-lock-muskets. The battle for firing-superiority became a battle for firing-fastness. This is why Leopold´s first and principal aim of training was in fast-loading and fast-firing. In 1699 the iron ramrod (or loading-plug) was introduced into the whole regiment. Leopold had remarked that the great power of the infantry resided mainly in the fast loading-process of the soldiers while storming; thereby breaking the (wooden) ramrods in two. As late as 1718 the Prussian infantry saw the general introduction of the iron ramrod; one year later the iron ramrod came into general use in the Prussian cavalry. By this development the Alt-Anhaltisches Regiment became the teaching-regiment of the Prussian foot-soldiers.
Running the Gauntlet ( Brüderstraße)
Haller had taken a close look at the soldiers in Halle. And he was lucky enough to meet a countryman from Bern, who served in the army. This man complained that hats were distributed only once a year, sockets only once in three years. The material from which the hats were made, the soldier went on, was cruelly coarse. Haller continued his report by adding: “The soldiers get good strokes and may not even turn around to see where they come from.” Here Haller describes how soldiers were punished for certain offences. Running the gauntlet was particularly disagreeable. The sentenced soldier had to go through two rows counting each 100 men. The men were the soldier’s comrades. Each mate held a rod (= Rute) and had to beat upon the bare back of the delinquent. To prevent the soldier from running down between the rows, instead of going, a corporal went in front of the sentenced. One way to lessen the power of the strokes was to split the rod. To impede the soldier’s comrades from doing this, the rods were checked before use.
Anton Wilhelm Amo
Anton Wilhelm Amo was not only the first African to be
educated at Wittenberg university or any other German university but
the first in Europe altogether. Amo came from today’s
Ghana. There the Dutch-Westindian Company took Amo as a prisoner or bought
the young boy from his parents. In 1707
Amo was given to Count Ulrich von Wolfenbüttel-Braunschweig as a present.
The black boy received a systematic and good education at Ulrich´s
court. The good relations between the Count and Halle university made Amo´s
immatriculation on June, 9th 1727 possible. At that time Amo was about
20 years of age. After his arrival in Halle he might have taken up contact with Christian
Thomasius, a famous jurist.