My Illlustrated Travel Journal with Essays about Roman and Mediaeval History and some Geology

  The Seagull - A Poem

Here's a little poem I translated from German into English ages ago.

Theodor Storm: Ans Haff nun fliegt die Möwe

The sea-gull flies ashore now,
And twilight's setting in;
Upon the mud-flats mirrors
The sun of the late evening.

The sea-birds like grey shadows
Approaching waters flee;
And dreamlike lie the islands
In the mists upon the sea.

Low murmurs and misterious
Of fermenting mud I hear,
Lonely sea-gulls' harsh cries,
A sound well known and dear.

Once more the wind is whisp'ring,
And then a silence falls;
The voices above the surface -
Audible become their calls.

  The Privilege of the deditio

The deditio was a privilege for members of the high aristocracy. This privilege allowed reconciliation with the sovereign after a rebellion. It followed a certain ceremony with demonstrative repentence being the first step, that mostly included being barefoot, wearing of a penitential robe and a proper genuflection (on both knees, kissing the foot of the king). The king then could forgive on the spot by raising the dedicant from his kneeling position, or punish the rebel in a serious (long term imprisonment) or more symbolic (f.e. dismantling of a part of the castle walls which could be rebuild thereafter) way. Only one thing the king could not do: put the death sentence upon the repentant rebel. The conditions of the deditio were negotiated beforehand by mediators. After the deditio relations were regarded as before the rebellion with the honour of both parties remaining intact. (At least, officially, sometimes the conditions were too humilitating not to leave negative feelings with the one who had to submit.)

It was one of the ways to establish limits of power and aggression in a society with no legal system as we know today. Therefore, the ceremony had a large component of stage production, of demonstration for a people the majority of which was illiterate. The deditio developed in the time of Charlemagne; the first description of the proper proceedings is to be found for the treatment of Louis the Pious' rebellious son Lothar in 834.

The deditio could only be granted once, if the rebellious vassal continued with his behaviour, no more negotiations about submission were allowed; his life was forfeit. The demonstrative character of the action would have lost its effect had it been repeated by the same person. Though there are exceptions to this, of course.

Gerd Althoff. Das Privileg der deditio. In: Althoff, Gerd. Spielregeln der Politik im Mittelalter - Kommunikation in Frieden und Fehde. Darmstadt, 1997 (Wissenschaftliche Buchgesellschaft); pp. 99-125

  Let's see how this works

Since many of my friends have blogs, I thought I'd get one, too.

I'm not yet sure what I'm going to do with it, lol. Book reviews? That's an idea - if you like the odd mix of fe. David Gemmell, George Eliot, Bernard Cornwell, Thomas Mann, Halldór Laxness, Lois McMaster Bujold, GRR Martin and Sir Walter Scott. Not to mention German books that publishers never translate.

Ranting about my life? I'm not someone brave enough to do that in public. Posts about the historical research I do for my novels? Another idea worth pursuing. Though I doubt anyone will read about the little wooden tablets with scribblings they found at Vindolanda or the change of command structure in the Roman army between 120 and 400 AD. But isn't blogging like talking to the air in hope someone listens

Well, I'll have to see how this blog thingie will proceed.

  The Saga of House Sichelstein

Forged at the Fighting / Survivors of Spears / In War to Defend

In the first half of the 10th century, kings strive to expand their realms, noble lords turn rebels, longships prowl the sea and Magyar raiders plunder the land. In these turbulent times, four siblings of a minor Saxon house have to fight for survival.

Athalard of Sichelstein inherits the family's lands, but also a bloodfeud that will drive him, hunted and haunted, to the borders of the inhabited world. Wittilo, monastery-educated but with a longing for arms and armour, will become involved in the civil war between Heinrich the Fowler's sons Otto and Thankmar, and must decide which oaths to keep when his old enemies play the strings. Ercenmar seeks a future of glory at the court of Æthelstan of Wessex to find it will turn to ashes when friends become enemies. Their sister Erelinda will have to face the masterful queen Gunhild of the Danes, but to save the man she loves she will have to leave behind her home and her family.

The saga of the Sichelstein siblings is a tale of family, of love and hatred, duty and honour, of divided allegiances and battles, ranging from the glaciers of Iceland to the fertile plains at the Danube, from the swamps and forests of the Eastmarch to the islands of western Alba.


  Roman Novels

A series of novels-in-progress set in the Roman Empire, mostly in Germania and Britannia.

A Land Unconquered

Caius Horatius Veranius is a member of Varus' staff and one of the few survivors of the Battle in the Teutoburg Forest where the German tribes annihilated three legions. But when he returns to the forts at the Rhine after having been released from German captivity, he faces treason charges by his rival Publius Cornelius Lentulus and finds that navigating the snares of political intrigue can be more difficult than surviving a battle.

Arminius, leader of the German confederacy and former Roman officer, meanwhile strives to keep the tribes together and win new allies.

Then Rome sends an army to avenge the shame and reclaim the eagles, and the war reaches a new peak when Germanicus leads the legions across the Rhine in a fight that puts not only Romans against Germans, but also friends and brothers against each other.

Eagle of the Seas

During the invasion of Agricola, the charismatic Caledonian leader Talorcan fights for revenge and the freedom of his people, but internecine strife troubles his tribe. Led by Talorcan's cousin and rival, they cast him out, and Talorcan has to hide, an outlaw, in the lands occupied by the Romans.

Marcus Horatius Aquila wants to make a career in the Roman army. But when he comes to know some Caledonians, he has dejà-vus of a tribal life he can't explain. During a skirmish, Aquila is taken captive and learns that he is born to the tribes from his mother's side and heir to the leadership of the Epidii, the tribe of the Sea Eagles.

Torn between conflicting blood ties and allegiances, Aquila tries to adapt to the tribal culture and mediate between the Caledonian Confederacy and the Romans. But Talorcan's successor proves to be an even greater threat than the rightful prince, the influential patrician Cornelius Scipio accuses Aquila of treason, and the Batavian auxiliaries in Aquila's charge threaten to mutiny.

Can Aquila and Talorcan work together to prevent the anihilation of the Caledonian tribes without betraying Rome when the armies of the Roman general Agricola and the Caledonian warlord Cailgach, also known as Calgacus, clash at the battle of Mons Graupius?

Never to Return

The Roman officer Lucius Valerius Aurelianus must fight the demons of his past and his parents' ambitions while protecting the inept emperor Severus Alexander against the discontent legions. Then Severus Alexander is assassinated and Maximinus Thrax elected emperor by the soldiers. He brings with him a man from Lucius Valerius' past the young officer had hoped never to meet again.

The German warrior Ricmar is outlawed for a murder he didn't commit thanks to the schemes of his half-brother. His exile will lead him all the way to the lands west of the Rhenus that are held by the Romans. Maximinus Thrax offers Ricmar a future if he will betray the people that outlawed him; an offer even more tempting when Ricmar learns the truth about his father and his heritage.

When the Romans invade Germania in a punitive expedition, it will not only be a war between the Germanic tribes and the Roman army, but also the culmination of a family feud where brothers fight each other during a battle on the slopes of a mountain in the Hercynian Forest.


  Kings and Rebels


Treason and the misuse of magic led to a cataclysm where the legendary realms of Levonais, Kêr Ys, Caer Gwaelod, and Vineta sank beneath the waves. But the magic stones that had shaped them were saved, and the descendants of the Sea Kings decided to keep the stones hidden, carrying on their line in secret.

After the Imperium of Roma fell, new peoples established their realms - the Gallicaine bent on conquest and rewaking the glory of Roma, the fierce Nortvegjan who rule the seas, and the warlike clans of Riata.

But now changes in the currents have enhanced the magic of the stones again, and they can no longer be kept secret. Already one stone has fallen into the wrong hands, and the smaller gems powered by the stones work their sorcerous power for whoever possesses such a treasure.

Among kings and rebels striving for power, a royal marshal turns traitor and flees into exile, the heir of a king sees his sovereign fall under the spell of a dark sorceress, a clan chief must navigate the intricacies of Riatan politics and his brother's schemes, and a necromancer princess trusts the dead more than the living.

The heirs of the stones must find a way to keep the stones safe - not only from a group of mages bound on finding the ancient artefacts, but also from themselves. Because when kingdoms are at stake, the stones' powerful magic could shake the very continent.


The Lost Fort is a travel journal and history blog based on my travels in Germany, the UK, Scandinavia, and other places. It includes essays on Roman and Mediaeval history, as well as some geology, illustrated with photos of old castles and churches, Roman remains, and beautiful landscapes.

All texts (except comments by guests) and photos (if no other copyright is noted) on this blog are copyright of Gabriele Campbell.
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Location: Germany

I'm a blogger from Germany with a MA in Literature and History which doesn't pay my bills, so I use it to research blogposts instead. I'm interested in everything Roman and Mediaeval, avid reader and sometimes writer, opera enthusiast, traveller with a liking for foreign languages and odd rocks, photographer, and tea aficionado. And an old-fashioned blogger who hasn't yet gotten an Instagram account. :-)


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