Edinburgh in Winter
Viewed from the Scott Monument on Princes Street.
There are so many beautiful details in the Cathedral which get overlooked. These are a few of the little details that I noticed and was especially fond of.
Parliament House, Edinburgh
Most of these pictures are from the Parliament Hall in Parliament House, on the High Street in Edinburgh. The hall was originally built in the 1630s, and the ceiling is the one feature that has remained unchanged since it was built in the late 1630s.
I’ve set up a sideblog to deal specifically with places of religious and spiritual significance, as I tend to find them very peaceful to visit: Places of Faith
Let me tell you a history of a thing.
This is Eger castle, in Eger in north west Hungary. Not much to look at now, but it has a story, and quite an awesome one at that.
In the 16th century, the Ottoman Empire was expanding and rapidly. Selim I had been a pretty keen… acquirer of land, and his son Suleiman (aka ‘the Magnificent’) was quite keen to keep up dad’s old and glorious tradition. He headed west across Europe, and in 1541 staged a rather spectacular coup by snatching Buda and much of Hungary. (Long story that was equally awesome, there. Suleiman = smartest cookie in the box)
He expanded, naturally, and regularly nipped at the heels of the Habsburg Empire, which was then mostly based in Vienna. But he also was expanding north west and Eger was one of the fortified towns that needed to come under Ottoman control, in order for them to hold all of the north of Hungary. One of the Pashas sent to deal with this little town described it as “going to kick over the sheepfold”.
There weren’t a huge number of people within Eger (then Erlau) itself. The defenders of the castle numbered around 2300, at best estimates, with a mix of professional soldiers, civilians, peasants, and women. The army they were facing approximately hit the 40,000 mark. Old and somewhat romanticised Hungarian reports swelled these numbers up to 200,000, but even so, 2,300 against 40,000 trained soldiers were not good odds.
The Turks arms were extensive with at least 500 cannons and guns of varying sizes. And so, the siege began, and over 12,000 cannonballs from Turkish guns ended up inside the castle by the end of the siege. But they didn’t break through.
What they did not take into account was the morale of the castle occupiers, the leadership of Commander Dobo Istvan, and a young explosives genius who was McGyver, only Croatian, by the name of Gergely Bornemissza. This fellow created grenades out of jars of sulpher. He turned floral wreaths - dipped in oil - into burning frisbees of death. When the Turks built a huge earth ramp up the side of the castle, he had the men find a water mill wheel, cover it with broken musket barrels filled with shrapnel and gunpowder, strap jars of oil and sulpher on, and roll that mofo down the ramp, a pinwheeling machine-gun of exploding death! And when they lost their powder supply (srsly, their own powder supply was blown up during fighting and they still won!), there are stories of the women pouring pans of boiling soup down on the invaders.
It’s true that there were other factors to be taken into account such as the discontent in the Turkish army (it was cold, in Hungary, in winter. WHO KNEW?), the lack of supplies, the fact they ran out of cannonballs at some points (that’s what happens when you fire 12,000 of them into the castle). But the point still stands: well-equipped army of superior numbers attacking a castle that had blown itself up with its own gunpowder and was using household utensils to attach people still lost.
The siege lasted 39 days, and in the end, the Ottoman army withdrew to lick their wounds, and the defenders lost around a third of their ranks all told.
The castle did eventually fall to the Turks, over 40 years later, but that’s another story.