Tuesday, April 12, 2016
The Speyer Tower
One of the top five things to see in Speyer is the old tower. It is often referred to as the "Old Gate".
Most German cities, for the benefit of Americans, were built with walls and entry points. This was to ensure the protection of those who lived within the walls. If you didn't have walls....you typically were over-run by invaders of various types, burned, and left as dust. Walls mattered.
Somewhere around 1250, there was a entry point on this side of Speyer, which was mostly in ruins. The Lord-Mayor at the time issued the order for the entry to be rebuilt, and a simple gate erected.
So a basic gate was built, and by 1511....the tower itself was formed over the gate.
Two hundred years would pass, and a roof was added (early 1700s).
The tower was supposed to have been destroyed during an invasion by the French, in the War of the Grand Alliance.
Explosives were put into it and things were set up for the destruction sequence. Locals came to warn the French that destroying the tower would also result in the the local monastery and the French military headquarters in town being destroyed by the explosives as well.
The French didn't really buy off on this, but the entire group from the monastery came and begged for mercy on destruction idea....convincing the French to allow the Tower to stay. It worked, but most of the rest of Speyer was destroyed instead (to include the Dom).
The curious thing attached to the tower? Well.....Calibration Shoe lengths existed for a long period of time, which was the local standard for length and size. Somewhere within the gate....was a iron-rod. It measures 11.37 inches or 28.89 cm long. It was sub-divided into 12. For decades, if you had some issue arise in the city over size.....someone would go and fetch the Calibration Shoe and settle the question with the official measurement of Speyer.
You can imagine two gentlemen discussing property and a potential sale to occur, and questions arise over how big the store or shop might actually be. They'd go and fetch some guard-house guy with the Calibration Shoe and settle this with the measurement.
at 2:55 AM