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Back to the Rhine

I've been up and down the Rhine four? five? times this weekend. In pictures, in Wikipedia entries, in bad Google translations from German, in tourist brochures, in maps hoarded from my Germany trip, in maps discovered online...

I very nearly have a working map for my novel. I would even call it "largely accurate." It is more likely to be missing places than to have wrong places added in, I think, so that's cool. So, from Bonn to Bingen, I know my 1133 Rhine valley. Woo. Hoo.

In addition to the map, I have index cards for each place along the way, including founding dates and important happenings and my best etymologies. I have not yet decided if I'm using German names or evocative English translations of German names or some of each. (The problem is that for every "Cloud Castle" there's an untranslatable word like "the Wied River." Wied, apparently, goes back to the beginning of time or something. Because no one anywhere I can find knows what it means. Possibly if I were fluent in German I could find an etymology.... But I'm not. How on earth was Romanian easier?)

And so, that's what I did with my weekend.


( 8 comments — Leave a comment )
Jan. 17th, 2011 07:39 am (UTC)
I just learned over the weekend that Ashkenazi Jews (e.g. me) originally came from Jewish settlements in towns along the Rhine - they formed from about 400 AD to 1100AD, at which point they were about 3% of world Jewry, then began migrating to points east (Poland, Russia, the Pale of Settlement) from about 1100 to 1900. By 1931, Ashkenazim were 91% of world Jewry. (My source is Wikipedia, so take all details with the usual helping of salt.)

So anyway, apparently the 1133 Rhine valley demographics included a bit of diversity!
Jan. 17th, 2011 02:10 pm (UTC)
I can help--though estara is German, and is quite friendly--I bet you could ask her!
Jan. 17th, 2011 06:57 pm (UTC)
If it goes back that far, it's a good chance Wied means "River", or something like "fast moving water", "brackish thing," "where the effluent goes," or "where my puppy drowned last summer". Something like that.
Jan. 18th, 2011 02:17 am (UTC)
Hah, that's what Rhine means. :)

Well, Wied in MALTESE of all things means "river valley" so. *headdesk* Still can't find German. At least Maltese is... in the same hemisphere?

Edited at 2011-01-18 02:18 am (UTC)
Jan. 18th, 2011 02:24 am (UTC)

Old High German wida meaning withy or willow, FTW!

Edited at 2011-01-18 02:25 am (UTC)
Jan. 20th, 2011 01:56 am (UTC)
I realize this is waaaaay out of your period so you may not have anything to hand, in which case never mind--but did you run across any resources good for German/Prussian/etc. geography in the 19C? My dad is wanting me to track down a good atlas for genealogical purposes, and I have... very little idea where to start looking.
Jan. 20th, 2011 03:46 am (UTC)
Not so much off the top of my head? But I asked a question about similar geography on Facebook, and there were some interesting ideas proffered, like ordinance surveys...

What I really need (and sounds like your dad needs) is a Palgrave's Historical Atlas, but Palgrave apparently didn't do one for Western Europe or Germany, or at least I haven't found one yet. I'm sure there are other historical atlases of our times, I've just not done a very good job of tracking one down yet.
Jan. 20th, 2011 04:10 am (UTC)
Happily, googling and link-wandering has turned up a digitized atlas from 1907, and the borders didn't change from 1815-1918 as far as I can tell, so I should be all set. \o/

(Googling also turned up that I wanted the Russian-ruled Kingdom of Poland, not Prussia. Ahhhh research.)
( 8 comments — Leave a comment )

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