Through my eyes

living my life without regrets

Saturday, January 30, 2016

Münster, Germany, D

Munster, D

The time comes near when we have to return to Canada. I have a cousin to see in Ahlen but that is it for Europe in 2015. I am almost done with my 2015 Blogs. We are almost done traveling for this trip.

On the way back from Holland we over-nighted for a few days in Munster, just so we can make notes and sort ourselves out. Carol has never been in Munster so I thought I would show her the city famous for hosting the Westphalian Peace Treaty. A Peace Treaty that turned out to be a good treaty. It was an ingenious solution giving all parties a nod of the head and telling all of them they were right to believe whatever and however they wanted to believe! That was in Anno 1648

While Munster is a nice town, it looks like many other German cities today but her history is unique. In 1648, at the end of the 30 year war, this city was elected to be the center point, the focal point of an agreement that laid the groundwork for the Sovereignty of States whose main principles are:

1. The principle of sovereignty of the states and the fundamental right of political self determination
2. The principle of legal equality between states
3. The principle of non-intervention of one state in the internal affairs of another state

The outcome was that the Spanish Empire recognized the Netherlands as an independent ‘State’.  It was the beginning of what is today Holland. Those signed papers from this Peace Treaty are the foundation of Dutch independence and are kept in archives in De Hague. I thought it would be a good idea to show Carol how the Netherlands really got their ‘independence’. Holland was a Kingdom before 1648 but it organized itself as a Federated Republic after the Westphalian Treaty of Munster. Munster was important in those days. 

Munster (and Osnabruck) was a hot spot after the 30 year war. The war’s big question was who had the right religion. Was it a frivolous reason to fight for 30 years? Were the Catholics right? Were the Protestants correct? Catholics and Protestants had to agree on something. They could not go on and on killing each other. It was believed by each group that only the ‘righteous’ would go to heaven. It was a very serious discussion. Just imagine you could not go to ‘heaven’ if you were the wrong religion! To make it worse; if the King, Lord, Earl, Duke or whoever ruled the land forced you, the peon, to be the same religion he believed in or you would not go to heaven. God forbid! While the Royalty still dictated one's religion, that point was not changed in Munster, they agreed that both, Catholics and Protestants could go to heaven. Phew! (I wonder how they knew that.)

Such was their original thinking but then it became more and more political. One King tried to force his point of view unto the other countries, even if they were far away from them. The map of Europe was much chopped up, especially Germany and Italy.

The whole political and religious climate around 1648 was wild. And that was after they had fought already for 30 years to settle things. Not only were there Catholics and Protestants by then, they had sects such as Huguenots, Antipapists, Anabaptists, etc. So not only did the Peace Treaty of Munster settle, or started to settle the differences in religion, but it laid the ground work for modern politics too. A war for such a trivial point of view, that lasted 30 years in Europe and killed almost 50% of the total European population, finally came to some agreement. And the old town of Munster, in 1648 was the place where the Lords, Kings, Emperors and Royals convened to settle their disputes. 
It was also the city that gave the Netherlands its Sovereignty. At least it hosted the powers of the time to declare reasonable solutions to the standoffs created by different belief systems. Something we today, facing a worldwide mix of religions, could learn from. We, all of us are right; someone has to just believe that. Believe that no matter the name, no matter the method, no matter the God, we will all die and then those silly religions won’t make any difference. All of us have our own Sovereignty. Not as a group but as an individual, and some of the guidelines worked out in 1648 in Munster could (might) help us today. We just have to look at it with a different set of rules. We need to make a new peace treaty, not between Nations, but between People……worldwide!  So I copied the principles from above but now made them apply to each Person on Earth. How do they sound to you?  Could you live with those?

1. The principle of the sovereignty of a person and the fundamental right of self determination
2. The principle of legal equality between all people anyplace in the Universe.
3. The principle of non-intervention in the internal affairs of another person or their belief system

The Debate Between Church And State 

The Proclamation Of Munster - Re-enacted

A Famous Year For Munster
When we arrived, Munster was having a re-enactment of the Proclamation of Peace, which Munster annually demonstrates for the general public since those days, long ago.
The Hall Where The Proclamation Of Peace Was Signed

Carol and I took a look at the meeting chamber, refurbished after WWII, where the Proclamation of Peace was signed and an oath was taken. We walked around town, visited the old Cathedral that was established when Charlemagne was still King. The name Munster comes from the Latin word Monastery. So yes, there was always a very religious majority in this location. Munster was the seat of a Bishop for hundreds of years. Munster is still mostly Catholic, even today, but things are changing.

Today, out of the 300 K population, about 60 K are students. Munster is a University town and the young people bring change with them. Munster is the bicycle city of Germany; the city is full of bicycles that are used for most anything. Going to work, to school, for recreation, for shopping……go and use your bike.

Giant Ball Size Sculptures Strewn Around A Park (Oldenburg
So how is Munster as an art city? You know where ‘weird’ thinking is King? Where there are strange points of views, where new ideas pop up? Where thinking is not so logical, but more directed by feelings, rather than facts? Carol and I saw some stuff that was so far away in thinking that I could hardly get a grasp of it. Spheres, looking like gigantic golf balls, strewn in a Park? Alberto Giacometti? As a superstar, in an exhibition given just for him? Of course I can see Picasso, who was also represented but Giacometti?

One could think that the ideas in Munster were very new, but actually Anabaptists were new in their time; different thinkers then. Out of those Anabaptists developed today’s Amish or Mennonites among other off shoots of religion. Munster did not start these trends but they sure were always in the middle of a point of view, looking for answers. Not always good answers, putting the old Anabaptists in cages and hanging them up in the sky until they died of exposure and rotted away next to the Cathedral was brutal. But then those were brutal times in 1640. 

Today, Munster is a pleasant town with a long, difficult history. Munster managed to stay alive, to teach others what they know and learned and to still stay open minded.

We actually had a pretty good stay in Munster. 

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