Melk Abbey, Melk, Wachau, Lower Austria, Austria
"Melk Abbey (German: Stift Melk) is a Benedictine abbey above the town of Melk, Lower Austria, Austria, on a rocky outcrop overlooking the Danube river, adjoining the Wachau valley. The abbey contains the tomb of Saint Coloman of Stockerau and the remains of several members of the House of Babenberg, Austria’s first ruling dynasty.
The abbey was founded in 1089 when Leopold II, Margrave of Austria gave one of his castles to Benedictine monks from Lambach Abbey. A monastic school, the Stiftsgymnasium Melk, was founded in the twelfth century, and the monastic library soon became renowned for its extensive manuscript collection. The monastery’s scriptorium was also a major site for the production of manuscripts. In the fifteenth century the abbey became the centre of the Melk Reform movement which reinvigorated the monastic life of Austria and Southern Germany.
Today’s Baroque abbey was built between 1702 and 1736 to designs by Jakob Prandtauer. Particularly noteworthy are the abbey church with frescos by Johann Michael Rottmayr and the library with countless medieval manuscripts, including a famed collection of musical manuscripts and frescos by Paul Troger.
Due to its fame and academic stature, Melk managed to escape dissolution under Emperor Joseph II when many other Austrian abbeys were seized and dissolved between 1780 and 1790. The abbey managed to survive other threats to its existence during the Napoleonic Wars, and also in the period following the Anschluss in 1938, when the school and a large part of the abbey were confiscated by the state.
The school was returned to the abbey after the Second World War and now caters for nearly 900 pupils of both sexes.
Since 1625 the abbey has been a member of the Austrian Congregation, now within the Benedictine Confederation.
In his novel The Name of the Rose, Umberto Eco named one of the protagonists "Adso of Melk" as a tribute to the abbey and its famous library.
Among its alumni was the nineteenth-century Austrian dramatist and short-story writer, Friedrich Halm.
Melk Abbey is also the metaphorical climax ("a peak in a mountain range of discovery") of Patrick Leigh Fermor’s autobiographical account of his walking tour across pre-WW II Europe in A Time of Gifts, which includes a description of the abbey at that time.
Melk (older spelling: Mölk) is a city of Austria, in the federal state of Lower Austria, next to the Wachau valley along the Danube. Melk has a population of 5,257 (as of 2012). It is best known as the site of a massive baroque Benedictine monastery named Melk Abbey.
The town is first mentioned as Medilica in 831 in a donation of Louis the German; the name is from a Slavic word for ‘border.’ The area around Melk was given to Leopold I, Margrave of Austria, in the year 976 to serve as a buffer between the Magyars to east and Bavaria to the west. In 996 mention was first made of an area known as Ostarrîchi, which is the origin of the word Österreich (German for Austria). The bluff which holds the current monastery held a Babenberger castle until the site was given to Benedictine monks from nearby Lambach by Leopold II, in 1089. Melk received market rights in 1227 and became a municipality in 1898. In a very small area, Melk presents a great deal of architectural variety from many centuries.
The Wachau (German pronunciation: [vaˈxaʊ]) is an Austrian valley with a picturesque landscape formed by the Danube river. It is one of the most prominent tourist destinations of Lower Austria, located midway between the towns of Melk and Krems that also attracts "connoisseurs and epicureans" for its high-quality wines. It is 36 kilometres (22 mi) in length and was already settled in prehistoric times. A well-known place and tourist attraction is Dürnstein, where King Richard the Lionhearted of England was held captive by Duke Leopold V. The architectural elegance of its ancient monasteries (Melk Abbey and Göttweig Abbey), castles and ruins combined with the urban architecture of its towns and villages, and the cultivation of vines as an important agricultural produce are the dominant features of the valley.
The Wachau was inscribed as "Wachau Cultural Landscape" in the UNESCO List of World Heritage Sites in recognition of its architectural and agricultural history, in December 2000." – info from Wikipedia.
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The Middle Ages period cannot be but associated with countless battles and internationals conflicts. It was a time of political disputes and division of lands, which eventually came to swords’ fights. As need of new weapon emerged, the technology of armor-making advanced. Different people and nations produced their own armory that usually reflected the idea of cultural heritage and slight impacts of neighboring civilizations. For instance, European swords could not but experience effects of West-Asian nations, while the last ones followed the weapon trends of Far East. All in all, historians have defined different types of swords and cold arms according to a place of origin. As a result, today trade of vintage armory features Japanese, Swiss, Vikings swords and many others.As it was mentioned, medieval times faced gradual technological shifts in manufacture of swords. Cold arms of this period are nowadays divided in correspondence of their working principle. Hitting swords include maces, clubs, cudgels and flails, bludgeons and poles. There is also a group of thrusting weapon, which is subdivided into handle (dirks, daggers, rapiers, stilettos, swords) and spear armor (spears, pikes, partisans). The range of chopping weapon embraces battle-axes, scythes, Russian poleaxes and, one more time, swords. The multifunctional weapon (stabbing, cutting and slashing) unites cutlasses, swords, scimitars (the handle), halberds, Glaive and various knives.It is appropriate to mention that armory has developed on the basis of advanced metal processing that took place since the first centuries BC. The variety of cold arms is preconditioned by the fact that most of the bladesmiths worked on a by-order basis. With the development of manufacturing weapons were delivered to a primitive pipeline. As a consequence, decorative component of weapons receded into the background because the emphasis was on fighting qualities. To preserves the art of cold arms, certain types of weapons, which were made in various workshops, were equipped with special features – marking, branding or individual amendments, on which one could identify the master.To date, the exquisites of medieval swords or, at least, what was found during archeological investigations, might be observed in European and Asian historic museums. In contrast, some of them are in private collections of enthusiasts and fans of antique weapon and stuff. Weapon was one of the most valuable things at the time, especially in Europe. Perhaps, that is a reason why contemporary scientists are so amazed when discovering high quality of steel manufacture and magnificent art of cold arms shapes.
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Maria Kruk, an author for Swords.com