Fernard Braudel

These are notes to the post Permanences. Rome and Charthage.



(*) La Mediterranée, by Fernard Braudel, Flammarion 1985. Translation by Man of Roma.
Il Mediterraneo, Bompiani 1987, translated by Elena De Angeli


Braudel. Historian Fernard Braudel (see picture above) is one of the greatest French intellectuals. Only a few links, for now, just to give and idea of his work:
A nice synthesis about Braudel in English, plus the Fernand Braudel Center, at Binghamton University, State University of New York (“founded in September 1976 to engage in the analysis of large-scale social change over long periods of historical time”)

Protestants and Catholics Split along the Limes

Wikipedia: “In 1517 the Reformation began: Luther nailed his 95 theses” that will split West Christianity into Protestants and Catholics. “From 1545 the Counter-Reformation began in Germany ….Central and north-eastern Germany were by this time almost wholly Protestant, whereas western and southern Germany remained predominantly Catholic”. This corresponds more or less to the Roman Empire border, i.e, the romanized Germans mostly stayed with Roman Catholics, which is amazing, while the un-romanized ones and other northern folks left. From this fracture sprouted Lutherans, Dutch Reformed, German Reformed, Presbyterian, Calvinists, Puritans etc. Following you can see Luther in 1529 portrayed by German painter Lucas Cranach.


Luther in 1529 by Lucas Cranach.jpg


The Ultimate Roman Border.
Attachment to a Heritage

Some land reconnaissance now. First a nice map of the Roman Empire and its provinces. Then Wikipedia infos on the German Limes (Wikipedia is always a good initial info source, but nothing more). Also this map of the Roman provinces of Raetia and Germania Superior is not bad. And finally a good German web site on the Roman Limes, ultimate protection against the external Germanic tribes (Limes is Latin for Limit, border). The web site seems to be kept by those German federal states that actually were/are inside the Roman Empire. In it we read:

“The Upper German-Raetian Limes (”Obergermanisch – Raetischer Limes” = ORL = Limes of the Roman provinces of Raetia and Germania Superior: see a map) marked the ultimate Roman border line in the north of the Roman Empire. It was erected against the Germanic people who were a constant threat to the antique world. Over a length of 550 km from the river Rhine in the northwest to the river Danube in the southeast the Limes extends across the four German federal states Rheinland-Palatinate, Hesse, Baden-Württemberg and Bavaria.”


UNESCO World Heritage LIMES logo


These people are greatly attached to this heritage and have succeeded to get a certain number of UNESCO-world heritage recognitions, like Regensburg (Ratisbona), and even the Projekt Weltkulturerbe Limes (project for the world heritage recognition of the German Limes) seems to have been accepted.

As we read in the web site of the Deutsche Limes-Strasse Verein (the German Alliance For the Limes Roads) “the outer Upper Germanic-Rhaetian boundary wall (”Limes”) is one of the most outstanding archaeological monuments in Central Europe and has recently been put on the world cultural heritage list of the UNESCO. Many of the installations associated with the wall were unearthed as the result of excavations recently carried out by the different Regional Offices for the Protection of Ancient Monuments and have been conserved because of their excellent state of preservation. They include forts, baths and towers together with parts of the fortifications themselves such as ramparts, ditches, walls and palisades. Also taken into consideration are museum-like facilities such as protective structures covering Roman ruins which are explained by plans, photographs and finds as well as archaeological parks located in the neighbourhood of boundary wall structures with reconstructed or restored exhibitions. Many of these areas are called “archaeological reserves” ….

“The German Limes Road runs close to the Upper Germanic-Rhaetian Limes from the Rhine to the Danube. Most of the forts were founded at the beginning or middle of the 2nd century and existed until the end of the Roman occupation 260/270 A.D.. The “Limes” runs from Rhein-brohl to Regensburg ……We hope that you will get …a better understanding of the Roman past of this country and have a relaxing holiday …on the former borders of the Roman Empire.”

The Initial Battle of the Gladiator


For Roman-movies fiends (I am one of them) Roman fortress Castra Regina (thence Regensburg) was founded in 179 A. D. for the Third Italic Legion during the reign of Emperor Marcus Aurelius (we are in the Ancient-Roman province of Raetia). Marcus Aurelius fought battles along the Limes against German (and non German) tribes. Sounds like The Gladiator initial astounding battle scene, doesn’t it? Well, that scene probably referred to Germans invading Pannonia, east of Raetia, or invading Germania Superior, in the north west, so it’s unlikely Raetia to be the place (see Marcus Aurelius‘ life). It doesn’t matter though since the area well corresponds to that film battle and its marvellously recreated atmosphere (see Regensburg in this map of Raetia and Germania Superior).


We are mentioning Raetia because we were there last August on a sort of pilgrimage along the Limes, and found out that Castra Regina is more or less the core of Regensburg’s Old City or Altstadt. This charming city is located in north-eastern Bavaria, Oberpfalz. Pfalz is German for Latin Palatium, which refers to the Palatine Hill in Rome (Latin Mons Palatinus). It is the hill where Rome started (first huts, then the town, on this and other hills) and where the Roman Emperors much later lived (the English palace, indicating an important building, comes from there). From Palatinus derives Palatinate (Latin: Palatinatus), the area of the later German Holy Roman Empire, a sort of Middle Ages continuation of the Roman Empire. So it all fits together, as one can see.

Regensburg (Latin and Italian Ratisbona)

In Regensburg – right at the extreme (German) line of all this, the Limes goeing well beyond Germany – the population will later become Protestant, even though it has inherited this sort of Italian merry character, with people sitting in open-air cafés etc., like us in Rome (“we are the last Italian city”, they say, which sort of angered some Munich friends of ours who said they were the real Italians, not only because of the Catholic faith but also for their even merrier fiestas with people dancing on tables in Oktober Fest. They certainly said this to please us, but there is some truth, I believe: their elegance, their incredible love for Opera (more than us) and good wine (like us) etc. More on Regensburg arriving, which is a good observation point, and more of course on Bavaria and all, so to say, romanized Germany.

I cannot leave this subject without talking about this incredible person: Dr. Marcus Junkelmann of Regensburg (*), world-famous pioneer of experimental archaeology, living in a castle and speaking fluently Latin, I heard. Historian of Roman Legions and Army, he has reconstructed Roman weapons, infantry & cavalry techniques. We see his picture below, this is his University web site, I think, and Dr. Wilfried Stroh is one of his colleagues and probably friend. People like them are getting numerous also in parts of UK, who is also becoming very pro-Roman (still have to watch The Last Legion, hope it is a good movie).


Marcus Junkelman clad as a Roman

Carthage and the spread of Islam

Carthage’s former territories, apparently deeply romanized, accepted Islam willingly after the Roman Empire collapsed. This is important and is also amazing. What Braudel doesn’t say (but which further confirms his thought) is that Sicily also will be invaded by the Arabs and will be under Islamic rule for many centuries. Sicily will play a privileged role as bridge between Africa and Europe. And again western Sicily belonged to Carthage.
Carthage is one of the most fascinating topics of the ancient world. Her war with Rome was monumental and we will face this and other things in future posts. I am not prepared yet. I have to think about it, even though I have worked in Tunisia for 3 months. I am starting to get some confusion in my head, lol, so I have to get more mentally organized.
Carthage (and Hannibal) were defeated with honour and because of this defeat history changed in our side of the world … well, did it really totally change? Yes and no. Continuity and discontinuity.
More on Carthage then and many posts also about the Muslims and the Arabs, especially those of the Mediterranean sea, although not exclusively. Islam is another close neighbour of Rome. We have to consider it well.

(January and February 2008. We now have a post on the Mediterranean echoes of Islam, and another on the Southern Shores of the Mediterranean, which expand the above topic a bit)

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