Station: [301] Prologue – Anton Dietrich Picture

Welcome to the third and final chapter of our audio guide. From the Middle Ages onwards, historical research can draw from additional sources: written documentation and pictorial proof compliment archaeological discoveries.

And it is a 19th century picture that opens the door to your journey through a further 1000 years of Saxonian history, which will take you from the time of the Slavic settlement to the beginning of the age of industrialisation.

In his 1877 painting entitled, “Foundation of Meißen Castle by Henry I in the Year 929,“ Anton Dieter pays tribute to an event that is alleged to be the beginning of Saxony’s history. 

King Henry I is standing in the centre of the painting and the gentleman known as the first Margrave of Meißen is endowing him with a fiefdom and charging him with the protection of the conquered land and the construction of a castle.

But the way in which Dietrich portrays this historical event is not the way in which it happened. 

In the painting the artist fictively merges various events with one another. He brings the foundation of Meißen Castle in 929 in direct historical context with the enfeoffment of the first margrave in 968. And with the addition of obvious symbols such as the cross, the charter and a stone castle he also suggests the German-speaking conquerors superiority to the resident Slavs.  In this way Anton Dietrich tells a new, reconstructed story of Saxonian history.

The unusual presentation of the painting refers to the inconsistency of his statement: along with Dietrich’s interpretation of the events, it fragments into three parts.

 But another historical picture begins to take shape when we look at archaeological discoveries and written documentation.

Please have a look at the two showcases and find out what the items inside them have to say about the state of Saxony at the time the castle was founded.