The broad stone of honour

j jackson_view of ehrenbreitstein

On the right bank of the Rhine, upon the summit of a rocky hill, directly opposite to the city of Coblentz, stands the Castle of Ehrenbreitstein (“the broad stone of honour”). It is now one of the strongest fortresses in Europe, both in respect of its natural position, and its artificial defences. It was originally a Roman camp, was renovated in 1160, and afterwards repaired and enlarged by the Elector John, Margrave of Baden, who dug a well of the depth of 280 feet, which was afterwards sunk 300 feet further. During the revolutionary war, the castle was exposed to many hazards. (…)
The view from the sumit of the castle is a very rich and extensive one. Before you is Coblentz, its bridge of boats, and its two islands on the Rhine; behind it, the village and beautiful ruins of the Chartreuse, upon a hill covered with vines and fruit-trees. The scope of the view embraces more than thirty towns and villages. The Rhine flows majestically beneath it, and is here at about the widest part of its course. (…)
The view of this old castle naturally leads us to reflect on the degree in which modern Europe has ceased to resemble the classic ages in which Ehrenbreitstein was founded, or the feudal ages to which so much of its history belongs. It still bears the name of “the broad stone of honour,” though many say that the days of honour have passed away with the days of chivalry. But if honour, in these times, has become rather a synonymous term for honesty and good faith, than the fantastic touchstone of chivalry, we have gained greatly by the change. The middle ages were not without their virtues, but they were all of a romantic kind. (…)

(The Penny Magazine, Februar 1868)


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