Sunday, October 4, 2015

1841. And Latin. And Germany

In 1841 there wasn't a single Germany as there is today. When someone said "Germany" back then, they may well have been referring to those people in central Europe who spoke German, who lived in a variety of different political entities.

Then again, it's not as if there is 1 political entity today in Central Europe where German-speakers live: besides Germany itself, German is the native language of Austria, Luxembourg, Liechtenstein, about 2/3 of Switzerland; and about 1 million people in the French area of Alsace-Lorrain, which borders Germany and has passed back and forth between French and German control quite a few times; and about 1 million more in South Tyrol in northern Italy, bordering on Austria and Switzerland.

Also, there are millions of people who live in Germany whose 1st or 2nd language is Turkish. They've been there for decades, and gradually the German media and government have stopped ignoring their existence.

And of course today Germany is welcoming more refugees from Syria than any other country.

In 1841, the political make-up of Germany involved many different states. Here's a map of the German Bund, which existed from 1815 to 1866:

And it existed very uneasily, above all because of the rivalry between Prussia, the blue on this map in the north-east and again in the west, and Austria, the orange-brown... orange-tan... orange-yellow... I don't know how to describe the color of Austria on this map, but it's the large area predominating in the south-east on this map. In 1841 Prussia was busy annexing more and more of northern and western Germany, turning more and more of it blue on the map, while Austria was annexing more and more non-German territory east of the area which is colored and and surrounded by the red line on this map: the German Bund. For example, the territory 3/5 of the way down the right-hand edge of this map, not colored in, labeled KGR UNGARN -- that's the so-called Kingdom of Hungary, which belonged just as entirely to Austria as the orange-brown-tan-yellow area. Hungary, despite its misleading name at this time, didn't have a monarch of its own: the King of Hungary was the Austrian Emperor. If you look close, you'll see that Prussia also has extensive territory east of the Bund. On this map it's colored very light blue.

There was a lot of discussion going on between 1815 and 1871 about whether Germany was going to adopt a "kleindeutsche Lösung" ("Lesser German solution") with Germany united without the Austrian lands, or a "grossdeutsche Lösung" ("Greater German solution"), including Austria-Hungary, and with the Prussian monarchy in Berlin sharing a lot of the power with the Habsburgs in Vienna. Sometimes such things were discussed with words and sometime they were discussed with guns.

"Lesser German solution" it was: in 1871, after the Franco-Prussian War -- and 2 wars against Denmark, the First War of Schleswig (1848–51) and the Second War of Schleswig (1864), and the Austro-Prussian War (1866) -- the map of this region suddenly became much less colorful: all of Prussia plus everything inside the red line which wasn't Austrian was now one solid color, and was Germany, and most of it was now dominated to some degree or other by Prussia -- the Prussian King became the German Emperor in 1871 -- "Kaiser" is the German word for "Emperor" -- while Austria now called itself and all of its territories Austria-Hungary, and usually didn't bother to use more than one color on maps to indicate all of itself, which extended much farther to the east than does this map. For example, at this time there was no Poland on the map. All of Poland was divided between Prussia, Austria and Russia. All of south-east Europe belonged either to the Austrian (or Austro-Hungarian) Empire, or the Russian Empire, or the Ottoman Empire.

Hey, Steve, what you're saying, it's all -- yawn -- this is all really, really interesting and all -- yawn. stretch. blink -- but what does it have to do with Latin?

Lots and lots, actually. In 1841, in Prussia and in areas about to be swallowed up by Prussia, prestigious universities in Berlin and Heidelberg and Leipzig and Bonn and elsewhere were international centers of Classical scholarship; while in Austria, the Emperor and his family, the Habsburgs, were very, very Catholic, and Latin was going to remain the official language of the Catholic Church until 1962. By 1962 Austria had become much smaller than it was in 1841, having shrunk down to, oh, about 1/5 of the brown-orange-tan-yellow area on the map. Much of that shrinkage had to do with non-German people in the Austrian Empire wanting to rule themselves. Much of it also had to do with people in the Empire being Protestant or Orthodox or Muslim.

So how much of that tension between the German Catholic Habsburg dynasty and non-German and non-Catholic people also ended up in opposition to the Latin language? That's a very interesting question, and I don't know the answer. But in the rest of Germany, the part which was eventually more or less conquered and swallowed up by predominantly-Protestant Prussia, the Latin language had always had more academic and less religious and political associations, and so I'm guessing that it was much less affected by all of the political upheaval and change.

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