I wish to thank Rachel Gilbey and Authoright for the invite to take part in the BLOGIVAL SECOND ANNUAL EVENT and I have the pleasure of sharing with you a guest post by Anne Boileu author of KATHERINA LUTHER. NUN. REBEL. WIFE. It makes a fascinating read so do take a look. I have to read this book the reviews are brilliant!
Katharina Luther: Nun, Rebel, Wife
On 31st October 1517, Martin Luther pinned ninety-five theses on the Castle Church door, Wittenberg, criticizing the Church of Rome; they were printed and published by Lucas Cranach and caused a storm. Nine young nuns, intoxicated by Luther’s subversive writings, became restless and longed to leave their convent. On Good Friday 1523 a haulier smuggled them out hidden in empty herring barrels. Five of them settled in Wittenberg, the very eye of the storm, and one of them – Katharina von Bora – scandalised the world by marrying the revolutionary former monk. Following a near miscarriage, she is confined to her bed to await the birth of their first child; during this time, she sets down her own story. Against a backdrop of 16th Century Europe this vivid account of Katharina von Bora’s early life brings to the spotlight this spirited and courageous woman.
I AM DELIGHTED TO WELCOME ANNE BOILEU ON MY BLOG TODAY, I WAS FASCINATED BY THIS ARTICLE THAT SHE HAS WRITTEN.
How would Katharina spend a typical summer?
Every summer is different but every summer follows the same pattern: Easter tide leads us into spring; then we celebrate Ascension Day, Whitsun, the Feast of Mary Magdalene, the Assumption, and Michaelmas. Of course there are many more feasts than that, but you don’t want to hear a recital of the liturgical calendar! Only that of course the Church calendar and the agricultural calendar go hand in hand. Spring and Summer are all about food. Did we put by enough last year to last us through the winter? If we didn’t, then our household is in trouble. May, the loveliest month, is also the hungriest.
There’s a reason why we fast in Lent: provisions will be running low even in February. Cured hams and pickled beef are nearly finished; the hens are only just beginning to lay and we must keep some eggs for hatching. Worst of all, by the month of May the flour in our bins may be mouldy – in which case we shouldn’t eat it, because the mould makes you crazy and causes babies to abort.
The nanny goats and cows may be pregnant, but fodder is running low too, and the hay may be musty.
But the days are getting longer, the sun warmer; the swallows and storks have come back; and we bite gratefully into the first succulent shoots of asparagus and savour the early green salad leaves and spring onions. But the staple in May is still likely to be mangold-wurzels, dried beans and lentils.
Our two nanny goats wait each morning by the portal of the Black Cloister, listening out for Joachim the goatherd. They put their heads on one side when they hear the herd approaching; bleating, bells, their feet tapping on the cobbles. The maid lets our two goats out; they’ll spend the day grazing in the fields outside the town walls, and come home in the evening. We milk them then, before letting the kids strip suckle.
Meanwhile there’s work to be done in the vegetable and fruit garden. The carrots and spinach and lettuces must be hoed, beans tied up, broad beans sprayed with vinegar against blackfly. And as June rolls in we have to water the vegetables and mulch the fruit bushes.
And don’t forget, we have to spring clean! For three days the Black Cloister is like a battle ground as we pull out the bedding and burn infested mattresses. I direct the staff to fumigate all the bedroom cells with baldrian against fleas, bed bugs and roaches. We wash our winter garments too and hang them out in the sunshine, then fold them away with bay leaves and sage in the large oak cupboard on the upper landing.
Come July there’s more to eat, but oh it’s so busy! Our household must take its turn to brew every three months. Then it’s the bees. Sometimes, we’re lucky and a swarm colonises a hive of its own accord, but more often we hear tell of a
swarm, even as late as June, and I will fetch it home, to put it gently into a clean, empty hive.
We’re also busy catering for visitors. When the roads are dry and the days longer travel to Wittenberg from far and wide to meet my husband. If they’re rich they may walk down the street to have their portrait painted by Lucas.
But we make time for fun too! We dance around the Maypole, the travelling fair comes to town at Whitsun, with their exotic shows and stalls; Wittenberg has its own show too, we embellish our goats and cows and hope to win a prize for the most beautiful animal or fowl in its class.
We’re all putting on weight and the children are rosy-cheeked. Cream, cream cheese, butter! We eat the first fatted kid on the Feast of Mary Magdalene and roast goose and gooseberries on the Day of Our Lady’s Assumption.
At Michaelmas we pick apples and pears, and in October young and old go out to help with the grape harvest.
I sigh with relief, though, when the days shorten, and our noses twitch at the first hint of frost on the morning air. The larder, if all has gone well, is well stocked, the Rumtopf filled to the brim with seasonal fruits. And if the plague did not visit us this summer, and all the children in the household are still alive, we can settle down to four months of relative quietness – fewer visitors, dormant garden, contented chickens with spare cockerels for the oven.
Martin and I sit quiet by the fire; Tölpel snoozes at our feet. It’s All Saints’ Day We’re well fed, and happy to rest and reminisce.
HERE IS A LITTLE ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Anne Boileau (also known as Polly Clarke) lives in Essex. She studied German in Munich and worked as interpreter and translator before turning to language-teaching in England. She also holds a degree in Conservation and Land Management from Anglia University and has written and given talks on various aspects of conservation. Now she shares, writes and enjoys poetry; her work has appeared in a number of anthologies and magazines; she has also won some awards, including First Prize with Grey Hen Press, 2016. She translates modern German poetry into English with Camden Mews Translators and was Chair of Suffolk Poetry Society from 2011 to 2014.