Wisdom has built her house

Well, what better could we await of THIS Castle.

This particular Polish Museum is unique. It is unique both in quality, and spirit. It is unique in history and people. Therefore, no wonder that again we can participate in something very special, namely – in an excellent exhibition.

In this Castle everything is seen, and felt in a different dimension, even the stumble on the pavement of the courtyard is different than on the ordinary, some kind of urban one. So on the 14th of September (it is a special day for the Teutonic Knights, because it is the Day of the Exaltation of the Cross), I had the great honor and incredible pleasure of participating in this other dimension, in something special. It was the vernissage of the newest exhibition “Wisdom has built her house…” The State of Teutonic Order in Prussia.

For quite a while, in the past years, nothing was happening here. The last big exhibitions were held in 2007 (Imagines Potestatis), 2009 (About Johann Carl Schultz) and 2010 (Artistic Foundations in the Teutonic state in Prussia).

So nothing for a long time … Until today.

The vernissage was honored by the Grand Master himself. A little reminder: on August 22, 2018, Frank Bayard, the former General Steward of the Order, was elected the Grand Master.

Over 700 objects and artifacts were brought to the exhibition, including the candle holder of Queen Sofia (this artifact had already visited our castle, during the Amber Contexts exhibition in 2011). But there is also a completely unique “guest” – “A story about the beginnings of the Teutonic Order”, borrowed from the Vatican Library. And another  splendid piece of art – unique, because it is the only such – the epitaph of Bartholomeus Boreschow. The “Cabinet” Madonna from the Pelplin collection came too.

The exhibition presents numerous documents. Among them there is a document about the release of the office by the Grand Master Paul von Russdorf, or the document of April 1525, in which Albrecht the Margrave of Brandenburg, Prince in Prussia, in the presence of Commissioner Jerzy Bażyński assures that the Prussian States have accepted the terms of the peace he has made with the Polish king Zygmunt (The Old).

We will also find a huge collection of liturgical books, such as a beautiful missal from the mid Fifteenth century, or the Life of St. Dorothy from Mątowy Wielkie (Groß Montau).

There are sculptures, like my beloved Saint Elizabeth of Thuringia, or Madonna from Mątowy Wielkie (Groß Montau), or the famous Pietà from Nowe Miasto Lubawskie (Neumark in Westpreußen), or Madonna as Sedes Sapientiae from the Gdańsk National Museum (which unfortunately does not deserve this name), there is also the famous Christ in Ogrójec (Gethsemane).

There are militaria that I haven’t even had the opportunity to see. So I can’t even write anything about the grand master’s armor. It is the one about which rumors circulate that it could be a witness to the Krakow homage from 1525.

There are also wax tablets, and many, many other artifacts from archeological research.

However, I have two comments. Only two. What for the Chief Critic of All Projects is simply nothing.

One note applies to lighting creators: there is now some irrational fashion for spot lighting. Dear “lighting technicians”, visitors are supposed to SEE, NOTICE the exhibitions. So the artifacts are supposed to be “obvious to the eye”. The objects on exhibitions are to be legible. Details are to be visible for contemplation. Unfortunately, instead, they are literally killed and flattened by light at all exhibitions (also here), and therefore their significance has often been offset by light points. And by “blinding” some of the objects (as it does not apply to all exhibits here), at the same time – you darkened the descriptions. Not all visitors recognize the object, so it is worth allowing read the description. This applies to all (unfortunately) exhibitions in Poland.

And the second remark concerns the arrangement of the exhibition itself: the platform in the second dormitory. Invisible, dark, very low. But high enough that a person with sight problems would stumble over.

Below are some pictures of nasty quality, because cell photos … But next time they will be camera!

The Bishops’ of Warmia cuisine – the season for off-topics

I am translating a very interesting book at present. But as I am a champion in search of alternative topics, here is what I found browsing through my notes…

The cuisine of Warmia bishops’

Warmia was Poland’s unique bishopric, one of three richest in the Polish kingdom. As such it also had it’s own court. Bishops’ court. Between the 14th and 18th century the Bishops of Warmia also bore the title of the  prince. It was not a hereditary title, but still it gave the splendor to the family of the bishop.  The bishop was usually elected from among the capitular canons. And throughout the history (until the partitions) this little Bishops’ State could and was able to keep relative independence.

Today Warmia region is rich in quite a  number of reminders of the glorious past.  Among them are the  historical buildings that survived the 1945 (mostly monumental churches). But among the most of all are: the wonderful castle in Lidzbark WarmińskiSmolajny palace, and the Cathedral Hill in Frombork.

As mentioned above, the bishops held courts. Sometimes they were quite numerous, like the court of Bishop Martin Kromer, which had 123 members, others hald  smaller courts, but still demanding. By stating “demanding” I mean – there seldom were days without a guest… So the court had to provide visitors with proper welcome and board. The cooks held at the court were among the best of their times. And we have documents saying how the bishops recruited their cooks.

As for the cuisine – it was a very rich one, and often compared to the cuisine of the richest.

Meals were served twice a day, and the court was seated at eleven tables. At the first one – placed on the dais – sat the bishop. Then were the tables at which ate the courtiers, guests, officials, all according to the certain order which was specified in the Ordinatia Castri (Castle Regulations).

What was eaten then?

According to Stanisław Achremczyk (Polish historian, professor at the Warmia-Mazury University) – there was a variety of fish dishes: salmon, cod, herring, eel, pike, tench, Dutch herrings. They were grilled, boiled, fried, marinated, smoked. We can read about grilled salmon, carp cooked in wine with nutmeg.

Also oysters from the North Sea were often eaten.

Foreign guests were served venison, pheasant, geese, caviar…

A variety of sauces were used to accompany meat and fish dishes. There was a yellow sauce (whatever it was), white sauce with cream, gray with garlic and onions, black with jam, or the so called red sauce – made on the basis of cherry juice, and also the horseradish sauce…

As for the vegetables – pickled cucumbers were eaten, fresh ones too. Cabbage, cauliflowers, asparagus and lettuce were eaten very gladly. Potatoes became very much welcome. Of course bread was served also. It was baked mostly in Lidzbark, and Olsztyn.

Oil for cooking was supplied by one of Gdansk merchants. It was imported from Provence. Mustard was imported from England, and cheese – from France. Fruits such as pears, plums, apples, and wild strawberries, raspberries, etc were also wery fondly eaten.

Best wines and beer were served, also different kinds of confectionery.

In the 17th century Warmia adopted the habit of drinking coffee, hot chocolate and tea. Coffee was drunk black, or with milk, cream and alcohol. Therefore new tableware needed be purchased.

Indeed, amazing how many off-topics can be found during work 😉