Date: Wednesday, July 2, 2014 (for Monday, June 30, 2014)
Time: 9:06 am local time (3:06 am EST)
Place: On the train between Vienna and Prague
Monday gave every indication of being an easier day—we didn’t have anywhere to be after Lisa’s lecture until about 11:30, and that was just to get on the metro to go up a few stops to Schönbrunn palace, the summer home of Maria Theresa (and later her famous great-grandchildren, Franz Joseph [I think] and his wife Elisabeth [called Sissi]).
Dr. Wohler’s verse for the day was Psalm 84—How Lovely are Thy Dwelling Places. Which was the perfect verse for the day’s itinerary.
The Holy Roman Empire was a loose confederation of states with the Emperor being elected from the kings of the states, though from the 1400s onward it was the generally the king of Austria.
The Hapsburg dynasty began in the 1300s in Switzerland, with Charles V living at the same time as Martin Luther. He was the Holy Roman Emperor, and also king of Spain and the Americas (neither of which fell under the HRE). Charles decided to retire from ruling, and also decided to split up his empire. He made his nephew the Holy Roman Emperor (and king of Austria), and his son got Spain and America. They basically left the other one alone, except for when they needed to fight France (which was between them).
At this time the various cantons (in Switzerland) and dutchies were allowed to choose to be either Protestant or Catholic, depending on who was in charge. The Protestants generally allied with the Protestants and the Catholics with the Catholics. The Hapsburgs remained Catholics. Under their rule Austria became the second largest European country.
The last great war fought in Europe over religion was the Thirty Years War, which actually lasted 30 years (from 1618-1648), and it was very devastating—almost as devastating as the plague had been. This was a war between Catholics and Protestants, but the Pope usually sided with the Protestants.
The war ended with the Treaty of Westphalia, which can be seen as the beginning of the modern era. This is when we became “civilized enough” to not fight over “superstition” (religion) but instead fight over important things like land and money. I hope you hear the sarcasm in my voice. As Christians we believe that the only thing really worth fighting for is Christ (but then we are given a headache because he wouldn’t want us to fight), but they saw that as fighting over superstition.
The 1700s saw the beginning of the Industrial Revolution and the Age of Enlightenment, and from this Enlightenment came the idea of Enlightenment Rule. There should be one law for everyone. People should become homogenous. The problem with that, however, is deciding whose culture to choose. This was the age of benevolent despots and a centralization of power, all of which sounds good on paper, but that is flawed in real life. Revolutions during this time were not against the backwards governments, but were instead against the governments who were trying hard to modernize.
They weren’t just trying to reform, however. They wanted to become a powerful Empire in the style of Rome, which included being the center of art and culture. Maria Theresa (Queen of Austria) was against the church, because it was trying to take away some of her power, but the common people were for the church because they felt like it was the only one looking out for the common people.
During the French Revolution at the end of the 18th century Austria fought for the French nobility (partially because of Marie Antoinette, the daughter of Maria Theresa was queen there) and partially because when one monarchy goes, others tend to follow. In 1804 they fought Napoleon.
The year 1848 is very important in European history because it was the year of many historical independence movements, including the movement for Hungarian Independence. This was the age of nationalism. Every people group should have their own country in their own language. The Austrians didn’t want to lose Hungary, so they agreed to a dual monarchy, turning the Austrian Empire into the Austro-Hungarian Empire.
On June 28, 1914 (100 years ago Sabbath) the heir to the Austro-Hungarian Throne (Francis Ferdinand) was killed by Serbian anarchists who wanted to have their own country. Then came World War I. After Francis Ferdinand was killed the Austrians wanted to wipe out Serbia, who called on the Russians for help, prompting the Austrians to call on the Germans.
The goal of this war was to be the last war that needed to be fought. The countries vowed to split up territories into Nationalistic regions at the close of the war, problems from which we are still dealing with today. The problems in Syria and Lebanon can be attributed to this arbitrary splitting. Now tribes are split between several countries, forcing tension.
When we got to Schönbrunn we were told we were going on the Grand Tour, which included an audio guide (yay!). It’s so much easier to appreciate the tour of 40 rooms with the audio guide instead of trying to read the signs (which aren’t always in English) around the crowd.
I really enjoyed the palace, though they encouraged me to not take pictures. Luckily, though, the postcards were fairly cheap, so I bought a few.
After we went outside the palace we walked through the French gardens on the grounds of Schönbrunn. French gardens are gardens that are very manicured and perfect. They are contrasted with English gardens, which are allowed to grow wild.
From Schönbrunn we walked around Vienna for a while. Dr. Wohlers had us walk past the winter palace of the Hapsburgs (the name of which I can’t remember), the Spanish Riding School (which is closed for renovations, but which would normally hold the Lipizzaner horses which are trained in ballet), eventually winding up at Stefansdom (St. Stephen’s Cathedral).
I went to St. Stephen’s last year with dad and took a picture of one of the organs, but I didn’t realize that there are two more. I was able to walk up much closer to the front this time around, and I tried to take pictures of the new organ (which Judy doesn’t quite approve of) and the smaller choir organ, too. Unfortunately they didn’t come out very well, but it was fun to see them. Now I can report back to Judy that I finally saw the right organ (and that it only took me two trips).
We made it back to our hotel again (I can actually navigate the city of Vienna, which is slightly alarming), and took some time to eat, some of us changed, then we went to the Musikverein in time for a concert by the Vienna Mozart Orchestra in the Golden Hall. The orchestra performed in Mozart costumes, which added a little bit of flair, but it was also quite cheesy. The music was outstanding.
On the program were two overtures by Mozart, quite a few opera arias and duets (including La ci darem la mano & Papageno/Papagena), the first movements of Mozart’s symphony no. 40 and Eine Kleine Nachtmusik and several other pieces. The concert was concluded by the Racoszy March by Johann Strauss, Sr., which calls for audience participation. We got to clap, and it was so much fun!
At the close of the concert the conductor threw the baton into the audience, but unfortunately I was too far away to even have a hope of catching it. I would rather catch someone’s baton than a baseball (and probably more than a garter). What a souvenir it would be!
We walked back to the hotel, and went to bed. We needed to be out fairly early the next day, as we were going to Prague.
Love to all!
I'm a Classical musician, a growing Christian, and a world traveler. I'm learning, exploring, and trying to understand this wonderful world I live in.