My child protagonists of The First Intergalactic Dating Agency series are supposed to experience life through the ages as children would have done at that time. Having settled on a lowly occupation like inn keeper at the Red Ox and the Rose Inn, I’m now looking to other historic buildings which can provide me with occupants that reflect society through the ages. I’m particularly interested in buildings and occupations that show the great economic divide which determined, whether a child lived well, lived in relative comfort or lived at all.
The narrow alleyways and hidden courtyards of Schwäbisch Hall’s medieval town centre may look very picturesque now, but when my child protagonists Peter, Molly and Leroy arrive for their time travelling visit, there’ll be horrid smells from butcher shops, foul stink from over-flowing gutters and beggars in the street will be trying to scrape a little food together to survive.
At the other end of the social hierarchy lies Comburg Castle, perched high above the town. Around 1078 the Counts of Comburg-Rothenburg, namely Burkhard, Heinrich and Rugger, decided to make a gift of the site that had been earmarked for their own castle to a bunch of Benedictine monks, so they could erect a cloister on the hill. One member of the aristocratic family entered the Benedictine monastery as a novice and the family made sure they kept a hand in all of the Comburg’s affairs by retaining the title of Vogt, a sort of land agent come mayor in charge of the Comburg Castle compound and all their lands.
Oddly enough, when the construction of the cloister and castle complex was finally finished, the bishop who inaugurated and blessed it on 21.12.1088, was none other than Bishop Adalbero of Würzburg – a town that will feature largely in Willow the Vampire’s next adventure (it’s a small medieval world).
I decided my three heroes would arrive at a particular point in this medieval time travelling caper, namely on 14.05.1085, when the aristocratic Adelbert von Bielriet enters the cloister to become a monk and hands over all his worldly goods to the Benedictine order, which at that time included not just his manor house, barns and outhouses, fields, livestock and chattels – but his people!
His servants and everyone working for him became effectively the possession of the cloister and the Benedictine order. It struck me that I could use the plight of a young page or serving girl as a means to interact with my time travelling children.
The monks who lived and worked at Comburg Castle, a cloister that was built like a fortress, were exclusively of noble descend. The cloister once held amazing riches, but when the cloister community was secularised in 1803 the States of Baden and Württemberg annexed everything. The monk’s library still survives intact at the Württemberg State Library, but the gold and silver riches were melted down in the mint at nearby Ludwigsburg to fill the state coffers. There are, however, still many wonderful artefacts to be seen in some of the castle buildings.
In my story Peter, Molly and Leroy will have good reason to sneak up to the Comburg and rifle through some of the artefacts there, as essentially the second adventure will revolve around a treasure hunt through time and space.
When is a knight not a knight? I guess when he gives up his worldly goods and all those who cared and worked for him, possibly even loved him. He entered a cloister to gain greater power and riches as a “man of god” than he would have done as a mere nobleman and knight. How monk-y-boy Adelbert’s decision will affect the fictitious page or servant girl will be revealed as part of my time travelling adventure The First Intergalactic Dating Agency.