Ammianus assessed Gratianus’ swift and successful war against Alamanni Lentienses as a remarkable and very useful achievement that came at the right time (Amm. 31. 10. 18). Some scholars believe, however, that it was both an unnecessary delay in helping the Eastern army to face Gothic hordes and a main factor to his uncle Valens’ defeat near Adrianople; such an assumption is still echoed by today’s scholarship. I will try to rebut this view and to defend Ammianus’ judgement in two ways. The former, by suggesting a ground-breaking interpretation of the Ammianean narrative (namely Amm. 31. 10. 1–17), which tells us about the lightning campaign of Gratianus much more than any other source; the latter, by reconstructing the actual crisis the Western Empire had to undergo in 378–379 AD. I also put forward a conjecture of my own on the brief lacuna of Amm. 31. 10. 4.
In the framework of an European program that I direct — which is devoted to the enhancement of the humanist heritage of the Upper Rhine region (Southern Germany, Northern Switzerland and Alsace), that is the humanistic editions of the Greek and Roman authors held by the libraries —, a curious work to be found in the University Library of Basel has come to my attention. Indeed, I would like to speak about some aspects of the humanist reception of Virgil and more specifically of his Bucolica, concerning the form as well as the content.
The birthplace of the Christmas tree is the territory of the Aleman people, thus the territories of Baden and Alsace along the upper part of the river Rhine. Its direct predecessors are the maypole trees during winter and Christmas time, thus the branches of pine trees with which the houses, economical and agricultural buildings, fences and wells along the upper Rhine were decorated inside and out during the midwinter festivities (Christmas, New Year etc). According to a medieval legal principle in upper Alsace, the peasants had the right to bring a cartful of wood (branches of pine trees in the first place) on Christmas Eve from the forest. Written legal principles and customs recording this habit can be found in many cities of upper Alsace: Sundhofen (around 1300), Bergheim (1369), Germar (14th century).The habit of decorating houses with evergreen branches at Christmas is in Strasbourg and Freiburg 500 years old. The cities of the Alsace region have guarded their forests in the days before the midwinter festivities against thieves. We know of a bill of a sum paid to the foresters guarding the forests at St. Thomas’s day (21st December) in Schlettstadt (1521). The judge of Sankt Pilt did put the forest of the city under heavy guard for nine days before and after Christmas, because of a legal principle of the upper Alsace (14th century). The cities and landowners tried to keep the number and size of the may-pole trees meant to be cut for Christmas via decrees at bay. Türkheim has in 1611 decreed that anyone who cuts out more than one tree for Christmas has to pay a fine. In a legal principle at Adolsheim (1431) the landowner has allowed the cutting of a 7 feet tall pine tree. The great size of the may-pole trees shows that they are no more branches to decorate a room or small trees hanging from the ceiling, but big Christmas trees standing in the house or in the open.In Strasbourg the sale of Christmas tree began in 1539. According to their accounts, the wealthy house of Sichenheim did pay for pine trees and branches. The cathedral of Strasbourg did have a standing Christmas tree in the same year. The manuscript A few sights from Strasbourg (1604 or 1605) describes many decorated Christmas trees in guild houses of artisans. The Christmas tree was also popular in Freiburg (14th century): The town council was forced to fine those who cut may-pole trees for Christmas illegally. In the town hospital to the Holy Spirit the bakers decorated a large Christmas tree, which remained untouched until New Year. Its edible decorations, cakes, fruits were distributed among the poor at the Christmas-tree festivities in the 17th–18th centuries. The accounts of the hospital show that between 1625 and 1773 they had always expenses for the decoration of the Christmas tree.The historical clues show us that the Christmas tree was a popular habit on both sides of the upper Rhine in the 16th century among the Protestants and the Catholic Christians as well.
Barth, S., Forneck, A., Verzeletti, F., Blaich, R., Schumann, F. (2009) Genotypes and phenotypes of an ex situ Vitis vinifera ssp. sylvestris (Gmel.) Beger germplasm collection from the UpperRhine Valley. Genet. Resour. Crop. Evol. 56(8): 1171
.1017/S0022149X10000805 Ondračková , M. , Kvach , Y. , Martens , A. and Jurajda , P. ( 2019 ): Limited parasite acquisition by non-native Lepomis gibbosus (Antinopterygii: Centrarchidae) in two ponds at the UpperRhine in Germany . J
-border cooperation in the UpperRhine area from 1975 to 2000.] Brussels : Peter Lang . Wilson , Thomas M . 2012 The Europe of Regions and Borderlands . In Kockel , Ullrich – Craith , Máiréad Nic – Frykman , Jonas (eds.) A Companion of the