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THE WRITERS WHO FOLLOWED THE MINSTRELS, UP TO THE REFORMATION,
INCLUDING THE MOST PROMINENT OF THE MEISTERSINGERS
AND THOSE OF THE VOLKSLIED.
ALSFELD'S PASSIONSSPIEL (mystery), belongs to the 15th century, and is one of the most remarkable of that time. It is divided into three parts, i.e., intended to be performed three days in succession. One scene represents Mary Magdalen, to whose vanity Lucifer has successfully appealed, and who is now seen constantly before the looking-glass, or inviting the swains to dance with her, vowing, at the same time, that no one, however vigorous, should tire her out.
At last Christ appears, at whose sight she falls down and repents.
BEHEIM (BEHAIM), 1416—1476. At an early age, he entered the service of Konrad von Weinsberg, fought subscquently under King Ladislas, of Bohemia, against the Turks; went to Vienna, where, during the rebellion of 1462, he stood faithfully to the Emperor, and shared in all the dangers of a prolonged siege. He describes these events in his ‘Buch von den Wienern,' a work more remarkable for graphic description than historical truth and impartiality. He also wrote Geschichte Friederichs I. His lyrical and epic poems bear essentially the stamp of the stiff and formal style of the meistersingers.
BRANDT (SEBASTIAN) occupies a very prominent place among the didactic poets of his time. Born at Strasburg in the year 1458, and educated at the university of Basle, where he took high degrees, at an early age, his distinguished talent gained him the favour of Emperor Maxmilian I., and of the Elector of Mayence. He died in 1521, his mind having become affected, in consequence of some prophecy, according to which a great deluge was to have taken place in 1524. Among his numerous German
and Latin poems, the 'Narrenschiff' or 'Narrenspiegel,' occupies
But it is fortune's fall,
Thus is also health much valued,
Hab' Nimmt doch von Krankheit und Alter ab. Declines, however, by illness and old age. Darum ist nichts untödtlich mehr, Therefore, there is nothing more imperisht
able Und bei uns bleibend, als die Lelır. And lasting than the doctrine of faith.
BREIDENBACH (BERNHARD von). Irregularities committed in his ecclesiastical capacity induced him to undertake, in the year 1483, a pilgrimage to Jerusalem, accompanied by Henry Renwick, a young painter from Utrecht. Of his journey we possess a very graphic description in German and Latin, divided into two parts, of which the first describes the journey to the holy grave, the second, that to Mount Sinai. The German version has been ascribed to his travelling companion. The subject, highly popular, has been translated into French, Dutch, and Spanish.
BÜHEL (Hans von), lived at the beginning of the 15th century, and was attached to the service of Seewert, Archbishop of Cologne.
His principal work, 'Diokletian's Leben, oder von den sieben weisen Meistern,' a subject derived from a very ancient, probably Indian version has been frequently treated in Oriental literature, and translated into Greek during the 11th century.
The wife of the Roman Emperor, Pontianus, has a son, called Diocletian, who, after the mother's death, is, according to her directions, entrusted to the care of seven wise men, by whom he is carefully instructed. The Emperor, having afterwards taken another wife, desires his son to be sent back, to which the masters only consent, on condition that their pupil, during the first week of his stay at court, should not speak a single word, having read in the stars that, if he did so, he would die. The Emperor feels
much annoyed at the son's silence, and the Empress having falsely accused the beautiful youth, he is condemned to death. One of his former masters, however, having by stratagem succeeded in having the carrying out of the sentence postponed for a few days, the young prince is thereby enabled to regain, at the end of the seventh day, his speech, and to refute the false accusations of the Empress, who has to suffer death instead. Diocletian became ultimately Emperor of Rome.
BÜHEL has also written a poem derived from the French, Von eines Königs Tochter von Frankreich,' unfit for analysis.
CLOSENER (FRITZSCHE), born at Strasburg, in the beginning of the 14th century, is celebrated as the historian of his age. His Strasburgische Chronik’ is one of the oldest historical monuments we possess. The subject, based upon a Latin version written in 1271, describes the struggles of the town of Strasburg against the Bishop Walter of Geroldseck. The battle of Hausbergen (1262), Closener described, 100 years later, in German, when Strasburg was again troubled by its bishop. He has, however, added considerably to the original account, the history of the popes, up to Clement VI., that of the emperors from Julius Caesar to Charles IV., and the rule of the Hohenstaufen from Philip to Konradin being described therein. Full of warmth and life, his work is deficient in arrangement; but, in reading it, we see that the author's heart and soul are in the subject. He died at Strasburg in the
1384. CÖLNER CHRONICLE (THE), of which the author has remained unknown, was written in the Lower Rhenish dialect, and appeared for the first time in the year 1499.
It gives a rapid historical sketch from the creation of the world, Christ's history, that of the Roman emperors up to Maximilian I., mentions the kings of France, the countries situate on the Rhine, and enlarges principally on the history of the town of Cologne and its bishops. It is a curious document, without any literary merit, but important to the historian.
ECKHARDT (MEISTER) (or, ECKEHARD), lived about the year 1370, and studied at Paris, where, by his philosophical lectures, he attracted the attention of Pope Bonifacius VIII., who invited him to go to Rome. From that place he went to Cologne, where his tenets did not find favour with the archbishop, and when, at the recommendation of the latter, Pope John XXII. was just on the point of excommunicating the troublesome monk, Eckhardt died. German literature is indebted to him for his endeavours to cultivate the mother tongue. He is the founder of the mystic school; his
philosophical tenets are contained in his tracts, but the greater portion of his writings are unknown.
ESCHENLOER (Peter), born at Nuremberg, in the first decennium of the 15th century, devoted himself to the study of classics and history, and deposited the rich stores of his erudition in his principal work, “Die Geschichte der Stadt Breslau' (1140--1479), in which the principal diplomatic negociations of that time, the debates which took place in the German diet, and in the common councils, are recorded with a fidelity and minuteness, important alike to the enquirer of history and to the statesman. Eschenloer died in the year 1481.
ETTERLIN (PETERMANN), born at Brugg, was, at the beginning of the 15th century, townclerk at Lucerne. Little is known of his life, except that he fought against the Burgundians, and distinguished himself by his gallantry. His Kronika' of the worshipful confederacy, of its origin, struggles, and other strange narratives' ('Kronika von der lublichen Eydtgenoschaft jr harkommen und sust seltzsam stritten und geschichten'), published during his life at Basle, 1507, comprises the early legends of the past; but is especially valuable as regards the description of those events, in which the author took part himself. Schiller derived, unquestionably, valuable information from the Chronicle, in writing his celebrated "Wilhelm Tell.' We extract here:
The Meeting on the Grütli. "And when the three men had taken a solemn oath, they proposed that every one of them should in secret exert himself to find out and collect more people. Thus they found the man who had killed his master, whom he had surprised in the bath, as you have already
, heard before: he also took the oath, and thus they found gradually a great many who joined them, pledging themselves faithfully and truthfully to stake life and property, and to rid themselves from the oppression of the wicked. And whenever they wanted to discuss very secret matters, they proceeded to a spot of the Mittenstein' called 'Im betlin'; there they met, every one followed by a number of people whom they might trust, never meeting anywhere else, but always on the above-described spot, proceeding thither only at night, or very early returning home before daylight, so that matters might be kept concealed from their masters until they felt sufficiently strong to strike the blow.
• damit sy ir sachen dester heimlicher möchten haltten, das die herren syn nit innen wurden, bisz das sy sich basz gestarkten.'
EULENSPIEGEL (Till-OWLGLASS), born in the duchy of Brunswick, furnishes an inexhaustible theme for the facetiæ of the 15th century. His jokes, published about 1483, in the Low German dialect, were translated by Thomas Murner, in the year 1519.
Eulenspiegel's arrows were principally directed against the citizens and handicraftsmen of his time, his mission being to tease them always and everywhere during his roaming career. Many of his adventures are related in the · Pfaffe Amis,' and in the Parson of Kalemberg. He appears to have executed the orders of his superiors au pied de la lettre, and to have, in carrying them out, wittingly committed all sorts of blunders, to the detriment of those who gave them. One day, in the heart of winter, he gets employment at a skindressers, who, after having asked Till whether he could make wolves' (a technical term for dressing wolfskins), and, having received an answer in the affirmative, engages Eulenspiegel. The latter, with his love for mischief, wilfully misinterprets the master's meaning, sets to work, but, instead of dressing the skins, cuts them all to pieces, sows them together, stuffs them with straw, and produces a number of stuffed wolves. The rage of the master may be easily imagined, but Till, in justification, coolly tells him that he had only executed the orders given to him, and simply made wolves.'
Ich hab es doch nach ewren eigen willen gemacht: ihr hiesset mich doch Wolff machen. Hettet ihr gesagt : mach mir Wolff's peltz, das het ich auch gethan; vnd het ich das gewost, das ich nicht mehr danck solt verdient haben, ich wolt so grossen fleis nicht gebraucht haben.'
EyB (ALBRECHT von), of noble extraction, born in the year 1420, studied at Padua, and became subsequently deacon at Bamberg, Eichstädt, and Würzburg.
His productions, among which we principally notice • Spigel der Sitten,' and 'Ob einem manne sey zenemen ein eelich weib oder nit,' contain, besides many quotations from classical and modern Italian writers, a great number of anecdotes, maxims, and legends, related with charming simplicity. He has written a highly interesting chapter on the education of children, of which we give but a short extract.
• The father,' he says, 'shall always act kindly towards his son, and remember that he is his father, and not his judge,' as Terence tells us, who recommends a lenient punishment. But if the son will not obey his father, and punishment by word or deed, i.e., if the birch does not produce any effect; then, according to Petrarch,
the father is justified in having his son imprisoned, as Cassius and Fulvius, the Romans did; who scrupled not to punish them, if