Sunday, August 22

A Little History and the Tantrum of Vienna

After the beautiful lake country around Salzburg, we drove on to Vienna. It was on this trip that I started to really grasp European history better, putting the pieces together. Charlemagne, ruling nobles and electors, the Holy Roman Empire, the Hapsburgs . . . it's nice when things start to click! Vienna is known for its rich classical musical heritage, but that was because of the royal Hapsburg's patronage. Let's put it together, I promise I won't be long with the history! The treat will come in the end when I divulge one of my weaker moments of the trip - a full blown tantrum by yours truly.

Alright, so around 800, the Christian (pre-Protestant Reformation) Charlemagne defined the Middle Ages and ruled all of Western Europe with Austria as his empire's eastern border. Seeing this portrait of him wearing the Holy Roman Emperor crown next to the actual crown in Vienna was a highlight for me. Remember that crown!

In 1273, an Austrian noble from the Hapsburg family was elected as the Holy Roman Emperor. His election had him ruling over Austria, Germany and Northern Italy. "Holy" = Catholic, "Roman" = claiming the vastness and grandeur of the world's greatest empire to their knowledge, and "Emperor" = leader of many nations. The Hapsburg's gained influence and power in Europe for the next 600 years by strategically arranging marriages of their children rather than making war, although they did plenty of that too. WWI anyone? That was the demise of the Hapsburg empire. Those marriages though, that's what's had me reeling throughout European history!

The Hapsburg heyday was in 1500s when they also ruled the Low Countries ("Low" refering to elevation - Belgium, Netherlands, and Luxembourg), Spain with its New World territories, and much of today's Eastern European countries. As the eastern Christian empire of western Europe, the Hapsburgs were kept quite busy fending off the encroachment of the Muslim Ottoman Empire for centuries. The Hapsburgs were staunchly Catholic as the Reformation swept through Europe and that too shaped their empire and many of its wars and tensions.

On the far left, there's the Holy Roman Emperor Crown Charlemagne wore!
The other crowns are for different territories she ruled, the one on her head for Hungary.

One of the most famous Hapsburgs was Empress Maria Theresa (1717-1780). She was the only female ruler of the Hapsburgs, had 16 children in 20 years and famously arranged many strategic marriages such as Marie Antionette to France's Louis XVI. While bearing all those children, she ruled the empire and fought successive wars. She had a lot to live up to since no sons were born in her generation to be heir to the throne and her husband didn't want to rule as she saw need be.

Here's one of her royal family portraits. The proportions drive me crazy!

The Hapsburgs ruled from Vienna and made it a beautiful city that rivals other grand old empire cities of Europe. Say hello to Mr. Clooney hanging on the Hofburg Palace plugging his favorite expresso! Ryan and I really loved Vienna and the very laid back vibe. We'd love to return without the kids to explore so much more.

I was often reminded by the passers by how east we were in western Europe. I don't know how to describe that since Europe is such a melting pot or salad bowl (whatever the PC term is now), but we did see more Eastern European people and many Muslim women wearing their long robes and head covering, called the hijab. I think that rocked my world because the last time I saw such numbers of Muslim women clothed like this was while living in the Holy Land. But I was in the heart of Vienna now and so were they. Does that make sense?

I've found it very interesting how European countries have their own immigration politics, issues, and prejudices just like the US. Parties and elections tote this issue just like in the States. In Germany and Austria, Turkish immigration is the equivalent issue to Mexican immigration in the States from what I gather. It's so fascinating!

Now to the good stuff. To Easton who is old enough to remember such events, Vienna will go down as the place where mom threw her tantrum. And by recording it here, the kids will enjoy it years from now. And so . . .

After two long days of seeing sites with little kids and all the fun that is, I just wanted to lay in my bed and read myself to sleep. The boys were happily absorbed watching Ryan play Plants vs Aliens on his ipad. I just needed to shower and then get Morgan to bed. Easy enough.

Just as I was ready to start on Morgan, she and Easton got on "my side" of the bed with the near empty package of animal crackers. As if in slow motion, Morgan decided to get comfy and multi-tasked laying down with reaching into the bag. A day's worth of crumbs showered her and my precious resting place. It was my last straw. It wasn't intentional or belligerent, just life with a baby so I couldn't justifiably punish anyone. But I was just done.

I roared loudly through a clenched jaw and actually stomped my feet like a toddler, ready to cry. I'm not proud, but there it was. My last straw. Broken. I was immobilized in my tantrum not even knowing how to clean it up. The thought of sleeping in crumbs, crunching escaped crumbs underfoot in the morning was overwhelming and I had checked out for the night.

Ryan stepped in as the peacemaker, cleaned it up and offered to sleep on that side. I'm positive he was laughing on the inside. They all were the next day and it continues today as one of Easton and McKay's favorite stories - when mom threw a tantrum at the hotel.