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Demy 8vo. 25s. per 2 Vols. 

Close of the Middle Ages. By Johannes Janssen. 

Vols. I. and II. Translated by M. A. Mitchell and 


Vols. III.— XVI. Translated by A. M. Cheistie. 




By Johannes Janssen 






1910 ^T\ \ 

{The rights of translation and of reproduction are reserved.) 




Conditions of Culture and Civilisation among the German 
People from the Close of the Middle Ages to the 
Beginning of the Thirty Years' War. 



Part I 


L Commerce and Capital — Usurers : Christian and Jewish . 1 

German commerce in the sixteenth century — AlHances with Italy 
and France — The Frankfort Fairs — The prosperity of Antwerp 
trade distui'bed by the Revolution, 1-5. 

Navigation obstructed on the Rhine and the Scheldt — Com- 
mercial rise of Amsterdam, 5-6, 

Effects of the Church-schism on the Hanseatic League — The 
Hansa towns oppressed by Denmark — The ' Sund-Toll ' the 
' gold-mine ' of the Danish kings, 6-9. 

The Hanseatic Leaguers oppressed by Norway and Sweden, 9-12. 

The Hanseats in England — Edward VI. and Queen EUzabeth — 
German market flooded with Enghsh cloth and wool wares — 
Downfall of the Hanseatic League in England, 12-17. 

Complete ruin of the Hanseatic League — Causes of this ruin, 

Tariffs in the Empire — Tariffs raised — Civil ' tariff ' war among 
the Imperial Estates, 20-21. 

' Land-pest ' of foreign hawkers and vendors, 21-24. 

^lonopoly and forestalUng associations — Their evil influence on 
trade — Increase of bankruptcy, especially in Augsburg, 24-25, 

h 2 



Imperial statute of 1577 against monopolists and price-raisers, 

Trading-association of the Elector Augustus of Saxony — Other 

disastrous monopolist enterprises, 26-29. 
Pomerania reduced to misery through the bankruptcy of the 

Loitzes in Stettin, 29-31. 
Contemporaries on the ' godless usury ' of the time — A Dominican 

urges the people to earn their bread in the sweat of their brow 

— Burgomaster Brockes on the usury in Liibeck — Opinions of 

Sebastian Franck and ZwingU, 32-35. 
Canon law and usury — Conscientiousness of Orlandus Lassus, 35. 
Luther in favour of the economic aspects of Canon law and against 

usury, 3G-37. 
The preachers and usury — George Lauterbecken against Martin 

Bucer, 37-38. 
The Protestant nobility and usmy, 38-39. 
Usury in the Dithmarschen district, in Schleswig-Holstein, 

Pomerania and other Protestant territories, 39-40. 
John Mathcsius on the fourteen different kinds of usury — Com- 
plaints from other contemporaries, 41-42. 
The Jesuit George Scherer and other Catholic preachers on the 

usury prevalent in CathoUc districts, 42-45. 
Imperial and local laws against Jewish usury, 46-47. 
Jewish usury in the Tyrol and in the Archdiocese of Mayence, 

Protestant utterances concerning Jewish usury — Sayings of 

Luther and Jodokus Elirhardt, 49-51. 
The Jew question and the Hessian preachers (Martm Bucer — 

George Nigrinus), 51-54. 
The Theological Faculty at Giessen in 1612 on the Jews, 54-55. 
South German preachers and princes against the Jews, 55-59. 
Influence of the Jews among the nobles, 59-60. 
Increased hatred of Jews among the Protestants — ' The Clmstian 

slaves to the Jews,' 60-63. 
Jews and Christians blamed— Consorters with Jews, and Juda- 

izers, who suck the people dry, 63-66. Jewish and Cliristian 

usuries — ' The uncircumcised Jews worse than the circumcised 

ones,' 66-69. 
Falsification of coinage by the Christian Jews, 69. 

II. Minting and Mining 70 

Confusion and want of organisation in the mint system — Imperial 
mint-ordinances and other preventive measui'es all useless, 

Complaints of contemporaries on the debasing of coin, 71. 



' Foreign (inferior) money ' takes the place of ' good German 

money ' in the Empire — Evil results of this, 72-76. 
Pamphlet of the year 1612 on the universal falsification of money, 

In 1606, 5000 different sorts of money in circulation, 78. 
' Fraudulent coining-dens,' 78. 
Complaints about falsification of coins, 79. 
Sovereigns as coin-falsifiers, 80. 
The Frankfort Fair ' the chief centre for the introduction and 

circulation of bad coins, 81. 
' Minting iniquities of all kinds ' ; the consequent rise in the value 

of good sorts of money, 82-86. 
The plague of ' cliiDpers and snippers,' 86-87. 
Direst punishments prove almost useless against the false 

coiners, 87-89. 
Fear of a ' rising of the common people ' on account of the pre- 
valent mint grievance, 89. 
The Hildesheim clironicler, John Oldecoj), on the influence of the 

Church-schism on the coinage system, 89-90. 
The decline of the coinage system in close connection with the 

decline of the mines, 90. 
The great falling off of the Tyrolese, Saxon, JMansfeldian and 

other German mines, 90-97. 
Inefficiency and fraudulency of the mining officials, 97-99. 
The Brunswick councillor of mines, Lohneiss, on the decUne of 

the mines, 99-100. 
Lengthened shifts and poorer wages with the rising prices of the 

necessaries of hfe, 100-103. 
Strikes and riots amongst the miners ^\■ho were poorer ' than the 

beggarfolk,' 103-106. 

III. Industry .......... 107 

Decay of industrial trades in the sixteenth century, 107. 

Deterioration of the guilds — Difficulties put in the way of ' master- 
pieces,' 107-109. 

Abuses in the guild-system, 109-111. 

Decline of the guilds in the sixteenth century, 112. 

Quarrels between the guilds and jealousy among the members, 113. 

Complaints of the degeneration of the guild system, 113-119. 

Degeneracy of the guild system in Demmin, 119-120. 

The Brunswick Councillor of Mines, Lohneiss, on the abuse of 
guild privileges, 121. 

Landgrave Maurice of Hesse on the depravity of the handicrafts- 
men, 122. 

Downfall of the joiirneymen clubs, partly in consequence of the 
introduction of the new doctrine, 123-124, 



The journeymen exploited by the masters of crafts, 125-126. 

Abolition of the ' Good Monday,' 127. 

Edicts against the ' Geschenkte Handwerkc ' (' feasts of Welcome '), 

' Drinking and gorging ' of the masters, 129-130. 
Complaints of the Nuremberg fustian-weaver and linen-weaver 

journeymen against their masters, 130-134. 
Melancholy position of the Nuremberg apprentices, 135-136. 

I\\ Peasant Life — Effect on Agriculture of Unumited Hunt- 
ing — Deciine of Agriculture . . . . .137 

Position of the German peasantry after the social revolution of 

1525 — Utterances of Sebastian Franck, 137-140. 
Pamphlet of 1598 on the distressed position of the German 

peasants, 140-141. 
Melanchthon and Luther on tlie unhmited power of rulers over the 

peasants, 141-144. 
The Roman law unfavotu-able to the peasants — Pamphlet of 

Husanus on bond-service — New slavery, 144-145. 
Decline of the peasant-class in Pomerania and Riigen — Seizure 

of peasant farms — ' Bauer und Schafer Ordnung ' of Duke 

Philip II. of Pomerania, 145-150. 
Bond-service in Mecklenburg and Schleswig Holstein, 150-152. 
Peasant subjection made more severe in Brandenburg, 152-158. 
The peasants in the Oberlausitz (Upper Lusatia) as it were under 

Turks and heathen, 158-159. 
Tyranny over the peasants in the Saxon electorate — Piteous 

descriptions of the Saxon preachers (Gregory' Strigenicius — 

Cyriacus Spangenberg — Bartholomew Ringwalt — John 

Sommcr), 159-169. 
' Peasant-fleecers ' among the ' Evangelicals,' 170. 
Sebastian Miinster pleads for the down-trodden peasants, 171. 
' Officials and clerks ' a plentiful curse to the common people, 

The peasants oppressed by the Hessian officials, 173-175. 
Nigiinus on ' the Egyptian bond-service of the poor man,' 175. 
Frischlin on the barbarous treatment of the peasants by the nobles, 

Peasant-fleecing by a Tyrolese nobleman, 176-178. 
Oppression of the peasants in Bavaria, 178-180. 
Infliction of the ' Robot ' on the peasants in Austria, 181. 
Peasant-rising in tlic Austrian territory, 182. 
Rightmindedness of numbers of Austrian feudal lords, 183-185. 
Peasant-rising in Upper and Lower Austria in the years 1 594-1597, 

185-180. Complaints from the insurgents below and above 



the Enns — Justness of these complaints — ' Robot ' Ijurdens, 

186-192. The Austrian peasants in 1597 sacrificed to the 

feudallords, 192-194. 
The right of unUniited chase and its effects on agricultiu'e, 194-19.5. 

Cyriacus Spangenberg on the ' devil of the chase,' 195. 
The ' Jag-Teufel ' of the Elector Augustus of Saxony — Huge 

extent of the hunting preserves in liis land, 195-200. 
' Hunting-mania of the princes ' in the Duchy of Saxony — Com- 
plaints of contemporaries, 200-201. 
Game conditions and hunters in Brandenburg, 201-202. 
Complaints of contemporaries concerning the damage by game in 

Hesse : next to the sovereigns ' the unreasoning animals were 

lords of the land,' 203-205. 
Ravages by game in Franconia, 205-207. 
The hunt-books of Dukes VVilham IV. and Albert V. on the 

game in Bavaria — Superabundance of game in Wiirtemberg, 

Hunt-socages in the Duchy of Saxony — Complaints of these by 

the Estates, 208-212. 
Consequences of the hunting-mania of the princes and lords, 

Cost of hounds and falcons — Hunting goes on all the year round — 

Sunday hunts, 214-215. 
The ' hunting-devil hand-in-hand with the devils of drunkenness, 

passion and bloodshed,' 215. 
The hunting-laws of the high magnates ' written as it were with 

letters of blood,' 215-217. 
Saxon, Brandenburg and Hessian hunting-laws, 217-219. 
Hessian fishing-laws, 219. 
Hunting legislation in Wiirtemberg — Increase of game preserves, 


Part II 

I. Princes and Couht Lite ....... 223 

The princes' courts increased continually in grandeur and bril- 
liancy dm-ing the sixteenth century — Examples of this magnifi- 
cence — Shoals of Court servants, 223-227 

I. ' Drinking-Princes ' and Court Festivities. 

All the vices of the period collected together at the Courts : among 
these vices the ' devil of drink ' rules supreme — Complaints 
of contemporaries on this score, 228-229. 



The vice of unlimited drinking at the Courts of those who call 

themselves evangelical, 229-230. 
Princes who generally lead sober lives, 230-232. 
The Saxon Electors ' first and foremost as mighty topers,' 

Elector Christian II. of Saxony ' a monster of almost daily 
drunkenness and debauchery ' — Extracts from the Saxon Court- 
preacher Michel Niederstetter's funeral sermon on this 
prince, 234-23G. 

' Jovial princely life with plenty of di-inking,' 237-238. 

From the Diary of Duke Adolf Frederick of Mecklenburg- 

Schwerin, 238. 
The proverbial ' Pomeranian drinking orgies,' 238-239. 
Utterances of contemporaries on the ' princely drunkards,' 

Giant beer-barrels of many princes (the Heidelberg tun), 

' Princely carousals ' of many of the bishops — Gebhard 
Truchsess, 243. 

]Memoirs of the Silesian knight, Hans von Schweinichen, on the 
princely drunkards of the sixteenth centm-y, 243-247. 

Excessive drinldng of the Palatine Elector Frederick IV. ; heavy 
drinking at the Hessian Court — ' AppaUing behaviour ' of 
Christopher Ernest of Hesse, 248-250. 

Excessive drinking of the ' pious ' Landgrave Ludwig of Wiirtem- 
berg, 250-251. 

The Court-preacher Lucas Osiander and Martin Bucer ' wliite- 
wash ' the immoderate drinking of the Protestant Princes, 

Outlay in princely visits and weddings — Examples in point — 
Expenditure at the weddings of Giinther XLI. of Schwarzburg 
and John Frederick of Wiirtemberg (200 to 300 dishes served 
up) — Costs of princely weddings according to H. von Schwein- 
ichen— Show dishes, 253-260. 

Development of the cuhnary art — ' Extraordinary skiU ' of the 
cook-artist Marx Rumpolt — Extracts from liis cookery-book — 
Sundry examples of the ' woeful progress and superfluity of 
cookery ' — Recipe for an OUapodrida, 260-263. 

Fireworks and other Court festivities, 263-264. 

Saxon masquerades and pageants, 264-266. 

Festivities at the chiistening of the Brandenburg Margrave 
Christian, 266. 

Grotesque processions at the Court festivities, 267-268. 

The French ballet introduced, 268. 

' Princely solemnities ' in Lent and other ' princely diversions ' — 
Fondness for pet animals, 269-270. 



2. Princely Finery in Clothes and Jewels — Oames of Fortune, 

and Gold-mahing. 

The princes' luxury in clothes and jewels, 270-273. 
Expenditure on furs and costly jewellery, 273-275. 
Outfit of a German King's daughter in the middle of the 

fifteenth century, 275. 
Outfits of German Princes' daughters oince the middle of the 

sixteenth century, 275-277. 
Princely wedding-presents, 277-279. 
Purveyors of these costly articles, 279. 

The princes' love of gambUng illustrated by examples, 279-280. 
The 'sacred art' of alchemy, 280-281. 
Alchemists at the Hessian, Saxon and Brandenburg Courts, 281- 

Duke John Frederick II. of Saxony's relations to the alchemist 

Sommering and the Court lady, Anna Maria von Ziegler, 

Duke Julius of Brunswick imposed upon and robbed by cheating 

gold-makers — Sommering and Anna Maria von Ziegler shown up 

and punished as impostors, 286-291. 
Alchemists at the Wiirtemberg Court, 292-295. 
Alchemy in Munich and Innsbruck, 295-296. 
Rudolf II. as cliief protector of the travelhng alchemists, 

Princes' ' enormous retinues ' on their visits and journeys to 

watering-places, 298-300. 
Princes burdened by debts and impoverished in almost all German 

territories, 300-301. 
Constant demands for fresh taxes from the Elector Augustus of 

Saxony, 301-304. 
Demands for taxes by the Elector Christian II. of Saxony,304-308. 
Extravagance at the Court of Duke Francis I. of Lauenburg, 

' Wretched financial condition ' in Pomerania and Mecklenburg, 

Terrible tale of debts and disruption of civil power in Branden- 
burg and Brunswick, 313-314. 
Political anarchy in most of the South-German territories. 

' Memou'S of a princely personage ' on the banki'upt condition of 

the land, 316-317. 
Oppression of the people by the insolvent sovereigns, 317-318. 
The Margrave Edward Fortunatus of Baden and ' his maimer of 

life beyond all measure abominable ' — The Margravate of Baden 

' as it were in a perpetual fire-bath,' 318-320. 




^^^Debts of the Margravate of Ansbach-BajTcuth and the Duchy of 
Wurtemberg, 321. 
How Duke Chiistopher of Wurtemberg justified his demands for 

taxes, 321-323. 

Wanton extravagance under Dukes Ludwig, Frederick and 
John Frederick— Growing financial anarchy in then- domains, 


Inordinate Court splendour and ' complete exhaustion of the land 
in Bavaria under Albert V. and WiUiam V.— Bavarian over- 
drafts and fresh impositions, 326-328. 

Order and good management in state affairs and sobriety of life 
since the accession of Maximihan I. of Bavaria— Judgment of 
the Augsbm-g Protestant, PhiUp Hainhofer, and the Belgian, 
Thomas Fyens— Praise of the Catholic town of Munich, 

Gleams of fight at Protestant Courts— The Saxon Electress Anna, 


II. Life of the Xobles ....•••• 332 

Luxury and excess of the nobles in eating and drinking— Opinion 

of Spangenberg, 332-333. 
Wedding expenditure among nobles and knights — Instances of 

this in the different parts of Germany, 333-336. 
Increased display in clothes and ornaments, 337-339. 
* Inordinate debts ' the consequence of ' excessive pomp and 

expenditure,' 339. 
Complaints of contemporaries concerning ' the unspeakable outlay 

in di-ess and ornaments,' foreign fashions and the effeminacy 

in dress and display, 339-342. 
' Lazy effeminate fives of the young nobility,' 342. 
' Philandering and di'iving about in coaches,' 343. 
Few edif5dng pictures of fife among the nobles given by preachers 

— ^Utterances of Luther, Nicholas Selnekker, David Veit, 

Spangenberg and Aegidius Albertinus, 343-347. 
Contemporaries on the drinking orgies of the nobifity, 348. 
Immoral dances — Cursing, swearing and blaspheming, 348-349. 
The nobles and Chvirch property, 349-351. 
The squires take to shop-keeping and trading, also to forestaUing, 

Gerhard Lorichius on the nobles, 352. 
French influence among the nobifity, 352-353. 

III. BUBGHER AND PeASA>-T LiFE .... . 354 

General judgment passed in a ' Christian sermon of 1573,' 354. 



1. Dress and Fashion — Means of personal Embellishment — Gold 
and Silver Ornaments — Extravagance among the Lower Classes. 

Outlay on dress and the craze for eccentric fashions continually 

on the increase, 354-356. 
Joacliim Westphal on the incessant changes of fashion, 356-357. 
Tlie ' Pluderliose ' (trunk-hose), a plain token of the gorruption 

of the age— A folk song on the ' Pluderhose,' 357-358 
Musculus on the ' Coiu-t devil,' 359-361. 
The devil and the Pluderhose, 361. 

The Pluderhose worn by all classes, even by school-boys, 361. 
' The folhes in male fashions — Remarks of contemporaries thereon, 

Contemporary descriptions of the dress of women and young gh-ls 

— Enormous outlay on ruffs and trains, 364-367. 
Painting, powdering and smearing the face now common among 

burghers' wives and daughters and young men — Utterances of 

other contemporaries — Recipes for beautifying the person, 

The folhes of fashion practised on children, 370-371. 
Inordinate expenditure in dress and adornment at weddings and 

other family festivities — Strigenicius on the sumptuous bridal 

di'ess of women — Remarks by other contemporaries — Wedding 

attire of a bridesmaid — Magnificence of the wedding presents, 

Sumptuary Laws against burgher luxmy, 376-377. 
Germany poor through ruinous pomp — Misuse of velvet and silk, 

Smart di-ess of servant-maids and artisans' apprentices — 

Sumptuary regulations to check tliis, 378-382. 
Luxru-y and extravagance in dress among the bm-gher folk, 

Imperial pohce edict and provincial ordinances against smart 

clotlring among the peasants, 384-385. 
Futihty of the laws for expenditm-e, 385-386. 
Unhealthy luxury, 386. 

2. Eating and Drinking— Family Festivities and Public Amuse- 
ments — ' Regular Banquets of Burghers and Peasants ' — 
Wines and Beers — Brandy Drinking — Length of Life. 

Luther and the preachers on the ' hoggish vice ' of drunkenness — 

The ' Sauf ' or sow order, 387-389. 
John Mathesius and Pancratius on ' inhuman orgies and 

carousals,' 389-391. 
The Hessian pastor Hartmann Braun on the consequences of the 

prevalent drunkenness, 391-392. 


CHAPTER , ^ . X- 1- 1 

Hartmann Braun, Strigenicius and Evemus on tippling preachers, 

Growing gluttony and drunkenness in Catholic lands— Aegidius 

Albcrtinus on the taverns and pubUc-houses, 393-394. 
The sin of ckunkenness driven to the highest pitch by the custom 

of toasting— John George Sigwart and Aegidius Albertinus on 

toasting and drinking healths, 395-396. 
Professional eaters and drinkers perambulate Germany and show 

off their arts for money, 397. 
' Opportunities for chinking '—The ' Special-Frass ' and the 

' Quassfeste ' — ' To diink freely is to Germanise,' 398-399. 
The hospital banquets— The lawyers' repast whilst inventories 

were being taken and during law-sessions, 399-400. 
' The disgusting eating and drinking at weddings '—Descriptions 

by Schoppius and Spangenberg, 401-403. 
Ribald proceedings on the occasion of weddings in the Saxon 

electorate, in the Black Forest, in Bavaria and the Tyrol, 

Drinking and swilling at funerals, 405-406. 
' Murderous jollifications ' at church fairs and carnivals— Gluttony 

and mummery, 406-407. 
Frivolous carnival festivities at Nuremberg described by Ukich 

Wirsung, 407-409. 
Deatlis from drinking and carousing, 409-410. 
The rulers to blame for this excessive drinking and its 

consequences, 410-411. 
Reasons of the inefficacy of countless sumptuary ordinances — 

The latter give proof of the increase of wantonness and 

extravagance — Luxury at weddings, 410-412. 
Marx Rumpolt on the subject of ' suitable burgher and peasant 

banquets,' 413-414. 
Tricks of all sorts with %vine ' a higlily profitable trade '■ — Ordin- 
ances against adulterating and poisoning wine, 415-416. 
Manufactures in beer, 416. 
Growth of brandy-ch'inking in to\Mi and country— Pernicious 

results therefrom — JNIagisterial ordinances against excessive 

brandy-diinking, 417-419. 
Decreased longevity resulting from inordinate drinking — Utter- 
ances of contemporaries, native and foreign, on this subject — 

Lazarus von Schwendi on the decline of the German nation, 


IV. Beggars — Poor Laws — Robbery of the Poor — Catjses of 
Growing Pauperism — Lsf crease of Beggars and Vagabonds . 425 

Sebastian Brant, Thomas Murner and John Schweblin on the 
proceedings of beggars — Relic-bearers and pardoners, 425-427. 



The pamphlet ' Liber vagatorum, der Bettleroi'den,' 428-429. 
Municipal poor-laws in the Netherlands — The Ypren poor-laws, 

429-43 L 
Mendicant ordinances of the fifteenth century in Vienna, Cologne, 

Niu'emberg, Wiirzbui'g and Frankfort-on-the-Maine, 431-435. 
Hospital ordinances and voluntary sick-niu'sing at the close of 

the Middle Ages — The nursing association of the Alexians — The 

Beghine, 436-438. 
Geiler von Kaisersberg on ' Mercifulness for the love of God,' and 

the meritoriousness of good works, 439-441 . 
Markus von Weida on almsgiving as a ' strict command ' and for 

the avoidance of deadly sin, 442-443. 
Geiler von Kaisersberg on genuine alms-giving and on sham- 
paupers and ' Bettler-Narren,^ 443-445. 
Geiler von Kaisersberg recommends the Strasburg Council to 

institute an organised system of poor-relief, 445. 
Imperial recesses of 1497, 1498, 1500 and 1530 on mendicancy, 

The poor-relief ordinance of the Wiirzburg Bishop Conrad III., 

Decisions of the Cologne Provincial Synod of 1536 on poor-reUef, 

Hospital conditions at Wiirzburg, Vienna and Innsbruck, 

Pamphlet of the Frankfort beneficed-preacher Valentin Leuch- 

tius, 451. 
Luther on putting down pubhc begging, 452. 
Pauper ordinances in Protestant towns, 452-453. 
First complete reorganisation of the poor-relief system in the 

spirit of the ' new Evangel ' by Carlstadt and Link, 453-455. 
Protestant pauper ordinances and poor-boxes, Wizel's opinion 

about them, 455-457. 
The ' Gotteskasten ' becomes a Judas' purse, 457. 
Complaints of contemporaries on the poor-box ordinances in 

Wiirtemberg, Hesse, Brandenburg and Saxony, 457-460. 
The Lutheran Wolfgang Russ on Protestant poor-rehef, 460. 
Empty poor-boxes in Frankfort-on-the-Maine and Hambm-g, 

The managers of the Hambm'g orphanage on the ' merciless 

hardness ' of the cash-keepers — Condition of the Hamburg 

orphanage, 461-464. 
Luther on the dechne of benevolence, the ' cruel heartlessness ' 

among the new rehgionists and the generosity of their CathoUc 

forbears, 464-468. 
Judgments pronounced by new-reUgionist preachers on the 

benevolence of their Cathohc ancestors and the decUne of 



charity among the Protestants — Facts wliich confiim these 

opinions, 469-471. 
Protestant preachers allow that the new doctrine of justification 

by faith alone everywhere cuts the nerve of voluntary sacrifice, 

Lack of care for the poor and sick on the Protestant side at times 

of pestilential diseases, 47-3-475. 
Self-sacrifice and courage of the Jesuits and fear of death among 

the new-religionists in plague times, 475-477. 
Terrible significance for the poor-reUef system of the squandering 

of Church goods, 477-478. 
Murner and Luther on the ' plunder and robbery of Church 

goods,' 477-479. 
Complaints of other contemporaries about the dissipation of 

Church property, 480. 
Protestant utterances on the misuse of Church property — Woeful 

phght of the preachers — Instances of dissipation of Chiu'ch 

goods, 481-484. 
Complaints from Protestant districts on the robbery of the 

churches and the poor, 484-486. 
Protestant utterances on the consequences of this ' robbery of 

God ' — The ' JuMan devil of the evangelical Church-robbers,' 

Contemporary preachers on the misuse of Church property — The 

pamphlet of John Winistede ' against the Chiirch -robbers of the 

present day,' 488-490. 
Complaints from the poor and needy of the misuse of Church 

property, 490-492. 
Contemporaries on the curse attending stolen Chm'ch goods, 493. 
Ten years' scarcity from 1525-1535 — Insolvency of the towns 

after the Smalcald war, 493-498. 
Causes of the growing distress : war — luxury and debts — years of 

plague and famine — adulteration of food, 498. 
The preacher Thomas Rorarius on the decay of all well-being, 

The causes of ' impoverishment and ruin ' according to a sermon 

of the year 1571, 500-501. 
Lohneiss and Rorarius on the causes of impoverishment, 501-502. 
Berthold Holzschuher's plan of social and poUtical reform, 

The generally prevalent idleness one of the chief plagues of the 

time, 503. 
Lutlicr against the ' idle, vagabond beggarfolk ' — Concerning the 

villainy of sham beggars, 503-506. 
Description of the entire system of mendicancy in Ambrosius 

Pape'a ' Bettcl- und Garte-Teufel, 506-509. 



Mendicancy in the towns — Enactments against it, 509-510. 
Contemporaries on beggars and gipsies — Enormous number of 

vagrant b^gars, 510-512. 
Development of larceny out of mendicancy and vagabondism — 

Contemporary accounts of this criminal riff-raff, 513-514. 
Discharged Landsknechts, the so-caUed ' Gartende Knechten,' 

the worst of all the robbing and murdering crew, 515-516. 
The plague of beggars and vagrants in Bavaria and Baden — 

Gipsies, 516-517. 
Insecurity in Wiirtemberg and Hesse, 517-518. 
Waylaying, liighway robbery and murder in Mid-Germany and 

the Saxon electorate, 518-520. 
Incendiarism in the Harz and in the Oberlausitz, 520-521. 
Highway robbery and murder in Mecklenburg and Pomei'ania, 

Vagrants, highway-robbers and incendiaries in Brandenburg, 


Index of Places ........ 527 

Index of Persons ........ 536 









German trade in the sixteenth century no longer 
enjoyed the high position which it had reached by the 
close of the Middle Ages,i although down to the middle 
of that century it still retained an important place in 
the commerce of the world. ^ 

' See our statements, vol. ii. p. 56 ff. 

2 ** ' The symptoms of decline in German trade,' says Steinhausen 
{Der Kaufmann in der deutschen Vergangenheit), 'became more marked 
in the second half of the (sixteenth) century, and manifold were the causes 
which contributed to this falling-off. Germany had undergone a complete 
revolution in its internal economy ; in comparison to the brilliant pros- 
perity of France, England and Holland, it had become reduced, politically, 
commercially and intellectually to a state of abject dependence. First 
and foremost among the causes which had weakened and impaired the 
economic forces of Germany may be reckoned the political conditions 
of the country. Whereas France, England and Holland had all three 
achieved national consoUdation and unity, Germany was a prey to internal 




In South Germany the towns of Augsburg and 
Nuremberg, with their financial and industrial strength, 
remained still for a long period the centre of foreign 
trade. Their relations with Upper Italy were especially 
close. Between Italy and Germany, indeed, in spite 
of the new trade route through Portugal, extensive 
commercial relations were kept up in many directions. 
The greater the increase of luxury in Germany the 
greater was the sale of all those finer cloths, silk fabrics, 
and stufis inwrought with gold and silver, which were 
brought over from Italy. In Augsburg the Fuggers ^ 
and the Welsers had nearly the whole money-trade 
with Italy in their hands, and down even to the middle 
of the century numbers of Nuremberg merchants 
carried on extensive Italian business, especially 
with Venice. Itahan merchants and money-changers, 
on the other hand, estabhshed themselves in South 
Germany. The Venetian, Bartholomew Viati, who had 
come to Nuremberg in 1550 in needy circumstances, 
rose by commerce and money-dealing to be one of 
the wealthiest merchants. He died worth 1,240,000 
florins. Another great Italian merchant in Nuremberg 
was Torisani of Florence. The long series of Franco- 
German and Spanish wars, which hindered Italy 
from attaining to settled order, worked perniciously 
also on the trade between Germany and Italy ; but 

division and the working of antagonistic forces. The religious dissensions 
enormously aggravated the evil, and added to them were the foreign 
and civil wars (of equally sinister result to Italy, so closely bound up 
with us by commerce) which, as the Suabian Circle said in 1582, " were 
alone sufficient to have brought the whole German empire to decay and 

ruin." ' 

' ** Cp. Elvrenberg, Das Zeitalter der Fugger, Jena 1896 (2 vols.), and 
Orupp, Oeldwirlschaft, 19G, fol. 202. 


it was the increasingly anarchic condition of Germany 
herself, and the consequent ' weakness and decline ' 
of German burgher life, that first caused a serious 
breach in the commercial relations of the two countries.^ 
With France, pre-eminently with Lyons, Germany 
still kept up lively commercial intercourse, and the 
Frenchman, Innocent Gentillet, praised, in 1585, the 
honesty and uprightness of German merchants. 
' These merchants,' he wrote, ' do not overcharge 
the purchasers, and do not seek to make unfair profits 
out of people who do not understand the true value 
of goods/ ^ Very unpraiseworthy, on the contrary, 
was the part played by the greater German merchants 
during the wars of Charles V. with France. Thinking 
only of their own commercial advantages, they laid 
themselves out, in return for favourable storage rights 
and free passes, to supply frequent large loans to 
the French crown, and advanced immense sums in 
this way ; not only Protestant auxihary troops, but 
German capital of Protestant bankers, contributed 
to support the hostile endeavours of the French mon- 
archy against the German empire. The reward for 
such dealings did not fail. When the Augsburg mer- 
chants, who alone, independently of the merchants 
of other imperial cities, had a claim of 700,000 crowns 
on France, sent a deputation in 1559 to King Francis 
II., they received ' good assurances,' but no money. 
The merchants of Augsburg and Nuremberg became 
* the sport of the French Treasury.' ^ 

' Falke, Gesch. des Handels, ii. 21 ff. Hofler, BetracMungen, 5 ff. 
- Fischer, Gesch. des teutschen Handels, ii. 445-446. 
' V, Stetten, i. 536 ; cp. Falke, Gesch. des Handels, ii. 40-41. ** Ehren- 
berg, ii. 98 ff., 166. See our statements, vol. vi. 461, n. 2. 

B 2 


Like Augsburg, Frankfort-on-the-Maine also be- 
came one of the most important money and exchange 
marts. To the fairs held at Frankfort buyers and 
sellers flocked, not only from all parts of Germany 
and the Netherlands, but also from France and Italy, 
from Poland and England ; German and foreign mer- 
chants concluded their bargains there, exchanged 
their goods, made out their orders. The town was 
called ' the chief of all the fairs in the world.' ^ 

The richest mine of wealth for South Germany 
was its trade with Antwerp. Before the outbreak 
of the pohtico-religious revolution in the Nether- 
lands, Antwerp, as the emporium of Portuguese and 
Spanish trade, the connecting point and the chief 
market of the whole world-trade, had held one of 
the first positions in the north-eastern and north- 
western parts of Europe ; over one thousand foreign 
mercantile houses were estabhshed there ; even kings 
had their factories and settlements in this town. At 
Antwerp, it was said, more extensive business was 

' The fair and stock- exchange system developed at Frankfort, as 
compared with Genoa, as Grupp {Geldwirtschaft, 202) points out, ' in 
much more primitive forms. Here barter and ready money was the 
rule ; but there was no uniform standard of exchange and banking. 
For every separate town and state there was a separate rate of coinage, 
and wlien the Emperor wanted to introduce uniform minting the council 
opposed the measure. This liindered any vigorous growth of the Frank- 
fort money market, and German trade and industry were consequently 
thrown back. The Frankfort exchange maintained itself indeed through 
all the vicissitudes of the unfortunate history of later Germany, but 
Frankfort merclmnts were mostly foreigners, above all English, Dutch 
and also Italian.' The praise of the Frankfort fairs was sung by the 
distinguislied Henry Stephanus in a special pamplilet: Francofordiense 
emporium sive Francofordienses nundinae, a. 1. 1574. A reprint of this 
pamphlet, now very rare, has been prepared by Isid. Liseux, Paris, 


accomplished in one month than at Venice, during 
its best times, in two years. ^ The storms of the revolu- 
tion disturbed the prosperity of this town, as indeed 
that of the Netherlands in general. When the Itahan 
writer, Luigi Guicciardini, who in the year 1566 had 
drawn a brilUant picture of this prosperity, republished 
his book in 1580, he added the words : ' The present 
time is to the earlier one which I have here described, 
as is night to day.' ^ 

By the downfall of Antwerp the whole Khine 
commerce lost its significance. The Imperial Estates 
quietly allowed the Dutch to bar free passage and navi- 
gation on the Rhine and to use this river for reducing 
the empire, in its most productive and prosperous 
territories, to complete dependence on themselves. 
' All commerce and exchange,' said the free and imperial 
cities in 1576, in a petition to the Estates assembled 
at Ratisbon, ' are obstructed, the taxes and imposts 
become higher and higher.' Trade had indeed suffered 
no shght depression through the wars with France ; 
this, however, was not so serious as long as the passage 
to the Netherlands and to the sea remained open ; 
but since through the Dutch insurrection trade had 
lost its nearest opportunity with eastern and other 
kingdoms and lands, the land and waterways had 
become deserted, food had grown very scarce in the 

' See our statements, vol. viii. p. 11. ** See also Ritter, Deutsche 
Gesch., i. 46 ; the work of Ehrenberg quoted at p. 2, and also 
Lotz in the Allg. Ztg. 1897, Bail. No. 134, and Grupp, Geldwirtschaft, 

- Ranke, Filrsten und Volker, i. 435 £f. ** Cf. A. v. Peez, Wie 
verlor Siiddeutschland seinen Anteil am Welthandel ? (How did South 
Germany lose its share in the world-commerce ?) Allg. Ztg. 1900, Beil. 
No. 63. 


dominions of all the imperial princes, and the poor 
people were everywliere so distressed by the long 
continued reign of high prices that if these crushing 
evils ' were not speedily remedied by the action of 
His Imperial Majesty and the Electors, a pitiful down- 
fall of the common fatherland must inevitably set in/ ^ 
Nevertheless, of anything in the shape of ' serious, 
efficient intervention ' there was no question. Six 
years later, in 1582, the Electors of Mayence and 
Treves said at the Diet of Augsburg that * whereas 
German conomerce, hitherto free and unhindered right 
away to the sea, was now bound with heavy chains, 
they would in future only be able to carry on trade 
with the permission of the Dutch ; ~ the Dutch and 
the Spaniards behaved as though they were " un- 
limited lords in the empire." ' Like the Rhine, the 
Scheldt (Escaut), too, was closed to the Germans, and 
an arbitrary system of tolls and imposts crippled the 
backbone of their commerce. It was Amsterdam 
pre-eminently which undermined all German trade, 
and German merchants themselves had a hand in 
founding the commercial might of Amsterdam ; this 
town for some length of time owed its well-being chiefly 
to the Hanseatic League, which had transferred its 
habitat thence from Antwerp. ^ 

The Hanseatic League, towards the end of the 
fifteenth century and at the beginning of the sixteenth, 
had ruled the world-commerce of the north-western 

' Falke, ZoUwesen, 162-163. 

- See oiir statements, vol. ix. 35 ff. Quetsch, 294-295. 

=' Fischer, ii. 642. Hofler, Beirachiimgen, 8 ff. ** Cf. G. von Below, 
'Die Schadigung der Rhcinfischerei dui-cli die Niederlander in der 
zwciten Hiilfte des 16ten Jalirhunderts,' in the Zeiischr. fiir Sozial und 
Wirtschaftsge-ichichtc (AVciniar, 18t)6), iv. 119 ff. 


half of Europe ; then, however, it had begun to sink 
gradually to its downfall, chiefly, indeed, owing to 
the increasing political powerlessness of - the empire, 
which was unable to render it any support in its contests 
with rising foreign nations, and also in consequence of the 
growing and universal state of religious dissension, 
which hindered any compact, uniform existence of the 

In the Scandinavian North, where in the two first 
decades of the century the League still maintained its 
old supremacy, and where in 1523 by its marine power 

^ Concerning the effects of the Church schism on the Hanseatic League 
the Protestant Barthold says in his History of the Hansa, iii. 295-296 : 
' Just as our fatherland brought only malediction on itself by the new 
Church schism, so too the Reformation brought little of good to the 
Hanseatic League. Fkst of all the change in the confession of faith 
estranged from the Lutheran Hansa towns not only the Emperor as their 
appointed protector, but also many places in which, as in Cologne, Osna- 
briick, Miinster, Paderborn, Dortmund, the old Church had retained its 
hold either permanently, or for a time. Secondly the League, with the 
Protestant princes, misused to aUen ends, involved our trading towns, 
whose security and advantage depended entirely on strict impartiaUty, 
in perilous and costly imperial wars, brought them into dependence on 
the princes, and widened very materially the breach already beginning. 
Further, the fanaticism of the next generation made it difficult, if not 
impossible, to institute common trade alliances ; the Christian world, 
forgetful of all historic relations and material advantages, divided itself 
into Catholic and non-Catholic ; the Hanseatic merchant was no longer 
merely a merchant, but an enthusiast for his creed and a spreader of the 
poison of heresy, and as such he was not only avoided and feared, but was 
himself in danger of losing hfe and property. Finally, heated partisanship 
in religious doctrinal controversies worked such a transformation in the 
shrewd, unprejudiced character of the Hansa League, and brought it to 
such a degree under the influence of intolerant, domineering pastors, that, 
absurd as it seems, Lutheran " new-religiousness " came to be regarded 
as a necessary Hanseatic qualification, and a Lutheran papacy endeavoured 
to make use of the Hanseatic League — weak as it had already shown 
itself — as an instrument for bringing back differently thinking members, 
such as Bremen, to the true salvation.' 


it had broken the Northern Union, it now soon lost 
the key to its might— the Danish Seas. It was under 
the dominion, not so much of the Danes and Swedes 
as of its neighbours and countrymen the Holsteiners, 
and the German princes alhed with the latter. After 
Christian of Holstein had ascended the Danish throne 
as Christian III,, and with the help of the Smalkald 
princes, in 1535, had inflicted on the town of Liibeck 
a decisive defeat, the pohtical importance of the 
Hanseatic League had gone to the ground, its whole 
position had received a death-blow ; dominion over 
the Sund and the German Ocean was snatched from 
the Germans, 1 and venal German peers were found to 
defend the Sund-toll introduced by Christian as an 
undoubtedly just measure.^ 

This Sund-toll was the actual ' gold mine ' of the 
King. ' It seems worthy of credence,' wrote Samuel 
Kircher in an account of travels in 1586, ' that the 
Sund is the greatest source of revenue of the Kingdom 
of Denmark.' ^ 

The most oppressive of the taxes was the lastage- 
tax imposed in 1563, which amounted, for instance, to 
ten thalers for a load (or last) of corn, to one thaler 
for six ship's pounds of bacon, one thaler for a load of 
salt, and for every empty salt-carrying ship, to a quarter 
of a Joachims-thaler for every load of salt it was able 
to carry. ' The lastage tax/ said Liibeck in the name 
of the League at the Diet at Augsburg in 1582, ' was 
such a burden that if it was not abohshed, the town 

' See our Ptatements, vol. v. 484, 485. ** And Schafer, Oesch. von 
Mnemarh (Gotlia, 1893), iv. 328 ff. 

- Barthold, Gesch. der Hansa, iii. 423. 
•' Bibl. des Literarischen Vereius, 86, 57. 


and all the citizens would in a. few years come to utter 
ruin, and nothing but a waste city would be left, whilst 
all ready money would flow into Denmark.' And 
yet not alone Liibeck and the Hansa towns, but all 
people in general who wanted to navigate to and from 
the Baltic Sea, were oppressed by this monstrous tax 
which inordinately heightened the price of all goods. 
Emperor and Estates, in order to remove this intolerable 
grievance, should issue an edict to the effect that ' all 
subjects of the Danish King, in their trading in the 
Empire, should be charged with equally high tolls and 
duties, or else that the Hansa League should be entitled, 
by sentence of the Imperial Chamber, to indemnify 
themselves on the German provinces of the Danish 

However, the Emperor and the Estates only passed 
the resolution that in their name, but at the expense 
of the Hansa towns, an embassy should be sent to 
Copenhagen to make the necessary representations to 
the King. Not even this decision was carried into 
effect. The sole result of Liibeck's petitioning was 
that, for a certain space of time, a double salt-tax was 
imposed on the town by the King.i 

Under King Christian IV. the Hansa towns were 
treated in the most disgraceful manner. ' In his king- 
dom,' he informed them, ' they possessed no rights 
whatever ; with gifts and offerings they were to appear 
humbly before his throne ; he should impose as many 
taxes as he chose, for he was the manager in his own 
monarchy, and had to give account to nobody.' ^ The 
revenue which the Sund-toll brought in to the Danish 

1 Haberlin, sii. 286 ff. Sartorius, iii. 111-114. 
" Sartorius, iii. 114-120. 


throne within half a century is reckoned at something 
over twenty miUions of gold.^ 

In Norway and Sweden, also, the Hanseatic Leaguers 
were burdened with unheard-of taxes. The estabhsh- 
ment that held its ground longest was the ' Konitoor ' 
at Bergen, but it could not permanently stand out 
against the competition with other nations, notably 
with the Dutch and the English ; the German merchants 
there were treated by the Kings hke subjects, until at 
last the burghers of the town took possession of most 
of the courts and dwelling-rooms of the Komtoor and 
drove the Germans out. 

In Sweden the members of the Hansa League had 
lost all their traditional hberties in 1548 through 
Gustavus Vasa. When they appealed to his successor 
Eric XIV. for the restoration of these liberties thev 
received in 1561 the answer : ' These liberties were in 
opposition to the laws and the prosperity of the kingdom ; 
only " out of favour " would the King grant to the 
towns of Liibeck, Hamburg, Dantzic and Rostock (but 
not to the other Hansa towns) the right of free trade 
in the maritime towns, but this only on condition that 
in each town of the League his (the King's) subjects 
should be allowed to have a house of business, and that 
to him himself would be granted in all the territories 
belonging to the said towns the right of free enhstment 
of men to be used by him in case of war, in any way 
he might please ; besides this, all the towns must 
abstain from any commerce with the Russians.' In 
1561 Eric invaded Esthland and took possession of 
Reval, deprived the Hanseats in the following year 
of the right of navigating the river Narva, which had 

' Sa^torius, iii. 112. 


become Russian, and aimed at bringing to ' his ' town 
of Reval the monopoly of Russian trade. Thereupon 
Liibeck, meagrely supported by the sister towns, em- 
barked once more on a bitter war for this ' fountain ' 
of all might. It was its last war. For seven years 
(1563-1570) this heavy and gruesome contest, which 
sent many thousands to their death and plunged the 
town of Liibeck in a frightful state of bankruptcy, 
dragged on its length. The Peace of Stettin in 1570 
promised the Liibeckers free intercourse with Russia, 
but the treaty was no sooner made than broken ; at 
the end of the century the German towns were again 
almost entirely excluded from trade with Russia, and the 
Swedish crown had become the inheritor of the Hansa 
League in the domain of the Baltic, and possessor of 
most of its inland settlements. At Novgorod, where 
formerly the Hanse League had held nearly all the trade 
in its hands, the German settlement had at that time 
completely succumbed. Franz Nyenstadt, who visited 
the German court there in 1570, found only some shght 
remains of the stone church of St. Peter, one single 
small apartment, and a wooden hut which served him 
and his servant as shelter. Of the ' ancient glory ' 
nothing more was to be seen. When in 1603 the 
Hanseats entered into negotiations with the Czar, 
Boris Godunov, in order to recover their former trading 
rights in Russia, the great monarch refused the right 
of existence to the Hansa League; to the Liibeckers 
only would he grant a . free charter, and the Liibeck 
merchants (Novgorodfahrer) who traded with Novgorod 
quartered the portrait of the Czar in their arms.i 

1 Sartorius, iii. 133-183, Schlozer, Verjall der Hansa, 95, 207, 227, 
No. 364. Beer, ii. 407-408. 


' So long as the Hansa League/ wrote Quade von 
Kiiickelbach in 1609, 'retained its power, the might 
of foreign nations could not increase and grow ; but 
when care was no longer taken to protect the rights and 
legitimacy of the Hansa towns, not the might only but 
the arrogance of foreign peoples together with intolerable 
pride, hfted itself up, and became so insolent that they 
thought they need fear no one but might persecute with 
war ill the most gruesome manner, wheresoever and 
whomsoever they chose.' ^ 

In England, under King Henry VIL, the time had 
long gone by when, according to the words of the 
President of the London ' Stahlhof,' the Hansa Leaguers 
had the whole kingdom ' under their thumbs ' ; ^ but 
until beyond the middle of the sixteenth century they 
continued to dominate the Enghsh market by their 
trade and their industrial zeal. And if under Henry 
VIII. their position seemed at times in such danger that 
Hamburg, for instance, in 1540 thought it advisable 
to remove all the bare cash and silver vessels from 
the head-quarters of the League, viz. the * Stahlhof,' ^ 
nevertheless the King always took them back again 
under his protection, because he looked upon them and 
used them as natural alhes against the Emperor and 
the Cathohc powers, and needed their support and their 
loans in his financial affairs. *• Henry's successor, Edward 
VI., granted them again in 1547 complete restitution 

' Qiiadc von Kinckelbach, Teutsche Nation Herligkeit (Cologne on the 
Rhine, IGOO), p. 389 ; cf. 390, 392. 
- Sartorius, iii. 394. 

•' Fischer, ii. 009. Concerning the 'Stahlhof see our statements, 
vol. ii. p. 44. 

' Schanz, Englische Handelspolitik, i, 226. Falke, Geschichte des 
Ilandds, ii. 102. 


of old privileges and liberties, but by so doing lie brought 
on himself the violent opposition of English merchants. 
* The Hansa Leaguers/ the latter complained in 1551, 
' command the Enghsh markets, settle at their pleasure 
the prices of imports and exports, and have in this 
very year exported 44,000 pieces of Enghsh cloth, 
whereas we, being less privileged, have only been able 
to export 1100 pieces/ ^ 

In consequence of these complaints, Edward, in 
1552, declared all the Hanseatic rights and privileges 
to be null and void, and raised the duty on Hanseatic 
goods from 1 per cent, to 20 per cent. Queen Mary, 
who succeeded Edward in 1553, was more favourably 
disposed to the Hansa Leaguers; she gave them back 
their old liberties, at the same time requiring that 
Enghsh citizens in the Hansa towns should have the 
same liberties granted them. To this, however, the 
Hanseats would not agree. Foolishly and unreasonably 
they repudiated equahty of rights with the Enghsh, and 
obstinately refused the latter in the Baltic towns the 
privileges which they on their part had claimed in 

Then as before they demanded of the English crown 
the confirmation of their ancient ' well-earned ' rights, 
but they could not in any way gain their point with a 
sovereign hke Queen Ehzabeth, who went on the policy of 
' keeping down all that was foreign in her kingdom ' and 
of advancing by every possible means the steadily growing 
development of Enghsh commerce. The endeavours of 
the confederate towns, through ' pleadings from the 

' Sartorius, iii, 313, 324. 

■ Cf. D. Schafer in the Jahrbiicher fiir Nationalokonomie (new series), 
vii. 96 ff. 


Emperor and the Empire ' to move the Queen in their 
favour, were all unavailing. The Enghsh minister 
Cecil, so the directors of the London factory reported 
to Liibeck in February 1568, ' had rated the honourable 
towns, on account of their representations to the 
Emperor, with language almost rude and vulgar ' ; they 
were in fact also themselves convinced that the entreaties 
of all the potentates of the whole of Christendom 
' would have no result with this Queen/ i Ehzabeth 
was kept only too well informed by the reports of her 
ambassadors of the internal dissensions of the empire, 
and of its incapacity to support the North German 
trading towns with serious and warlike measures ; many 
Protestant German princes were in her pay and service, 
and even among the Hansa towns — mutually discordant 
— she knew how to find promoters of her own endeavours. 
Eagerly Hamburg opened its gates to the so-called 
' merchant adventurers ' ~ (English traders) and con- 
cluded with them in 1567 a formal treaty for ten years, 
by which the English obtained free exit and entry and 
' privileged residence/ In 1568, four, in the following 
year twenty-eight, Enghsh ships laden with cloth and 
wool, the latter to the value of 700,000 thalers, came 
into the port of Hamburg ; and thence the Enghsh 
wool and cloth trade penetrated further and further 
into the interior of the empire.^ ' Hamburg,' wrote 

' Sartorius, iii. 348. 

- ** Of. Ehrcnborg, Hamhurg rind Engkind in Zeitalter der Konigin 
Elimbelh, Jena, 1896. See also Schafer, ' Deutschland und England in 
Welthandcl des 16tcn Jalirhunderts ' (Preuss. Jahrb., 83 ff., 269 ff.), who 
says that it was not only energy and discipline but also ' reckless violence, 
flattfiing representations, malicious calumny, brutal violation of rights, 
friiudulcnt over-reaching and adulteration ' which brought victory to the 

•' FalUe, Zollwc.scn, 183. 


the Liibeckers in 1581, 'was the cause of all the 
misfortune, because it separated itself and independently 
of the rest accorded privileges to the Enghsh ; whenever 
at Diets of the League they had wanted to confer 
together on this question the Hamburg delegates 
always said they had orders to leave the meeting/ 
' It is only reasonable to complain that it has now, 
alas, come to this, and we can see it before our 
eyes, that to our disgrace, ridicule and final ruin, the 
principal members are falhng away from us, are 
pulhng down what we build up, and making such 
a breach between us and the Komtoors that to all 
eternity it will never be possible to bring them 
together again and repair the mischief done. All 
this proceeds solely from pernicious egotism, which 
is the one source of all the misfortune and ruin of 
the society/ ^ 

Still, in 1554 the Hanseats had within ten months 
exported 36,000 pieces of cloth from England, and they 
estimated their gains by this transaction at £61,254 
sterhng, or 385,896 Karlsgulden.^ But already in the 
last third of the century the real English trade in cloth 
and wool dominated the German m.arkets. The 
Enghsh cloths and Enghsh wool, the Hansa represented 
to the Imperial Estates in 1582, had become at least 
half as dear again, and of the 200,000 pieces which 
were exported by Enghshmen, three-quarters at least 
came to Germany ; the German cloth manufacturers 
were reduced to such extremity that numbers of towns 
which had before counted many hundreds of cloth- 
makers and journeymen innumerable, were now either 
entirely without master workmen, or else had very 

' Sartorius, iii. 357 ff., 387-388. - Ibid. iii. 333-335. 


few ; and these few were obliged to content themselves 
with making inferior cloth. At the fairs at Frankfort 
it was principally Enghsh cloth that was sold. In a 
memorandum of the Saxon electoral comicillors in 1597 
it was pointed out that by the high prices which the 
* merchant adventurers ' charged for their cloth nearly 
a million of money went yearly to England, that the 
empire was drained of ready money, and the subjects 
impoverished, for there was now scarcely a single 
servant or peasant girl who did not have some of her 
wearing apparel made of Enghsh cloth ; at the same 
time the business of the cloth-makers was being ruined 
and food getting scarce. Whereas foreign cloth was 
imported in such quantities and wool exported in an 
equally extensive manner, trade and business in home 
cloth, formerly sent in such large quantities to Poland 
and other neighbouring countries, were also in a parlous 
condition.! At the end of the century, in the Nether 
Saxon circle alone, it was reckoned that within fifty 
years about thirty-two milhons of gold guldens had 
gone out of the country for purchasing Enghsh 

The imperial edict issued on August 1, 1597, in 
consequence of the unwearied importuning of the 
Hansa that ' all Enghsh people and Enghsh wares 
should within three months be banished from all parts 
of the empire,' resulted only in shame and infamy ; 
in consequence of this edict the Hanseats saw the last 
miserable remnant of their former commercial supre- 
macy annihilated in England. On January 23, 1598, 

' Falke, Zollwesen, 197. 

' Haberlin, xii. 273 ff. Falke, Geschichte des Handels, ii. 109 ; Zollwesen, 
190. Fischer, ii. 620 ; cf. Jahrbikher fiir Nationalokonomie, vi, 250,, n. 405. 


the mercliants of the London ' Stahlhof ' received orders 
from the Queen ' within fourteen days to evacuate 
England, with the exception of the subjects of the King 
of Poland, provided they renounced their connection 
with the Hansa/ All that the Hanseats could obtain 
was a respite of a few months. At the end of July 
the Privy Council instructed the Lord Mayor and the 
Sheriffs of London to take possession of the ' Stahlhof ' in 
the name of the Queen and to drive the Germans out 
of their houses. On the latter opposing resistance to 
the seizure of their property and showing themselves 
unwilhng to go, the Lord Mayor threatened violence, 
and ' so finally,' wrote the Stahlhof brethren to Liibeck, 
* because no other course was possible, with sorrow in 
our hearts, the alderman walking in front, and we others 
following behind, we went out of the gate, and the gate 
was closed after us : we were not even allowed to 
remain there for the night. God have pity on us ! ' ^ 

While thus the downfall of the Hansa had become 
an accomplished fact, the English, despite all imperial 
decrees, asserted themselves in the empire. Neither 
from Elbing nor from Stade could the merchant adven- 
turers who had established their settlements there be 
driven out. In the one year 1600, for instance, these 
traders exported, besides coloured cloth of all sorts, 
60,000 pieces of white linen to the value of more than a 
milhon pounds sterling. ^ 

' Added to all the hopeless dangers to which the 
Hansa was exposed from foreign potentates, was the 
melancholy fact that in proportion as its external 

^ Sartorius, iii. 404-408. Lappenberg, Urkundliche Geschichie des 
Londoner Stahlhofs (Hamburg, 1851), p. 102 ft". 
' Faike, ii. HI. 



commerce declined, the iiitemal dissensions between 
the Hansa towns themselves and their mutual jealousy 
went on increasing ; in a petty shopkeeper spirit the 
members of the League shut themselves up from each 
other and endeavoured to hinder all interchange of 
business amongst themselves by every variety of hmita- 
tion, by enforced monopohes, by staple and deposit 

Thus the Bremen and Llineburg Hanseats com- 
plained of a tax arbitrarily imposed at Hamburg ; 
Upper Rhenish towns complained that at Hambiu^g 
they had to pay herring tax, freight duty and tonnage ; 
the Saxon towns that the goods which they sent to 
Hambm-g they were obhged to sell at low prices and to 
pay an oar-tax. In hke manner Rostock complained of 
Liibeck on account of imposition of taxes, Minden of 
Bremen for hindering navigation/ 'Anything in the 
nature of beneficial, harmonious consultation could no 
longer be effected ; ' as if in despair the Hanseatic 
syndic-general John Domann exclaimed in 1606, in a 
' Song of the German Hansa ' : 

Vorzeiten ward ihr Hanse, 

Beriihmet mit der Tat ; 
Jetzt sagt man seid ihr Ganse, 

Von sclilechter Tat und Rat. 

(Formerly you were Hanseats 

Famous for your deeds ; 
Now say they you are geese 

Of deeds and counsel bad.) - 

But just as in the midst of peace the Hansa towns 

• Sartorius, ui. 530, note. Wachter, Histor. Nachlass, i. 230 ff. 
Schmollcr, Nalionalokonomische Ansichten, 266 ff. 

' Zeitschr. fiir Hamburgs Gesch.. ii. 457 (of. 455) ; cf. Histor.-polit. BL, 
121, 101. 


fought each other with imposition and augmentation 
of fresh tolls and duties, so in the empire in general 
a similar warfare was carried on between all the separate 

The state receipts in taxes, the empire's most 
fruitful and certain source of revenue, had, at the close 
of the Middle Ages, become completely broken up ; the 
custom-houses also had gradually passed into the 
possession of territorial lords and their subjects. The 
sovereign-toll-right was no longer inherent in the royal 
power, but, on the contrary, recognised by the latter as 
a privilege of the College of Electors. Charles V. 
promised in his election charter of 1519 that * whereas 
the German nation and Holy Roman Empire was already 
taxed to the uttermost both by land and water,' he 
would not without the advice, knowledge and will 
of the electors, sanction the imposition of any new 
taxes, nor the augmentation of any old ones. A 
proposal made at the Nuremberg Diet of 1523, for a 
fresh imperial toll, which was intended by means of a 
completely organised system of frontier duties to tax 
the whole foreign trade of Germany for the maintenance 
of the Imperial Chamber, the Imperial Government and 
the management of the public peace (Landsfrieden), 
was shipwrecked by the opposition of the towns, which, 
in view of the innumerable custom-houses aheady 
existing, did not wish to see fresh ones erected. ^ What 
Charles V. had promised in his election charter the 
succeeding emperors were also obhged to promise ; all 
the same, however, in order to procure themselves 
devoted servants and followers among territorial lords 
and communities, they were wont to make fresh taxes 

' See our remarks, vol. iii. 317 ff. 

c 2 


or to increase old ones on their own sole authority ; or 
at any rate to support similar attempts on the part 
of the electors.^ 

The territorial princes, also, regardless of the con- 
stitution of the empire, took upon themselves to 
impose fresh taxes or increase old ones, and thus 
* through the heightened prices of all indispensable 
goods the German nation from one decade to another 
became more and more crippled and drained/ Austria 
and Brandenburg were the first to assert the uncon- 
ditional independence of territorial lords in the matter 
of taxation towards the empire and the other princes. 
Some of the j)rinces raised taxes to three or four times 
their original amount. Such had been the case, for 
instance, since 1566, in Pfalz-Zweibriicken in all the 
custom-houses of the Count Palatine. At Laubach 
and Erbach, within a circuit of half a mile, the rate of 
taxation for nine carts and one carriage was eighty 
florins, for a single horse in a cart, four florins and 
eight albuses. From Bremen upwards the number of 
toll-gates within twenty-three miles amounted to twenty- 
two ; the tax for a barrel of wine, from Dresden to 
Hamburg, payable at thirty toll-gates, was nine thalers, 
nine groschen, four pfennig. In consequence of the 
revolution in the Netherlands the taxes were so enor- 
mously raised that in 1594, for instance, the tax for a 
cartload of wine, from Cologne to Holland, was forty 
thalers, as against eight thalers in former years, for a 
load of herrings, from Holland to Cologne forty-eight 
and fifty thalers, instead of six to eight. Every ship 

' Margrave Hans von Kustrin stated in his will of June 29, 1560, 
that he had been favoured w ith so many new taxes on land and water, 
that these brought him in more ready money than all the lands he held 
of the Emperor. Mdrk^che Forschungen, xiii. 482. 


which wanted to pass from the Waal into the Rhine 
had to pay a toll of 125 florins. i 

Among the Imperial Estates, from the greatest to 
the least, there reigned, both as regards taxation and 
export laws by which the different districts obstructed 
each other, a civil war of all against all : at imperial and 
circle diets they incessantly raised complaints against 
each other and blamed each other reciprocally for 
' oppression and loss of all industry and commerce.' ^ 

' Added to the highly oppressive and almost in- 
tolerable land and water taxes which are the ruin of all 
inland trade, there is also the insecurity of the imperial 
roads and highways, which are beset with so great 
danger to merchants and their goods from highway 
robbers.' ^ 

' Another kind of plague,' so the merchants almost 

1 Falke, Zollwesen, 147 ff., 159, 170 ff., 202 ff., 221. Schmoller in the 
Zeitschr. fiir preussische Geschichte und Lnndeskunde, 19, 290 ff. ; cf. 
Schmoller, Nalionalokonomische Ansichten, 646-647. In the duchy of 
Bavaria there were twenty-seven water and eighty-nine land tolls. A 
new tax introduced in 1548 by Duke William IV. for agricultural 
products and cattle, taken out of the country, realised, for instance, 
in the fifteen custom-houses of the Straubing exchequer in the 
very first year more than 1963 florins. The receipts of the Maut at 
Straubing amovinted in 1550 to 1214 pounds, in 1571 to 2348 pounds, in 
1583 to 5981 florins (the proportion between the pound and the gulden was 
about 28 : 100), in 1589 to 10,525 florins. Cf. the instructive treatise of 
J. Mondschein, Die Straubinger Donaumaut im IGten Jahrhundert (pub- 
lished in connection with the fiftieth anniversary of the royal Realschule 
at Straubing, 1887), ss. 155, 188, 194. 

2 ** Concerning the customs war of Pomerania and Brandenburg in 
the sixteenth century, cf. Spahn, Verfassungs- und Wirtschaftsgeschichie des 
Herzogtums Pommern, 150 ff., where besides SchmoUer's article {Zeitschr. 
fiir preuss. Geschichte u. Landeskunde, 19) documentary material is also 
made use of. 

' Of public inseciirity, highway robberies and incendiaries we shall 
treat in a later section. 


universally complained, as seriously affecting small 
inland traders, ' is the swarm of hawkers and vendors 
who perambulate the towns and villages, and who are 
not proceeded against, as for the protection of inland 
trade they ought to be, with suitable prohibitions and 
punishments/ ' Almost in all places," said the Suabian 
Circle in 1582, in a memorandum to the Diet at Augsburg, 
' the foreign Savoyards and hawkers are to be seen, and 
it is not only to the common people in the villages and 
hamlets that they offer their goods, but they pester 
the nobihty and the upper classes in all the castles, 
courts, convents and private dwellings, beyond all 
bearing. And they offer the common people the induce- 
ment of brmging their goods, such as stuffs, groceries 
and all necessaries to their very door, and also allow 
them credit for a period of time (though they make 
them pay all the more heavily in the end), so that they 
may be paid in the autumn and harvest-time with 
fruits and wine, and thus they entice the poor people 
to themselves in such a manner, that, in order to avoid 
cash payments, they no longer go to the towns and 
to the markets to make their purchases, but wait for 
these foreign hawkers. At the time when the fruits 
and the wine are gathered in these hawkers appear again, 
demand their payment and take the poor man's stock 
of provisions out of his very hand. In some places 
they have actually gone so far as to hire storerooms 
and cellars to keep the fruit and the wine. In this way 
they send up the prices of all victuals, drain the poor 
man, restrict the trade of the country, enrich themselves 
by usury, pay no taxes anywhere themselves, and are 
subject and submissive neither to the empire nor to 
the Estates. Serious measures should, therefore, be 


enforced in the empire for the abohtion of this evil and 
the exclusion of all foreign traders from the country/ ^ 
Nevertheless the evil continued as before.^ 
But the pernicious effect on trade and commerce of all 
this foreign hawking was in no way comparable to that 
of the trading associations formed for the purpose of 
buying up, and raising prices, concerning which com- 
panies, even at the close of the Middle Ages and through- 
out the whole sixteenth century, it was continuously 
complained at imperial, circle, and provincial diets that 
they were to blame not only for the increased prices of 
provisions and wares, but also for the increase of imports 
into and the decrease of exports from the empire. "^ 

Almost at every diet stringent orders were issued 
against these injurious practices, orders, however, which 
were never put into effect.* Against the undertakings 

1 Haberlin, xii. 612-614. ** Cf. Gnipp, Oeldwirtschaft, 204. 

^ The Basle Guild said in 1598 concerning the foreign hawkers : 
' They swarm about everywhere from house to house and from farm to 
farm, in the hostels of towns, and in country inns, and they may 
be seen daily crowding outside churches at weddings and on other such 
occasions ; they also frequent the markets and delude the country-folk 
especially with their false wares which they offer as cheap bargains.' 
Geering, 574 £f. In Bavaria in 1605 the complaint was raised that ' The 
Savoyard vendors perambulate the whole land, defraud the peasants and 
other people with their goods, and have actually vaults to house their 
wares in.' v. Freyberg, i. Beilage, p. 18 ; cf. p. 31. In Brandenburg 
an edict was issued against tlie foreign hawkers in 1536. Mylius, vi. 
Part I. 38-39. In Wiirtemberg it was decreed in 1549 that ' the Italian 
and other foreign vendors should no longer be allowed to sell in towns and 
villages, but only to attend the usual yearly markets.' Reyscher, xii. 165 ; 
cf. 577 and ii. 304. 

^ See our statements, vol. ii. 80 ff., and vol. iv. 154-156. ** See further 
Wiebe, Zur Oesch. der Preisrevolution des I6ten u. Vlten Jahrhunderten, 
Leipzig, 1895, and also Histor.-polit. Bl., 118, 434 ff., where there are also 
fuller details respecting the opinions of contemporaries on the rise of 
prices. See also Grupp in the Allg. Ztg., 1897, Beil. No. 99, 100. 

■• Concerning the edicts of the years 1524-1577, cf. Fischer, iv. 802-809. 


of the trading companies and the great capitahsts, 
individual merchants with only small capital at their 
disposal were powerless. As early as 1557 the town 
delegates assembled at Ratisbon said in an address 
to King Ferdinand I. : 'If it should come to pass 
that general business and trade in the Holy Empire 
were to become so greatly hmited and restricted as 
to be solely in the hands and the power of a few persons 
of fortune, this would not only lead to the final downfall 
and ruin of the honourable towns, but would also 
cause grievous disaster to all the subjects of the empire/ ^ 
If, as often happened, for one reason or another, 
there was a suspension of payment by the trading com- 
panies or the great capitalists, countless numbers who 
had greater or smaller shares in the undertakings, 
or who had lent them money on usurious interest, 
were plunged into ruin ; sometimes whole neighbour- 
hoods were ruined. When, for instance, the Hoch- 
stetters at Augsburg, who ' for a time had a million 
gulden invested in their company,' failed in 1529 
to the amount of 800,000 gulden, not only princes, 
counts and nobles, but also peasants, men-servants 
and maid-servants suffered great loss." Since the 
middle of the century bankrupts had been very plentiful 
in Augsburg. In 1562 six merchant houses of good 
standing had involved their creditors in heavy losses. 
George Neumayr, in 1572, defrauded his creditors of 
200,000 gulden.'^ When in 1574 the association of 

' Frankfurter Beichstagsakten, 64^ fol. 206. 

- Concerning the enterprises and the bankruptcy of the Hochstetters 
sec our remarks, vol. i. 87. 

^ V. Stetten, Geschichte von Augsburg, i. 541, 551, 604. Wagenseil, ii. 293. 
** Concerning the increase of bankruptcy, especially in Augsburg, see 
also Steinhausen, Der Kaufmann in der deutschen V ergangenheit, 86 ff. 


the Manliclis, consisting of commercial parvenus, de- 
clared itself bankrupt with debts to the amount of 
700,000 gulden, and in the same year three other 
merchants failed, the number who were ruined in 
consequence was so great that the Bishop of Augsburg 
announced from the pulpit that whoever in future 
should lend money to the trading companies, would be 
excluded from Holy Communion. Melchior Manlich, 
father and son, and the son-in-law Karl Neidhard, 
escaped punishment by flight ; i the council found 
themselves compelled to institute a severe ordinance 
* on account of the many great failures which had 
happened for some time past among merchants and 
other persons who had wasted their own and other 
people's fortunes in riotous living/^ In the year 1580 
' countless numbers of people were injured and reduced 
to poverty ' in consequence of suspension of payment 
by the Augsburg monopolist, Conrad Roth, whose 
extravagant business undertakings had been promoted 
by an illustrious chief, the Elector Augustus of Saxony, 
in spite of an imperial law, renewed in 1577, against 
monopolists and price-raisers. 

In this law it was said : ' Although monopolies and 
fraudulent, hazardous, and improper forestalling have 
been forbidden not only in ordinary written laws, but 
also in public imperial recesses, under pain and punish- 
ment, such as loss of all goods and chattels and banish- 
ment from the land, nevertheless these said statutes, 
recesses, and edicts have not hitherto been executed 
in a full and proper manner, but on the contrary, 
within a few years numbers of great companies of 

1 V. Stetten, i. 604, 610, 611. Fischer, iv. 34-36, 835-836. 
- V. Stetten, i. 631. 


merchants have been formed, and sundry strange 
persons, wholesale and retail dealers, have arisen in 
the empire, who have managed by force and violence 
to get into their own hands all sorts of wares and 
mercantile produce, also wine, corn, and other suchlike 
commodities from the greatest to the least, in order to 
rule the market and to fix on these goods whatever value 
they themselves thought fit, or to bind over the buyer 
or seller not to part with such goods to any but them- 
selves, at the time and in the manner agreed upon/ 

All these injurious dealings, buying-up and fore- 
stalling, and suchlike deahngs, associations and com- 
pacts were henceforth to be forbidden ; the over- 
reachers were to be subjected to confiscation of their 
goods and banishment from the country ; magistrates 
who were dilatory in enforcing punishment were to be 
fined one hundred marks of refined gold ; anyone bringing 
monopohsts into notice was to receive a fourth part 
of the delinquent's forfeited property. 

Elector Augustus did not trouble himself about 
these edicts. According to a contract with King 
Sebastian of Portugal and his successor, Henry, the 
Augsburg merchant Roth was to be the sole recipient 
of all the pepper coming from India to Lisbon and to 
sell it at a fixed price in the European kingdoms. 
Augustus constituted himself the business associate 
of Roth ; the latter contemplated, with the help of 
the electoral moneys, to get the whole pepper trade 
into his own hands, and then to raise the price of 
pepper at his own liking ; and not of pepper only, but 
also of cinnamon, cloves, muscat nuts, and all other 
small spices, which came from the same source and by 
the same route : by monopolist management of the 


whole grocery and drug produce of India, he and his 
coadjutor hoped to reahse untold gain. For the 
pepper only the net yearly returns were estimated 
at more than 38,000 gold gulden. A bank was to be 
founded at Leipzig ; a new imperial post service was 
to connect together all the greater trading towns, which 
by degrees should be drawn into the spice trade, and 
a regular shipfaring connection was to be estabhshed 
between Leipzig and Lisbon. In order not to attach 
his own princely name to a trading business, and 
thereby bring on himself ' all sorts of annoyance respect- 
ing the increased price of pepper/ and to avoid all 
later reproaches on the score of an enterprise condemned 
by imperial edicts, the Elector constituted three of his 
most trusted chamber officials into a ' Thuringian 
pepper-trading company at Leipzig.' This company 
had to conclude the contract with Eoth & Sons in 
the Elector's name and at his risk. In 1579 enormous 
cargoes of pepper came to Leipzig and were partly 
stored in three electoral vaults on the Pleissenburg. 
But already the next year, after Portugal had gone over 
to Spain, and the Spanish Government refused to renew 
the contract, there followed the crash of the Augsburg 
merchant-house. Numbers of people were plunged in 
ruin. Roth himself disappeared suddenly from Augs- 
burg, and put an end to his life by poison. In his 
first alarm at the disaster the Elector wrote that 
' business must be carried on still, even though it 
should cost a man per month.' Soon afterwards, 
however, he adopted the line of paying off, as much as 
possible, the debts of his ' trading company.' To 
this end he caused an embargo to be laid on all the 
stores of pepper lying at Hamburg, Antwerp, Frankfort- 


on-tlie-Maine, and Venice to the account of Roth, and 
on all those on the road to Leipzig, in which proceeding 
his position as prince of the Empire stood him in 
sood stead. The electoral chamberlain, Hans Harrer, 
who had heen in the company, ended hke Roth by 

The alchemist Sebald Schwertzer wanted to incite the 
Elector Augustus to another lucrative monopolising 
enterprise. He suggested to him to get all the tin 
mines into his hands by gradually buying them up : 
' the costs," he said, ' would soon be covered by the 
tin trade if, for the numerous purchasers, there was only 
one seller.' All they had to do therefore, since tin was 
as necessary as daily bread, was to keep back the sale 
for a length of time and the price would go up enormously. 
But the electoral chamber councillor Hans von Bernstein, 
in a memorandum of the year 1583, uttered warnings 
against such a proceeding, because tin rose and fell 
rapidly according to the quantity required, and could 
not always be turned back into money. He appealed to 
the fact that the Augsburg merchants Meyer, who had 
some time ago made an attempt to get all the tin into 
their own hands, had failed for want of purchasers and 
had lost more than a ton of gold on the undertaking, 

' J. Falke, 'Des Kurfursten August portugiesischer Pfefferhandel,' 
in V. Weber's Archiv. fur die Sdchsische Oescli., v. 390-410, and Kurfiirst 
August, 307-321. Roth also sent the Elector, amongst other things, 
tobacco plants, from which ' miraculous balsam could be prepared, which 
would heal all manner of wounds and cuts.' The amount of the bargain 
concluded between Roth and King Sebastian of Portugal was reckoned 
as 3(10,000 gulden. Greiff, 90, n. 104. ** In 1529 the Fuggers had 
already suffered considerable pecuniary losses in consequence of their 
share in the Spanish spice trade. Cf. Habler in the Zeitschr. des Histor. 
Ver. fur Schwaben, 19, (1892) 25-45. 


besides causing great public injury, so that the mining 
and tin trade had been at a standstill for years. ^ 

Through unfortunate monopolising schemes one of 
the most famous Augsburg houses, that of the Welsers, 
failed in 1614, to the extent of 586,578 gold gulden.^ 

' How a whole large district could be injured by 
extortionate usurious trading and money-dealing ' was 
shown by the bankruptcy, amounting to twenty tons 
of gold, or two million thalers, of ' Loitz Bros.' at 

* At this time ' (1572), wrote the Pomeranian noble, 
Joachim von Wedel, who entered details on the subject in 
his ' Housebook,' Pomerania fell victim to the greatest 
calamity that could be imagined, and the people began, 
all too late when the evil was irremediable and the land 
prostrate on its back, to bethink them and be aware of 
the fraudulence and cheating of those iniquitous money- 
gorgers worthy of eternal malediction, the Loitzes. 
These land pests are of low origin, peasants by birth 
from the village of Clempin near Stargard ; not so very 
many years ago they came to Stettin as servant or 
peasant lads, where through marriage they acquired the 
position of burghers. Business going well with them, 
they further took to banking, which in time they 
carried on with emperors, kings, electors and princes. 
They also began, in addition to their private business, 
to entertain on a grand scale, living in luxury and 
splendour, drawing to themselves lordships, convents, 
castles, towns, villages, and this all out of other people's 
purses ; they were also friends with the noblest of the 

^ Falke, August, 298-299. Frankfurter Zeitung, 1890, No. 121. 
Ziveites Morgenhlatt, Feuilleton. 
•^ Greiff, 99, n. 169. 


land, till at last they attained to so great popularity, 
credit and esteem that nothing was refused them. All 
of whom they asked it went bail for them both at home 
and abroad ; whoever had money brought it to their 
feet ; whoever had it not, got it through others, at third 
or fourth hand, and brought it to the Loitzes ; in short, 
all who could manage to get into business relations with 
them, thought their fortunes were made and esteemed 
themselves already rich. And all this came about 
because no money, however high the rate, was too dear 
for them. On 100 gulden they would promise 10 or 
20 per cent, or more; they created sham capital by 
adding interest still due to the real capital and paying 
interest on interest, besides making presents of horses, 
costly effects, and other gratifications, luxuriously 
feasting the people from whom they hoped for gain, 
offering them hospitahty, entertaining them well and 
lavishly, with music and all sorts of fun and merriment, 
and in the midst of drinking and carousing obtaining 
pledges to their agreements and bonds. And these 
money-grabbers and Pomeranian pests had their deahngs 
also with burghers and peasants, overseers and guardians, 
widows, convents, churches and hospitals, rich and poor, 
with anyone in short who could raise any money ; 
and they also had their special vultures and falcons, 
who spied about and searched out every corner, flutter- 
ing here and fluttering there, and wherever they smelt 
money snapping it up and takmg it into their net, so 
that the land was completely cleared and purged of 
money, and scarcely anything left, so that an honest 
man in his need could often not manage to borrow 
100 gulden. Yea verily, they did not even spare the 
Lord of the land : through their accomphces holding 


out great hopes of profit, he lent the King of Poland a 
huge sum of money, about 100,000 thalers, which at 
this very hour is still due. Just as everywhere outside 
the land, in the Mark, in Mecklenburg, Meissen, Prussia, 
Holstein and elsewhere, they borrowed quantities of 
money, for which the Pomeranians were security and 
by which they suffered great injury and damage, till at 
last the too highly strung bow snapped, and they had to 
play the game of bankruptcy, and they treated their 
creditors all equally, giving each as httle as the other. 
And in the nick of time they escaped from the smoke 
and took refuge in Prussia, where they had before- 
hand obtained from the King of Poland the lordship 
of Tiegenhof, and safe conduct and security ; and they 
left the cart sticking in the mud, so that things were 
in a woful pHght in this country.' After ' warning, 
abusing, pleading and insisting had all been tried in 
vain, the matter was at last brought to law in the princes' 
courts, and then there was such quarrelling and disputing, 
excepting, protesting and appealing as to matters of 
debt, that everything else was forgotten. The advocates, 
procurators, and executors, whom Baldus rightly calls 
the pest of Europe, had the best of the whole business, 
for all that was left over fell entirely to their share." 

The country was brought to such misery that an 
open war, at the end of which land and home return to 
their rightful owners, had been preferable. 

' Many people had been deprived for ever of their 
houses and possessions, their fiefs and heritages, many 
famihes had seen their hereditary lands transferred to 
others and to strangers, without any hope of ever being 
restored to their position and dignities. All the heart- 
ache, discord and hatred that was thus engendered can 


better be imagined than described. In short, Pomerania 
is now ahnost turned upside- down and money, property, 
credit and ahnost all well-being have been engulfed. 
It is to be feared that it will be a long and weary time 
before the country gets over this visitation, or recovers 
her former condition and credit.' ^ 

' We hear ahnost everywhere,' preached a Dominican 
in 1581, ' complaints of one disaster after another in 
commerce and in money-dealing, and among trades- 
people, artisans, councillors, distinguished families, 
counts and noblemen, we see daily what numbers 
formerly in a good position, in the enjoyment of wealth, 
prosperity and esteem, become impoverished and 
ruined, bring wife and children, relations and others to 
misery, and not unfrequently end in taking their own 
hves. Whence, however, comes all this misfortune and 
ruin ? In most cases it comes from no other cause than 
that the unchristian, godless love of gold has seized on 
everybody and all classes. Whoever has anything to 
stake, instead of engaging in some honest and strenuous 
work to support his belongings, shuns all effort and 
trouble, and thinks to grow rich, and over-rich in a short 
time, by all sorts of speculation and money-deahng, 
deposits with merchants and societies, high interest, and 
usmious contracts. Have not the towns become full of 

' Wedel's Hausbuch, 248-252, See also Baltische Sticdien, xi. 81-91, 
and the letter of Duke Boguslaw, xiii. of February 27, 1605, in Dahnert, i. 
1033. ** Concerning the economic ruin of the Pomeranian towns 
in the sixteenth century, see also Spahn, Verfassimgs- und Wirtschafts- 
geschichte des Herzogtimis Pommern, 163 fit". ' Nevertheless,' writes 
Spahn (p, 167), ' the towns were not without their share of blame for their 
economic ruin. The people who inhabited them should have been brought 
up in hard work in order to be worthy of their natural wealth ; for although 
they thought of nothing but gain, they were, notwithstanding, no trading 
people, and still less an ideaUjt people.' 


such lazy idlers ? And the number of such among the 
nobility is no less great. So long as these people are in 
luck and are receiving high usurious interest, they 
parade about like princes, wear extravagantly costly 
clothes and ornaments, give grand banquets and 
entertainments, gorge and drink in a manner which is 
a scandal. But then comes the crash, from numberless 
causes which cannot all be enumerated, in this 
thoroughly fraudulent business of trading, money- 
changing and usury. Those who wanted to grow rich 
in haste lose their interest with their capital, have 
squandered what else they possessed, and are reduced 
to all the misery which I have described. Oh this unholy 
and accursed money-making and wanting to grow rich 
without being willing to work and toil, as God ordained 
that every man should when He said to Adam : '' In 
the sweat of thy brow shalt thou eat bread ! " That 
this command is thrown utterly to the wind by all 
this usurious money-dealing and practice, I regard 
as the greatest crime and vice of our present days, 
and the cause from which of necessity, through the 
just punishment of God, disaster after disaster must 
ensue.' ^ 

John Brockes, oldest burgomaster of Liibeck (|1585), 
wrote on this subject for the warning and admonition of 
children : * In these my days and times there has come 
about such unheard-of oppression and unchristian, 
godless taxing and over-reaching in trade and commerce 
and in money investments as has never been known 
before in all the world's history : and this usury has 

^ A sermon on the command of God : ' In the sweat of thy brow 
shalt thou eat bread,' preached in the Cathedral at Freiburg by L. Berthold 
of the Dominican Order (1581), 



been practised by leading burgomasters and councillors 
and citizens, and by members of the nobility from the 
land of Holstein in their money affairs, so that numbers 
of burghers through inadvertence, or through pride and 
pomposity, wanting to cut a fine figure and have grand 
doings with foreign money, and being forgetful of God, 
brought God's wrath upon them to their great misfortune, 
for they devoured and were devoured and took no heed 
for the future until ruin was at their throats. Moreover, 
they were to such an extent involved and entangled 
together in these money matters, had signed for 
each other and stood security for each other, and so 
were all impoverished and ruined together, and they 
defrauded many honourable men who had guaranteed 
for them, so that those had to pay who could, and those 
who couldn't, to escape as they could, and numbers, 
even young people, who had been ruined by going 
bail, died of broken hearts.' 'My children and heirs,' 
says Brockes in conclusion, ' I have written this for a 
mirror and a warning for you all, that you may fear God, 
maintain yourselves in humihty and industrious work, 
and not cast about for more extensive business until 
God wills to give it you. For those who think to grow 
rich in haste and by force generally end in poverty and 
bankruptcy.' ^ 

Sebastian Franck had already written in his 
Chronicle : ' It has, alas, come to this, that work is looked 
upon as a disgrace ; so much so, that it is scarcely ever 
now apphed to honourable ends, and all parents admonish 
their children not to work too hard, but rather to feed 
themselves in idleness on other people's misfortunes. 

• Brockes, i. 84-85 ; cf. Falke, Oesch. des Handels, ii, 407-408. 


What sort of honourable business goes on now amongst 
Christians and Christian tradespeople, societies, usurers, 
stockbrokers, money-changers, we indeed perceive all 
too plainly ; it 's all nothing but stockbroking, buying- 
up, monopolising, and filling the whole country with 
useless transactions and machinations, to everybody's 
disadvantage/ ^ Zwingli also complained that ' nobody 
would any longer earn a maintenance by work/ "^ 

The old ecclesiastical canonical teaching on property 
and its acquirement tlirough honourable work, on the 
dignity and consecration of work, as well as the old 
religious laws and interdictions as regards interest and 
usury,3 still remained in force and were constantly 
inculcated afresh ; also the imperial legislation, even 
when it introduced milder laws with regard to loans — 
and this in full accord with the canonical teaching — 
only recognised as legal the taking by the lender of a 
part of the profits made in farming or trading, and 
protected the borrower against usurious abuse : interest 
on unproductive loans was not allowed.^ 

How conscientiously orthodox Catholics, towards 
the end of the sixteenth century, held themselves bound 
by the Church interdicts against interest is shown, for 
instance, by the celebrated composer, Orlandus Lassus. 
For a sum of 4400 gulden lodged by him in the Bavarian 
ducal treasury, 5 per cent, interest was paid him ; but, 
after the death of Albert V. (f 1579), he sent back to 
Albert's successor, William V., the amount of the interest 
' from Christian good zeal and conscience and according 

^ Chronik, 270. Cf. Schmoller, Nationalokonomische Ansichten, 
471 ff. 

^ Schmoller, 482. ^ See our statements, vol. ii. 90-96. 

^ Endemann, Studien, ii. 156, 316-317. 

D 2 


to the godly instruction and careful solicitude of our 
holy, universal mother, the Church.' ^ 

Luther, although in other respects he fiercely opposed 
the canon law, was decisively on its side in its economic 
aspects, as is plainly seen from his * Sermon vom Wucher ' 
(1519), his pamphlet * Von Kaufhandlung und Wucher' 
(1524), his * Vermahnung au die Pfarrherren wider den 
Wucher zu predigen ' (1540). Melanchthon also (in 
spite of the love he had otherwise for Roman law) and 
a group of other notable Lutheran theologians, such as 
Brenz and Bugenhagen, held firmly to the canonical 
regulations and, after the example of Luther, zealously 
opposed all receivers of interest as usurers, oppressors 
and blood-suckers of the needy working people, regardless 
of the fact that they thereby brought on themselves 
the hatred of a ' certain class of people.' When the 
Lutheran superintendent, Phihp Caesar, published a 
pamphlet against usury in 1569, things had come to 
such a pass, even among the preachers of the Gospel, 
that he complained bitterly as follows : ' The preachers 
who defend usury *' inveigh largely " against the opposite 
teaching, against the preachers who teach thus, and 
against the rulers who give employment to such 
preachers. We preachers who declaim against taking 
interest on money stir up against ourselves the hatred 
of the whole world. The blame of this is in great 
measure yours, you, our brethren in office, who constitute 
yourselves champions of the usurer, or even practise 
usury yourselves. It is to be lamented that not 
ordinary persons only, but even professors of 
theology of note, defile themselves with such flagrant 

' V. Hormayr, Taschenhuch, new series, 22, 264. 


vices, and in their blindness do not scruple to defend 
this abominable usury, in opposition to the express 
teaching of Holy Scripture and the clear judgment of 
the better portion of the Church at all times/ 1 The 
Mansfeld, later on Brandenburg- Kulmbach councillor, 
George Lauterbecken, in his ' Kegentenbuch,' fell foul of 
Martin Bucer because he was wilhng ' to allow Christians 
out of 100 gulden to take one every month, that is 
12 gulden yearly/ ' What,' said he, ' has become of 
the book which Dr. Luther, of blessed memory, wrote 
to the pastors about usurers, admonishing them with 
great earnestness to preach against avarice and usury, 
so that they might not be partakers of the sins of usurers, 
but might rather let the latter die Hke wild beasts, 
not administering the sacraments to them nor admitting 
them into the Christian community ? Nobody thinks 
any more about it. Where in all these lands, although 
we pretend to be evangehcal, is anyone repulsed from 
the Sacrament of the Altar on account of usury ? 
Where does anyone, according to the ordinance of the 
Church, forbid usurers to make wills and testaments ? 
Where do we ever see one of the set buried in the 
flaying-place — one even who has been all his hfe the 
very worst of usurers, and whom the children in the 
street have known as such ? ' 

' Ph. Caesar : ' Universa propemodum doctrina de usura, testimoniis 
Sacrosanctae Scripturae et Doctorum puxioris Ecclesiae a tempore Apos- 
tolorum ad hanc nostram aetatem fundata, stabilita et confirmata, quae 
hoc postremo mundi tempore invalescentis prorsus et dominantis Avari- 
tiae ab omnium ordinum hominibus utiliter legi potest ' (Basileae [1569]), 
pp. 72, 74, 92. Concerning the prescripts of Luther, Melanchthon, Bugen- 
hagen and so forth, 26 sqq., 50-52, 63 sqq. Caesar at p. 15 even appeals 
to St. Bridget against the usurers. See also K. Kohler, Luther und die 
Juristen (Gotha, 1873), pp. 59 ff., 119, 121. 


' Yea, verily, they grow so proud and haughty that 
they dare defy the preachers : '' Let them rail at us from 
the pulpits for being usurers," say they, "we'll read 
them a lesson ; " thus they so intimidate the poor parsons 
that these are forced, some of them, to keep silence ; 
the others see that they can do httle to mend matters, 
and so let things go, for they can get neither help nor 
support from the rulers, who meanwhile go on themselves 
practising the usury which they ought to punish/ ^ 

In a trial at law which Martin Bucer instituted in 
1538 against the anabaptist, Jorg Schnabel, the latter 
said : ' It was given out that the new Church was better 
than the Popish Church ; but he had separated himself 
from it because the practice of usury was double as great 
in it as in the old Clim'ch. Under the papacy it used 
not to happen that the poor were driven from house 
and home, but now they were thus driven out/ On 
20 gulden two to three were taken as interest. =^ 

The Flacian theologian, Joachim Magdeburgius, 
who was guided by Luther's precepts, complained 
especially of the practice of usury which had obtained 
among the Lutheran nobihty. ' The squires,' he said, 
' loan to their own peasants a malter of corn at 18 or 
20 groschen the bushel when its market value is only 
10 or 12 groschen. Thus the poor man has already 
lost half a malter on every malter before he puts the 
corn in the sack, and he must then pay the squire 
back the next year at the most disadvantageous time, 
at Martinmas that is, when all the rents, taxes, duties 
and tithes are due, and when corn is cheapest, he must 
hand over his corn all in a lump at great loss and damage, 

' Quoted by Scherer, Drzy %i,nd€rschiedliche Predigten, 57-58. 
2 Niedner's Zeitschrift fiir hislor. Theologie, xxviii. 628, 632. 


and give back the bushel at the rate of 10 or 12 
groschen, though very soon after he might have sold 
it for 18 or 20 groschen. The poor man thus loses 
another half-malter, and so gives 2 malters for 1 ; that 
is, 100 per cent, is taken from him in usury; and 
usury of this sort is so common in Thuringia that no 
other trade is more so.' ^ 

Not merchants only, but also nobles, the Elector 
Augustus complained on November 5, 1569, had hitherto 
' made great usurious transactions ' at the Leipzig 
fairs, frequently with those who were constrained by 
necessity to borrow money, ' exacting on 100 gulden 
a yearly interest of 15, 20, 30, 40 and even more 
gulden.' 2 

In the Dithmarschen district usury had grown to 
such extremes in 1541, that in six months interest 
was exacted to the amount of 13-s. on half a gulden, 
and 20 gulden on 20 gulden (100 per cent.). In 1585 
Duke Adolf of Schleswig-Holstein issued a penal edict 
against the ' abominable usury and fleecing ' which 
was practised without scruple in all places in buying 
corn, in borrowing and other business transactions. 
' The usurers,' he wrote, ' in a short space of time 
take two, three and more pfennig on one, and so the 
simple poor are frightfully drained from day to day, 
and with wife and children brought to starvation.' 
Cases of distraint increased to such an extent that 
within a short space of time many houses changed 
hands four, five, and even nine or ten times. ^ 

' Scherer, Drey underschiedliche Predigten, 54. 

'^ Codex Augusteus, i. 1046-1047 ; cf. also 1055-1059, the renewed 
usury laws of the years 1583 and 1609. 
•' Neocorus, ii. 141, 293, 382. 


Duke Barnim of Pomerania-Stettin said in a Pro- 
vincial Diet Recess of January 10, 1566 : ' The practice 
of usury is gaining ground inordinately in our land, 
so that many people have the audacity to take 6, 
8, 10 and even 12 florins on 100, whilst others, by 
exacting rack rents and compound interest, drain 
the country of its cash which then they use for usury 
on a greater scale in other lands/ 

' Things have come to such a pass,' he complained 
in September of the same year, ' that in time of need, 
throughout the whole land, not even 2000-3000 gulden 
can be raised at a reasonable rate of interest/ ^ In 
a Pomeranian peasant ordinance of 1616 it says : 
' From one gulden four groschen interest is taken yearly, 
from one bushel of corn a quarter of a bushel/ ~ 

In other districts similar, if not worse, instances 

' The accursed people,' wrote the Marburg judicial 
procurator, Sauwr, in 1593, ' have now another way of 
carrying on usury ; they do not take money for money 
but they lend money on corn, meadows and acres, 
by which means they get at least 15 or 20 gulden 

1 Dahnert, i. 496, 506. 

2 Ibid. iii. 837. 

:t ** 'J know one person,' says Erasmus Sarcerius (1555), ' who exacts 
for a loan of 8 fl., 3 fl. interest, i.e. 2,1^ per cent. ; another who takes 
18 bushels of corn on 24 fi., and a third 5 talers for 30.' See Neumeister, 
' SittUche Zustande im Mansfeldischen,' in the Zeitschr. des Harzvereins, 
XX. 525, note. In Nuremberg, especially in the epoch when the financial 
resources of the repubhc were nearly exhausted, the curse of usury grew in 
the most luxuriant manner. Hence the numerous but fruitless mandates 
and efforts for cutting down the evil at the roots. Equally futile were 
earnest consultations at council boards, as in 1537 and 1565 : ' For 
although papal law forbade usury, the imperial legislation took the 
opposite Une and allowed a certain amount of usury to both Christians 
and Jews.' Knapp, Das alte Nilrnberger Kriminalrecht, p. 250. 


per cent, yearly. And in order that the roguery shall 
not be discovered, they draw up a written statement, 
in which it is made out that distraint is hmited to 
5 per cent, for the creditor." ^ The inspectors of the 
Circle Schliichtern in the county Hanau-Miinzenberg 
reported in 1602 that ' usury was so common that on 
a loan of 20 gulden a cartload of hay was exacted as 
interest.' ^ 

John Mathesius described fourteen different methods 
of practising usury which were in vogue, amongst 
others : ' They either take 10 or 20 gulden a year 
on 100 gulden, or 1 groschen a week, or in Jewish 
fashion 46 groschen a year on 100, without the interest 
on arrears, or else they lend a handicraftsman 20 
gulden, for which he is expected to do all the work 
in the usurer's house.' ^ Zacharias Poleus aired this 
grievance in a tragedy in which he makes the peasants 
complain that besides paying 12 per cent, on loans, 
they have to make presents as well.* The Meissen 
superintendent Gregory Strigenicius wrote in 1598 : ' A 
yearly percentage of 54 thalers and 4 groschen is very 
often taken. The imperial laws allow 5 per cent., 
thus usurers of this sort exact ten times as much as is 
legal, and still pretend to be good Christians.' ^ 

The preacher Bartholomew Ringwalt was able to 
report that on 80 thalers as much as 250 thalers had 
actually been taken. "^ 

In a pamphlet addressed to * the great money- 

^ Sauwr, Preface Bl. B'-. 

" Zeitschrift des Vereins filr hessische Oeschichte und Landeskunde, 
New Series, v. 192, 201. 

^ Postilla prophetica, 222''. '' Palm, Beitrage 121. 

^ Diluvium, 186. '^ Die lautere Wahrheit, 31. 


usurers, the hell- juries, the hell-hounds and wolves, 
&c./ the author exclaims : ' We ought to hold usurers 
in abhorrence ; it would be no wonder if we should spit 
on them in the road. The usurer is rightly treated 
as a murderer, robber, bandit, vagabond, devil's 
associate, we ought indeed rather to deal, eat, drink, 
associate with a Turk or a heathen than with a great 
usurer ; they ought, also, not to be buried with other 
Christians ; it is not too much disgrace for them to be 
buried in the flaying-place.' ^ 

How matters stood in Catholic districts with the 
practice of usury and with the contempt of Church 
laws and commands, is shown by numerous utterances 
of the Jesuit George Scherer. ' Usurious and unlawful con- 
tracts,' so he preached, ' have to such an extent gained 
the upper hand, that neither help nor counsel serve 
any longer against them.^ We preachers are too 

' Der Wucherer Messkram und Jarmarht (1544), Bl. K4''-L. L^. 
Cf. Spiegel des Geitz . . . wider die grewlichen Finantzereien, &c. (written 
in rhyme by a simple layman), Magdeburg, 1586. ** ' Usury,' wrote 
George Engelhart Lohneiss (p. 304), ' has gained head to such an eltent 
that even great and distinguished people are infected with this scandalous 
vice, and we are expected to honour and esteem these usurers more than 
other reputable people ; for princes and lords are their dupes, taken 
captive with such usurious gold that they cannot choose but do what is 
exacted of them. Likewise the land and the people are their Mancipia or 
bond-servants, whom they di-ain and ruin with then- unchristian usury, pre- 
tending all the time to be themselves Christians. When a poor circumcised 
Jew takes a penny interest per week from a gulden, everybody cries out 
murderer. But when an uncircumcised Christian Jew takes from a 
gulden as much as a dreier or a kreuzer, or even a groschen, this 
forsooth must not be called Jewish usury. Item, the poor Jew's small, 
trivial usury sticks in everybody's throat ; they all cry out at him and 
will have him turned out ; but when the Christian Jew takes his 10, 12, 
15 or more per cent, and turns his money over several times in the year, 
nobody thinks of driving him oi;t.' 

- Scherer, Postille, 681^ 


weak against this usury ; we may cry out and write 
against it as long as we will, they care not a jot, but 
go on just the same as ever. But such disobedience 
should not make the preacher weary of lifting his 
voice like a trumpet unceasingly against this Mammon, 
so that he should not, by his silence, constitute himself 
a participator in the sins of others. Whether preaching 
against usury bears fruit or not, the preacher has at any 
rate fulfilled the duty of his office and saved his own 
soul.' ' Like a sin-flood usury has overwhelmed the 
whole world.' ' Through this accursed usury we rob 
our neighbour of house and home and all that he has ; 
the usurer has a wonderful knack of doing this ! Many 
a one lends 1000 gulden, but only pays 500 in cash, and 
pays this in money of such sort that the borrower must 
lose upon it ; the other 500 he pays back in damaged 
wares, priced at the highest, in rotten cloth, in unsound 
credit notes, in glutinous wine, in hmping horses, and 
so forth ; in this way he makes up the full sum and 
sticks on to it 8 per cent, profit. Is not this an un- 
christian and deviHsh kind of usury ? ' ' Common 
thieves are not at all times employed in stealing, but 
only occasionally at night-time or else in a secret 
hidden manner ; they, moreover, ashamed of their 
robberies, go about with downcast eyes, and daie not 
look anyone cheerfully in the face ; but the usurer- 
thieves rob and steal both by day and by night, their 
hoards increase every hour and they take less rest 
than a weathercock. They do it all openly and without 
any shame and consort daily with great princes and 
lords, sit in grand offices and wear golden chains. 
Yea, verily, these big thieves often condemn the small 
ones to be hung, just as if only common stealing was 


forbidden and not miicli more open robbery and usury.* 
By stern imperial laws the Jews had been forbidden 
the practice of usury, ' but the Christians of the present 
day far outstrip the Jews in putting the knife on Christian 
throats : those Jews who, years ago, w^ere bound to 
wear yellow rings on their clothes/ ^ 

But ' with the Christians,' says another Cathohc 
preacher in 1585, ' as many worldly wiseacres say, we 
must deal very softly when it is a question of usurers 
and usurious contracts and investments ; it 's only the 
Jews that we must abuse, trample under foot, spit on 
as enemies of God and man. With your leave, my good 
sir and Christian usurer, I hold that baptised Jews 
deserve far worse and dire punishment than the 
unbaptised ones, and that the godless vice of usury, 
which has passed from the Jews to the Christians, is 
practised more zealously by the latter than by the 

* By this,' the preacher goes on, ' I do not mean in 
any way to exonerate the usurious Jews who will not 
work, but are only intent in scratching together im- 
moderate gains by the most iniquitous ways ; for these 
men diabohcally fleece the poor, inexperienced, neces- 
sitous Christian people, artisans and peasants, and 
understand how in an equally masterly way to draw 
into their nets the frivolous portion of the higher classes, 
bent only on money-making, display, and extravagant 
spending. The universal complaint of usury and other 
injurious deahngs of the Jews is well-founded, no less 
than is the outcry against careless and suspicious high 
lords and rulers, who look on calmly at the despoihng 

' Drey undcrschiedUche Predigten, 22, 27, 31-33, 44-45, 47. 


of the people by the Jews, as though it were all lawful, 
and let it go unpunished, or actually row in the same 
boat as the Jews/ 

* But that the Jews should be driven out, as many 
wish, I consider unnecessary. If they could be brought 
to conform to the laws of the empire, that is to work 
and earn their bread by honest trades, and to carry on 
at the public free fairs and yearly markets upright 
commerce and deahngs such as the laws of the empire 
do not forbid, and if they would be content with the 
interest allowed them by the empire — 5 per cent, and 
no more — we might suffer them to dwell among the 
Christians as a people dispersed by the judgment of God. 
But who will see to it that all this is carried out ? So 
little supervision has there been hitherto that the Jews 
are lazier miscreants at the present day than ever 
before, they take interest up to 40, 60, 80, and even 
more, per cent., and have the audacity to do things 
which were strictly forbidden by Charles V. and the 
Imperial Estates in the Eecess at Augsburg in 1530, and 
again most emphatically in the years 1548 and 1577, 
in the following words : " Whereas in some places in the 
empire of the German nation the Jews carry on usury, 
and not only borrow on heavy bonds, securities and 
special mortgages, but also lend money on stolen goods 
and through such practices oppress and impoverish the 
poor, needy and unwary people more than anyone can 
calculate ; we herewith do decree, ordain and insist 
that by nobody in the Holy Empire shall Jews who 
practise usury be housed, fed or dealt with, that also 
in this empire these same Jews shall have neither 
protection, nor safe conduct, and that in no courts of 
justice shall claims for their usurious profits be upheld. 


Any people who tolerate Jews in their niidst must 
control them in such manner as to ensure their abstaining 
from usury and usurious deahng, and earning their 
hvehhood by suitable labour and handicraft, just as all 
rulers do with their own subjects for the common 
good." Thus the laws prescribed. Nevertheless what 
we see before our eyes and learn from daily ex- 
perience is exactly the opposite, and hence arises 
the inveterate hatred of the people towards the Jews, 
and their desire to see them ruthlessly driven out of all 
lands.' 1 

Thus, for instance, the Bavarian Provincial Ordinance 
of 1553 decreed that ' Jews were no longer to be allowed 
to dwell or to carry on any dealings in the principality 
of Bavaria ; no subject was to enter into any contract 
or business with a Jew either within or without the 
country : if any subjects contracted debts to Jews 
through buying, lending or selling, the debts would 
fall to the exchequer." ^ 

In the Tyrol, where frequent complaints were also 
uttered that the poor subjects were indebted to the 
Jews for many thousands of gulden, the Jews were, it 

' A useful and well-grounded sermon and admonition against the 
avarice and usury of the present world, compiled from the Holy Scriptures 
and Catholic teaching by William Sartorius, chaplain at Ingolstadt 
(1585), pp. 5, 8, 9. The imj)erial laws on Jewish usury of the years 1530, 
1548, 1551, 1577 in the new collection of the Imperial Recess, ii. 342, 
No. 27 ; 599, No. 21 ; 622, §§ 78-79 ; and iii. 383-390, No. 20. ** The 
towTi of Ehingen received in 1559 the privilege to forbid any Jew 
from buying land or lending money upon it. Charles V. had already 
in 1548 conferred a similar privilege on the manorial lord of the lordships 
of Ehingen, Schelklingen, and Berg, Conrad von Bemelberg. According 
to this writ no burghers were to have any dealings with Jews, or to 
borrow from them : if they did the borrowed money was to be forfeited. 
Schniid in the Histor.-Jahrb., xvii. 91. 

- Bayerische Landesordnung, fol. 167, 169. 


is true, driven out of certain localities, but to a general 
expulsion of the race Archduke Ferdinand II. and his 
government would not agree. Supposing such a measure 
were adopted, said the Government in 1570, it would be 
necessary for the Jews, before their departure, to be 
repaid what was owing to them by the subjects, and 
this would be impossible ; besides which the banished 
people would very soon again effect their return, and if 
they were to settle down in the neighbouring territories 
of foreign lords they might cause even greater evil. If 
only the Jews, it had been said already in an earlier 
manifesto of the Government of 1558, would work hke 
other people, desist from their vihfications of the 
Christian rehgion, and abstain from usury, there would 
be no objection to their being tolerated in the country. 
An attempt was made to protect the subjects in some 
measure against ' usurious contracts ' by intensifying 
the regulations against Jewish usury by compelhng the 
Jews to settle their loan af^^airs before the magistrates 
and forbidding them to sell their notes of hand to 

' Usurious contracts,' however, were not concluded 
by Jews only. When Sigmund of Welsberg was 
required to send the Jews out of his lordship, Telvana 
in South Tyrol, he answered : ' Certainly the Jews 
take from 20-40 per cent., but the Christians also 
ask 20 per cent, and many more people are driven 
out of house and home by them than by the Jews ; 
for none but movable goods are pledged to the Jews, 
whereas the Christians are also assessed on their 
houses and property and that for very trifling 
debts.' In Bregenz 20-30 per cent, was frequently 
exacted ; one merchant in Rattenberg in the year 


1584 was paid 4 gulden interest a week on 100 
gulden. 1 

In the archbishopric of Mayence, the xirchbishop 
Sebastian von Heusenstamm (1545-1555) on the strength 
of the imperial legislation had ordered all the Jews out 
of his diocese and had strictly charged them and his 
subjects on pain of severe penalty to abstain in future 
from buying, lending, and so forth by usurious contracts ; 
however, ' the unattached Jews Uving under alien 
authorities,' so wrote Archbishop Daniel Brendel, of 
Homburg, in 1558, ' troubled themselves no whit about 
this injunction, but continued to lead the poor simple 
subjects into irrevocable ruin/ The archbishop renewed 
the orders ; renewed them again in 1577, in 1579 
ordered all the Jews to be driven out of the Rheingau, 
but all these ' strenuous measures ' were just as futile 
as those of Archbishop Wolfgang von Dalberg decreed 
in 1583 ' under pain of severe punishment/ In 1605 
the interest exacted by the Jews rose to the height of 
20-25 per cent., and their debtors were over and 
above this expected to ' be ready with honorariums.' ^ 

Similar conditions were found to prevail in Protestant 
districts, and among the Protestants, indeed, the 
* ingrained hatred of the people for the Jews was most 
loudly voiced, a hatred chiefly fostered by a variety of 
pubHcations in which the Protestants derided the Jews 
and not infrequently attributed to them the worst of 
crimes, poisoning fountains, especially ritual murders. ^ 

1 Hirn, i. 424-425, 444. 

' Fuller details are given by K. A. Schaab, Diplomatische GescMchte 
der Juden zu Mainz und dessen Umgebung (Mainz, 1855), p. 177 flf. 

^ See L. Geiger, ' Die Juden und die deutsche Literatur,' in the 
Zeitschr. jiir die GescMchte der Juden in Dezdschland, vol. ii. 297-374. 
John Fischart, also, in 1575, directed a disgusting satirical poem against 


' What things are coming to in Germany no one 
knows/ said the Lutheran preacher, Jodokus Ehrhardt, 
in 1558, ' but one hears everywhere, nowadays, nothing 
but complaints of inordinate sins and vices of all sorts, 
of ruin of trade and commerce, of impoverishment on 
the one hand and luxury and extravagance on the other, 
till the last groschen has flown from the pocket, but not 
a single complaint is so common, amongst high and low, 
theologians, preachers, scholars, and indeed all classes 
of society, as that concerning the usury of the Jews, 
those blasphemers of Grod and enemies of Christ, those 
stinking, gnawing leeches who, wherever they creep in, 
suck the life-blood of the Christians and drive them out 
of house and hom.e into beggary. Whatever measures 
are taken against these most harmful worms and 
blood-suckers are all fruitless. Therefore it would be 
well if in all places they were proceeded with as Father 
Luther advised and enjoined when, amongst other 
things, he wrote : " Let their synagogues and schools 
be set on fire, and let who can throw brimstone and 
pitch into the flames ; if anyone could throw in fire from 
hell it would be good indeed ; and whatever will not 
burn let it be heaped over with earth and kept covered 
up that no human being may see a stone or a brick of it 
to all eternity. Likewise let their houses be pulled down 

the Jews. See our remarks, vol. xi. 374 ff. See similar vehement 
diatribes against the Jews in Olorinus Variscus (preacher John Sommer 
of Zwickau), Geldtklage, 415-446. ' It is very instructive,' says Geiger, 369, 
' to note how in the attitude of the writers and the nation towards the 
Jews, the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries differed from each other. 
Hatred enough existed in the first of these two centuries ; of outbursts 
of hatred there was no lack ; nevertheless the general tone is milder.' 
Geiger refers especially in proof of this to the utterances of Trithemius, 
quoted by us in vol. ii. 91, 97, 101 f. 



and destroyed, and let them all squat under sheds or 
tents like the gypsies, that they may learn that they are 
not lords in our land. Further, the Jews must be 
deprived of all right of thoroughfare in the streets, for 
they have nothing to do in this country. If the lords and 
the princes do not interdict such usurers free passage of 
the streets by law, they may gather together in a mob, 
for they will learn out of my book what the Jews are 
and how we ought to deal with them, having no regard 
to the safety of their persons. They must be forbidden 
usury of every kind, and all their ready money and their 
treasures in silver and gold must be taken from them, 
and put aside to be preserved, for all that they possess 
they have stolen from us by usury, which is the only 
way they have of getting a hvelihood. I hear it said 
that the Jews give large sums of money and are thus 
useful to the lordships. Yes, indeed, but out of whose 
pockets do they give these sums ? Not out of their own, 
but out of those of the lordships and the subjects, 
whom they rob and plunder by usury. And so it comes 
to this, that the lordships take from the subjects what 
the Jews give them : i.e. the subjects must let themselves 
be fleeced for the Jews in order that the latter may be 
able to remain in the country, and be free to lie, cheat, 
curse and thieve. Hov/ those villainous Jews must 
laugh in their sleeves to see how disgracefully we let 
ourselves be fooled by them ! They all the time growing 
rich on our sweat and blood, whilst we are poor and 
drained to the dregs. They fleece us to the bones, the 
lazy rascals and idle curmudgeons ; they eat, drink and 
have good times in our houses, and in return they curse 
our Lord Christ, our churches, our princes, and all of 
us ; threaten us with and wish us death and all disaster 


without ceasing. God's wrath is so great against them, 
that mercy and pity only make them worse and 'worse, 
while severity makes them very Httle better, therefore 
again I say, away with them/' Such were the true and 
wise injunctions which the God-enhghtened Father 
Luther gave, and things would have been far better and 
more Christian in German lands if his advice had been 
followed. But the Jews and the Jews' friends, with 
their monies and their presents and their loans to princes 
and lords in their necessity, have known how to evade 
all difficulties and turn everything to their own advan- 
tage, so that we Christians are still continuously drained 
and plundered by the Jews and their usury, and are 
now httle better than servants and slaves to them, 
simply because they were not treated as Luther advised, 
who had such fatherly intentions towards us Germans. 
And even now, in order that at last things may grow 
better, every prince and ruler ought to take to heart and 
follow Luther's advice and admonition.' ^ 

' Ehrliardt, Bl. A- — B. Luther's Bedencken und Vermahnungen 
enjoyed great esteem among the Protestant theologians. Lucas Osiander 
the Elder, in 1598, sent Luther's 8hemhamphoras to Duke Frederick 
of Wiirtemberg, in support of his petition for the expulsion of all Jews 
from the land. (Moser's Patriot. Archiv., ix. 266.) With the same object 
in view, the theological faculty at Giessen, in 1612, had Luther's utterances 
reprinted. {Theolog. Bedencken, 8-14.) When in 1538 the Jew question 
was eagerly discussed in Hessian government circles, the Landgrave 
Philip appealed to his court theologians for advice. Bucer drew up a 
memorandum which was signed at Cassel, in 1539, by himself and six 
Hessian preachers. In this memorandum (printed in Bucer's pamphlet. 
Von den Juden, [Strasburg, 1539]) the question is discussed from 
a religious and an economic point of view. There could only be 
one true religion, it was argued, and therefore ' contradictory and false 
reUgions must be most severely punished and in no way tolerated. Kings, 
princes and towns could not be condemned for not tolerating Jews in 
their midst and for finally driving them out.' If, however, any rulers 
wished to show the Jews tolerance, ' they must subject them to various 

E 2 


In like strain spoke also the Hessian Superintendent, 
George Nigrinus, in 1570 : ' God the Lord had decreed 
that the Jews should be " a bye- word and a mockery 
among all nations/' Thence it followed undeniably that 

restrictions ; for instance, the authorities must most firmly insist that the 
Jews shall not erect any fresh synagogues.' In economic respects Bucer 
declares that every ruler is bound to see to it : ' I. — ^That the Jews shall 
nowhere lend money to anyone on usury. II. — That all traflfic in old 
goods, and all mercantile deaUngs shaU be forbidden them. For so long 
as they consider that they have the right to defraud us and to get unlawful 
possession of what belongs to us, as though according to the meaning of 
their law, they were to be our lords and we their servants, they will always 
contrive to get the better of Christians in any business dealings they may 
have with them. III. — Has not the Lord uttered this threat against the 
Jews (Deut. 28, v. 43, 44), " The stranger that is within thee shaU get 
above thee very high ; and thou shalt come down very low. He shall 
lend to thee, and thou shalt not lend to him ; he shall be the head and 
thou shalt be the tail " ? This divine threat our rulers must fulfil against 
the Jews, and not set themselves uj) to be more merciful than Mercy itself, 
God the Lord, although it is indeed no mercifulness but rather unmerci- 
fulness to spare the wolves to the injuiy of the sheep, the poor, pious 
Chi'istians. They must, therefore, in such wise treat the Jews, accoi'ding 
to God's righteous and merciful judgment, that they may not be above 
but below the Chiistians, that they may be the tail and not the head. 
For the Jews, in their unbeUef and scorn of Christ, together with the blood 
of the Lord, of his beloved apostles and of so many martyrs, which by 
their own wish and by the just judgment of God stUl cUngs to them, 
ought to be made to suffer severely under godly rulers. Now, however, 
they are able to boast (and it is not a boast, but a fact) that they are 
our lords and we their servitors, and not the other way round as God 
has decreed. For tlu-ough their advantageous lending, buying and 
seUing they get everything away from us and ours, while they themselves 
parade in idleness and arrogance with the sweat of our people, and of 
almost the poorest among them. They comport themselves also in such a 
manner that neither they nor their children wiU do any domestic service 
for us, though often enough our people become their servants ; for they 
can always find among om- people some who wiU light their fires, cook, 
scrub, and do other work for them on their Sabbath. And if in any places 
they should still be allowed to carry on usury, and only the selling old 
goods and trading should be forbidden them, seeing how clever and 
cumiing they are, how unscrupulous and unconscientious in fore- 
stalling and outwitting us, thinking verily that they are doing God a 


it was not right to encourage and protect them in such 
a way that they could carry on unhindered all their 
abominable usury, fleecing and secondhand-deaHng, 
living idle lives in luxury and arrogance on the sweat of 

service, they will without a shadow of doubt so manage that they will 
soon be above us and not below us, the head and not the tail. Therefore 
no Christian I'ulers, to whom religion and good policy are dear, must allow 
these enemies of Christ, the Jews, to carry on any mercantile business 
or to trade in old goods. IV. — Furthermore they must not even throw 
open to them those more respectable and profitable handicrafts in which 
the value of the work depends on the probity and skill of the worker, 
but must keep them down to the very lowest and least profitable kinds 
of work, such as mining, digging, making ramparts, chopping wood and 
stone, burning chalk, sweeping chimneys, cleaning out drains, flaying, 
butchering, and so forth. For, as has already been said, the curse has 
been laid on them by the merciful Lord God, that with the nations among 
whom they dwell they shall be the lowest and the tail, and treated with 
the greatest hardship.' At the end of this memorandum the preachers 
wrote as follows : ' We the undersigned preachers unanimously recognise 
this statement as clear in itself, as truly Christian, and in accordance with 
Divine Writ ; thus we are all of one mind on the question of law. But, 
as to the question of fact, whether it is advisable to tolerate the Jews 
any longer in the principality of Hesse, the preachers who live in the 
country cannot feel any confidence that the conditions and regulations 
herewith laid down from divine and imperial laws will be fulfilled ; con- 
trariwise, in view of all the circumstances of the government and also of 
the Jews' cunning bribes and intrigues, they are compelled to fear that if 
the Jews are retained here any longer it will bring certain peril to 
religion and to the sustenance of the poor, and insure profit to no one. 
Accordingly we recognise and conclude that it would be better and more 
profitable, as matters now stand in the principality, not to tolerate the 
Jews any longer.' The Landgrave, meanwhile, showed himself more 
lenient towards the Jews than his court theologians. He issued a manifesto 
to the officials of Cassel, in which the advice of the preachers was dis- 
regarded. A few days later the princely manifesto, as well as the 
theologians' memorandum, found its way into the hands of the Jews, 
who were naturally infuriated with the intolerant preachers. In order 
to pay off the latter they forthwith published their memorandum with 
the Landgrave's answer ; they also extolled the tolerance of the Catholic 
Church as opposed to the intolerance of the evangelical parsons. Paulus, 
Die Judenfrage und die hessischen Prediger in der Reformationszeit. 
Katholik, 1891, i. 317-324. 


the poor, yea, verily, of tlie poorest of the Christians. 
They ought, according to God's judgment and ordinance, 
which he laid on them as a special punishment, to be 
kept to service and manual labour, so that they might be 
reminded of their abominable sins. They complain 
bitterly that they are poor, captive people, and utter 
this complaint daily in their prayers, as though they 
were hindered by Christ from returning to their own 
land. But whatever devil has brought them into this 
land, let him take them out of it again. All the roads 
are open to them ; who keeps them back ? How often 
have they not been driven out by force, and yet we 
cannot get rid of them. Would God that all rulers 
would imitate God's wrath and expel them by force from 
the land, or else keep them in subjection and service 
as they themselves kept the Gibeonites and other 
peoples.' If the rulers will not drive them out with their 
odious usury, ' it would be better to allot them a desert 
place to themselves, a village or a hamlet where they 
might build and work for their hving like other people ; 
this would be far better than keeping them here and there 
amongst our poor people to suck their hf e-blood. If they 
dwelt alone and were obliged to support themselves by 
their own labour they would have to forego a great deal 
of self-gratification, like other peasants, and would not 
be able to ride the high horse as if they were nobles.' i 

The theological faculty at Giessen, which republished 
this memorandum in 1612, also invoked the wrath of 
God on all those who befriended the Jews. ' It is well 
known,' they said, ' that in human and divine justice 
alike the Jews are bound to render all service, obedience 

' Theolog. Bedencken, 21-27 ; cf. Goedeke, Orundriss, ii. 506, No. 2, 
Geiger, 338-339, in the article quoted above, p. 48, n. 3. 


and submissiveness to the Christians as the rightful 
bond-servants and vassals of the latter, and it is 
therefore contrary to divine and worldly justice that 
a Jew should in any way whatever hold his head above 
a Christian, or in the least degree show the latter scorn 
or cause him annoyance. It cannot therefore but be 
a very great scandal for a Christian to be constrained 
and coerced on account of a Jew, especially for the 
sake of vile, filthy, usurious lucre, and the rulers ought 
rather to execute divine and human justice against 
the Jews/ The Jews had scandalously abused the 
privileges accorded them by the imperial laws : * they 
ought not to be allowed to maintain their synagogues, 
they must be kept to all sorts of menial work, and 
they must be taught a Httle manners, so that they 
might learn that they were not lords but bond-servants/ 
' Above all, the Jews must be debarred from their 
accursed usury ; for it is undeniable that by it they 
transform themselves into rich gentlemen, while the 
Christians on the other hand are kept down by them 
and reduced to direst poverty, &c., &c. No, no, my 
good friends, the laudable emperors have not given you 
any freedom to practise your insolent villainies, your 
poisoning, your overweening, inhuman mercilessness, 
injustice and blood-sucking against the Christians/ ^ 

The court preacher, Lucas Osiander, had spoken no 
less strongly in 1598. ' The Jews,' he said, ' are an 
accursed race, rejected and anathematised by God ; 
they are the devil's bond-servants in body and in soul/ 
' Wherever they install themselves in a country they 
ruin the poor subjects by their usury and other such 
deahngs, and bring them to beggary. AVhen they 

^ Theolog, Bedencken, 2-8. 


give bargains to the people from whom they expect 
to benefit, and even make them presents, it is all done 
at the expense of the poor subjects, whom they fleece 
unmercifully, and whosoever is led by them does not 
soon " find himself on a green branch again/' They 
have, for instance, a good place at the Rottweil court 
of justice, whose heavy sentences of ban and exile 
reduce their debtors to utter ruin/ 

Accordingly he admonished Duke Frederick of 
Wiirtemberg that ' if a ruler wished to see his poor sub- 
jects grow poorer and poorer and finally lose all their 
goods and chattels, he had only to consent to this ac- 
cursed race setthng in his territory. ' Chri stian evangelical 
lords, he said, who had been well reformed, ' had driven 
out the Jews and never let them come back again.' ^ 

The preacher Eberlin of Giinzburg, in his funeral 
sermon on Count George II. of Wertheim (flSSO), praised 
this prince because ' he had rescued his subjects from 
the great land plague of Jewish usury, by which so 
many people were ruined and driven to beggary.' - 

The Calvinist Elector Frederick III. of the Palatinate 
would also not tolerate Jews in his dominion, and 
directed his successors, in his will, to keep them for 
ever out of the Palatinate, not only because they were 
' notorious despoilers of the poor subjects, land plagues, 
traitors and dangerous practitioners,' but also, which 
was the worst part of it, because ' they were blas- 
phemers of God and avowed enemies of our Kedeemer, 
and of all those who honoured and confessed His 
name.'" ' But in spite of banishment and prohibition 

' Moser, Patriotisches Archiv, ix. 257-266. 

- Cf. A. Kaufinann in the Archiv des histor. Vereins fur Unterfranken 
und Aschaffenburg, xx. 9-10. 

^ Kluckhohn, Friedrich der Fromme, 387. 


of trading with Christians, the Jews/ said the revised 
Palatine provincial ordinance of 1599, ' continue as before 
to practise usury to the injury of the inhabitants/ J 

In Wiirtemberg Duke Ulrich had aheady, in 1536, 
issued a command for the expulsion of the Jews, ' those 
gnawing, mischievous worms ' ; ' but all the same they 
forced their way back again, so that Duke Christopher 
endeavoured to prevail on the Imperial Estates to 
expel them once for all from the whole empire. ^ Simul- 
taneously with Osiander, in 1598, the Wiirtemberg 
Provincial Estates petitioned the patron of the Jews, 
Duke Frederick, to free them from those ' gnawing 
worms/ '^ 

Osiander considered the Jews all the more dangerous 
because they were magicians, and as such associates 
and servants of the devil. •'^ 

' It is precisely through these magic arts of theirs," 
said the preacher Jodokus Ehrhardt to his congregation, 
' that the Jews have so much luck with their usury 
and are able to bring the common people, the princes, 
and the great lords, all alike into their nets ; for the 
devil helps them as his faithful lovers, servants and 
associates, till they have bewitched the Christians 
and got them into their power with their usury and 
other practices." ^ 

Henry Schroder of Weissenburg had even fuller 
details to give about them. ' The Jews," he declared 
in 1613, ' are the agents of the devil." ' These blas- 
phemers and enemies of Christian blood have among 
their Rabbis some who can compel the devil to bring 

^ Neumann, Gesch. des Wivchers, 334. - Reyscher, xii. 112, 

^ Sattler, Herzoge von Wiirttemberg, iv. 132. 

* Moser, Patriotisches ArcMv, ix. 274-286. 

^ In the passage quoted above, note 1, p. 56. '^ Ehrhardt, Bl. B^. 


them a little wooden or stone image, and whoever 
wears this image on his neck, to him no ruler can 
refuse a request, or show any disfavour. By this 
means they get to know who has money and where 
money is to be raised. So that at all times they are 
the people who find the cash for lords and princes. 
Thus they gain favour in court ; one such princely 
digger for devil's hoards may have about him a thou- 
sand Jews, all intent upon fleecing men, filing coins, 
forging seals. And all this goes on unpunished ; it 
is the work of the necromancer, the devil who is their 
lord protector. With the help of the devil they 
spirit away all our good luck when we have any 
dealings with them; they bewitch those who borrow 
from them so that they are unable to pay back, 
till the interest has grown larger than the sum 
borrowed/ ^ ' But however much,' says Jodokus 
Ehrhardt, 'people may attribute to the magic 
arts of the Jews, if they want to know for what reasons, 
in spite of their fleecing of the people, they obtain 
so much favour and promotion with princes, counts 
and nobles, let me tell them that the chief of these 
reasons is that these great lords are deeply in debt to 
the Jews, and that without their help they could not 
hold their heads above water : this is universally known ; 
I abstain, out of respect for the kings and princes, from 
mentioning, as I could, many by name among whom it 
is well known that this sort of thing is lamentably 
common.' ' And consequently in the territories of 
these rulers the Jews can grub and burrow, and drain 
and cheat the poor subjects as much as they hke.' ^ 

1 Scheible, S^haltjahr, v. 216, 219-220. 

2 Ehrhardt, Bl. W. 


Detailed information comes to us from many 

Thus, for instance, Melchior of Ossa, at the close of 
the Middle Ages Statthalter to Count WilHam of Henne- 
berg, reports : ' The little country is full of Jews who 
cruelly and grievously oppress the poor subjects. They 
enjoy more protection and favour and more privileged 
access to the Count William than do the councillors or 
honourable and distinguished personages.' All in vain 
did Ossa represent to the Count that ' Rulers were bound 
to protect their subjects against ruin, and that he would 
have a heavy reckoning with God for having counten- 
anced the Jews in practising such excessive usury : one 
Jew alone at Untermaasfeld, near the fortress of Henne- 
berg, had more than 500 peasants under his thumb 
who were obliged to pay him usurious interest.' Worse 
things still were told of the Jews of Meiningen and 
Schleusingen ; uninvited they dared present themselves 
in the Count's bedchamber, and, a thing unheard of in 
the empire, they were allowed to purchase hereditary 
property. In vain also, at Ossa's request, did the 
Provincial Estates intervene. Count William declared 
that he would stand by his hounds and his Jews against 
the whole world. Ossa concludes his report with the 
words ' God have pity on us ! ' ^ 

A synod in Cassel com.plained bitterly in 1589 of the 
Jews ' who were chiefly instrumental in keeping the nobles 
above water.' Squire Werner of Gilsa is said to have 
declared openly before a whole community that he would 
hke to see the village of Zimmersrode burnt to the 
ground, and he would then give all the acres and meadows 
into the hands of Jews only. ' The people were brought 

' von Langenn, M. von Ossa, 151-152. 


to such extremity by the Jews that on Sunday and 
on high Christian festivals they were obhged during 
service time to brew their beer, kill their cattle and 
commit field robberies for them/ ^ 

' The poor Christians/ it was elsewhere complained, 
' are obliged to do everything for the Jews that the 
latter exact of them. And this for no other reason 
than that they are so terribly in debt to the Jews with 
high, usurious interest and compound interest that 
frequently they have httle or nothing that they can call 
their own. Often and often the fruits of the field are 
promised to the Jews long before they are garnered in, 
and how much is left for the poor peasants themselves 
and their wives and children ? Tell me, I pray, how 
much cattle of their own do the peasants possess in those 
places where Jews are settled ? Does it not all, or 
almost all, belong to the Jews ? And those of the nobles 
who, being themselves indebted to the Jews, are their 
friends and abettors, allow all this to go on unpunished, 
do not protect the poor man on his land against the devil 
of usury, as they ought in justice to do, but, far from it, 
go on giving the Jews protection and support when the 
government of the land has ordered their expulsion.' ^ 

When in the margraviate of Ansbach-Bayreuth, in 
1558, stringent orders were issued that any Jew setting 
foot in the land without a safe-conduct should be an 
outlaw, and any money due to him by the subjects 
should be forfeited, the Jews estabhshed themselves 
firmly among the nobles, until in 1582 another princely 
edict was issued enjoining that without further ado 
they were to be expelled from all the lands of the 

' Zeilschr. filr hessische Gesch. und Landeskunde, vi. 312-314. 
- Ehrhardt, Bl. B^ 


nobles. Hatred of the Jews was so intense in the 
margraviate that in the tax-roll they were dehberately 
placed below the cattle ; at public tribunals they were 
rated and scolded hke unbeheving Chaldaeans and 
heathen, and an oath from a Jew was not recognised 
' because they had no souls and no God/ ^ ' The Jews 
are enemies of God and of His Son/ said the Bayreuth 
Superintendent-General, Christopher Schleupner, in 
1612, to the Margravine Maria, warning her earnestly 
against showing favour to and ' admitting into the 
country the accursed land- destroying Jews.' ' The curse 
of God,' he said, ' followed these outcast people and laid 
all houses and lands waste ; they were assassins who 
put to death emperors, kings, electors and princes, and 
had not even spared the highly laudable, princely house 
of Brandenburg ; they practised unutterable usury, as 
indeed was known from the calculations made by learned 
people in pamphlets showing that those who exact two 
pfennig a week on one gulden in twenty years with 
one florin, do the Christians out of 51,854 florins, 
13 schillings and 3J pfennig.'- 

But in this quotation Schleupner was at fault. 
He no doubt based his statement on the ' Table of calcu- 
lated rates of usury published in the same year by the 
Giessen theological faculty, showing what amount one 
gulden at fifteen batzen interest will reahse in twenty 
years, with the capital added in.' This table was taken 
from a little book written in 1531 ' as a warning to the 
Christians against the usury of the Jews.' It says, for 
instance : ' Two Frankfort pennies a week for one gulden 
produces interest as follows : in the first year, 11 

^ Lang, iii. 316-318. * Kraussold, 241-245. 


schillings, 5 pfennig ; in the next year, 1 gulden, 4 schilhngs, 
and 6 hellers ; in the third- year, 2 gulden, 6 schilhngs ; 
... in the twelfth year, 110 gulden, 18 schillings, 
6 hellers; ... in the twentieth year, 2592 gulden, 
17 schillings, 4 hellers. Item, 20 florins in twenty 
years according to this calculation, 51,854 florins, 
3 sch., 6 J hellers.' ^ Thus Schleupner gave the 
interest calculated on twenty florins as that of one 

Among the people such reckless statements as 
this must have contributed to raise their hatred of 
the Jews to the pitch of which Ehrhardt says ' in 
every single Jew they saw nothing but the devil 
incarnate.' ^ 

' The devilish practice of the Jews with usury ' 
amounted fully to four hellers a week for one gulden. ^ 
This, however, would be more bearable if they were not 
allowed so much other sort of fleecing. ' They are 
suffered to have a hand in every kind of trade and 
industry, and to rob the Christians in every possible 
manner, as we see daily before our eyes in all the places 
where they have intruded themselves.'^ 

Phihp von AUendorf had already complained on this 
score in 1535 in his poem *Der Juden Badstub'; in 
earher times the Jews had only been allowed to practise 
usury with money ; now, however, there was not a single 
trade left of which they had not become possessed ; 
they did business in wine, corn, hnen, woollen goods, 

1 Theolog. Bedencken, 28. 2 Ehrhardt, Bl. C. 

^ At Nuremberg, in 1618, a pubHc pawnhouse was erected for the 
protection of the needy burghers who were obhged to give the Jews a 
weekly payment of three hellers out of every gulden. Siebenkees, iv. 

' Ehrhardt, Bl. C-. 


velvet, silk, spices, &c. ' They were the largest traders 
in the land/ 

So tight they now put on the screws, 
We Christians slaves are to the Jews, 
A heart of stone it eke might touch 
That they should harry us so much, 
That they should screw us down so tight 
And no one dare improve our pUght. 

In Germany, as in their Promised Land, they were 
freer than any people in Christendom/ In a ' comedy ' 
known already at the beginning of the sixteenth century, 
and called 'Das Wohlgesprochene Urteil eines weib- 
lichen Stiidenten ' or ' der Jud von Venedig,"' the Jews 
are blamed because, however narrow were the limita- 
tions imposed on their trade and business, they never- 
theless spread themselves so far around that they not 
only got into their hands, by their usury, the property 
of many nobles and commoners, but also poached on 
royal preserves, 'getting their fingers in' to royal 
regaha, taxes and revenues. * Naked and empty they 
must be driven out, then the land would be free from 
such vermin, and the subjects would no longer depend 
more on lending and borrowing than on handicraft 
and industry/ ~ 

But ' however thick we may pile it on the Jews,' 
says a leaflet of the year 1590, ' is it not almost laughable, 
if it were not tragic ? Who is it who lets them thus 
traffic without shame or scruple? Who helps them? 
Who is there who can do without them ? Who without 

' Der Juden Badstvh. ' Ein anzeygung jrer mannigfeltigen, sched- 
lichen Hendel zur Warnung aUen Christen ' (1535), Bl. B. l\ C. 2, 4. In the 
years 1604 and 1611 the poem was reprinted ; cf. Goedeke, Grundriss, ii. 
281, No. 30. 

^ Meissner, Die englischen Komodianten in Oesterreich (Vienna, 1884), 
pp. 132, 133 ; cf. 106. 


their help could fleece the poor peasants down to the 
very marrow, as has now become the custom ? ' 

The Jew's guilt is a score, 

The Christian's ten times more.^ 

The way in which economic conditions ' in life, 
trade and business,' had shaped themselves is graphic- 
ally depicted in a ' serious admonition to the whole of 
evangelical Germany ' of the year 1616. ' We make 
war upon and exhaust the poor people daily, we take 
presents and usury from them, and we not only suffer 
that the Jews and the Christians should ruin each other, 
but we actually lend the Jews money ourselves in order 
to secure their help in draining the life-blood from 
our poor fellow-Christians. What has been the result 
of God's training during so many years by the en- 
lightening evangel ? What has God's goodness and 
long-suffering produced ? It has verily brought up 
wolves which bite and devour the poor people.' 

' The tremendous Jewish extortions proceed from 
idleness which, in the towns especially, has gained the 
upper hand. For the fruits of idleness are essentially 
lounging, gambling, extravagance in dress and house- 
keeping, making a fine display, whence follow all sorts 
of artful devices and tricks for getting hold of money. 
Now, when in town and country the young are thus 
brought up and instructed, what can be hoped for when 
these young people have grown to maturity ? The 
Jews are their schoolmasters, godless usurious people 
are their fathers and closest friends.' 

' We look at each other and ask : how comes it to 
pass that there is thus no money among the people ? 

1 Judenspiess und Christenspiess, *bya simple but thoughtful layman ' 
(1590), p. 2. 


What is the reason why everything is so dear ? It 
comes in very great measure from the fact that we have 
an inordinate number of idhng financiers and extortion- 
ers among us, who do no useful work of any sort, but 
amass enormous gains with very httle capital by follow- 
ing the usurious practices of the Jews and other usurious 
Christians. Money goes out of the land to buy silk, 
velvet, passementerie and costly wares, also foreign 
wine and all sorts of lickerish, new and rare spices. 
And nobody consumes these things in greater excess 
and superfluity than these said idle usurers, extortion- 
ers, pensioners, and people living on their rents, Jews 
and Jews' associates.' 

By reason of these capitalists living on unearned 
incomes, the working people became reduced to regular 
bond-service. 'Every working man in his particular 
calhng was obliged to labour and pay for such people 
as well as for the Jews themselves. Since people need 
money, they are obliged to run after these extortioners, 
because no other means are at hand. In this way our 
Christian Jews, by dint of bills and writs, appropriate 
the houses and goods of the poor ; they sweat and 
bleed them to death : a murder in the eyes of God. 
For all who are tributary and, as it were, holding a 
feof must hang on to their lords, must think, speak 
and do whatever their feudal lord or squire dictates 
or wishes. Thereby freedom is lost, votes are sold, 
and servitude more oppressive than of yore is entered." 

' Still more lamentable is it that when the father 
dies and the poor widows and orphans are left, the oppres- 
sion, blood-sucking and extortion attain their climax ; 
the poor bereaved families are driven to beggary or 
even to the grave — and all this, forsooth, must not be 



called murder. Do we imagine that the righteous God 
will not take vengeance when such rack-renters and 
Judaizers great and small make the poor man's poverty 
even more crushing, increase misery beyond all measure, 
ruin towns and villages, as it were rob and plunder 
them ? ' 

' Our fathers and forbears protected the poor, and 
lent money to those in need at four per cent, interest, 
as is seen from old letters of credit ; in all their deahngs 
they were merciful, pitiful and honourable. They 
were plainly, simply and respectably clothed, their 
hands and their hearts were set on work and honesty ; 
whereas nowadays the majority wear whole shoploads 
of clothes and their hands and their hearts are not busy 
with work, virtue and honesty, but with wanton, luxuri- 
ous dress and adornment : they are nothing more or 
less than sign boards of feminine and unsteady minds.' 

' Everybody in all classes, high and low, learned and 
unlearned, burghers and peasants, rich and poor, is 
saying : this state of things cannot last in the long 
run, it must soon break up. Who has told this to 
everybody and to the common people ? In very 
truth their own consciences. Therefore, since at the 
present day this is recognised by the common people, 
it would be well if our intelhgent pohticians and coun- 
cillors, in all places, were one day to join together in a 
better alHance and say out frankly why it is that our 
commonwealth cannot long stand, and what is to be 
done in order that we may return to and remain in 
national well-being. Otherwise the destruction and 
ruin of the German nation by foreign war is 
inevitable.' ^ 

' Reformatio Evangelicorum, 8-17, 36, 40, 


A Catholic priest, Wolfgang Stadlmeyer, curate at 
Metten, who in the years 1589 and 1590, ' for the 
benefit of all and every good-hearted Christian ' gave 
an enlightening account of ' all the conditions which 
had arisen out of extortionate interest and usury,' and 
in so doing ' came to speak about the despoiling of the 
Jews,' put the following question : ' How could the 
Jews have succeeded in working so much mischief 
and ruin with their usury and usurious contracts, money 
dealings, and all their other financial proceedings, if 
the Christians had not everywhere played into their 
hands, and by their laziness in work, their extravagance 
and love of display, come to need the Jews' assistance, 
and only too gladly run after them and participated 
in their " manoeuvrings " ? People complain of the 
Jews only, and forget to say, as in justice they should, 
Mea maxima culfa, my own fault is the greatest. 
Had we acted according to the teaching of the canon 
laws and the fathers and instructors of the Church, 
who forbid all interest and usury on pain of severe 
punishment, and had we earned our livelihoods by 
honourable work in industries and trade as is every- 
body's duty, we should not have come to all this misery 
and ruin, which are now seen in all classes. For Church 
laws and edicts the majority now care no whit ; they 
laugh at and ridicule those that are still opposed to 
taking interest and usury on money. Of those who 
have a httle money and property, especially the young 
generation, only a few care nowadays to work industri- 
ously ; they prefer to lounge about idly, to spend money, 
and make a dash ; they want to grow rich at one go 
by interest, bonds, money-changing, and all sorts of 
nefarious arts and practices. In all this the Jews are 

F 2 


their best helpers and masters. And everything goes 
to the profit of the Jews and the Christian Jew-associates, 
to the ruin of all those among the burghers and the 
peasants who earn their daily bread in the sweat of their 
brow, and the uncircumcised Jews are often much 
worse than the circumcised ones/ ' In former days 
usury brought people into ridicule and disgrace. A 
usurer's house or den was always called the devil's 
property ; no right-minded person would have borrowed 
a light from him ; the children in the street fled from 
such people. Now, however, Christianity has increased 
to such an extent that people take their hats of! to 
usurers ; when Jews die they are buried with great splen- 
dour like any pious Christians.' Burghers and peasants 
came to ruin through the usurers ; money and property 
came into the hands of few. ' Possessions that have 
long been very dear and precious to some owner, must 
be valued, sold for half the price, in order that the 
usurer might have his money with interest.' ' When 
all the members of the community have each some- 
thing, then things go well ; but when property gets 
into a heap, it is the ruin of the country.' 

' Only when all has gone to sixes and sevens, when 
a small band of Jews and Christian Jews have got all 
the money and land into their own hands, when money 
alone is productive, and labour has consequently become 
unproductive, when most of the artisans, burghers 
and peasants are sold out and impoverished, and 
reduced to beggary, then only will it be recognised 
how more than wise were the Church and her holy 
teachers and the canon law in their enactments against 
interest and usury, and in classing usurers with robbers, 
incendiaries and thieves, putting them under the ban, 


refusing them Christian burial, and treating their 
wills and testaments as invalid ; and how salutary 
and useful these stringent laws and penalties have been 
to the whole nation, high and low, however much the 
idle money-grabbers, usurers, financiers, and fleecers of 
the people may rage at and abuse them.' i 

As ' a special kind of usury and extortion which 
the Jews and the Jews' associates practised not only 
among mercantile people, but also among princes, 
counts and lords, and municipal authorities, to the 
direst ruin of the subjects, and the heightening of the 
prices of all food and wares,' Stadlmeyer describes 
' the most unholy proceedings with coinage, viz. 
adulteration, clipping, falsification, and transporting 
good coinage, and everything else connected with 
this godless traffic' ' Wherefore,' he concludes, ' it 
would be no wonder if God were to set fire to all 
the produce of the mines in punishment of these 
offenders.' ^ 

^ B. Stadlmeyer, Kurtze dock niitzliche Lehr vom Geitz und seinen Frilchten 
allermeist aber vom Wucher, dem gemeynen Laster (dedicated to the hereditary 
marshal of the Tyrolese, Balthasar Trautson, baron zu Sprechenstein und 
Schroffenstein), Ingolstadt, 1859, pp. 34, 53, 108, 112-113. (Predigt) 
vom Zinsnehmen und Wuchern tmd was damals fiir Schaden und 
Verderbniss erfolgt (Ingolstadt, 1590), pp. 4-5, 8. 

- Vom Zinsnehmen, 11. 




Another cause of most serious damage to German 
trade and commerce, as well as to the whole internal 
economy of the nation, was the unspeakable confusion 
and disorganisation which prevailed in the mint system, 
and which increased from decade to decade. Amid the 
growing anarchy in all financial and monetary affairs 
the general condition of people and of state presented 
a melancholy aspect. 

Imperial mint ordinances of 1524, 1551 and 1559, 
as well as earher and later recesses and imperial edicts, 
intended to remedy the evils, all proved futile. The 
emperors who issued them took not the slightest trouble 
to enforce them in their hereditary lands ; ' for many 
years it was impossible to arrive at instituting a uniform, 
constant, and genuine system of coinage in the empire.' 
After the hope of effecting unity by means of imperial 
statutes had been abandoned, the management of the 
mint was made over to the Circle administration ; but 
the decision of the Frankfort Assembly of Deputies in 
1571 to erect mint-houses for the different circles was 
not carried into effect. Smaller mint associations also 
which were formed between South German towns, 
between Rhenish electors and between Hanseatic towns 
failed to produce any improvement. In consequence 


of the religious disturbances the Estates were so 
estranged from and hostile to each other that they even 
fought each other in the matter of coinage. All, even 
the least important of them, claimed independent mint 
rights and exploited them to their own advantage in 
every imaginable way. They overreached each other 
as much as possible by melting down the large good 
coins and substituting for them small inferior kinds of 
money, and they even went so far as to defraud each 
other by adulteration of coins, especially in regard to 
alloy. In addition to the innumerable different minting- 
places aheady existing there sprang up a multitude of 
coining dens, in which falsification of coins was practised 
on a large scale. ^ 

Nearly everything connected with coinage turns on 
' draining and squeezing ' the industrious members of 
society, and the manoeuvrings that went on to this end 
were diverse and manifold. Some of the dodges are 
recounted by Cyriakus Spangenberg in 1592. He 
writes, for instance : ' The great lords do not act rightly 
when they shut their eyes and allow their ministers to 
strike coins below the standard value in order that they 
may have more money for themselves. Item, when for 
their own personal ends they allow false coins to be 
smuggled into the country. Item, when the rulers 
suppress, or even prohibit for a time, the inferior 
coinage and substitute a worse. Then, after one, two 
or three years, httle by little, liberate it. Then once 
again withhold and forbid the worse coins, and thus once 

^ See Bode, 93 ff. SchmoUer, Ansichten, 620 ff. Newald, Osterr. 
Miinzwesen unter Maximilian II., &c,, pp. 18 ff., 23, 65, 76, 194. Friese, 
Miintzspiegel, 206-207. ** Concerning the disorganisation of the coinage 
system in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, see also Steinhausen, 
Der Kaufmann in der deutschen Vergangenheit, p. 87 ff. 


more effect a substitute, in order to reap the same profit 
afresh. Also when they pay their vassals their wages, 
or buy from them with hght weight coin, but refuse 
to take similar money from them in exchange for corn, 
wood and other articles, compelhng them to pay for 
such things, and also to pay their taxes with heavy 
weight coin/ ^ 

Bitter complaints were also raised against the 
merchant and trading societies for their oppression and 
bleeding of the people not only by usurious interest but 
also by manipulation of the coinage. ' These merchants,' 
said the Frankfort preacher Melchior Ambacli in 1551, 
* far outstrip the Jews in usurious practices ; they 
despoil and ruin all the princes in the land, get possession 
through usury and financing of all the coins of the 
realm, they chp and wash them, and then afiix to 
them whatever value best suits themselves. In all 
these proceedings they think very httle about the poor 
Lazarus lying hungry at their door.' ~ ' These godless 
people,' wrote an Esslingen chronicler, ' carry on such 
an amount of coin-making that it is quite lamentable. 
The plague take the coin-debasers ! ' ^ 

Another grievance, incessantly aired at all imperial, 
deputy and mint diets, was ' that German money so rich 
in weight and value ' was sent abroad in an excessive 
manner. ' I know from personal experience,' wrote, 
for instance, George Ilsimg, baihff of Suabia, fi'oni 
Augsburg to the Emperor on December 21, 1569, ' that 
a goodly number of well-known merchants in this town 

' Niitzlicher Tractat vom rechten Gebrauch und Missbrauch Jer Miintzen, 
in Friese, Miintzspiegel, Appendix, 239 tf. 
• Anbach, Klage, Bl. D 4. 
•' Pfaff, Gesch. von Esslingen, 722. 


have within four months, openly and despite the Mint 
regulations and the imperial coinage statutes, sent out 
to Venice and thence on to Turkey more than 500,000 
gulden at an interest of 50 per cent. From this it 
follows that not only here in Augsburg, but also in 
Nuremberg, there is such a dearth of money that all 
business is at a standstill ; no tradesman can any longer 
deal with other tradesmen, nor get hold of any money ; 
and all this is having a most injurious efiect not only 
on the general prosperity of Germany but also on the 
whole of Christendom/ According to a trustworthy 
report there were at that time more thalers and gulden 
in Constantinople and Alexandria than could be ob- 
tained in the whole Roman Empire, ' so that the Turk 
can now make war upon us not on the strength of his 
own but of our money, which is conveyed to him freely 
and openly for the sake of sinful gain/ ^^ 

In place of ' the good German money ' all sorts of 
inferior foreign coins were brought into the country and 
circulated, and however often ' this unholy practice, 
which exhausted the empire,' was forbidden, it never- 
theless made such rapid strides in the course of the 
sixteenth century, that, as the Emperor declared in 
1607, ' it was just as if we said to the foreigners : " Come, 
take our good money and make bad false coins out of 
it : we will accept them as gladly as the good ones/' ' ^ 
In the Italian States, where there was a lack of mines, 
German gold and silver money was brought into the 
mints ; ^ in Holland it was melted down into gold and 

' Reichsiagshandlungen, de anno 1570, vol. i. 529-531, in the Frank- 
fort Archives. 

■ Hirsch, iii. 329. 

=* Ibid. ii. 162, 350. Fischer, iv. 697-698. 


silver ingots ; ^ in Poland, German imperial thalers were 
made into inferior coins, but in the sale of their goods 
the Poles would not accept payment in their own coins, 
which had been smuggled into the empire.^ ' In 
A.ugsburg and Nuremberg,' wrote the imperial treasurer, 
Zacharias Geizkofler, in 1607, ' there are a number of 
traders who make coarse silver ware in great quantities, 
whole bathing sets for instance, out of our good coins, 
and send these articles to Poland where they are again 
made into coins/ -^ 

In Russia, as the Jesuit, Anton Possevin, wrote 
from Moscow in 1581, soUd German thalers were made 
into rubles and smaller coins ; in Tripolis, according 
to a report of the Augsburg physician, Rauwolf, in 
1573, Turkish coins were made out of old Joachims- 

There were also in the empire ' quantities of different 
kinds of foreign coin, of which not merely 10 or 20, 
but actually 50, 60, and 70 per cent, were below the 
genuine legal standard. ^ In Wiirtemberg and Suabia 
there were only a few imperial coins, scarcely anything 
but inferior and heavily clipped Spanish, Italian, and 
Polish money. The Franconian circle was also deluged 
with bad foreign coins." ^' The Bavarian towns and 
markets complained in 1605 : ' There were probably 

1 Fischer, iv. 688. 2 Hirsch, iii. 144, 155, 198, 293. 

•^ Ihid. 291. See the complaints of the deputies from the imperial 
cities of the year 1550 in Hhsch, i. 319. For Upper and Lower Silesia 
Ferdinand I. issued in 1546 a 'coin and silver pagament mandate' in 
which he decreed the punishment of death by fire of exporting ' silver 
and "pagament" from the country,' without regard to the rank of the 
offender. Steinbeck, i. 168. 

' Fischer, iv. 700, 707. '" Hirsch, iii. 328. 

« Ibid. 32, 138, 217. Sattler, v. 175. Fischer, iv. 644. 


over 200,000 white, foreign, bad pfennigs in circula- 
tion/ 1 ' The result of all this highly pernicious ex- 
porting of good German money and smuggling in of 
bad foreign coins was plain to the eyes of the whole 
world ; everybody was bewaihng the state of things, 
but with the want of imity and the disorganised con- 
dition of the empire, nobody knew how to improve 
matters. ' 

' From the tolerance of inferior bad foreign coins 
there resulted pre-eminently,' as was pointed out in 
the Recess of a Mint Assembly at Nordlingen in 1564, 
' higher prices and scarcity of all foodstuffs and other 
necessaries and the daily fall and debasing of coinage. 
Foreign nations bring into the empire the bad, inferior 
coins which have been struck out of good German 
gold and silver, and pass them off on the unwary, 
simple, poor man ; change and transport the good coins, 
and thus the empire of the German nation is entirely 
drained of its good gold and silver. What losses are 
by this means incurred by all classes, high and low, 
on their yearly incomes, earned and unearned, their 
rents, interest and so forth, and also how greatly 
such persons are injured by the base foreign coins, 
who invest their ready money and interest, and then 
receive all their income in such inferior coin, any reason- 
able being can calculate for himself.'- In a memo- 
randum of the Franconian, Bavarian and Suabian 
Circle of 1585, this was dwelt on still more emphati- 
cally : ' All reasonable people must recognise that 
unless steps are taken to avert the evil, lords, rulers, 
subjects and bond-servants must inevitably all go 
to ruin together owing to this criminal tolerance. 

^ von Freyberg, i. 44. 2 jjirsch, ii. 18. 


Commerce itself will be destroyed if this unhappy 
state of disorganisation is much longer connived at ; 
for although many people let themselves be persuaded 
that if this bad money were repudiated all business 
dealings would be completely upset and ruined, it is 
nevertheless according to common sense and daily 
experience to say that no good or useful trade or industry 
has ever maintained itself in the long run by the use of 
inferior, foreign, and forbidden coin. On the contrary, 
it is always found that countries and nations are ruined 
by bad coinage, and that the lack of good coinage is 
always an unmistakable sign that the ruin of the land 
and empire will speedily follow.' i 

But all admonitions were ' as words uttered to the 
wind." In 1607 things had come to such a pass that 
there were scarcely any large gold or silver imperial 
coins, but only foreign inferior coins made out of 
German gold and silver, and the few large coins that 
were still current had risen inordinately, and still 
day by day were exchanged at prices fixed arbitrarily 
by private persons ! ' The whole currency of the 
empire was almost reduced to debased foreign 
coins, and there was more speculation in coins than 
in wares.' 

' If we look away,' says a pamphlet of 1612, ' from 
the fraudulent abstracting of good German money, 
as w^ell as from the innumerable kinds of bad foreign 
money with which we are cheated, and turn our eyes 

1 Geizkofler's Bedencken of the year 1607, in Hirsch, iii. 286-287. Cf. the 
Brandenbui-g-Ansbach memorandum of 1602, in Hirsch, iii. 208. The 
archducal chamber in the Tyrol complained in 1590 as follows : ' It has 
come to pass that wealthy merchants find more profit in the exchange of 
money than in the distribution of their wares.' Hirn, vii. 584, n. 4. 


to the German mint-owners themselves, what can we 
say about them ? There are no doubt some honourable 
princes and persons of lower rank, who would not 
knowingly defraud the poor with bad money, but I 
cannot mention any such by name. On the other hand I 
have often heard thoughtful and upright men say : "If 
you talk of rare birds, in our times, in the Holy Roman 
Empire of the German nation, an upright, honest 
mint-master is about the rarest that can be found." 
And in truth there is such an amount of falsifying, 
debasing, remodelling of values according to arbitrary 
caprice, going on incessantly with the coinage, and all 
to the inordinate oppression of the poor, who are 
utterly in the dark as to whether they have good or 
false coin, half, a third or a quarter of the right value 
of their money, or how long the good money will retain 
its value, and are completely at sea with all the in- 
numerable coins that are in circulation whether inland, 
or (and these are the most numerous) foreign ones. I 
estimate the number of such coins at 2000-3000, 
but it may be very much larger.' ^ Undoubtedly 
it was larger. The mint-contractor, Bartholomew 
Albrecht, in 1606, in a memorandum to the im- 
perial court, said : ' There are about 5000 kinds of 
coin with different dies in circulation, and it is no 
longer possible to learn whence these different coins 
come.' 2 

' All the world,' this pamphlet goes on, ' mints in 
Germany nowadays and issues coins. Circumcised Jews, 
and still worse uncircumcised ones, all manner of low 

^ Wider die verbrecherischen Munzherren und Milnzfdlscher (they must 
bend or break) (without locaUty, 1612), p. 2. 

- Newald, Osterr. Miinzivesen unter Maximilian II., &c., p. 77. 


riff-raff and vagrants become mint-masters, and even 
governors, for many of the Estates of the empire are 
not ashamed to lease or sell their minting rights for 
good money or advantageous bargains, and thus for a 
long time a godless state of things has prevailed, and 
it is growing worse every year/ i 

This complaint was well founded. 

' Fromi time immemorial,' wrote the Emperor 
Maximihan II. in 1571, ' we had had in our mints 
none but honest pious workers, trained to their business. 
Since, however, the fraudulent coining dens have been 
started, " loose wanton fellows, called mite-makers," 
have managed to get into the mints here and there. 
In addition to these there are in many places forgers, 
braziers, locksmiths, linen and wool weavers, and many 
more of this sort who have abandoned their own 
trades, and are now employed by avaricious, money- 
getting mint-managers to make false counterfeit 
coin.' " 

In 1576 the Emperor intimated to the Estates that 
' if affairs were not better looked into, every impecunious 
merchant, Jew and goldsmith would turn into a mint- 
manager, and these people persuade the lords that 
it is in their power to procure them some great advan- 
tage, that they might even in return for the concession 
of the yearly coining give them 40, 50, or even 100 
gulden for one gulden ; in secret, however, they do 
these lords and others out of many thousands of gulden, 
not to mention the fact that these same lords in whose 
names this false coinage is minted, lose their good repute 
and must naturally expect all sorts of bad talk about 
themselves. It has been well said that a prince's 

1 See above, n. 1, p. 77. - Hirsch, ii. 116. 


uprightness might be known by three things, viz. 
keeping the streets clean, fiilfihnent of his promises, and 
the character of his mint/ ' And,^ said the Emperor 
in conclusion, ' there is no worse kind of robbery than 
wittingly to coin false money/ ^ 

As regards the ' godless transactions ' that went on 
in selling and leasing mints there were incessant and 
ever-louder complaints at numerous Mint Diets from 
the different Circles one against the other. Thus, for 
instance, in a report of the Lower Rhine Circle concerning 
the coining of money, it says : ' In the Upper Rhine 
Circle there have been found mint-owners who for their 
own profit and for the sake of shameful usury, in direct 
opposition to the imperial constitution, have sold their 
mint rights to other financial persons.' Things had 
come to such a pass that ' the management of the Mint 
was allowed to remain in the hands of godless Jews and 
egotistical traders, and the end of it will be that every 
private individual iii the high department of the Mint 
will proceed at his own caprice and hourly give different 
values to the different coins, altering and raising them 
at his pleasure." " 

' According to the report on the Mints, ' wrote Geizkofler 
in 1607, ' small coins are minted which are 20, 30, 
40, and even more per cent, below standard, bearing 
the heads, titles and names of ecclesiastical and secular 

^ Hirsch, ii. 239-240. ' Dishonest mint owners not only went to 
greater and greater lengths in the decreasing of values, but even dared 
to use the dies of upright princes, who had to go through the sickening 
experience of seeing coins of very false value bearing their own names, 
arms and Hkenesses. Coins moreover which had proceeded from mints 
whose governors were so highly respected that no one dared bring a 
reproach against them.' Klotzsch, i. 321. 

2 Hirsch, iii. 242-243. 


princes who have leased for a yearly income or sold 
their mints to private persons, both Christians and 
Jews,' 1 

It was especially the ' smaller Estates of the empire 
that were given to breaking and melting the good, 
larger coins and minting bad, inferior ones, such 
as half-batzen, drei-kreuzers and pfennigs, and thus 
deriving great profit for themselves.' It was calculated 
that a mint- owner with six workers could in one week 
produce as many as 400 or more marks in half-batzen : 
hence ' this sort was made in very large quantities ' ; ^ 
every mint-worker could earn seven to nine florins a 
week by half-batzen. ^ As great, if not greater, ' were 
the profits from the production of hght, bad and inferior 
pfennigs.' The counts of Erbach and Wertheim coined 
such pfennigs in large quantities ; ^ ' the counts at 
Solms, the Rhinegraves and others,' so runs the com- 
plaint of the Lower Rhine Circle in 1602, ' in some 
places employed over twenty persons for the sole 
purpose of oppressing the poor people, and the mint 
pays the rulers 2000, or maybe 1500 florins.' '^ Count 

^ Hirsch, iii. 287. In 1612, Geizkofler wrote in a memorandum 
to the Emperor : ' Things have come to such a pass with the mints 
that not only every one of the Estates, however insignificant, has his 
own way with the weight and value of the coins, but even the trades- 
people and merchants raise or sink the value of different kinds of money 
from day to day, as indeed the daily experience of the subjects of the 
Empire in the damage they sustain indisputably shows.' Liinig, 
Staatsconsilia, i. 772. 

2 Hirsch, ii. 349. ' Ibid. 289. ' Ibid. 84. 

'" Ibid. iii. 303. The Ratisbon Imperial Recess of 1603 said : 
' At this imperial assembly it came out that in several places, especially in 
the Upper Rhine Circle, there had been found mint owners who employed 
twenty and more workers solely for the fabrication of bad coins not 
coming up to the requirements of the mint ordinance, and showing a 
deficiency of 20, 23, 24, 26, and more gulden per cent.' Neue Sammlung der 


Ludwig von Stolberg, at Konigstein in the Taiinus, in 
1573 had 313,608 pfennigs struck out of 438 marks 
within four months ; in Frankfort itself out of every 
mark, instead of the prescribed 700, he coined 856 
pfennigs ; in 1568 there had already been a complaint 
from the Council of ' the bad Konigstein coins which 
are minted here.' ^ 

The Palatine Counts Richard von Simmern and 
George Hans von Veldenz and other princes coined such 
bad half-batzen that ' each gulden worked out at two- 
thirds or even three-quarters above standard ; " half- 
kreuzers were sometimes '•' to the grievous damage of the 
poor man " coined at 17-26 gulden, pfennigs at more 
than 40 gulden above their true value ; thus out of 100 
gulden actually 75 were lost.' ^ 

The Frankfort Fair was described as the most 
iniquitous place for the introduction and circulation of 
bad coins. ' Ahnost all bad coins, dreikreuzer and 
half-batzen,' such was the complaint made at a Fran- 
conian Circle Diet at Nuremberg in 1585, ' come from 
the Netherlands and the Khine to Frankfort, whence 
they are distributed in the Franconian Circle, so that it 

Eeichmhschiede, iii. 511. In 1570 it was said in the Recess of the Spu-es Diet : 
' Although according to the Mint edict of 1559 only 636 pfennigs go to the 
Cologne mark, and of the hellers out of a pure Cologne mark (feine 
Kolnische Mark) not more than 11 gulden 5 kreuzer must be produced, 
it is nevertheless notorious how audaciously the famous edict is defied, 
as some mints coin 800 pfennigs out of a mark, some even 900 ; likewise 
with the hellers there is no limit, and they frequently buy up good im- 
perial coins, throw them into the crucible, recoin them into bad 
pfennigs or heUers, and flood the country with them.' Neue Sammlung, 
iii. 304. 

^ P. Joseph in the MitteiJungen des Vereins fiir Gesch. und Alter - 
tumskunde, in Frankfort-on-the-Maine, vi. 207-208, 217, 218. 

- Bjrsch, ii. 300 £f. 

=* HaberUn, xv. 489, and xx. 6, 316. Hksch, iii. 257 ; cf. 262. 


is very disastrous to this circle to carry on trade and 
industry with Frankfort and the Ehine/ ^ 

At the Frankfort Fair it was easier to set bad coins 
in circulation, as in the great crowd of strangers and 
foreigners gathered together there was less risk of being 
at once recognised as a false coiner ; inferior half-batzen, 
groschen and pfennigs were taken there ' in cartloads 
and barrelfuls/ " 

In Austria, so it was said, ' whole herring barrels full 
of pfennigs of extraordinarily inferior value were 
brought into the imperial hereditary lands.' ^ 

In Brandenburg the Elector John Sigismund com- 
plained in 1617 that his country was flooded with bad 
pfennigs. ' It is well known that one single man has 
brought as many as 25 cwt. of such pfennigs into 
the land ; others have pronounced themselves ready, 
in return for a sum of 2000 thalers in Eeichs- 
groschen, to pay back within three weeks 3000 thalers 
in pfennigs. Nobody, however, will take these pfennigs 
from our subjects at their old value, and so they remain 
on their hands, and many a man, although he has plenty 
of these pfennigs to pay with, can get neither bread nor 
beer for them ; those who dwell on the borders and have 
anything to sell, keep quite clear of our lands.' ^ 

Similar complaints were made in Pomerania,^ where 
the secret, fraudulent traffic in coined metal was in the 

1 Hirsch, ii. 330-334. 

"^ P. Joseph, see above, p. 1, n, 81. Haberlin, xx. 311. ** At 
Strasburg in 1589 the Council issued an order against falsifiers of coin 
and distributors of inferior sorts of money to the effect that they should 
be deprived of all their posts and honourable offices. Reuss, 113. 

•' Newald, Osterr. Miinzwesen unter Maximilian II., &c., p. 77. 

■* Myhus, iv. Abt. 1, 1187. 

'= Dahnert, i. 605 ; cf. iii. 645. 


hands of the numerous Scotchmen who had migrated 
there. These people bought up the full- weight coins of 
the land with bad moneys in order to melt them down, 
and set bad money in circulation, i 

In Mecklenburg the Provincial Estates complained 
in 1609 that ' out of good silver, by addition of 
copper, bad coins were struck and spread among the 
people.' ^ 

Fear was expressed that ' if this sort of minting and 
coining went on much longer there would at last be 
nothing but small, bad sorts of copper money in the 
country ' ; whereas formerly ' no copper coins had been 
minted in the empire, nowadays copper was gaining 
pre-eminence, because gold and silver failed.' "^ ' Where- 
as the bad sorts of money,' wrote the Upper Saxon 
General-mint- warden, Christopher Biner, in 1609, ' are 
now so common and in full sway, so much so that scarcely 
any others are current, silver coinage, unless the rulers 
proceed rigorously against this abuse, will be at last 
completely superseded by copper coinage. ' ^ In a rhymed 
dialogue entitled ' Neues Gesprach von dem jetzigen 
unertraghchen Geldaufsteigen und elenden Zustand im 
Miinzwesen ' the coins discourse about their rise and 

When gold and silver metal far 

And wide adulterated are, 

Where at last will coin be found 

That has the proper ring and sound ? 

Is it not a shame and brand 

That Jews should mint in German land ? 

' Riemann, 602. " Franck, Buch xii. 96. 

^ In the pamphlet, p. 3, quoted above at p. 77, n. 1. 
^ Klotzsch, ii. 449. 

G 2 


The copper says : 

For your complaints no whit I care, 
The case brings honour to my share ; 
For silver only and for gold 
Was any friendship shown of old ; 
Copper then took a place behind, 
But things quite altered now you '11 find, 
Gold and silver now have fled 
And copper come up in their stead. 
How will it please your honours when 
From copper money 's made for men ? ^ 

From the enormous circulation in the empire of bad 
foreign money, and all sorts of small German money 
intentionally coined below standard value, there had 
resulted a rise in the value of the good, large coins of 
which the inevitable consequence was a serious rise 
in the prices of all commodities. Formerly the imperial 
thaler (Reichsthaler) was worth only 60 kreuzer ; " at 
the Diet of 1556 it was settled that 68 kreuzer 
were to be equal to 1 thaler ; in 1585 the thaler 
was raised to about 74 kreuzer, in 1596 to 84, in 
1607 to 88, in 1616 to 90, in 1618 to 92.3 Abeady 

^ Without locaUty, 1609. ' It cannot be denied,' wrote the Duchess 
EUzabeth of Brunswick in 1545, ' that in a few years, owing to the quantity 
of minting that went on in these and all the surrounding lands, great 
damage accrued ; for when there was not a sufficient supply of silver 
they made the alloy too coarse, and debased nearly all the coins.' Von 
Strombeck, Deutscher Fiirstenspiegel. 

2 Hirsch, iii. 150. 

^ Cf. Roscher, Deutsche N ationaldhonomik au der Grenzscheide, 329. 
Geizkofler's Bedencken in Hirsch, iii. 288. In Hesse, in 1592, the imperial 
thaler was worth 32 albuses = 24 groschen =■ 18 batzen ; in 1607 it was 
raised to 33 albuses ; in the years 1608-1609 to 34 ; in 1610 to 36 ; in 1610- 
1612 to 40 ; in 1613-1615 to 44 ; in 1616-1618 to 48 albuses. Jalirhilclier fiir 
Nationalokonomie, xix. 156-157. In the County of Lippe, whose coins were 
in evil repute, the thaler, in 1606,. was stUl worth 24 Fiirstengroschen ; later it 
was fixed at 56, and even 63 Fiirstengroschen. Falke, Gesch. des Handels, ii. 
384. Concerning the rise in value of 'the good and genuine imperial thaler' in 
Northern Germany, which occurred in 1536-1618,see the Kur-Braunschweig- 
Liineburg Landesordnungen und Gesetze, iii. (Gottingen, 1740), 400-406. 


in 1576 it was stated in a memorandum sent to the 
Estates of the empire : ' Whereas all too many inferior 
coins are made in the land, it comes about that not only 
thalers and other good coins are broken up, but the 
good thalers and gold guldens that are left over rise 
enormously in value, and thus all the electors, princes 
and estates sustain the greatest loss and damage, for 
they lose nearly the third part of their yearly incomes 
solely because the inferior coin is more and more 
used in the country ; for in former years with 26 
albuses of coin of the land one gold gulden could be 
bought, because 26 albuses were equal to the value 
of one gold gulden ; now one must give 36 albuses in 
exchange for a gold gulden, the loss by which is easy 
to reckon.' ^ As regards the effect on trade of all this 
inferior coinage, a report of the Suabian Circle Diet 
of 1584 said : ' The comitry is in the greatest danger ; if 
these abuses are not checked it will soon come about 
that solely by reason of these bad, inferior batzen 
commerce will be at a deadlock, greatly to the loss and 
detriment of the whole German nation, and land and 
people must inevitably be ruined/ ^ 

' To all other evils there was added the falsification 
of coins, which went on with gathering force, just hke a 
highly lucrative handicraft, and was effected in manifold 
ways, by chpping, cementing, breaking, washing, filter- 
ing, casting, replating and granulating ; ' mint-masters 
themselves joined with their workmen in this criminal 

1 Hirsch, ii. 238. - Ihid. ii. 301. 

■' Under the heading ' Miinz-Verfalschen ' the register of the 
second and third volumes of the Miinzarchiv of Hirsch gives a mass of 
references in proof of this. 


After the last third of the sixteenth century the 
number of so-called ' Kipper und Wipper ' (clippers and 
sweaters) grew to the height of a veritable land plague 
and national pestilence. Towns which minted good 
coins, for instance Augsburg in 1573, were the most 
exposed to this clipping and snipping.^ At a coin- 
testing Diet at Frankfort-on-the-Oder in 1573, the 
General-mint- warden of the Upper Saxon Circle said : 
' From the small coins, unequal in weight, the heavier 
pieces were picked out and only the hghtest were 
left in circulation : these had then to be recoined at 
a loss. The Jews were blamed for this, but the 
Christians had also learnt the trick very well indeed, 
and it had become quite common among them, in 
spite of the penalty of death by fire which was 
attached to it, because in reality no punishment 
ever followed : it was most urgently necessary to put 
a stop to this evil practice of clipping." But, how- 
ever much people complained, the abuse went on 

In 1586 some of the Hansa towns were accused of 
having carried on clipping and snipping and other ne- 
farious arts. 3 At Easter 1604 the 'clipping' business 
was begun at the fair at Leipzig.* Simultaneously 
also it was started in the Mark of Brandenburg. "^ 
In 1609, Wolf Kramer, General-assayer of the Upper 
Bhine Circle, said that the coins were often clipped 
to such an extent that out of one hundred ducats 

' Haberlin, ix. 74 ; cf. Hirn, i. 593, concerning the old, good Tyrolese 

- Falke, Kurfurst August, xlvi. 51. 

•' Fischer, iv, 655. ^ Vogel, 331. 

■' Kiister, Antiquitates Taiigermundenses : II. Rittners altmdrkisches 
Geschichtshurh, 23. 


ten, twelve, thirteen, or more pieces were wanting.^ 
In 1614 a Diet for testing coinage was held at 
Ratisbon in consequence of ' the almost universal pre- 
valence of this iniquitous practice of money- clipping/ - 
Among the mint-masters there were frequent com- 
plaints that the merchants clipped and sweated the 
heaviest coins.-^ 

Side by side with clipping, the ' genuine false minting 
was at many periods and in many places in the fullest 
swing,' in spite of the frightful penalties attached to 
false coining. When in 1564 a goldsmith, who had 
cast false coins, was condemned to death by fire in 
accordance with the criminal ordinance of Charles 
v., the Elector Augustus of Saxony approved of this 
sentence because ' such rascally tricks as falsification 
of coin, &c., had become so extremely comimon that 
the rigour of the sword must be enforced as an example 
and a warning to others ' ; whereas, however, the 
offender had ' only cast 9 fl. groschen,' he wished to 
mitigate the punishment to ' both ears being cut 
off at the pillory, a false thaler being branded on the 
criminal's forehead, and banishment from the country 
for hfe.' The following year eight men were sent to 
prison at Leipzig and at Pirna for false coining/ Count 

^ Drei unterschiedl. newe Miinzedicta, &c. (Frankfort-on-the-Maine, 
1609), p. 25. 

2 V. Stetten, i. 811. 

^ ' Miinzprobationsabscliied des obersachsischen Kreises vom 7. Mai 
1618,' in Hirsch, iv. 107. 

-* Falke, Kurfiirst August, 36-37. The Englishman, Jolui Taylor, 
says in his accounts of his travels, written from Hamburg in 1616 : ' They 
have in this country extraordinary modes of death by torture, varying 
according to the nature of the crimes committed : for example, anyone 
who falsifies a prince's coin is punished by being boiled to death in oil, 
and moreover the victim is not put at once into the vessel, but by means 


Ludwig von Stolberg charged the council at Frankfort- 
on-the-Maine with not keeping close enough watch on 
the false coiners, and on the Jews who set their pro- 
ductions in circulation.^ The town council of Cologne 
was accused in 1582 of having harboured and let off 
without punishment persons who had a large quantity 
of false crowns about them, some of which they had 
circulated.^ The Westphalian Circle at a Mint Diet in 
1584 issued a proscription against false thalers ' which 
were all copper inside with a thick plating of silver 
outside.' 3 At a Mint Diet at Ratisbon in 1595 
false thalers were shown which were not worth more 
than two pfennig the mark, and which had been coined 
by David Kissmeier from Pomerania.^ Three years 
later the Duke of Jiilich's mint-master came under 
suspicion ' as regards the stamping of false gold gul- 
dens.' '5 Under the die of the Abbot of Stablo 
false thalers, not worth more than eight batzen, were 
issued."^ In Brandenburg, the Elector John Sigismimd 
sold the mint which he had erected at Driesen on 
the Pohsh frontier to a mint-master who then set 
in circulation counterfeit Hungarian ducats, thalers 
and groschen.^ In Pomerania clever rogues were 

of ring and rope hung up under the shoulders he is let down gradually 
into the oil, first his feet, then his legs, so that his flesh is stewed 
on him while he is still alive.' Zeitschr. fiir Hamburger Oesch., vii. 463. 
In Bremen in 1519 a false coiner was burnt in a pan in the public 
market-place, and another one was boiled in a kettle at Osnabriick 
in 1531. Tlie same Zeitschr., iv. 369-370. Other cases of the sort 
occurred at Augsburg and Nuremberg in 1563, 1564, 1617, &c. Knapp, 
p. 260. 

' P. Joseph, see above, p. 81, n. 1. 

- Hirsch, ii. 286. ^ Haberlin, xiv. 53. 

■» Hirsch, iii. 50. - Ibid. 118 ff. 

" Ibid. ii. 221. 7 lud. iv. 25. 


able to strike shillings out of copper and then stew 
them in tartaric acid till they had the appearance 
of genuine coins. ^ In Brunswick the government 
under Duke Frederick Uhich forced on the subjects, 
as imperial coins of full value, false groschen, thirty 
of which it was pretended were worth an imperial 
thaler, but which in reality were not worth IJ pfennig 
apiece.- In many places in the empire quantities of 
worthless iron and pewter and tinplate pfennigs were 
palmed off on the ' poor, simple country people ' instead 
of good money.3 

In the last decade before the Thirty Years' War 
the entire mint system had lapsed into such a wretched 
and intolerable condition that ' a rising of the common 
people so heavily laden with taxes and burdens, a 
rising worse even than any peasant's war had been, 
seemed imminent.'^ Many of the Imperial Estates 
themselves in the years 1611 and 1615 dreaded ' a 
rising of the common people,' on account of the pre- 
valent coinage abuses.'' 

1 Riemann, 610. Bode, 166. 

^ Hirsch, ii. 288, and iii. 142. 

^ ' Wider die verbrecherischen Miinzlierren und Miinzfalscher,' 
see above, p. 77, n. 1. 

' See the documents in Hirsch, iv. 3, 67. ** Interesting infor- 
mation concerning tlie mint system of the sixteenth century may 
be found in the chronicle of John Oldecop of Hildesheim, published 
by Euling. ' At this time,' writes this chronicler in 1510, ' every- 
thing remained at the right price because the coinage was good 
and not falsified, and coins were never struck oiit of other coins. If at 
this time anyone was found to have cUpped coins, that person was hung ; 
he who struck false coins was stewed alive in a pan tiU his flesh fell from 
his bones. In those days the rulers were satisfied with the taxes and rents 
of their tenants and did not connive at the burghers and peasants who 
enriched themselves by practising fraud and cunning towards their 
neighbour's or towards strangers. In those days people were obhged to 


The decline of iniTiting was closelv connected with 
the dechne of the mining industry.^ 

' ^Miile all good gold and silver coinage,' says the 
Wiiitemberg councillor, George Gadner. in a memo- 
randiun on mintage of the year 1594, ' had quite dis- 
appeared from the whole of Germany, and those of 
the Imperial Estates who did not possess mines of their 

go at least twice a year to confession ; and confession kept many back 
from wickedness. And this fact was first realised when Dr. Martin Luther 
forbiide confession and (though this is publicly denied) attributed salvation 
to faith alone ' (p. 33). That Luther did actually forbid confession cannot 
exactly be said, but certainly ' confession ' dropped out as useless with 
Luther s advent : with him ' penitence ' is only alarm of the conscience, 
and faith, whence proceeds forgiveness. It is therefore legitimate to 
connect the cessation, the giving up of confession with Luther. Hergen- 
rother, Kirchenge-sch., iL 253. The later coinage troubles as weU as the high 
prices (cf. 107-108) are also attributed by Oldecop directly to the Lutheran 
doctrine. ' In this year (1554) the freedom of the Lutheran teaching 
produced numbers of false coins, not only in silver money but also in 
gold gulden. Many false thalers were coined ; some were too light, 
some were of lead, some of copper and of false granulation. Besides 
which the rulers in whose countries the false thalers are coined, allowed 
inscriptions to be fraudulently stamped on them, and they did this so 
skilfully that anyone not examining the thaler very closely, might have 
thought it was a good thaler and coined by this or that pious prince. False 
cmrency and rubbishy pfennigs were innumerable. Thieving, wickedness 
and falsehood were regarded at this period as a means of livelihood and as 
good business transactions. Some of the small shopkeepers and other 
tradespeople made coins out of coins, nine to the silver groschen or three 
Mathier (a small coin current in Lower Saxony). The financiers took the 
coins from Hildesheini to Leipzig, where they gave four pfennigs for one 
silver groschen, when they had had nine pfennigs struck to one silver 
groschen. Others carried their shop goods into the country round about, 
or to a camp, and changed their false coins into thalers and gold. Then, 
when their own coins were given back to them in payment for groceries or 
silk stuffs they would not take them. These defrauders and cheats were 
scattered aU over the country and the rulers connived at it and let their 
btu-ghers enrich themselves by such dishonesty, so that their taxes and 
dues might be all the higher ' (p. 380). 

^ Concerning the mines and their yield at the close of the Middle Ages, 
see voL iL pp. 39^^. 


own stamped and circulated nothing but bad provincial 
coins of inferior value struck from good imperial money, 
no other money could be brought into the empire 
because of the failure of the fountain-head, the mines. 
For nearly all mines in Germany have fallen of!, are 
dug out and exhausted, many important veins are 
dried up, and still more excellent mining works, as well 
in Bohemia and Meissen as in other lands, have sunk 
so much and have become so flooded that they cannot 
be worked at a profit, and no more, or at least very few, 
fresh veins can be found ; the result of which is that 
not so much silver, by a long way, can be produced as 
forty or fifty years ago, and consequently the ruined 
mint cannot recover its former status/ ^ Mine-owners 
and directors of mints spoke as follows : ' It is known 
to everybody in what a parlous condition the mines all 
over Germany are at present, so that a silver mark 
costs twice or three times as much as formerly. If, 
therefore, coins were struck of the same weight and 
value as of old when silver could be obtained at much 
less cost, the expense would be greater than the profit, 
and the mines would have to be left unworked. As, 
however, it is better to get a httle than to get nothing, 
debasement of coinage, which is the only way out of 
the difficulty, should not be forbidden.' ^ ' Not before 
it is time,' says a Mint Report of the Upper Rhine Circle 
of 1607, ' it is being perceived that the mines are ex- 
hausted and do not yield anything hke their former 
produce, notwithstanding which the expenses of working 
them have increased in every way during the last half- 

^ Hirsch, iii. 28, 30. Sattler, v. Beilagen, p. 97 ff. 

- Quoted in Paul Welser's Politischer Discurs vorti Miinzivesen (1601) 
in Hirsch, iii. 177. 


century, have indeed become half as much again/ 1 
It was also pointed out by Zacharias Geizkofler in the 
same year that ' the mining industry in all parts of 
Germany was at a very low ebb ; the cost of raising 
the ore from great depths and poor veins, as well 
as the men's wages, and all the necessary materials 
and victuals have risen in price by half or even more/ ^ 
Nuremberg merchants, in the following year, drew 
attention to the ' great dechne in the Tyrolese, Saxon 
and Mansfeld mines/ ^ 

As early as 1526 delegates of the Elector of Saxony 
and the Counts of Mansfeld complained at a Mint 
Diet that ' at the present time the mines were in a 
condition more retrograde than progressive/ ^- When 
George Agricola in 1546 described the wealth of the 
old silver mines of Freiberg, Annaberg, Schneeberg, 
and Geyer, where silver was found in massive quantities, '^ 
the most productive times, when, for instance, the 
Annaberg silver ore within nine years (1496-1505) 
amounted to about 400,000 gulden,''' had long since 
gone by. After 1559 the expenditure at Annaberg 
during several years exceeded its receipts/ At 
Schneeberg, where in 1581 over 21,000 thalers, and in 
1582 over 11,000 thalers, were distributed among the 
companies the yield of 531 marks of silver in 1593 
fell to 306 marks in 1594, to 140 marks 9 lot in 1598, 

1 Hirsch, iii. 345. 2 md. 292. =* Ibid. ii. 350. 

^ Newald, Osterr. Miinzwesen unter Ferdinand I., p. 11. 
^ Falke, Kurjiirst August, 177. 
" See our remarks, vol. ii. p. 39 f. 

' Falke, Kurfurst Avjgvst, 171. ** Of. Mitteilungen des Freiherger 
Altertumsvereins, 35 (Freiberg in Saxony, 1899), 57 fE. 


and to 83 marks 12 lot in 1599.^ In the Oberharz 
seventeen silver mines were worked, which from 1539 
for about ten years yielded a certain amount of produce ; 
after that time, however, silver mining went rapidly 
backwards.- The Mansfeld slate quarry, which for a 
time had yielded 18,000 cwts. of copper yearly, sank to 
such an extent that out of seventeen smelting houses 
scarcely seven still remained. ^ In the margraviate 
of Ansbach-Bayreuth the yield of the mines at Gold- 
kronach was once estimated at 1500 gold guldens a 
week ; ^' in 1586 the expenses of the mine were 5000 fl., 
while the output was only 500 fl. ; in the Diirrenwaid it 
was complained that 9000 fl. had been spent, and only 
33 fl. silver produced ; in forty-four years, against a 
yearly gain of 825 fl., 2778 fl. had been expended, 
not reckoning the pay of the mining officials ; ^ an 
overseer of mines at Jagerndorf, giving his opinion in 
1599 on the Bavarian mines, said that in the process 
of smelting metal, coals, wood and time were wasted 
by all the artificial and alchemical means employed 5 
alchemy had unfortunately gained too much head 
among the mining people ; there were more mining 
officials than workers. '^ In Wiirtemburg, also, the 
expenses of mining were generally greater than the 
receipts.'' In Switzerland, at a session of a Diet in 
1585, it was stated that ' to mint coinage of equal 
value to the imperial coinage was not only very difficult, 

1 Fischer, iv. 238-239. 
- Zeitschr. ties Harzvereins, xvii. 14. 

' Kohler, xvi. 1. Concerning the decline of the mine Harzgerode, 
see Kohler, xiv. 300 fE. 

' Fischer, iv. 236. ^ Lang, iii. 241, 253, 255. 

« Ibid. 251. ^ Fischer, iv. 239. 


but quite impossible, owing to the dearth of silver, for 
the mines that had been available in the country in 
former years had all, or most of them, been worked 
out/ 1 

The mines that were in the worst state of collapse 
were those in the Tyrol which had formerly yielded such 
enormous produce. Foreign trading associations, especi- 
ally those of Augsbui'g, had long subjected these mines 
to a most wasteful and oppressive exploitation. For 
instance, in the years 1511-1517 the association of the 
Hochstetters had possessed themselves, from the mines 
at Schwaz, of no less than 149,770 marks of refined 
silver and 52,915 cwts. of copper. The Fuggers, in 
1519, obtained from mines at this samiC place, given 
to them in mortgage, 200,000 gulden annually." 
Other important trading houses and associations, 
such as the Brothers George and Sebastian Andorfer, 
the Tanzels, the Hofers, and so forth, also amassed 
prodigious profits at Schwaz for a long time.^ The 
dechne was so remarkable that, for instance, the profits 
reaped by the Fuggers, 13 per cent, on the capital 
in 1549, in 1555 had sunk to not more than 3J per 

Several of the foreign trading associations, which had 
got the whole mining industry into their own hands, 
became bankrupt : Starhen und verdarben (they died 
and were ruined), as the Treasury put it, on mining. ^ 
Whereas in former days the territorial government 
had received annually 40,000 marks and more in 
silver. Archduke Ferdinand II., in 1569, found himself 

1 Hirsch, ii. 324-325. 2 Greiff, 94. =< Peetz, 46, 49. 

■* Zeitschr. des histor. Vcreins fiir Schwaben und Neuburg, ix. 210. 
* Him, i. 548-550. Peetz, 153. 


compelled for a matter of 2000 marks owed to his 
brother, the Emperor Maximilian 11. , to beg for an 
extended term of credit. ^ Mining operations, he wrote 
to his brother in 1570, became more costly every 
year; in many of his mines he had already renomiced 
socage and tithes, he gave gratuities and aids out of 
his other chamber-revenues, and still numbers of 
his mines had fallen in, while the costs of working 
them were higher than the gains. ^ The silver and 
copper mine discovered at Rohrerbiihel in 1539 
yielded in 1552 over 22,000 marks in silver alone ; 
in the reign of Ferdinand II. it only yielded 
7000-8000 marks; the Falkenstein mine near Schwaz, 
which had formerly supplied the territorial prince's 
treasury with a yearly average sum of 20,000 
gulden clear profit, in 1564 produced only 15,000 ; 
in 1572 only 7000 gulden.'^ One after another of 
the mining companies withdrew ; instead of twenty 
there now remained only four, and these latter, 
in the years 1557 and 1558, suffered a loss of 30,000 

' Most of the veins and the finest ones, which had 
formerly existed everywhere in large numbers, were 
now,' they complained, ' altogether or almost worked 
out, and nothing substantial could now be dug out of 
them as had been done formerly : this was, perhaps, 
the consequence of their sins and a punishment from 

^ Hirn, i. 555. 

^ V. Sperges, 111-126. Newald, Osterr. Miinzwesen unter Maximilian 
II., &c., p. 20 ; cf. 23. 

^ V. Sperges, 120. Hirn, i. 540, 543-544. Peetz, 49. Cf. A. 
Schlossar, ' Von versclioUenen Tiroler Bergwerken,' in the Beilage zur 
Munchener Allgem. Zeitung, 1884, Nos. 106, 209 ; 1886, Nos. 313, 314. 
** And Iser-Gaudenthurm, 143 if. 


God.' ^ In the main it was the result of the long 
course of depredation in working only the best veins 
that now no longer brought in anj^hing. ' Most dis- 
astrous also ' was the calamity at Eattenberg on the 
Geyer. In this place where, fi'om 1588 to 1595, 498,733 
stars of silver and copper ore (the star reckoned at 
108-110 pounds) had been extracted, the yield sank 
in the years 1612-1619 to 177,784 stars of copper; in 
1619 only 4-5 lots of silver was obtained from 1 cwt. 
of ore, and finally, only 2 lots.^ 

Much more considerable was the dechne of the 
Bohemian mines. 

The Kuttenberg mine, in 1523, had still yielded 
far above 13,000 marks to the Mint ; in 1542 it had 
sunk to such a degree that it required a \\^eekly outlay 
of 600 fl. while it brought nothing in. Under Maxi- 
milian II. it brought only, on an average, 26,000 gulden 
into the imperial treasury. In 1616 it was stated 
bv the chief mint-master and other rehable witnesses 
that, during the last ten years, a loss of 805,368 Meissen 
Schocks had been sustained on the mining oj^erations 
at Kuttenberg.3 In Joachimsthal, in the years 1550-1560, 
the annual clear profits had amounted to 40,000-60,000 
thalers, but they fell gradually to 12,000 thalers ; in 
1590 they were not more than 6837, in 1599 only 2354, 
in 1616 only 1806 thalers."* This once so populous 
city sank into abject poverty.^ The committees of 
inquiry instituted under the Emperor Matthias every 

^ Zeitschr. des histor. Vereins fiir Schivaben und Neubwrg, ix. 210-211. 
- V. Sperges, 127. Peetz, 159. 

^ Gmelin, 90. Fischer, ii. 674. Mosch, i. 178-179. Xewald, Osterr. 
Munzwesen unter Maximilian II., &c., pp. 217-218. 

* GmeUn, 100-102. Fischer, iv. 234-235. 

* Mosch, i. 340. 


two or three years for the purpose of investigating the 
causes of the continually increasing dechne of mines, 
and of smoothing down the frequent dissensions of 
the officials amongst each other and with outsiders, had 
no result. ' The disgraceful bickering, quarrelling, 
hatred, and envy,' it says in one of their reports, 
* which go on among the officials, have been hitherto 
the reason why both Germans and foreigners have lost 
all taste for mining operations, and the mines have 
been brought to complete ruin/ ^ 

Almost in all districts where mining operations went 
on, complaints were rife concerning the inefficiency or 
the fraudulence of the mine officials. 

In Saxony in the years 1536, 1554, 1568 and 1589, 
stringent ordinances for mining works were issued, but 
with regard to the execution of these ordinances we 
read in a pamphlet : ' All the underhandedness and 
WTongdoing that go on, in the mining works, and how 
the blessing of God is driven away by force, are, alas, open 
as the day." ' It was above all necessary,' this pamphlet 
said, ' that there should be a thorough examination 
into the affairs of the mines, and that the revenues 
should be accurately tested, the expenses properly 
calculated, the iniquitous cheatings of the miners and 
the officials punished and stopped, and things put on 
a better footing than had existed hitherto, in order 

' Newald, 220. Concerning the inadequateness and inferiority 
of the mine officials in Silesia, see Steinbeck, i. 238-239. The Silesian 
master of mines, Hans Unger (1597), could neither read nor write, and yet 
the Silesian treasury recommended him to the imperial court treasury at 
Vienna for a post. The pay of such mint-masters was also a sorry matter, 
as well as their outward position. Hence incessant complaints from 
them concerning their owTi poverty, constant fault-finding with the 
officials, and distrust of the company. 



that all tliose things which were so criminal before 
God, and which certainly were largely the reason why 
the blessing which formerly attended the mines no 
longer fell so richly, should be henceforth given up, 
that strangers should be enticed to co-operation and 
attracted into the country, the great treasures still 
hidden in the earth be discovered, and those already 
discovered, be put to the proper use. The mining 
people flatter themselves that they have more under- 
standing of mines than anybody else ; but they are very 
greatly deceived, for they always come upon people 
elsewhere who are able to give them information about 
great things hitherto unknown. However, this beauti- 
ful jealousy has grown to such notorious dimensions that 
whenever anybody has appeared who had fresh light 
and instruction to offer concerning mining matters, such 
an one has been laughed at as a conceited blockhead, 
and his proposals so calumniated at the Treasury, 
that he has been obliged to withdraw in great disgrace, 
or else he has been so hampered and thwarted in every 
way that he has had no alternative but to succumb 
and withdraw.' ^ 

In Hesse the Committee of Mines of the Margrave 
Moritz, composed chiefly of foreigners, squandered 
considerable sums, and enriched itself at the expense 
of the country ; at last complete bankruptcy ensued. 
The Director of the Mines, George Stange, on whom 
the blame of this bankruptcy fell, defended himself in 
1618, in a letter to the Chancellor and the councillors : 
' Under such management,' he said, ' when nobody 
knew who was cook and who was scullion, the mining 
operations could not possibly go on ; all the stored ore 

1 Richard, 252-253. 


was melted down at Iba, and copper was produced 
at a loss, what came out of the mine was put back into 
it again, so that there was no longer any trade . . . 
the managers at Iba and E-ichelsdorf kicked up a 
shindy ; in Kichelsdorf the former contractor, John 
Drachstadt, wasted 50,000 gulden on buildings.' i 

Among the ' twelve principal reasons why numbers 
of important mines had gone to ruin and become 
reduced to swamps,' the Brunswick councillor of mines, 
George Engelhart Lohneiss, who had observed much 
disorder and many abuses, mentioned in the first place^ 
in a work dedicated to Duke Frederick Ulrich, that : 
' The mines are worked and officered by lazy, drunken, 
insolent, low people, who have no understanding of 
mining work and are unable to direct the mining 

'Another cause,' he said, 'is that the rulers of the 
land paid so Httle for the metals, such as silver, lead, 
copper, and so forth, and in addition took the ninth 
or the tenth part for themselves, and did not contribute 
anything to the heavy expenses, either in gratuities or 
in remission of charges, and did not consider that all 
the items such as wood, coals, carriage, tallow-candles, 
iron, leather, provisions, and labour, involved in the 
working of a mine, had risen enormously in price, and 
that all privileges and ordinances were disregarded. 

' For these reasons the men no longer take any 
interest in working at the mines, they become negligent, 
abuse and rail at the mines, say it's all nothing but 
fraud and self-interest, and thus many are frightened 
away, &c., &c.' 

' Again, not the least of the reasons is that the 

' Rommel, Neuere Oeschichte von Hessen, ii. 676-677. 

u 2 


corporation is not careful to see that the workmen are 
paid punctually and with good coins, or else that these 
coins have risen so highly in value that they lose several 
groschen on them, also that instead of being paid in 
coin they have to accept from the foremen and officials 
corn and so forth at the dearest prices, and have to 
drink the beer they brew themselves/ ^ 

A very great and special grievance among the 
miners was the introduction in many of the mines of a 
longer shift, that is, a longer day's work. 

According to the old German mining laws the shift 
was commonly fixed at eight hours a day, and this 
time was very seldom extended. ^ In 1553 Ferdinand I. 
renewed for Austria the edict issued by the Emperor 
Maximilian I., in which it is enjoined that : ' Each 
worker shall, according to traditional usage, each day 
before and after noon, except on Sundays and on 
Saturday afternoons, work for half a shift (four hours).' 
' In the high mines round Schlaming, Villach, Steinfeld, 
Gross-Kirchheim and Katzthal, where the workmen 
take their food with them and are obhged to remain up 
in the heights for fourteen days,' he adds, ' they shall 
only do four shifts, reckoned at ten hours each, and 
they shall be paid for the two weeks at the rate of three 
weeks.' 3 According to the Bavarian and Salzburg 

1 Grundlicher und ausfiihrlicher Bericht von Bergiverken, &c. (Leipzig 
edition, 1690), pp. 49-50. 

' See our remarks, vol. ii. 73 ff. ** According to the researches of 
Neuberg, Oosler's Bergbau bis 1552 (Hanover 1892), p. 230, the day's 
work in the renowned Rammelberg mines was, do\vn to 1476, Umited to 
six hours ; in this year, however, an eight hours' shift was estabhshed ; 
but in 1544 the legitimate shift of seven hours was restored ; whether 
this change came about thi-ough the agency of the journeymen unions, 
and whether it had any socio-political significance is not evident. 

•' Bucholtz, Gesch, der Regierung Ferdinand des Ersten, viii. 244. 


mine ordinances also, the day's work was eight hours, 
and the number of working days in the year amounted 
to 260.1 

In later times, however, in numbers of mines the 
working day was extended to twelve hours with one 
hour's pause ; for instance, in the Nassau- Katzenelnbogen 
mine regulations of 1559, and in the Brunswick 
regulations of 1593.^ ' When the bell has rung,' 
writes Lohneiss respecting North German mines, 'the 
workmen at the stroke of four must go to the mines and 
stay there till eleven o'clock in the morning, when they 
will be rung off by the foreman, and then again rung 

^ Peetz, XX. 166-192. The Salzburg Archbishop Matthias Lang in a mine 
ordinance of the year 1532 alludes also to this old tradition : ' In our 
diocese and land, in the lower mines, the hours of work shall everywhere 
be 5J shifts for one week, and eight full hours to the shift : four hours before 
noon and four hours after noon, up to Saturday, when every workman, 
who has worked the four hours before noon, may stop work. And if two 
whole holidays occur in the week, the wages shall be kept back for only one 
day, but the men shall be expected to work all the more industriously 
on the other days so as to make up for lost time. But in the upper 
mines where the workmen take their food with them and have to stay 
the whole week, there shall only be four shifts to the week, but ten 
hours to the shift.' Lori, 217-218, § 27. Likewise Elector Frederick 11. 
of the Palatinate, in an Upper Palatine mine ordinance of 1548, 
enjoined that ' Work shall be continued for eight full hours, and until 
the foreman rings the beU the men shall not leave the place.' Lori, 
259, § 115. For the mines in Silesia the regulations were : ' The workmen 
work for three seven-hour shifts, with an hour between shifts going 
and coming back. In the night-shift from eight o'clock in the evening to 
three o'clock in the morning, they only work in case of necessity, and 
then the workmen cheer and enhven each other with singing. Double 
shifts are not allowed. As on Sundays and festivals work is suspended, 
so too on Saturday no work is to be done, in order that the workpeople 
may have time to buy their provisions. In case of necessity, for instance 
if there is an inflow of water, or danger of the sides falling in, and so forth, 
exceptions may be made.' Steinbeck, i. 209. Six- and seven-hour shifts 
were the rule in many mines ; see Achenbach in the Zeitschr. fiir Bergrecht, 
xii. 110, note, and Achenbach, Gemeines deutsches Bergrecht, 290. 

- Achenbach in the Zeitschr. fur Bergrecht, xii. 110-111, note. 


back at twelve o'clock. The hour from eleven to 
twelve is called the free hour for eatuig and resting. 
But as soon as it has struck twelve each one must go 
back into the mine to his work and remain there till four 
in the afternoon, and that is the day-shift. Then 
another bell will be rung for the night-shift men to 
begin. These also have a free hour from seven to eight 
in the evening, and they must remain at work till three 
in the morning : and so on and so on from one shift 
to the other. These are called the twelve-hour shifts, 
and they are suspended on Sundays and feast days of 
obligations.' If under special stress of circumstances ' in 
order that the workmen might be able to hold out,' shifts 
of only six to eight hours were allowed, the men were 
obhged to make up for it by working also on the holidays : 
the hammer and crowbar had to pass from the outgoing 
to the incoming miner without stoppage of work. The 
shifts of the carpenters, masons, pit-diggers and other 
day labourers, lasted in summer from four in the 
morning till five in the afternoon, and in the winter 
from five till four.^ 

The wages of the miners were meted out very 
sparely. * Experience shows,' says Lohneiss, ' that most 
of the workers in mines had nothing more than what 
they earned weekly by the dour toil of their hands, 
work through which they often sustained injury and 
loss of health, became lame or cripples for hfe, or indeed 
lost their very lives, leaving sickly, uneducated children 
behind them.' Here let it be said that every workman 
was obliged to give two pfennigs a week to the journey- 
men's fund, from which fund when he was disabled from 

• Griindlicher und ausfiihrlicher Bericht (see above, p. 100, n. 1), pp. 241 


work, or his family were in want after his death, they 
received the weekly sum of 6-10 groschen ; this, however, 
was not much help to them. ' It was therefore to be 
hoped that whereas most of the mining people were 
impecunious and poor, the rulers would show themselves 
benevolent and kind towards the sick and wounded.' ^ 
Duke Juhus of Brunswick, who boasted in 1576 that 
he had raised the yearly profits of his mines in the 
Harz by 84,000 gulden higher than his father had done, 
paid the workmen so badly that in 1578 he wrote to the 
Landgrave William of Hesse : ' They are obliged to 
content themselves with convent fare, i.e. small beer 
and water, because they get low wages." ^ 

While the price of provisions rose continually, the 
workmen were kept at 'their old wages." Thus, for 
instance, it says in a Schwaz chronicle : ' After a year 
of plague (1565) prices had almost doubled as compared 
with former years, but the wages of the poor miners 
were not raised : at the present time they cannot even 
earn a blessed loaf of bread ; they drag on in direst 
poverty." 3 

At the same time, as Lohneiss justly points out in his 

1 p. 46. 

- Bodemann, 200-201, 207. 

^ Hirn, i. 557. ' Towards the end of the sixteenth century the owners 
of the mines actually went on the plan of diminishing the workmen's 
wages. The way in which this was done, at Hammereisenbach in the 
Schwarzwald, for instance, was not only to pay less for the work, but to 
load the men with greater burdens and expenses. Before 1594 a workman 
received nine kreuzer out of the bucket of hewn black ore, and two batzenfor 
red ore ; this pay was lessened by one kreuzer on each bucket. Formerly 
the cost of working the mines, the digging and tunnelling, together with 
the machinery and repairs, was defrayed by the owners ; but later on 
the expenses were charged to the miners, who thus — not to mention other 
losses — had their time for paid piece-work considerably reduced.' Mone 
in the Zeitschr. fiir die Gesch. des Oberrheins, xii. 388-389. 


* Reasons for the Decline of Mines/ the workmen were 
made to pay the highest prices for the necessaries of hfe. 
This was especially the case when the mines were in 
the hands of money-grabbmg trading societies. It was 
calculated in 1556, by the Treasury of the territorial 
prince at Innsbruck, that the mining companies by 
their consignments of corn to the workmen had reaped 
a profit of 20,000 gulden. In vain did Archduke 
Ferdinand II. represent to the owners that they ought 
to have regard for the poor workmen and sell them 
corn at a moderate price. When the proprietors of the 
mine also took the baking trade into their hands, the 
workmen had to complain that the loaves were too 
small, and also that damaged goods were sold to them, 
and that oatmeal was actually mixed with the flour. 
' It is strange,' the Treasury remarked to the companies, 
' that you gentlemen of such high and honourable 
standing and traditions should make such a to-do 
with your bread-baking and bring on yourselves such 
odium.' 1 

A\Tien in the years 1562-1565, and again in 1571, in- 
fectious diseases broke out among the mining circles of 
the Unterinntal, occasioning great distress and poverty, 
the companies troubled themselves no whit about the 
sufferers ; Archduke Ferdinand, on the other hand, 
displayed the oft-praised ' generous trait of the 
Austrian blood ' by giving imhmited plenary power 
to spend charitable gifts and to advance money to 
sick families, ' even if some disadvantage should 
ensue,' that is to say, they were not to count on 
being paid back.- 

' Hiin, i. 557-558. - Ibid. 556. 


The resentment of the workmen in the mining 
districts at the lengthening of the working hours and the 
raising of prices often cuhninated in fierce onthreaks of 
defiance taldng the shape of strikes, or of dangerous 
riots.i On the occasion of a riot on the Rohrenbiihel in 
1567, the delegates of the petitioners represented to the 
Emperor that ' they were obhged to work for eight hours 
on a stretch, and that mining operations were very 
dangerous ; during the last twenty-six years 700 work- 
men had succmnbed through explosions ; food was up 
at starvation prices ; cheese for instance was sold by the 
company to the people for double the price they them- 
selves gave for it ; as the time spent in coming and 
going to their work was not taken into account the 
depth of the mines made the shifts much too long ; 
for piece-work also they were paid much too little/ 

The archducal commissioner entrusted with the 
business of examining into these grievances said that 
* the agitation had been chiefly got up by people who 
had the smallest deposits ui the funds of the corporation 
and who were most lai-gely in debt to them, but that the 
complaints about high prices and the length of working- 
hours were justifiable/ The Ai'chduke addressed a 
grave letter of admonition to the mine-owners and 
brought the eight-hoiu' shift do^\Ti to six hours.- 

How justified the complaints of low wages were, 

^ Concerning a rising at Schwaz in 1525, cf. v. Sperges, 252, 253. 
** Concerning strikes in the same place in the years 1548 and 1583, cf. 
Iser-Gaudenthurm, 164 S. Concerning journeymen riots in Schwaz since 
1589, see Zeitschr. des Innsbrucker Ferdiimndeums, 1899, p. 127 flf'., where 
also there are fuller details iilx)ut the bad behaviour of the Fuggers to 
their miners ; see especially p. 157 ff. 

2 Beiirdge zur Geschichte, Statistik, Naturkunde und Kunst von Tirol 
und Vorarlberg, i. 257. Hun, i. 560. 


and liow great was the poverty and distress of the 
workmen, is shown by a government report of 1571 ; 
while the usual price of a star of rye in the mining 
districts was 50 kreuzer, a workman earned barely 
one gulden a week. An ore-sifter received 24 kreuzer 
a week, a barrow-man 30 kreuzer, a windlass-man 
36-48, a hewer 45 kreuzer. ' For such pay,' ■^\rrote 
the Treasurv in 1575, ' one would not care even to 
climb the mountains. Verily these people are poorer 
than beggars.' ^ 

Industrial and agricultural day-labourers were in 
equally evil plight throughout the sixteenth century. 

^ Hirn, i. 659 ff., where there are fuller details about riots and agitation. 




Trade and industry, which had been highly flourishing 
in the fifteenth century, in the sixteenth century fell 
decade after decade into worse conditions owing to the 
religious, pohtical, and social unrest, the civil wars, 
the ever-increasing decay of commerce, the perpetual 
multiplication of taxes, and the growing insecurity of 
business resulting from the rotten condition of the Mint 
and the exhaustion of the mines/ i 

The more the burgher-class declined from its former 
proud height, the narrower and pettier did the guild 

^ Concerning the economic decline in the sixteenth century Schanz 
(Gesellenverbdnde, 134) says : ' Commerce, which is the mainspring of 
industry, was a thing of the past, the export of German products into 
foreign markets had been made impossible by the numberless territorial 
taxes and tolls. German industry was thus thrown back almost entirely 
on the home market, in other words on the open country. Agriculture, 
completely paralysed, only yielded to a few ground lords a respectable 
income, for the great bulk of the peasantry it could not supply a decent 
liveUhood. The latter were quite unable to buy the majority of articles 
fitted for export, and the unequal distribution of incomes now struck 
a heavy blow at home industrial produce.' ** ' German industrial labour,' 
writes Grupp {Geldwirtschaft, 293), 'went more and more backwards, 
municipal culture decUned, and a natural-economical reaction set in. 
The causes of this, apart from the intellectual and religious fightings and 
warfare, which created a disposition unfavourable to practical effort, 
lay in the inordinate craze for speculation which was cormected with the 
beginnings of money industry. Honourable labour was either despised 
or exploited. Wages sank, while the prices of commodities rose.' 


spirit become in the different towns. Each town strove 
to exclude all the others from all competition in indus- 
tries, and almost each one was paralysed by endless 
guild disputes and quarrels which were fought out 
within its walls. The existing trade regulations fell 
into a state of torpor. The guilds, which had been 
called into existence to protect labour and enable it to 
become profitable, now revoltingly violated the rights 
of remunerative work, and forfeiting their original 
character — in the best sense of the word democratic — 
they degenerated httle by little into a caste aristocracy, 
into regular monopolies. They transformed them- 
selves, as far as possible, into societies for befriending 
and enriching a definite number of master families 
who aimed at ruling and exploiting the money market 
to the exclusion of all the other members. For this 
purpose the number of masters was diminished, and 
it was made so difficult to journeymen to attain to 
mastership, that almost only the sons of masters, or 
men who had married the widows or daughters of masters, 
could achieve an independent position. At any rate the 
free attainment of mastership was burdened with the 
most hampering conditions. Now it was decreed that 
the candidates must have spent their time of appren- 
ticeship — not seldom extending over five or six years — 
in the town in question ; now it was required that 
during this time they should only have worked for a 
definite number of masters, now that they should have 
been born on the very spot. 

The master tailors at Constance demanded of the 
council in 1584 that ' only those who after their appren- 
ticeship had served another ten years at the handicraft 
should be ehgible for mastership.' Many of the guilds 


would only admit to the rights of mastership men who 
had ' master-houses ' or shops of their own.^ The test for 
mastership {' the master-piece ') was made more and more 
difficult and expensive. In Esshngen, for instance, the 
Tailors' Guild in 1557 insisted on the making of a whole 
wardrobe, which among other articles was to include 
a coat, hose, doublet, cap and mourning cloak for a 
nobleman, an embroidered cloak for a noblewoman, 
a purple cloak and damask doublet for a burgher, a 
shamlot cut-away cloak and an ' Augustinian ' of satin 
for an unmarried daughter, a long cloak of shamlot for 
a doctor, and so forth. Not seldom the guilds required 
as tests for mastership the execution of all sorts of 
difficult and rare pieces of work, which nobody would 
ever want to buy, and which would only serve as 
spectacular curiosities to be kept in the houses of the 
masters. Besides all this, successful candidates had 
so many costs to defray on investiture, so much to pay 
the masters for food and drink, that needy journeymen 
were obHged at the outset to renounce all thoughts of 

' Guilds and master-pieces,' said the Bavarian pro- 
vincial ordinance of 1553, ' were originally instituted to 
secure the maintenance of good order and respectability 
and as a safeguard against the admission to mastership 
of any who were not noted for good conduct and for 
skill and experience in their work.' But this old and 
laudable tradition * is now grievously abused by the 
hand- workers all over the land : they have adopted the 

1 Schanz, 132-133. Concerning the introduction of the six years' 
apprenticeship in the lace-making and leather industries at Nuremberg 
and other towns after 1531, see Schonlank, 371 ff. 

• See L. Wassermann, Das Meisterstruck in der Alien und Neuen Welt, 
Jahrg. 19 (Einsiedeln, 1885), pp. 717-719. 


plan of insisting that those who wish to become masters 
shall be burdened not only with immoderate taxation and 
expense, but also with the task of making unnecessary 
and useless "master-pieces/' so that men who by their 
skill and proficiency are fitted for mastership, are ex- 
cluded from it and made objects of scorn if they cannot 
meet the unreasonable costs imposed on them, or execute 
these difficult and useless " master-pieces." ' ^ 

The sons of many of the hand-workers, although of 
honourable descent and blameless conduct, were alto- 
gether denied entrance to the guilds. The imperial 
police, accordingly, in 1548 found it necessary to issue 
the injunction that ' the linen weavers, barbers, coopers, 
millers, tax-gatherers, pipers, trumpeters, and those 
whose parents and children are honest and w^ell-behaved 
should henceforth by no means be excluded from guilds, 
corporations, and offices, but should be admitted to 
them hke other honourable artisans.' ^ 

At Gorhtz, at the beginning of the sixteenth century, 
the Guild of Shoemakers once refused to admit a young 
man to apprenticeship in the trade because his father 
and grandfather had been millers, and he was therefore 
to be looked on as a miller ; the butchers of this place 
rejected a butcher who sought admittance, because his 
stepfather was a potter.^ 

The Recess of the Augsburg Diet of 1594 mentioned 
as special abuses of the guild system that * in some of 

^ Bayerische Landesordnung, fol. 126'^-128. See below, p, 115 f., the 
remarks of Duke Christopher of Wiirtemberg in 1567. 

' Ordnung und Reformation guter Policey, aufgerichtet auf dem Reichstag 
zu Augsburg 1548, in the Neue Sammlung der Reichsabschiede, ii. 605. 

•^ The Court of Sheriffs at Magdeburg declared itself against the pre- 
sumption of both these guilds ; cf. Th. Neumann, Magdeburger Weistumer, 


the towns the masters of crafts form new corporations 
and make it a rule that an apprentice must go on 
learning for another three or four years, and they actually 
presume to find fault with old-established masters of 
crafts in other towns, men who learnt their business 
thoroughly well years before, according to the original 
guild rules, earned their mastership and carried on their 
trade peacefully for a long time without any interference 
from anyone ; and they abuse and discharge their 
journeymen, who learnt under them before the existence 
of the new corporations and rules, and compel them 
either to go elsewhere and learn their trade over again, 
or else to submit to punishment. Further, in many 
places the masters have the impudence to refuse to 
work for a chent who has had work done for him bv 
another master, albeit he has duly paid for the work. 
The workmen, moreover, rise against the masters; 
they lock out other employes and so deprive trades 
in town and country of the necessary hands. ^ i 

In consequence of the numerous abuses continually 
cropping up, the former independence and judicial 
powers of the guilds were more and more restricted 
by the State authorities. The imperial police ordinance 
of 1530 had still left the judgment respecting quarrels 
among the hand- workers to the interested guilds ; 
the ordinance of 1577, however, decided that all matters 
whatever belonging to handicrafts were to be referred 
to the magistracy.'^ In Vienna, Ferdinand L, in an 

^ Neue Sammlung der Reichsabschiede, iii. 442. 

- Neue Sammlung der Reichsabschiede, ii. 345, and iii. 398. The 
writer on national economy, Christopher Besold, recommended giving the 
guilds autonomy over all their own affairs, in so far as these were not in 
opposition to the laws of the State or to good morals. Contracts for 
monopolising goods, for keeping up prices, for limiting purchasers in 


handicrafts' ordinance issued in 1527 in conjunction 
with the Committee of Estates of his hereditary lands, 
and renewed in 1552, had abeady abohshed the cor- 
porations and guilds with all their ' self-made statutes, 
ordinances, &;c/ No handicraft was to organise a 
general company or meeting without the knowledge 
and consent of the burgomaster and council ; every- 
thing must be subject to magisterial oversight.^ 

Thus the independent existence of the guilds was 
struck at the roots. But State interference was neces- 
sary for the protection of those who bought and used 
the goods, because very often the honesty of the pro- 
ducers of goods could no longer be depended on.^ 
Thus, for instance, in 1563 the Nuremberg Council 
discovered that the greater number of the master 
glaziers often used bad Bohemian window glass instead 
of good Venetian ware, not only for new work, but 
for daily mending and repairing, charging the same 
as for Venetian glass. The joiners had to be forbidden 
* to paste painted paper over worm-eaten wood, thus 
producing sham new work.' In view of ' obvious 
danger and deceit ' the whole body of working gold- 
smiths were forbidden in 1562 ' to silver-plate brass 
and copper beakers.' ^ 

With the incessant quarrels that went on between 
the different guilds the magistrates had enough to 
do. From fear of too strong competition the guilds 

their free choice among the guild-masters, drinking away the money fines 
which ought to flow into the poor-box, these things were not to be allowed 
them. See Roscher, Deutsche Naiioruilokonomik an der Grenzscheide, 322. 

' Bucholtz, Ferdinand der Erste, viii. 263 ff. 

• Cf. A. Bruder in the Zeitschr. fiir die gesammte Staatswissenschaft, 
xxxvi. 486. 

•' Stockbauer, x. 15, 16. 


divided the various works more and more sparingly 
and anxiously amongst each other, prescribed in each 
case with the utmost exactness what the men were to 
work at and how much they were to do, and watched 
with suspicious eyes lest any act of overreaching should 
come up for reproof. Even masters of closely related 
trades were prevented from exceeding the regulation 
Hmits of production. Whenever cases occurred of 
violation of this rule of the corporation, endless bicker- 
ing, complaining, and mutual recrimination were almost 
sure to follow. At Strasburg, for instance, a ten years' 
quarrel went on after 1507 between the clothmakers 
and the clothshearers over the right of using certain 
colours. In 1522 the clothmakers at Strasburg were 
accused by the fullers of having encroached improperly 
on their privileges. Still less did the non-related 
guilds spare each other. Now the tradesmen and shop- 
keepers complained of the clothiers for manufacturing 
knitted hose and gloves, now the clothmakers fell foul 
of the dealers in old clothes and the drapers because 
they also traded in a new kind of serge, a soft woollen 
material, which they (the clothmakers) could not 
prepare, and so interfered with the market of the 
clothiers and weavers ; next, the hatters were to blame 
for interference of this sort. Envy and suspicion gave 
rise to endless lawsuits, especially after the end of 
the sixteenth century. Scarcely was one disposed 
of than another began ; not unfrequently several were 
going on side by side, as well as those which guild journey- 
men brought against each other or against their guilds. ^ 

' Fuller details are given in W. Stieda, ' Zunfthandel im sechzehnten 
Jahrhundert,' in the Histor. Taschenbuch, Folge vi. Jahrg. iv. 307-352. 
' The causes of the lawsuits were usually unimportant and the result of the 


When the woollen drapers at Salza in Saxony, 
who, according to an agreement with the clothmakers 
of that place, might only display their foreign cloths 
in half their breadth, spread them out in their full 
width, the clothmakers feared that this would lead 
to the ruin of their trade. The whole guild, consisting 
of 200 masters, appeared in 1558 before the Elector 
Augustus, who was travelling through the town, and 
did pubhc homage to him, in order to procure the 
abolition of this grievance, so that ' their trade might 
not be reduced to beggary/ ^ 

This ' cancerous disease,' for such the guild system 
had now become, attacked also the public service of 
the streets ; hke the handicraftsmen, messengers and 
carriers began to regard themselves as associations 
with unimpeachable privileges.^ 

Any member of a guild who invented a better 
instrument, by means of which quicker and cheaper 
work could be done, fell a victim to the jealousy of 
his brother-members, who managed with the help 
of the magistracy to protect themselves against the 
use of such new-fangled tools. Thus by magisterial 
command technical progress was summarily arrested. 

infinity of ordinances which multiplied beyond measure, and the strict 
observance of which in all their particulars was a sheer impossibility. 
Wherever the lawsuits are concerned with the admission of new members, 
the grossest egotism is displayed. The long duration of the quarrels, the 
prolixity and discursiveness of the letters of complaint and defence made 
these disputes seem intolerable.' ' In these quarrellings we detect one of 
the reasons of the dechne of the once flourishing and highly respected 
institution of guilds.' ' Whoever follows attentively this " beginning of 
the end," will see plainly that the two following centuries were bound to 
carry the guild-system further and further along the line of descent ' (pp. 
351, 352). 

' Falke, Kurfiirst August, 239. 

- A. Flegler, Zur Gesch, der Posten, 31. 


Even at Nuremberg in 1572 a master of the thimble 
trade ' who had invented and used a new kind of 
turning-wheel, greatly to his own and his trade's 
advantage, but to the disadvantage of the other masters, 
was, on the complaints of these masters, forbidden hj 
the magistrates, under pain of severe punishment, 
to use this wheel any more/ Likewise a master of 
the pinmakers' guild who had invented a new kind 
of pohshing tool was ordered in 1585, under penalty 
of a fine of 50 fl., 'to put it away at once, not to use 
it any more, still less to teach the use of it at home 
or abroad/ ^ 

Everywhere it was complained that the masters of 
handicrafts, to the great injury of purchasers, by union 
and association, fixed the prices of their goods, raised 
them as they liked, and punished those members of 
their guilds who worked or sold at cheaper rates. 
' We know from positive experience,' says an imperial 
pohce ordinance of 1577, ' that the hand-workers in 
their guilds, or otherwise sometimes, combine and 
agree together that no one of them is to sell the articles 
he has made at a cheaper rate than the others, thus 
causing a rise in prices, and obhging those who want 
to buy these said articles to pay whatever the guilds 
have agreed upon/ - 

' Some years ago,' said Duke Christopher of Wiirtem- 
berg on October 31, 1567, ' an ordinance was issued 
for the tailors' trade at Stuttgart, in the hopes that 
this ordinance would be fruitful of good to the com- 
munity at large and also to the trade, but the tailors 
abused it shamefully. They agreed together that 

^ Stockbauer, 39. '" Neue Sammlung der Reichsahschiede, iii. 397. 

I 2 


henceforth none of them should work for the burghers 
in their own houses ; also, in some places, that a tailor 
should only work in his own village where he hved, 
and not in other villages or places ; and thus our 
subjects have been debarred from employing many 
capable tailors whom they may happen to like. Also, 
they settled among themselves what each one is to 
be paid for his work, and that no member is to take 
less, and if any one should do so, he is to be punished. 
Accordingly it happened at Lorch that a poor tailor 
was fined 10 schillings in punishment for having made 
plain hose for two kreuzer, and for not doubhng the price ; 
likewise for having taken an apprentice for two gulden, 
which he was told was much too httle : he ought to 
have charged him twelve or fourteen gulden.' Since 
the ' agreement ' in question wages had risen to nearly 
half as much again. ^ 

To escape the extortion of the guilds, many 
towns broke through the old guild restrictions. Thus 
the council of Ulm took great pains to encourage 
competition between foreign weavers and those of 
Ulm. In Augsbujg, Stuttgart, Tiibingen, free butchers' 
stalls were set up with a notice that ' here every butcher, 
even though he did not belong to the town guild, might 
sell meat.' ^ At a Bavarian Provincial Diet in 1608 
it was decreed that, ' in Munich, not only should free 
stalls be started, but that cattle should be bought 
and cut up without the intervention of the butchers.' 

This Diet was moreover made the occasion for 
discussing all sorts of defects and abuses in the 
guild system, and measures were proposed for 

1 Reyscher, xii. 345-346. 

* Schmoller, Natiotwlokonomische Ansichten, 524. 


remedying the palpably decadent condition of indus- 
trial trade. 

Amongst these suggestions were the following : 
' Whereas there is a dearth of skilful workmen, every- 
thing turns on providing the necessary number of 
skilled and experienced artisans. Foreign skilled masters 
must also be countenanced. The children of the poor 
must be helped in learning some trade ; this might be 
done by the erection of a seminary for hand-workers. 
Special resistance must be offered to the so-called 
" Kniittelbiinde," the secret clubs formed among the 
hand -workers for advancing prices. Most of the ordin- 
ances for hand-workers, ratified by the authorities, 
require revision ; this should be set about without 
delay.' The Munich industrial deputy insisted among 
other things that ' the poorer industries should be given 
a helping hand ; these were kept down by a few rich 
handicraftsmen.' Among the many hindrances to the 
prosperity both of industry and commerce were : the 
maintenance by alms of idlers who were capable of 
work, the exploitation of the land by forestallers and 
hawkers, the craze for dressing in foreign fabrics, the 
falsification of the coinage, the extensive export of raw 
inland materials, and last, but not least, the forcing 
of young people into learned professions, official life, 
and court service. ' Excessive study was a hindrance 
to industrial work. When a man had acquired a 
httle learning he became ashamed of his position ; his 
son must study in order to better himself. If, then, 
the son spends all his time in study, without coming 
ad gradum, he is unfit for a trade, aspires to court 
service, or to an office or higher post, stakes his fortune 
on it, and remains a poor journeyman, whereas he 


might have been a wealthy tradesman. And so all 
the handicrafts and all skilled knowledge of them are 
lost to the country, and for many generations we 
shall never achieve any sort of continuity and good 
standing in business, nor attain to understanding, skill 
and credit/ 

As an especially serious hindrance to industrial 
trade some speakers instanced the fact that the land 
was overrun with ' mischievous caterers to the palate * 
— bakers, brewers, butchers, pubhcans, cooks, and so 
forth, whereby the food of the poor became ever 
dearer. Others denied the pernicious effects of these 
trades; any cheapening of food must cause the 
producers — the peasants — to suffer ; only the artisan 
would profit by it : ' it would be more easy for him to 
sit in the ale-house, and he would not sell his goods 
any the cheaper.' The chief cause of high prices and 
scarcity lay in the taste for superfluity and gormandising, 
and in thriftlessness : ' The artisan was too fond of 
good hving and was sure to have a young cock on 
his table before the Prince of the land.' The ducal 
councillors also spoke to this effect : ' The artisans 
should refrain from extravagance and luxury in eating, 
drinking, and dress." ^ 

Before the issue of the new territorial ordinance of 
1616, which aimed at abolishing the most flagrant 
abuses in industrial life, but reserved for the future 
any thoroughgoing reform of the guild system and 
of the various branches of manual industry,"^ the 
court council at Munich, in a memorandum to Duke 
Maximihan I., had proposed the wholesale abolition of 
the guilds, ' which were injurious, devoid of usefulness, 

1 V. Ereyberg u. 353-365. ' Ihid. 209 flf. 


oppressive to tlie poor impecunious burghers, and 
the cause of unnecessary expense/ ^ 

As in Bavaria and elsewhere, so too in Saxony- 
heavy complaints were made concerning the deteriora- 
tion of the guild system. ' The handicraft masters, 
formerly expert and honourable men,' said a preacher 
in 1550, ' are in these days almost entirely taken up with 
their own selfish extravagances, and with getting prices 
up, while their work all the time is often altogether bad 
and worthless ; and they promote their own interest 
in a very reprehensible manner by their ancient privi- 
leges which nobody is to be allowed to reform/^ 
Elector Maurice, who entered the lists against them 
in this same year, said : ' The artisans busy themselves 
greatly about extravagant, unsuitable clothing, and 
attend more to drink than to work, for which reason they 
not only overcharge the people, but demand drink- 
money for their journeymen as well ; the masters 
in the tov/ns manufacture goods of as inferior a kind as 
possible/ 3 

A vivid description of these degenerate conditions, 
coinciding with the reports from other towns, is given 
in a pamphlet, also belonging to 1550, by the council 
of the town of Demmin in Pomerania. It says in 
it among other things : ' On admission to the guild 
of wool-weavers, the young brother who has sent in 
his " master-piece '" has to treat the whole guild 
to a collation, consisting of 1 ox, 8 sheep, 48 

^ Wolf, Maximilian der Erste, i. 357. 

- A Sermon against Idleness, Qluttony and other Vices, by L. B. Jonas 
(1550), p. 5. 

^ Codex Augusteus, i. 67. Concerning the heavy oppression of 
the people by the guilds, see also the ' Resolution ' of the Elector Christian 
II. in 1612, I.e. i. 178-179. 


chickens, 6 barrels of beer, with onions, butter, pepper, 
and other condiments to the value of 18 marks ; 
and on the second day, rolls, butter and cheese to the 
value of 25 marks/ If he marries outside of the 
business he must make his wife a member by giving 
a feast which costs 20 gulden, besides so many etceteras 
that ' the total amoimt of his expenses is 262 marks/ 
' All that a young man has scraped together and 
earned, he has to disburse all at once, and if he wants 
to buy a stock of wool he has nothing left. And if any 
member through his own diligence gets on his feet again, 
it is resented against him, and in order to involve him 
again in expenses, young and old impose themselves on 
him as guests. When quarrels occur among members 
of the same guild they instantly summon the parties 
concerned before their " morning court " in order to 
impose fines on them and so have something to get 
drink with. In the shoemakers' guild, widowers or 
widows who marry again and want to remain in the 
business, must not make any shoes for nine months. 
The tailors seldom do any good work, and they spoil 
all their customers' clothes. The guild, made up of 
glovers, leather-cutters, and shopkeepers, takes not the 
half only, but treble and fourfold in interest. But 
whatever the guilds make by their extortion they 
squander on the great festival days, on the Sunday after 
Trinity, carnival, and above all at Whitsuntide ; and 
in order to multiply the number of feast days it has 
become the evil custom in all the guilds to change the 
aldermen every year.' 

' The most dissolute orgies,' says this pamphlet, 
* take place at the most joyful of all festivals, at Whit- 
suntide. The wool-weavers begin their holiday fourteen 


days before Wliitsun week, and continue it for fourteen 
days after, so that their revebies last for five weeks ; 
even on the day of the feast, instead of thinking about 
the outpouring of the Holy Ghost, they march past 
the church with fifes and drums sounding. The mill- 
and farm-boys flock after them, and such a noise 
of fifes and drums, such a yelhng and shrieking goes 
on during divine service, that the preacher is obliged 
to pause until the wild hubbub is over; so that 
God's Word is obliged to give way to these rascally 
fellows.' 1 

A no less unpleasant account of things is given by 
the Brunswick councillor of mines, George Engelhart 

' In all places,' he says, ' there is such unchristian 
deahng in raising the prices of work and wares that not 
the burghers only but the nobles and the poor peasant 
folk also are defrauded and drained to the utmost, while 
the masters daily idle away their time at weddings, 
christenings and other gatherings and convivialities, 
dress their wives and children grandly, do no work 
themselves, leave the journeymen to look after the 
business by which they and their household are to 
be fed. Moreover they keep up the dignity of their 
mastership to such an extent that very few journey- 
men, however skilful they may be, can themselves 
become masters, and so as there are very few masters, 
these few raise the price of their work as much as 
they like. 

' Such privileges and corporations are moreover very 
much misused, and the burghers and the people are in 

' H. Riemann, in the Zeitschr. fur preussische Geschicht u. Landeskunde, 
iii. 603-606. 


the highest degree overcharged, for the masters agree 
together that no member is to do his work, or sell 
anything at a cheaper rate than another, for although 
handicrafts are municipal business it does not follow 
that it should rest with guilds and guild-masters to 
decide who are competent workmen and who shall be 
enrolled as members, which privilege they use entirely 
for their own benefit and to the great detriment of 
their neighbours. Tf they tax and drain the people 
at their own pleasure, the government has a right to 
take their privileges away from them/ ^ 

Landgrave Maurice of Hesse also complained on the 
score that the masters of crafts not only conferred 
together in their guild chambers as to the prices of their 
goods, but also punished any members of their guilds 
who undercharged." Concerning the degeneracy of the 
hand- workers the Landgrave said in 1600 : ' On work- 
days the masters and the journeymen flock in shoals to 
christenings, weddings and wine bouts, and when they 
cannot go to these they drink brandy-punch in the morning 
and go to beer parties in the taverns in the afternoon ; 
all this time the buyers must wait for the sellers eight 
days, or more perhaps, until the guild gentlemen have 
drunk themselves out, and then they must pay for the 
bespoken goods at whatever rate it pleases the besotted 
vendors to ask. Hence the high prices of goods. For 
the handicraftsman does not provide for his house and 
his children, but for his own stomach, he invests his 
coins in liquid wares, and when he cannot wash his 
mouth with wine, or foreign beer, he must have roast 
capon and such hke ; on Simdays and festivals he holds 
carousals at the expense of the whole week, while 

^ Lohneiss, 498-499. - Rommel, Neuere Gesch, von Hessen, ii. 652, 


the journeymen, who are not allowed to promenade 
about as much as the masters on work-days, swim so 
lustily in beer on Sunday to the tune of their week's 
wages, that when Monday comes they haven't a farthing 
left in their purses ; then they lounge about idly in the 
market-places, stare at the windows, fall to gossiping 
and chattering, or indulge in idlers' pastimes, which 
are profitable neither to burgher hfe nor to the art of 
war, such as target shooting, nine-pins, football and other 
trumpery, whereby they often commit thefts, murders, 
and all kinds of misdeeds.' ^ 

Between masters and journeymen, in the course of 
the century, strong antagonism had grown up almost 

After many battles with the masters, especially during 
the fifteenth century, the journeymen had succeeded 
by means of their workmen's clubs in gaining for 
themselves an assured and honoured position.^ At 
the end of the century these clubs reached their zenith ; 
then, however, dechned rapidly.-^ 

1 Rommel, ii. 728. Landau, Materielle Zustdnde, 348-349. 

^ See oiir remarks, vol. ii. 24-27. 

* *It is quite a mistake in considering mediaeval industrial life to 
lay aU the stress on the guilds and associations of the Masters ; the share 
which the journeymen had in industrial legislation and in the guild 
assemblies, their strict upholding of honour and integrity within their 
trades, their influence on apprentice life, their great care for the regulation 
and the supply of work, all these are factors which secured them a very 
important position in the then management and organisation of industry.' 
' The journeymen knew how to raise their social position higher and 
higher, and to procure for their clubs a worthy place in the group of 
mediaeval corporations.' ' Alert and vigorous, they were always swift 
and resolute in action whenever it was necessary either to defend an old 
traditional right or to fight for a new one ; they held class honour high 
and dear, and they never hesitated to defend it against the proudest of the 
corporations; merry and jovial, somewhat refined by their " Wanderjahre," 
they knew well in their time of prosperity (about the end of the fifteenth 


Wherever the new doctrinal teaching made its way, 
the rehgioiis brotherhoods of journeymen (which were 
also most of them benevolent institutions for sick 
workmen) went to ruin, and the journeymen lost 
thereby their chief protection against the masters to 
whose extortion and exploiting they not seldom fell a 

The abolition of festival days did not benefit the 
men, but only the masters. 

* Since the introduction of the Evangel,' said, for 
instance, the Strasburg journeymen furriers in 1529 
in a memorandum to the council, the festivals had 
been abohshed, but their weekly wages had not been 
raised by a farthing ; on the contrary, for the period 
between Christmas and St. James' Day their pay had 
been diminished by the masters, 'whereby we poor 
journeymen are put to hard straits and with all our 
toilsome work can barely earn our daily bread, and 
still less get clothes or look to bettering ourselves. But 
since considerably greater profits accrue to the masters 
through this change, we hope that in justice to our- 
selves, our earnings on piecework will in no way be 
lessened.' ^ 

century) how to make their festivals the most popular in the towns.' 
' All the more is it to be regretted that these associations only retained for 
so short a period the heights they had conquered.' Schanz, Zur Geschichte 
der deutschen Gesellenverbdnde, 128-130. 

^ ' One of the most important results of the Reformation as far as 
journeymen were concerned was the dissolution of the brotherhoods 
founded on a religious basis. Wherever there were no secular associations 
in existence, the Reformation once more reduced working-men to isolated 
units, while the masters remained banded together in then- guilds and 
corporations, and were able to oppress the men for their own selfish ends.' 
Schanz, 64-65. 

2 Ibid. 247-248. 


The day's work of the journeymen was often ex- 
tended to fifteen or sixteen hours. 

Thus, for instance, the masters of the guild of sword- 
furbishers in Liibeck, Hamburg, Liineburg, Wismar, 
Rostock, and Strasburg in 1555 settled that : ' Every 
journeyman in our trade, who wishes to act rightly 
and piously by his master, shall be at the workshop 
at four in the morning. If, however, any man should 
sleep till five, he must then work till nine in the evening, 
be it winter or summer. The fourteen days which 
the journeymen of our trade in Hamburg have so 
long been allowed for going to the ale-house, shall 
no longer be granted them.' Master or journeyman 
who acted contrary to this ' Christian and praiseworthy 
regulation ' were to be summoned before the corporation, 
and in case of their refusing to mend their ways or 
submit to pimishment, they were to be handed over to 
the magistracy.^ A specially severe ordinance against the 
journeymen was issued in 1573 by the braziers of Liibeck, 
Brunswick, Rostock, Stralsund, Wismar, Liineburg, Mag- 
deburg, Bremen, Greifswald, Hildesheim, Stade, Han- 
over, Gottingen and Fiensburg. They, too, demanded 
for four days in the week sixteen hours' work, and for 
Thursday and Saturday fourteen hours ; only every 
three months were the men to have a free Monday ; 
if they took a hohday on any other Monday they were 
to forfeit the day's wages and food. The weekly 
wage was fixed once for all, and was to be the same 
' for small or great jobs.' Also, ' no beer was to be 
given them on the working premises, but only " Kovent " 
(small beer).' If the workmen rebelled against these 
and other harsh rules on points of detail, took 

1 Rudiger, 588-589. 


themselves off, and settled doAvn in other places, they 
were to be treated in all the towns of the corporation 
as ' traitors and persecutors ' of the trade, and not to 
be encouraged anywhere, unless, after full expiation, 
they were taken back out of favour.^ The smiths 
in the Wendish towns had to work from three in the 
morning till six in the evening ; the ship carpenters 
in Liibeck from 5 a.m. till 6 p.m.^ 

The master joiners at Freiburg in the Breisgau 
settled in 1539 that the men must be at their 
work, summer and winter, from 4 a.m. till 7 p.m.^ 
At Niu'emberg the daily working hours of the cloth- 
makers were thirteen,^ of the ropemakers, fifteen.^ 

The cruelly overworked journeymen could scarcely 
be blamed if on Monday they wished to be free for 
half, or even the whole of the day, especially as they did 
not dare hold their social club gatherings on Sunday.^ 
At the beginning of the sixteenth century a half- 
hohday on Monday was allowed them pretty regularly, 
sometimes weekly, sometimes fortnightly, for exercise 
and bathing."^ At Strasburg in 1536 the following 
decree was issued for the locksmith and spurmaker 
journeymen : ' Those whose wages are eight kreuzer 
and no less, may have Monday afternoon free.' ^ The 
journeymen joiners in the Breisgau could only have 
a half-hohday on Monday when there was no 
festival day during the week.'^ The towns of Liibeck, 

' Rudiger, 564-572. ^ Wehrmann, Liibecker Zunftrollen, 406, 448. 

^ Schanz, 2G1. ■» Stockbauer, 33. ^ Schonlank, 601. 

8 Schanz, 114-116. Schonlank, 601. 

' Stahl, Das deutsche Handwerk, 313 ff. Schanz, 114-115. 

« Schanz, 254. » Ibid. 261. 


Hamburg, Liineburg, Wismar, Rostock, and Molln, 
agreed, in 1574, that the journeymen hatmakers should 
have Monday free. ' But if a journeyman takes more 
than Monday for hohday-making, he shall have hohdays 
the whole week, and pay 6s. into the master's box into 
the bargain.' ^ 

Just as the general conditions of industrial trade 
had degenerated, so too there came over ' the good 
hohday-Monday ' a phase of deterioration which led 
in many towns to its restriction or complete abohtion. 
' On these good Mondays,* says an edict of the Council 
of Nuremberg in 1550, 'the workmen did scarcely 
anything but drink and carry on all sorts of dis- 
orderly immoral proceedings : and not on those 
Mondays only, but on following days also they wronged 
their masters and evaded their work ; therefore they 
must in future continue at their work on Mondays till 
vesper time, and the remaining part of the day they 
could spend " in their drinking-bout and other dis- 
orderly ways.'' For the weeks in which festivals 
occurred, the " good Monday " was to be entirely 
abolished.' ^ The Bavarian government ordinance of 
1553 wanted the Monday hoHday to be given up alto- 
gether because ' it led to improper shirking of work, 
unprofitable dissipation, and other evils ; artisans who 
henceforth persisted in keeping the " good Monday " 
were to be punished.' ^ The order, however, had so 
little result that it had to be renewed in 1616 ' under 

^ Rudiger, 554. 

2 Schonlank, 600. ** See also Schonlank's interesting work, Soziale 
Kampfe, 132 ff. 

■' Bayerische Landesordnung, fol. 128. 


pain of severe pimisliment.' ^ The abuses that 
cropped up may be estimated by a Baden-Durlach 
ordinance of 1554, by which innkeepers were forbidden 
on the ' good Mondays ' to keep the workmen in bands 
more than the one day or to supply them with more 
than the ordinary meal. 

Special opportunities for drinking and disorderly 
conduct were afforded by the so-called Geschenkte 
Handiverke, that is to say, those corporations which 
made it a rule, on the arrival of any wandering journey- 
man at their town, to make him a present, with which 
present a drinking party of all the journeymen was 
connected. This custom not seldom led to all sorts 
of improper excesses. Thus an edict issued in Austria 
in 1550 for the tanners and Muscovy-hides workers said : 
' In several places where these trades are carried on, 
there occur in one week, on the arrivals and departures 
of journeymen, not merely one or two, but four and 
five evening gatherings and collations, from which 
ensue, not only waste of time and other evils in the 
workshops, but all sorts of disorder, vice, murdering, 
and disgraceful conduct.' ^ 

^ Zeitschr. fiir die Oesch. des Oberrheins, xxix. 434. The Drubeck 
pastor Balthasar Voigt, in his drama of 1616, described the swinish life of 
the artisan journeymen in these words : 

They keep ' good Monday ' like the devil. 

Drink, fight, commit all sorts of evil ; 

On Tuesday badly then- heads ache, 

On Wednesday with despair they quake, 

On Thm-sday holiday still keep, 

But, so sore doth Elsslein weep, 

On Friday to the shop they find 

Their way, and work as they 're inclined. 

Thus the week drags on amain. 

On Sunday drink begins again. 

2 Bucholtz, Ferdinand der Erste, viii. 270. 


In the imperial police ordinances of 1530, 1548, 
1559, and later, and also in many provincial police 
ordinances and municipal regulations, the GescJienkte 
Handtverke were most emphatically forbidden ; but all 
these orders were as a rule nullified by the dogged resis- 
tance of the German journeymen class. When the town 
council at Augsburg on August 21, 1567, put a stop to 
the practice, the sword- furbishers and coppersmiths rose 
up in a body and left the town : the council were conse- 
quently obliged, towards the end of the year, to rescind 
their decision. ^ 

Friendly relations between the masters and their 
journeymen and apprentices now seldom existed ; to 
the selfish employers, cutting down wages and food as 
much as possible, there stood too frequently opposed 
discontented and defiant workmen, who only worked in a 
slovenly manner, and, on the evidence of innumerable 
contemporaries, having no rehgious or moral backbone, 
squandered or drank up all their earnings, and fell 
victims to immorality. The upright and serious- 
minded Hans Sachs as early as 1535 makes ' Dame 
Labour ' complain that handwork is despised, because 
the workmen are stinted of their proper pay and thereby 
incensed and driven to poverty : 

. . . This makes them rabid, turbulent. 
Each on his own advantage bent ; 
The humblest of them follow suit. 
And much spoilt handiwork 's the fruit, 
Idle they grow, and negligent. 
Gambling, drunken, gluttonous to boot.^ 

1 V. Stetten, i. 578. Fuller and fresh details concerning the importance 
of the GeschenJcte Handwerke for the journeymen and the latter's resistance 
to then- abohtion are given in Schonlank, 355-357, 376 ff. ** and in 
Soziale Kdmpfe, 77-97. 

" See our remarks, vol. xi. p. 323. 



In this drinking and gorging, the masters at Nurem- 
berg and elsewhere encouraged them by their own bad 
example. When the Nuremberg Council in 1550 forbad 
the journeymen to misuse the ' good Monday/ ^ they 
added the following admonition : ' Whereas the un- 
necessary and excessive manner in which the handwork 
journeymen abuse the " good Monday " and other 
times of leisure is greatly the result of the masters' 
daily carousing and wine-drinking, the honourable 
Council addresses to the former, their fellow-citizens 
and burghers, the masters and their handworkers, a 
quite fatherly and sincere exhortation, that they would 
set a good example to their journeymen and others 
in their service, abstaining from excessive tippling and 
wine-drinking, especially on working days, so that 
God's wrath may not be increased against them ; and 
above all that their wives and children may be saved 
from the terrible habit of following them to the wine 
taverns and accustoming themselves to drink, and that 
thus all good and profit may accrue to their souls and 
their bodies.' ^ 

What sort of complaints were raised by the journey- 
men, and how bitter the relations between them and 
their masters had become, is learnt from three documents 
belonging to the end of the sixteenth and the beginning 
of the seventeenth century.-^ 

In the first of these the local and the general company 
of the fustian weavers' trade complained to the council, 
in the last decade of the sixteenth century, concerning 

' See above, p. 126. 
2 Schonlank. 600. 

=* We are indebted for these to the admirable work of Schonlank, 


the masters' intention to raise the weekly charge for 
bread from 50 pfennig to 80. ' When corn was quite 
cheap and we might have bought our bread for less, 
we paid the 50 pfennig without murmuring ; therefore 
the masters, in the present scarcity, might have a 
little consideration for us, and act justly by us. They 
ought also to bethink them that there is not the same 
risk with our trade as with some others which may stick 
for want of work ; for we have, thank God, a good 
trade that does not stick, but there is always plenty of 
work, if only there were enough workpeople to do it, 
therefore they cannot bring forward the plea for 
oppressing us with higher bread-money.' ' The food with 
which the masters were bound to supply them, as they 
very well knew, was much better formerly than now, 
and also they used to have a drink of beer handed them 
at table, which was now given up.' ' Besides this,' the 
journeymen went on to say, ' we had formerly for our 
recreation from work seven festivals, and these still go on 
in other foreign workshops, but here five of them have 
been cut off, and we now have only two : the Carnival 
and Lichtgenss (Candlemas?). Furthermore no cheese is 
now given us with our supper, as used to be done : our 
food is much less in quantity also than in former years. 
The journeymen in other places do not give more than 
5 or 6 kreuzer for their bread, and moreover they are 
not blamed and pimished as we are here. For if we, 
in great need, drink a small glass of beer, or rest from 
work for an hour, w^e are at once censured and docked 
of our money, though we cannot always drink water ; 
for we work under the earth in damp, reeking vaults, we 
are obliged to inhale a quantity of dust and other noxious 
matter, and we cannot all of us get on with only water 

K 2 


to drink always. i From this it also follows that many 
of us become ill, and your excellencies have to send us 
to the hospital or some other place, which all comes from 
the above-mentioned wrongs and oppression, and that 
we poor workmen are so badly treated by the masters 
in respect of food and other matters/ 

' And in addition to all this, w^e have very low pay. 
When working on large pieces and doing the best work, 
we can only earn half a gulden in the week, and on small 
pieces scarcely an ort, a quarter of a gulden. Besides 
which we must produce the same work whether the 
yarn is good or bad, whether we work for a long or a 
short time at a job ; we are also obliged to buy candles 
for the masters' work, which is not the custom in any 
other trade ; also to pay 6 pfennig for washing a shirt, 
all which is not so in other places, let alone bath-money, 
clothes and other necessaries of hfe. If then the bread- 
money was raised to 80 pfennig the workmen employed 
on small pieces w^ould not be able to earn in the week 
as much as they would have to pay the master for bread 
and light alone. Out of what then are we to buy the 
other things we want ? It is therefore impossible that 
we can give in to the masters' demands or allow the 
50 pfennig to be raised : it would be better for us to 
seek a hving elsewhere.' 

As a specially ' mischievous abuse ' which had 
invaded handwork, the men pointed out that * a number 
of married workmen are admitted, who in the end, your 
excellencies, come to you for alms ; most of these also 
come from foreign places, where they have committed 

^ These cellars, which are still used as workrooms in the Sieben Zeilen 
on the Weberplatz, are ' by no means among the worst workrooms of 
modern Nuremberg.' Schonlank, 604, note. 


offences, and have run away from their wives and 
children. Also the masters employ farm-servants and 
village weavers, who have scarcely been apprenticed 
for three months, for the simple reason that they will 
take whatever is offered them, whereby we journeymen, 
who have learnt our business well according to the 
rules of the trade, are ousted. Or else they try to 
keep us on at the same pay they give these burghers, 
which is damaging to society at large, and brings our 
craft into discredit with foreign workshops. 

' Therefore our humble petition is, that your excellen- 
cies would graciously make the provision that no married 
man shall henceforth be received here and encouraged 
who comes from the country, unless he first presents 
his certificate of proficiency, or gives other sufficient 
guarantee that he has honourably fulfilled his apprentice 
years, and learned his trade according to usage, so 
that the trade's own journeymen be not ousted or 
harmed by strangers.' 

What precise answer the masters made to all these 
complaints has not become known ; but the spirit in 
which they were treated is seen from a petition sent in 
by a member of the brotherhood of hnen weavers to the 
Council in July 1601 concerning reduction of wages 
decreed arbitrarily by the masters, concerning improper 
use of the fine money, which had not even been put 
into the fund for the poor foreign and sick workmen, 
but spent on the masters' drinking bouts, and finally 
on account of the victualhng. ' They gave the men 
one pfennig per cent, on " mottled work " (kind of hnen 
wove) but only half pfennig on cloth ; further instead of 
payment of the weekly six kreuzers " the bare food out 
of the kitchen." Bread, hght, beer and other things 


that we require, we have to buy for ourselves, with 
our own money, so that with ten batzen we can scarcely 
hold out for the week. A pound of meat costs only one 
batzen, but half the time we get none. Yet of this we 
should not complain if we were reheved of other unfair 

With regard to reduction of wages the men stated 
that since Easter * for every ell of " mottled work " 
two pfennig had been taken off, and one pfennig from 
the cloth.' They begged that the Council would protect 
them as regards the wages which they had received for 
many years, all the more so as their trade was not one 
which went on summer and winter ahke, but on the 
contrary they often had to be idle in the winter, and 
also many of them at the end of their work had to tramp 
the country for bread. 

The counter report of the masters declared all these 
complaints to be ' long-winded, uncalled-for chatter,' 
but it appears that even in the master guilds there were 
dissensions. The journeymen, the report said, were 
receiving higher wages than they had had twenty-two 
years before, when they had been quite satisfied. 
' Whereas, however, before this, some of the masters, 
out of jealousy of us, began giving workmen higher 
wages than had been the previous custom ; this induced 
many to leave their former masters for those who paid 
higher wages : agitators soon spread the cry for higher 
wages all round.' They could not, they said, give the 
men more wages for twelve or twenty years to come ; 
the men were never punished unjustly and wantonly ; 
the boxes for the fines were never emptied by the 
masters. * If they think we are bound to put as much 
meat as they hke into their open mouths every day, and 


to give them beer, bread, light and other things besides, 
let them know that we are not bound to do anything 
of the sort, on the contrary we are forbidden to do so 
by a clause in our ordinance under pain of punishment/ 
' If one or the other of them finds their master's board or 
wages insufficient, let them seek more elsewhere, the 
door and the gate are open to them ; for there are 
plenty of workmen everywhere for our trade ' ; ' other 
poor foreign loafers wandering about the country and 
unable to find work have often been glad to be employed 
here.' In short, the leaders in the complaints were 
described as ' agitators and idle fellows who thought 
more of drinking and swilling than of working industri- 
ously.' 1 

The Nuremberg bookmakers on one occasion at- 
tempted to raise the workmen's weekly payments for 
food to nearly the double, to a sum which, as the 
magistrate said, ' many a workman could scarcely earn 
in the week,' " so that all his work would have gone for 
food only. 

How httle care was often bestowed by the guilds 
on the apprentices, in spite of all the old and com- 
mendable guild-regulations, is shown by an admonition 
of the Nuremberg Council in 1595 to the gold spinners, 
lacemakers, and wool carding tool makers : ' Whereas 
also the poor young fellows, especially the strangers 
who have no one in the town to care for them, often 
have their health seriously affected by bad conditions of 
food and sleeping accommodation, and bad smells which 
they are obhged to endure in their small, stuffy rooms, 
the above-named three trades must be advised that, 

1 Schonlank, 606-612. 

- Without mention of the year, in Stockbauer, 34. 


henceforth, whenever an apprentice who is not a citizen 
of this town becomes infected with disease and ruined 
in health in their service, they will be bound to have him 
doctored at their own expense/ The Council appointed 
for each of these three industries two presidents who 
were to take care that the apprentices were protected 
against hunger and cold, that their health was not 
injured, that they were not ill-used with blows and 
reproaches, and not worked beyond their strength 
and power of endurance/ 

Simultaneously with the deterioration and decline of 
industrial life there came a dechne of peasant life and 
agriculture, which had an even more injurious effect on 
economic conditions. 

^ Stockbauer, 24. 




After the social revolution of 1525 had been extin- 
guished with the blood of the peasants, there followed 
almost throughout the whole empire the most distressing 
collapse of agrarian conditions.^ 

The peasant-class, the most vigorous and numerous 
portion of the people, found itself, generally speaking, 
without protection and without rights, a prey to the arbi- 
trary will of those in power, and this not only in those 
districts in which the storms of revolution had raged, 
but also, and even to a greater degree, in those which 
had remained untouched by these disturbing influences.^ 

^ See our remarks, vol. i. 327, on agricultural life at the close of the 
Middle Ages, and vol. iv. 121 ff., 143 ff., 344 ff., on the social revolution 
and its consequences. 

- See K. J. Fuchs, ' Die Epoclien der deutschen Agrargeschichte und 
AgrarpoUtik,' in the Allgem. Ztg., 1898, BeU. 70, where he says : ' The 
position of the peasant-class in the South-West has not on the whole become 
essentially worse since the sixteenth century. It is quite otherwise, 
however, as regards the course of development in the North-East, in the 
lands East of the Elbe wliich were not Germanised and colonised till the 
twelfth century. Here the actual decline of the peasant-class, the gradual 
deterioration of the position they had acquired as colonists, consequent 
on the formation of the manorial system, and of large landed properties, 
begins at this very time. First of aU the personal conditions of the 
peasant begin to suffer : he is bound to the manorial domain so long as he 
has a farm holding within its circumference ; he belongs to the lord of 
the manor, and the Reformation further impairs his rights of possession 
and his agricultural status. Through the change in the constitution of 


At the Spires Diet of 1526. which met immediately 
after the subjugation of the peasants, the imperial 
legislation busied itself to some extent with the cause 
of this down-trodden and persecuted class. It was 
decreed in the Eecess of August 26 that those subjects 
who were responsible for the insurrection were to be 
proceeded against in such a manner as to make them 
imderstand that the " mercy and lenity of their rulers 
were greater and more benevolent than their own 
unreasonable action and behaviouj : that every ruler 
should have power and authority to restore to their 
former position of honour all those subjects who had 
unconditionally surrendered and received pimishment : 
they may be allowed to act as judges, counsel and 
witnesses, and also as plaintifis in matters concerning 
their own interests and through their spokesmen : 
justice should be evenly dealt out to them and they 
were to abide by the judges'" sentences.' - 

Xevertheless only a few of the rulers made use of 
this " power and authority ' : some of them, especially 

the army that took place at this period, the iiitroduction of merc«iary 
troops, the knights who in this region could not be territorial lords, and 
only to a slight extent to\m patricians, tamed thansrfres into farmers, and 
began at once to enlarge the territory belonging to their o\m knightly 
possessions by confiscating what had hitherto been peasant lands. Xow 
begins the pulling down of the peasant-holdings and the btiilding up of 
large manorial properties.' As* howeTer, thiis enormously increased 
extent of manorial land was now as before worked by means of the feudal 
service of the peasants, whose number went on diminisidaz. these services 
inTiItq>Iied in proportion as the supply of peasants decreased, and the 
peasamts. in order that they should not run away, are made personally 
dependent, or hereditary vassals. The introduction of Roman law also 
contributed, though not to the extent generally believed, to the injury of 
the personal and property rights of the peasants. See Knapp in the 
Zeiiddtr. fir BecMtagesdtichU, xis. (190S), 16 f ., 37 n.. 42 c. 
' Sent S am mt l mng der Abschiedf, ii ^74, | 6 ; cf. 275, § 8. 


ecclesiastical princes, such as the Abbots of Murbach and 
Maurusmiinster, the Bishops of Spires and of Strasburg, 
showed mercy to the vanquished peasants ; Archbishop 
Matthias Lang of Salzbui'g gave orders on November 20, 
1526, that ' imjust and newly introduced impositions 
should be abolished ; above all nobody should have the 
power to claim feudal rights over people and lands not 
held in vassalage before/ ^ It was not many of the 
princes who could say for themselves what Duke 
George the Bearded of Saxony wrote regarding the 
peasant war of 1527 to the Landgrave Phihp of Hesse : 
* We have, God be praised, taken nothing from any- 
one ; we have behaved in such wise towards them that 
no one can accuse us of having used violence towards 
anyone ; they are also, thank God, not so greatly 
impoverished ; they have their pennies to spend like 
others, and they can render aid to their lords hke others 
and better than others/ - 

In numbers of peasant ordinances of later times 
there is not a trace of forcible seizure of parishes by the 
rulers ; for instance, in the ordinance of 1544, issued for 
the village of Kappel near Vilhngen, whose overlords 
were the cloister of St. George in the Schwarzwald, 
and Squire James of Freyburg,'^ and in the ordinance 
issued two years later by Bishop PhiUp of Basle for the 
village of Schliengen.^ 

' See our remarks, vol. iv. 351 f. 

- Seidemann, ' Briefwechsel zwischen Landgraf Pliilipp von Hessen 
und Herzog Georg von Sachsen,' in Niedners, Zeitschr. fiir histar. Theologie, 
xix. 213, 214. 

^ Contributed by RotL von Schreckenstein in the Zeitschr. fiir 
die Gesch. des Oberrheins, xxx. 442-456. 

^ Contributed by Bader in the Zeitschr. fiir die Gesch. des Oberrheins, 
xviii. 225-243. 


On the whole, however, the words written by Sebas- 
tian Franck in 1534 apphed equally to the German 
peasants after the social revolution : ' The peasants are 
everybody's footstools, and hard pressed they are with 
socage, dues, tithes, taxes, tolls, &;c/ With this lament- 
able position of theirs and with the hatred which filled 
their hearts towards their oppressors we may connect 
what Franck added : ' They are none the more pious 
for all this, nor are they a simple, peaceable set of folk, 
but on the contrary, savage, cunning and undisciphned/ ^ 

There existed no longer now the powerful imperial 
central authority, such as formerly, in connection with 
the Church, had been the actual basis of peasant well- 
being, had protected the peasants against the encroach- 
ments of the princes and nobles, and above all had 
saved the German peasant-class from the fate which 
had overtaken the Slav agriculturist.- ' There is now 
no longer any Emperor,' said a fugitive piece of the 
year 1598, ' for many long years no more any Emperor, 
who could if he would defend the cause of the poor 
miserable peasants, in these restless, dissentient times, 
when everyone is consumed with hatred and discontent, 
against the harpies, the extortioners and the sweaters. 
Just tell me what is done at all the many imperial and 
other Diets ? Everything imaginable, but nothing, 
nothing whatever that is of any use, comfort or pro- 
tection to the poor man of the land and that would 
serve to put a bit in the mouths of their oppressors, 
tyrants and fleecers.' ^ 

> Weltbuch, Bl. 47. - See Nitzsch, i. 337-339, and ii. 3-9, 318. 

■' ' Baueinklage ob der arm Mann nicht audi zum Recht kommen 
soil ? ' (a Flughlatt of 1598), p. 2. Cf. (D. Sudermann). Klag der armen 
Bauern (Strasburg, 161(3). 


In the course of imperial legislation since 1526 
there had only on one single occasion been any thought 
of the peasants, and that was when in the Augsburg 
Recess of 1555 the owners of the land were granted 
the right to reduce their tenants to the state of serfs 
and bondmen.^ 

' In what German land/ the fugitive piece of 1598 
goes on, ' does the German peasant still enjoy his old 
rights ? Where does he have any use or profit of the 
common fields, meadows and forests ? Where is there 
any hmit to the number of feudal services and dues ? 
Where has the peasant his own tribunal ? God have 
pity on him ! All this and other things belonging to the 
former honourable condition of the peasantry are quite 
past and gone, so that whoever speaks of such things 
now is told that he is an enemy of the overlords and a 
sedition-monger, and deserves to be punished in life, 
Hmb and goods/ * And even admired theologians are 
quoted to show how sharply the peasants and the 
" rabble " must be looked after, so that they may not 
wax wanton again and defy their rulers who alone have 
authority over them, and again rise up against them/ '^ 
Among the number of such theologians, Melanchthon 
especially, under the lively memory of the social revolu- 
tion, had pronounced himself in favour of the unhmited 
power of the rulers. ' Each individual," he wrote, ' is 
bound to give whatever the secular government decrees, 
whether it be tithes or octaves/ ' In Egypt the people 
were bound to give not a tenth only but a fifth part, and 
all property was the King's own, and this enactment 

^ Neue Sammlung der Reichsabschiede, iii. 19, § 24. Cf. v. Maurer, 
Fronhofe, iv. 530. 

" See above, p. 140, n. 2. 


was made by Joseph, in whom the Holy Spirit certainly 
dwelt, and he oppressed the people heavily ; neverthe- 
less they were obhged to pay what was exacted/ ' On 
the part of the peasants it was a crime and an offence 
to refuse to be bond-servants, for such conduct was 
contrary to the Gospel and had no reason in it/ ' When 
the subjects had any complaints to make concerning 
confiscation of the communal property in water or woods 
or concerning services and taxes, they ought to proceed 
to law : rulers frequently had good cause for enclosing 
common lands, in order to tend them or what not, and 
even if they did this by force, they must not be opposed 
with force. Also as regards the imposition of penalties, 
the peasants had not the right to lay down laws 
for their overlords ; for God had ordained rulers 
for the purpose of warding off and punishing evil/ 
* The Germans,' he reiterated, ' are such a wanton 
and bloodthirsty people, that they ought to be kept 
down even more rigorously ; for Solomon says, Pro- 
■ verbs xxvi. 3, " A whip for the horse, a bridle for the 
ass, and a rod for the fool's back ; " and Ecclesiasticus 
xxiii. : " Fodder, a wand and burdens are for the ass ; 
and bread, correction and work for a servant/' ' i 

Like Melanchthon, Spalatin also referred to Joseph 
respecting the burdens of the peasants. ' It was 
indeed a greater hardship that Joseph, the holy 
man of God, should have imposed a tax of a fifth 
part over the whole kingdom, and yet this ordinance 
was well-pleasing to God.' "" 

Luther, who also required unconditioned obedience 
to the commands of rulers, said, in 1529, that the peas- 
ants were in a better position than the princes. ' You 

^ Corf, Reform., xx. 641 ff. See also our remarks, vol. iv. 362 ff. 


helpless, boorish peasants and donkeys, won't you 
understand ? May thunder and Hghtning strike you ! 
You have the best part, namely use, profit and sap from 
the vine clusters, and you leave the husks and the skins for 
the princes. You have the marrow for yourselves, and 
will you be so ungrateful and not pray for the princes, 
and not be willing to give them anything ? ' In one of 
his sermons on the first book of Moses he said it would 
be the best thing for them if servants were again sub- 
jected to a sort of slavery such as had existed among 
the Jews. ' " Then Abimelech," he said, " took sheep 
and oxen, and men-servants and maid-servants, and 
gave them to Abraham and spake unto Sarah,"' and so 
forth. Was not that a royal gift ? Then he gave them 
power over the sheep and oxen, and men-servants and 
maid-servants, so that they were all personal property, 
and the owners might sell them as they liked ; and 
it would verily be almost best that this state of things 
should be revived, for nobody could control and tame 
the populace in any other way. Only if fist and force 
were at hand, so that if anyone dared to grumble 
he would have a fist on his head, would things 
be any better.' The ' pious, holy people ' of whom 
he had been speaking had a fine government, among 
the heathen also. Now we don't get on. A man- 
servant in those days was worth from one to eight 
gulden, a maid-servant from one to six gulden, and 
they were obhged to do what their mistress wanted. 
And if the world is to go on, it will not be possible to 
keep it under control unless these rules are revived. ^ 

That servants, as Luther puts it, were ' personal 
property like other cattle ' which the overlords could 

1 See our remarks, vol. iv. p. 363. 


buy and sell at their pleasure, was also maintained to be 
just and right by many representatives of the old pagan 
Eoman law. 

The saying in vogue amongst nearly all lawyers of 
importance at that time, ' All is legitimate, and not 
tyrannical, that can in any way be backed up by the 
statutes of the Corpus Juris,' ^ was fruitful of the greatest 
injury to the peasant-class. 

Thus, for instance, the Mecklenburg jurist, John 
Frederick Husanus, in a pamphlet, ' tJber die Leib- 
eigenen,' worked this principle out in detail ; the old 
slavery, based on captivity in war, had been in the main 
everywhere abohshed by Christianity, but without a 
system of slavery corresponding in great measure to 
the old one, a town could not exist.- To this new 
servitude the peasants especially were subjected, and 
hence a landed proprietor had miconditioned right to 
drive them at any time out of their holdings and 
to seize the peasants' fields as manorial property.^ 
' The slave-colonist must not bring an action against 
his overlord, he must render him services and dues, 
and on the marriage of his owner's daughter he must 
contribute to her outfit. The overlord has also the 
right to tax his " slave-colonist," to inflict corporal 
punishment on him, to seize his goods and chattels, 
and even to hold over him punishment by death.'* 

^ Reseller, Deutsche Nationalokonomik an der Grenzscheide, 275-276, 
and Gesch. der Nationalokonomik, 145. 

- The State needed a system of servitude, ' Vetustae magna ex parte 

•''... potest eiicere suo fundo, item alio transferre et viUam suo 
arbitratu sibi, e praediis colonis concessis extruere.' 

'' Fuller details concerning the book of Husanus, De Iwminibus 
propriis (1590), are given in Bohlau, 389 ff. 


The jurist Ernest Cothmann, who planted himself on 
Husanus and was regarded as a practical authority, 
insisted that the mere fact that a man was a peasant 
was enough to estabhsh his bondage. ^ 

In agreement with Husanus, George Schonborner 
von Schonborn, Chancellor of Hohenzollern, also said, 
in a work on State law of the year 1614, that actual 
slaves no longer existed in Germany, but that slavery 
was on the whole lawful, because the ownership or 
possession of what a ruler had acquired by force and 
valour was just and legitimate.^ 

That under the influence of such principles and 
assertions of theologians and jurists, the condition of 
the peasants should have changed greatly for the worse, 
cannot seem surprising. True, there are yet other 
considerations here to be taken into account. For 
instance, deterioration of peasant life is found in the 
greater part of North-East Germany, where there had 
been no violent rising of the peasants and where therefore 
the forcible suppression of the latter could not be excused 
on the plea that ' by sedition and insurrection they had 
forfeited their ancient rights.' ^ . 

1 Bohlau, 404 £f. 
. ^ ' . . . possessio eius, quod virtute et fortitudine domini acquisitum 
est, iusta.' Rosclier, Gesch, der Nationalokonomik, 145, 146. 

^ 'So long as there were ecclesiastical ground landlords,' saya 
Grupp {Niedergang des Bauernslandes, 102), ' these had formed a sort of 
counterpoise, and they still did so in South Germany. But in North 
Germany these counterchecks had fallen away, causing a great load of 
oppressions to descend on the peasants. The peasants felt this instinc- 
tively and were therefore not inchned to throw in their lot with the 
Reformation. See Spahn, Wirtsclmftsgeschichte Pommerns, 39.' Further 
on (p. 107 ff.) Grupp mentions the agrarian causes which co-operated 
with the Roman law and the selfishness of the squires : ' The ground- 
owners were obUged to secure larger profits after the price of the necessaries 
of life had risen, while the value of money had sunk.' They began to 


In Western Pomerania and in Riigen before 1540 
there were a number of free peasants besides those who 
were the property of the overlords. Of these it is said 
in the ' Pomerania ' of Theodore Kantzow, private writer 
in the Chancellery at Wolgast (| 1542) : ' They pay 
their modest rents and have also some definite service 
to render, at Riigen they give money instead of service. 
These peasants are of good standing and well-to-do, 
and if any of them do not wish to hve any longer on 
their farms, or to let their children hve on them, they 
sell them with their lord's leave, and give a tenth part 
of the purchase money to the landlord. And whoever 
succeeds them on the farm also gives money to the 
landlord, and the former occupiers go away with their 
children and goods wherever they like." ' And these 
peasants who hold their farms on hereditary tenure, even 
should the overlords wish to turn them out, will not go 
unless they want to do so, they are not so entirely 
dependent and are at hberty to go where they hke.' ^ 

Within a short space of time, however, these peasants 
in Pomerania and Riigen fell a helpless prey to the 
nobles. The prosperity and the influence of the 
peasant-class were forcibly curtailed, and violation of 
rights and customs on the part of the manorial lords 

occupy themselves with the export of raw materials, the traffic in corn, 
wool and cattle. The manifold undertakings in which the nobles engaged 
led to a great increase of business, and tliis gave occasion to the well-known 
expropriations of the peasants. Concerning the serious consequences to 
the peasants of the transition of the nobihty from military pursuits to 
agriculture, see also W. Meyer, Guts-und Leibeigentum in Lippe seit 
Ausgang des Mittelalters (HaUe, 1896), 21, and above, Fuchs in the 
Allgem. Ztg. 

' Kantzow, Pomerania, ii. 418, 432. ** See v. Briinneck, Leibeigen- 
schaft in Pommern, 104 ff., and Grupp, Niedergang, 106, 116 ff. See also 
our remarks, vol. i. p. 312 f. 


rose even to the height of arbitrary ejection of 
hereditary tenant-farmers. A nobleman himself, the 
Riigen baihff, Matthias von Norman (f 1556), com- 
plained in the middle of the century of the injury that 
had accrued to the peasant-class through the influence 
of foreign law, of the bad administration that went on, 
the decay of justice, and the usurpation of the nobles. 
' The poor,' he said, ' are bled and fleeced/ The good 
old conditions of possession and privileges were to 
such an extent undermined that, as Norman briefly 
summed up the situation : ' Everyone now does what 
he likes/ ^ 

The so-called ' Legen der Bauern,' that is to say, the 
seizure of their farms by the knights, had at that time 
become a widely prevalent practice. As, however, the 
farms held by the knights on their own ' Plough ' were 
free from taxation, the incorporation of rateable peasant 
farms in the property of the knights materially increased 
the burden of the remaining ratepayers. Accordingly 
the towns, at a Provincial Diet in 1550, complained of 
the arbitrary proceedings of the knights, who refused to 
pay taxes on formerly taxable peasant property. When, 
however, the Duke proclaimed the abolition of tax 
immunity for the farms which the knights had seized 
for their own use, the towns began to confiscate peasant 
lands, so that a decade later the territorial lords on 
their part complained of the ' Bauernlegen' (expropriation 
of farmers) by nobles and towns.^ ' Nobles and towns,' 
said Duke Barnim in a Provincial Recess of February 10, 
1560, * are utterly unscrupulous in the wholesale way in 
which they turn parsonages and glebe lands into new 
sheepfolds and farms; the lands are unequally rated, many 

1 Gaede, 34, 40-41. Fuchs, 49 ff., 63. ' Fuchs, 68, 69. 

L 2 


of them are made free from taxation, many of the knights, 
under pretext of ancient freedom, refuse to give anything 
from their httle towns and hamlets, and so the land 
and the taxes are alike reduced to a low ebb.' i 

From decade to decade the position of the peasants 
grew worse and worse. ' The laying waste ' of taxable 
farms, that is, the confiscation of peasant farms for the 
purpose of making larger sheepfolds on them, had 
become so common, that a ducal decree of 1600 made 
all further action of the sort dependent on the permission 
of the territorial lords.^ In the following year the 
Duke decreed that in the case of his giving his consent 
to the eviction of any peasant, without any fault on the 
peasant's part, the manorial lord must at least let him be 
free to go away with all his goods and chattels and 
without demanding compensation ; ' the poor peasants,' 
he said, ' were so distressed by the dearness of everything 
that they could not afford any longer to pay for a couple 
of oxen.' 3 

But the peasants always resisted, whenever possible, 
this tyranny of the landlords, and would not wilhngly 
submit to being turned out of their farms, and so finally, 
in 1616, after some opposition from the territorial 
government, a fresh Peasant and Shepherd Ordinance 
was drawn up by Roman jurists and the councillors of 
noble birth and proclaimed by Duke Philip II., and by this 
ordinance the power of the manorial lords to seize peasant 
property was fully recognised and the peasants were 
deprived of all their ancient rights and all title to 
hereditary possession. ' The peasants,' so ran this 
document, ' in our duchy and land are not holders by 

1 Diihnert, i. 479. •- Ihid. 770. Fuchs, 70. 

^ Dahnert, i. 784, 789. 


perpetual lease, but bond- servants bound to yield all 
sorts of undefined feudal services without limitation 
and certainty. Tliey and their sons are not free to 
leave their farms and lands without the consent of the 
rulers. The lands, ploughed and unploughed, and so 
forth, belong simply and solely to the local landlord and 
ruler, so that the peasants and colonists have no dominion 
of any sort, and have no right to urge that they and 
their forbears have lived on the farms for 50, 60, or 
even 100 years. Therefore neither they nor their sons 
are free to leave and settle elsewhere without the 
consent of the rulers, their hereditary lords, and if the 
rulers want to take back to themselves the farms, 
fields, and meadows, the peasants must submit without 
resistance. Also the sons of freeholders, millers holding 
in fee, innkeepers having title-deeds, must also, like 
other peasants, be subject to the manorial lords with 
servitude.' ^ 

1 Dahnert, iii. 835-836. Cf. Gaede, 41-46 ; Fuchs, 71-73. In this 
enslavement and plundering of the peasants ' the influence of jurists 
trained in Roman law is unmistakable.' ** See also Grupp, Niedergang, 
110 ff., 114. The De hominibus propriis of Husanus of Mecklenburg 
(1550) (see above, p. 144, n. 4), which is at the basis of this movement, 
also acquired influence in Pomei'ania. In Riigen the peasants lay under a 
similar yoke. See Fuchs, 53-63. Concerning the evil influence of Roman 
law on the peasants in Pomerania see also von Briinneck, Leibeigenschaft in 
Pommern, 129 ff. ; and in the same work see 135 ff. concerning the Peasant 
Ordinance of 1616. The author comes to the conclusion that the Ordinance 
bound the peasants firmly to the estate : its effects were twofold : it 
deprived the men of the right to migrate and laid upon them compulsory 
labour without limit either in kind or in time. ' This peasant ordinance,' 
says Grupp, ' looks like an overturning of peasant conditions in favour of 
the ground-lords.' Nevertheless, this did not happen at one blow, and 
these opinions must in many points be accepted with reservation. If 
the peasants were called bond-servants, the old bond-service in the strict 
sense of the word is not meant thereby, but rather peasant obligations, 
a mild attachment to the glebe coupled with compulsory services to the 


In Pomerania-Wolgast great princely agricultural 
domains were formed out of confiscated peasant farms, 
and on these, as on the lands of the nobles, the services 
of the peasants were doubled. The Pomeranian towns 
also, with appeal to the Mecklenburg jurist Husanus, 
claimed for themselves the right to turn out the peasants 
at their will and to retain the farm stock and utensils.^ 

In Mecklenburg at that time the peasants had 
long since been victims of that ' new slavery ' which 
Husanus pronounced necessary to the maintenance of 
a State. There, too, bond-service (formerly unknown) 
on the basis of the Roman law first developed itself in 
the course of the sixteenth century ; by the middle 
of this century the knights enjoyed ' power of Hfe 
and property ' over the Nether Saxon peasants. 

lord of the land. Lassitic ownership was not enforced till after the 
Thirty Years' War ; it made the peasant a bondman, and took from him the 
right to inherit or bequeath land. In Brandenburg also possession first 
became lassitic at this period. See also BruchmiiUer, Die Folgen der 
Befor7nation u. des Dreissigjahrigen Krieges fiir die Idndische Verfassung u. 
die Lage des Bauernstandes im ostlichen Deutschland, besonders in Bran- 
denburg. Crossen, 1897. Concerning the change in the position of the 
peasant-class which took place in Pomerania in the sixteenth century, see 
also Spahn, Verfassungs- u. Wirtschaftsgesch. des Herzogtums Pommern, 
124 ff. ' The question of the crushing down of the social position of the 
peasants occupied the nobles at the Provincial Diets up to the year 1616, 
when the hesitation of the princes helped the efforts of the knights to gain 
the day. It was not from agrarian interest that they devoted themselves 
for such a length of time to peasant concerns, but rather from financial 
considerations. In spite of a few antagonistic utterances scattered 
here and there, the dominant impression remains that if the Estates 
had been willing to pay land tax for the farms taken over and worked 
by themselves, the Dukes would have had little to say against the ejecting of 
the peasants. For if not the ejecting also, the bleeding and sweating of 
the country people was probably nowhere so severe as in the princely 
domains' (p. 124 ff.). 
' Fuchs, 76-81. 


formerly free, now in bondage. ^ It was related of the 
squires there that ' they fasten their peasants a whole day 
behind a red-hot stove and give them nothing to eat 
but over-salted herrings' noses, and nothing at all to 
drink. No wonder if their thirst drove them to lick the 
oven ! ' ^ At Neukahlen, in 1562, a peasant was once 
punished by having his beard firmly wedged to a block. ^ 
At the Diets, the towns and the knights raised 
endless complaints against each other concerning the 
peasants. The towns complained that ' the nobles 
took from their peasants, who wanted to sell their 
cattle, for every heifer, half a gulden,' and altogether 
did not allow them free sale of their produce. The 
knights, on the other hand, complained that ' in the 
towns, to oppress the peasants, a certain price was 
put on corn and the burghers were forbidden, on pain 
of punishment, to pay any more for it ; then when 
the peasants bring their goods to the town they have 
to sell the corn at a lower price, while the burgher 
arbitrarily raises the price of his goods and gives the 
peasant bad coin into the bargain.' * Everything 
that others did for their own benefit,' says Duke Ulrich, 
' was at the expense of the poor peasants, but it is the 
duty of the princes to look after the peasants as well 
as after the other classes.' ■^ How the princes fulfilled 
this duty was shown in 1607 by a decision of the 
territorial lords at a Provincial Diet at Giistrow. The 
peasants were declared to be mere ' colonists ' who, at 
command, must give up their acres to the ground-lord, 

^ ' Tho Ghude und Live mechtig,' it was said at a Provincial Diet in 
1555. Hegel, 21L 

^ Fischart, Geschichtklitterung, 95. 

^ Franck, Altes und Neues MecMenbnrg, book x. 107. 

' Hegel, 197-198. Franck, book ii. 75 ; cf.' xii. 73. 


and who could not claim any hereditary rights, ' even 
if they had been in possession of the land from 
time immemorial/ Only when it was a question of 
their own. privileges, especially as regards exemption 
from taxes, did the nobles appeal to the ' sanctity 
of old traditions/ They went on svstematicallv with 
the work of laying waste the peasants' farms, and 
killing off the peasants ; the well-to-do ones were 
gradually transformed into poor serfs, in consequence 
of which the country towTis, in which the peasants 
had been wont to buy all their necessary supplies, 
suffered irreparable loss. Before long, traffic was carried 
on with serfs as with horses and cows/ 

A change of like melancholy nature came over the 
peasantry in the duchies of Schleswig and Holstein. 
There, too, it was in the sixteenth century that servitude 
first gained a firm foothold. With the exception of 
a few districts, in which the subjugated Wends had 
settled, the knights' farms were originally not much 
larger than the peasants' ; it was only through forcible 
pulhng down of whole callages that they acquired their 
later extensive proportions. Still, at the present day 
some of the farm premises go by names which originally 
designated the boundaries of \dllages that had been 
destroyed. 2 

In Brandenburg the nature of peasant subjection 
had already become more severe towards the end of 

* Fuller details are given in Bohlau, 359-409. A. F. Glockner in 
Lisch, Jahrbiicher, x. 387 S. Boll; Gesch. Mecklenburgs,i. 352 ff., and ii. 
142, 147, 569. 

"^ See G. Hanssen, Die Aufhebiing der Leibetgenschaft und die Umge- 
staltung der gutsherrlich-bduerlichen V erhdltnisse iiberhaiipt in den Her- 
zogtumern Schleswig und Holstein (Petersburg, 1861), pp. 10-12. Hanssen 
in the Archiv der politischen Okonomie, iv. 113, n. 2. 


the fifteenth century ; it was then recognised as a 
^ed principle that the peasants were the vassals of 
their squires, i Elector Joachini I. did, for a time, 
lend a full hearing to the frequent complaints of the 
peasants concerning the extension and strengthening 
of manorial power, and he constantly threatened the 
knights with interference from himself as territorial 
lord. Finally, however, he went over entirely to the 
side of the knights. In 1527, contrary to all impartial 
legal usage, he assured them that he would never 
introduce a complaint of the peasants against them 
before the accused manorial lord had expressed his 
own opinion on the matter ; and even then he would 
only allow the peasants to take legal action, if he did 
not consider the explanation of the knight proprietor 
satisfactory. In order to frighten off the peasants 
from making complaints a decree was issued by Joachim 
II. in 1540, and again by John George in 1572, to the 
effect that, ' Owing to the fact that the knight pro- 
prietors are often accused at coiu't by the peasants, 
summoned by them, and involved in expenses, be 
it henceforth understood that whenever a peasant 

* Grossmann, 12 flf. ** See Kauscli, Die gutsherrlich-bduerlichen 
V erhaltnisse in der Mark Brandenburg his zur Zeit des Dreissigjdhrigen 
Krieges (Dramburg, 1900), p. 21 ff. ' On the whole (since this condition of 
servitude had developed) the poor people had just enough to Uve and pay 
their dues. Consequently they had lost all interest in the improvement of 
their property and in the progress of agricultui'e, for it was only in the very 
smallest degree that they could reap the fruit of their own industry. 
Under the pressure wliich weighed them down and the narrow limits of 
their outlook, aU spirit of endeavour, all striving after advancement, was 
choked in the peasant class. They lived from day to day, working on in 
stoUd indifference.' ' That the Mark was not rent in pieces by the peasant- 
war, was undoubtedly less owing to the peasants' contentedness with 
their position than to the strong territorial authority and power possessed 
by the knights ' (p. 26). 


complains of his overlord and does not give sufficient 
justification for his complaint, he shall, in accordance 
with our chamber reforms, be punished by imprisonment 
in the tower, in order that the other peasants may 
learn to refrain from such insolent complaining/ ^ At 
the same time the manorial lords were granted full 
right of forcible ' buying out, or ejection of the peasants,* 
for the purpose of extending their own landed property : 
all peasants were to vacate their tenements and sur- 
render them to their overlords for reasonable compensa- 
tion, whenever they (the overlords) wanted to start a 
new farm or to build a dower house for a wife. Besides 
this, the groundlords were given the right ' to relegate 
refractory peasants/ that is, to turn them out of their 
farms and out of the village ; if a peasant did not pay 
his rent at the proper time ' the landlord was entitled 
to distrain the tenant himself.' ^ Even though it was 
still always recognised in principle that the peasants 
were personally free beings, it nevertheless distinctly 
tended to personal unfreedom that at numbers of 
Provincial Diets it was settled that " the children of 

1 Korn, 20. Winter, MdrUsche Stdnde, xix. 277-278. Mylius, vi. Abt. 1, 
112. Kausch, 32 : ' According to the reformed legislation of the Imperial 
Chamber of 1540, the punishment for peasants who insolently appealed 
against their overlords was six weeks' imprisonment in the tower. This 
seems, however, not to have been effectual enough, for in 1602 the Estates 
actually insisted that corporal chastisement should be inflicted on such 
insolent complainants, and that a similar punishment should befall those 
who incited the peasants to unnecessary complaints.' 

2 ' Thus the knights were invested with power to protect themselves 
and with right of execution in their own affaii's independently of the 
ordinary courts of justice, and the full significance of this state of things 
can only be reahsed, when we remember how clumsy at that period was 
the machinery of the Imperial Chamber at which alone the peasants 
might complain, the distance of the peasants from its sessions, the above- 
mentioned difficulty of going to law, and the punishment in case of 
losing their suit.' Korn, 41. ** Cf. Kausch, 27 ff. 


the peasants were bound to serve tlie overlords as 
domestics in preference to other employers.* From this 
there grew up the system of compulsory domestic ser- 
vice which was justly regarded as most hard bondage. ^ 
Further, the peasants were forbidden the right of moving 
to another place, and the right of being received in any 
other town or village, unless they presented a certificate 
of dismissal from their former overlord. ^ 

The eviction of the peasants, so the towns complained 
in 1549, caused the growth of the country proletariate, 
which streamed into the towns and became a burden 
on the poor rates.^ In the Altmark and the Priegnitz 
the knights themselves complained in 1606 that ' the 

^ In 1594 the Estates of the Altmark represented to the Elector 
that : ' Although we remember and are well aware that in the Acts of 
the Estates it is in such wise decreed, we nevertheless venture to say quod 
durissima videatur esse servitus et contra dispositionem iuris communis 
introducta, nee in omnibus Marchiae locis pariter recepta, which had 
never before prevailed in the Altmark.' Korn, 32-33. See also 
Grupp, Niedergang, 114. Kausch remarks (p. 26 ff.) : 'At first it was 
decreed by the Provincial Recess of 1518 that no domestic servant 
should hire himseK out in service, or offer himself for service, unless 
he had first offered himself to the overlord under whom he was bom 
and was settled. This decree was renewed at a number of Diets 
as in 1534 and 1536. Later on this obligation was restricted to three 
years (as. in a domestic servant ordinance of 1629 for the Mittel-Ucker 
and Neumark).' 

2 ** < lyj^g natural result of this oppressive subjugation was that the 
inhabitants of the country largely sought escape from bondage by crowding 
into the towns where an independent existence was more easily within 
their reach and the wages of their labour came to them undiminished. 
The knights, however, found a way of putting a check on this flight from 
the country. Under Albert Achilles the law had already been enforced 
that nobody among the peasants or vassals, not even their servants, might 
by anyone be received, housed or provided for without their master's 
knowledge and consent, and it had already become a fixed principle 
that no peasant might take himself off without producing a guarantor. 
Removal abroad was altogether forbidden.' Kausch, 26. 

•' Winter, Mdrkische Stdnde, xx. 515. 


confiscation of peasant goods had become so common 
that it caused a" great deal of abuse and disorder ' ; 
peasant lands were not only turned into knights' 
property and seats of the nobles, but were also used 
' for widows' jointures, official premises, sheepfolds and 
other requirements of all sorts.' Some of the peasants 
also were robbed of their fields and meadows ; farmers 
were turned into cottagers (without land), and on these 
confiscated lands, just as if they were knights' property, 
no taxes were paid, so that the country sustained great 
loss from failure of the peasants' taxes. ^ 

^ Grossmann, 27, n. 5. ** What Count Anton of Oldenburg in 
Bavaria had seen he quickly imitated. See R. AUmers, Die Unfreiheit 
der Friesen zwischen Weser unci Jade (Stuttgart, 1896) and K. EUstaetter, 
' Der Untergang der Friesischen Bauer nfreiheit,' in the Frankf. Zeitung, 
1897, No. 159. The latter remarks in the appendix to the monograph of 
Allmers : ' Count Anton profited by the introduction of the Reformation 
for the confiscation of the extensive ecclesiastical lands. The property 
he thus seized was mostly taken under his own management and the 
peasants put to feudal service on it, and such hard unlimited service it was 
that they were obliged to neglect their own lands. Further, he seized 
the communal land which hitherto had served, above all, for the main- 
tenance of the pastors and churches, as well as for defrayment of the 
dike-tax. All school instruction came to a stop. This indeed was 
obviously the intention of the Count : for when once he had crushed down 
the peasants mentally and morally, and made them incapable of defending 
their rights, it would not be difficult for him to crush and disable them 
also in agricultural respects, and finally to convert them into complete 
bondsmen. The seizure of the land which had hitherto borne the dike-tax 
resulted in greater and greater neglect of the dikes, which finally became 
unfit to resist the invasion of floods. The peasants, overburdened with 
feudal services on the Count's farms and with the construction of dikes 
for his benefit, had no time to cultivate their own land, let alone to keep 
the dikes in repair. The salt-water floods ruined the soil and made it 
unproductive ; every flood was followed by a ravaging pestilence wliich 
carried off all the animals that had escaped drowning, and marsh fever 
enfeebled the men. Added to these evils was the disgraceful manner in 
which the territorial lords abused their lights of jurisdiction : on the most 
trifling pretexts the goods of the peasants were seized by the law-courts, 
and the whole family turned out of house and home. Soon every peasant 


The peasant, completely tied to the spot and at the 
mercy of his overlord's hmnours, was burdened with 
harder and harder tasks in proportion as the manorial 
estates increased in extent and required more frequent 
services. Formerly the amount of such services had 
been hmited to three or four working-days in the year ; 
later on the knights required of the peasants to be ready 
at all times to render them service. In the electoral 
Mark, under the Elector's approval, it became an 
estabhshed rule that the peasants were bound to yield 
unhmited service if they could not adduce proof of an 
opposite usage. 1 For the Neumark, the Elector John 
George, after the knights had taken over part of the 
very large amount of debts outstanding at his accession, 

came to be regarded as the property of one or other of the Count's farms ; 
the once strong, sturdy men who had made up the free German peasantry 
of old were now mere serfs. Count Anton's pohcy was systematically 
aimed at crushing the peasants more and more. The abolition of their 
power to divide the ground property and of the right to inherit is a further 
step in this direction. The consequences of the forcible suppression of the 
marsh peasants were frightful. At the time of Count Anton's death the 
whole country was in a state of decay ; agriculture was at its lowest ebb. 
Only on the Count's own estate did a better condition of things prevail. 
Wide tracts of peasant land lay waste, for the peasants, owing to their 
heavy feudal services, had no time to cultivate their own fields, and under 
the crusliing load of manorial taxes they often could not afford the 
necessary Uve and dead farming stock. The sale of part of their possessions, 
which might have helped them, was forbidden them. Numbers of peasant 
farms were left standing empty and fell in to the Count ; the owners had 
either been drowned by floods resulting from neglect of the dikes or else 
they had left the country.' 

' Korn, 33-35, 39. G. F. Knapp, Die Bauernbefreiung und der 
Ursprung der Landarbeiter in der dlteren Teilen Preussens, i. 39-46; 
proofs of the increase in labour, in Grossmann, 39 ff. ** Cf. also 
Kausch, 30 ff. ' These hard services often drove the peasants, especially 
those who had no right of tenure, to leave house and home and go across 
the border. From the Neumark the peasants often fled to the neighbouring 
Poland, taking vidth them their farm utensils which belonged to the 
overlords' (p. 32). 


informed the peasants through his Statthalter in 1572 
that ' they must serve the squires two days a week 
with carts, ploughs, and manual labour, and in August, 
at harvest-time, as often as they were wanted, and 
must also help them with cartage and labour in their 
building.' But that the squires were actually not 
satisfied with these concessions is shown by a decree 
of the Elector's, in which he said ' it was not his intention 
to let the poor peasants be tired out with still further 
services beyond these two days ; he hoped that honour- 
able and reasonable nobles would not behave in such 
an unchristian manner to their people as to burden them 
with further services beyond these two days' work, which 
were already hard enough for them. ' ^ The word ' Leibei- 
genschaft ' so greatly wished for by the squires appears 
first in Brandenburg in a legal document of 1653.- 

In the Oberlausitz also the nobles claimed the 
right, for the extension of their estates, to buy out the 
peasants against their will. They sold the peasants* 
goods and the peasants into the bargain, just as suited 
them, multiplied their personal services, exacted house- 
hold service from their children, levied oppressive taxes 
on all inherited lands, and compelled the peasants to 
make them the offer of their land produce before they 
had taken it to the market. If a peasant wanted to 
buy himself free, his son or his daughter forfeited the 
whole or half of the paternal or maternal heritage ; if 
any of them went away without leave they lost their 
whole property. For disobedience to their overlords 
thirty-five peasants from one single village were brought 
in 1540 before a court of justice in Gorhtz ; two of them 

1 MyUus, vi. Abt. 1, 101. 

'-' Lette and von Ronne, 'Die Landeskulturgesetzgebung dea 
Preussischen Staates,' i. 17. Grossmann, 63. 


were beheaded, and all the rest banished from the 
land ; in the same year, from another village, thirty- four 
peasants were thrown into prison for refusing the 
excessive services. The Gorlitz burgomaster, John 
Hass, a man of strict aristocratic sentiments, said that 
' the peasants were treated like pagans and Turks/ ^ 

In Anhalt and in the electorate of Saxony the 
condition of the peasants was better than in the neigh- 
bouring lands. In Saxony hereditary vassalage and 
socage services did not weigh so heavily on the peasants 
as in the Lausitz and in Brandenburg. This favourable 
state of things ' was pre-eminently due to the Elector 
Maurice's government pohcy, the significance of which 
has not hitherto been done justice to. What in other 
countries was first attempted in the eighteenth century, 
viz. keep lists of the services due from peasants in fief, 
in order to protect them from unlimited and arbitrary 
pressure, was already begun in the Saxon electorate in 
the middle of the sixteenth century.' 

In the official court rolls and books of entail exact 
entries were made of all that was worth recording in 
agricultural matters. The institution of these official 
books is the most important service achieved by the 
government under the Elector Maurice.^ All the reforms 
which the government attempted, whether for the 
raising of the peasants' position, or the improvement 
of agrarian industry, were carried through without 
serious objections from the immediate subjects of the 
prince, but met with frequent resistance from his 
mediate subjects, whose immediate landlords, the 
knights, defended their chartered rights. The feudal 

1 Kimmel, Joh. Hass, 8-10, 185-186 ; cf. 172. 

■^ Wuttke, Oesindeordnung und Gesindezwangsdienste in Sachsen, p. 24. 


services imposed on the peasants in Saxony were those 
customary all over Germany. ^ A glance at the contents 
of the court rolls and books of entail of the knights' 
estates shows the pleasant fact that all the feudal 
services were nearly throughout moderate. Only con- 
cerning the immediate subjects of the district of Lichten- 
walde (book of entail of 1502) do we read : ' they must 
attend as often and whenever they are sununoned, with 
horses, carts, ploughs, and hands, ready for service, 
and there is no rule.' In the district of Dresden, 
according to the book of entail of 1547, there were also, 
in some villages, no fixed rules for enforced services. 
' When they are wanted they must help hke others, for 
the customary wage.' On the other hand, even at that 
early date efforts were being made to change personal 
service into money payments. In the district of 
Nauenhof (book of entail of 1548) and manorial estate 
of Sachsendorf (book of entail of 1587) all services 
and dues were akeady computed for money, and in 
the Erb-hrief (register of succession) of the district of 
Voigtsberg (1580) it says : ' Concerning the services 
rendered by the villages we have no record, but the 
services of the people appear to have been changed 
by Duke John Frederick into money payments.' 
Manorial proprietors made contracts with their vassals 
for changing their services into money fees. The State 
took the lead in this innovation. 

In the first years of the reign of the Elector Augustus 
all the hunting, post, kitchen, and cellar socages were 
computed for money. Nevertheless the Elector reserved 
to himself the right of demanding personal service 
instead of money. Towards the end of his reign the 

1 Wuttke, 27, 29. 


work of computation came to a standstill, and it was 
not resumed again till the reigns of Christian II. and 
John George I. Under the latter especially, and down 
to the times of the Thirty Years' War, it went on again 
in a comprehensive manner, i 

In spite of these favourable conditions, heavy griev- 
ances were not lacking even in Saxony. In 1569 the 
parishes of Reinsberg and Dittmannsdorf addressed 
serious complaints against their manorial lords to the 
supreme court at Leipzig : ' In the last seed-time/ 
they said, ' while engaged in their hard field labour they 
had suddenly been attacked with spears, muskets, and 
other murderous weapons ; some of them had been 
very badly knocked about, others tortured with the 
thumbscrew, and taken in chains to prison ; amongst 
their number were thirty women, some of whom were 
pregnant. After this a large quantity of their cattle 

1 ** Wuttke, 29. At p. 34 ff. Wuttke contributes passages from a MS. 
of the Royal Library at Dresden, Instruktion fur einen Vorwerksver waiter, 
written probably about 1569. At p. 37 ff. he gives an ' order for food for 
the domestics,' from which we may gather that the servants of the house- 
hold were well and abundantly fed. ' Wages also had greatly risen in 
Saxony in the sixteenth century.' As regards compulsory domestic service, 
Wuttke tliinks the materials at hand warrant the belief that it did not 
exist ' as an organic and legal system in Saxony down to the sixties of the 
sixteenth centmy, but only in isolated cases, as exceptions, on some of the 
manorial properties.' This was not changed till the reign of the Elector 
Augustus, who ' in the middle of the sixties took on himself the personal 
administration of the domains and met with difficulties in providing an 
adequate stafE of servants for the estates.' In 1568 he introduced 
compulsory household service for his immediate subjects on manorial 
properties. After the beginning of the seventeenth century the knights also 
claimed the right of demanding compulsory service from their peasants 
(p. 46 ff.) ; but in spite of aU their efforts, before the Thirty Years' War 
this right was not recognised as belonging to them ; only on a few manorial 
estates did compulsory service gain any firm footing (p. 48). It was not 
till after the Thirty Years' War that compulsory service became the law 
of the land. 



was penned up, and some of it had sickened, some 
starved, or come otherwise to grief, because they had not 
been able to feed, milk, or tend the animals. Besides this 
the overlords had taken from each vassal three imperial 
thalers in money or seed-corn, and thus raised more than 
200 gulden out of the parishes. Many of the peasants 
had not been able to endure imprisonment any longer, 
and so had submitted to the fresh burden ; the rest 
were enduring still harder captivity on bread and 
water.' ^ 

When in 1583 the peasants from four villages went 
to Dresden to complain to their territorial prince, the 
Elector Augustus, of excessive building socages they 
were rated by the Elector as ' insurgents,' and, as they 
declared, actually threatened by him with the naked 
sword : 160 of them were kept in prison for more than 
eight days. 2 When complaints concerning Henry von 
Schonberg were addressed to the territorial government 
at Dresden in 1599, by the peasants of four villages 
who were his vassals, and who accused him of ' having 
loaded them with intolerable socage duties, of having 
thrown them into a disgusting and unwholesome prison, 
and of having himself personally attacked them,' 
sentence was given in his favour.^ 

In 1580 an electoral edict was issued to the effect 
that ' the poor peasants, who can be employed all the 
week, are not to be burdened on Sunday with socages, 
services and other duties, for even cattle and dray oxen 
are allowed to rest on Sunday.' •^ 

1 Fraustadt, \}\ 206-207. 2 md. 336-337. 

^ Ihid. \^. 285-286. Concerning the treatment of the Pulnitz vassals 
of Hans Wolf von Schonberg, see i^ 371. 
•i Beeck, 695. 


That the condition of the country people in the 
Saxon electorate cannot be so very favourably regarded 
is shown from the pictures which Saxon preachers 
sketch of the treatment of peasants. 

' Amongst the nobles and the squires of the land,' 

said, for instance, the Meissen Superintendent Gregory 

Strigenicius in 1598, ' there are only a few who have 

a true fatherly heart towards the poor vassals/ ' Tyrants 

in plenty we find among them who oppress their vassals 

so cruelly that they cannot thrive and prosper ; they 

load them with heavy socage duties and intolerable 

burdens, so that all through the week they are hard at 

work, and on Sunday they employ them as messengers, 

and they do not even give them a morsel of bread in 

return/ ' Many of the squires treat their vassals hke 

dogs, so that they may well say : "I am a poor man/' 

In very deed '' a poor man/' If a vassal happens to have 

done something amiss these cruel tyrants fine him 

many thalers, which they only spend in gorging and 

swilhng, and if the poor man is ruined in consequence no 

pity or mercy is shown him/ ' Many of them build 

cottages wherever they can and put the serfs to live in 

them in order to raise and increase their taxes, and 

never think to ask where the poor men are to get the 

money to pay the taxes, or how they can raise it. 

What profit or piety these overlords bring to a parish 

the villagers know right well. When the poor vassals, 

in times of dearness, need corn or any other supplies, 

they are not allowed to have them, for the cash which 

they are worth, but on a loan and at a higher price ; 

they also mix tares, barley, vetch and oats together, 

and all must pass as good corn, though it is often much 

more like pigs' food or dogs' food. If the poor people 

M 2 


cannot pay, they are at once despoiled of all they 
possess, even should they have to go naked, and not even 
have a pair of shoes left, or enough money to buy a pair. 
Many of them also think nothing of bloodshed, and if 
they have taken the lives of one or several of their vassals 
they do not trouble themselves about it. If we hold 
God's word before them, and tell them they have done 
wrong, they say : " What do we care for the Bible ? 
Why should we obey the priests ? We mustn't give in 
too much to the priests ; they want to get the govern- 
ment into their own hands and start a fresh papacy." 
It is impossible to tell of all the wickedness and violence 
that proceed from these people.' ^ 

The preacher Cyriakus Spangenberg, a man 
thoroughly acquainted with the conditions of peasant 
life, utters complaints of a similar nature. In his 'Adels- 
spiegel ' (mirror of the nobility) of 1591, and in other 
writings, he puts the plainest truths before the princes 
and nobles. They were acting very shamefully, he 
says amongst other things, ' by imposing heavy un- 
endurable taxes and always increasing them more and 
more, by yearly raising the rents, and the wood-money 
and the mast-money ' (money paid for driving pigs in 
the forest) ' and other duties, contrary to all old usage ; 
and thereby inordinately oppressing the poor people.' 
' They also act very unjustly when they compel the 
vassals to sell them corn, wine and other commodities at 
times of cheapness, and then to buy from them at the 
dearest times when they could buy more advantageously 
elsewhere. Also, when they compel the peasants against 
their will to leave their farms or to sell their paternal 
heritage, meadows, fields, gardens, houses, land and 

' Diluvium, 185. 


soil, and so forth. Also they leave it to their officials, 
their sheriffs, magistrates, baihffs, &c., to fine the poor 
people at their discretion for any offence. They would 
indeed be sorry if their people were always good and 
pious, and much prefer that they should every day 
have something to confess ' (and be. fined for !).i 
Vehemently did Spangenberg inveigh against those 
squires who, he wrote, ' behave so tyrannically towards 
their miserable servants, especially when they are poor, 
forsaken, fatherless children, or strangers from afar off, and 
treat them worse than dogs, belabouring them at their 
pleasure with whips and cudgels even when they don't 
deserve punishment, or torturing them most mercilessly. 
If the poor creatures fall ill with the plague, murrain, or 
any other complaint, they turn them out like dogs, and 
do not take the least notice of them, or only leave them 
in some out-of-the-way corner where they are as hkely 
as not to die.' ' Also it is iniquity beyond any Turkish 
or heathenish practice, that when the plague attacks one 
of the peasants' houses they nail up the doors so that 
nobody can get out to fetch help for the poor victims 
and nobody can get at them to do them a Christian 
service,' &c., &c.- In another place Spangenberg 
spoke out very strongly against those squires ' who 
erected buildings by the very sweat and blood of the 
poor so that the stones cried out of the walls and the 
beam out of the timber answered them,' as Habakkuk 
says (Ch. ii. v. 11). ^ 

1 Frieze, Miintzspiegel, Appendix, 239-244, 260-261. 

' Adelsspiegel, ii. 411'', 431. See also our remarks, vol. xiv. pp. 86-102, 
concerning the want of pity towards plague-patients in Protestant 

^ Adelsspiegel, ii. 74. 


The preacher Bartholomew Eingwalt put the follow- 
ing words into the mouth .of a squire : 

Potz Leiden, Lord God, Sacrament, 
Cross, martyr, wounds and element ; 
This was my motto and my prayer 
When my young lips first open were. 
I was a heartless overlord. 
Stinted my vassals in their board, 
Gave them neither bread nor grog, 
Left them to starve Uke any dog. 
The peasants too held me in dread, 
With toil I weU nigh drove them dead, 
Gave them no rest the livelong day. 
And also pawned their cows away. 
Right bitter did I make their Uves, 
I swore at them for rogues and thieves, 
And let the world hear me declare 
Not half as good as me they were.^ 

John Sommer, preacher at Osterweddingen, in 1613 
spoke very incisively about the cruel wrongs of the 
peasants : ' The parents and the forbears of the lazy, 
idle loungers who call themselves squires, long ago 
lent the peasants very scanty money on their fields, 
and so got possession of them. Now they cannot be 
bought back, and they pass from father to son by 
hereditary right. The farmer is now bound to pay 
yearly heavy rents to those inheritors and to carry 
the sour sweat of his brow to town for the benefit of 
the idle, lazy drones. Even if the peasants have enough 
money to pay off the sum, they are not allowed to do 
so ; the cunning birds of prey have got them in their 
clutches, and will not let them out of their power 
again. It 's down in writing, they say at last, and 
entered in the register. But, oh God, what an in- 
congruity that is ! When the field was transferred 

^ Christl. Warnung des trewen Eckarts, Bl. F. 5-F. 6. 


the wispel (24 bushels) of wheat was worth about 8 
or 9 thalers ; but I found in church registers that 
in 1540 the wispel had been fixed at only TJ gulden, 
whereas in our time it is often worth 20 or 24 thalers. 
But it happens that many a farmer has no horses 
and carts of his own, but has to hire them at the 
yearly cost of 12, 13 or 14 wispels of wheat. Now 
let any wise householder say how they can possibly 
make both ends meet under such circumstances. But 
when the peasant dies and leaves a house full of children 
behind him, then first is the lament about money heard. 
For according to Saxon law the youngest son is the heir, 
and takes over the housekeeping. The property is 
made over to him for a sum of money with the consent 
of the ruler. Out of it he must pay not only the heavy 
yearly rents, but also his brothers' and sisters' share 
in the inheritance for a certain term, besides the marriage 
portions in oxen, swine, sheep, bedding, chests and 
trunks, meat and beer, which he cannot refuse. Which- 
ever way he now turns he finds nothing but debts, 
and already at his start he is plunged in sorrow and 
anxiety. If he cannot pay up everything with his own 
stock of corn, but is obliged to procure more from 
elsewhere, either from the landlord's stores or from 
the forestallers, then God have pity on him, for he is 
then obhged to give about 2 thalers more per wispel 
than he would have to pay in ready money at the 
market. There is nowadays not enough mercy or 
pity among the rich, to lend the needy peasants a 
few wispels of corn at seed-time, to be paid back again 
in the same measure at harvest- time. No, nobody 
wants that sort of thing. If a peasant in his distress 
needs a little money, he cannot in these days borrow 


it at any ordinary rate of interest, but is obliged to 
pay a mortgage of corn on it, and for a matter of 100 
thalers give half a wispel of wheat, or maybe 13, 14, 
15 bushels yearly/ ^ 

' The people in the country,' Sommer goes on, 
' also complain very bitterly that they are very sharply 
dealt with by the law officials, that the latter, on 
the most trivial grounds, exact unreasonable fines 
from them, so much so, that people versed in the law 
are quite astonished. They frequently summon them 
to the law-courts if they are accused of any debts, 
and often exact fine from the accuser as well as from 
the accused. Yes indeed, they are always ready 
to distrain, even if the debt is not more than half a 
thaler, so long as they can fill their own purses. When 
the peasants apply for leave to hold a wedding, the 
officials allow them about two or three barrels of beer 
and pretend that the overlords will not grant them any 
more. But if they pay the fine or give a thaler on every 
barrel of beer then they may have as much as they 
like ; then it is no longer a sin to drink beer and it does 
not injure the peasants, as had before been declared 
with great solemnity.'' 

' There is also much complaining in the comitry 
because the bailiff does not have the barns cleaned 
out early enough, but puts it off till nearly the middle 
of the harvest, and so the men told off for the 
cleaning have to leave their rye but half cut down, with 
the evil result that the wheat becomes over-ripe 
before the rye harvest is finished, and is burst open 
by the wind and the grain remains in the field. The 
people furthermore complain that in the middle of 

^ Olorinus Variscus, GeldfJclage, 569-571. 


harvest-time, when they ought to be gathering in the 
corn, they are often called away by the baihff to work in 
the fields of the overlords/ 

' The peasants have indeed certain contracts and 
agreements which many years ago were ratified 
and confirmed by the seal of the magistrates, 
but these are no protection to them, as I have 
come to know in my journeys to and fro through 
the villages, and in many places new burdens are 
imposed on them, and the services to the overlords 
are multiphed/ 

' Among other grievances in the country it is also 
complained that the rulers almost yearly raise the mill 
and pubhc-house taxes and so increase their own incomes, 
while they reduce still further the meagre subsistence 
of their vassals/ ' What can the poor vassals do ? 
They must be silent and put up with all the injustice. 
Only lately I was also informed that the tax-gatherers 
and officials, at the time for fattening the pigs, not only 
overstock the forests with swine, but also raise the price 
of the acorns and beechnuts on which these animals 
fatten. The poor fellows are thus cheated out of their 
money. They bring home lean swine which must 
further be fed on corn if they are to be of any use to the 
kitchen. However, as this is well known, as indeed are 
other grievances, I consider it quite unnecessary to 
trouble you with any further information on the 
subject.' 1 

' Almost in all lands peasant fleecers are only too 
well known to the people; very cruel tyrants,' says a 
* BauernMage ' of 1598, ' who are not much better 
than their brothers in Livonia, of whom it is known 

' Olorinus Variscus, Oeldtklage, 560-569. 


that they take dehght in playing the part of hangmen 
and torturers to the poor peasants/ ^ 

In Hesse at a Provincial Diet in 1569 the Landgrave 
Wilham reproached the nobles with behaving to their 
vassals as though they were Wends or Slavs, and as 
though they (the nobles) possessed power of life and 
death over them. Some of these tvrants had thrust 
quite old men of nearly eighty into towers and stocks 
for ver}^ shght offences, and in the middle of winter, 
with unheard-of cruelty, had had cold water poured 
over them, so that the poor men's feet had frozen.^ 

* Of this tyrannical beating, scolding, fleecing, 
taxing, &c.,' wrote the Frankfort preacher Melchior 
Ambach concerning the poor peasants in 1551, ' there 
is no end, and there is less mercy among these 
evangehcals than with the devil in hell or with 
unbeheving Turks. They watch, too, like jackdaws 
over nuts, to see how they can punish their vassals 
with money-fines.' ^ 

' Bauernklage (cf. above, p. 140, n. 3), p. 7. When in 1564 
the nobles of Livonia who had been subjugated by the Swedish King 
Eric XIV. begged for mercy, they received from the King, May 22, the 
answer : ' He would only restore the nobles of the Wiek to the enjoyment 
of their own possessions, and Uberate those in capti\'ity to him if the 
whole body of knights would swear by a Swedish oath that they would 
desist from the unchristian scourging and torturing with which they had 
hitherto plagued the poor peasants.' The Harriensers, to whom Eric 
made a similar condition, said that ' there was such a multitude of re- 
fractory brutes of people that it might be regarded as a mercy merely 
to grant them their lives even though their bodies were plagued ; but the 
plaguing and torturing must by no means be given up, or all order and 
discipline would be at an end.' Lossius, i. 71. In a rising in 1560 of their 
too cruelly down-trodden peasants, two members of the house of Uexkiill 
were killed (p. 81). 

^ Rommel, Neuere Gesch. von Hessen, i. 256-257. 

^ Ambach, Klage, Bl. C. 


The Nuremberg dramatist, Jacob A3rrer in a cbamatic 
piece makes a peasant complain as foUows : 

I have a peasant-fleecing squire, 

Myself and family he crushes down, 

I scarce dare turn lest in his ire 

Into a dungeon dark I should be thrown. 

I have to serve him every day. 

At my own plough I ne'er can stay ; 

Then if my rent I cannot pay 

In such a passion he flies straight, 

Xo, not one hour wiU he wait — 

The greedy, money -hung'ring hound, 

Three thalers once I owed him ; Zounds, 

So furious my squire grew 

That to the butcher quick I flew 

And sold one of my oxen twain. 

Now came the ploughing time again, 

The one ox would not draw the plough 

Alone, and so I fetched my cow. 

The raging tiger heard of tliis 

And said that I had done amiss ; 

Ten gulden then he bade me pay — 

I covildn't do so any way.^ 

The Basle professor Sebastian Miinster, an excessively 
cautious writer inpohtical and rehgious matters, pleaded 
the peasants^ cause against the nobles in fervent 
language. ' The peasants,' he wrote in his cosmogony, 
' lead a most ^Tetched, down-trodden existence. Their 
houses are miserable huts of mud and wood, with no 
floors but the damp earth, covered only mth straw. 
Their food is black rye bread, oat-meal porridge or 
boiled grain and lentils. Water and whey are ahnost 
their only beverages. A coarse smock frock, a pair 
of Bundsckuhs, and a felt hat make up their attire. 
These people never have any rest, early and late they 
are hard at work. They are often obliged to serve 
their lords all through the year, to plough the fields, 

^ Ayrer's Dramen, published by KeUer, iv. 2602. 


SOW the seeds, cut down the fruit and take it to the 
storehouses, hew wood and dig ditches. There is 
nothing that these poor creatures are not obhged to do, 
and they cannot leave of! without loss to themselves/ ^ 

Another ' Bauernklage ' of 1598 says : ' A very 
special and serious grievance for the peasant folk in 
German lands is the enormous increase of official people 
and of writers, who feed and fatten and cut a dash with 
money and land at the expense of the poor man. These 
harpies and blood-suckers are for ever inventing new 
dodges and tricks whereby they empty the sacks of 
the poor man to fill those of the princes and manorial 
proprietors, so that they may stand in high favour with 
the latter and not be punished by them when, in the 
teeth of all justice and fitness, they fleece and cheat 
the poor for their own benefit. A highly renowned 
theologian of the university of Leipzig assured me not 
long ago that his father had told him that the number 
of officials and clerks was not a quarter as large in his 
youth as it had become in his mature years, and that 
it was a veritable curse to the common people, of whom 
it was 210W said, and no wonder, " These are the years 
when the peasants shed tears." ' - 

' In bygone years/ wrote the Hessian government 
secretary Wigand Lauze in 1552, ' there was in many 
places only one official who fulfilled the various duties 
of rent-master, magistrate and pohce officer, and yet the 
duties were conscientiously performed ; now, however, it 
has come to this, that in some places there is a rent- 
master, a rent-clerk, half a rent-clerk, a magistrate, an 

^ Cosmogra'phey (Basle edition of 1588), Book III. cccclxxix. a-b. 
^ Bauernklage, p. 8. (See above, p. 140, n. 3.) 


assistant magistrate, two or three policemen, two or 
three toll-keepers, corn measurers, burgraves and many- 
others besides/ All these sub-officials ' had no fixed 
yearly salaries, and had to be maintained by the vassals ' ; 
notwitlistanding that the latter aheady had their hands 
more than full w^ith their ordinary duties and expenses, 
fresh oppressive habilities of this sort were continually 
imposed on them. 'For some of the officials are not 
content that the poor vassals should faithfully and 
punctually render them the old legitimate and traditional 
services, but whenever they take into their heads to 
build themselves great edifices, storehouses, pleasure- 
houses, &c., the peasants, if they wish to have any 
peace, are obliged to supply wood from their own 
hereditary groves, and even to wattle and dab the said 

' Likewise, some functionaries, not satisfied with 
having their fields worked and manured at the peasants' 
expense, buy up all the land that comes into the market. 
These new acquisitions must, like the former, be worked 
for nothing by the same poor peasants : I have seen as 
many as 25 ploughs at work on one such functionary's 
field. There is no single village without its reeve or burgo- 
master to whom the villagers nmst give unpaid service. 
If the princes and lords were to inform themselves 
thoroughly as to the way in which their poor people 
are treated, I believe they would often find that the 
services which they are obliged to perform for the 
officials greatly exceed those which they have to render 
the overlords themselves.' 

Often and often a poor man ' the whole week 
through cannot get a single day to work for himself, 
and so it 's wonder enough when any of them have 


even one gulden of their own. Many of them could 
scarcely buy a rag for their bodies or store a loaf in 
their houses. For the poor men to complain of these 
grievances was useless, and only served to increase the' 
oppression. For the officials had plenty of ways 
and means of circumventing the petitioners ; they had 
accomphces at court, according to the old maxim : 
' " Geselle, schone mein, wie ich dein, und bedenke dass 
wir in gleichen Schulden sind.'' ' (Friend, spare me, as I 
spare you, and remember that we are in the same boat.) 
' Sometimes too the officials seize the petition-bearers 
by the throat.' ' They put them in prison, and leave 
them there so long that they are glad enough to get 
out at any price and ready to promise never again to 
repeat the offence : and so many hands and feet are tied 
together. ' There were indeed some good, honest officials, 
he said, and he himself knew a few such, but ' by far 
the greatest number fleeced and plagued the poor man 
after the fashion of the song : " Schame dich fiir nichts, 
davon dir nutz mag widerfahren.'' ' (Don't stop at 
anything from which profit may accrue to you.) ' In 
all the history of the world we scarcely read of anything 
like it ; they are bent on being and having everything, 
while the poor people are to be given over to the flayer 
and to have and to keep nothing.' ^ 

' When any one of these officials,' said the Hessian 
Superintendent George Nigrinus in 1574 and 1582, 
' has a hair's breadth of authority, he will not move a 
foot himself, all peasants must be at his beck and call. 
Of the gallows which stands at the entrance to hell it 
is said that all those come to it who hold an office and 
do not attend to it and make the most of it : Hence 

1 Lauze, ii. 409-418. 


they prefer to do too much rather than too httle. That 
is to say they do not scruple to give orders and command 
this and that in their Chief's name which had never even 
entered his head. As, for instance, the tax-gatherers, 
cellarers, magistrates, and foresters do, behaving as if 
the land were their own, and plaguing and draining the 
poor man in the name of their overlords/ 1 

' Could Egyptian bondage and servitude have been 
greater or more oppressive," asks Nigrinus in another 
place, ' than that which is hung nowadays round the 
neck of the poor man ? What sighs and groans daily 
fill the air ! ' The prophet Isaiah in his harangue against 
tyrants admirably described also the condition of things 
to-day, ' but, my dear Isaiah, don't you come to us in 
Germany and preach thus strongly to the great lords 
and tyrants, or you might soon have to take yourself 
off with a bloody pate ; they would rend you not only 
with their speech but with their teeth/ " 

No more than Wigand Lauze, in speaking up for 
the poor peasant, attacked the good, conscientious 
officials, did Nicodemus Frischhn, when .in 1578 he 
delivered an address to the university of Tiibingen in 
defence of the peasant class against the nobility, in 
any way include those of the nobles who showed them- 
selves 'gracious and kind to the lower classes, who 
led respectable, sober lives at home and were honoured 
and respected abroad/ But the number of these, he 
said, was small compared to the ' cyclops and flint- 
skinners, the noble centaurs and inhuman monsters 
who behaved in a godless and inhuman way to the 
peasants/ ' What can be said of the brutal passions 
which those curmudgeons, those man-eaters or cannibals 

^ Nigrinus, Daniel [1514:), pp. 29-30. ' Papistische Inquisition, 726. 


among the nobles, fly into with their peasants ? For 
how many noble man-eaters are there in places where 
punishment is loosely administered, who have not 
beaten to death, or nearly so, many an innocent peasant ? 
Did you ever hear that they were tortured or hanged 
for their murders ? 

' Well, well, whatever class you may belong to, if, 
indignant at any such offence of a peasant fleecer, you 
set yourself to avenge it, may God forsake me if all 
the other peasant fleecers do not hang together hke a 
chain and stir up against you alone a mutiny such as 
we read of in the time of Catihne at Rome. If you 
know one of these you know them all : they all speak 
in chorus : with such curmudgeons it 's all one and 
the same : one is guilty of the deed and all the rest 
defend him. Verily the princes, or still better the 
Emperor, would be conferring a benefit on humanity if 
they would rid the world of such inhuman monsters with 
their horses, castles, and all their belongings, and if 
when they caught them in wicked deeds they would no 
. longer sufler them to enjoy their noble names in any other 
way than that of being the most exalted personages on 
the most exalted wheel of torture, as before these times 
that excellent man Erasmus did indeed well suggest.' ^ 

A most flagrant instance of the way in which tyran- 
nical peasant fleecers, though most severely condemned 
in a court of law, were backed up and protected by 
all their own class, occurred in the Tyrol in 1568. 

Bartlma von Lichtenstein, at the castle Karneid, 

^ Strauss, Frischlin, 179-182. The Tubingen professor John George 
Sigwart, in 1603, gave as a specimen of the language used by the nobles 
concerning the peasants : ' We ^dll make the peasants poor and help them 
to go to heaven, and may the devil fetch them then.' Sigwart, 122'^-123. 


had been put in prison at Innsbruck by the Archduke 
Ferdinand IL on account of inhuman treatment of his 
vassals. In the lawsuit conducted against him the 
evidence brought forward referred to no less than ninety- 
five different grounds of accusation. The procurator 
summed up the case as follows : ' He has been guilty 
of criminal offences with women, he has caused much 
cruel suffering to respectable people, sparing neither 
youth nor age, torturing them with thumb-screws, cruel 
imprisonment, very meagre diet, freezing of their bodies, 
punishing them after their imprisonment with stripes, 
blows, thrashings, &c., so much so that many of them 
were quite disabled and reduced to begging ; for their 
imprisonment he even charged them great costs ; with- 
out a vestige of right he introduced new ground-taxes 
or raised existing ones, and arbitrarily seized all unappro- 
priated commons ; in short nobody could obtain justice 
from him, and everybody felt his tyranny." During 
the hearing of witnesses many of his vassals showed 
their mutilated hands in order that the judge might 
see for himself that their finger-nails had dropped off 
in consequence of hard pinching. To subject pregnant 
women to the rack gave especial delight to this monster. 
A maidservant who had survived the tortures of the 
rack was thrown by him into the horrible castle dimgeon 
and left to suffer the pangs of hunger and the plague of 
vermin. When a compassionate associate of the un- 
happy girl wanted to take her some food which she 
had saved from her own supply, she was unfortunately 
met on the steps by the son of the wretch Bartlma, 
who did not fall short of his father in barbarity to the 
vassals, and who was also guilty of the grossest excesses 

against the Church and the most holy Sacrament of 
VOL. XV. jsr 


the Altar. The young man knocked the food out of 
the girl's hand and gave it to his dog to eat. A few 
days later the ha If -putrefied corpse of the poor 
prisoner was found in the castle cistern. Bartlma 
had been in prison for eight months, and sentence of loss 
of all his estates was about to be passed against him, 
but on the apphcation of the nobles' tribimal at Bozen 
he was let off on the sole condition that he should 
not take revenge on those who had given evidence 
against him : the tribimal was to dehver the judgment. 
Before, however, the decision had been pronounced 
the Archduke suddenly upset the whole proceedings, 
for the knight of Lichtenstein, although he had already 
committed fresh offences, had found ' powerful friends ' ; 
and now, for all his sins, his sole punishment was a 
fine of 1000 gulden to be paid to the territorial prince. 
The governor, much to the disgust of many people, 
gave the guilty man every possible help. Among the 
members of his own class, although this lawsuit was 
described in the law documents as a more atrocious one 
than had ever been heard of in the land, his knightly 
honour and reputation were so far from forfeited by it, 
that for a long time afterwards important and confi- 
dential posts were entrusted to him ; up to the year 
1579 he was governor of part of the T}t:o1, and up to 
1582 an assessor of taxes. ^ 

In Bavaria conditions were on the whole better 
than in North Germany ; - nevertheless there also there 

' Hiin, ii. 7-11. 

- ** This view was put forward by Grupp, Niedergang, 119 ft". See also 
Histor.-polii., Bl. 120, p. 660 ff. 'For various reasons manorial properties 
could not be developed in the South in the same way as in the North. 
For one thing, manorial k.nd was never so much enclosed m the South, 
but consisted of disjointed parcels, nor was there so much export business 


occurred frequent violent outbursts of hatred from the 
ill-used peasants towards their aristocratic oppressors. 
In 1581, for instance, the last scion of the ancient race 
of Griinbeck at Niederhausen was put to death by his 
own peasantry ; and at the same date a Giinzkofer at 
Heybach, and a Preysinger at Berg in the Gau, were 
also killed by their peasants. ^ There were at that 
time in Bavaria only a few peasants left who had 
independent property of their own and any wealth to 
speak of. The times had long gone by when numbers 
of large peasant proprietors could have sent yearly to 
the market 2000 pigs and 200 cows.- Almost the 
whole of the peasantry were beholden for their lands 
to the secular and spiritual lords of the manor and 
burdened with heavy dues, taxes, and services. In 
consequence of the continual rise in taxes which had 
gone on for half a century, and that chiefly at the expense 
of the peasants and burghers, and also by reason of 

in the South as in the North. Then also the groundlords were for the 
most part ecclesiastics, or corporations ; in Bavaria, for instance, 73 per 
cent, of the ground property belonged to convents. Finally the terri- 
torial legislation in the South did not allow the same freedom as that of 
the North. The territorial princes were less dependent on the manorial 
lords ; only serfs could be compelled to take farms and remain on them ; 
the obligation to find guarantors never existed. The services of the peas- 
ants could never be increased and compulsory household service for their 
children existed only in a very limited degree. The manorial lords, or 
Hofmarkherren, as they were called, endeavoured to procure labour by 
means of small peasant settlers (cottagers) and day-labourers ; but the 
legislation of the land forbade repeatedly during the years 1553 to 1605 
the breaking-up of manorial properties and covering them with cottages. 
It was also attempted to prevent day-labourers from settling down on the 
land for fear of their becoming dependent on pubhc maintenance and also 
encroaching on the common pastures. Thus there ensued a great dearth 
of labour, and the groundlords lost then- zest for turning out peasants.' 
' Sugenheim, Bayerns Kirchen- und V olkszustdnde, 471. Note 1, 243. 

" V. Koch-Sternfeld, * Beitrage ' iii. 383. 

N 2 


the depression in trade and industry things had come 
to such a pass that in 1593 the Provincial Estates repre- 
sented to the ducal government that : ' Since the year 1577 
the vassals had given up twelve times the twentieth part 
of their capital ; the peasants with their wives and 
children could no longer keep from beggary ; many of 
them already lacked bodily food ; they could no longer 
stock their land with horses and cattle and keep it in 
the necessary condition of cultivation. Actions for 
debt came almost daily before the law courts ; in 
the inventories of the legacies of the dead there was 
seldom anything but debts/ ^ Three years later insur- 
rections occurred here and there among the peasants, 
especially in the district of Burghausen and in the 
county of Haag ; they were, however, promptly put 
down by the sternest measures, confiscation, and pun- 
ishment by torture.-^ 

On the other hand, the peasant risings which took 
place in the years 1594-1597 all over Lower and Upper 
Austria assumed a very dangerous character. The 
agrarian grievances brought forward at that period 
by the peasants against their groundlords, and the 
consequent proceedings at the imperial court give a 
deep insight into the agricultural life of those lands, and 
merit, therefore, fuller treatment. 

King Ferdinand I. had repeatedly, in the years 1541, 
1542, and 1552, issued ordinances for the protection of 
the peasants : he had insisted that they were to be paid 
the proper market price for the produce of their farms ; 
that no usurious forestalhng was to be carried on to their 
detriment, above all they were not to be compelled to 

^ Wolf, Maximilian der Erste, i. 112, 115. 
2 Wolf, i. 374. Czerny, 193, n. 1. 


give their overlords the first chance of buying the fruits, 
&c., which they wanted to sell, that is to say, to sell them 
at a price lower than the market price. There were 
ground lords who sent the peasants' farm-produce as 
well as their own, when the corn was rising in price, to the 
market by the peasants — the cartage being exacted as 
a due to the landlord (Robot) — and actually insisted 
that the latter 'should bring back a fixed price and 
make up the deficiency out of their own pockets.' ^ All 
this was forbidden on pain of severe punishment. A 
measure, on the other hand, which the Provincial Estates 
in 1563 had extorted from the Emperor for raising the 
Tm'kish aid, was in the highest degree oppressive to the 
peasants. To the request of the Estates that he would 
'set no limit to the overlords' privilege of Rohotung 
(exacting unpaid service) over their peasants,' Ferdinand, 
at any rate, only agreed under the following proviso : 
' If a manorial lord oppresses his vassals beyond their 
means and beyond ancient usage with quite unbearable 
burdens and socages it shall be permitted to the said 
vassals to complain at the imperial tribunal, or at 
some other suitable place, to the appointed magistrates, 
and to ask that their complaints should be looked 
into.' 2 

But the manorial lords troubled themselves very little 
about such complaints ; very many of them not only 
increased the existing services, but also made other exac- 
tions without measure or rule : what to th e peasants seemed 
intolerable in the way of ' burdens and feudal services ' 
these gentlemen thought ' very mild and lenient.' Out 
of the concession made to landlords in 1563 that the 
peasants ' should also be bomid to offer those of their 

1 Bucholtz, viii. 256-257. ^ ji^id^ 301-302. 


children who were fit for household service, and who were 
not needed by their parents or relations, first of all to the 
overlords in preference to anyone else, and for suitable 
remuneration,' ^ there grew up a system of compulsory 
domestic service which was most crushingly oppressive 
for the peasants. 

In Lower Styria, Carniola, and Croatia, as early as 
1573 the growing burdens of ground-vassalage led to 
violent uprisings which were only put down with 
difficulty and with bloodshed, and which did not lead to 
the abohtion of the grievances. When the Protestant 
Provincial Estates, in order to frighten him, represented 
to Archduke Charles in 1580 that ' suspicious-looking 
people from the Salzburg district were passing through 
the land, and that by their unscrupulous talk they 
might easily stir up the peasants to a fresh outbreak,' the 
only answer they got was that ' the peasants were too 
well satisfied to remain in peaceable possession of their 
homesteads, to be stirred up by mere words ; un- 
doubtedly, however, they might easily be moved to 
rebelhon by the endless socages, the gratuities wrung 
from them, the harshly enforced death duties, the 
inordinate punishments inflicted on them ; instead of 
spying out mere talk the Estates would do better to 
see that the vassals were not so cruelly burdened, and 
that their poverty was alleviated.' ~ 

Many of the landlords may certainly be credited with 
sentiments such as were uttered by Wolf von Stubenberg 
when in 1500 he admonished his sons as follows : ' Behave 
generously to the poor, protect them from taxes, and do 
not take the death oxen ; give gladly for the love of 

' Bucholtz, viii. 285. 

2 Hurter, Gesch. Ferdinands II., vol. ii. 310-311. 


God/ and by Joseph von Lamberg, High Chamberlain 
to the Empress and afterwards Governor in Carniola 
(t 1554), who taught his children thus : 

Crush not the poor man down, my son, 
Let justice unto him be done. 
Widows and orphans well protect, 
No one illegally eject. ^ 

What the general state of things was, however, may- 
be gathered from the words addressed by Archduke 
Charles to his Estates. He said : ' Owing to the tyranni- 
cal, unchristian, insupportable and crushing oppression 
to which the poor are subjected, I am daily importuned 
with piteous complaints and entreaties for help and 
redress ; if no improvement takes place it will not be 
surprising if in the end all goes to ruin in the land, or 
God Almighty will take pity from on high on the poor 
people oppressed against all right and reason, and visit 
the land with fearful punishments.^ ^ 

AVhen in the years 1594—1597 the peasants in Lower 
and Upper Austria rose up in wild revolt they announced 
emphatically that ' they had only banded together to put 

^ Wolf, Geschichtl. Bilder aus Osterreich, 115. There is a benevolent 
spkit also in the rules of life which Bartelme Klievenhiiller laid down for 
his eldest son in 1607. ' Spare the poor and help the poor,' he says among 
other things, ' be fuU of love towards the good and pious vassals, punish 
the bad ones first with words, then with imprisonment, not with money 
fines, lest their wives and children who are innocent should starve. For 
aU the benefits you confer on them God will reward you. Be merciful in 
all things, condemn no one to death ; be kindly affectioned to the poor, 
for you eat of theu* alms, and what you give to them will be doubled unto 
you again. What God gives you on earth, and aU that you enjoy, wife, 
childi'en, cattle, house, farm, &c., &c., is not your own ; you are only 
stewards of it aU. Keep good discipline among your vassals ; take 
no gifts from them ; spare them expenses and superfluous taxation ' 
(pp. 139-141). 

2 Hm-teu, ii. 536. 


a stop to the great innovations which, had been foisted on 
the poor people during the last thirty years/ or as they 
expressed it on another occasion, ' to put down all 
innovations which within the memory of man had been 
introduced by the rulers/ ^ 

In many of its characteristics, in the mixture of 
complaints both of a rehgious and an agrarian nature, 
in the stirring up of the peasants by ringleaders from the 
ranks of moral and social outcasts, in enforced co-opera- 
tion of peasants who had no cause of complaint against 
their overlords and who would not wilhngly have joined 
in the revolt, in the demand for ' Swiss freedom,' and the 
abolition of all taxes and services made by numbers of 
peasant bands, no less than in the crimes and devastation 
perpetrated, this peasant war reminds us throughout of 
the great social revolution of 1525.^ 

' But if it be asked,' says a pamphlet of the year 1598, 
' who was chiefly to blame for all the misfortune, war, 
misery and ruin which happened in Austria, by which 
innumerable people were visited and impoverished, 
thousands turned into widows and orphans, and so 
forth, one can only answer : the many squires and over- 
lords who treated their vassals like serfs, heaping on 
them as on beasts of burden intolerable loads, are the 
chief people to be blamed. Who could count up all 
the endless burdens with which these poor oppressed, 

1 Raupach, Evangel. Osterreich, 192 fif., and Erldutertes Osterreich, iii, 
114 ff. 

- Fuller details are given by Czerny, p. 12 ff. Another point of 
resemblance between the two rebellions is that many of the nobles, so long 
as things went against the priests, not only let the insm-gents alone, but even 
promised their support (cf. p. 721). ' Had not the matter become so 
serious,' wrote a news -reporter, * one might well have laughed at the 
peasant war, for this lather had been poured out for the Catholics, and 
now the evangelicals themselves were being washed in it ' (p. 101). 


fleeced people are for the most part overwhelmed, with- 
out any justice or mercy ? ' ^ 

The insurgents below the Enns who did not bring 
forward complaints about religious annoyances stated, 
among other things, in a gravamen sent by them 
to the imperial tribunal at Prague, that ' the ground- 
lords were never tired of devising fresh burdens ; 
it was they themselves who, by their oppression of 
orphans, drove the vassals to insurrection. They appro- 
priated the legacies of the fatherless children, and 
when the latter had reached adult age they established 
them on their estates and farms as labourers, and 
used them so badly that they ran away ; in punishment 
of which the overlords kept possession of their land. 
If the peasants had grown-up children capable of work, 
who might maintain them in their old age, they were 
obliged to give them up in socage to their overlords ; 
if by abominable treatment they were driven to flight, 
the parents w^ere expected to receive them back ; if 
they were not in a position to do so they were themselves 
punished in body and goods. Formerly it was the 
excellent custom that persons considered punishable 
should be cited before a law court, examined and 
sentenced by the judge and the assessors ; now, however, 
the overlord takes the law into his own hands and 
pronounces judgment with regard to his own purse ; 
where formerly a matter of 1-2 gulden was paid, 
now 30-40 gulden must be forked out ; there is no 
more any question of legality for the villagers. Any 
complaints sent in by them to the higher courts remain 
in abeyance and are never settled. The burgraves 
and officials fleece the peasants and enrich themselves. 

' Bauernklage (see above, p. 140, n. 3). 


Many an official who lias entered on his post with only 
10 gulden in his pocket, becomes in a couple of years 
the possessor of 2000 gulden in cash and buys the 
best houses, mills and estates, which obviously can 
only have come about at the expense of the peasants. 
At the harvest socages in former times the peasants 
were given food and drink and also a small tip ; nowa- 
days they do not even get a " thank you," much less 
any payment in money. Formerly they paid 4 kreuzer 
for each fruit tree, now they must pay 18 kreuzer, 
which is exorbitant. The " house gulden," or a gulden 
on every house, is very onerous. If a peasant buys 
a house he is obhged to pay 10 gulden for registration, 
which was not the custom formerly, besides which 
the overlords count up the purchase money and take 
one kreuzer from every gulden for themselves.' Of 
many other newly introduced burdens the peasants 
of Lower Austria also made complaint. ^ 

The peasants above the Enns, who demanded the 
right of free exercise of the Augsburg Confession, brought 
forward the same complaints in secular matters. In the 
first place they complained of the 'freeing money' exacted 
by the groundlords in the event of a death and on 
property changing hands among the hving. 'At first 
the rulers exacted this Freigeld on immovable goods 
only, not on movable ones, and only in case of pur- 
chase ; now they had invented three or fom* sorts 
of death duties, besides other innumerable taxes, so 
much so that a third or a half of the peasants' capital 
went to the manorial lords. With some of the latter, 
things had come to such an unchristian pass that 

^ Th. Wiedemann, Gesch. der Reformation und Gegenreformation 
im Lande unter der Enns, i. 496-498, 


a wife whose husband had died must again redeem 
the whole property at the rate of 10 gulden on every 
100, as the case might be ; if she married again, the 
new husband must again for the third time pay 10 
gulden on 100 ; if the father or mother wanted to 
make over the property to their children for a moderate 
price, they were not allowed to do so by the overlords ; 
the property must be valued by experts and the Freigeld 
paid on the price they fixed/ Among the chief points 
of complaint were the following : ' Many rulers take 
away from the vassals the original title-deeds referring 
to their property, alter them, keep the old ones and 
give them new ones which are full of new manorial 
exactions, and they charge heavy fees for their work 
into the bargain. Other overlords raise the taxes and 
services of their vassals in opposition to the express 
contents of the title-deeds/ Quite intolerable is the 
manner in which stewards, court secretaries, servants 
and officials, incessantly raise and add to the tale 
of clerks' fees : the petitioners begged that a definite 
and reasonable tax should be fixed, and a curb put on 
the sharpers by whom the peasants were so hardly 
and culpably treated. V^ery oppressive also were 
the compulsory payments for food at weddings and 
other festive gatherings, as well as the enforced sale, at 
a cheap rate, of all their orchard and farm produce 
to the overlords. As regards the socages, numbers 
of peasants had to do service either with cart and 
horse or with their own hands and bodies, twenty, 
thirty, or even more days every year, and this usually 
at a time when they ought to be working on their own 
farms ; they had to leave their own business at a 
standstill and procure for the overlords wine, hme, 


corn, bricks, stones, and other things, besides taking 
with them fodder as well. While parents were com- 
pelled to give their children, as though they were 
bondsmen, against their will into the service of the 
overlords, they themselves were often obliged to hire 
strangers to work for them. The newly enacted tithe 
ordinance was most damaging to the peasants : ' the 
tithable people did not dare cut down or gather in 
their corn and fruit, which they had been obliged to 
work at the whole year through, without the consent 
of the tithes-owner ; and they had to leave the corn 
when it was cut lying in the field until the latter had, 
at his own convenience, taken away his tithes, although 
it frequently happened that when the last quantity was 
cut down the first had already been spoilt by storms. 
Some of the overlords took double tithes, especially 
of hay and after-grass, or when the field was already 
bare, or planted with turnips, a tithe of these had to 
be given them ; the peasants were actually burdened 
with the wretched tithe on garden produce, hemp, 
and flax, besides geese, chickens, eggs, and so forth. 
The tithe-owners also claimed tithes on the ground 
area on which a house or a shed was built, whereas 
from time immemorial tithes had never been paid on 
bare ground, but only on the corn grown on the land. 
Of old the tithe- owner had always taken fair payment 
in money from the tithable person, or else taken the 
tenth part of the corn honestly from the barn." ^ 

At the imperial court long and wearisome trans- 
actions were carried on with a view to stopping the 
insurrection. That the peasants' taxes had been raised 
the Estates could not deny, but in justification of this step 

1 Czerny, 363-3G9. 


they represented to the Emperor that : ' It was impossible 
to put taxation back on its old footing since prices 
had doubled and trebled. Moreover, they said, the 
peasants' complaints were so vague and undefined 
that they could not proceed to legal action concerning 
them. The peasants had no right to assert that their 
revolt was caused by fresh burdens imposed on them ; 
for even if some of the overlords had been somewhat 
exacting to their vassals, this had not been the case 
with them all.' ^ 

How much of it all had really happened, however, 
and how true and well founded the most serious of the 
complaints were, came clearly to light : for instance, 
that the groundlords had really been guilty of taking 
away and arbitrarily altering their peasants' title-deeds. 
' Such alterations as the interpolation of the death and 
transfer duties and other innovations in the new title- 
deeds substituted for the old ones,' said the Emperor, 
* were wrong and unjust and must be put a stop to.'^ 
That the complaint of inordinate increasing of the 
transfer duties was also not imaginary, investigation 
proved in many cases. From one property, valued at 
1400 gulden, 300 gulden had been paid : at first the 
widow, on taking over the property at her husband's 
death, had had to pay the transfer duty ; immediately 
after, on transferring the property to other hands, she 
had been obhged to pay the same amount again, and 
when a short time after she herself died the children 
had again to pay the tax on the maternal property. 
Some of the groundlords, when a wife or a husband 
died, claimed as their due 10 gulden on each 100 
gulden, and on the sale or transfer to other hands not 

1 Haberlin, xx. 469. '^ Czerny, 281. 


only the same sum again but also 5 per cent, as 
' Anlait,' whereby not only the movable but also 
the immovable property was taxed, but without 
previous deduction of the outstanding debts. Other 
groundlords took from properties, which had already 
been redeemed at 10 per cent, on death or purchase, 
still another 10 per cent, when the moneys passed 
to another overlord; hkewise they claimed from 
moneys in Chancery which had already been diminished 
by 10 per cent, death duty, and from marriage dowries 
within and without the manorial estate, another 10 
gulden on every 100. 'A vassal,' said the nobles 
of the Hausruck, ' may give his child as marriage portion 
up to 30 gulden free of tax ; but if he gives more he 
is bound to pay 1 gulden for every 10.' ^ 

' The peasants,' said the manorial lords of the 
Marchland, ' would be well able to meet the demands 
of their overlords if only they were not allowed to give 
more than 30 gulden as wedding portions, or to 
spend more than 30 gulden in wedding festivities, 
or to give more than 5 gulden a year to each male- 
servant and 3 gulden to each maid-servant, or to 
wear fine clothes ; they should not be allowed to buy 
cloth which costs more than 12 kreuzer the ell.' - 

George Erasmus, Baron von Tschernembl, who later 
on, with the brothers Gottfried and Richard von Star- 
hemberg, formed the ' Calvinistic Triumvirate ' in Upper 
Austria, a keen representative of the ' overlord claims ' 
on the peasants, spokesman for the groundlords at the 
imperial court, expressed himself as follows in a private 
letter : ' To exact death and transfer taxes from 
movable goods also is, to speak the truth, neither in 

1 Czerny, 180, 288, 290. - Ibid. 15, note. 


accordance with civil law nor with the territorial usage of 
other provinces.' ^ All the same, the overlords themselves 
would not give up this claim : to do so, they said, would 
mean the depopulation and ruin of the land. If a 
portion of the vassals had old title-deeds, so that in some 
places the transfer tax on movable goods, or the Robot, 
have never been customary, the charters could now no 
longer be recognised as vahd, since by their insurrection 
they had forfeited honour, hfe, goods and chattels. 
If any peasant had an old charter, on the strength of 
which he was exempt from transfer taxes, and yet 
through long custom such taxes had been estabhshed, 
the letter of the title-deed ought to be disregarded and 
the custom upheld.^ 

Next to the transfer taxes the Robot was one of the 
chief grounds of complaint from the peasants. With 
the convents this socage only extended, as a rule, to 
from two to eight days or services in the year ; but 
with the secular estates, on the contrary, it covered 
as much as twenty-six days ; for twenty-four days at 
the least, they demanded of the imperial tribunal, the 
vassals were to be bound to render Robot socage.'^ 

As compared with the Robot socages of the peasants 
in Pomerania, Brandenburg, Mecklenburg, and other 
North German districts, these exactions were very 

At first there was anything but a favourable feehng 
in the imperial court towards the ' manorial demands ' ; 
their unchristian and tyrannical nature was represented 
to the Estates. But by means of handsome bribes, 
which with some wealthy persons amounted to 500 

' Czerny, 180, 308. - Ibid. 309-311. 

^ Ibid. 290, 291. ^ See our remarks above, p. 144 ff. 


ducats, they were able to win over influential friends 
and patrons. 1 By an imperial resolution the Robot 
was reduced to fourteen days and the burden of the 
transfer taxes was lightened, but, on the whole, this 
tax was still to be paid on movable as well as on im- 
movable goods. Cattle and fruits were still as before 
to be first offered at a cheap rate to the groundlords. 
Concerning compulsory household service, the increase 
in tithes on field and garden, clerks' fees, and other 
peasant grievances, the court did not go into detail. 

After the risings in Lower and Upper Austria had 
been forcibly put down in 1597, the insurgents disarmed, 
and numerous executions carried out, the peasants were 
left at the mercy of the manorial proprietors.^ The 

1 Czerny, 163, 175, 195, 307 note, 312 note. 

2 Ibid. 313 ff. (** Huber, iv. 306 ff.) Even if it was also proved 
by the examination instituted by the imperial plenipotentiaries that the 
peasants in many cases had made unfounded charges against their over- 
lords, it can by no means be deduced from this fact that after the sup- 
pression of the revolt they no longer dared bring forward their grievances, 
that the latter had been ' very seldom justifiable, or at any rate of a very 
unimportant natm-e ' (Czerny, 353). After they had been beaten down to 
the ground it was incumbent on the peasant to avoid everything which 
might provoke the wrath and vengeance of the manorial proprietors. 
When Wolf WiUiam von Volkensdorf, during the negotiations at Prague, 
was sent by the Estates of Upper Austria to the commander-in-chief 
Morawski, the suppressor of the insurrection below the Enns, he satisfied 
himself at all points that the general had achieved a splendid work, 
that the peasants almost went down on their knees, and took off their 
hats when they saw anyone in the furthest distance ; ' but,' he added, 
' one also sees a great many of them who are keeping guard over the 
pears on the pear-trees, for he (Morawski) drags with him 140 peasants, 
of whom he has some executed daily, while others are continually being 
brought in ' {I.e. 313). Could the minutely worded peasant complaints 
brought forward in 1597 by the imperial commission at Zwettl against 
eleven groundlords be in the main unfounded ? Those, for instance, of the 
peasants of Rapportenstein and of the district of Langensalza against 
the baron of Landau, that all the taxes and services had been enormously 
raised — that it was only tliirteen or fom'teen years ago that the house 


latter laid claim to all the soil and territory in the land 
as their own ' rightful property ' ; and to the assurance 
of the peasants again and again reiterated, both in word 
and in writing, that they would by no means refuse the 
taxes necessary to the territorial prince, they simply 
made answer that ' the peasants had no call to make 
assurances of any sort with regard to the taxes ; the 
Estates alone had the right to levy taxes on subjects, 
while the groundlords, by ancient right and privilege, 
were not bound to pay any taxes.' ^ 

Amongst all the privileges and rights which the 
princes and lords claimed over the peasants, none 
had a more damaging influence nor was exercised so 
cruelly as that of unlimited chase. 

At the beginning of the social revolution in 1524 
the peasants had put forward as a fully justifiable 

gulden had been levied ; that the fee for taking or leaving a 
farm had formerly been not more than 24 kreuzer, whereas now it 
amounted to 2-4 gulden ; that poor vassals who had formerly paid 
7-8 kreuzer must now pay 2 gulden ; that formerly the Robot had 
meant six days' manual labour, while now ' they had to attend whenever 
they were summoned,' and that without any allowance of food ; that 
sons and daughters were forced into household service at the manors for a 
mere ' mockery of wages which did not even pay for mending their shoes,' 
and so forth. See some of the complaints in v. Hammer=Purgstall, 
Khlesl. i., Urknndensammlung, 245-248. How well the groundlords 
understood the art of increasing their ' manorial rights ' is shown, for 
instance, by the notes of Erasmus von Rodern taken down at Perg, near 
Rohrbach, in the upper Miihlviertel. In the year 1601 he valued these 
rights at 2000 gulden, in 1604 at 6050 gulden, in 1605 at 8850 gulden. 
The amount realised by his ' court tavern ' he put at the average yearly 
sum of 1000 gulden. The Giilt (the money service and the different 
tithes) brought him in in 1601 only 183 gulden, but in 1606 as much as 
440 gulden. Cf. the instructive and interesting pamphlet of L. Proll, Ein 
BUck in das Hauswesen eines osterreichischen Landedelmanns aus dem 
ersten Viertel des ITten Jahrhunderts (Vienna, 1888), pp. 17, 19-20. 
1 Czerny, 299-300. 



complaint that the rulers in some places preserved 
game to their (the peasants') immense loss and damage ; 
that the unreasoning creatures devoured their corn, and 
that they were obliged to bear this in silence, which was 
contrary to the law of God and of neighbourly kindness. 
' But what the country folk had had to bear before they 
set the German lands on fire with the insurrection was 
only a trifle compared to the tyrannous yoke which, 
after the suppression of the revolt, had been put on 
their necks through the chase and the chase socages/ ^ 

' The princes and the great proprietors ' looked upon 
themselves as the sole lords of the forest game ; most of 
them claimed not only the higher chase of the red deer 
and black boars, but also the small chase of hares, foxes, 
birds and partiddges ; to the peasant almost every kind 
of hunting was forbidden. Not only were the manorial 
forests enclosed, but in many places even the private 
woods, while the parishioners were more and more 
shut out from their use. The pursuit of the chase, 
outraging all reason, was the chief cause of the decline 
of agriculture and the impoverishment of the peasants. 
By the continual extension of their pleasures in this 
direction the princes and lords brought the whole 
population into misery, so that there was justification 
for the question : Who were the best off, * das lang 
gehegte und kurz gehetzte Wild, oder der stets gehetzte 
und nie gehegte Untertan ' " (the long cherished and 
briefly tormented beast, or the long tormented and never 
cherished peasant) ? 

' The amount of loss, suffering, misery, oppression 
and ruin,' wrote Cyriacus Spangenberg from his own 
observation in 1560, * which accrue to the poor peasants 

^ Bauernklage (1598), Bl, G. '^ Falke, Kurfiirst August, 146. 


through the chase, are not to be reckoned up. There is 
no sense of pity or mercy among the rulers, who will not 
beheve this nor take the matter up. The animals tear 
up and devour all the corn and vegetables, destroy the 
seeds before they have come up, and devastate the 
land. The peasants are obhged to put up with this and 
dare not speak. Their cattle, calves, goats, sheep, geese 
and chickens, often even their children and their farm- 
servants, are injured by the horses and hounds, and no 
compensation is given them. Besides which, when the 
hunt is on they must let everything go, neglect their 
own business and endanger their bodies and lives, in 
order to attend their overlords. The great people race 
and gallop through their fields, meadows and gardens, 
after a hare, or a brace of partridges, or some other 
wild game, sparing nothing, not even the vines ; the 
hedges are broken down, the vegetables trampled 
under foot, the corn trailed on the ground, the pahngs 
and vine poles knocked down, and everywhere immense 
damage done to the poor people. How is it possible 
for them under such circumstances to thrive and 
prosper ? And when they have lost all and are ruined 
how can they pay and serve their overlords ? Has 
anyone ever met with such injustice even among the 
heathen ? ' Spangenberg reminds the princes and lords 
of the maxim : 

To hunt for pleasure at cost of the poor 
Is a devil's delight, and nothing more.' 

Even the princes who were most alert in the aug- 
mentation of their revenues and incomes, such as the 
Elector Augustus of Saxony, subordinated all other 

1 Der Jag-Teufel, Theatr. Diabol, 255*^ ; cf. 253. ** Osborn, 
Teufels-literatur, 152 f. Schwappach, ii. 618. 



State and economic considerations to their linnting. 
Augustus enlarged the area of the territorial game 
preserves till it covered vast stretches of his electorate. 
The means which flowed in to him from the confiscation 
of Church property he used for the purchase of large 
noblemen^s estates, whose extensive forests were specially 
adapted for enlarging the game preserves. ^ In order 
that the wild birds and game might conveniently 
disport themselves and feed among the fat fields and 
standing corn of the peasants he issued the command 
that fields were not to be enclosed. ' You are not 
ignorant/ he wrote to the receiver of taxes at Pirna on 
October 7, 1555, ' of the reasons for which it has been 
our will and pleasure to do away entirely mth all the 
villages in our hunting domain in the mountains on the 
Bohemian frontier, and to remove them elsewhere ; 
Hkewise on what conditions it was afterwards our 
pleasure to allow them to remain longer in the same place. 
Since, however, we instructed you, among other things, 
to pull down all the pahngs, hedges, fences, and so forth, 
which our subjects in the district of Konigstein set up 
for the protection of their corn, and which hinder the 
free course of our wild game, though in some cases this 
has been done, we have nevertheless learnt that in and 
about the villages of Struppen and Leupoldsheim the 
hedges, pahngs and other obstructions are still left 
standing, we herewith instruct and command that all 
the said fences, &c., in the said villages shall at once be 
completely pulled do"\;\Ti, and that you yourself shall see 
that it is done and shall not come away until all such 
obstructions have been entirely removed.' Later on 
he gave -permission for the fencing in of fields, but ordered 

1 See Fraustadt, ii. 280-281, and i^ 305 £E. 


the removal of all goats and dogs, excepting chained-up 
dogs, and laid on the peasants the obUgations to keep, 
outside these enclosed fields, a few acres with good 
crops for the game, and in every village Mark to keep 
at least three fields, 300 ells in breadth, open for the game. 
The tenants in the district of Pirna had to sow every 
year 150 bushels of oats for the game and were only 
supphed with thirty-three bushels. ^ The mountain ore 
districts were also planted with crops for the wild game. 
How damaging to the peasants all these numerous 
game preserves were is seen from a report of the electoral 
councillor Komerstadt, who wrote to the Elector Augustus 
concerning a preserve stretching from Ebersbach to 
Kalkreuth and thence towards Hayer. He says : ' The 
sows had torn up the meadows as with a pick-axe ; 
he had seen the people down on their knees putting 
back the clods of turf with their hands, not without 
murmurings in their hearts ; over 1000 acres of grass 
land had been turned into game preserves, while at the 
same time the whole district, owing to the poverty and 
sandiness of the soil, lived by cattle-breeding ; if the 
pasture land is destroyed whole villages will be ruined.' - 
It was said among the people that the Elector must 
* at times be under the spell of a specially evil spirit, 
since he allowed his vassals to be so cruelly used by 
unreasoning animals.' A baker from Stolpen stated that 
between Dresden and Stolpen, on the bridge in the 
moorland, he had met with a ghost which had charged 
him to petition the prince to do away with the wild 
game, which did so much damage to the peasants ; for 
when a poor man had sown three or four bushels of corn 

^ Weber, Kurfiirstin Anna, 264-267. 
" Falke, Kurfiirst Atcgust, 150. 


he only reaped two ; Augustus might at least allow the 
peasants to frighten away the game from their fields. ^ 

The amoimt of damage that the game was capable 
of doing may be measured by their quantity. On October 
4, 1562, the Elector, according to his own statement, 
in one single hunt on the Dresden heath, brought down 
* 539 wild swine, 52 of which were boars over five years 

On December 30, 1563, he complained that ' because 
the boars, owing to dearth of fodder, were not nearly 
fat enough, he had been obhged to give up further 
hunting, after killing, however, 1226 animals, including 
200 pigs, 500 two-year-old boars, and 526 quite young 
ones.'- In 1565, during the shooting season, he shot 
104 stags with his own hand ; the following year he 
killed 330.-^ At the hunts of November 1585 no less 
than 1532 wild boars were killed.^ The Elector 
Christian I., in 1501, during the season when the harts 
are fat, killed 227 stags, 127 deer, and a number of 
other wild animals.^ On September 19, 1614, ' a wild 
beast hmit through the Elbe ' was organised. The hst 
of animals killed includes 28 stags, 19 does, 9 two-year- 
old boars, 10 roes, 6 ' Kegler' (?), 2 five-year-old boars, 
and so forth. The banks of the Elbe were laid with 
nets, the game was driven into the river and shot from 
the pontoon shed, while the court looked on from the 
banks. "^ 

1 Weber, Kurfiirsiin Anna, 297. - Ibid. 242. 

'^ Falke, Kurfiirst August, 152. ^ Miiller, Annales, 204. 

'" Ibid. 207. 

* A picture on the walls of the Saxon hunting-castle Moritzburg 
represents this wild boar chase. Richard, Krell, ii. 333. VSTaen the 
Emperor Matthias was in Dresden in 1617 he, in company with the whole 
electoral court retinue, looked on from the town-haU for five hours at 


In the year 1617 Philip Hainhofer saw in the newly 
built hunting-house in Alt-Dresden, 200 wagons for the 
transport of cloths, nets and yarn, with which * fifteen 
miles of road could be netted/ ^ 'Nearly every year 
brought a blessing in game to the prince's kitchen ' 
quite independently of the enormous quantity of game 
which was not killed by the Elector in person, but sent 
in by the many court and comitry hunt-masters, 
foresters and gamekeepers.'- A hunt retinue consisted 
sometimes of 4000 or 5000 men.'^ 

In the duchy of Saxony * the royal chase went on 
as furiously and with equal mercilessness to the poor 
people/ The complaints of the peasants over the 
terrible ravages of the wild game found as little hearing 
as did those of the forest officials that, owing to the 
inordinate quantity of game the trees could not attain to 
proper development. The pastor and the magistrate 
at Jena complained bitterly. The wild animals, they 
said, eat up the young seedlings, and the fresh shoots 
in the vines ; many a poor man had to leave off work 
in his fields, or meadows, or vineyards, because he did 
not dare frighten away the game ; also pointed pahngs 
romid the vine crops were no longer allowed on account 
of the game. ' The wild game are losing their right 
to their name,' wrote the court-preacher Stolz, ' and 
are becoming as tame as a herd of cattle ; they trot out 
of the woods into the meadows, fields, vineyards, and 

' the merry hunt going on on the Platz.^ ' Eight large bears, 10 stags, 
4 heads of game, 10 wild hogs and 17 badgers were, one after another, 
baited and killed, and finally 3 fine martens shot down by the Elector 
from the tall fir-trees which had been set up.' Opel, Anfdnge der Zeitungs 
presse, 70-71. 

1 Baltische Shtdien, ii. Heft ii. 141. " Glafey, 960. 

•' Miiller, Foracluingen, i. 31. 


gardens, forget their normal food which God has pro- 
vided for them in the forests, and devour, trample on, 
ravage and destroy what has grown up for the use of 
man/ It is to the honour of the preachers at court 
as well as to those in the towns and villages situated 
in the game-preserving districts that, as Duke John 
Frederick II. wrote, ' they often inveighed fiercely from 
the pulpits against the terrible way in which the animals 
damaged the poor people's field and garden produce ; 
the people did not dare set foot in their own woods for 
fear of disturbing the game, still less make any use of 
them/ After a time, however, the preachers were 
forbidden to plead the cause of the people/ 

' In the department of the chase,' so the Weimar 
councillors informed Duke Frederick William in 1590, 
' there was a great deal of unnecessary expense in 
servants, food, carriage, and other things/ For if a stag 
cost 100 fl. it was an expensive pleasure to say the least. 
' Then everybody is complaining that the quantity of 
game on the Ettersberg, belonging to your Grace, is 
doing so much harm to the trees that it is to be feared 
the manorial forest will soon be turned into meadow 
land. What the poor suffer from damage to their corn, 
and whence they are to procure rent, taxes, and other 
things, is not easy to imagine.' ~ 

Duke George Ernest of Henneberg, a ' furious 
hunter,' who in 1581 killed no fewer than 1003 red 
deer,3 received the following protest from his councillors : 
* To your Grace's extreme and almost blamable injury 
it has been found that up to the present day the chase 
is the root and cause of all the damage and ruin 

' Kius, Forstwesen, 182, 186-190. - Moser's Patriotisches Archiv, iii. 285. 
^ liandau, Beiirdge zur Geschichte der Jagd, 251-252. 


sustained in the lordship of Henneberg. For, not to 
speak of the inordinate burden which is laid on the poor 
subjects by the daily hunting, it is patent to all that 
with such evils and annoyances going on neither govern- 
ment, nor housekeeping, nor any order of any sort 
can be maintained. All household and government 
affairs, and the ruler himself, are at the mercy of un- 
reasoning wild animals. Everything must give way to 
the chase. Consultations on important affairs are held at 
any inconvenient time, eating and drinking takes place 
at odd moments, and so with everything else : all day 
long kitchens and cellars stand open, and what is worst 
of all, the whole mind, thoughts, and will of our ruler 
are so set on the daily pursuit of the ruinous chase that 
hunting and kilhng animals has come to be regarded as 
a dehght and as a remedy for casual illnesses. From 
which, besides the above-mentioned disorder, it also 
follows that year after year this kind of dehght must 
be enjoyed and pursued in almost all districts, whereby 
every district is consumed by itself.' ^ 

The same state of things prevailed in other districts. 
The Elector John George of Brandenburg wrote in 1579 
to the Landgrave William of Hesse that he had caught 
and shot 436 stags, 190 head of wild game, 4 bears, 
1363 boars, and 150 foxes.- In 1581 the number of 
his trophies amounted to 679 stags, 968 head of game, 
26 wild calves, and over 500 boars.^ From Easter 1594 
to Easter 1598 the Elector himself shot 2350 stags 
and 2651 does.** When the Landgrave Wilham of 
Hesse was on a visit to the Elector in 1589 he wrote from 
Kiistrin that at one of the hunts got up for him by his 

^ Landau, ii. ^ Moehsen, Beitrdge, 94, note. 

^ Landau, 250. " Mdrkische Forschungen, iii. 359. 


host he had killed 60-70 stags, without counting the wild 
game, and on another occasion 100 stags. ^ 

In his own country William was no less fortunate. 
In 1579 his hunting booty was 900 wild boars." But 
this number was small m comparison to the feats of 
the Landgrave Philip."^ In 1559 Phihp wrote to 
Duke Christopher of Wiirtemberg : * At this boar-hunt 
we had fine sport with our young dogs and caught 
over 1120 boars. We had intended to have 60 more 
field days, but as we found that the boars had become 
thin, we did not go on hunting.' In 1560, 1274 boars 
were killed, in 1563 as many as 2572, and yet the area 
of these hunts had been confined to different portions 
of the small landgraviate. In 1560, even before the 
expiration of the hunting season, Philip killed 60 stags ; 
from June 1 to August 1, 1561, he shot 81 stags and 
trapped 96, and hoped to shoot 40 more and chase 60. 
The snow and the cold of the winter of 1570-1571 
destroyed such a large quantity of red deer and other 
game that the loss was estimated at 3000 head in the 
Reinhardswald alone. In 1582 the Landgrave William 
of Hesse carried off a booty of 261 stags and 391 head 
of game ; his brother killed 280 stags and 483 deer ; 
in the following year these numbers were ahnost 
doubled, and from year to year the booty was equally 

In Hesse also the farmers were not allowed to protect 
themselves against the damage done by the game. ' It 

^ Landau, 254. 2 Moehsen, 94, note. 

3 ** During his captivity (1547-1550) ' the Landgrave PhiUp turned 
his attention more to compensation for the game damages than to the 
diminution of game ' (ii. 623). 

^ Landau, 247-253. Still further details at 232-240. Cf. Weber, 
Aus vier Jahrhunderten, i. 464. 


was shameful/ said Landgrave Philip, ' that the peasants 
should refuse to let his game go into their fields when 
he allowed their cows to be in his forests/ Thus the 
peasants, in return for the right of pasture in the forests, 
were to give up their fields to the wild game J In 1566, 
at a Provincial Diet at Cassel, the Estates complained of 
the ' tremendous mischief done by the great, fat game 
animals which they were not even allowed to drive 
away with small dogs/ Three years later they repeated 
their complaint. ' It was a general grievance,' they 
said, 'that the princes' wild game did so much harm 
by overrunning and trampling down the crops/ The 
peasants were neither allowed to drive off the animals 
nor to fence in their fields, meadows and gardens, and 
yet they were expected at the time of tax-collecting to 
pay the groundlords in good fruit, &c. ' For their 
comfort the Estates were answered that the lords who 
had the cares of government on their shoulders must be 
provided with sustenance : they had better look round 
and see what went on in other countries/- I21 the 
hunting district round the town of Cassel the populace 
were forbidden under severe penalty to snare the hares, 
' and consequently these animals ran about the gardens 
everywhere almost tame/ ^ To the Landgrave Ludwig 
V. the parishes of the district of Lichtenberg and the 
villages of Niederramstadt, Treysa and Waschenbach 
sent in the following complaint : ' Although the land, 
and our districts in the mountains especially, no longer 
yields such abundant produce as formerly, nevertheless 
the small supphes which God Almighty vouchsafes to 
bring forth from the fields yearly for the maintenance 

^ Landau, 7. ^ Rommel, Neuere Gesch. von Hessen, i. 252, 255. 

^ Landau, 269. 


of human life would be sufficient for our wants, and 
would enable us better to bear our common burdens, if 
it were not for the wild animals which of late years 
have preyed on our fields and meadows in such quanti- 
ties, and which go on multiplying from year to year, and 
which in spite of our yelhng, screaming and watching 
break through the fences often in broad daylight, with- 
out any timidity, and ravage fruit vines and corn. Also 
w^hat the stags may happen to spare in the vineyards 
and the orchards the wild boars make havoc of, so that 
the poor people's labour is all toil and trouble in vain, 
with great and irretrievable loss. Oftentimes with all 
his bleeding sweat the peasant cannot earn enough to 
give his children daily bread during half the year, 
still less has he time for the needful farm work, and 
most certainly he cannot fulfil your Grace's expecta- 
tions in the matter of yearly rent, dues and taxes.' 
The petitioners ended with the assurance that if this 
condition of things was not amehorated they should be 
obhged to leave their land to go to ruin, and cease from 
agricultural labour, i Ludwig, however, took no notice 
of these complaints. Whosoever spoke against his wild 
game ' hit him in the apple of his eye, so dear to him was 
it and the chase, that he cared for nothing and no one 
else.' ^ It was a byword in the land of Hesse that 
next to the princes ' the unreasoning animals were the 
lords of the land.' 

In Franconia these ' unreasoning animals ' caused 
such devastation that in 1580 the persecuted peasants 
declared they would bear it no longer, they would 
rather let everything go to rack and ruin and even face 
starvation. The Landgrave William of Hesse feared 

1 Landau, 147-148. 2 ij^i^^ i^ 


that in his land also the same sort of mutiny might 
arise, and warned his brother 'to remember and con- 
sider well that the beginnings of the peasant war were 
first seen in Franconia.' From twelve Franconian 
lordships the peasants, under the lead of the Syndicus of 
Nuremberg, sent twelve delegates to the imperial court, 
to obtain from the supreme head of the empire help 
and rescue from their bondage. The Emperor espoused 
their cause and issued stringent orders to the Franconian 
overlords, especially to the Margrave of Ansbach- 
Bayreuth, that they were not to make game preserves 
and covers anywhere but on their own property, 
ground, and soil, as was decreed by the common law, 
and not to allow such preserves and covers to be a source 
of damage and loss to others. * No one shall be 
forbidden," he said, ' to protect his ground and posses- 
sions, as best he can, against the wild game with fences 
and other safeguards, or to shut off his sheep from the 
incursions of wild animals, and the field-crops and 
fruit trees against the ravages of the red deer and the 
black game.' The town of Nuremberg procured against 
the margraves an imperial edict to the effect that ' the 
command to leave the fields open to the game, so that 
it might feed unhindered on the sweat and blood of 
the poor man, was contrary both to divine and human 
justice, and that to scare and drive away the animals 
from one's own ground was not a crime for which a 
poor man should be punished in body and goods.' ^ 

^ Landau, 145-146. In 1541 the Provincial Estates had aheady 
represented to the government of Ansbach-Bayreuth that ' theii 
burdens were unendurable : in spite of the general height of prices and 
the great poverty which compelled many to go away, the preserving of 
game had increased so enormously that the poor peasants could not tend 
their lands and raise their corn, &c., and were consequently often obliged 


Nevertheless the imperial coiiunands remained 
ineffectual. ' We are surrounded by forests, and are 
obliged to watch day and night/ the village steward 
of Linden complained, ' agriculture is completely ruined 
by the game, our poverty is unspeakable/ The mar- 
gravian officials of Heilsbronn affirmed the truth of 
this utterance. ' The quantity of game is incalculable,' 
it says in a petition of grievances from the peasants 
of Sehgenstadt near Meckendorf in 1582, ' all the fields 
are devastated by the wild animals, two-thirds of our 
harvest crops in 1581 were nothing but stubble, the ears 
had been eaten off by the game. We pray for mercy, 
that we may not be reduced to begging and going off 
with our wives and children into misery.' i They found 
no mercy. ' The game injuries,' said the towns of the 
upper mountain district in 1594, ' proceed chiefly from 
the huge bears, wolves and wild boars ; the stags graze 
hke tame cattle ; the peasants are forbidden to erect 
high fences ; everything is going to ruin ; ' they 
begged that the prince ' would hsten to them for the 
love of God.''^ In the previous year the knights of 
the Franconian Circle had complained on this same 
score, ' they had had to suffer untold annoyance from 
the game. Their grounds were turned into wild 
gardens ; the hunting-grounds were extended over 
the property of the knights. If a nobleman ventured 
to exercise his rights, he was threatened that he would 
be shot down hke a dog and sent to Ansbach ; they 
were attacked in the open street, and in very truth 
they had become regular bond-servants.' ^ 

to decamp with their wives and children and sell thek cattle to save 
themselves from starvation.' Muck, Heilsbronn, i. 402. 

1 Muck, ii. 29, 474. - Lang, iii. 275. ■' Ibid. 140-141. 


How matters stood as regards game in Bavaria is 
seen from the hunt-books of Dukes Wilham IV. and 
Albert V. Under WilHam, in the one year 1545, no 
less than 2032 deer of different sorts were shot. For 
the years 1555-1579 the entries in Duke Albert's 
book as trophies of the chase are : 2779 stags, 1784 
does, 220 fawns, 100 roes, 150 foxes, 50 hares, 525 wild 
boars, 2 bears, 23 squirrels ; the total amount was 
5643 animals which he slew with his own hand in 1852 
hunting expeditions. The number of hunt days 
amounted in some of the years of Albert's reign to 
80 and 95 ; in 1574 to 100, in 1564 to 103. i 

According to the land ordinance of 1553, the yassals 
had at any rate the right to protect themselves against 
the ravages of the game. ' A poor man,' it says therein, 
* is at liberty, if the game get into his fields by day or 
by night and do mischief there, to drive out the animals 
with his own or his neighbour's dogs.' " Duke Albert, 
however, only allowed fences round the game preserves 
which had openings at all four corners, through which 
the animals could pass in and out unhindered. ^ 
When in 1605 the Bavarian Estates made complaints of 
intolerable damage done to the poor people by the 
game they were dismissed with the answer that ' arrange- 
ments had been made for the prevention of all damage ; 
but on the other hand the vassals should also be incited 
to be more dihgent in the pursuit of the chase, whereby 
they would themselves avert the evil.'* 

^ ' Jagdregister Herzog Wilhelms IV. vom Jahre 1545, und Ausziige aus 
dem Jagdbuch Herzog AlbrechtsV. (1555-1579),' contributed by F. v. Kobell 
and Foringer in the Oherhayerisches Archiv. fur Vaterldnd. Gesch., xv. 194-219. 

2 Landesordnung, fol. 125*. 

^ Landau, 157. ** Cf. Sugenheim, Bayerns Kirchen- und Volks- 
zustdnde, 468 ff. ^ v. Freyberg, i. ' Beilagen,' p. 5. 


In Wiirtemberg the Estates, on their continuous 
petitioning against the inordinate quantity of game pre- 
served, received from Duke Frederick in 1595 the follow- 
ing assurance : ' In order that our obedient prelates 
and country people should see that it is our gracious 
intention to strike at the very root of this grievance, we 
have resolved that henceforth every year, instead of 
allowing only three principal forests to be hunted over, 
there shall henceforth be hunting in four forests (not- 
withstanding that it may often be arduous and some- 
times dangerous) until all the animals have been 
extirpated. If more forests were hunted over, it 
would still be of no use, because it would not be 
possible to hunt them in such a manner as to do away 
with the grievances complained of/ ^ 

The Estates had to be content with this. ' The 
noble art of the chase as the chief pastime and amuse- 
ment of princes and other aristocratic personages ' not 
only resulted, for the vassals, in the devastation of their 
laboriously planted acres, meadows, vineyards and 
gardens, but also in innumerable hunting services which 
were amongst the most oppressive of the feudal socages, 
because there was no limit to them and they were im- 
posed with the utmost arbitrariness. The peasants were 
obliged to convey all the hunting paraphernalia back- 
wards and forwards from the hunting stables, to lead 
along the dogs, to help in beating the covers, to take 
home the game that had been shot, to make pahngs and 
hew out roads and paths for the shooters."' 

^ Reysclier, ii. 255. 

^ Cf. Landau, 166. ** Concerning the chase socages see also Schwap- 
pach, ii. 609 £f. : ' There was no fixed Hmit to the chase socages, and 
the utmost caprice in their exaction ; they were often imposed with utter 


In the duchy of Saxony the parishes complained 
incessantly of the increasing hunt services that were 
exacted, and of the numerous calls made on them to 
cart nets, which was often a very costly business. 
Thus, for instance, in 1551 the villages in the district 
of Roda appealed to the territorial prince Duke 
John Frederick II. on the score that numbers of 
people were obliged to make long journeys on account 
of the wolf hunts and, on pain of a fine of 20 florins, leave 
all their work and follow the hunt ; this had actually 
happened ten times in the winter. Besides this they 
were often called upon to attend at deer and boar hunts 
in the middle of the harvest, when they had to leave all 
their corn and harvesting at a standstill. They were 
poor people, they had only poor soil where corn and 
grass would not grow so well as in other places, but only 
wood, thorn-hedges, dry patches of land and the poorest 
grass fields ; and so they had scarcely enough bread to 
eat and were obliged with their many little children to go 
almost naked and to suffer terrible distress. Added to 
all the heavy burdens of taxes and socages the new 
services at the wolf hunts had been imposed on them. 
' When the bailiff comes in the evening and orders us on 
pain of a fine to be up early in the morning with our best 
implements and to go to such or such a place, we are 
obhged to get up in the middle of the night. Many of 
us have no trousers or other clothes, neither shoes, caps 

unscrupulousness and cruel harshness. For one single hunting expedition 
over 1000 men were frequently requisitioned, and these men had to spend 
weeks together in the forest, it might be at a time of necessary farm 
labour, or in the depths of winter, taking their bullock carts with them, and 
not receiving a morsel of bread.' ' For the boar-hunts, for which a great 
many were often wanted, the shepherds and butchers were obliged in many 
places to give their services ' (in Hesse for instance). See Landau, 177. 


nor gloves, and no bread in the house ; and we start off 
and go a mile or a mile and a half, and when we get to the 
spot no one gives us a bit of bread, and we had none to 
take with us, and we stand about there cold and hungry, 
so that many of us might fall sick and die if God did not 
give us special strength. When at last we get back home 
there is nothing in the house to appease our hunger. 
The next day we are summoned again, and the way the 
bells are rung at night is enough to terrify the people. 
If we were to go on being oppressed in this manner 
it would not be possible for us to keep ourselves ahve, 
we must either perish with cold or starvation or run 

In the district of Eilenburg, in the Saxon Electorate, 
96 men were bound to yield hunting service, in the 
district of Kolditz 643, in the district of Lauterstein 
700. At an electoral hunting expedition planned in 
1564 the peasants were called on to supply no less than 
155 wagons and 1277 men. The vassals of the district 
of Griinhain offered in return for the remission of their 
hunting services to supply a yearly quota of 100 men 
for five weeks for the clearing of the roads in the district 
of Schwarzenberg and to pay and maintain them at their 
own expense. Peasants who had formerly been the 
vassals of convents and abbeys now experienced a 
severity of oppression unknown to them when they were 
still under ecclesiastical dominion. ' In the times of the 
monks,' so the electoral steward Lauterbach recounted 
in 1562, ' the vassals of the monastery of Altenzelle were 
not obhged to render any hunting services, for the monks 
did not hunt game and boars more than once or twice in 
the year, and they paid their own expenses, and they 

' ELius, Fiirstwesen, 193. 


kept their own foresters, and used their wagons and 
those of the convent of Zell for conveying the nets and 
game, and all the service that was claimed was paid for 
with money, food and drink. But after the monastery, 
with the district of Nossen, came to the Elector, the 
villages of Zell were bound to contribute 44 net- and 
five game-wagons, and these obligations were multi- 
plied later on/ ^ At a discussion on the grievances of 
the land at a Provincial Diet at Torgau in 1603 it was 
stated that, ' as regards the chase and its services, it 
had been repeatedly complained that the poor vassals, 
often those who formerly were quite exempted, were 
summoned to attend in great numbers, in the midst of 
their own busy work, with carts, horses, cloths and im- 
plements, and they also had to draw along game- wagons 
and lead dogs ; and that another 100 persons or more 
were summoned by the foresters and hunters, for these 
shooters, hunters, foresters, attendants, who were set up 
in authority, treat the poor people without the least 
mercy, and force them into their service. Often for a 
matter of a few foxes or hares they summon 100 men, 
keep them several days in rain and snow, with other 
hardships and without giving them any food, and make 
them bring up a quantity of carts and horses when the 
lords and gentry themselves are not taking part in the 
proceedings.' The peasants were not allowed to fence in 
the fields against the wild game, and besides this they 
were obhged to make enclosures for the game and to 
raise oats for them. In the years 1605 and 1609 fresh 
complaints were raised by the Estates : ' In spite of all 
promises of redress, the old game preserves had been 
enlarged, and fresh ones made ; also the people were 

^ Falke, Kurfurst August, 154-155. 

p 2 


obliged to leave all the ground bordering on the game 
preserves bare of crops, for the animals, especially the 
wild boars, completely devastated the fields, meadows 
and vineyards ; at the frequent hunting expeditions 
numbers of vassals were obliged to attend for weeks 
at a time with horses and wagons at their own 
expense.' ^ 

In Hesse, according to a report of the magistrates in 
1595, as many as 300 people were called upon to serve at 
the hare and fox hunts and even to take the place of 
hounds.^ All who did not respond to the summons were 
subjected to severe punishment. In 1591 the Hessian 
parishes of Allendorf and Verna, because the men did not 
appear at the right time at a hunt, were fined 80 thalers ; 
in 1593, 28 shepherds from the districts of Battenberg 
and Frankenberg lost 110 of their best wethers be- 
cause they had not sent their dogs to the hunt. A 
master huntsman of the Landgrave Maurice discharged 
a load of shot into the body of one peasant who had 
lingered behind in the chase, struck an ear off another 
who came up late with his hounds, and slashed in two the 
head of a third ; it was not till he cursed the Landgrave 
that he was brought to trial. ^ 

' If it were once to be reckoned up,' wrote a Lutheran 
preacher in 1587, ' how many hundred thousands of 
people in Germany are yearly kept back for weeks and 
even months together from their work, in order to 
serve the princes' and lords' passion for the chase, it 
would no longer be asked why the soil was less produc- 

> Codex Augusteiis, i. 162 sqq. Frischius, iii. 8. J. Falke, Steuer- 
bewilligungen, xxxi. 170, and Falke, ' Verhandl. des Kiirfiirsten Christian 
II., mit seinen Landstanden, 1601-1609,' in the Zeitschr. fiir deutsche 
Kulturgesch (Jahrg. 1873), pp. 89-91. 

^ Rommel, Neuere Gesch., ii. 647, '* Landau, 169, 177. 


tive than of old, and wliy poverty had become so great 
and widespread, and was constantly increasing. The 
principalities and lordshijDs themselves are going to 
ruin, so immense are the manifold expenses of the hunt, 
with servants, hounds, falcons, &c. If everything were 
to be counted up, it might well be said that a stag or 
any other piece of game, before it is brought to table, 
has cost 50, 60, or even more, gulden/ 

Princes' councillors themselves made calculations 
of this sort. In Weimar they represented to Duke 
Frederick William that, counting the expense of all the 
many hunting servants and their food, a stag might 
be said to cost 100 florins. In Dresden the price of 
each pound of game eaten at the Elector's table was 
reckoned at several gold ducats.^ 

In 1617 the Elector of Saxony had 500 huntsmen in 
his service, not counting the young ones ; the number 
of his hounds was reckoned at 1000.^ The keep of 
every single hound, at the then value of money, came 
to 12-13 thalers a year.^ 

' Many hundreds of hounds were considered a 
necessary equipment for a princely court.' Duke Henry 
Julius of Brunswick appeared at the boar-baiting on 
the Oberweser, in 1502, with no less than 600 hounds. 
Landgrave Ludwig IV. of Hesse-Marburg used for his 
hounds only, in 1582, 158 malters of rye. Landgrave 
Maurice of Hesse-Cassel, in 1604, calculated the yearly 
feed of his 116 hounds at 320 quarters of rye and 280 

^ Richard, Licht und Schatten, 244. 

^ Baltische Studien, ii., Heft ii. 141-142. 

^ Landau, 97. ' What in comparison were the 300 gulden which the 
Elector spent yearly on the enlargement of the hbrary at Dresden ? ' 
Baltische Studien, ii., Heft ii. 145. 


quarters of oats.^ The princes' falcons also swallowed 
up large sums of money. Thus, for instance, Landgrave 
Maurice had a master of the falcons, with one servant and 
two boys, who, besides fodder for two horses, were paid 
370 gulden a year ; his twelve falcons cost 312J gulden, 
and consumed yearly 1425 pounds of beef, 230 chickens, 
and 52 score of eggs.- 

The princes and lords did not only hunt in the hunt- 
ing season, but the whole year round.^ 

' The overlords cannot be expected to sit in council 
all day long,' wrote Bartholomew Ringwalt, 

But that the whole year through, 
They all day long the chase pursue. 
And seldom do in council sit 
Seems unto me by no means fit. 

He addressed a ' woe ! ' to the regents : 

They let no poor down-trodden wight 
Come with murmuring in their sight. 
Also the game in summer-tide 
Injures the poor folk far and wide. 
And with the never-ending chase. 
They 're plagued to death in every place.^ 

' Special complaints from the people were heard in 
all places on the score that days consecrated to God 
were given up to the chase.' ' The worst abomination 
of all,' wrote Spangenberg, ' is that even on Sundays and 
Saints' days, at the very time of the services, hunting 

' BaUische Studien, ii., Heft ii. 145. ** How considerable the game 
expenses of Archduke Ferdinand of Tyrol were, is seen from numerous 
documents of the Innsbruck government archives. For instance, for 
breeding young pheasants 200 gulden were spent in two years on ants' 
eggs. The estimate of the cost of a single hunting expedition is 4000 
gulden. 100 gulden were spent on one occasion for the transport of 
falcons from the Austrian provinces of Suabia. Hirn, ii. 495. 

2 Landau, 336-337. =' Ibid. 115; of. 128. 

" Die lauter Wahrheit, 231, 236. 


and baiting is going on, and one hears the wild beasts 
scampering and the stinking dogs yeUing all through 
the sermons, and the Sabbaths and feast-days are 
blasphemously desecrated, for not only do the squires 
themselves stay away from church, but they draw off 
their vassals also and whole villages from attendance 
at God's house/ ^ 

In his ' Jagdteufel ' he adduced as a special reason 
for the custom of Sunday-hunting : ' Our great lords 
drink themselves into a state of ill-health and debility, 
and as their carousals take place chiefly on Saturday, 
they shirk divine service in order to recoup their strength 
by the chase.' " 

To the ' Jagdteufel,' which, according to the pre- 
valent phraseology of contemporaries, ' stood in com- 
pany with the "Saufteufel," ' there was further added 
the 'Wut- und Blutteufel,' 'the truth of which cannot 
be doubted,' said a preacher, ' when we consider the 
gruesome punishments and all the inhuman treatment 
with which the great chiefs and lords proceed against 
the poor peasants for the shghtest infringement of their 
hunting laws.' ' A bloodthirsty heart,' wrote another 
preacher, ' proceeds from no cause so much as from 
constant hunting and game stalking ; ' ' to start a chase 
with human beings and to set the dogs at them to 
tear them to pieces is a most inhuman and barbarous 

Duke Maurice of Saxony once gave orders that a 
poacher should be punished by being bound between 
the horns of a stag and hunted through a wood with 
hounds, so that the poor man might be dashed against 

> Adelsspiegel, ii. 393. ^ Theatr. Diahol., 254. 

=* Hoffpredigten, Bl. N, 


the trees and thickets and torn to pieces. ^ Another 
overlord ' caused a vassal who had killed a wild 
boar to be hunted in the Rhine on a cold winter's 
night, and obhged him to stay in the river so long that 
he was quite frozen/ " The Englishman John Taylor 
says in his account of his travels in Westphaha in 1616 : 
* In some places there it is as dangerous to steal or to kill 
a hare as it is in England to rob a church or to murder a 
human being ; and yet it only costs two Enghsh pennies 
to put the miscreant to death, for the best and the 
worst is only a bit of cord.' ^ ' Such a perverted spirit 
has come over the world,' says Spangenberg, ' that any- 
one is more hkely to obtain mercy from an overlord 
for having killed two or three peasants, than for shoot- 
ing one stag or deer.' ^ The superintendent George 
Nigrinus also wrote : ' It would fare better with a man 
for kilhng a peasant, than for shooting a wild duck.' ^ 
On the whole the hunting laws of the great grandees 
may be said to have been ' written in blood.' 

^ Richard, 246. ** The story of an Archbishop of Salzburg who 
punished a man for killing a stag by having him sewn up in the stag's 
skin and thrown to the dogs in the market place (Kirchhof, Wendunmuth, 
i. 485) is a legend got up by the Protestants ; see Hauthaler, ' Eine 
Geschichtsliige iiber den Erzbischof Michael von Salzburg ' (1554-1560), 
in the Salzburg. Jcailiol. Kirchenzeitung (1895), No. 11. 

- Beck, 234 ; he refers among others to Doepler, Theair. poen. et execut. 
crimin., cap. 44. 

•' Zeitschrift fiir Hamburger Gesch., vii. 473. ** In the Niu-emberg 
annals may be read the shoi't and horrible entry : ' a.d. 1614, June 30, 
Stephen Tiiubner, a peasant of Schoppershof near Nuremberg, had his 
ten fingers chopped off on the Fleischbriicke in this town, and was banished 
in perpetuity from the town, because he had carried off a great qixantity 
of the Margrave's game. At last he fell into the hands of the Margrave 
(of Ansbach), who had him hanged.' See Newald'in the Blatter des Vereins 
fiir Landeshunde von Niederosterreich, new series, xiv. (1880), p. 216. 

* Landau, 147. ^ Nigrinus, Daniel, 68. 


The Elector Augustus of Saxony in 1572 issued the 
following ordinance : ' Whoever does any damage or is 
guilty of poaching in the princes' game preserves, forests, 
woods, (fee, shall be driven with scourging out of our land 
into perpetual banishment, or else shall be condemned 
to the galleys for six years with perpetual labour in 
mines and such like ; should these punishments not 
suffice to prevent the damaging of game, the Elector will 
ordain severer ones/ ^ Seven years later there followed 
the order : ' Everyone guilty of doing injury to game, 
and caught in the act, shall be instantly shot dead 
without mercy/ ^ 

In 1584 hanging became the fixed punishment for 
simple game steahng, and the same punishment was 
inflicted on all who aided and abetted a poacher. ^ 

Later Electors renewed these enactments ; Chris- 
tian I. added the further command that, 'All dogs 
taken by the peasants into the fields, must, in order 
to prevent their damaging the game, have one of 
their forefeet cut off/ An electoral edict of 1618 
decreed that, ' Every owner of a dog which has caused 
injury to game shall be punished with imprisonment 

^ Frischius, iii. 14. ^ Codex Augusteus, ii. 524, 

=* Ihid. 526-529. Stisser, 493. Falke, Kurfurst August, 149. 
Richard, 246. Capital punishment for poaching on game preserves 
was first established in Saxony by a mandate of the Elector Maurice 
in 1543. See Distel, Zur Todesstrafe gegen Wilder er in Kursachsen. 
Neues aus der Oesetzgehung und Spruchpraxis vor dem Mandate vom 10 Okt. 
1584. Eine Archivsiudie {Sep=Abdr. aus der Zeitschr. fiir die ges. Straf- 
rechtswissenschaft), Berlin, 1893. The usual punishments (according 
to Schwappach, ii. 644 £E.) for the lighter game offences consisted in 
lengthy prison or labour sentences, which were often intensified by con- 
demning the culprits to wear the so-called poacher's cap, i.e. the horns of 
a stag fastened on an iron hoop ; further, by various bodily penalties, 
putting out eyes, chopping off hands, whipping, or tratto di corda, &c. 


or compulsory labour at the Dresden fortification 
works/ ^ 

Elector Joachim II. of Brandenburg decreed in a 
hunting ordinance that, ' Whoever caught a fawn, a 
young roe, or a wild sow in the forests should have 
both his eyes put out ; whoever shot one of the prince's 
hares would have a hare branded on his cheek/ - In 
1574 Elector John George intensified the punishment. 
* Whoever shoots game, also wild ducks, and other 
feathered game,' he decreed, * has incurred in our lands 
the penalty of the gallows ; and the same punishment 
shall befall those who shall have aided and abetted 
the poachers or given them any help and countenance.' ^ 
As irremittable fines to be imposed for poaching offences 
Elector John Sigismund decreed in 1610 : for shooting 
a hart, 500 thalers ; for shooting a doe, 400 thalers ; for a 
wild calf, 200 thalers ; for a roe, 100 thalers ; for a hare, 50 
thalers ; this last sum was also to be paid by anyone who 
shot a mountain-cock, a blackcock, a bezel-hen, or a part- 
ridge. For a wild goose or a crane the fine was 40 thalers ; 
for a wild duck, 10 thalers ; for a wild pigeon, 5 thalers.* 

Duke Henry Juhus of Brunswick (1598) also decreed 
capital punishment for poaching.^ 

^ Beck, 718. Richard, 246. The nobles who transgressed against 
the hunting laws of the Electors were obliged to pay heavy fines ; thus, 
for instance, the son of Hans von Wildebach (about 1604) had to pay 
500 thalers for having baited a hare (which he never caught) in the electoral 
hunting-grounds. Zeitschr. fiir deutsche KuUurgesch. ( Jalirg. 1872), p. 496, 

2 See our remarks, vol. vi. p. 65. Fidicin, v. 291. 

■' MyUus, ii. Abt. iii. 4-5. ' Ibid. vi. Abt. i. 207 ; cf. iv. Abt. i. 523. 

* Stisser, 492. ** ' Poachers and receivers of stolen goods,' it says 
in a code of instructions of Maximilian II. of February 1, 1575, for his 
' chief- country -master of the hunt,' in Austria below the Enns, ' of a year's 
standing, shall be punished with a fine, or in some other way. If they 
commit a second offence they shall be hung.' Newald in the Blatter fiir 
Landeskunde Niederosterreichs, new series, xiv. (1880), 215. See also 


The least severe punishment which Landgrave 
Phihp of Hesse inflicted for poaching was gibbeting. 
On the cross-beam of a gallows-tree was fixed a roller 
through which ran a rope, and to this rope the culprit, 
with his hands bound behind him, was fastened. He 
was then drawn up to the top and suddenly let down 
again, but only so far that he remained dangling in 
the air and never touched the ground. This punishment 
was all the more cruel because the unhappy victim 
only hung by his arms, which were thus forced back- 
wards in an unnatural way till they were bent over 
his head.i Severe punishments were also inflicted 
on people who frightened the game away from their 
own fields.- Landgrave Wilham IV. of Hesse ordained 
on July 27, 1567, that ' any person discovered in the 
act of poaching should be trapped like a wild boar 
and led straight to the gallows, which stands on the 
top of the high barbican, and be hung there, so that 
no disputation may occur as to his destination as 
before.' ^ A poacher from Gottesbiiren had his right 
eye put out and a stag-horn branded on his forehead ; 
another one was first stretched on the rack and then 
hanged.^ Not less severe than that for poaching was the 
punishment for fishing in the manorial ponds. When 
the Hessian official at Eppstein in 1575 sentenced nine 
crayfish-stealers to punishment in body and hfe and had 
them put to the rack, he asked the Landgrave Ludwig 
at Marburg if the sentence (whether the halter or putting 
their eyes out) was to be carried out at once. Ludwig's 
counciflors, after examining into the matter, came to the 

' Kaiser Maximilians II. Jagdordnung von 1575,' by Dr. B. Dudik in the 
Archiv. fiir osterreich. Gesch., 38, 341. 

1 Landau, 184. - Ibid. 138 ff. '' Ibid. 188-189. ' Ibid. 188, 192. 


conclusion that the malefactors might be spared this 
penalty for the present : scourging and banishment 
would be enough ; the Landgrave, however, ordered 
the immediate execution of the sentence. ^ 

Margrave George Frederick of Ansbach-Bayreuth 
attached capital punishment also to every offence 
connected with small game, and, not satisfied with 
putting to death all poachers and destroyers of game, 
in 1589 he decreed the same punishment for every 
subject who knew of such offences and did not give 
information to the magistrates.^ 

In the margraviate ' the breeding of game and the 
insolence of the gamekeepers to the peasants are in- 
tolerable ; the peasants are seized, shut up and tortured 
with tyrannical cruelty.' ^ 

> Landau, Fischerei, 67. It was ciistomary, in order to frighten off 
thieves, to erect gallows-trees by the lakes and ponds (p. 68). Wliat a 
large number of these gaUows there must have been may be judged 
by the extensive area occupied by the manorial ponds. In Lower Hesse, 
for instance, under Landgrave WiUiam IV., the princely ponds covered 
an area of 881 acres, not including 28 breeding ponds. In Upper Hesse, 
in 1570, there were 30 manorial ponds, and 13 breeding ponds besides. 
Landgrave Louis V., in 1.597, set up a new pond which covered 1000 acres, 
and in 1609 yet another which covered 600 acres and cost over 20,000 
gulden (pp. 16-17). 

- Muck, i. 615. ** Cf. aLso the mandate of MaximiUan I. of Bavaria, 
of August 17, 1598, in v. Freyberg, ii. 23. 

* Muck, i. 618. ** In contrast with the game laws of other princes, 
those of Archduke Charles were distinguished by mildness. Cf. Hurter, ii. 
354-355 ; Peinlich, Zur Gesch. der Leibeigenschaft, 79 ff. AH the same, 
however, the caprice and the plaguing of the forest-masters and forest- 
servants became insupportable. Hurter, 355 ff. In the Tyrol the princes' 
masters of the hunt would only tolerate such very low fences that the game 
could easily get over them. See Hirn, ii. 488 £f., where there are fuller 
details concerning the cruel hunting laws of Archduke Ferdinand II., a 
fanatical hunter. Some of the details given here seem almost incredible, 
but they are confirmed by documentary acts. Thus, for instance, a man 
from Burgau, who had defended himself against the attacks of a hound, 
was punished with fining and imprisonment. 


In no country were such numerous hunting laws 
made as in Wiirtemberg. Duke Uhich, before his 
banishment in 1517, had aheady issued the order that, 
' Whosoever was found in the princely forests with 
muskets, cross-bows, or any other weapons, or in the 
fields in places set apart for the small game, whether 
he were shooting or not, should have both his eyes 
put out/ 1 After his reinstatement he reissued the 
decree that ' all poachers should be severely punished 
in body, life, honom*, or goods : he himself would 
like to see both their eyes put out also/ ~ In 1551 
Duke Christopher gave orders that ' within four weeks 
all vassals should give up their muskets ; whoever 
kept back a musket in his house, or was met in the 
fields, or forests, or in the open country with a musket, or 
a firelock, or other hand-gun, on foot or on horse, with 
or without ammunition, should be subject to heavy 
disgrace and punishment/ When, however, ' the ac- 
cursed riffrafi ' of poachers refused to be intimidated, 
it was decreed in 1554 that ' whoever harboured or 
sheltered a poacher, or even abstained from giving 
information to the magistrates, should be punished 
with equal severity ; if a convicted poacher would 
not confess in court what he had shot, and who his 
associates were, he was to be sentenced to the rack/ ^ 
Nevertheless these, hke all later enactments, owing 

' Reyscher, iv. 49. 

- Strafbefehle aus den Jahren, 1534, 1535, 1541, 1543. Reyscher, iv. 
70, 71, 77-78. 

•^ Reyscher, 16', 284 ft'. On January 8, 1610, John Frederick issued a 
general rescript to the eft'ect that, ' All the feathered game that is caught 
shall go nowhere else than to our court household and to our kitchen-master 
in retuin for suitable payment : for a wild duck, 12 kreuzer ; for a hazel 
hen, 8 kreuzer ; for a field hen, 6 kieuzer ; for a snipe, 5 kreuzer ; for a 
quail, 2 kreuzer.' Reyscher, 16'', 227. 


especially to the growing distress among the people, 
only led to greater and greater disaffection. In 
Wiirtemberg, as everywhere else, ' the starving poor, 
who saw the wild game in such quantities around them, 
and saw them cherished and preserved, while they 
themselves with their families had to starve and were 
fleeced and sweated in a heartrending manner, naturally 
wanted now and then to eat their fill and have their 
roast, and so there came about all sorts of offences 
and penal refractoriness, whereby the great people 
were themselves punished/ ' Disguised with beards, 
masks, and even in female attire,' the poachers occasion- 
ally trooped in bands through the woods ; they threw 
down poisoned balls which rendered the animals sense- 
less, so that, as it says in an edict of the territorial 
government, ' those of the court retinue and others who 
eat the poisoned animals also become senseless/ Not 
only were the forest servants treated so badly that 
they no longer dared attend to their duties, but the 
dukes themselves were frequently in peril of their 
lives. Duke Ludwig, in 1588, no longer dared ' pursue 
the pleasures of the chase.' i 

1 Reyscher, ii. 134-136, and iv. 81-82, 166-168. Frischius, iii. 164-168, 
173. Sattler, v. 109. ** The Elector of Mayence complained in a letter 
to the Landgrave Maurice, on November 3, 1617, that the poachers some- 
times went through his game preserves in bands of as many as sixty. 
Landau, 193. 




In the course of the sixteenth century the court hfe 
of the Princes became more and more brilhant and 
magnificent. ' With almost every death of a prince/ 
wrote a preacher in 1553, ' the number of pages and 
servants, of secretaries and kitchen-masters, increases, 
and not only at the great courts but also at the small 
ones, which think it necessary to imitate the great ones/ 
At the little com't of the Margrave Hans von Klistrin 
the retinue consisted of 284 persons, who all received 
salaries. 1 John George of Saxony, administrator of 
the former bishopric of Merseburg, fed every day 
114 persons, not reckoning the servants of his court, 
people for whose keep he was also in part responsible. 
For kitchen, cellar and chandry he spent weekly 
over 1000 florins.^ To Duke John Frederick 11. of 
Saxe-Weimar, whose territory only covered 77 square 
miles, his comicillors wrote in 1561 : ' Your Princely 
Highness as a rule provides food daily for 400 persons 
at 50 tables ; for kitchen and cellar provisions alone (as 
the kitchen and cellar registers show) these people cost 

^ MdrJcische Forschungen, xiii. 446. ' Miiller, Forschungen, i. 11-17. 


at least 900 florins a week, which, not reckoning banquets 
and etceteras, comes to a yearly sum of 46,800 florins/ 
For making their clothes 'every prince and every princess 
kept at court five master- and four constantly employed 
working-tailors, and so many occasional helps besides, 
that the whole number was seldom under thirty, and they 
occupied three tables in the dining-hall/ ^ The coun- 
cillors of Duke Frederick Wilham of Saxe- Weimar drew 
his attention in 1590 to the fact that the yearly sum 
which came from the ducal domains was not much over 
30,000 gulden, whereas he required for the maintenance 
of his court over 83,000 gulden a year ; also that all 
the corn from the domains was used for the servants 
and court retinue. ^ From Trinity 1557 to Trinity 

1558 the maintenance of his court cost the Elector 
.100,000 gulden.3 At the court of Duke Wolfgang of 
Pfalz-Zweibriicken, according to a bill of provisions of 

1559 in our possession, 2296 persons were fed in one 
week.^ Landgrave Wilham IV. wrote on March 14, 
1575, with regard to himself and his brothers, to his 
brother Phihp of Hesse-Rlieinfels : ' Although the 
landgraviate, since the death of your father Phihp, has 
been divided into five parts, each one keeps court on 
a grand scale with a large retinue of noblemen and 
commoners. Our family is also noted for filhng its 
courts with pompous grandees with their golden chains 
together with their wives and children. To these 
people nothing must be denied, kitchen and cellar must 

^ Kius, Ernestinische Finanzen, 98-99. 

" Moser, Putrioiisches Archiv., iii. 275 ff. 

•' ** See Kurt Treusch von Buttlar, ' Das tagliche Leben an den 
deutsclien Fiirstenhofen des sechzehnten Jalii'hunderts,' in the Zeitschr. 
fiir Kulturgesch., 1897, p. 7. 

■» Zeitschr. fiir die OescJiichte des Oberrheins, x. 289. 


stand open to them, and servants' wages are thus also 
greatly increased. They think this gives them great 
importance, for they leave us with unwiped mouths and 
without thanks, laughing at our silliness. We do not 
stop here, however, but we dress our ladies-in-waiting, 
our pages, also the squires themselves, all in velvet 
and silk, deck out our horses with feathers and velvet 
trappings, just every bit as though we were civet-cats 
and were very ill at ease in and among the fashions of 
our own country.' ' Verily, this will turn out badly in 
the end and have evil consequences, especially if a rough 
time should come and we should have to go to war. For, 
indeed, Italian and German state do not accord together ; 
for the Italians, even if they do wear fine clothes, eat 
all the more plainly and sparely, and are content with a 
meal of salad and eggs, while we Germans must stuff 
our mouths and our belhes full ; therefore it is impos- 
sible to mix together German and Italian pomp. The 
princes, counts and nobles who attempt this, only 
spoil both and reduce themselves withal to suffering 
and want.' ' In this respect we observe no hmits, but 
in addition to the many nobles and stately ladies-in- 
waiting at our courts, we saddle ourselves with such 
numbers of sworn doctors and chancellery writers, that 
there is scarcely one of us who has not in his chancellery 
as many, if not more, doctors, secretaries and writers, 
receiving higher pay, moreover, than our august father 
himself, who possessed the whole land.' 'Furthermore, 
each one of us keeps so many hunters, cooks, and other 
servants, so that there is a special huntsman for almost 
every mountain, for every stomach a special cook, and 
for every barrel a special tapster, which verily does not 
lead to good in the end. We will keep silence respecting 



the huge buildings in which we feel strangely lost, hke- 
wise the gambhng and the going about to dances and 
to visit foreign princes, both which amusements quickly 
empty our purses. For although in some places we are 
quits, yet often our expenses are as great as if we stayed 
at home, since we all, except Landgrave George, arrange 
things in such a way that shoals of servants are left 
behind in our houses w^hen we go away, and so our 
absence makes scarcely any difference/ ' It would also 
be well,' Wilham adds in a postscript, ' to say a good 
deal about the numerous gratuities and the high wages 
which many servants demand of us, as if we were kings 
and emperors/ ^ At the Wiirtemberg court, in the 
dining-hall of the lower ducal officials and court retainers 
450 persons were fed every day ; in the knights' hall 
the prince's table and the marshal's table were generally 
occupied by 166 higher officials and court servants. ^ 
Duke Wilham V. of Bavaria, in 1588, fed daily no less 
than 771 persons, besides 44 persons who belonged to 
the court retinue of the duchess.-^ The electors in 
their court state and retinues wanted to ape kings. 
The court estabhshment of the Elector Frederick IV. 
counted 678 persons.'^ When the Brandenburg Pro- 
vincial Estates represented to Elector Joachim II. that 
in view of the general distress in the land and the terrible 
amount of the princes' debts, it was desirable that he 
should discharge his superfluous court officials, he 
replied that ' he could not reduce his estabhshment 
without impairing the dignity of his electoral estate, 

^ Moser, Patriotisches Archiv., iv. 165-172. 
" See our remarks, vol. xi. 132 f. 
=' V. Freyberg, Landstdnde, ii. 451-454. 
■* See our remarks, vol. ix. p. 216. 


for an Elector was as high as a King in the empire.' ^ 
The Elector Christian I. of Saxony, whenever he went 
out, was accompanied by fifty young noblemen on 
horseback, called carabineers, with a glittering staff 
at their head ; and beside these there walked 100 
picked and stalwart men who were called Trabantes.^ 
Phihp Hainhofer of Augsburg saw, in 1617, in the elec- 
toral stables at Dresden, 176 riding horses, 84 coach 
horses, and 30 mules. ^ Many of the princes kept from 
400 to 500 horses in their stables. '^ As regards the 
' superfluity of writer- folk at the courts,' which was 
a matter of universal complaint, it may be mentioned 
that at the death of Duke Louis of Wiirtemberg ( j* 1593) 
the number of chancellery clerks, besides the government 
privy councillors and the court registrars, amounted to 
ninety-four ; in the Upper Council there were twelve 
councillors, six advocates, five secretaries, and twelve 

Winter, Mdrkische Stdnde, xx. 649-650. 
- Richard, Licht und Schatten. 

•' Baltische Studien, ii., Heft ii. 129. ^ Theatr. Diabol., 410. 

'■> Sattler, v. Beil. ss. 90-93. From Duke Gotthard von Kurland's 
Hofordnung, letztes Drittel des 16'*"" Jahrhunderts : 

His ' Personel ' 113 persons and 77 horses; 
Her ' Personel ' 163 persons and 141 horses. 

Total 276 persons and 218 horses. 

16 tables occupied by the Court retinue — 
In money the cost of clothes for the personal staff amounted. 

for the women to 1622 thalers ; 
for the men to 1478 thalers. 

Total 3100 thalers. 

Monumenta Livoniae Antiquae, ii. : Historische Nachricht vom Schloss zu 
Mitau, p. 13 ff. There is a very interesting calculation of the table 
requisites in the same place, 21-23 ; wages of court servants, 22-24. The 

q 2 

228 history of the german people 

1. ' Drinking Princes ' and Court Festivities 

With but few exceptions all contemporaries, whether 
prejudiced or unprejudiced, in public pamphlets, in ser- 
mons, or in private letters, in their reports concerning 
court life, speak in a way which cannot but produce 
an appalling impression on readers and hearers. 'All 
the vices of the time,' say they with one accord, 'were 
united at the courts as at their fountain-head, and 
thence distributed through the land among all classes. 
But amongst these vices, drunkenness, the " Saufteufel " 
which commandeered so many other devils, ruled 

' What numbers there are among the princes and 
lords,' wrote the Brunswick councillor George Engelhart 
Lohneiss, ' who are not only themselves addicted to 
superfluous drinking but who also bestow large gifts 
and honours on wine-bibbers ! Some of them drink to 
such an extent that they remain lying on the ground ; 

yearly court consumption of food was 200 oxen, 130 fatted pigs ; 2000 
sheep, 500 lambs, 100 calves from Christmas to Easter ; 1500 geese, 4000 
chickens, 25,000 eggs, 150 sucking pigs, ' game, as much as was to be 
obtained,' and so forth ; 80 awms of Rhenish wine, 30 barrels of French 
wine, &c. ; 1193 thalers for sweetmeats. The chancellery used 30 reams of 
paper. ** See the article in the Zeitschr. fiir Kulturgesch., 1897, p. 7 ff., 
quoted above, p. 224, n, 3. From the year's account of the Margrave Hans 
von Kiistrin (1560) for the purchase of meat it appears that at least 1| lb. 
per head was consumed ; this according to our notions seems prepostei'ous. 
But this was by no means all, for the account in question does not include 
game, which it was not necessary to buy. It is needful to remember 
that in those days game played an incomparably larger part in menus 
than nowadays, especially, of course, in the princes' courts {I.e. 23). 
Concerning the immense increase of officialdom in Pomerania resulting 
from the great augmentation of incomes through Church robbery, and 
for the brilliant organisation of courts since the Reformation, see Spahn, 
Verfassungs- und Wirtschaf*sgesch. des Herzogtums Pommern, p. 64 ff. ; 
for the great abuses in this officialdom, see p. 78 ff. 


others die in a few days ; others drink themselves to 
a state of idiotcy ; and so forth/ i John Chryseus 
in 1545, in his ' Hofteufel ' dedicated to the Dukes 
John Frederick and John Wilham of Saxony, describes 
the proceedings at court as follows : 

They eat, they drink at such a rate, 
That, faith, it is a glory great 
When one can drink more than a cow. 
Then vomit, and drink again I vow. 
It is the custom, it 'a quite fit, 
None are unused to it one bit, 
So they go on with banqueting. 
With eating, drinking, jubilating. 
Great wickedness thereby comes in. 
But no one now esteems it sin.* 

Nicodemus Frischlin says of the inordinate drinking 
at courts : 

Yea, yea, with beakers now at court they raise 
Drink offerings to their princes' weal and ways ; 
This is their worshipping, their prayer and praise, 

and thus they bring on themselves all sorts of illness, 
gout, dropsy, cohc, and fever. ^ ' At some of the 
Princes' and lords' courts things are so arranged that 
many a man earns more and fares better who is a 
monster of intemperance, than others who drudge on 
steadily at their toilsome labours.' ^ ' To the shame 
and disgrace of the holy Evangel,' says a Protestant 
pamphlet of 1579, ' the vice of inordinate drinking reigns 
so powerfully at those courts which call themselves 

' Lohneiss, 142. ^ Chryseus, Hofteufel, Act 2, Scene 4. 

* Strauss, Frischlin, 108. 

* Strigenicius, Diluvium, 90 ; cf. Gr. Wickgram, Die Biecher Vincentii 
Obsopei : Von der kunst zu trinken (Freiburg i. Br., 1537), BI. E. Olorinus 
Variscus, Ethnogr. mundi, Bl. G 4''. 


evangelical, that a tolerably sober after generation will 
scarcely credit what the history of our times has to 
say on the subject. Were we to count up the names 
of 'all those of princely, or otherwise high birth, who 
have drunk themselves to death, we should have a 
fine long hst indeed.' 'How can I keep sober?" say 
the great princely lords and their retinue ; ' are not all 
the rest of my blood pious topers and drinkers ? It 
would be eccentric and wanting in manly German 
strength and honour, if I took to being different from 
them.' 1 

There were, nevertheless, honourable exceptions. 
Duke John Albert I. of Mecklenburg was an enemy of 
all excessive drink.- So, too, was Duke Juhus of 
Brunswick. In 1579 the latter issued the stringent 
order that, ' The tutors, marshals, valets, preceptors 
and collaborators in attendance on our young noble- 
men and lords must with all diligence and faithfulness 
see to it that our sons (and especially the Duke Henry 
Juhus, postulate Bishop of Halberstadt) shall not only 
not be allowed to indulge in immoderate drinking, in 
gluttony and other irregular and wild modes of life, 
but also, in their highnesses' presence, there shall be no 

' Vom newen Saufteufel unglaich drger denn der alte (1579), pp. 5-6. ** See 
V. Buttlar in the Zeitschr. filr Kulticrgesch., 1897, pp. 25 ff., 30. The author 
remarks (p. 33) : ' There was no more need to fast, no more need to 
confess. For untrammelled childi-en of nature Uke these country-born 
nobles of the sixteenth century, it meant a great deal that such restraints 
should fall away. The " Fressen und Saufen," which, according to 
SeckendorfE's Teutscher Fiirstenstaat, was a disgrace to the courts, came 
into vogue ; it became the rule, the custom, as appears only too plainly 
from the court ordinances ; and it crushed out \y\ih. the force of all that 
was vulgar and low any noble instincts that stUl remained in a despairing 
consciousness of duty.' 

- Schirrmacher, i. 766. How matters stood, however, with his brother 
Duke Christopher, is shown by Schirrmacher, i. 284, n. 2. 


carousing or otlier rowdiness, or rough and wild behaviour 
with words, gestures or deeds, so that the young men 
may not be incited and led on to irregularities.' ' If on 
the visits of foreign princes and nobles it is thought 
necessary, according to the vicious habit which, alas, 
has become too prevalent among the Germans, to have 
a drinking-bout the sons must be led away from the 
table as soon as the drinking begins/ The Duke Henry 
Julius was henceforth to be forbidden to take part in 
copious drinking, as also in other dissipation and wanton- 
ness/ Of Prince Christian of Anhalt it was also said 
by Catholic contemporaries that he was ' usually sober 
in his habits ' and abstained from ' immoderate drinking ' 
and would ' not allow it to go on in his vicinity,' in this 
respect ' being a somewiiat rare bird, seeing that the 
opposite was always flagrantly the case at all princely 
convivialities/ ^ 

Among the Catholic princes, Duke William of Cleves ^ 
and the Bavarian Dukes Wilham V. and Maximilian I. 
were distinguished for their sobriety. Phihp Hainhofer, 
who took part at Munich in 1613 in the wedding festivi- 
ties of the Count Palatine Wolfgang William of Neuburg 
with the Bavarian Princess Magdalena, said in his 
account of his travels : ' All through these eight days 
I have not seen one man intoxicated or the worse for 
drink, which is indeed admirable. There was also no 
more " toasting " at meals beyond drinking the bride- 
groom's health and that of the bride and of the House 
of Bavaria/ * At the courts, also, of the Austrian 

^ V. Strombeck, Deutscher Fiirstenspiegel, 20. See Bodemann, 
Herzog Julius, 226-227. 

^ See Allgemeine deutsche Biographie, iv. 145 flf. 
^ Zeitschr, des bergischen Geschichtsvereins, ix. 173. 
' Hainhofer, 238. 


Dukes Charles and Ferdinand ' the vice of drunkenness 
was unknown/ ^ On the other hand Archduke Ernest, 
the eldest brother of Rudolf 11. , was initiated into the 
habit of drinking in 1575. At Dresden in this year 
he brought on himself, by excessive wine-drinking, ' a 
German fever which, as usual, lasted about twenty-four 
hours or more and then quite left him.' By his Imperial 
Majesty's command he was obliged while there to 
respond to all the toasts drunk to him.^ 

At the Saxon courts ' constant toping was an old- 
established evil custom.' For a mere ' welcome ' 
it was necessary to drink at least fourteen beakers. 
At times there was as much as 26,000 firkins of wine in 
the electoral cellar. ^ The Electors themselves were 
renowned and notorious as the ' first and most famous 
drinkers.' When the Elector John Frederick in 1545, 
with his cousin Duke Maurice, held his last ' friendly 
gatherings ' at Torgau, at Schweinitz and on the Schellen- 
berg near Chemnitz, ' great and inordinate drinking ' 
went on everywhere. At the ' drinking wagers ' to 
which the Elector invited his friends, several men, 

' Concerning Karl von Steiermark (Styria) it is said : ' Vini, quod 
his temporibus non immerito laudes, contentissimus fuit.' See Hurter, 
ii. 318. 

- V. Bezold, Rudolj II., p. 8, n. 2. 

^ Baltische Studien, ii., Heft ii. 131, 137. ' The hearty welcome ' 
which had to be drunk on the occasion of grand visits and festivitie.s 
was a bumper of four or eight, in many places actually fifteen or sixteen 
measures. Vulpius, vii. 52. ** Unlimited drinking at the Saxon court had 
become such a matter of course that many of the Princes would no longer 
accept an invitation to Dresden or Torgau because, as the Duke of Branden- 
burg said in making his excuses, ' they were made so drunk each time that 
they fell full length on the floor,' or as Joachim Ernest of Anhalt said 
to a relation, ' they went there like men and came away like hogs.' 
Ebehng F. Taubmann, 83. 


amongst them Ernest of Schonberg, * drank themselves 
to death/ Comit George of Mansfeld came near to 
death ; Duke Maurice, although till then he had been 
second to none as a drinker, was beaten by John Frederick 
and had to be taken to Dresden in a litter, in a very 
serious condition ; his life was despaired of for a long 
time/ At a convivial gathering at the Diet of Princes 
at Naumburg in 1561, the Rhinegrave Pliihp Franz 
drank himself to death with malmsey.- Drink was 
also the ruin of Elector Christian L, who, at the court 
of his father Augustus at Dresden, ' from youth up 
was accustomed to inordinate intemperance/ '■^ As 
Electoral Prince he wrote in June 1584 to Christian I. 
of Anhalt-Bernburg : ' von Biinau has told me that 
your Excellency is no longer a patron of drink, for 
which I am heartily sorry ; I wish your Excellency 
much prosperous and happy time and well-being from 
God, and that you may be brought out of such errors 
back into the right faith/ The wished-for conversion 
quickly followed, for only four weeks later Christian was 
thanking the prince for having helped von Biinau to 
arrange such ' famous drinking-bouts,' and declaring on 
his part that ' it would not be his fault if in course of 
time he did not again become his equal/ Letters about 
' good honest drinking-bouts and frequent carousals to 
the honour of God and in order to keep his boon 

' Richard, Licht und Schatten, 72-73. 

- Groen van Prinsterer, i. 48-52. Cf. Heppe, Gesch. des Protestantismus, 
i. 405, note. 

•* For an evening drinking-bout at Weida held in honour of the foreign 
grandees who were on a visit to him, tlie Elector Augustus ordered 50 
firkins of wine ; each firkin contained 72 tankards. V. Weber, Kurfiirstin 
Anna, 226. 


companion up to the mark, were "nuts " to him/ ' The 
reason why this letter is so stupid and badly written/ 
so he excused himself once to Prince Hans George of 
Anhalt, ' is that I have not yet altogether got over 
that last splendid orgy, and my hands tremble so that 
I can scarcely hold my pen.' ^ The Count Palatine 
John Casimir, who as a fourteen-year-old boy had 
already to be exhorted not to drink away reason and 
understanding,- told the Elector Christian of Saxony in 
1590 of a visit which he had paid the Margrave George 
Frederick of Brandenburg at the Plassenburg : ' I 
spent a whole day at the Plassenburg lying in bed ; I 
had drunk the great welcoming ; after that I danced, 
and then drank again, while the host was obliged to go 
to sleep ; then I danced again and won a pretty pearl 
wreath ; after this the host came back from his sleep, 
and had a fat Indian cock brought in, to which I was 
invited, with other jovial fellows, and we prepared our 
host for another sleeping-bout/ ^ 

There were numbers of ' brave drinkers ' who, like 
Veit von Bassenheim, were able to empty three times 
running, at one draught, a silver beaker containing eight 
bottles of wine.^ 

' A very monster of almost daily drunkenness and 
debauchery ' was the Elector Christian 11. of Saxony. 
When in July 1607 he was sojourning at the imperial 
court at Prague he made himself a pubhc spectacle by 
his insobriety, and he himself boasted that ' he had 
scarcely spent a sober hour while at Prague.'^ By 

' V. Weber, Kurfiirstin Anna, 232. - Kluckhohn, Briefe 1, li. 

^ V. Weber, Kiirfiirslin Anna, 233-234. ^ Vulpius, iii. 359. 
^ The Bavarian agent Wiliicvin Boden wrote on July 15, 1607, from 
Prague to Maximilian I., that Christian had indulged the whole time in gula 


many of his theologians he was called ' the pious heart ' ; 
but he never opened his lips except to utter filthy and 
obscene talk. The finely cultured Belgian, Daniel 
Eremita, who visited the German courts in 1609 in 
company with a Florentine ambassador, drew an appal- 
ling picture of the debauched, drunken life and doings 
at the Saxon court. In the Elector's ungainly, misshapen 
figure, puffed and swollen by excesses of every kind, and 
in his red, sensual face the Belgian saw more of a beast 
than of a prince. Seven hours long they sat at the table 
at which there was no other entertainment than eating 
and drinking : the besotted Elector only now and then 
made an indecent remark or proposed the health of some 
prince, diverted himself with shaking the remains of the 
beaker into the faces of the servants, and boxing the 
ears of the court fool.^ In 1611 the Wild and Rhein- 
graf at Salni signified to the Elector that, ' Whereas the 
ladies of the court always sit at table, it is fitting that 
they should take part in the drinking as well as the 
others ; the Duchess of Brunswick, when she is intoxi- 
cated, is beyond measure idiotic and merry.' ~ The 

et crapula : ' De ipsius obscoenis verbis vix ausim scribere.' The Venetian 
ambassador Soranzo wrote similarly about the Elector : ' I'eccesso suo 
nel bare e cosa da non credere.' Wolf, Maximilian, iii. 25, n. 2. Stieve, 
ii. 898, n. 1. 

' ' . . . Immanis bellua, voce, auribus, omni corporis gestu conveni- 
enti destituta : nutu tantum et concrepitis digitorum articulis loquitui- ; 
nee inter familiares quidem nisi obscoena quaedam et fere per convitium 
iactat. In wiltu eius nihil placidum, rubor et maculae e vino contractae 
oris lineamenta confuderant. . . . Septem quibus accumbebatur horis, 
nihil aliud quam ingentibus vasis et immensis poculis certabatur, in 
quorum haustu palmam procul dubio ipse dux ferebat. . . .' In 
Le Bret, Magazin, ii. 337-339. 

- V. Weber's Archiv. fiir sachsische Gesch., vii. 233. Cf. Schweinichen, 
iii. 222. 


drinking of the high-born German ladies was not less 
notorious abroad than that of the princes. ^ 

In a funeral sermon preached over the Elector 
Christian 11. (f 1611), the Saxon court-preacher Michael 
Niederstetter lamented the deceased prince as a ' father 
of the fatherland.' ' The extent of the calamity could 
not be exaggerated/ he said, ' nor the greatness of the 
loss estimated.' He compared the Elector with Moses, 
but he specially emphasised the fact that the latter had 
lived 120 years, and the former only twenty-seven years 
and nine months. In the time of Moses people did not 
then shorten their lives and bring on untimely death 
by excessive drinking. ' The servants of great lords and 
those who surround princes, should not tempt and lead 
them on to drink and debauchery, nor encourage them to 
drain great goblets to the health of other lords and 
princes." ~ 

Still more emphatic was a speech by Helwig Garth, 
superintendent in Freiberg : ' His electoral Grace, as is 
known to all and cannot be denied, had a certain incHna- 
tion to strong and excessive drink, which caused him 
to be much cried down now and again in the Roman 
Empire, and above all by the enemies of the holy 
Evangel : for he was compelled to be their reeling, rolling 
Nabal, their boon-companion and champion- drinker." ^ 

Concerning the Elector John George, successor to 
Christian II., the French ambassador Grammont wrote : 

' Henry IV. of France said it had been suggested to him to marry a 
German wife, ' mais les femmes de cette region ne me reviennent nuUement, 
et penserois, si j'en avais espouse une, de devoir avoir tousjours un lot 
de vin couche aupres de moy.' Oeconomies royales, iii. 171. 

- Drei christliche Predigten, dbc. Erste Predigt., Bl. B 3, D 4. 

•' Quoted by Kohler, Lebenslzschreibungen, ii. 113 note. Cf. Senken- 
berg, 24, xi. 


' His sole occupation was drinking immoderately every- 
day ; only on the days when he went to the Holy Com- 
munion did he keep sober in the morning at any rate ; 
to make up for this, however, he drank all through the 
night till he fell under the table.' ^ The gross coarseness 
that went on at these orgies is shown by a letter from 
the Elector to the Landgrave Louis of Hesse in 1617 : 
' Your Grace is not ignorant of the indiscretion of which 
on your departure, and the evening before, the servant 
George Truchsess was guilty at your court, in that he not 
only spoke against our dear and gracious cousin and 
foster-son, Duke Frederick of Saxony, in disgraceful 
threatening language, saying that he should throw the 
candle at your Grace, but also the next morning, in the 
presence of your Grace, struck our Truchsess Ulrich von 
Giinderode a blow in the face.' - ' Folly and drink,' 
said the mighty toper Wolfgang von Anhalt, ' with good 
honest blows are spice to the banquet, and still better 
is it if blood is seen also, for this gives occasion for 
another bumper to drink down the quarrel ; what 
would life be without plenty of drinking. It was not for 
nothing that God gave us princes our rich vineyards.' ^ 
' Suchhke jovial princely hfe with good honest drink- 
ing, &c.,' stands out plainly in the diary of Duke 
Adolf Frederick of Mecklenburg-Schwerin, beginning 
with the year 1611. Of the years 1613-1618, for instance, 

' Tholuck, Das hirchliche Leben, i. 214. 

- Thilringisches Provinzialblalt, 1839, No. 84. Cf. Tholuck, Das 
hirchliche Leben, i. 228-229. 

^ W ohlbeddchtige Reden von etlichen Trinkliebenden (1621), 19. Con- 
cerning these di-unkavd princes see v. Weber, Kurfurstin Anna, 227-229. 
Of Ludwig von Anhalt, Eremita writes : ' Potum . . . nulla necessitate 
ad enormes et immodicos haustus patria consuetudine trahebat.' Lc Bret, 
Magazin, ii. 344. 


we read : ' My brother Passow and Rosen have had a 
shindy ; my brother struck out at Rosen with a sword, 
and his pistol went off. My brother's wife swooned 
away three times and had to be restored with water 
and balsam/ — ' Count Henry of Stolberg spoke to my 
brother and told him that he ought to have some respect 
for himself and his wife, whereupon my brother struck 
out at the Count also with his sword. In the tumult my 
brother's fool of a magister struck Rosen a blow on the 
head, and Rosen's boy left some wounds in the magister's 
body.' — ' Gave a sound thrashing to a young page who 
had drunk himself so full that he could scarcely ride 
away.' — ' Thrashed my valet with the horse-brush.' — 
' My lady mother sharpened her tongue on me : one has 
to forgive a good deal to these viragos.' — ' Went as guest 
to the land-marshal Hennig Liitzow ; when I went to bed 
Vollrad Biilow rated the painter Daniel Block for a 
rogue and a fox, in return for which the painter beat him 
black and blue.' — 'Christian Frederick Blom and Duke 
Ulrich have had a quarrel about Anna Rantzow, whom 

Blom calls a wh . Duke Ulrich says he will have to 

answer for all this, and that he 'd better leave him out of 
the talk, or he shall have to call him a rascally liar. . . . 
Dined at Verden with my mother's brother the Arch- 
bishop of Bremen, who made us drink great quantities of 
malmsey. After dinner, my uncle introduced his mistress 
or concubine, Gertrude von Heimbrock, with whom he 
ordered me to dance.' 

The Pomeranian drinking orgies were also pro- 
verbial. ^ In Pomerania everyone who did not pledge 
in the customary manner had to submit to being 
' ridden to the horse-pond.' Of one of the princes it 

' Besser, Beitrdge zur Gesch. der Vorderstadt Giisirow, ii. 237. 


is said that ' he generally drank daily at least 20 great 
tankards of wine, and at convivial gatherings even 
more ' ; of another, that he was ' very much addicted to 
drink, whereby he was often moved to passion and 
wrath, the comrades of drink ' ; of a third, that ' he 
left his councillors to govern and gave himself up to 
drinking, which often led to much awkwardness/ When 
Duke Barnim died in 1603 ' there was not much sign of 
mourning observed among the young lords ' : ' those 
whom on account of their position such conduct least 
of all became, were a good deal the worse for drink and 
enlivened the funeral with jokes and buffoonery/ The 
young duke Phihp Julius began by entirely abjuring 
' the deadly habit of drink,' and weaned his servants from 
it. But ' the miracle ' did not last long ; ' he soon turned 
round again and went back to the old German ways/ ^ 
Dearest brother,' wrote Duke Christian of Holstein in 
the spring of 1604 to Franz of Pomerania, ' I thank you 
heartily for the good company and the good drinking- 
bouts I enjoyed with you. I have no news to give you 
except that Henry von Dorten has drunk away his 
fine coat, and that we have had several good drinking- 
bouts. I shall soon come to you again. Farewell and 
drink well. Live according to the pastor's teaching : 
"after the holy days you are free to drink well and to 
let the heavenly sackbuts ring on." I should much like 
to know if you, all of you, have been as jolly tipsy as 
we have . . . ? ' ~ 

True * there were numbers of sober-minded, well- 
behaved people who asked themselves whether such 
drinking was really authorised by the divine Scriptures 

1 V. Wedel, 190, 388, 390-433, 453. 

2 Baltische Studien, ii.. Heft ii. 172-173. 


and the holy Evangel, as the princes continually reiter- 
ated in their letters, ordinances and commands to the 
people, and where in Holy Writ the texts sanctioning 
this habit were to be fomid/ ' To such questions, 
however,' says a Lutheran preacher, ' no answer has 
yet been given, and if one were to put the question 
pubhcly one would run great risk of being pronounced 
guilty of lese-majeste ; for what the princes do is 
now always right, and we must not grumble, for 
tower and dungeon were not built for nothing/ ' If 
on the other hand it be asked who has given the 
incentive to all this drinking among the princes, which 
is such a terrible offence, and such a bad example to the 
people, and where the instigators are to be found, I 
answer that it is well known to many persons that in 
very many places it is largely the fault of the councillors 
who wish to govern alone, and who, when the prince is 
senseless with drink, have every opportunity of draining 
the land.' ^ 

Thus in Brunswick, for instance, even since 1613 
Duke Frederick Ulrich had been kept by his worthless 
favourites in a constant state of intoxication, to the 
ruin of the country.- The Reuss-Gera court-preacher 
Frederick Glaser spoke his mind freely in 1595 on the 
blamable habit of the ' princely drinkers ' of leaving 
the affairs of State to their councillors, whereby ' affairs 
are so managed that bad becomes worse.' He knew 
from personal experience that there was no place where 
more was eaten and drunk ' than at the courts of great 

' 'Von der jetzigen Werlte Lauften, eine kurtze einfaltige und stille 
Predig von einem Diener am Wort.' Getruckt in Ueberall- und Nimmer- 
finden (1619), p. 3. 

2 Schlegel, ii. 377-378. 


lords and princes, and this was the reason why every- 
thing went on so badly in the government/ * It is 
impossible/ so he admonished the young princes of the 
land on their accession to government, ' that such 
drunkards should make good rulers. Young sovereigns 
should take warning by those who when they meet 
together think it the finest thing to sit for several hours 
at table, and whose best boast it is to make each other 
as tipsy as possible, so that they lose all their senses.' ^ . 
' Whereas in Italy and Spain,' wrote Aegidius 
Albertinus, ' the princes and lords sit, at the outside, 
two hours at table, the Germans go on champing and 
chewing and filhng their stomachs for six, seven, or 
eight hours, and sometimes till day begins to dawn.' " 
' Hence it is no wonder/ said another contemporary 
and ' Minister of the Word,' ' that such thousands of 
gulden are devoured every year at the courts of the 
princes and lords ; the spices they use alone run away 
with many thousands.' ^ Duke Julius of Brunswick 
drew up a contract on February 18, 1574, with a Dutch 
merchant by which, up to Easter, for the sum of 4522 
gulden, 5 groschen, and 6 pfennigs all sorts of spices and 
groceries were to be supphed to the prince's household 
at Wolfenbiittel, amongst other things 213 pounds of 
ginger, 313 pounds of pepper, 44 pounds of cloves, 48 
pounds of cinnamon, 30 pounds of saffron, 30 pounds of 
anice, 150 pounds of large and small capers, 2^ cwt. of 
olive oil, 10 cwt. of large and small raisins, 4 cwt. of 
almonds, and so forth.^- 

' In his Oculus principis (Leipzig, 1595) in Moser, Patriotisches Archiv, 
xii. 355-356. 

2 A. Albertinus, Der Landsiortzer, 293-294. 

* Von der jetzigen Werlte Lduften, see above, p. 240, n. 1. 

■• Zeitschr. des Harzvereins, iii. 312. 



* As if for a memento for all after ages, of how much 
was drmik at their courts/ said another preacher, 
* some of the princes have gigantic beer-barrels con- 
structed at a heavy cost to the land and the poor 
sweated vassals, as for instance the world-famous 
tun at Heidelberg, and one at Groningen in the 
Halberstadt district, which I myself have seen exhibited 
as a new wonderwork/ ^ The last of these two was 
.constructed, in the years 1580-1584, by order of Duke 
Henry Julius of Brunswick, bishop-elect of Halberstadt, 
by Michael Werner of Landau, who also made the 
Heidelberg barrel. The cost of this Bacchanalian 
monument, without counting the wood, was over 
6000 Keichsthaler ; it contained over 160 fuders of 
wine (a fuder = six ohms) ; its praises were widely 
sung, and in a religious play by the preacher Balthasar 
Voigt, written for performance in schools, ' The 
Eg}'ptian Joseph,' 2 it was described minutely as a most 
marvellous structure.'^ 

The fiercest indignation was aroused among the people 
by the ' princely orgies ' of many even of the bishops. 
When the electoral councillor Melchior von Ossa visited 
Count Franz of Waldeck, Bishop of Miinster, Minden and 
Osnabriick, in 1543, with a view to enlisting him in the 
Smalkald League, he reported that ' the Bishop had 
been engaged almost day and night in jovial drinking, 
especially with Hermann von der Malsburg, so that 
when towards morning he wanted to go to bed it was 
necessary to have four or six men on each side of him 

^ Von der jetzigen Werlte Lduften, see above, p. 140, n. 1. 
- See our remarks, vol. xii. p. 26 f. 

^ Fuller details about this barrel are given in the Zeitschr. des Harz- 
vereins, i. 74-76, 77, 93-98. 


to drag liini along. Even then he fell back again once. 
When he was thoroughly drunk the trumpets and drums 
were struck up.'' Count John of Hoya, Bishop of 
Osnabriick, Miinster and Paderborn, also loved hard 
drinking - bouts.- Concerning the deposed Cologne 
Archbishop, Gebhard Truchsess von Waldburg, it says 
in a letter of 1583 : ' No day passed by in which he 
did not get drunk — often several times in the day, and 
the way in which when drunk he could curse and 
swear was well known to those around him.' At the 
court of the Bamberg Bishop John PhiHp von 
Gebsattel the condition of things was so terrible owing 
to excessive eating, drinking, and immorality that 
' it was a doubtful matter,' so wrote Bishop Julius of 
Wiirzburg to Duke Maximihan of Bavaria in 1604, 
' whether there was one sober, virtuous person there.' 
Likewise at the court of the Salzburg Archbishop 
Wolf Dietrich von Raittenau there was ' overmuch that 
was scandalous and appalHng.' When the Jesuits 
once reproached him seriously for his conduct Wolf 
Dietrich called them ' the devil's house villains.' '^ 

A true insight into the ' princely drinking orgies ' 
of the sixteenth century is given by the Silesian knight 
Hans von Schweinichen, who acted as agent, chamber- 
lain, court marshal and escort to two dukes of Liegnitz 
on numbers of visits to German courts, and kept 
a diary of his experiences and of those of his lords at 
the banquets which he attended with them, and the 
drinkings which he had to take part in. 

After telling of his abjuration of the Protestant faith 
and describing his ancestry, he gives a short account of 

> See our remarks, vol. vi. p. 225. - M, Lossen, Der Kolnische Krieg, 232. 
^ See our remarks, vol. ix. pp. 204, 377 f. 

K 2 


his youthful years and his studies in company with a 
noble of Logau and with the young Duke Frederick von 
Liegnitz, whose father, Duke Frederick III., had been 
since 1560 kept prisoner in the castle of Liegnitz by his 
eldest son, Henry XI. ' We were obhged also to wait 
upon the old gentleman in his bedroom ; also frequently, 
when their princely graces had a drinking-bout, to lie 
down in his room, for " princely graces " do not like 
to go to bed when they are intoxicated. But their 
graces, while in custody, were Godfearing ; evening 
or morning, drunk or sober, they always said their 
prayers, and all in Latin.' ^ For having, by command 
of the captive Duke, laid a pasquil against the court- 
preacher Leonard Krauzheim, ' a vagabond Franconian 
fellow,' on the preaching stool in the castle church, 
Schweinichen was obliged to leave the court for a time. 
With his father he went about to weddings and christen- 
ings, and was a generally prized ' master of drinking.' 
' In former times it had happened to him to fall under 
the table and be incapable of walking, standing, or 
speaking, and to be carried away as if dead.' Soon, 
however, he was able to say that ' he considered it 
impossible for anyone to make him thoroughly drunk.' 
' In no company,' he boasts, ' was there ever any ill-will 
towards me ; for I ate and drank with them all half or 
whole nights at a time, and was always ready to do what 
was wished.' 

In 1571 * there was a pack of lewd fellows in the 
land who were called " The Seven and Twenty," who 
had sworn together wherever they went to commit 
indecencies and to behave as offensively as they could. 

^ Concerning the doings of Frederick III. before his Ctistodia, see our 
remarks, vol. vi. 391 &. 


For instance, none of them were to pray, nor to wash 
themselves, and they were to stop short at no sort of 
sacrilege ; often there were four or five of them together 
at my father's house, but though I sometimes was in their 
company I never took part in their offensive behaviour/ 

During the journeys which Schweinichen made 
with Duke Ulrich he had everywhere the glory of 
being the last on the ' battlefield of the drinkers ' ; 
' the fame of his drinking powers went from one court to 
the other/ At Zelle, at Duke William of Liineburg's, 
the Liegnitz and Liineburg squires were obliged to 
' drink for the places reserved to them : there also I 
remained on my seat to the end, together with a 
Liineburg squire ; it was a dead heat between us/ 

In the masquerades which were often connected 
with these revellings, as a sign of evangehcal feehng, 
the monastic hfe of the Cathohc Church was ridiculed, 
' Princely Highnesses,' says Schweinichen in 1574, 
' were at this time over jovial with dancing and drinking, 
and especially in giving " mummeries/' This went 
on for nearly a whole year every evening in the town 
at the burghers' houses. Some of them were glad to 
see their princely Highnesses, otliers were not. There 
were generally four monks and four nims, and his 
princely Highness always represented a nun.' The 
Duke also went to other places ' in a great wagon in 
this mummer fashion ' ; Schweinichen, however, as 
he writes, cared very httle about it, for ' in these masks 
it was a curious arrangement that the young ladies 
always " stepped out " with the nuns (one young woman 
with another young woman) and not with the monks.' 
' Once when the Duchess refused to sit at table with 
her husband's mistress the Duke gave her a good 


box on the ears which made the princess stagger. I 
rushed up and caught her grace in my arms and held 
her up until she could escape into her own room. My 
lord, however, wanted to follow her and give her some 
more blows, so I ran quickly after her and shut her 
door so that his grace could not get in. Whereupon his 
princely Highness was somewhat enraged against me, 
and informed me he didn't want to be tutored by 
me ; she was his wife, and he could do as he liked 
with her.' 

Wherever they went Schweinichen was obliged 
to wait upon the Duke at his carousals and fight out 
his drinking duels for him. At Dillenburg, at Count 
John of Nassau's, where drinking was kept up for 
five days, he won especial glory. ' In the morning the 
Count gave me a welcome. W^hen, however, on the 
first evening I had the glory of outdrinking all the 
Count's servants, the Count thought he would revenge 
himself secretly on me with the "great welcome," which 
consisted of about twelve flagons of w^ine. Now I was 
very anxious to "hold the fort," as on the previous 
evening, so I took the challenge from the Count, went 
to the door and tested myself as to whether I could 
empty a twelve-bottle bumper at a single pull, and 
I found that I could. When I had made this trial of 
my skill I had the bumper filled again and begged 
the Coimt to allow me to drink to his servant. The 
Count had already been told of this and was well 
pleased. So I offered to have a single-pull drink with the 
marshal. The marshal objected, but the Count in- 
sisted on his drinking with me. When I drained the 
beaker a second time all the lords were astonished ; 
but the marshal could not respond to my toast at one 


gulp, and so he was punished by having to drain the 
goblet twice, but only with a number of gulps. The 
marshal was so tipsy that he had to be led away. 
I, however, sat the meal out.' 

When Duke Henry was deposed by the Emperor on 
account of his disorderly household and his treacherous 
intrigues, Schweinichen entered the service of the 
new duke, Frederick IV. He became his marshal 
of the household and went on regularly every week 
keeping account of the banquets at which he, with his 
new master, had ' drunk stiffly.' In 1589 he accompanied 
Frederick to Holstein, where the Duke espoused the 
daughter of Duke John. ' The great drinking orgies 
that went on daily can easily be imagined. In the 
morning when we got up there was food put on the 
table and we drank till the regular meal-time ; and 
from the regular meal-time again until the time of the 
evening meal ; those who then " were ripe " dropped 
off.' In Berlin also, where Frederick IV. visited the 
Elector of Brandenburg in 1591, there was * good 
strong drinking at the morning meal.' On the day of 
departure ' there was a great drinking-bout at break- 
fast, so that master and servants got thoroughly tipsy. ^ 
' On the way I observed that my valet had been dis- 
placed from his seat on the coach by the drummer 
(who always rode on horseback, but was now quite 
drunk), and that my man was obhged to run alongside 
of the coach.' Schweinichen would not put up with 
this ' slight ' to his personal dignity and complained to 
the Duke, and ' because one word led to another,' he 
writes, ' his princely grace became enraged and was 
about to spring at me with his rapier : I did not budge, 
but stood ready with my own rapier.' A good drink 


reconciled the angry pair. At Liegnitz the prince 
and his servants spent nearly every day in rioting ; 
even before they got up in the morning ' great drinking- 
bouts began/ 

The Elector Palatine Frederick IV., according to 
Schweinichen's account, was distinguished even beyond 
all the great lords already mentioned, and beyond 
the young Duke of Brunswick who tried to make 
Schweinichen ' drink himself dead,' for Frederick IV. 
could do nothing else but tipple. Whole weeks together 
were spent by Schweinichen and his duke at the Electoral 
Court in drinking all day long. The same thing went 
on at Sultzbach, where the Elector and his guests went 
to stay with the Count Palatine Otto Henry. ^ ' For 
the putting down of excessive drinking,' this same 
Elector Frederick IV., towards the end of 1601, was 
made ' Patron ' of a Temperance Order founded by 
the Landgrave Maurice of Hesse. For the space of a 
year each member had to pledge himself, on pain of 
serious punishment, not to have more than two meals 
within twenty-four hours, and not to drink more at 
each meal than seven regulation beakers of wine. 
The size prescribed for these beakers is not mentioned. 
' In order also that no one might have to complain of 
thirst, each member should also be allowed, at both 
meals, to drink beer, mineral waters, julep, and other 
nasty beverages of the sort ' ; foreign and spiced wines, 

' See our article, ' Aus dem Leben deiitscher Fursten im sechzehnten 
Jahrlumdert,' in the Histor.-poUt. Bl. (1876), vol. Ixxvii. 351-364, 428-444. 
Schweinichen's Denhvurdigkeiten, newly published by H. Oesterley, 
Breslau, 1878. ** A collection of accounts of the ceremonial at different 
princely festivities, weddings, funerals, &c., &c., made by Schweinichen 
was first published by K. Wutt)^e under the title Merkbuch des Hans von 
Schweinichen. Berlin, 1895. 


mead, and intoxicating beer were not allowed.^ But 
the Patron of this Order himself brought on his own 
premature death by excessive drinking. Landgrave 
Maurice also, the founder of the Order, although a 
man of learning and of many-sided culture, was. by 
no means free from this vice. When once he visited 
the Elector of Brandenburg at Berlin with a large 
retinue, ' master and servants, after a ten days' stay, 
went to Spandau in such a mighty state of intoxication 
that they could scarcely find the gate of the town.' ~ 

At the Hessian Court, at an early date, ' matters 
were no better than elsewhere in respect of strong 
drinking.' Landgrave Philip spoke from long experi- 
ence when in 1562 he wrote to Duke Christopher of 
Wiirtemberg : ' The vice of drunkenness has become 
so common both with princes and people that it is no 
longer looked on as a sin.' ^ The year before he com- 
plained to the same Duke : ' Rumour has reached us 
that our three sons, William, Ludwig, and Philip, are 
carrying on immoral intercourse with certain women. . . .' 
He had called them to account, he said. They did 
not deny the excesses, but did deny most emphatically 
that they had used violence with the daughters of the 
populace, &c. , &c. The Landgrave begged that the Duke 
would take his son Ludwig into his court and lead him 
to the fear of God : he was an upright, pious young 
fellow, and a good sportsman : ' he is fond of drink, 
certainly, and it is not good for him, for he has at 
times suffered from serious illnesses.' He therefore 
begged the Duke not to allow him ' to go out at night 

^ 'Die Statuten des Ordens,' in Rommel, ii. 357-361. 

' Buchholtz, Versuch, iii. 479, note. 

•^ Spittler und Meiners, Gottinger histor. Magazin, iii. 740 IT. 


into other houses, or to disport himself in the streets 
at night.' ^ The worst offender in drunkenness and 
in the vilest profligacy was Christopher Ernest, one 
of Phihp's sons by his liaison with Margaretha von 
der.Sale. This prince carried on in such an appalling 
manner at the castle Uhichstein that the three Land- 
graves, William, Ludwig, and Philip, in 1570, came down 
upon him with 300 horse and 500 foot soldiers and 
took him prisoner. They had felt compelled to take 
this step, they said, on account of his ' uninterrupted 
course of scandalous vice, and in response to the com- 
plaints, prayers and distress of the highly aggrieved 
parents of the disgraced children.' ^ 

When Duke Christopher of Wiirtemberg, at the 
desire of Phihp of Hesse, took the latter's son Ludwig 
into his court, he wrote to the Landgrave : ' So far 
as drinking goes, we are aware that his Highness has 
drunk more than he can well bear, but his Highness 
will not, when with us, have the same opportunities 
and enticement to excessive drinking.' ^ And yet 
Christopher himself, no more than Albert V. of Bavaria, 
had any great reputation for sobriety. When the 
young Landgrave Ludwig, in 1561, was at a royal 
baptism at Neuburg, his father. Elector Frederick III., 
wrote : ' If only my son can keep free from drink in 
the presence of Duke Albert of Bavaria and Duke 

' Moser, Patriotisches Archiv, ix. 123-132, 

' V. Weber, Kurjurstin Anna, 300-401, where there are fuller details 
about the scandalous proceedings of Christopher Ernest. 

■' Moser, Patriotisches Archiv, ix. 132-136. ** In a letter of Count 
George of Wiirtemberg to his nephew Christopher on October 23, 1553, 
it says with regard to immoderate drinking : ' You know well and have 
often experienced that it is very bad for you and leads to disastrous 
results.' Kugler, Herzog Christoph, i. 398, 


Christopher of Wiirtemberg ; asthma is now playing 
the deuce with him/ ^ With his own sons Christopher 
had much trouble owing to excessive drinking. After 
a journey to Darmstadt with his eldest son Eberhard, 
in the summer of 1565, he was obliged to reprove him 
for his insobriety : ' During the whole journey there and 
back you were drunk nearly every day tw^ce a day, 
not to speak of your disorderly behaviour all night, 
drinking, screaming, bellowing like an ox, wherever we 
were, at Darmstadt, Heidelberg, and elsewhere ; since 
then there have been very few days when you have been 
sober, and you are drinking away your young life, 
health, strength, understanding, reason, memory, yea, 
verily, your soul's salvation and eternal Hfe/ ^ His 
son Ludwig also, who succeeded him in the government 
in 1568, was from his youth addicted to drink, and it 
was his favourite diversion ' to drink others on to the 
floor/ At a boar-baiting he made two Reutlingen 
delegates and the town syndicus, whom he had invited 
to the hunt, so dead drunk that they were taken away 
unconscious in a cart ; he had a wild boar fastened 
behind them, and sent them home in this fashion.-^ 
At last he did not know what sobriety was. His Privy 
Councillor, Melchior Jiiger, on September 9, 15dl, 
reproached him with having reduced inordinate drinking 
to such an inveterate habit, and asked him what other 
people must be thinking of his princely Highness who 
was now incapable of knowing what soberness meant.^ 
All the same, after the death in 1593 of this Duke, who 
received from his court-preachers the surname of ' the 
Pious,' an official panegyric was distributed through 

1 Kluckholm, Briefe i. 209. - PEster, ii. 59 ff. 

=* Sattler, v. 135. ■* lUcl. 134. 


the land, saying that ' all the days of his life he had 
followed godly conduct, and had been a sincere enemy 
of all sins and vices,' that in Wiirtemberg and other 
lordships ' he had extended the kingdom of Christ/ 
Whereas, however, ' the great and glorious gifts and 
graces which the Almighty, in the person of this illustrious 
prince, had showered on the land, had unfortunately 
been little recognised, God, in punishment of the land, 
had removed this godly prince by a swift and all too 
early death.' ^ ' To whom would it be possible,' asks 

^ Moser, Patriotisches Archiv, ii. 129-140. Strange it is that Moser 
could describe the official panegyric as ' a touching proof of the love of the 
country.' The court preacher, Lucas Osiander the Elder, excused the 
insobriety of the Duke in the following words : ' Although at times his 
Princely Grace, to satisfy the demands of his constitution, or when after 
a joiu-ney, or after much and weighty business he was tu-ed and exhausted, 
would refresh himself with generous drink, not always observing the rightful 
measure, this did not happen from any evil intention to disgrace himself 
or others with overmuch diinking, but it came from pure good-heartedness 
and the desire of his Princely Highness to make his guests merry and 
jovial at his table ; nobody at such times ever heard an angry or improper 
word proceed from his lips, but only friendliness ; he usually had religious 
hymns sung at such times, in order to be kept in mind of godliness and the 
fear of God.' See extracts in Strauss, Frischlin, 573. ' All that in the poor 
is made punishable,' says Hans Wilham Kirchhof in his Wcndunmuth, 
' is ideahsed and made the best of with the rich, in so much that when they 
indulge day after day in banqueting, drunkenness and debauchery, they 
are proclaimed altogether free from insobriety and lust.' ' If they go to bed 
on their heads,' says Glathart Seidenweich : ' what think you, was not our 
Lord right merry ? ' See G. T. Dithmar, Aus und iiber H. W. Kirchhof 
(Marburg, 1867), p. 39. ** Noteworthy is the manner in which Bucer 
' whitewashed ' the immoderate drinking of Duke Ludwig II. of Pfalz- 
Zweibriicken. This prince died when only thirty years old (Dec. 3, 1582) of 
consumption brought on by constant indulgence in alcoholic liquors. With 
his love of drink he combined other vices, so that after his death the new 
religionist preacher Schwebel was in sore perplexity as to the funeral sermon 
he was expected to preach. He turned to Bucer for advice. Bucer answered : 
' Your prince was afflicted with great faults, but there was also an immense 
deal of good in him, for he heard the word of God gladly. Now it is a 
great thing to hear the voice of God and not to set oneself hostilely against 


a contemporary, ' to count up all the evil examples 
which are set by the prince's courts, the counts and 
lords and all the great people, with their inhuman 
drinking and debauchery, not to speak of immorahty of 
all sorts, while all the time, as nobody can deny, the 
poverty of the land increases from year to year ! To 
heaven goes up the sound of all that we hear about every 
day at the courts, especially at princely visits, and at 
festivities, such as weddings, christenings and suchhke/ ^ 
When the Dukes Frederick Wilham and Hans of 
Saxe- Weimar, ' in company with several counts, barons, 
and other nobles, visited the Landgrave Louis of 
Hesse at Marburg in 1590, they began at breakfast on 
July 8 by drinking a fuder and three-quarters of wine 
(a fuder = six ohms) and IH quarts of Paderborn 
beer.' At night ' one ohm and nine quarts of wine 
were given in Duke Frederick's bedroom to those who 
had been playing cards there, and to others who had 
been in attendance.' ' The total quantity served at the 
evening meal before the sleeping draught was 1 fuder 
(150 gallons), 13 viertel (quarts), and 3f mass, 2 mass 
of Spanish wine, 16 viertel of Paderborn beer.' The 
next day, when Landgrave William IV. of Giessen had 
also joined the party, ' there were served for early 
morning and forenoon drinks 2 fuders ( = 300 gallons), 
11 quarts of wine, and 12 quarts of Einbeck beer ; 

it, as do those who are not born of God. Then also he was faithful to his 
promises, which is certainly a great virtue in high personages, especially 
in princes ; also he took no delight in bloodshed. The scandalous vice of 
drink did not, however, so greatly ruin his noble mind, as to make him 
proceed inimically against the Kingdom of Christ (that is the new doctrine). 
This is a certain proof that he was a child of God ; for those who are not 
born of God cannot bear or tolerate God's word.' Centuria epistolarum 
ad Schwebelium (Bipont, 1597), p. 191. Histor.-poUt. Bl. 107, 658 S. 
1 Von der jetzigen Werlte Lduften, pp. 5-6. 


for the evening meal, 2 fuders, 1 ohm (30 J gallons), and 
5 quarts of wine, | quart of Einbeck beer ; for the 
" nightcap '' 6 J quarts/ On the 11th and 12th July 
the quantity drunk was 2 fuders, 5 ohms, 19 quarts, 
and 3 J fuders of spiced beer / ^ At the wedding of 
Princess Anna of Saxony with Wilham of Orange, 
which took place at Leipzig in 1561, 3600 firkins of 
wine and 1600 barrels of beer were drunk.- The con- 
sumption at the wedding of Giinther XLI. of Schwarz- 
burg with the Duchess Katharina of Nassau in 1560 
was incomparably greater. The ' veritable accounts ' 
of these festivities, still extant, give the following 
figures : ' 20 barrels of malmsey, 25 barrels of Reinfall, 
25 fuders of Rhenish wine, 30 fuders of Wlirzburg and 
Frankfort wine, 6 fuders of Neckar wine, 12 barrels 
of Brayhahn, 24 tuns of Hamburg beer, 12 barrels 
of Einbeck beer, 6 barrels of Gosse (a kind of hght- 
coloured beer), 6 barrels of Windisch beer, 6 barrels 
of Neustadt beer, 10 barrels of Arnstadt beer, 30 
barrels of Zelle beer, 10 barrels of English beer, 12 
barrels of Muhme, 100 barrels of spiced beer'; 'this 
calculation does not include all the herbs that were used 
such as hart's-tongue, sage, mug- wort, and suchlike.' 
Also, in the parsonage for the wagon drivers and other 
menial servants, 1010 firkins of ' Landwein ' and 120 
barrels of beer are entered. The consumption of spices 
of all sorts corresponded to that of drinks. ' For persons 
both of high and low rank there were procured amongst 
other commodities, 120 stags, 126 roes, 150 wild boars, 
large and small, 850 hares, 20 mountain-cocks, 300 
partridges, 35 heath-cocks, 200 snipes, 60 hazel hens, 

1 Die Vorzeit, Jalirg. 1824, pp. 286-291. 

2 Week, 351. Vulpius, i. 201-202. 


85 " schock '' (a " scliock " = three score) of fieklf ares, 150 
Italian cocks, 20 swans, 24 peacocks, 14 " schock " 
Endvogel, 8 " schock " of wikl geese, 100 oxen, 1000 
wethers, 70 " schock '' of hens, 45 " schock " of tame geese, 
172 capons, 245 suckmg pigs well roasted, 200 sides 
of bacon, 8 bullocks, 150 gammon of bacon, 16 fatted 
pigs, 200 barrels of preserved game, 120 " schock " of 
large carps, 21 cwt. of pikes, 4 cwt. of large eels, 
7 fuders of crabs, 3 tons of salted pikes, 6 tons of salted 
salmon, 2 tons of sturgeons, 1 ton of salted eels, and 
a great many other kinds of fish food/ ^ At the 
dinners of the princes on the occasion of weddings 
and christenings, 80, 100 and even 200 different viands 
were served up,~ the last number being that of the 
dishes at the high banquet of Duke William of Bavaria 
in 1568. ' Very expensive it was for everybody ' at 

' Vulpius, X. 187-190. Cf. the list of provisions consumed at the 
wedding of the Margrave Sigismund at Konigsberg in 1594. Vulpius, 
i. 202-203. At the wedding of Duke Eric the Younger of Brunswick in 
1545 tlie consumption was 124 oxen, 36 bidlocks, 200 wethers, 3057 
chickens, 572 sides of bacon, and so fortli ; 800 malters of rye, 44 malters 
of rye baked for the dogs, and so forth. Archiv des Histor. Vereins fur 
Niedersachsen (Jahrg. 1844), pp. 304-306. At the wedding of the Saxon 
Elector Christian II. in 1602, the number of tables ' laid for the ordinary 
household, exclusive of the princes' tables and others, was 180 every day.' 
MiiUer, Forschungen, Lieferung, i. 148. 

2 For instance, the bill of fare for a small dinner party in February 
1565, at the christening of a son of Prince William of Orange, was : ' First 
course : Red carrots, endives, pomegranates, citrons, parsley, salad 
imperial, young fowls stuffed, green (young) veal, roast capons, blancmange 
tarts, stuffed mutton, little pasties, English pasties, hot game pasties, 
young goats roasted, I'oasted pheasants, spoon-bills, doves, herons, wild 
geese and peacocks. Second course : Boiled mutton, boiled lamb, young 
geese boiled, young fowls boiled, wild boar, stag cooked in pepper, hot 
capon pasties, pasties of lamb, pasties of finches, veal pasties, stuffed 
pasties, roast veal, gigots of mutton with hachee, roast field-fowl,' and 
so on through four courses and nearly sixty more dishes, v. Weber, 
Kurfiirstin Anna, 104-107. 


the marriage celebrated in November 1609 between 
Duke John Frederick of Wiirtemberg and the Branden- 
burg Margravine Barbara Sophia. ' The high princely 
gaieties lasted full eight days. There were gathered 
together 17 princes and 22 princesses, 5 royal and 
princely ambassadors, 52 counts and barons, over 500 
nobles, and 100 countesses and noble matrons and 
young ladies, and about 2000 burgher attendants. The 
dinner at the princes' table consisted of two courses 
of forty dishes each, and a third course at which sweet- 
meats of all sorts were served up. There was game of 
every kind, wild ducks, j)heasants, swans and peacocks, 
chamois and stags, salmon, lampreys ; artistic dishes 
representing objects in ecclesiastical and secular history 
■ — for instance. Mount Helicon with the Hippocrene, 
the Muses and Pegasus, the Actaeon " with a jovial 
hunt,'' and the Rape of the Sabines, side by side with 
Susannah, and the prophet Jonah in a ship in which 
were concealed sixty pleasant-smelhng crackers, which 
went off one after another.' i 

Hans von Schweinichen, as court-marshal to the 
Duke of Liegnitz, makes in his * Merkbuch ' - 'an 
approximate estimate of the expenses at a princely 

^ Description in Pfaff, Miszelhn, 81-90. Zeitschr. fur deutsche 
Kulturgesch. (Jahrg. 1859), pp. 266-271. The number of guests even at the 
festivities of the smaller princes often verged on the enormous. At the 
nuptials of Duke John Frederick II. of Saxe-Weimar with Agnes, widow 
of the Elector Maurice, in 1555, so many people were invited that 3700 
riding horses and 500 carriage horses were requisitioned in the neighbour- 
hood of Weimar. Kius, Ernestinische Finanzen, 12. ** Accurate lists 
of the guests present at the above wedding festivities, as well as of all 
the servants and attendants employed at the time, are given by Hans von 
Schweinichen in his Merkbuch. He gives 1200 horses as the average 

- ** p. 8 £f. 


wedding for eight days and 1200 horses.' According 
to his experience he reckoned it necessary to have 
' 56 Pohsh oxen, 80 zeckels (a kind of sheep), 400 sheep, 
80 calves, 30 fatted pigs, 10 bacon pigs, 50 sucking-pigs, 
20 sides of smoked pig flesh, 100 smoked shoulders, 40 
lambs, 30 Calcutta hens, 36 " schocks '' of fatted hens, 

5 " schocks " of fatted geese, 4 smoked brand oxen, 8 wild 
boars, 12 stags, 9 does, 50 roes, 200 hares, 6 " schocks '* 
of partridges, 1 " schock " of hazel-cocks, 30 heath-pouts, 

6 " schocks " of wild ducks, 100 " schocks '' of small birds, 
30 " schocks '' of large birds, 50 firkins of butter, 150 
" schocks " of eggs, half a Parmesan cheese, 20 Dutch 
cheeses, besides different kinds of fish ; the spices 
also are reckoned up separately. As regards beverages 
Schweinichen thought it necessary to have 2 barrels of 
Reinfall, 4 barrels of muscatel, 2 barrels of Roschall, 
300 firkins of Hungarian wine, 200 firkins of Austrian 
wine, 40 firkins of Rhine wine, 100 octaves of Schweid- 
nitz beer, 100 quarts of Goldberg beer, 20 quarts of 
foreign beer, 20 quarts of Liibeck beer, 300 quarts of 
home-brewed beer.' 

At the marriage of Duke John George of Brieg with 
the Duchess Anna of Wiirtemberg, celebrated at Brieg 
on September 16, 1582, the consumption in beverages 
was : 1 ' 788 firkins of wine of all sorts, 92 octaves of 
Strehlisch and Nimptsch beer, 60 octaves of Scheps (a 
kind of light beer), 170 quarts of barley and wheaten 

At the marriage of Duke Frederick IV. of Liegnitz 
with Maria Sidonia of Teschen, celebrated at Liegnitz 
on January 20, 1587,- the quantity of provisions 

' ** Schweinichen, Merkbuch, p. 27. " ** Il>id. p. 68 ff. 



consumed was: '54 Polish oxen, 6 cows, 97 goats, 267 
sheep, 55 calves, 16 pigs, 46 sucking-pigs, 12 lambs, 8 
wild swan, 12 stags, 9 heads of venison, 54 roes, 179 
hares, 18 sides of bacon, 19 sides of smoked pigs' flesh, 
26 Scholtern (?), 69 smoked bullocks, 33 " schocks " of 
hens, 12 hazel hens, 8 Calcutta hens, 5| " schocks " 
and 5 partridges, 61 geese, &c. ; various kinds of fish, and 
of beverages, 4931- firkins of Hungarian, Moravian, and 
other kinds of wine (to the amount of 1431 thalers, 13 
groschen), 23 i firkins of Rhine wine (162 thalers), 4 
firkins of Neckar wine (19 thalers, 26 groschen), 4 barrels 
muscatel (61 thalers, 25 groschen), 1 barrel Reinfall (19 
thalers), 78 octaves of Scheps, 492 octaves of home- 
brewed beer, 85 quarts and 1 octave of Goldberg beer/ 

A similar sort of catalogue is given by Schweinichen i 
for the third wedding of Duke Frederick IV. with the 
Duchess Anna of Wiirtemberg, widow of Duke John 
George of Brieg (October 24, 1594). The total expenses 
of these festivities for kitchen, cellar, and clothes for the 
court servants, was 15,088 thalers. 

When Duke Frederick of Wiirtemberg received the 
Order of the Garter from James I. of' England in 1603, 
he had a banquet prepared in the great Knights' Hall 
at Stuttgart which recalled the times of Lucullus. 
The absent monarch, who had his own table to himself, 
was regaled with ninety different kinds of dishes, all so 
choice and well cooked that, as one of the company said, 
they might have dehghted the palate even of an Apicius. 
All the dishes were prepared with so many rare and 
costly spices that when the covers were taken off they 
filled the hall with fragrant odours. Amongst the 
show dishes, which were also meant to be eaten, there 

' ** Merkbuch, p. 149 ff. 


were pasties of all sorts of the most ingenious designs 
and all the colours of the rainbow, also gold and silver ; 
some of them represented birds, swans and cranes 
standing upright and stretching their necks forward, 
and many-coloured peacocks contemplating themselves 
in their own glasses. As for the fish, some were served 
up in their natural shapes, others gilded or silver-plated, 
coloured with all sorts of hues and enclosed in pastry. 
Amongst the show dishes, which were merely intended to 
be looked at, there figured on the table set apart for the 
king a Hercules of enormous size, with two men under 
his feet whom he was cruelly murdering with the jaw- 
bone of an ass. ' What savageness in the countenance,' 
writes an onlooker ; ' what cruelty in the gestures ! 
how artistic, how true to hfe it all is ! ' The table of 
Duke Frederick was adorned by a Minerva standing on 
crossed arches which rested on four pillars. On another 
table were five wild men made out of fresh branches of 
orange and lemon trees. ^ 

^ M. J. Schmidt, Neuere Gesch. der Deutschen, vii. 170-175. ** Con- 
cerning the outward appointment of the princes' wedding-tables, K. 
Wuttke remarks {Merkbuch des Hans von Schweinichen, p. xiii.): 'In 
striking contrast to this superfluity of luxury and over-refinement in the 
pleasures of the table was the meanness of the utensUs and furniture used 
at weddings in the sixteenth century. The external fittings of a prince's 
wedding dinner table would seem to us very bare and homely in spite of 
the gilded show dishes and other conceits. Their own stock of silver 
hangings and covers for the walls, chairs, and benches was strikingly poor, 
and so they borrowed these articles in all directions, as also the necessary 
tin vessels, dishes, plates, tankards, and even tablecloths and napkins 
from the Corporations of the princely towns.' Thus at the wedding of 
Frederick TV. of Liegnitz, on January 20, 1587, the list of table apparatus 
and utensils borrowed in the town was, according to Schweinichen's calcu- 
lation (Merkbuch, p. 65), ' 1000 pewter dishes, 59 dozen plates, 52 beakers 
and decanters, 48 common beakers, 213 candlesticks, 178 table napkins, 
218 tablecloths, 30 copper cans, 48 pails, 36 large cans, 60 dozen tin and 
wooden spoons, 40 tables, 120 benches.' 

s 2 


Whereas in earlier times ' the pomp and splendour 
of princes' and lords' meals depended on the quantity of 
dishes served up, now it was not merely variety and 
choiceness that was aimed at, but also ingenuity and 
eccentricity/ ' The culinary business developed into such 
a high and important art that the Archduchess Anna 
Katherine of Tyrol compiled with her own hands for her 
five-year-old daughter a cookery-book, in which in 651 
recipes she described every dish that had been prepared 
during the year in the kitchen of Archduke Ferdinand II. 
Amongst the multitude of directions for cooking meat 
dishes there were no less than 32 recipes for pigs' 
flesh.' 1 

The preacher Erasmus Griininger said in 1605, that 
* eating had become such a dainty and complicated 
business that more learning was required to make a 
cook than to make a doctor.' Gregory Strigenicius 
spoke to the same effect : ' Cooking has reached such a 
height of refinement that it is scarcely possible for any 
human being to learn and remember all it involves, 
still less to put it in practice. All sorts of big 
books are now written and published on the sub- 
ject, giving directions for preparing every variety 
of dainty morsels and dishes. The old method of 
the Germans is no longer worth anything ; everything 
must now be cooked in Italian, Spanish, French, and 
Hungarian fashion, with a Polish sauce, or a Bohemian 
gravy.' ^ 

The best proof of this is the cookery-book of Marx 
Rumpolt, the master cook of the Elector of Mayence, 
published by Sigmund Feyerabend at Frankfort-on-the- 

' Hirn, ii. 496-497. - Griininger, 243. 

^ Strigenicius, Diluvium, 89, 


Maine in 1581. ^ ' Amongst the secular arts/ he said 
in a solemn dedicatory preface addressed to the Electress 
Anna of Saxony, ' the culinary art was undoubtedly 
not the least ; princes ought to attach more importance 
to their cooks than to all their other servants and 
officers, let them be ever so high and confidential ; next 
to the chef-de-cuisine the cup-bearer held almost the 
highest and noblest office at the court of a prince or a 
lord/ Rumpolt, ' a Hungarian by birth,' had for many 
years, ' with great toil and labour,' pursued the art of 
cooking, had been at the courts of many lords, and, as 
he reiterated again and again in his book with great 
emphasis, ' had not presumed to describe a single dish 
which during his long and arduous service he had not 
made with his own hands/ ^ ' The skill ' revealed in 
this book ' by which foods of all sorts are prepared in 
German, Hungarian, Spanish, Itahan, and French ways 
is certainly great and rare,' and yet Rumpolt by no 
means considers himself the greatest culinary artist ; 
he modestly exhorts his readers ' not to seek in his 
book so much for the grandeur of the art, as for his 
true and sincere desire to be of service to others : he 
only aimed at writing, as it were, an introduction to the 
subject, and spurring others on to further expertness 
and perfection/ ^ For instance, after describing in 
detail how from a Kastraun or wether forty -five different 

' Without the consent of the author, Feyerabend published a new- 
edition of this book in 1587, and thus got into hot water with Rumpolt. 
See Becker, Jobst Amman, 109-110. Pallmann, 56. 

- Rumpolt, Preface ; fm-ther, Bl. 4^-6'' and clxxxiii. A copy of 
this extremely rare book is in the large collection of cookery-books of Herr 
Theodor Drexel at Frankfort-on-the-Maine, who kindly placed it at my 

•' Preface, 4'' and p. Ixiii''. 


dishes could be made, he adds : ' You can make still 
more dishes than these from a wether, for this is only 
a short introduction, Szc' ^ With regard to oxen also 
he ' only described just a few dishes that could be made, 
i.e. 83 different kinds, which could also be made in the 
same way from a cow, &c., &;c.' From a sucking-pig he 
taught 32 preparations, from a pig 43, from a young 
goat 34, from a stag 37, from a capon 44, from a pheasant 
22, from a fieldfare 17, from an eagle 9. But as in the 
days of the Roman Caesars, so, too, the taste of this 
period called for all sorts of dishes of nightingales, 
lapwings, swallows, cuckoos and gold-crested wrens, 
which ' were good to eat roasted and made into pies.' 
' Small birds of all sorts could be cooked in 17 different 
ways, but sparrows must not be eaten, for they were 
unwholesome. Wild and tame horses also came under 
the category of the art.' Likewise the unborn calf of 
does — a lordly dish ! — snails and frogs. An artistic 
Ollapodrida contains 90 ingredients. Fishes and sweet- 
meats are prepared in endless variety. Pastry takes 
all possible forms : castles, men, and beasts. 

Not without reason was it said of this book that ' as 
it was taken entirely from life one could clearly see from 
it to what a condition of perfection and luxury — a con- 
dition, indeed, highly distasteful to many thoughtful per- 
sons — the art of cooking had been brought in the very 
midst of all the excess of misery, wailing and poverty 
of these last distressful times.' * It would seem as if, 
with all the hundreds of different dishes which according 
to this book people had set before them, they must 
indeed burst with eating,' ' and what incalculable ex- 
penses are involved in it all, and what hundreds and 

^ Bl. xxix. 


thousands must be squandered on the innumerable other 
festivities, the fireworks, ring-running, carnival merry- 
makings, theatre-ballets and what not, which go on at 
the princes' courts, and which are described as though 
they were wonderworks and a proper princely recreation, 
while all the time the vassals are hungering and 
starving.' ^ 

Magnificent displays of fireworks were among the 
favourite amusements of the princes. The Elector John 
CTCorge of Brandenburg, in 1586, when entertaining 
at Kiistrin the Elector Christian I. of Saxony, the Count 
Palatine John Casimir and a few other princes, organised 
a grand pyrotechnical display which cost 6000 gulden.^ 
Likenesses of the Pope, the Sultan, the Czar of Russia, 
the Khan of the Tartars were introduced into these fire- 
works and burnt ; the expenses of the entertainment 
were estimated at 8000 ducats. ^ At a display of fireworks 
got up by the Landgrave Maurice of Hesse in honour 
of the christening of his son Otto in 1594, Mount Hehcon, 
together with Pegasus, went off in fiames, amid rockets 
and pillars of fire. In 1596, at the christening of his 
daughter Ehzabeth, ' there was a grand pyrotechnical 
display in which 60,000 squibs and fire-spitting rockets 
were shot up with fearful and wonderful cracking and 
noise.' Another display in 1600 was of equal extent 
and grandeur.^ Favourite representations in this fine 
were Jason's theft of the golden fleece, the carrying 
off of Proserpine, the judgment of Paris, and other 

' Von den vielen Anzeichen so uns den nalie bevorstehenden schrecklichen 
jungsten Tag verkilndigen. Flugblatt of 1593, pp. 3, 5. 

'- According to the present value of money, 80,000 marks. 

^ Moehsen, 551. 

■* Rommel, ii. 398. Vulpius, ii. 550. A display of fireworks got up by 
Frederick of Wiirtemberg in 1596 cost 1200 gulden. Sattler, v. 194. 


mythological incidents ; coins and medals were actually 
struck in commemoration of this festival.^ 

' Incomparably more wonderful and costly ' were 
the masquerades, prize-shootings, ring-runnings, pas- 
torals and tournaments which frequently took place 
at the different courts, and which often lasted weeks 
at a time. The descriptions and illustrations of these 
performances sometimes filled whole folio volumes. 
They were imitations of the pictures in the knights' 
books of knightly battles with magicians, fairies, 
sorcerers, dragons, and history and mythology were 
strangely jumbled up together.- 

The Saxon ' Inventions ' which were conducted by 
Giovanni Maria Nosseni of Lugano, who entered the 
Elector's service in 1574, were especially renowned. 
The wardrobe appurtenances were kept at Dresden in 
four large ' Inventionskammer,' the necessary stage 
apparatus and machinery in a special ' Inventionshaus.' 
An ' Invention ' of the year 1601 cost over 3000 thalers, 
another the following year about 2800 thalers. One got 
up by Nosseni in 1598 for the Landgrave Ludwig V. of 
Hesse-Darmstadt cost nearly 4200 thalers, besides a 
present of 100 crowns to the artist.'^ 

' Vulpius, i. 214 and x. 464 note. A picture illustrating a scene 
at the wedding of Duke John Henry of Cleves with the unfortunate 
Jacobaa of Baden, shows an obstacle race, and moreover at the very 
moment in which the barriers, by means of skilfully managed fireworks, 
are made to throw out flames and balls of light in all directions. Hollow 
spears were used which went off like fusees. At a tournament in Diissel- 
dorf the earth burst open with thunder and lightning, causing wonder 
and fear to the spectators. Zeitschr. filr deutsche KuUurgesch., Jahrg. 
1859, p. 327. 

■^ See the descriptions of festivities of this sort in Vulpius, ii. 543-550 ; 
iv. 239-245 ; x. 464-469. See also Wendeler, Fischartstudien des Frei- 
herm v. Meusebach (Halle, 1879), pp. 106-107. Cf. Drugulin, 117, n. 1326. 

3 Furstenau, 82-85. 


On the occasion of a ' ring-running ' performance at 
Dresden in 1582 in honour of the marriage of the Elector 
Christian I. three Saxon nobles rode forth as Venus, 
Pallas and Juno ; Bacchus rode on a donkey between 
women making music ; Actaeon, as a stag on horseback, 
was led by huntsmen with four nymph-musicians in a 
reservoir ; a fool, a scholar, and a monk rode on horses 
with double heads ; a lady on horseback dragged three 
knights after her with chains. The Pope also was led 
along on horseback ; further, an angel with a dragon, 
an owl with a flaming nest on its head, out of which 
flew three young owls. At another ' ring-running ' two 
years later the god Saturn appeared with a scythe and a 
child in his hands, and carrying several other children 
in a basket on his back ; a Saxon nobleman sat as a sea- 
nymph on an elephant, whose coverings represented the 
sea and sea-animals ; another nobleman on a winged 
horse with a Mercury's staff in his hand, was preceded 
by angels, on foot and on horse, carrying lances and 
sceptres. 1 When the Elector Christian II. of Saxony 
celebrated his nuptials in 1602 with the Danish Princess 
Hedwig, ' Four syrens,' it says in an account of the pro- 
ceedings, ' of the most artistic description swam on the 
Elbe, accompanied by Neptune on a huge whale with 
four horses. The " ring-running " represented drawings 
of a Eoman " Invention," of a Tartar " Invention " 
with winged serpents and monkeys, an "Invention" of 
gipsies, another of young ladies in brown and flesh- 
coloured gowns, with mirrors, swords and fiddles, and 
an adventurer in a golden breastplate with a burning 
heart. Then came a monk with a wheelbarrow in 
which was an old woman ; other monks followed with 

^ See Andresen, ii. 4-8. 


bundles of straw on their backs in whicb were fastened 
women whose veils and legs hung out ; the champion 
was dressed in nun's clothing. Then came a procession 
of negroes and savages, a cart with Venus, and a 
herd of savage women decked with some sUght green 
drapery on one side. In the procession of hunters there 
was a dragon that spat fire, and a mountain on which 
sat a maiden and a bear. In the fencing match held at 
the castle nobody received money unless he had made 
his opponent bleed ; two of the fencers had each an eye 
almost put out, one had an arm almost broken in two, 
many left the scene with bloody heads.' ^ 

In describing the festivities at the baptism of the 
Brandenburg Margrave Christian the registrar of Colin 
on the Spree writes : ' On February 27, 1581, the lord- 
ships and their servants and court retinue dressed them- 
selves up in all sorts of colours, fine silks and other 
clothes, some hke mountain folk, some hke monks, who 
had young nuns behind them on their horses, some like 
lions, bears and elephants, some hke peasants, and some 
also like young ladies, and they tilted at the ring with 
poles, and those who did it the best were presented 
with gold and silver drinking-cups and honoured with 
trumpeters and drummers riding before them." 

' On the same day also the son of the Elector of 
Saxony exhibited a very beautiful httle model of a 
house exquisitely adorned with gold, silver, and silk 
tapestry, on which stood the figure of a boy clothed in 
coloured linen and representing Cupid, the son of Venus, 

' Vulpius, ix. 325-329. ** See also the account of the procession of 
Duke Frederick of Wiirtemberg on February 21, 1599, in Scheible, Sclmlt- 
jahr, iii. 115. Here, too., naked ravages from America were introduced, 
besides a Venusberg from Arcady, and other out-of-the-way conceits. 


clinging to an iron rod. This little house was drawn 
along by two swans, whilst very lovely music was played 
in it, and then several beautifully decorated doves flew 
out of it/ On March 1, Prince Christian of Saxony and 
Count Burkhardt von Barby appeared in a golden ship, 
which moved on wheels and was drawn by a long- 
bearded pigmy ' who behaved very strangely and 
grotesquely/ The next day ' at 10 o'clock in the even- 
ing a very pretty, well- furnished and painted little house, 
suspended on ropes, which had been constructed at the 
tilt-yards near the clock-tower, and filled with all sorts 
of artillery and explosives, was very cleverly set on fire 
by a flying dragon, and out of it burst several thousand 
squibs, wonderful to see and hear, and therewith ended 
the joyous christening in right princely and glorious 
fashion/ ^ 

At the wedding of the Landgrave Otto of Hesse 
in 1613 the representation of Actaeon and Diana 
with her naked nymphs was followed by eight grotesque 
processions, then a shepherd's play, a company of 
seamen and Constantinople crusaders in red monks' 
hoods, accompanied by Jesuits and nuns, who were 
blowing pipes. The festivities concluded with grotesque 
encounters on land and water between dressed-up 
Hessian knights and giants, dragons and tyrants, fight 
ing for enchanted or captive queens and their daughters, 
and an enormous display of fireworks, which Lighted 
up the whole neighbourhood of Cassel. ~ At the 
wedding of Duke Louis Frederick of Wiirtemberg 
in 1617 a temple of Venus was erected in the 
great nuptial hall ; Venus was represented standing, 
beautifully illuminated, on an altar, and in fi'ont 

^ Friedlander, xiv-xv, note. - Rommel, ii. 397-398. 


of her sixteen knights in white raiment, which they 
threw of! to an accompaniment of music in order 
to appear in the ballet.^ 

French ballets became the fashion at German 
courts towards the end of the sixteenth century; 
tasteless and inartistic performances in which dancing 
alternated with dialogues, musical recitative, and 
sometimes also songs, duets, and choruses. They 
were generally arranged by the great lords themselves, 
who worked at the composition of the text and music 
and arranged the programme of the dances. ' You 
must be pleased to admire the ballets,' said a Dresden 
pubhsher of one of these atrocities, ' since they are 
the invention of persons to whom you cannot, without 
incurring much ill-favour, always speak the truth. 
It is not from ignorance that the Egyptians are placed 
under America, but those who were graciously pleased 
to make this arrangement have important reasons for it.' 
Dancing-masters and master-cooks were not seldom 
amongst the ' artists ' most in request. At Dresden the 
* springer,' Adrian Kothbein, whose business it was to 
instruct the youthful nobles in springing and dancing, 
had a yearly salary of 100 thalers ; in 1602 he once 
received a gratuity of 1000 gulden ; ~ extraordinarily 
high sums when compared, for instance, with the pay 
of professors at gymnasiums and universities. ^ Five 
Enghshmen who were engaged to play at meal-times 
and ' to cause amusement by their skill in springing ' 
had been receiving at Dresden, since 1586, free board 
at court, a yearly salary of 500 thalers, 40 thalers for 
house rent, and one suit of clothes.* 

' Rommel, ii. 190 note. - Fiirstenau, 86-93. 

=* See our remarks, vol. xiii. 119 ff., 253. * Fiirstenau, 70-71. 


Carnival — the three days preceding Lent — was 
always considered ' an especially blessed season for 
princely solemnities/ Tn 1609 the Lent festivities 
at Dresden, which were got up in honour of several 
princes and princesses on a visit there, lasted full 
eighteen days ; within six days no less than forty- three 
* ring-running ' tournaments were held, and for three 
successive days a quantity of stags, roes, bears, pigs, 
foxes, wolves, and badgers were baited on the old 
market-place. 1 

Prize lights between wild animals were also sometimes 
arranged at these festivities, for the delectation of the 
personages of high blood. At an infant baptism at 
Dresden on September 26, 1614, a fight was got up in the 
market-place between bears, dogs, wild boars, and steers ; 
at a sham chase and fight on August 7, 1617, eight 
bears, one of which weighed over 7 cwt., were seen 
among the wild animals. At a festival at Torgau animal 
baiting went on for three days ; ' first three bears 
fought with oxen and Enghsh hounds in the open field ; 
then twenty wolves were baited in the castle yard, and 
lastly five bears were set to fight with oxen and dogs.' ^ 

' Such princely diversions as these,' some writer 
complains in a pamphlet, ' brought heavy expenses 
to many lands on account of the great cost of feeding 
such numbers of wild animals.' ' Other princes,' the 
same pamphlet goes on, ' take more delight in mon- 
keys, which they buy for a large sum, and treat as 
though they were reasonable creatures.' ^ The Elector 

' The painter, Daniel Bretschneider, had to represent all the ' Inven- 
tions ' and processions on 66 folio pages. Sachsengriin, i. 184 ff., 232 ff., 
247 ff. 

2 Miiller, Forschungen, i. 144 ; Annales, 312. Grulich, 129-130. 

^ Von dem vielen Anzeichen, (fee. See above, p. 263, n. 1. 


Frederick IV. of the Palatinate once paid 15 Konigs- 
thaler for a monkey J Landgrave George I. of Hesse had 
a monkey which on May. 20, 1595, gave birth to a young 
one. The httle creature was entrusted to the wife of 
a cook to be nursed and suckled, and the Landgrave, 
who at the time was at Scliwalbach for a mineral water 
cure, was kept daily informed as to its health ; a 
hkeness of it, executed by the painter Peter, was sent 
to him, and ' he instructed the cook's wife,' so Joachim 
von Waldsburg, tutor to the young princes, reported, 
' whenever she had suckled it to wrap it in a hnen 
cloth and warm shawl, in whicji it lay wonderfully still 
at night.' 

' 0, 

2. Princely Finery in Clothes and Jewels — Games 
OF Fortune and Gold-making 

* In counting up the incessant carousals and drinking- 
bouts and the equally incessant festivities, and all else 
that was done for the sake of amusement, we have not by 
a long way,' so runs a complaint, ' got to the end of the 
expenses in which princes and lords involved the people. 
To these must pre-eminently be added the extravagant 
adornment of their persons wdth clothes of costly 
materials, with gold, silver and pearls for themselves 
and their belongings. This sort of thing is going to 
such inordinate lengths that it must before long come 
to a stop. Everybody must needs strut about blazing 
in silver and gold ; fresh jewels are everlastingly pro- 
cured, each lot always finer and costlier than the last. 
When weddings take place huge wagons are needed 

1 WUle, 255. 

^ Archiv fur hessische Geschickie und Altertumshunde, xiii. 531-533. 


for conveying all the grand clothes and finery, and 
one person outvies another, and ancient simplicity 
and domesticity are not to be met with any more/ ^ 
The court dress of a princess was as follows : on her 
head she wore a crown of pearls, or a crown with gold and 
pearls wound round it, or a coif of gold and silk stuff 
with pearl stars and gold loops. Round her throat was a 
necklace of emeralds, sapphires, rubies, and pearls, with 
a pendant of precious stones. On her shoulders she 
wore a collar either of gold or velvet, edged with gold 
or silver lace, or with ermine or marten ; sometimes 
the collar was made of white damask inwrought with 
gold and trimmed with marten. This collar was fastened 
across the breast with a gold brooch which was always 
set with emeralds, sapphires, rubies, and amethysts, 
and had an emblem of some sort surrounded with 
precious stones. The gold necklaces were in part 
decorated with so-called mill-stones and crank wheels, 
gold pot-hooks, gold pears or other fruits. The 
sleeves were artistically embroidered with pearls which 
represented figures of all sorts, such as a bird-catcher, 
in four sapphires and five rubies, an emerald lily, three 
ruby roses and a diamond triangle. Quantities of costly 
rings of emeralds, turquoises, diamonds and rubies 
formed part of this splendour, and the girdle had pearl 
cords and gold fastenings.^ The weight of the clothes 
and ornaments worn by princesses of that period on 
festive occasions may be put down at about 20 Ibs.^ 

' Von dem vielen Anzeichen, &c. See above, p. 263, n. 1. 

- From the description in Voigt, Hofleben, i. 130-132. 

^ See the Zeitschr. des Vereins fur Gesch. und Altertumskunde Schlesiens, 
xiv. Heft ii. 417 : The upper garment of the Duchess Barbara von Liegnitz- 
Brieg weighed 3 lbs., the pearl cloak 10 lbs., the great gold chain 2 lbs., 
and so forth. 


The Electress Anna of Saxony wore veils on which 
were as many as 600 gold beads and as many as 600 
pearls.^ The young Princess Anna Eleonore of Hesse- 
Darmstadt, who was barely fifteen years old, possessed 
amongst others, in 1616, ten costly dresses, one of which 
was worth 3100 florins ; and a skirt of cloth of gold, 
embroidered with pearls and gold, which had on it pearls 
to the value of 500 florins.- Amongst the possessions of 
the Archduchess Katharine of Austria in 1549, there were 
' 7 necklets adorned with diamonds, rubies, and pearls, 
19 chains and bracelets, 7 golden girdles, 12 bonnets, 
27 golden coifs, and many other costly articles/ ^ 

Like the princesses, the princes also on festive 
occasions hung themselves all over with gold chains, 
golden eagles, bracelets, medals, and suchlike, all set 
with precious stones, diamonds, rubies, and sapphires. 
Duke Albert of Prussia once had a neckband, made by 
the jeweller Arnold Wenck at Nuremberg, in which were 
8 large and small sapphires, 11 ruby roses, 38 ruby 
grains large and small, 1 large diamond, 29 of various 
sizes and shapes, and 6 emeralds. For another diamond 
collar, the stones of which were ordered from Venice, the 
Duke paid the jeweller 2000 gulden. A medal ordered 
by him cost 682 gulden exclusive of the price of the work. 
From George Schulthess of Nuremberg he bought a 
collection of all sorts of jewels to the value of 4796 
gulden.* The Elector Augustus of Saxony commis- 
sioned the Augsburg merchant Conrad Roth to bring him 
from Lisbon ' a string of large pearls to the value of about 

^ V. Weber, Kurfiirstin Anna, 175. 

- Archiv fiir hessische Gesch. und Alter tumskunde. x. 430-432. 
•' Chmel, Die Handschriften der Hofbibl. zu Wien (MSS. of court library 
at Vienna), i. 245-259. 

^ Voigt, Fiirstenleben, 241-245. 


6000 ducats, an oriental loadstone of the best kind, 
an oriental sapphire to be hung at the neck, 300 fine cut 
cameos to hang on the arm, in short everything rare 
that came from India/ 1 A coat of violet velvet 
embroidered all over with spun gold, and adorned with 
41 rubies and diamonds, was charged 5000 thalers 
to the Elector.^ In the possession of the Elector 
Christian I. of Saxony there were ' 15 chains, 7 jewels, 
75 rings, 13 bracelets, 23 rare articles of personal 
adornment, amongst them a chain which went four 
times round the neck, and to which the portraits of the 
Elector's ancestors set on both sides with 51 rubies and 
4 large diamonds were hung by a massive pearl/ ^ 

What immense sums were spent at the princely court 
at Wolfenbiittel on costly furs, amongst which sable 
ranked first, and on precious stones, is seen from con- 
tracts made in 1574 by Duke Julius of Brunswick with 
Hans Rautenkranz, burgher of Brunswick. On January 
26 of this year Rautenkranz had charged 5600 thalers for 
sable ; four weeks later there is an account for ' 6 skins of 
sable and 42 separate pieces of very fine sable at 5000 
thalers ; a very large emerald, 9000 thalers ; a diamond, 
3600 thalers ; a white sapphire, 600 thalers ; a four- 
cornered amaranth of emerald set in a ring, 200 thalers ; 
a turquoise set with gold, 350 thalers : total, 24,350 
thalers. ' ^ Sums of this amount were spent in a single year. 

The Landgrave Maurice of Hesse, as is reported, 
spent sometimes in one year as much as two tons of 
gold, about 200,000 gulden, in purchases at the 
Frankfort Fair."^ At the Wiirtemberg Court there 

' Archiv fur sdchsische Gesch., v. 334. 
^ V. Weber, Kurfurstin Anna, 179. 
'* Richard, Licht und Schatten, 60. 

' Zeitschr. des Harzvereins, iii. 310. ^ Rommel, ii. 683. 



was ' untold wealth of costly vessels and supercostly 
articles of adornment.' On the occasion of an archery 
contest at Stuttgart in 1560, the target-master Lienhart 
Flexel saw the ducal sideboard covered with large 
golden beakers and silver flasks. ' There were such a 
quantity of silver beakers/ he says, ' that I could not 
count them.' He also saw ' innumerable silver plates 
and dishes, with many thousands of gulden, for it is the 
fashion to eat off pure silver.'^ 'Duke Frederick of 
Wiirtemberg appeared at a festival in 1605 sparkling 
with more than 600 diamonds.' ~ The most costly 
collection of treasures was that of Duke Albert V. of 
Bavaria. For a ' Ballas ' and a diamond he once paid 
24,000 gulden, for a jewel 10,500 gulden, for a jewel 
with pearls 12,000 crowns, for goldsmith's work which, 
he had executed in Munich and Augsburg 200,000 
gulden. 3 The Mayence Archbishop Albrecht of Branden- 
burg commissioned an Augsburg goldsmith in 1530 
with the execution of a gold cross for which different 
jewels to the value of at least 40,000 gulden were used.^ 
To what an extent princely pomp in clothes and 
costly ornaments had increased in the course of the 
sixteenth century is notably seen by comparison with 
the wedding outfits of princesses of earher times. 
When Anna, daughter of the Roman King Albert II., 
was married on June 20, 1446, to the Margrave 
WilUam III. of Meissen, she had an outfit which was 
imitated in the following year by King Frederick IV. 
on the marriage of his sister Katharina with the 
Margrave Charles of Baden. Anna's trousseau con- 

1 Zeitschr. fur deutsche Kulturgesch., Jahrg. 1856, p. 198. 

- Pfaff, Gesch. von Wirtemberg, iv\ 41-42. 

^ See our remarks, vol. xi. 197 ff. 

•• Archiv fur Unterfrank&n, xxvii. 206. 


sisted of ' 4 woollen cloaks for herself and 2 for each of 
her ladies-in-waiting, sleeves and jacket of damask for 
a gown and for another gown sleeves and jacket of 
" Zemol/' a costly silk material. Further, 3 gold em- 
broidered cloaks of velvet and damask, two trimmed 
with ermine and the other with sable, 2 velvet dresses 
and one of damask, trimmed with pretty fur ; and a few 
" Joppen " and damask jackets besides/ Her stock of 
jewels was ' 2 necklaces, 12 clasps, 32 rings, finer and 
commoner, 4 marks' worth of pearls, 3 girdles, 12 great 
dishes, 4 small ones, 1 adder's tongue, 1 petrified 
fish tooth made into ornaments, 12 " Khopph " (a kind 
of beaker), 8 white beakers, 2 candlesticks, 12 spoons, 
2 stands for knives and spoons, 1 ewer, 2 pairs of 
table-knives ; a gilded carriage with six horses conveyed 
the bride to the bridegroom.' ^ 

Very different from this outfit of a king's daughter 
in the middle of the fifteenth century were the outfits 
given to the daughters of princes after the middle of 
the sixteenth century. When, in 1560, Hedwig, daughter 
of the Elector Joachim II. of Brandenburg, was married 
to Duke Juhus of Brunswick, she brought with her 
six costly necklaces, amongst which were : ' 1 necklace 
with a pendant : in the necklace 7 diamonds, 13 rubies, 
and 14 pearls ; in the pendant 12 diamonds, 3 rubies, 
1 emerald, and 7 pearls ; 1 necklace with pendant : in 
the necklace 3 diamonds, 4 rubies, and 16 pearls ; in 
the pendant 1 ruby, 1 emerald, 6 small diamonds, and 
1 large pearl ; 5 bracelets, two of which contained each 
of them 7 rubies and 30 pearls ; 10 ornaments, amongst 
which one with an emerald, 2 diamonds, 1 ruby, and 
1 large pearl ; another ornament with 3 diamonds, 

' Zeitschr. fur deutsche Kulturgesch., Jahrg, 1873, pp. 451-453. 

T 2 


1 ruby. 1 emerald, and 1 pearl ; a diamond cross 
with 10 diamonds and 3 hanging pearls ; 20 rings, 
one with 12 diamonds, another with 5 diamonds 
and 6 rubies ; 9 gold chains, amongst which was a 
chain " of muzzle shape " which weighed 362 crowns, 
a mailed chain which weighed 326 crowns, another 
chain which weighed 329 Rhenish gold guldens. In 
her stock of silver there were, amongst other articles, 
1 silver jug and beaker, 12 silver dishes, 12 goblets, 
12 plates, 12 spoons. Her wardrobe consisted of : 
8 dresses with full skirts of gold brocade, silk damask, 
satin and velvet, one of which was of bright golden 
yellow embroidered with 480 fine pearls, besides which 
there were 200 fine pearls for ornaments ; 24 dresses 
with narrow skirts of gold brocade, silk damask, satin 
and velvet, amongst one with embossed gold and 
silver flowers, and a stomacher embroidered with 
pearls ; 10 petticoats, one of which was red, embroidered 
with gold and edged with ermine ; another of black 
velvet with a red gold border and edged with ermine ; 
4 hned dresses of gold brocade, satin, velvet, and 
silk damask ; 5 mantles of velvet, satin, and silk damask, 
one of which was of black velvet with a quilted border 
and lined with marten ; a red silk mantle lined with 
ermine ; 42 coifs, mostly of silk, silver, and gold ; 15 
girdles, two with pearls, the others mostly of silver and 
gold ; a petticoat of red silk and gold lace ; 22 niglit- 
gowns, nearly all trimmed with silver, gold, and silk 
lace. She also brought with her two golden carriages 
with ten horses.' ^ In the case of the outfit of Princess 

^ Bodemann, Herzog Julius, 209-214. Cf. the ' Hochzeitsinventarium ' 
of the Princess EUzabeth of Saxony of the year 1570 in the Zeitschr. fur 
deutsche Kulturgesch., Jahrg. 1870, pp. 391-397. Similar details about 
bridal outfits are given by Havemann, Elisabeth von Braunschweig, 107 ff. 


Anna of Prussia, who was married in 1594 to the Elector 
John Sigismund of Brandenburg, the cost of the jewels 
alone amounted to 14,138 marks silver ; a necklace 
with 32 diamonds, pearls, and golden roses cost 1487 
gulden ; another cost 3000 ; a third with 18 roses, 
amongst which were 5 ruby and 4 diamond roses, 
which came from Nuremberg, cost 3750 marks ; a 
fourth gold necklace cost 3115 marks. The number of 
rings, most of them set with diamonds and rubies, 
was 144 ; 1745 marks were spent on pearls, and 265 
marks for a gold chain. The quantity of material used 
for the bride's trousseau was ' 16 pieces of velvet, black, 
crimson, and orange-colour, 3 pieces of flowered velvet, 
velvet on a satin ground, 6 pieces of satin of different 
colours, 80 ells of " gladgolden " pieces, silver, white, 
yellow, violet, brown and green, 150 ells of striped 
gold and silver Taletha, 1500 ells of silver "Posament," 
1150 ells of silver and gold " Steilwork," all sorts of 
gold and silver lace, and so forth.' ^ 

The wealth of jewels, clothes, and other luxuries 
in the princesses" outfits were equalled by the wedding 
gifts. At the marriage of a prince of Jiilich in 1585 
the presents covered nine tables ; they formed a 
splendid and costly collection of jewels, necklaces, 
chains, bracelets, medals, earrings, besides all sorts 
of drinking vessels in the shape of animals, fish, birds, 
and also ships and fountains.- The following is a 
list of the wedding presents of a princess of Wiirtemberg 

' Voigt, Furstenkben, 235 ; Hofleben, i. 100. ** In Pomerania the 
land had to bear the cost of the outfits of princes' daughters. At every 
marriage of the daughter or sister of a prince a so-called ' spinster-tax ' 
was levied. See Spahn, Verfassungs- und Wirtscliafts-gesch. des Herzog- 
turns Pommern, xi. 115 £f. 

- Zeitschr. f-iir deutsche Kulturgesch., Jahrg. 1859, p. 321, 


in 1610 : 'A necklace with 43 large pearls, worth 3225 
gold gulden ; a pearl chain of 2280 beads, worth 
4564 gulden ; an ornament with diamonds at 2000 
gulden; a farure of diamonds and a gold chain at 
1700 gulden ; a diamond necklace, 1500 gulden ; 
another, 1400 gulden ; a third, 1600 gulden ; a 
pearl chain, 4000 gulden ; a farure with sapphires, 
4000 gulden ; another with diamond feathers, about 
1000 gulden ; a necklace with diamonds and rubies, 
650 gulden ; a pearl chain, 300 gulden ; a pair of 
bracelets, 200 gulden ; ' the territory of Wiirtemberg 
presented her with a gold chain of five rows, worth 
200 gulden.i 

Amongst the principal mercantile houses which 
supphed the princes with all these costly articles (chiefly 
from Italy) were those of the Florentines Lorenz. de 
Villani at Leipzig, and Laux Endres Jorisani and 
Thomas Lapi at Nuremberg. But the great German 
trading houses also had their own manufactories for 
the production of the most splendid and costly gold 
and silver wares. From accounts and calculations in 
our possession we can give the following statistics of 
the high value of these goods. Thomas Lapi in 1535 
estimated a piece of red-gold satin of 29 ells at 313 
gold gulden ; a piece of satin of drawn gold, 12 ells 
long, at 108 gold gulden ; and a piece of silver satin of 
drawn silver, 12 ells in length, at 108 gold gulden. 
This same merchant, in 1536, sent Duke Albert of 
Prussia two pieces of fine gold and silver cloth, of 
which the gold piece, 38 Nuremberg ells long, cost 
380 gulden, and the silver piece of 40 Nuremberg ells, 
360 gulden. Two pieces of damask of red and ashen 

' Moser, Kleine Schriften, ix. 330. Vulpius, iv. 245-247. 


grey colour at 170 gulden were not thought good enough 
by the Duke for his and his wife's wear.^ The May- 
ence Archbishop Albert of Brandenburg once ordered, 
through the Welsers of Augsburg, two cases of woollen 
and silk clothes from Venice, for which he remained in 
debt to the amount of 1500 ducats and 190 Venetian 
gold gulden.^ 

Amongst the ' many ways by which the princes' 
exchequers were plundered,' Melchior von Ossa, in a 
' political testament ' sent in to the Elector Augustus 
of Saxony in 1556, mentioned, in addition to their craze 
for building, ' their inordinate gambling.' "^ ' What 
frightful sums are squandered and lost, often in a few 
days or months, by this high playing, which is almost 
the daily diversion of princes and lords,' so runs a 
pamphlet, ' is shown from the experience of the treasury 
accountants who have to supply the princes with money 
and scarcely know how to produce any out of the 
exhausted coffers.' '^ Elector John Frederick of Saxony 
sometimes gambled away in one day 500, 700, 1000 
gulden ; in the years 1538-1543 he lost 19,282 gulden, 
in 1544, within twelve weeks, 12,344 gulden. John 
Frederick the Younger of Saxony, in 1555, when he was 
only seventeen years old, lost 300 florins, and four years 
later, 864 florins. Elector Joachim 11. of Brandenburg 
gambled away in a short space of time 40,000 gulden.^ 
In an account of the expenses of the Elector John 
Sigismund's Prussian journey from July 11, 1608, to 
August 23, 1609, the treasury secretary, John Grabow, 

1 Voigt, Filrstenleben, 237-240. 

^ Archiv fiir Unterfranken, xxvii. 201-202 note. 

'■^ See Glaser, 684. 

^ Von den vielen Anzeichen, dbc. See above, p. 263, n. 1. 

'" Eaus, Ernestinische Finanzen, 9 ; cf . 84. 


says, concerning ' card money ' for his lord on different 
days, ' the largest sums amomited in January 1609 to 
55, 77, and 88 Reichsthaler ; in February to 109, 135, 286 ; 
on March 2 and 5, to 333 Keichsthaler, and so forth/ ^ 
On May 10, 1613, the Elector, ' while playing cards 
with Maurice of Hesse and Joachim von der Schulenberg, 
sent for 233 thalers 8 groschen and paid the Landgrave 
600 thalers, which he had lost to him at former games/ " 
The Elector Frederick IV. of the Palatinate lost, accord- 
ing to his accoimt-book, from August 9-24, 1599, the 
sum of 290 gold gulden ; on September 10, 50 gold 
gulden and 99 gulden ; between September 16 and 18, 
128 gold gulden, and so forth. ^ 

' If the exchequers and purses of the princes and 
lords have been emptied by extravagant court retinues, 
banqueting, fireworks, tourneying, ring-running, by 
magnificent processions and masquerades, luxurious 
clothes and ornaments, jewels of gold and silver, pearls 
and diamonds, and last, not least, by building and 
gambling, the gold-makers (alchemists),' so said the 
preacher Leonhard Breitkopf in 1591, ' ought to come 
and fill their treasuries again, and make the princes 
into Croesuses once more : but these said gold-makers 
are the biggest and most shameless scoundrels, char- 
latans and vagabonds, they defraud princes, lords and 
people alike with inordinate prices and bring them to 
shame and derision.' ^ The preacher John Sommer of 
Zwickau, in his ' Geldtklage,' reckoned the gold-makers 
who ' insinuated themselves among princes and lords, 
nobles and commoners, as one of the causes why Germany 

' IldrJcische Forschungen, xix. 355 flf. 

2 Ibid. XX. 26, note 1. » -YVjUe^ 265 £f. 

'' Karfreikigspredigt, Bl. B- ; see our remarks, vol. xii. p. 293 f. 


grew poorer every year.' ' Would God,' he exclaims, 
that the eyes of the Germans might be opened, 
so that they might take better heed to these money 
stealers.' ^ 

These alchemists who pretended to make gold and 
silver out of baser metals formed part of the court 
retinue of most of the princes. Amongst many others 
the Electors of Saxony, of Brandenburg, and of the 
Palatinate, the Dukes of Brunswick, the Landgraves of 
Hesse had at their courts ' highly renowned laboratories * 
for the production of gold and silver ; many of the 
princes also themselves diligently studied this ' sacred 
art.' ' My councillors,' wrote Landgrave William IV. 
of Hesse, in December L571, to Duke Julius of Brmis- 
wick, ' are not well pleased with me for devoting myself 
to these arts ; they would rather, as indeed it would be 
better, that I should remain in the chancellery, and 
watch over my own and my subjects' affairs ; but 
who could sit there all day to be worried to death ? ' - 

In Dresden the alchemists were in special request. 
The court laboratory there was called by the people 
the ' gold-house.' ^ The Elector Augustus of Saxony, 
in 1578, in a letter to an Italian alchemist, declared that 
he was already so far advanced in the art that out of 
eight ounces of silver he could in six days produce 
three ounces of purest gold.^' The ' iire-workers ' 
were also honoured officials at the court of Augustus 
and were richly remunerated by him, but if they became 
too mysterious they had to be put to torture to 

' Olorinus Variscus, GeldtUage (Magdeburg, 1614), pp. 268-286. 
- Havemann, Gesch. der Lands Braunschweig und Liineburg, ii. 394. 
Kopp, Alchemie, i. 222 note. 
=* Kopp, i. 127. 
^ Vulpius, ix. 547-548 ; cf. iii. 25. v. Weber, Kurfiirstin Anna, 273. 


get at their secrets. In order to extract from the 
' artist ' Velten Merbitz tlie secret of making silver 
out of mercury the Elector in 1562 caused him to be put 
twice on the rack ; the second time the man was kept 
two full hours in torture, till at last the executioner 
said he must stop if Merbitz was not to die under his 
hands. Another ' fire-artist/ Daniel Bachmann, who 
had promised to find the philosopher's stone, to handle 
and to coagulate it, and to make 1 cwt. of gold within 
four months, went mad in the course of his work. He 
was consequently bound with a chain which was fastened 
to the wall in such a manner as to allow of his reaching 
the oven in which his mixture was being cooked. The 
Elector said he had quite sufficient cause for punishing 
Bachmann in body and life, but as the man was not 
master of his reason he should be content with banish- 
ing him from the land ; but if ever he showed himself 
again, he should without mercy have him put into a 
bag and thrown in the water. ^ With a third alchemist, 
David Beuther, who was at his court from 1575-1582, 
the Elector had also unfortunate dealings. He was so 
favourably disposed towards this man that he stood 
sponsor to one of his children, and then insisted that the 
wife of the alchemist should no longer address him as ' Your 
princely Grace,' but simply call him ' Herr Gevatter ' 
(godfather). However, Beuther gave himself up to a 
dissolute life, and in spite of the promise he had made 
would not reveal the secret of his art. Accordingly the 
Elector issued against him a judicial sentence to the 
effect that ' owing to his perjury he was to be scourged, 
the fingers of both his hands were to be cut off, and he 
was to be imprisoned for hfe, so that he should not be 

' V. Weber, Kurfiirstin Anna, 275-276. 


able to take his art to other courts/ ^ The Electress 
Anna helped on the chemical labours of her husband. 
At the Castle Annaburg she built an expensive laboratory 
with four chemical ovens, which were constructed in the 
shapes of a horse, a lion, a monkey, and an osprey, all 
Ufe size. The osprey sparkled with golden wings and 
inside it was a so-called chapel. The building with 
its high chimneys looked Hke a many-towered church.^ 
After the death of her husband ' she had all her house- 
hold vessels,' so says a report, 'made of gold and walled 
up for future transportation ; but not content with this 
she wanted to learn the secret herself." So she threat- 
ened the imprisoned Beuther with death, unless he 
revealed his secret, and the alchemist poisoned himself. 
' Her conscience was not very easy about the matter, 
and she commanded the executioner to keep silence 
over it.' ^ In order to extract his secret from the 
alchemist Alexander Setonius, the Elector Christian II. 
had him repeatedly tortured in 1603.* 

At the court of Elector Joachim II. of Brandenburg, 
within ten years, no fewer than eleven alchemists were 
counted up who had dissipated considerable sums.^^ 
One of the most famous alchemists was Leonhard 
Thurneissen zum Thurn, house physician to Elector 
John George of Brandenburg, with whom numbers of 
princes and princesses were in personal and epistolary 
relations. Duke Christopher of Mecklenburg, Duke 
Ulrich zu Giistrow, the Electoral Princess Katharina 
von Kiistrin, the Margravine EHzabeth of Ansbach, and 

1 Schmieder, 311-315. Kopp, i. 149. Kohler, xvi. 6-7. 

2 Vulpius, iii. 25 and x. 153. •' Ibid. x. 153-154. 
* Schmieder, 342-343. Kopp, i. 127. 

^ Voigt, Furstenlehen, 344. ** Concerning gold-makers and alchemists 
at the Lippe Court, see Falkmann, 374 ff. 


others used to send distillers and laboratory workers to 
him to learn from him all sorts of secret arts, which they 
would then carry on in their own laboratories. Thur- 
neissen informed the Elector amongst other things that 
the water of the Spree carried in its course gold and a 
fine kind of glaze ; the gold contained twenty-three 
carats and half a grain ; in some places of the Mark, 
he said, rubies, emeralds and sapphires could be found.^ 
' In the holy Easter days (1583) .John George ap- 
pointed his court apothecary Aschenbrenner, who was 
specially fitted for the post, to help as a labor ant in 
some occult metallic work which we were to execute 
under God's guidance and to work at in a special 
labor atorium.' ^ 

The unfortunate Duke John Frederick II. of Saxony 
fell in great measure a dupe both to alchemists and 
angel-seers. On November 6, 1566, he had concluded 
a bargain with two preachers, Abel Scherding and 
Phihp Sommering, by which the preachers promised 
to teach the Duke the secret of the philosopher's stone, 
on condition that he ' would keep this gift of God 
to himself." For their first experiment in the art he 
paid them 760 thalers.^ Simultaneously with Som- 
mering there appeared in Gotha a former lady of the 
Dresden Court, Anna Maria von Ziegler, who, according 
to her own later confession, had drowned her illegitimate 
child, and at the instigation of Sommering, with whom 
she had a liaison, had poisoned his wife. From Duke 
John Frederick, whom she entirely won over, she received 
a letter written in his own hand and with his blood, 

1 Kopp, i. 107 ff. See our remarks, vol. xii. 297-299. 
- In V. Ledebur's Arcidv, xv. 369-371. 
' See contract in Vulpius, iii. 19-22. 


saying tliat he should put away his own wife and marry 
her. Before the world, John Frederick had given her 
in marriage to his valet and court-fool, Henry Schom- 
bach, styled Schiel-Heinz (Squinting Harry). After 
the surrender of Gotha and of the Grimmenstein,^ 
Sommering, Schombach, and Frau Anna fled in 1571 to 
Wolfenbiittel, to try their luck at the court of Duke 
Juhus of Brunswick. To their company belonged also 
the freebooter and highway robber Silvester Schulfer- 
mann, who gave himself out in Wolfenbiittel as Frau 
Anna's brother, and who was employed as assistant by 
Sommering. Fuller details which came to light con- 
cerning the doings of these swindlers for many years at 
the court of Duke Julius, are of general importance in 
the history of civilisation, and all the more so as they 
are connected with the duping and fleecing of a prince 
who had made comprehensive studies in almost every 
branch of learning, and to whom the affairs of his country 
were by no means a matter of indifference. 

While other princes ' are for the most part given up 
to the devil of chase," Duke Julius wrote once to his step- 
mother, ' he was given up to the devil of the mines." ^ 
Therefore Sommering was welcome at his court if only 
for the promise that ' he and his associates were able to 
bring the mines of the country into such a condition that 
his Princely Grace would enjoy 200,000 a year more 
profit from them than before.' Besides this they would 
share with the Duke one ounce of the philosophical 
tincture whereby other inferior metals were turned into 
gold, and that ought to be worth a princedom, if not more. 
They would teach him the process, so that ' Illustrissimus ' 
would become the mightiest potentate of all Europe. 

' See our remarks, vol. vii. 393 f. - Bodemann, 200. 


All this, according to a formal agreement concluded in 
1571, was to happen in the space of a year, in return for 
which the Duke gave the adventurers, together with 
Frau Anna, lodging, board and plentiful supphes of 
money besides a documentary promise of unhmited 
princely protection. Amongst their patrons and associ- 
ates at the court was the pastor Ludwig Hahne, of Schlitz 
in Hesse, whom the Duke, on the recommendation of 
Sommering, had appointed his court preacher and 
spiritual father, although the man was in disgrace with 
the Landgrave of Hesse on account of falsification of coin. 
Sommering, who was appointed Treasury, Mines, and 
Church Councillor, soon acquired overweening influence 
both in religious and secular matters. A written docu- 
ment in his handwriting is signed : ' Philip Therocyclus, 
the prince's constant, faithful treasury- councillor, 
though all devils and godless folk should rage at him.' 
As a ' true theologus,' he boasted that he had preserved 
the churches and schools of the duchy from the poison 
of the Sacramentarians and the Flacians, and had taken 
good care that not a single Calvinist from Wittenberg 
should ruin the people. While the ' philosopher's stone ' 
in spite of all their efforts still refused to reveal itself, 
Sommering and his collaborators tried to keep the im- 
patient Duke contented with other magic acts. He 
manufactured 'constellation' musket barrels, not one 
single shot from which could fail ; he bought the Duke a 
' lucky hat,' and searched for the herb thalictron, which 
conferred understanding and wisdom. He also set to 
work to discover the mercurial herb which, when quick- 
silver was poured over it, exuded a wonderful gold- 
coloured sap. Once, so he said, ' a he-goat with its beard 
cut off had stood outside the door ; his chin was 


wetted with mercurial water and a golden beard had 
grown/ To procure this herb a special messenger was 
sent to Dux in Bohemia, and a ducal ambassador who 
was journeying to the imperial court was instructed to 
find out this rare plant. Further, Sommering at the 
Duke's wish took great trouble to concoct magic pearls, 
and he also used a corrosive stone to prevent the invasion 
of water in the salt works : this stone, it was said, would eat 
a channel through the rock and let the water out. He 
also concerted with the Duke as to whether, by poisoning 
the meadows with arsenic and metalhc smoke, they could 
not curb the insolence of the refractory town of Bruns- 
wick. As a preservative from sore throat and gout he 
presented the Duke with a toadstone which had been 
taken out of the head of a snake, and which was worth 
100 thalers ; against the plague ' he supphed him with 
a preparation of lizard, the most poisonous of reptiles, 
which feed only on falling stars and sulphurous matter. 
Frau Anna soon got the Duke completely into her net, 
so that his formerly happy relations with his wife, the 
Duchess Hedwig, were for years long completely shat- 
tered. It was in vain that his sister, the Margravine of 
Kiistrin, warned him that Sommering was a runaway 
parson who had left his lawful wife and. joined himself 
to Ziegler, and that he was misleading and bhnding 
him (Duke Juhus), and estranging him from all the 
gentlemen of his court and all his friends. Anna 
Ziegler, his sister told him, had been an immoral 
woman for twenty years : she had heard many strange 
tales of all her doings and how she was notorious with 
Electors and Princes all over the empire. Everyone 
knew how poor they were when they came to Wolfenbiit- 
tel, and now they dressed in silk and velvet ; the Duke 


was not thought well of by all worthy, honourable 
people.' In an ' account of Anna Zieglerin ' sent to the 
Duke by a faithful subject, all the different arts by 
which this woman, in conjunction with Sommering, was 
befoohng him were enumerated. Amongst other things 
the writer said : ' They make out to my lord that Theo- 
phrastus Paracelsus had a son by the Duchess of Ottingen, 
and that this son, with the knowledge and wilhng consent 
of the Count, had become her husband. His name was 
Carolus, and he excelled Theophrastus Paracelsus and all 
the philosophers that have ever lived on earth. He was 
a great cabaHstic philosopher, and, in short, in all his 
deeds and works equal to God, except that he lacked 
immortahty. He alone in riches, wisdom, and under- 
standing surpassed all emperors, kings, and princes in 
the whole world. He could make and transform all metals 
into real, sohd gold; could do whatever he willed; could 
go hither and thither and become invisible when he 
hked ; he knew all that had ever happened and all that 
was to come ; nothing was impossible to him, nothing 
hidden from him. The name and title that he bears is 
Carolus, Count of Ottingen, Lord of Hohenschwan and 
Lower Bavaria. This man had married Anna Zieglerin 
because she was so pure and chaste, so far above other 
women and hke unto the angels. If he could only get 
her away from Wolfenbiittel, and if the Duke and her 
husband, Henry Schombach, would let her follow him, 
he would give her husband his sister with 20,000 Nd. 
He would hold the Duke in eternal friendship and 
present him with the philosopher's stone. With Aima 
Zieglerin the Count would inaugurate a new world, and 
in the course of a few years bring forth countless numbers 
of children who would never suffer from illness and 


would live on for 300, 400 or 600 years like our ancestors 
at the beginning of the world/ ' Anna Zieglerin was 
the only vessel of honour and pure instrument through 
which this could be brought about.' The Duke be- 
heved all these tales, and gave large sums of money to 
this ' Count ' in order to secure and retain his friendship ; 
he even offered the ' Count ' his daughter in marriage : 
the ' Count," however, refused her, for ' he only wished 
to marry Anna Maria Zieglerin, the altogether purest 
and chastest woman on this earth, in order that he 
might spend his life with her and carry out his project.' 
Frau Anna also pretended to be a 'star-reader. She 
knew all about the heavenly constellations, and regulated 
the Duke's dress according to stars ; without her know- 
ledge he must undertake nothing, must neither travel, 

nor engage a servant, nor make any plans. The Wh 

tells the Duke all sorts of devihsh and impossible things 
and bewitches him so that he believes them all, and 
carries out her wishes. Again and again the Duke has 
said that when his wife dies he shall marry Frau Anna ; 
when he mentions her name he uncovers his head with 
the greatest reverence ; he says out plainly that she is 
a special creation of God, a woman full of all chastity, 
divine gifts, high understanding, and that there is none 
living or dead who has ever equalled her in virtue. How 
Satan does befool great people ! ' ' Because the Duke,' 
this accomit goes on to say, ' has sworn an oath to this 

Wh and this scoundrel that he will protect and 

befriend them, their vices and evil deeds never come to 
light, and are never brought before the magistrates, but 
the Duke carries on a secret game with them. The 

Wh and the parson persuade him not to trust his 

councillors and nobles, who, they say, are not true to 

VOL. XV. u 


him. They provide him with other coimcillors who 
are in league with themselves, and so change the govern- 
ment of the court, filling it with their own people. What 
will be the end of all this it is too early yet to say. In 

short, the Wh and the parson have at present the 

control of the Duke in their own hands.' 

Gradually, however, various fraudulent proceedings 
came to light, and Sommering, Frau Anna, and their 
collaborators no longer felt themselves safe at court. 
In 1574, when the Duke was on a visit at Berlin with 
his son-in-law, the Elector of Brandenburg, they formed 
a plan to put to death the hated Duchess, and then to 
carry off all that they could collect together and take 
themselves out of the country. The crime was not 
perpetrated, but the plan became known to the Duke. 
Other treacheries also were discovered. Sommering, 
by means of duplicate keys, had got access to the Duke's 
correspondence and copied out a number of his most 
important papers, amongst others draughts of a scheme 
for overturning the constitution of the empire ; he had 
hoped to make use of these papers for his own advantage 
at the court of the Saxon Electorate with which the Duke 
was constantly at strife. The criminals escaped, were, 
however, arrested, put in chains and subjected to the 
strictest examination. Sommering, while in prison, 
attempted to commit suicide. He declares that on his 
calling out, ' Christ, if thou wilt not help me send a devil 
to help me,' a devil stood before him in the shape of an 
executioner, wearing a grey hat, and told him he could 
not take him away because there were cross-bars to the 
window, but gave him a knife and told him to stab him- 
self ; he tried to do so, but the knife would not go through 
his body. Before his imprisonment he had made the 


Duke believe in the great services he had rendered the 
Church, in the irreproachableness of his conduct and 
in his former ministry in the Church. Now he was 
completely unmasked. ' We have discovered in these 
people/ Julius wrote to the Elector of Brandenburg, 
' so much roguery and villainy that your Grace will 
scarcely believe it all ; we have indeed cause for thank- 
fulness to God that by His mercy the diabolical plot 
against our dearest and most beloved wife and other 
electoral and princely persons was not carried out.' 
On February 7, 1575, the penal sentence was executed. 
Sommering, Schombach, and Schulfermann were hanged 
and quartered, and Frau Anna was burnt in an iron 
chair ; the court preacher Hahne was later on put to 
death by the sword. 

But all the unfortunate experiences which the Duke 
had with the alchemists did not deter his successor, 
Henry Julius, from pursuing the search after the philo- 
sopher's stone with the help of ' fire-philosophers.' ^ 

^ A. Rhamm, ' Die betriiglichen Laboranten am Hofe des Herzogs 
Julius von Braunschweig,' in the Feuilleton der Magdehurgischen Zeitung 
(1882), Nos. 565-573. A. Beckmann, ' Therocyclus in Wolfenbuttel, 
1568-1575,' in the Zeitschr. fur deutsche KuUurgesch. Jahrg. 1857, pp. 551- 
565. Algermann's ' Berieht in v. Strombeck,' Feier des Geddchtnisses, 
200-203. Kopp, i. 125. ** See also A. Rhamm, 'Die betriiglichen 
Goldmacher am Hofe des Herzogs Julius von Braunschweig, nach den 
Prozessakten dargestellt ' (Wolfenbiittel, 1885). From the documents here 
used it comes out that Algermann cannot fully be trusted as a safe voucher. 
Cf. p. 109, n. 142. The first person who detected Frau Anna as an impostor 
was the Duchess Hedwig. Only a few months after her arrival at 
Wolfenbiittel Ziegler complained to the Duke that his august lady had 
poured the vials of her wrath upon her, and a little while later she com- 
plained again that the Duchess was very hostile towards her ; she was 
willing to bear her cross, she said, but it hurt her very much to be thus 
misunderstood by so virtuous a lady, and as she had come to know her 
Princely Grace's penchant for the pure gospel she sent her as a present 
Martin Luther's books, praying that the Holy Ghost would enlight<:-n the 

u 2 


' What proves a failure the first, the tenth, or even 
the ninety-ninth time, may well be a great success the 
hundredth time,' so spoke men of learned repute ; and 
John Pontanus, Professor of the Healing Art at the 
university of Jena, and later at Konigsberg (| 1572), 
said that it was not till after 200 unsuccessful attempts 
that he had at last acquired mastery in the art of gold- 
making.^ No wonder then that the princes, though 
their money frequently disappeared in smoke, were 
always ready to try their luck afresh, and strove to 
discover all possible secrets in order to become rich, 
and to behold many marvels. 

In the South of Germany one of these dauntless 
princes was Duke Frederick of Wiirtemberg. In 1596 
there appeared at his court the mighty gold-maker 
George Honauer, from Olmiitz in Moravia, who through 
his fraudulent practices had gained such renown among 
the people, that he finally gave himself out as a baron 
and called himself George Honauer, Herr zu Brumhofen 
und Grobenschiitz, was on familiar terms with counts 
and barons, frequently had 70 or 80 horses in his stables, 
and kept his own equerry. In order to teach his art 
to the Duke he asked for and obtained 36 cwts. 18 lbs. 
of Mompelgard iron, besides a sum of gold, but after 
he had, as he said, used up 600,000 gulden, after three 
months he took himself off secretly and robbed the Duke 
still further of a quantity of money, jewels, and other 
things. Whilst he was being pursued the Duke had a 
gallows-tree made out of the iron which he had given him 

pious Pi'incess, so that she might be led to give up her unjust suspicions ! 
But the Duchess's mistrust of the adventuress was not to be overcome : 
I.e. 21 ; cf. 76. See also Sudhoff, ' Geheimwissenschaften,' in the 
Allgem. Ztg. (1895), Beil. 219. 
' Kopp, i. 224. 


before. It was painted bright red and was eighteen 
feet high. On the top of it was placed another gallows 
hke a weathercock, which could be turned round by the 
wind. After the adventurer had been caught in Oldenburg 
and brought back to Stuttgart, chained in a cart, the Duke 
had him dressed in a coat of gold tinsel, with hat, shoes, 
and feathers to match, and suspended to the weather- 
cock. ' On the lower four quarters of the gallows he had 
four chains made to hang the four foremen of the mine 
who were to have aided and abetted Honauer in his 
trickery. His equerry was also hung, but from a separate 
gallows made of wood. A "rare, unheard-of broad- 
sheet " made the event known to the German people.' ^ 
On the Duke, however, the episode made no im- 

The following year Frederick made a contract with 
another gold-maker from Zurich, who promised him, out 
of a mark of silver, to make at least 3 J ounces of genuine 
gold, and also promised to teach the Duke his art. He 
was paid forthwith 10,000 gulden, and made several 
experiments which proved successful because his brother 
secretly threw gold into the saucepan. However, his 
imposture was finally discovered, the tincture which he 
had given the Duke was found to be false, and he, too, 
without trial and sentence, ended his days on the 
gallows. The same fate befell a third alchemist, the 
Italian Peter Montanus.^ 

' Account in Pfaff, Miscellen, 70 ft". Scheible, Schaltjahr, i. 45-50 ; 
see our remarks, vol. xii. 292 ff. ** See also E. Otto, ' Alchimisten und 
Goldmacher an deutschen Fiirstenhofen,' in the Zeitschr. fiir Kulturgesch. 
(year 1899), p. 49 ff., where a partly different account is given. See also 
Cesky casopis historicky (1895), p. 272 ff. Tobolka, Georg Honauer aus 
Olmiitz, ein Alchimist am wurttemberg. Hof. 

- Account in Pfaff, Miscellen, 74-80. 


In November 1595, Martin Crusius, Professor of 
Philosophy at the university of Tiibingen, wrote in his 
diary, and from prudence wrote it in Greek : ' From 
George Weyganmeyer, Hebrew professor, I have heard 
the following : In Stuttgart there are two Jews, one 
from Ferrara who is called Abraham, and the other 
a German. Abraham makes gold, changes water 
into wine and stone into bread. The Jew says 
that these things are not magic, but taken out of 
the Jewish Cabbala. The best of the court people 
are not well pleased. But everybody keeps silence 
concerning these matters. Good Lord, what will 
be the end of it ! ' ^ But the court preacher Lucas 
Osiander did not keep silence. In 1598 he spoke 
seriously to the Duke about his patronage of the 
Italian Jew, against whose gold-making he had already 
before warned him. This Jew, he told the Duke, 
was a magician and he had brought other Jews 
addicted to magic into the country ; but magicians 
were associates of the devil, and those who en- 
couraged them would share in their ahenation from 
God. The Duke, angry at this admonition, told his 
court preacher and prelate that he was a disreputable, 
good-for-nothing parson, a slanderer, a liar, and a child 
of the devil ; the Jew had substantial proofs concerning 
very skilful and wonderful matters ; in especial he 
possessed an unknown excellent concoction of saltpetre 
and powder with which the arsenals of the country were 
going to be supplied. =^ 

Frederick estabhshed a number of alchemists, 
maintained at his own expense, in the little town of 

> Weyermann, Neue Nacliricliten, 603. 

- Correspondence in Moser, Palriotisches Archiv, ix. 257-273. 


Gross-Sachsenheim, regardless of the protests of the 
Provincial Estates who, in 1599, begged that he would 
not have ' so much to do with such swindlers, through 
whom he might suffer great injury/ ^ In the years 
1605 and 1606 he again let himself be imposed on by 
several alchemists. The gold-maker John Henry Miiller, 
a former journeyman barber, who had been raised to 
the nobility by the Emperor Eudolf II. as a reward for 
his skill, and had since called himself von Miillenfells, 
before coming to Stuttgart had already robbed many 
other princes — amongst them the Margrave Joachim 
Ernest of Ansbach and the Elector Frederick IV. of 
the Palatinate — of incredibly large sums ; he carried on 
business also with Frederick, till by order of the latter 
in 1607 he was hanged on the gallows.- When Frederick's 
successor, John Frederick, overwhelmed with debts, 
applied for help to the Provincial Estates the latter 
signified to him that ' if he would rid the land 
of the alchemists, a whole company of whom had 
long been firmly established in Gross -Sachsenheim, 
the resources of his treasury might soon pick up 
again." ^ 

In Munich also, according to the report of Philip 
Hainhofer, there was a laboratory or distilhng-house in 
which gold was made.* At the court there, a runaway 
monk from Cyprus disported himself under the assumed 
name of Count Marco Bragadino ; he had come to 
Germany in 1588 and won great admiration in Vienna 
through his art of gold-making. Two black bulldogs 

1 Sattler, v. 230 ; cf. Kopp, i. 126. 

^ Zeitschr. fiir die Gesch. des Oberrheins, xxvi. 468-470. Adelung, vi. 

^ Sattler, vi. 51. ' Hautle, 129. 


which always accompanied him he declared to be his 
' mediums ' for bringing about magic results. With 
the help of the Jesuits he was exposed as ' an im- 
postor, and, with two of his associates, hanged in a 
cloak covered with gold tinsel.^ ' Alchemy and the 
art of making gold and silver out of a substance 
which is not gold or silver,' it says in a pubhc edict 
of Duke Maximihan, ' ought to be utterly forbidden, 
because these arts are seldom practised without magic 
and superstition and suchlike devil's work. Trans- 
gressors of this order should either be pmiished with 
a definite fine, or in default of this, by imprison- 
ment, banishment, or in some other recognised legal 
manner.' ^ 

At Innsbruck, at the court of Archduke Ferdinand 
II. of Tyrol, wonderful things were related of Saxon 
alchemists ' who made copper out of iron, and gold out 
of copper, and every week produced 100 marks, from 
which the Elector derived great profit.' Experiments 
were also made there. Ferdinand II. had his own 
chemical kitchen and was in frequent intercourse with 
alchemists. The gold-maker Gabriel von Mayrwisen 
asked him in 1591 to send him a confidential man and 
said he would give him a few millions of gulden. Two 
years later Hans Jager of Imst informed the Duke 
that he and others of his trade had entered into an 
agreement by which each one of them was bound to 
make known all their secrets to the others ; one of 
them, however, who had had the good fortune to 
discover the philosopher's stone, would not reveal the 
secret to his associates. Hans Jager begged Ferdinand 

' Juvcncius, Hist. Soc. Jesu pars, v. 388. Kopp, i. 174. 
' Zeitschr. fiir deutsche Kulturgesch. (year 1873), p. 102. 


to give him a letter of recommendation to the Emperor 
Rudolf in order that he might obtain authority from 
the latter to compel this recreant member to keep to 
his obhgations.^ 

Kudolf II. was universally regarded as the chief 
protector of the travelling alchemists from all the 
countries of Europe, and the Court of Prague was 
indeed ' the veritable Mecca ' of all the countless 
practitioners who occupied themselves with magic, 
exorcism, chiromancy, astrology, manufacturing magic 
mirrors, and so forth. The Emperor always kept at 
least twenty alchemists at work to test all the different 
methods proposed for transmuting metal. On many 
of these ' artists ' he conferred nobility, and he spent 
incredibly large sums on them. His court alchemist, 
John Dee, son of a London wine-dealer, on the strength 
of royal patronage, lived in such magnificence that 
he actually refused a post offered him by the Czar 
Feodor, through the recommendation of English mer- 
chants, which would have meant a yearly salary 
of £2000 sterhng, besides entire board and residence 
at court. The English gold - maker and magician 
Edward Kelley, an apothecary, was raised by Rudolf to 
the dignity of a knight and loaded with good fortune ; 
the Pohsli impostor Michael Sendiwoj was made 
court councillor and so richly remunerated that he was 
not only able to buy himself a house, but also two 
large landed properties. ' How much gold Rudolf's 
chemical kitchens swallowed up,' says a report, ' it 
is impossible to calculate ' ; the number of his alchemists 
amounted, during the course of his long reign, to 200 ; 
' and down to his last years he never for a moment 

1 Hirn, i. 364-365. 


gave up the hope that he should succeed in manu- 
facturing gold/ At the same ' time there was at 
court such a scarcity of ready money/ that once, 
as the Bavarian ambassador Joachim von Donnersberg, 
in July 1610, wrote to Munich, ' the caterer from the 
court kitchen, who had only one gulden in his purse 
and was applying at the treasury for further imburse- 
ments, was dismissed with the words, " he must make 
the gulden go as far as he could, for at present there 
was nothing to hand." '^ In a ' Diskurs iiber Eeforma- 
tion des Kammerwesens,' addressed to the Emperor 
Matthias in 1616, the court treasury director, Christopher 
Siegfried von Breuner, estimated the debts left by 
Rudolf II. at 30,000,000 gulden.^ 

' To the pleasures and recreations of all sorts 
which the princes indulged in, and which cost the 
country very dear, there belonged also,' so men of insight 
complained at the time, ' the frequent visits and journeys 
to baths, and the meetings and gatherings of all sorts, 
which indeed were in some measure necessary, as 
when imperial and other Diets were visited, but which 
should not be accompanied with such magnificence 
and endless retinues, and inordinate number of horses, 
amounting often to many hundreds, or even many 
thousands.' ^ 

' J. Svatek, Kulturhistorische Bilder aus Bohmen, 44 £E., 64-86. 
Schmieder, 300-308. Kopp, i. 194-197. 

2 Hurter, iii. 75. 

a ** I'l^e craze for travelling increased more and more in the sixteenth 
century. It was akeady then the custom to educate young people 
by foreign travel. The grand ' CavaUertour ' comprised almost always 
the Netherlands, England, France and Italy. Steinhausen, Gesch. des 
deutschen Briefes, ii. 6, where it is pointed out how extraordinarily fast 
foreign influence worked on individuals through travelling. Concerning 
the effects of the craze for travelling in those days, Steinhausen, ii. 8, says : 


At the Diet of Worms in 1521, the Landgrave 
Phihp of Hesse appeared with 600 attendants ; the 
Elector Frederick of Saxony brought 400 horses to 
Spires in 1544. In 1562 the Elector Augustus of 
Saxony, with his wife and a few princes who accom- 
panied him, went to the Diet at Augsburg with 800 
horses, and in 1582 with 1146 horses, among which 
was a bodyguard of 700 riders. The retinue of Duke 
Ulrich of Mecklenburg-Schwerin at this last Diet con- 
sisted of 112 persons, 150 carriage-horses, and about 
70 outriders ; the journey, calculated at 97 miles, 
was spread over 35 days ; the expenses of the journey 
and of residence in Augsburg amounted to more than 
20,000 thalers.^ Joachim II. of Brandenburg at the 
Election Diet of the Emperor Maximilian II. (1562) 
had a suite of 68 counts and lords, with 452 horses 
and a number of servants, although the electoral 
coffers were almost empty and money was nowhere 
forthcoming, so that the Master of the Exchequer, 
Thomas Matthias, in Frankfort, had to maintain the 
court on his own capital and credit.^ When the 
Elector Augustus of Saxony went in 1584 to take the 
baths at Schwalbach he had a bodyguard of 16 riders, 
and such an extensive suite that he required 200 more 
horses, and 24 for kitchen and cellar wagons. The 
day's marches were so short, that in eighteen days, and 

' We must not be blind to the good influences of this custom, but still it 
must be said that the bad influences were stronger, and under the many 
bad ones, the contempt for the mother tongue engendered by travelling 
was the worst, and it was also the one most animadverted on by the 
preachers of the day.' See p. 19. 

' Kius, Ernestinische Finanzen, 6-7. Lisch, Jahrbiicher, ix. 174-176, 
185, 199, 210. 

"' Moehsen, 474 note, 479-480. 


at immense cost, lie scarcely reached his destination.^ 
Archbishop Wolf Dietrich von Salzburg in 1591 visited 
the Gastein baths with a court retinue of 240 persons 
and 139 horses.- The Landgrave Maurice of Hesse, 
on a journey to Berlin, took an escort of 3000 horse.^ 
At a Diet held at Naumburg in 1614 for the renewal 
of the hereditary alliance between the Electorates of 
Saxony and Brandenburg, and Hesse, the escort of the 
Elector John George I. consisted of 546 riding horses, 
196 carriage horses, 23 asses of burden ; that of his 
brother Augustus was 116 persons, 121 riding and 
carriage horses ; that of the Elector John Sigismund of 
Brandenburg, 488 persons, 124 riding and 363 carriage 
horses.^ The wedding journey of the Elector Palatine 

^ V. Weber, Aus vier Jahrhunderten, ii. 21-27. On the way, at Marburg 
and at Mayence, there were ' good, strong drinking-bouts.' v. Bezold, 
ii. 229, n. 2. 

2 Vulpius, ix. 422. ** When the Bamberg Bishop Ernest of Men- 
gerstorf, in 1588, prepared for a journey to Carinthia, 78 horses were 
ordered for the bishop and the higher servants. Twenty court squires, nine 
chamber valets, the episcopal house physician, two doctors of law, the 
court chaplain, three canons, one dean, the episcopal pay-master, two 
couriers, two trumpeters, and one barber made up the retinue. Beitrdgs 
zur Kiinde Steiermdrkischer Geschichtsquellen (1891), xxiii. 23. 

^ Bucholtz, Versuch, iii. 479 note. ** The luxury which Fredei'ick 
of Wiirtemberg displayed on his entry into Ratisbon on June 28, 1594, 
seems, (according to the account of the Palatine church councillor. Dr. 
Markus zum Lamm [born 1544, died 1606], Thesaurus picturarum, Einziige, 
fol. 94,) actually to have excited the displeasure of the Emperor. He 
made his entry with 650 outriders, amongst whom were eight counts, 
four barons, and over 100 nobles, and with such pomp, splendour, and show 
as no Elector, not even a Prince, at that time ever displayed, yea, verily, 
he was grander and more magnificent than the Emperor himself, as far 
as the people and the retinue he had with him go ; for they were all dressed 
most superbly in velvet and silk overlaid with gold, and hung about with 
thick gold chains ; then the luxury of the fifty Burgundian arquebussiers 
on foot, and so forth. Steinhausen, Zeitschr. fiir Kulturgesch., vi. (Weimar, 
1899), 49. 

^ Muller, Annales, 276-279. 


Frederick V. in 1613, when with an escort of 191 persons 
he went to London for his espousals with the Enghsh 
King James I.'s daughter, cost the electorate, burdened 
with expenses of all sorts, £100,000 sterling.^ 

' Inordinate oppression, debts and poverty,' were 
the subject of universal complaint in almost all German 
territories. ' Can you point me to a single land in the 
empire," asked a preacher in 1562, ' where wars, ravages, 
and high prices, taxes and socages, and everything 
in the nature of imposts is not constantly increasing 
owing to the pomp, extravagance, dissipation, craze 
for building of the princes, the bad management, and 
fraiidulence of the councillors and officials, and excessive 
gratuities to those who do not deserve them ? ' 

In Saxony the Elector Maurice had been able to 
prevail on his Estates to take over 600,000 gulden of 
the debts of the territorial prince. ^ Then when in 
1553 the Elector Augustus succeeded to the government 
he found a load of debts of 1,667,078 gulden ; ten 
years later the amount exceeded 2,000,000, and yet 
in between, so Augustus reckoned in 1563, the taxes 
on drink had brought him in 1,900,000 gulden, and 
his exchequers and mines had brought him 4,382,583 
gulden. ' Where it has all gone to,' he said, ' God only 
knows.'. He made up his mind that henceforth he 
would look after his affairs better, or else ' our Lord 
God will be angry, and I shall not be in good repute with 
many people.' ^ 

He increased the revenues of his domains, extended 
the mine regalia over the whole country, and endeavoured 

^ Hausser, 274 ; see our remarks, vol. x. 516. 

2 Kills, Krnestinische Finanzen, 3. 

•' V. Weber's Archiv fiir sdchsische Gesch., vii. 220-221. 


as far as possible to establish princely supremacy over 
the whole industry of the country. In order to convert 
the iron and salt works, which had hitherto been carried 
on to the account of the Treasury, into a government 
monopoly, he forbade the import of foreign iron and 
salt, and endeavoured to raise the price of both these 
commodities as much as possible by means of legal 
coercion.^ As with the chase, so too with fishing, 
everything was to be electoral property. In 1568 he 
issued a command that on the banks of all ponds and 
streams, at intervals of a thousand ells, a gallows should 
be erected, and that anyone caught fishing there should 
without mercy be hanged on the nearest gallows. In 
1572 'some defiant criminals who had been guilty of 
fishing ' were punished by the gallows.'- The country 
was taxed more and more heavily. To the repeated 
prayer of the Provincial Estates that the Elector would 
reduce the expenses of his court, there came invariably 
the answer that ' the court and household had been 
curtailed in every direction.' ^ When in 1565 Augustus 
came forward with fresh demands, the Estates signified 
to him that ' the subjects were beggared by the quantity 
of aids and taxes, besides which the Meissen and copper 
mine circle had been burdened with a fresh coal-tax, 
and all the subjects were in such abject poverty that 
it was impossible to consent to another tax." In April 
1567 a meeting of a committee advised the Elector to 
remember that ' the last taxes due, in spite of every 
effort, could not be collected. Owing to continuous 
failure of crops and to high prices, most of the poor 

^ Falke in the Zeitschr. fur deutsche KuUurgesch. (year 1873), p. 393. 

- Ibid. Kurfiirst August, 122. 

^ Ibid. SteuerbeunlliguTigen, xxxi. 138, 151. 


people had scarcely any bread for themselves and 
their children, and were obliged to beg for it from others.' 
The following year the knights and the towns of the 
Voigtland petitioned the Elector to be content with 
the drink- tax, and to let the land-tax (Schocksteuer) 
drop out, ' in consideration of the great distress and 
poverty of the people, who were reduced to eating 
saw-dust and clay, and many of whom were dying of 
hunger and obliged to leave their holdings/ ^ In 1579 
Augustus arbitrarily burdened the corn trade with a 
fresh tax of six pfennig on every bushel that was 
bought. ' This tax,' the Estates complained in 1582, 
' had brought poverty to its knees more than any other ; 
the poor were praying as loud as ever they could pray 
that the Elector would in pity for their misery abolish 
the hated rates and the bushel tax at once.' Augustus 
granted the prayer, but only on condition that the 
land-tax on ground and soil, movable property and 
industry should be considerably raised : 150,000 florins 
were to be returned to him yearly.- The Elector had 
looked well after his personal interest ; he left behind 
him on his death a treasure of several millions ; ? but 
the love of his fleeced and impoverished subjects he 
did not take with him to the grave.'* 

^ Falke, Steuerbeivilligungen, xxxi. 141, 144, 145. In a Torgau Chronicle 
it was related of the year 1580 that ' many people had been driven by 
poverty and hunger to eat the husks in the brewing-house.' Arnold, i. 792. 

^ Falke, Stetierbeivilligungen, xxxi. 151-152 ; Kurfiirst August, 287. 
Weisse, iv. 160-173. 

•' By Weisse, iv. 354, the treasure is actually estimated at seven milUon 

* Archduke Ferdinand of Tyrol wrote thereon, on February 6, 1586 : 
' Sui enim subditi et potiores quidem ex nobilitate ipsi alias infensi sunt, 
prouti non multis abhinc annis plurimi insidias in ipsum struentes veneno 
etiam interimere conati, qui deinde detecto scelere ac frauds, extremo 


Under his successors this treasure disappeared and 
the electoral debts became more and more considerable 
from year to year ; the taxes and imposts also greater. 
' The subjects/ wrote the court preacher Paul Jenisch, 
in 1591, ' are so denuded of all means, that they barely 
have life left them/ ^ ' Taxation, burdens, fresh tricks 
and dodges for getting money go on increasing,' said 
Nicholas Selnekker, 'but the devil takes it all away 
again, and yet the lords have no foreign enemy/ ~ 

Duke William of Saxe- Weimar, who after the death 
of the Elector Christian I. (f 1591) held the regency till 
1601, during the minority of Christian 11. , was in all 
the affairs of the empire more deserving of honour and 
respect than any other prince of the century, but he 
was a prince ' who was nothing less than economical 
and a good manager/ Whereas the revenues from 
the different exchequers of his duchy ought to have 
given him a yearly sum of over 80,000 gulden, they sank, 
through bad management and fraudulent deahngs of 
the demesne tenants, to 30,000 gulden, which could not 
be paid by the occupiers but only by borrowed money. 
The chancellor and the councillors in 1590 admonished 
the Duke as follows : ' Your Princely Grace constantly 
spends large sums of money on horses : we reckon that 
every young horse costs 300 thalers, and most of them 
die before they can be ridden or used ; also your Grace 
might well desist from superfluous "festivities, journey- 
ings to and fro, banquets and such like, for by these 
things the treasury is drained.' On the whole the 

supplicio affecti sunt.' v. Bezold, ii. 344. The Venetian ambassador Zane 
wrote on March 4. 1586, to the Doge that Augustus had died ' con poco 
sentimento delH suditi [a gap : i quah ?] furono sempre oltragiati durante la 
sua vita e della prima moglie, soreUa del re di Danemarcea.' v. Bezold, ii. 353. 
' Annales Annaberg., 45. - Auslegung des CI Psalms, 360. 


Duke within the last three years ' was over three tons 
of gold to the bad.' ' The latest accounts show that 
this summer's revenue from land- and drink-taxes, is 
50,000 gulden below the expenses, and it is presumable 
that after Michaelmas things will not be any better, 
but that the deficit will be greater. If every year 
we have either to make good a ton of gold or else be 
in debt, your Grace must in the end be ruined, for the 
whole of your ordinary revenue would not suffice to 
pay the interest of that sum. If, then, the poor 
country people are fleeced and drained by taxes, you will 
have to reckon with God's heavy punishment and 
displeasure, which will fall on master and man. It is 
uncertain, moreover, whether the money can be obtained 
from the people. And even if they were wilhng to 
give it they are no longer able to do so. If the poor 
are oppressed with hunting-dues, building-taxes, service 
money, double drink-taxes, it will be giving God cause 
to pour out His wrath more heavily upon us. This evil 
dilemma, however, can be got over with one word, that 
is, parsimony, economy, good management, first and 
foremost in the personal expenses of the prince, and 
in the whole court hfe.' ^ 

In the Electorate in 1601, the Estates, notwith- 
standing that they were well acquainted with the 
miserable, penniless condition of the people, had 
consented to the land-tax being raised by half its 
former amount. They did, however, maintain intact 
the regulation that the game preserves and hunting 
grounds were not to be further multiphed. Then when 
in 1605 Christian II. again exacted higher taxes, the 

' M.osQV,PatriotischesArchiv,nl215-'2M. Kius, Ernestinische Finanzen, 
xxvi. 133-134. 



theologian Polycarpus Leiser spoke in favour of the 
government in a sermon preached during the provincial 
session of the Diet. ' The high and mighty rulers/ he 
said, ' were the eyes of the whole country. If there was 
anything wrong with our eyes we did not peer into them 
and poke at them overmuch, but we covered them with a 
clean green shade and did what else we could to stop 
the flow of matter ; thus it was that subjects must 
cover up the defects of their rulers and imitate pious 
obedient children, who willingly do that which they 
see written in their parents' eyes ; they do not go on 
disputing about it, but feel sure that their parents have 
good and sufficient reasons for what they command.' ^. 
The Estates, however, represented to the Elector that 
' the earlier documentary assurance had not been 
fulfilled, but that, on the contrary, game had every- 
where been multiplied, new preserves had been made 
and old ones extended, and everywhere the hunting 
and forest officials encroached in the most arbitrary 
manner on the jurisdiction and rights of the individual.' 
In return for a fresh assurance that these grievances 
should be at once and finally abohshed, the land-tax 
was raised by one-third, and the drink-tax was doubled. 
On every barrel forty groschen had now to be paid 
instead of twenty, or indeed of ten before the year 1555. 
Besides which a special tax of five groschen was to be 
paid on every bucket of wine till the year 1611. Never- 
theless in 1609 the Elector's debts had again mounted 
up to such an extent that he did not know how to get 
out of his difficulties without the help of the Estates. 
The Estates, he said, must furnish enough ready money 
to pay the expenses of the court for two years to come. 

^ Landtagsfredigt, 35, 39. 


The councillors, however, warned him against summoning 
a Diet, for he would then be required to give an account 
of how it had come about that since the last Diet, in 
spite of the heightened taxes, the treasury debts had 
risen so much. They reminded the Elector emphatically 
that in the years 1601 and 1605 a larger sum had been 
granted than ever before, even in times when the whole 
country had been in danger from warlike enemies. 
This had so drained the land that the justices in the 
country and the councillors in the towns had been 
obhged to use great pressure in order to get the taxes 
that were due from the poor people. ' If the Provincial 
Estates were to learn that the Elector had not only 
granted considerable sums to subjects of his own, but 
also to numbers of foreigners, whereby, in addition to 
large payments to jewellers and merchants he had 
heaped debts on the treasury, intending to refer these 
again to the Diet, they (the Estates) would be hard to 
move as regards raising further taxes.' Regardless of 
this admonition, the Elector called his Estates together 
and demanded that ' the faithful subjects ' should 
not only go on paying the already existing taxes for 
nine years more, but also that the tax on drink should 
again be materially increased. This time, however, 
the Estates seemed bent on refusing any more taxation, 
for ' everywhere there was nothing but ruin and retro- 
gression in everything ' ; nevertheless, after lengthy 
negotiations, another increase of the land-tax was 
sanctioned under the solemn promise from the Elector 
that ' he would incur no more debts in future and 
would not draw any more on the treasury without the 
consent of the Estates.' But, notwithstanding this 
promise, on his death, in 1611, his debts were found 

X 2 


to have again seriously increased.^ The court main- 
tenance at Dresden at that time swallowed up half of 
the revenues from all the exchequers in the Electorate.^ 
The court preachers, Michael Niederstetter and Paul 
Jenisch, in their funeral sermons on the Elector, pointed 
out plainly enough ' the oppression and burdens of all 
sorts which had been tolerably hard and sour to the 
poor people, especially in the heavy and dear times when 
it was a hard matter to get even their daily bread/ 
The Elector, so Jenisch opined, had wished to avoid 
all injustice and oppression of the poor, and all financing 
and wrong-doing, if only there had not been people who 
thrust themselves in and made it impossible for him to 
carry out his wishes/ ^ 

In other principalities the condition of things was 
no better. 

Duke Ernest 11. of Liineburg spent about double 
his revenue on the court and the government. In the 
year 1600-1601 these revenues amounted to 37,000 
gulden, the next year to 35,000 gulden, while the 
expenditure in these two years came to 122,000 gulden ; 
he bequeathed to the little principality debts to the 
amount of 527,000 gulden.^ 

At the court of Duke Francis I. of Lauenburg the 
expenditure reached such a height that in 1567, when 
the youngest daughter was to be married to Duke 

^ Falke, Steuerbewilligungen, xxxi. 110 S. ; and Falke, ' Verhandlungen 
Christians II. mit seinen Landstanden, 1601-1609,' in the Zeitsclir. filr 
deutsche KuUurgesch. (year 1873), pp. 80-91. Weisse, iv. 356. Week, 

" Muller, Forschimgen, i. 199-206, 209-212. 

^ Drei christliche Predigten (the first sermon at Bl. D-., the second at 
Bh D^ 

■• Havemann, ii. 521-522. 


Wenceslaus of Tesclien, there was no money to pay for 
her outfit, ' Our brother Duke Francis and his Grace's 
wife/ Queen Dorothy of Denmark, on September 9 of 
the said year, informed the Electress of Saxony, ' have 
written to us to ask us to help them to get clothes for 
their daughter, who is to have the Duke of Silesia. We 
have answered that they, as the parents, must find the 
way out of the difficulty, and that it would be better 
for them to spare the poor child some of their own 
money, which will otherwise only be lost or badly used. 
But we know well that no admonition is of any use. 
Our brother goes on in the same way and squanders 
all he can lay hands on, and his children are now growing 
up, so that indeed there is need for good counsel as to 
how things are to be really mended. Herewith we send 
your Grace eighteen ells of " Blyandt '' to give the 
young lady from us, and to make her a full dress ; we 
feared that if we sent the stuf! to the parents it might 
not reach the young lady." ^ 

In Pomerania also, ' through the pomp of the court 
and the pressure of unfavourable financial conditions ' 
under John Frederick of Pomerania-Stettin (1569-1600), 
and Ernest Ludwig of Pomerania- Wolgast and his 
successors, the debts of both reigns rose in an unheard-of 
measure. The result for the country was an increased 
burden of taxation, fought over in continuous battles 
between the Duke and the Estates.- 

' V. Weber, Kurfiirstin Anna, 45-46, 

2 ** See Spahn, Verfassungs- unci Wirtschaftsgesch. des Herzogtums 
Pommern, p. 176 ff. In order to diminish the load of debts, John Frederick, 
at Riigenwalde in 1571, and again at Wollin in 1575, was granted four 
more taxes to be paid the four next years at Martinmas. Notwithstanding 
that in 1580, after two years' pause, the Treptow Diet had sanctioned 
three fresh taxes, the Estates in 1585 were met with another pile of 


In Mecklenburg the private property and tlie 
treasury funds of Duke John Albert (1547-1570), 
consisting chiefly of sequestered convent goods, were 
either pawned or in a state of ruin, and owing to bad 
management they brought in very little. In 1553 
the debts of the country had risen to 900,000 gulden. 
' The affairs of our state,' wrote the Duke in 1568, 
' have been most wretched for many years ; the reason 
is that our councillors are deceivers and liars.' Under 
the most crushing conditions he raised loans, but he 
was only able to pay interest to a few creditors, and to 
a very few servants their salaries ; in foreign lands he 
w^as loudly reviled as a tardy paymaster.^ When in 
1571 at a Provincial Diet at Giistrow he asked for a 
fresh tax the nobles said : ' Fifteen or sixteen years ago 
the Estates, by taking over the debts of the country, 
had completely freed the princely houses and exchequers ; 
by this proceeding and by other burdens, as well as by 
the dearness of the times, they had been entirely drained, 
and the poor peasants were impoverished and had 
nothing but dry bread to eat, while the territorial lords 
were sumptuously supplied with princely incomes.' 
To this they received the answer : ' The former oppres- 
sions had not been so injurious to the knights (the 
foremost of the Estates) as to the lesser classes ; the 
lower and middle classes had been most especially 
impoverished : the knights must therefore now exert 
themselves and come to the rescue : other princes 

debts of 136,666 gulden, which they took over entirely into their own 
management ; in consequence of this the sum which they had under- 
taken to refund, within a period of fifteen years, out of taxes 
not required to meet the treasury debts, rose to 472,426 gulden 
(p. 156). 

' Lisch, Jdhrbiicher, viii. 84, 88 note ; i. 114, and xxiii. 79-80. 


had been as deeply involved in debts and had been 
freed by their Estates/ At a Provincial Diet in 1572 
John Albert was present in person, and made known 
to the Estates that * since their last assembly the 
princely debts had still further augmented ; it was not 
a question of whether they were bound to give help : 
it was simply a question of how and by what means the 
money should be got together.' The Estates replied : 
' The country had rehed on the prince's written promise 
that the Estates, after they had this once taken the 
debts on themselves, should never again be troubled 
with further demands, and all classes from the highest 
to the lowest had exerted themselves to the utmost ; 
now, however, they were completely drained out ; the 
knights, who were supposed to be a free Estate, had 
levied money, corn and horses, and they must now come 
to the help of their poor impoverished peasants. How 
strenuously the towns and the peasants had exerted 
themselves might be seen from their ruined houses ; 
many of them had already sold up, others would soon 
follow suit.' The towns said that ' it was patent to 
sight that their poverty and distress were extreme.' 
The delegates from Rostock said that their town was 
on the verge of ruin, already burdened with a debt of 
400,000 gulden ; ' the town of Giistrow complained 
especially of large debts and much poverty among the 
inhabitants ; people who were credited with good 
means sent their children out in the dark to beg for 
bread from door to door.' This last complaint evoked 
the princely remark that ' Giistrow received good food 
from the court, the population was increasing, and 
several new buildings had been erected ; its poverty 
came from the high prices, and other towns were as 


badly oiT.^ On the demand that the preachers also 
should contribute to paying of! the ducal debts, the 
superintendent Conrad Becker, on June 30, 1572, 
addressed to the territorial princes a petition to the 
following effect : ' The abbeys and cloisters from which 
the poor preachers wdio have spent their patrimony 
in study, ought to receive support, are done away with ; 
the preachers have to suffer hunger and want in their 
ministry ; they have been obliged in these hard times to 
pawn or sell their books and their clothes, in order to 
buy bread for their children and save themselves from 
starvation ; so that the preachers have nothing of their 
own ; where then shall they get, money to help the 
Duke ? ' ~ When the country towns were called 
upon in 1582 to provide coaches and horses for Duke 
Ulrich's journey to the Augsburg Diet, the prevaihng 
poverty-stricken condition came out strongly : most 
of the towns complained of penury, distress and heavy 
loads of debts ; many scarcely possessed horses enough 
for their farming operations ; others had no money, 
' only one coach,' and very few horses to send/^ At a 
meeting of deputies at Wismar in 1610, Vicke von 
Strahlendorf said that he had attended Provincial 
Diets for forty years, and that they had always be- 
friended the princes ; in his lifetime at least 1,400,000 
gulden had been raised by taxes, besides trust money 
which had been advanced ; the grievances ought to 
have been redressed, but there had been no result at 
all/ * At the court of John VII. of Mecklenburg- 
Giistrow the debts became so enormous that in 1590 

^ Franck, AUes und neues Mecklenburg, Book x. 192-197, 219. 
- Schirrmacher, ii. 292-294. ^ Lisch, Juhrbiicher, ix. 173. 

^ Franck, Book xii. 116. 


the Duke told his Estates he could no longer hold 
out in his distressed condition and that he should leave 
the country. He ended by committing suicide. His 
widow was allowed two gulden a week for her own 
maintenance and the education of her children and 
thirty-three shilhngs a week for payment of servants ; 
she lived on at Liibz in a tumble-down house, without 
beds and linen. ^ 

Among the lands most deeply involved in debt was 
the Electorate of Brandenburg since the time of Joachim 
II. At the death of his father, Joachim I., in 1535, the 
finances of the Mark were found to be in good order, 
but already in 1540 the Estates were obhged to take 
over territorial debts to the amount of a milhon gulden ; 
in 1542, 519,000 gulden were added to this sum, and in 
the following year not even the interest on the debts 
could be paid. ' The country," wrote the councillor 
Eustachius von Schheben to Joachim, ' has lost all 
faith in your Electoral Grace; securities are not to be 
obtained.' The Church goods were all squandered. 
Wherever he could the Elector took loans from his 
subjects, and thus found himself compelled, as security 
for the interest and arrears, not only to mortgage his 
treasury funds and tax revenues, but also to renounce 
important rights and privileges in favour of his creditors. 
Thus, for instance, in 1541 he made over the jurisdiction 
of the town of Tangermiinde to the magistrates in 
return for a loan of 1000 gulden; that of Werden, with 
the income of the street taxes, for 800 gulden ; and the 
jurisdiction of Neustadt-Eberswalde for 200 gulden. By 
the year 1549 there was not in the whole of the crown 
lands a single district in full possession of the Elector, 

• Lesker, 73-74. 


who acknowledged that he had been obhged to borrow 
money on ' unchristian and ruinous usury/ The new 
pile of debts amounted in the same year 1549 to If 
million, to which sum by 1564 there were added 
no less than 1,700,000 to 1,800,000 thalers ; the land 
became completely bankrupt, as the Elector went 
on raising fresh loans at usurious interest ; at his 
death in 1571 his debts amounted to more than 2 J 
milhons ; in 1572 the country had to pay 3,689,980 
thalers/ Towards the end of the century, said the 
Elector Joachim Frederick, the electoral lands were so 
greatly burdened with heavy debts that it was a difficult 
matter to pay even the interest on them, let alone the 
capital. 2 

In Brunswick, through over-sumptuousness of court 
state and all sorts of wanton expenditure, ' the tale 
of debts after the death of Duke Julius was most 
disastrous/ Juhus, a good administrator, who had 
accumulated wealth especially by farming the mines, 
on his death in 1589 left his successor, Henry Julius, 
a treasure of nearly a million gulden. The new Duke, 
however, kept up great outward pomp, and a numerous 
staff of attendants most superbly apparelled, gave 
frequent costly banquets, displays of fireworks, mas- 
querades, dressed his mercenary troops in uniforms 
of unheard-of costliness, and once in 1605 spent, on 
a single muster of these troops, the sum of 30,000 
thalers. When he died in 1613, not only had his 
father's fortune entirely disappeared without any- 

• Isaacsohn, 45 ff. Winter, Mdrlcische Stdnde, xix. 550-554, and xx. 
542-545. Kius, Ernestinische Finanzen, 4. See our remarks, vol. vi. 
p. 65 f. 

- Kohler, XX, 255. 


one's knowing what had become of the money, but 
there was also a debt of 1,200,000 thalers on the prmcely 
treasury ; more than one nobleman had with the 
treasury an account of a whole ton of gold.^ Under 
Duke Frederick Ulrich there followed a complete 
disruption of the whole State organisation ; the Duke 
was in such a constant state of intoxication, that 
he could not easily pull himself together and collect 
his thoughts. His unworthy favourites, Anton and 
Joachim von Streithorst, and their associates kept 
him in a perpetual state of drunkenness and assumed 
entire dominion over the duchy. For the gratification 
of their luxurious extravagance they squandered first 
the treasury funds, and then the convent goods ; 
they devastated the forests and farmed out the minting 
places, whereby the most inferior money became 
current ; all prices rose enormously and foreign trade 
ceased almost entirely. All in vain did the widowed 
Duchess beseech her son in the most touching manner 
to look into his affairs and see whether all was well 
in the government, or whether ' the poor were not 
being fleeced and trodden down, ecclesiastical pro- 
perty tampered with, and the innocent oppressed.' ~ 
In spite of the universal poverty the Council of Hanover, 
on February 14, 1618, organised in honour of the 
Duke a ' Shrove- Tuesday festival,' the expenses of 
which amounted to nearly 5000 thalers. ^ 

As in North Germany, so too in most of the southern 
districts, especially since the middle of the sixteenth 

' Bodemann, Herzog Julius, ■ 223. Siiittler, Geschichte Hannovers, i. 
331 ff., 365, 377, 382. Henke, Calixtus, i. 42. Havemann, ii. 504-507. 

- Spittler, Oesch. von Hannover, i. 390 ff. Schlegel, ii. 377-378, 656-657. 
Neues vaterldndisches Archiv, iv. 101-102. 

•* Zeitschr. des Histor. Vereins fiir Niedermchsen (year 1873), p. 24 note. 


century, State organisation was in an anarchical con- 
dition. ^ 

Concerning the Palatinate during the reign of the 
Elector Otto Henry (I 1559), the Countess Palatine 
Maria, wife of the later Elector Frederick IIL, wrote 
to Albert of Prussia : ' When Otto Henry dies, we shall 
find a sum of debts twice as big as the whole revenue 
of our principality." ~ In 1562 Frederick could not 
manage to meet his son-in-law, John Frederick of 
Saxony, in Thuringia for want of money. He could 
not, he said, ' pay for hotel accommodation on the 
journey.' 'With care and anxiety, early and late, I 
have to think and contrive how I shall be able to keep 
faith and promises at the forthcoming Frankfort Fair.' ^ 
Under Elector Frederick IV. the debts increased to 
such an amount that the Electoral Master of the 
Exchequer said in 1599 that the Treasury had lost 
all credit. All the same, the court household of the 
spendthrift Frederick IV. consumed yearly, amongst 
other articles, 400 hogsheads of wine, 2000 malters of 
corn, 2500 malters of spelt, 9000 malters of oats. Under 
his successor, Frederick V., the last resources of the 
land were exhausted by an expenditure surpassing 
all that had gone before, and the princely treasury was 
overwhelmed with debts.^ 

In the ' Aufzeichnungen einer fiirstlichen Person''^ 
of the end of the sixteenth or the beginning of the 

^ The unfavoui'able condition of the financial affairs of Ferdinand 
II. of Tyrol, especially after 1580, is exhaustively treated by Hirn, i. 
644 If. 

^ See our remarks, vol. xi. p. 131. 

■' Kluckhohn. Briefe, i. 328, 334 : cf. 30. 

* See our remarks, vol. i\. 213 f., vol. x. 516. 

* Diary of a princely personage. 


seventeenth century, the following remarks occur 
concerning the bankrupt state of the land : ' The 
houses are empty, money has flown, debts have in- 
creased, the subjects are so harassed and impoverished 
that they can neither work for us nor for their children : 
they have mortgaged their lands, disposed of many 
of their wagons and carts, their cows and sheep are 
in the hands of the usurers, &c., &c. Farms are 
neglected, dowries swallowed up, all rents are un- 
certain, many tithes are lost, dues and pensions are 
unpaid, the incomes have dwindled down. Great 
sums have been borrowed at usurious interest. In 
our distress we have so far been unable to stretch 
a helping hand to our poor subjects who day and 
night have to rush and run about for us — as is our 
duty. Wherewith shall we pay the servants and the 
poor people who daily murmur and sigh ? How 
shall we save these people from hunger and rags, 
that they be no longer their neighbours' laughing- 
stock ? ' 1 

How manifold were the grievances and wrongs of 
the people under the insolvent princes is seen, for 
instance, from a promise made by the Margrave Edward 
Fortunatus of Baden to the Provincial Estates in 1589, 
that ' the burdens introduced under the Margrave 
Philip (1569-1588), such as salt money, socage money, 
oats money, burial money, fresh-food money, increased 
body and death dues, fresh wine taxes, fresh taxes on 
swine feeding in the woods, and all else that in these 
later times had been imposed, contrary to old tradition, 
should be abohshed ; but that the older taxes, and 

' Contributed by v. Weechin ih.eZeitschr. fiir die Gesch. des Oberrheins, 
xxxvi. 166-169. 


the salt monojDoly, should remain m force until the 
existing debts were half or wholly paid off/ In 1582 
the Provincial Estates had sanctioned an income-tax 
on both movable and immovable property, on capital 
and on loans, a tax of 8 batzen on every 100 guldens' 
worth ; in 1585 they had raised this tax to 12 batzen ; 
in 1588 they had taken over 300,000 gulden of the 
princely debts. i ' What the people suffered under 
Edward Fortunatus is beyond description.' Con- 
temporaries who condemned the iniquities of princely 
life with due severity, pointed especially to the ' verily 
appalhng and beyond all measure abominable life ' of 
this Margrave, and asked : ' Where such a life could 
be led year after year, for years long in the holy empire, 
without any interference from the supreme authorities, 
and no cry of horror from all the princes, must not the 
condition of the State have been unspeakably foul and 
rotten ? ' " By drunkenness, by senseless expenditure, 
and by low excesses, Edward Fortunatus brought himself 
to such a state of poverty that he was driven at length 
to try and help himself up again by highway robbery 
and falsification of coin. ' He rode out with his servants 
on marauding expeditions,' says a trustworthy report 
of the year 1595, ' he hid in cornfields and sprang out 
to rob travellers without the least shame or compunction, 
he overturned merchants' conveyances and took from 
them whatever he could. He did all this freely and 
openly, had the plundered people bound up, counted 
out in their presence the money he had robbed them 
of, and divided it as he pleased among his robber 

' V. Weech, ' Badische Landtagsabschiede,' in the Zeitschr. jiir die 
GeschicMe des Oberrheins, xxix. 342, 354, 356, 359, 362-365. 
- Von den vielen Anzekhen, see above p. 263. n. 1. 


associates. Life even was sometimes taken on these 
occasions, as in the case of an ItaHan shopkeeper who 
was shot. With the things that he had taken from his 
victims the Margrave adorned his castle.' False coining 
he carried on with the help of a ruined Italian silk 
vendor, Francesco Muscatelli. This man, with a ' special 
metalHc mixture ' of his own invention, made Ferdinand 
thalers, debased thalers, and ' Portuguese ' worth ten 
ducats, which were put in circulation at the Frankfort 
Fair. The Margrave used to be present himself 
Avhen the coining was going on, and worked with his 
own hand the press procured from Augsburg. In 
order to get stamp-cutters he had recourse to coercion, 
and he considered all means allowable.' He did not 
even shrink fjom attempts at assassination. He had 
intended taking the life of one of his cousins, when he 
was a guest at his table, by means of a poisoned 
water concocted by Muscatelli. The crime was to be 
perpetrated when his cousin Margrave Ernest Frederick 
came to Ettlingen to see the representation of the 
' Passion.' This poisonous water, of which a consider- 
able quantity was found at Baden in the castle, took 
effect on members of people, as contemporary statements 
testify.' ' The Margrave Fortunatus also resorted to 
diabolical magical means for putting an end to the 
Margrave Ernest Frederick.' ' This was to be accomp- 
lished by means of a httle image made especially for the 
purpose, representing the person of Ernest Frederick. 
For this evil work he intended to obtain the services of 
Paul Pestalozzi from the Grisons. ' He had taken an oath 
from this man and pledged himself with him to the act 
of villainy, and also, at the sacrifice of their souls and their 
salvation, they had bound themselves for all eternity to 


Satan/ i ' The Margrave has sunk to such depths/ 
wrote Dr. Franz Born of Madrigal on January 28, 1595, 
to Duke Wilham of Bavaria, ' that he consorts with the 
most wanton people, buffoons, bawds, freebooters, necro- 
mancers, false coiners and such hke. And although he 
has had honourable chancellors and administrators, the 
most light-minded people have been employed in the 
administration of justice, people to whom no injustice 
was too great to be committed. Through all this the 
Margrave has come down to such depths of iniquity 
that he does not scruple openly to profane the Sacra- 
ments of Christ to horrible magic uses, as I heard 
complained of from the lips of one of his chaplains. He 
wanted to obtain the chaplain's help for the devilish 
consecration of a ring, a magnet stone, a bewitched book, 
a picture, in order to put an end to the Margrave Ernest 
Frederick.' ' So that in sinfulness against God he and 
his people have desecrated all the Holy Sacraments 
in a way which I would rather tell by word of mouth 
than put down in writing ; they have openly invoked 
the devil and committed such sinful impieties that it 
would be no wonder if God were to destroy the whole 
land.' ' The Margrave's followers,' Franz Born goes on, 
'also behaved most insolently and arrogantly in the towns, 
so that all over the country we were all as it were sitting 
on a volcano, and the poor people were in a constant 
agony of fear. And at last nobody received any payment, 
nobody had anything left, and not even the necessary 
wax and oil could be bought for the service of God.' - 

' Grundlicher, Wahrliafter unci Bestendiger Bericht : Was sicli zwischen 
dem Markgrafen Ernst Friedrich zu Baden, die, und zwischen Markgraf 
Eduardi Fortunati Dienerschafft und ihm selbst verloffen, <&!C. (1595). Of. 
Vidpius, viii. 397-400 ; Haberlin, xix. 28-45. 

- Vulpius, iii. 175, 176. 


In the Margraviate of Ansbacli-Bayreutli in 1557 
the debts amounted to three times as much as the 
revenue. And yet in the same year the Margrave 
George Frederick formed the plan of erecting the new 
Plassenburg ; he spent on this building a srmi larger 
than the whole revenue of the land could refund in four 
years. In 1560 the debts of the small principality had 
risen to 2,500,000 gulden ; the court household con- 
sisted at the time of nearly 200 persons. The taxes 
levied on the people were so unbearable that in 1594 
the town questioned ' whether they would not be better 
off under the Turks ? ^ 

In Wiirtemberg in 1550, Duke Uhich had left 
behind him debts to the amount of 1,600,000 gulden, 
which entailed payment of a yearly interest of 80,000 
gulden. In 1554 the interest which Duke Christopher 
had to pay was calculated at more than 86,000 gulden. ^ 
The country in this year become responsible for the 
sum of 1,200,000 gulden, but after the lapse of eleven 
years the treasury debts had more than doubled.'^ 
In want of fresh taxes, Christopher wrote in 1564 
to his councillors : ' Everybody knows what all the 
surrounding lands do for their lords and rulers to help 
pay off their debts. The imperial hereditary lands in 
Alsatia, Sundgau, Breisgau, Hochberg, Hagenau took 
over the whole sum of debts, and soon afterwards 
voted 300,000 gulden of ready money, and in addition 
to this levied a tax of one rapp on every measure of 
wine, which comes to one batzen for five measures. 
Bavaria some years ago levied a tax which brought in 

' Voigt, * Wilhelm von Grumbach,' in Von Raumer's Histor. Taschenbuch, 
vii. 163. Lang, iii. 19, 261, 277, 295. See our remarks, xi. p. 132. 
'^ Kugler, i. 292. -^ Reyscher, 17'\ Ixx. 



yearly over 200,000 gulden, and at the last Provincial 
Diet she took over the whole debts together with the 
charges thereon. The Palatinate gave the Elector over 
600,000 gulden in two lots. The Margraviate of Baden 
has agreed to increase the rate of their existing imposts 
for fifteen years, and I am told, has even consented to 
new assessments. Hesse for sixteen years made over to 
its lord the " tax on drink " as they call it, which brings in 
50,000 gulden a year, besides the other large grant which 
the Estates had before bestowed. Saxony and other 
countries acted in a similar manner.'^ The councillors 
rephed to the Duke in two memorandums : ' The court 
expenses ' they said, ' must imperatively be reduced ; 
they had gone on rising during his reign to such an extent 
that neither the Duke nor the impoverished country 
could any longer defray them. There must therefore 
be a thoroughgoing change and diminution "especially 
as regards buildings, provisions, paying other rulers' 
debts, wine parties and toasts, studs, tapestry, house- 
furniture, castellans, bears, lions, game, swans, pea- 
cocks, money loans, hunting-expenses, farm and kitchen 
service " : the exhausted country, after all that it had 
already done, could not with any propriety be further 
appealed to.' ^ None the less, the country, in 1565, in 
spite of all the grants made since 1554, took over the sum 
of 1,200,000 gulden and pledged itself also to go on paying 
the interest of the sum.^ After the death of Christopher 
in 1568, things became even worse under Dukes Ludwig, 
Frederick, and John Frederick. The land was yet to 
learn what ' extravagance really was." The pleasure- 
house built by Duke Ludwig at Stuttgart cost three tons 

' Kugler, ii. 582. " Ihid., 584. 

» Reyscher, 17^', Ixx ff. 


of gold.i In 1583 the Estates took over 600,000 gulden 
besides the interest.- But more and more debts 
continually followed. Duke Frederick was bent on 
emulating the splendour of the courts in Paris and in 
London which he had visited, and on his accession he 
brought French noblemen, financiers, and comedians 
into Wiirtemberg. After obtaining, in 1603, the honour 
so long sought by him in vain, of investiture with the 
Order of the Garter, he repeatedly sent deputations to 
London with costly presents on the occasions of the 
festivals of the Order, and he himself kept the festival 
annually with great magnificence. In 1605 the festivities 
at Stuttgart lasted eight whole days.-^ In 1599 the 
Estates had urgently implored him ' not to embark in 
any unnecessary expenses on court display and to curtail 
the superfluous outlay on salaries and amusements.' 
But that very year he had held a carnival at immense 
cost, with processions of all sorts, allegorical devices, 
tourneys, and costly fireworks which greatly enfeebled 
the resources of his treasury and of the church goods ' ; 
Svithin six years,' the Estates complained, 'they had 
granted him sixteen tons of gold ; his subjects could not 
pay any more taxes.' ^ In 1605 they complained again of 
the Duke's * unseemly extravagance and luxury in all 
directions.' Frederick answered : ' Who spends all the 
money, if not the people themselves ? ' To the further 
complaint of the Estates that the staff of sick nurses 
ordered by Duke Ludwig had not been provided, they 
were answered : ' Thev had no need to trouble about 
that ; it could not be done ; he was not going to provide 
nurses.' When the Estates gave fuller details as to the 

1 Spittler, Gesch. Wirtembergs, 190. - Reyscher, ii. 333. 

=• Pfaff, Gesch. Wirtembergs, \i\ 41-42. ' Sattler, v. 230. 

y 2 


districts in which tolls, taxes, dues, and socages had 
been raised, their statements were flatly denied : 
*' Nothing had been raised ; whoever said so was not 
speaking the truth. The people often complained 
without cause/ The Duke did not deny that ' the 
Darmstadt district had been deprived of the hunting and 
preserving rights which it had enjoyed from time im- 
memorial, and that in Wildbad, contrary to old tradition, 
a tax of one kreuzer had now to be paid on every trunk 
of wood, but he said : ' Peasants have no business to 
hunt ; we have made fresh arrangements about forest 
management ; let those who want wood give what is 
right and fair/ The complaints of the town and district 
of Brackenheim that the allowance of wine they used 
to have at harvest time was no longer given them, was 
dismissed with the answer : ' We have abolished super- 
flous and incessant drinking, as is right and fitting ; 
the people have got nothing to say on the subject/ i 
Only at his own court would Frederick consent to no cur- 
taihng, and the Estates were not to say a word to him, not 
to complain but simply to pay up, and levy fresh taxes. 
In 1607 he obHged them to pay another princely debt 
of 1,100,000 gulden ; had they not, they were told for 
their comfort, taken over 3,000,000 under the two 
last Dukes.2 The following year, when Frederick 
died, the deficit amounted to nearly one and a half 
millions ; the cofiers were so exhausted that all disburse- 
ments had to be made with borrowed money. ^ This, 
however, did not hinder his successor, John Frederick, 

^ ' Complaints of the 25 January, 1605, and Resolutions of the Duke ' 
in Moser, Patriotisches Archiv, i. 332-342. 

2 Sattler, v. 276. Spittler, Oesch. Wirt^mlergs, 220-221. Pfaff, 
Oesch. Wirtembergs, ii. 34-39. 

^ Pfaff, ii^ 54-55. 


in 1609, on the occasion of his marriage with Barbara 
Sophia, daughter of the Elector Joachim Frederick of 
Brandenburg, from entertaining hke a very Croesus/^ 
Duke Frederick's 'ahnighty minister,' Matthew Enzhn, 
after languishing in prison for several years, was executed 
in 1613 as an embezzler of pubhc money and a traitor 
to his country.- However, the new councillors also 
helped to increase the confusion of financial matters. 
In vain did a committee of the Estates represent to the 
Duke in 1610 that ' experience showed that the greater 
part of the land, owing to excessive poverty, could not 
endure the heavy taxation imposed hitherto ; also that 
the middle and well-to-do classes, who owned some 
thousand guldens' worth of property, had suffered so 
much from a succession of bad harvests, especially in the 
vineyards, that he would have to plunge further into debt 
in order to discharge his rents, interest, bounties and 
household expenses.' ^ The Duke went on with his 
extravagance, regardless of the complaints of the Estates 
concerning unnecessary court attendants, festivals, al- 
chemists and musicians. By 1612, a fresh load of debts 
amounting to one million was accumulated ; ' no one knew 
where all the money had gone.' Weary of the ever- 
lasting demands for money the Estates would no longer 
assemble.^ The yearly deficits they had had to refund 
had amounted in 1583 to 141,000, in 1591 to 192,000, 
in 1607 to 200,000 ; in 1618 it had risen to 259,000.^ 

1 See above p. 253 £f. 

- ' The punishment assigned to him, that he was first to have his right 
hand cut off, and his head laid at his feet and then be stuck on a post, 
was remitted because he was a remarkable literatus, and had already been 
several years in prison.' — V. Hormayr, Taschenhuch, new series, xiii. 144. 

^ Sattler, vi. 43. ■• Spittler, Gesch. Wirtemhergs, 223-230. 

° Reyscher, 17% Ixxix. In a MS. of the year 1600 we read : ' Three 
things are gaining the upper hand in Wiirtemberg : blasphemy of God, 


In Bavaria also, as the Estates, especially under 
Dukes Albert V. and William V., justly complained at 
almost every Diet, the magnificence of court display was 
quite disproportionate to the revenue of the land. After 
the Estates in 1568 had granted 100,000 gulden for the 
costs of Duke William's wedding they were startled in 
1570 by Albert's declaration that the sum was not 
sufficient ; ' he had been obliged to borrow a further 
sum of 90,000 gulden, which the country must now pay ; 
moreover, owing to expensive journeys, diets, multi- 
plying councillors, diminution of receipts, great calls had 
been made on him, to meet which an increase of taxation 
would be necessary. The Estates pointed to the com- 
plete exhaustion of the land and the present height 
of prices which obliged the farmers to mix oats, bran, 
and even bark of trees with their bread,' but never- 
theless, they undertook a debt of 300,000, and 
agreed to pay 20,000 gulden into the treasury. In 
this same year, the revenues amounted to 150,000 
gulden, the expenditure to more than 414,000. 
In 1572 the court officials alone absorbed 100,000 
gulden, a sum equal to the whole contents of the 
treasury coffers. For the payment of debts the Estates 
went on consenting to more and more taxes, but at 
the same time repeatedly urged the Duke ' for God's 
sake to look into his affairs, especially as regards 
tailoring, hunting, singers and musicians, buildings, 

drunkenness, no more credit. Three things are grievous in Wiirtemberg : 
much game, much socage, much debt. Three things are unrelentingly 
punished in Wiirtemberg : poaching, failing to pay taxes, enraging officials. 
Three things are Ughtly punished or not punished in Wiirtemberg : murder 
and insolence by nobles, thieving by high officials, the usurious contracts 
and title deeds of the rich. Three tilings are disappearing in Wiirtemberg : 
ecclesiastical revenues, pubhc money and provisions.' — Zeilschr. flir deutsche 
KuUiirgesch., year 1859, pp. 791-702. 


purchases, and presents.^ On his death in 1579 Albert 
bequeathed his son WiUiam V. a burden of debts 
amounting to 2,336,000 gulden. By 1583 a further sum 
of 731,000 gulden had mounted up, and the Estates had 
to pay it off. That the reduction of the court estabhsh- 
ment, as the Duke asserted, had been thoroughly carried 
out, the Estates could scarcely aUow, seeing that the 
retiime of WilUam in 1588 consisted of 771 persons, 
and that of the Duchess of 44. ' The debt imposed on 
the country,' said the Estates in the same year, 'was 
1,400,000 gulden heavier than under Duke Albert, and 
it could not in the end be paid under those princes ; how 
much less then would it be possible when the land had 
become still poorer.' A\Tien WiUiam, in 1593, smn- 
moned a Diet at Landshut, he appeared there, accom- 
panied by his wife, his brother Ferdinand, and his eldest 
son, Maximihan, and with an escort of 317 persons, and 
346 horses, and demanded of his Estates that they 
should take over a fresh debt of 1,500,000 gulden, which 
had accumulated since 1588. More urgently than ever 
the Estates impressed upon him that ' they could not 
impose fresh taxes on the peasants without fear of an 
insurrection, for they were already well nigh beggared ; 
twelve times already since 1577 had the twentieth part 
of their capital been wrimg from them in taxes ; since 
1563 the country had granted ten millions for debts and 
interest.' Still even now they took over this debt of 
1,500,000, in addition to which they voted a yearly 
additional grant to the treasury of 50,000 gulden, a rise 

' V. Freyberg, Landsidnde, ii. 373 S. Concerning Albert's purchases 
in costly jewellery see our remarks above p. 274. ** Fuller details about 
the absurdly brilliant and costly life at the court of the Bavarian Hereditary 
Prince WilUam (later Duke WiUiam V.) at Landshut are given by Traut- 
maim in the Jahrbuch fiir Munchener Ge^ch. i. 236-247 


on the taxes on mead, beer, and brandy, and a salt-tax 
the revenue from which the Duke reckoned at 100,000 

Not till WiUiam, in 1598, made over the government 
to Maximihan I. was good order and management intro- 
duced into state affairs, and the quiet sober life at the 
court of Miinich made a favourable impression all 
round. Wilham in his simple retired life devoted him- 
self to philanthrophy, and ate his meals with his wife, 
off earthen plates. ' Their Highnesses," wrote the 
Augsburg Protestant, Philip Hainhofer, who visited the 
court of Munich in 1611, ' have a covered way to their 
Pilgrim house, in which they constantly give hospitahty 
to strangers and travellers, whom they feed and clothe, 
and to whom they also give money ; they feed daily 
twelve poor men and twelve women and give them 
clothes twice a year ; they visit the sick and the poor, 
give largely in alms, and they are indeed patrons of the 
poor.' The Duke wished that his prayers should ascend 
to heaven on the two wings of fasting and almsgiving, 
and acted up to the maxim ' to whom much is given, of 
him is much requred. ' ' At the court of Duke Maximihan, ' 
Hainhofer goes on, ' everything is very plain and simple, 
compared with other princely courts.' ' As far as money 
expenses go, all is regulated after the manner of ItaUan 
princes, secular and ecclesiastical, and you do not find 
many tables covered and loaded in the knights' halls 
and in the " Diirnitz." " Through this economical 
regime ' many thousands of guldens were saved every 
year, and old debts paid off at this Bavarian court.' 

' V. Freyberg, Landstdnde, ii. 402 ff. Rudhart, Landstdnde in Bayern, 
ii. 224. Sugenheim, Bayerns Zustiinde, 404 ff. 

^ A room that could be heated. Dining- and guest-room. 


' Superfluous eating and drinking, card playing, hunt- 
ing, tourneying and other diversions and vanities their 
Highnesses do not care for ; they maintain good govern- 
ment, and they earn great respect and obedience ; they 
are very zealous in their papal religion, confess and 
communicate frequently, and go regularly to church ; 
they are also diligent in the council chamber, and by 
their godf earingness, temperance. Christian life, and good 
example, they influence their officials and councillors to 
be pious and diligent also/ In 1613' Hainhofer wrote 
again from Munich : ' At this court there is excellent 
management in every department, punctual payment, 
sober, quiet and peaceful living. The reigning prince 
makes himself feared and loved by all his councillors ; 
he is at work early and late.' Hainhofer was present 
in this same year at Munich at the marriage of the 
Count Palatine Wolfgang WiUiam with the Bavarian 
Princess Magdalena, and wrote about it as follows : 
' The princely nuptials are over and all went off well and 
peacefully, except that the Count of Eisenberg wanted to 
fight a duel with a " Truchsess " of Duke Maximilian's ; 
as soon, however, as Maximilian heard of it he ordered 
them to keep the peace.' ' Of eating and drinking there 
was no lack, but during the whole eight days, I did not 
see one drunken man, or one man even the worse for 
drink.' 1 'At court, where everything was served in 
silver dishes and eaten off silver, it is a wonder that 
nothing was lost, and that all went off so quietly, just 
as if there had been no foreign lordships there. Their 
Highnesses managed everything extremely well and 
expeditiously.' - This account is entirely in accordance 
with what the Belgian, Thomas Fyens, for a time house 

1 See above, p. 231. 2 jn Hautle, 63, 77-79, 164, 238, 239. 


physician to Maximilian, wrote to Justus Lipsius on 
July 31, 1601, about the duke, the court life and the 
court people. ' The town of Munich,' he added, ' is 
certainly beautiful, populous and large, it has very high 
buildings, and very clean and resplendent streets, and 
the inhabitants are better behaved than in the rest of 
Germany/ i 

Justice requires it to be stated that in those terrible 
times there were some Protestant courts which shone 
as centres of hght. In this respect the Saxon Electress 
Anna, wife of Augustus I. of Saxony, is especially 

' ' Serenissimvis Dux noster (Maximilianus) et coniux eius firma 
valetudine sunt, nihil praeter infoecunditatem dolentes. Principes certe 
sunt piissimi, benignissimi, et prudentissimi. Ipse Dux in nullo non 
scientiae genere versatus. Latine, italice, gallice est peritissimus ; moribus 
modestus, sapientia maturus et circumspectus in loquendo, in vultu 
et moribus gravitatem cum quadam benignitate coniunctam gerens.' 
' Omnes nobiles aulici modesti, morati, probi, omne vitium ex ista aula 
exulat, ebriosos, ieves, inertes homines Princeps odit et contemnit. Omnia 
ad virtutem, modestiam, pietatem comparata. Senior Dux Guilielmus, 
moderni Ducis pater, in pubUco nusquam comparet, cum sua sanctissima 
coniuge Renata vitam quasi monasticam degit apud Patres Societatis 
in palatio, quod sibi iuxta, imo in collegio eorum exstruxit.' ' Urbs 
Monacensis est certe pulchra, populosa, magna et altissimis constructa 
aedificiis, nitidlssimis et mundissimis strata plateis. Homines magis quam 
in aha Germania morati.' — Petri Burmanni, Sylloge epistolarum, ii. 80, 81. 
Cf. F. Stieve, ' UrteUe iiber Miinchen,' in the Jahrbuch fiir Munchener 
Gesch. i. 324. ** A fine eulogy was bestowed on Munich at the beginning 
of the seventeenth century by the Augustinian monk Milensius. He wrote : 
' If we contemplate the zeal of this town for the old Cathohc faith, the 
piety of the dukes and the burghers, the splendour of the churches, the 
reverence for the clergy, the Uves and the morals of all the inhabitants, 
who are distinguished by almost monastical chastity and reserve, we may 
well say that the whole toAvn is as a cloister, and that it does not unde- 
servedly bear its name (Monachium), nor does it without right bear 
monastic insignia (a monk, the well-known Munich token) on its coat of 
arms.' MUensius, Alphabeium de monachis et monasteriis Germaniae et 
Sarmatiae citerioris Ord. Erem. S. Augustini (Prague, 1613), 105. Paulus 
Hoffmeister, 229. 


deserving of notice. This woman of uncommon origin- 
ality and moral firmness had no easy post by the side 
of her most highly irascible and passionate husband. 
However, she had learnt, as a contemporary says in 
her praise, ' when Augustus raged, to pacify him ; when 
he was offended, to reconcile him ; when he refused a 
petition, to obtain his consent.' In the bringing up of 
the fifteen children whom Anna presented to her lord, 
she was most conscientious ; in times of illness she 
shrunk from no personal sacrifice. The education of 
the children was conducted on the principles of simph- 
city, obedience, and religion. With noble benevolence 
and real goodness of heart Anna looked after her 
subjects. Til is same woman, however, showed almost 
unheard of stony-heartedness, whenever her Luther- 
anism was called in question. To Calvinists she was 
as intolerant as to Catholics. The court preacher Mirus 
emphatically praises ' her burning zeal against the now 
rampant blasphemy of Calvinism.' ^ 

^ ** Cf. the article, composed with the hel-p of Weber's work (Leipzig, 
1865) : ' Eine deutsche Fiirstin des IGten Jahrhunderts,' in the Histor. 
polit. Bl. 98, 333 ff., 450 £f., 512 fF. 





The life of the princes, ' with the majority of them made 
up of inordinate eating and drinking, innumerable and 
lengthy festivities, pomp and luxury in dress and 
adornment, was taken as a model by nobles, burghers 
and peasants, so that, as was plain to all beholders, 
the one sought to outstrip the other/ ^ 

As the lesser princes, down to the least, copied the 
greater ones in every imaginable luxury, and were in 
their turn taken as models by the counts, ' so the nobles 
in their castles aped the extravagance of the counts ' — 
above all in eating and drinking. 

* With so much eating and drinking,^ wrote Cyriacus 
Spangenberg in his ' Adelsspiegel ' in 1594, ' it seems 
nowadays as if people were deliberately bent on stifling 

' Von den vielen Anzeichen, &c. Cf. above, p. 263, n. 1. ** Con- 
cerning the thoroughgoing social revolution which came about towards the 
close of the sixteenth century, Steinhausen aptly remarks (' Die Anfange 
des franzosischen Literatur- und Kultureinflusses ' in the Zeitschr. fur vergl. 
Lit. Gesch., new series, vii. [1894], 372) : ' Formerly the burghers had set 
the fashion, and princes and burghers were scarcely distinguishable in the 
manner and conditions of their life. But now the burghers had to stand 
back. With the loss of their political might their moral and intellectual 
independence collapsed also, while on the other hand, with the growth of 
territorial power, the influence of the princes and thek courts rose higher. 
What the court did was now the standard of society, and was imitated even 
in the sixteenth century and still more so in the seventeenth. First of all 
the nobles copied the court, and then the burghers followed suit, and 
became more and more servile.' 


and destroying nature. There is verily need for a 
good, sound reformation, but those who know all this 
and who ought to set things right, are so intent on 
keeping up state and splendour that they give others 
the strongest incitement to follow their example. What 
goes on at the great princes' courts at christenings, 
weddings, banquetings, home-comings, shootings and 
so forth, is not only v/itnessed on the spot, but one learns 
it as one travels about from the appearance of the poor 
people, who have to help and contribute to the pomp, 
from their sorrowful eyes and their emaciated bodies. 
And what the nobles see at the princes' courts, they 
must needs copy at their christenings, dances, &:c. 
Many of the nobles, if only one friend comes to dine 
with another, have everything served a la count or 
prince. They are not content with the ordinary food 
of the land, good fish and game, but must have all 
sorts of Italian dishes, and outlandish concoctions of 
oysters and rare birds, fish and vegetables brought 
from a distance ; also, not only one or two beverages, 
but four, five and even more kinds of wine, without 
mentioning malmsey, Reinfall, Spanish and French 
wines, and three or four sorts of beer. They keep up 
state with gilded and silvered plates and dishes, but 
where has God decreed that man should eat and drink 
ofT gold and silver ? ' ^ 

The culinary artist, Marx Rumpolt, was of opinion 
that for a banquet of counts or lords about sixty dishes 
were enough, and for a banquet of nobles, forty-five 
or even fewer. ^ But this number was by no means 
sufficient for many of them. 

1 Adelsspiegel, ii. 248-249. 

" Rumpolt, 30''-37'', where there is a Ust of dishes. 


'At the wedding banquet of a Tyrolese baron/ so 
Hippolytus Guarinoni relates, ' there were 300 dishes and 
100 sorts of confetti and dainties. In 1610, at the 
wedding of an ordinary nobleman at Hall there were 
seven tables well filled with wedding gnests or wedding 
gluttons ; it lasted two days ; at every table there were 
four courses, and for every course 13 imposing dishes ; 
at another table there were 52 dishes ; at seven tables 
364 dishes ; at two m eals 728 dishes were served ; during 
two days 1456 dishes. I say nothing here of all sorts 
of wine and of all the crowd of drunken people.' In the 
Tyrol at ' festive meals ' there were sometimes twenty 
kinds of wine placed before the guests.^ ' For several 
years past,' it says in an ordinance of Duke Maximilian I. 
of Bavaria, of March 26, 1599, ' there has been a very 
marked falhng off of temporal means, especially among 
the knights and nobles, owing to the unnecessary and ex- 
travagant outlay that takes place at weddings ' : in order 
to reduce this expenditure it was decreed that none of the 
nobles should in future spend more than 1000-1500, 
at the outside 2000 gulden, on their wedding festivities. ^ 

The Bavarian, Count Ladislaus zum Hag (f 1567), 
had spent nearly 42,000 gulden on wedding festivities, i.e., 
according to the present value of money, half a milhon 
marks. 3 Duke Henry Juhus of Brandenburg, in 1595, 
considered it a great piece of extravagance for the young 
Burkhard of Saldern to have had at his wedding, 

* twenty-eight barrels of Einbeck beer ' which ' had to be 
sent at great expense to the scene of the festivities.' 

* Daily,' he said, ' at this wedding, 500 horses were fed. 

1 Guarinoni, 793, 798, 804-805. 

2 Westenrieder, Neue Beitrdge, i. 287-288. 
^ Kohler, Miinzhelustigungen, xv. 46. 


* At the home-coming eighty firkins of wine were con- 
sumed, besides all sorts of sweet drinks, double Bruns- 
wick, Muhme, Zerbst and Goslar beer, and also Hanover 
Briihan. These wedding and home-coming expenses 
mounted up to 5,600 Reichsthaler/ During this home- 
coming Burkhard had had everything done on the scale 
of a prince, or at least a count, had feasted fifteen tables 
full of servants, boys, coachmen and players with twelve 
different dishes at one meal. On Sunday they were 
given Muhme to drink and other beer, but on Monday 
and Tuesday drinks of another kind, as much as they 
could get down. At his own and the bride's and their 
friends' tables there were such grand, splendid, costly 
and superfluous dishes such as had never before been 
seen at the tables of such -persons. The same princely 
pomp was kept up also at the dancing. Players and 
actors had been procured from different places, and 
numbered twenty-seven in all.^ In Brunswick itself 
there had been grand doings when the Prince's tutor, 
Kurd von Schwicheldt, was married in 1580. At the 
festivities, which lasted four days, there were guests with 
600 horses ; on each of the four davs 75 tables were 
laid. Amongst other provisions that were consumed 
were 20 oxen, 36 pigs, 80 wethers, 40 calves, 80 lambs, 
32 sucking-pigs, 240 geese, 580 chickens, 12 stags and 
heads of venison, 12 wild swans, 16 roes, 50 hares, 20 
sides of bacon, 6 schocks of large pike, 8 schocks of 
carps ; further, 6 hogsheads of wine, 2 barrels of malmsey, 
2 barrels of Ahcant wine, 2 barrels of Rhine wine, 12 tuns 
of Hamburg beer, 8 barrels of Einbeck beer, 24 tuns of 
Hanover Briihan, 6 barrels of Zerbst beer, 10 barrels 
of ' Goslar Krug,' 54 barrels of ordinary Goslar beer, 

' Kohler, xvi. 168. 


4 barrels of Brunswick malmsey. ^ ' Still more thirsty for 
honest drink ' were the ' noble throats ' at the wedding 
of Conrad von Sikingen and Elizabeth von Cronberg : 
within j&ve days they drank 113 hogsheads of wine.^ 
The coimcilior of the Elector of Cologne, Caspar von 
Fiirstenberg, calculated the expenses of his son's wedding 
in 1608 at 2500 thalers, ' if not more.' The festivities 
lasted from the 12th to the 18th of October ; the home- 
bringing of the bride to the Castle Bilstein began on 
November 3, and ' four days were spent in dancing, 
drinking and diversions.' ^ At the wedding festivities of 
Herr Burkhard Schenk with the widow von Hohenstein 
in 1598, 58 persons from among the nobihty alone, 
were invited to the solemnity.* But all the counts 
and princes in the Empire were surpassed by the 
Bohemian nobleman, Wilham von Rosenberg. When 
in 1576 he was married to Anna Maria of Baden, 1100 
firkins of Hungarian, Rhenish and other German wines 
were drunk, 40 pipes (about 12,000 measures) of Spanish 
wine, 903 barrels of barley and wheaten beer, and so 
forth : the horses ate 37,033 bushels of oats.^ 

^ Bodemann, Herzog Julius von Braunschweig, 332-333. 

2 Die Vorzeit. Jahrg. 1825, p. 177, note. ^ Pieler, 294-296. 

■* Richard, Ldcht und Schatten, 25-26. 

^ Vulpius, i. 200-201. Roscher, Luxus, 56 ; cf. Chmel, Hanclschrijten, 
i. 378. ** At other kinds of festivities also, as Schmid points out in the 
Histor. Jahrbuch, xvii., the nobles vied with the princes in all sorts of 
costly displays and pageants. The Ohringer Oheramtsbeschreibung gives 
an account of one of these masquerades in 1570, which took a fatal turn ; 
at Waldenburg the noble ladies dressed themselves as angels, and the 
noblemen disguised themselves ' in horrible attire such as that in which 
it is customary to paint the bad spirits.' During the ' Mumtanz ' the yarn 
which they had bound tightly round and round their arms and legs took 
fire. Two nobles. Count Eberhard von Hohenlohe-Waldenburg, and his 
son-in-law, Count George von Tubingen, died of their wounds, and several 
others were obliged to remain for weeks in bed. 


How greatly the love of fine clothes and costly 
jewellery went on increasing among the nobles, is 
shown, for instance, by comparison of the inventory 
of the Palatine nobleman Meinhard von Schonberg in 
1598, with that of his son Hans Meinhard in 1616. 
The father possessed only a few articles in gold and 
jewellery, in silver utensils only 1 can, 30 beakers, 
2 salt-cellars, and 28 spoons ; the son, on the 
contrary, had amongst other things : a number of 
silver washing bowls and jugs, spoons, plates, candle- 
sticks, and writing things ; a diamond chain set in 
gold with 115 links ; a gold rose chain of 40 diamonds ; 
a medal set with 63 diamonds ; a golden rose with 41 
diamonds ; 9 diamond buttons ; 2 blue enamelled stars, 
each with 7 diamonds ; a gold tuft of feathers and gold 
hat-clasp with 23 gold stars, each containing 7 diamonds. 
The pearl ornaments alone would have filled two closely 
written folio sheets. The increase of luxury comes out 
most clearly in the clothing. The entire wardrobe of 
the father is catalogued on two pages ; that of the son 
takes up ten full sheets. The father was content with 
two or three coats of velvet and silk, the son required 
more than seventy- two complete suits. Most of the son's 
clothes were of satin of many colom^s, fined or slashed 
with gold, silver, or silk, often embroidered with both 
gold and silver. In place of the biretta we find twenty- 
one costly French and Spanish hats, and hat-bands 
enough to match every different coloured suit, embroi- 
dered with gold, silver and pearls. There were also 
silk stockings of different colours to match the suits 
of clothes, with gold or silver clocks. Also for every 
different suit special garters and shoe rosettes, edged 
with gold and silver lace. The quantity of gloves 

VOL. XV. z 


embroidered with gold and silver was so large that it 
seems to have been necessary to have a different pair 
for every suit. While the father was satisfied with his 
simple wainscoted room, his great massive bedstead, 
and solid, durable wooden chairs, the son had richly 
tapestried apartments, beds of velvet and silk, em- 
broidered with gold and silver flowers. The father left 
at his death two horses and a well-battered coach ; the 
son left fourteen horses with splendid accoutrements, 
the hst of which fills eight folio pages. Also a number 
of velvet saddles embroidered with gold and silver ; 
ladies^ saddles are also in the hst, and stirrups gilded 
and plated.i The Brunswicker Burkhard von Saldern 
had a saloon built to his house the decoration of which 
with green cloth cost several thousand thalers, ' not 
including the painting and gold work that was on the 
cloth.' 2 A morality preacher complained that 500-600 
guldens were often given for one bed.^ Count Giinther 
of Schwarzburg in 1560 spent 10,000 Reichsthalers on 
tapestry, carpets and curtains for his rooms.* 

^ Extract from the inventories in Moser's Patriot. Archiv, viii. 235-248, 
contributed, without reference to Moser, by Chr. v. Stramberg in the 
Zeitschr. fur deutsche Kidturgesch. (year 1858), p. 232-240. In the wardrobe 
of the Countess Hans Heinrich von Schonberg there were in 1605 numbers 
of garments worked with gold and silver, ' 45 pairs of large cloths, 
and besides the head parures and other jewellery, 1 loose wrap, an 
ornament worth one hundred gold guldens, 15 small link chains with 1 
ring worth 200 gold guldens, 1 pair of chains worth 230 gold guldens, 
2 linked chains worth 206 gold guldens, 1 carcanet worth 40 gold 
guldens, 1 small chain worth 27 gold guldens, besides pearl chains, 
gold, gilded and silver girdles, bracelets,' and so forth. Fraustadt, 
i. 518. 

- Kohler, xvi. 168. » Theatrum Diaholorum, 385. 

■• Vulpius, X. 190. ** Caspar von Fiirstenberg paid 120 Reichsthalers 
for a hat-band. His gold ornaments weighed 27 i pounds, 2 ounces ; 
for half this sum he could ha^/e bought a magnificent house in Mayence, 
with vineyards &c., &c. Pieler, 163-164. 


' For many years/ it says in a pamphlet, ' there have 
been but few among the nobles who have not complained 
of great and excessive debts ; but however deep in 
debt they may be, they nevertheless indulge in as 
much pomp and extravagance in their household 
furnishings as if they possessed huge fortunes/ ^ When, 
for instance. Count Ulrich von Regenstein in 1541 gave 
his daughter in marriage to Count Wolfgang of Stolberg, 
his sum of debts was raised to an appalhng height ; one 
portion of his estates was mortgaged and many others 
were alienated, but nevertheless he let the bride be 
taken to the bridegroom in a carriage with six horses ; 
four horses were harnessed to the carriage containing 
the clothes and jewels with which she was provided, 
like ' a daughter and a Countess of Eegenstein : ' 350 
guests and horses took part in the procession. The 
prescribed daughter's dowry of 8000 guldens Ulrich 
could not pay, and he got himself into such difficulties 
that his numerous creditors pursued him with abusive 
letters and caricatm'es, and dragged his honour, his 
house and his race most offensively in the mud.^ 

Contemporaries universally agreed that one of the 
chief causes of the insolvency of the nobles was their 
' unspeakable extravagance in dress and ornaments/ 
' Many of the nobles,' wrote Cyriacus Spangenberg, 
' have as many, and more, coats, mantles, cloaks, and 
suchlike, as there are Sundays in the year, not to mention 

^ Von den vielen Auszeichen. cf. above p. 263, n. L 

- Zeilschr. des Harzvereins, vii. 4-32. ** Extraordinary luxury 
was also displayed in 1591 at the wedding of Anton Fugger with the 
Countess Barbara de Montfori, See L, Brunner, ' Aus dem BUdungsgange 
eines Ausburger Kaufmannssohnes am Sclilusse des 16ten Jahrhunderts ' 
in the Zeitschr. des Historischen Vereins fiir Schwaben und Neuburg, i. 
175 note. 

z 2 


of the numberless hoods, hats, caps, girdles, gloves, 
chains, necklets, bracelets and rings/ i Saxon nobles 
wore trunk-hose of silk or gold stuffs, of which 60-80 
ells were used ; many of them even required 130 ells. 
A single pair of hose often cost more than ' the whole 
revenue of a village came to,' so that numbers of nobles 
reduced themselves to ruin by their dress. Coats hned 
with silk and velvet were also worn, and these cost 500 
gulden. A countess was known to have had made for 
herself a golden train with very exquisite work, for which 
she paid the goldsmith 3500 gulden, besides 150 gulden 
for making it.' ~ It was regarded as an important reduc- 
tion of noblemen's expenses that it was settled that a 
suit of clothes must not cost more than 200 gulden.^ 

' Very few would now be satisfied with the old manly 
style of dress worn by the German nobles in former 
days. It was old-fashioned, they said, out of date.' ' It 
has also come to this,' wrote Cyriacus Spangenberg in 
1594, ' that nothing German, let alone anything ancient 
in the way of dress goes down with the nobles nowa- 
days ; everything must be foreign : Spanish hoods, 
French hose, Hungarian hats, Pohsh top-boots, 
Bohemian bonnets, Italian stomachers and collars.'"' 

1 Adelsspiegel, ii. 453. 

2 Richard, Licht und Schaiten, 23. Theairum Diabolorum, 391, 400. 
Die TeufelsiracM der Pluderhosen (1592) p. 391 ; cf. Vulpius, i. 254. 

^ Cf . the ' Vereinbarung melireren adeligen Faiuilien im Braun- 
scliweigischen von Jahre 1618 ' in the Zeitschr. fiir deutsche Kidturgesch. 
(year 1856), p. 109. ' Even dogs ' so the morality preachers complained, 
' often had such costly collars, that many a poor man with his wife and 
children, who were let go naked, might have been clothed out of the 
money spent on those collars.' — Adelsspiegel, ii. 454'J. 

4 ** Ijj 1562 the Venetian ambassador Giacomo Soranzo, in his official 
reports on Germany, had akeady said that the German nobihty had 
adopted Italian and Spanish fasliions, ne vivono secondo Vantico modo 
di Germania. — Alberi, ser. 1, vol. vi. 126. 


Moreover, everything has to be smart and many- 
coloured, trimmed, slashed, frilled, and furbelowed : 
some of them have their clothes so chopped and cut 
about that they look as if the pigs had been tearing 
at them and eating them up. And yet they think it a 
very exquisite get-up and swear they look mighty well 
in it.' ' And yet it does strike one as very absurd when a 
young gallant (and the old ones look still more idiotic) 
struts about with a pile of linen crimped, plaited, folded, 
twisted round his throat, over his ears and his head, like 
a bristly hedge, or else falling down over his shoulders 
— for that 's how the scandalous ruffles are made now — 
and also hanging over the hands as eagles' feathers cover 
their claws. It all looks as hideous as possible and gives 
no indication of a manly, robust spirit. Ah, if our fore- 
fathers, the brave, splendid, gallant men who died sixty, 
eighty, hundred years ago, could come back again now 
and see all this effeminacy and frivolity in their descend- 
ants, what do you think they would say about it ? 
They would despise us, not only for such feminine ways, 
but also for the folly of spending so much unnecessary 
money on such unnecessary and also improper and 
scandalous clothing. One squire had three pairs 
of hose which cost him 800 crowns. Is it not a 
shame ? I will not speak here of other unnecessary 
grandeur which has lately been witnessed, even in the 
matter of shoes, which are made of velvet, and also of 
gold stuff, and embroidered with pearls.' ^ 

' Some of the nobles,' Spangenberg goes on, ' find 
their chief dehght in gambling, and they will gamble 
away at one sitting several hundreds, or even thousands, 
of gulden. Others take pleasure in having a crowd 

1 Adelsspiegel, ii. 443, 454. 


of attendants and servants ; they have their own 
trumpeters, lute or guitar players, pipers, conjurers 
and fools, whom they dress up now in green, now^ in 
red, now in grey or blue, now in Hungarian or Bruns- 
wickian fashion, now with broad French hats, and so 
on. And when they carry on all this unnecessary 
extravagance in eating, drinking, dressing, building, 
gambhng, they say ' " Wliy not ? Wliy shouldn't they 
do it; it's their own money and they may do what 
they like with it ; they have not got to account to 
any one." But I answer them and say, "No, for 
all property is only lent to us by God; we are not 
lords over it, but only householders appointed by God, 
to whom in His own good time, we shall have to render 
account to a farthing of how we have spent it." ' ^ 

' This effeminacy in dress and luxury went hand 
in hand with a lazy, effeminate mode of hfe ' (especially the young men) ; nevertheless, it must not be 
forgotten that, like many of the princes, notably 
Albert V. of Bavaria, a good number of nobles also, 
such as John James von Fugger, John George von 
Werdenstein, H. J. von Lamberg, and finally the 
Thuringian family of Werther=Beichhngen, displayed 
noteworthy literary tastes." ' The young nobles,' wrote 
Count Reinhard von Solms, ' have no other occupa- 
tion than sleeping till high noon, and the rest of the 
day loafing about idly, flirting with the women, or 
playing with the dogs, and then drinking half through 
the night ; next to this, all their thoughts are taken 

^ Adelsspiegel, ii. 456, 457. 

- See Histor. Jahrh. xvii. 93, note 1, Here there are fuller details 
concerning the Werther library, which, after the death of Philip von 
Werther (1588), was bought by the Elector Christian I. of Saxony. 


up with idiotic dressing and adornment ; and when 
there comes a serious crisis, a campaign perchance, 
they care only for elegance and daintiness and for being 
well dressed, as if they were going ofi to a dance ; for 
getting as many horses as possible of one colour, and 
a heap of gaily dressed lackeys, and other unnecessary 
attendants ; besides keeping their own " Kadruschke '' 
on a special coach, pompously arrayed — as if this were 
a fine thing to do — then trimming their beards and in- 
dulging in frivolities to their own and public disgrace/ ^ 

' Formerly,' said Duke Julius of Brunswick, in 1588, 
' the hardy, joyous Germans were renowned among 
all nations for their manly virtue ; now, however, 
their brave and manly prowess and chivalry has not 
only markedly decreased, but almost altogether dis- 
appeared, and this has chiefly come about because 
nearly all our vassals, servants and relations alike, 
young and old, give themselves up to philandering 
and driving about in coaches. If they had to serve 
at court in former days they did not dare appear with 
coaches, but only with their riding horses/ ^ 

Of the life of the nobles in general, the preachers 
especially give a far from edifying picture. ' Drunken- 
ness," wrote Luther, ' which like a sin- flood has deluged 

' Spangenberg, Adelssjnegel, ii. 406''. ** ' The majority of the nobles 
of the sixteenth century,' says Steinhausen {Gesch. des detdschen Brief es, i, 
1500), 'could not write, or at any rate only so imperfectly, that the 
few letters which they had to indite had to be made over to a secretary.' 
See I.e. p. 152, an example of the extremely clumsy style even of those 
nobles who were most skilled in writing. 

- In V. Hormayr, Taschenbuch, new series, xvi. 265-270. Concerning 
the coach-driving of the riobles, see also the ordinances of the Elector 
Augustus of Saxony, of March 26, 1580, in the Codex Aiufusteus, i. 2185- 
2186, and of the Elector Joachim Frederick of Brandenburg, of March 24, 
1607, in Mylius, iii. part 2, 15. 


everything, reigns especially among tlie nobles/ ' I 
remember that when I was young drinking was 
considered a monstrous great scandal, and that laudable 
princes and lords stemmed it with severe ordinances 
and punishments. But now it is far worse among 
them than among the peasants : it is looked upon as 
an aristocratic virtue ; whosoever will not join them in 
becoming a drunken hog is despised. But what indeed 
is more to be shunned than this vice, which has spread 
even to the young, who have learned it from their elders 
and who practise it so shamelessty, flagrantly and 
unsparingly that they are ruined in their earliest 
years, like young corn blighted by hail and rain storms, 
for nowadays most of our best and cleverest young 
people, above all among the nobles and at court, ruin 
their health and lives in this way before they have come 
to years of discretion ? ' ^ ' The nobles,' said Nicholas 
Selnekker, in 1565, ' are for the most part epicures, 
filthy pigs, blasphemers, pompous, arrogant fellows, 
disgusting gorgers and drinkers, given up to all sorts 
of vice and iniquity, regarding all honour and chastity 
as a dissfrace, and all sin and scandal as honour, and 
all immorality and filthiness as something to boast of ; 
all God-fearing people on the earth they avoid, and 
think them scarcely worthy to be shone on by the 
beautiful sun, still less to be used for the honour of 
God and the protection of the land and its inhabitants. 
Furthermore, they are the deadly enemies of God the 
Lord and of His Word, and treat and call everything 
that God causes to be said to them as priestly cant, 
fables and folly. They set their strength in defiance 
and arrogance ; their piety in blasphemy, contempt 

' See o\ir remarks, vol, iv. 145 ff. 


of Goers word and contempt of all its ministers ; their 
chastity is whoredom, coarse and obscene speech and ges- 
tures, devouring, imbibing and vomiting ; their rightful 
authority is turned to violence, arrogance, crime, de- 
fiance, injustice, despising and circumventing everybody 
just as they please. Their get-up is French, their breath 
stinks, their hands and feet are mangy, they are always 
panting and gasping. No wonder then that they are 
almost everywhere despised by the common people.' ^ 

The preacher David Veit said in 1581 in a funeral 
sermon on Hans von Selwitz, wdio was mortally wounded 
in a nocturnal fray at Jena : ' It is with great sorrow 
that we hear and experience how the highest in the land, 
those who, on account of their noble birth and lineage, 
should be more addicted than others to godliness, 
honour and virtue, have come to this, that they think 
no one worthy to be regarded as a nobleman who 
does not utter the most terrible and blasphemous 
curses, or who in talking about matrimony, about 
young girls and women, does not introduce the coarsest 
and most immoral words and gestures. How utterly 
epicurean and depraved they have become in the matter 
of drinking is as broad as daylight. Not content with 
small cans and other ordinary drinking utensils, they 
use tubs, coops, and other things of the sort which are 
meant for the unreasoning cattle. How immorality, 
also, gains head amid such kind of living is manifest 
to all and truly lamentable.' ^ 

' Auslegung des Psalters (Nuremberg, 1565), ii. 78 and iii. 131. 

2 Eine Predigt iiber der Leiche d;c. (Jhena, 1581), Bl. E-. Wolfgang 
Biitncr, pastor at Wolierstedt, wrote . in 1576 : ' The Lacedaemonians 
never tolerated among them fellows basking in the sun or wearing slippers 
aU day long. If the Lacedaemonians could see our squires in tliis land 
to-day, the night ravens, the beer and wine bibbers, the gamblers and 


Similarly wrote Spangenberg in liis ' Adelsspiegel ' : 
' The majority of the nobles are addicted to drink. They 
often have to sell or mortgage a mill, an ale-house, a 
pond, a carriage, often even a whole village in order to 
get enough Hquor to drown themselves in. And they 
are not satisfied with drinking themselves to their hearts' 
content, but they compel others, often with curses, to 
drink with them interminably ; they drink to one 
another by rows of pots, an ell, or a quarter ell, or also 
less in length ; or by weight of so many pounds. Some- 
times they drink out of two glasses at a time. . . . 
Sometimes they put small hve fishes into the beer and 
gulp them down with the drink. They are not content 
with glasses, beakers, flasks &c., but hke pigs they drink 
out of tubs, barrels, skulls, boots, and unmentionable 
articles. Once a cat, thrown on the table, was torn in 
two and then used as a drinking vessel. Some would 
swallow the glass itself or their ruffles — which did them 
little good. For thus,' Spangenberg goes on, ' does 
drinking lead people to inhuman atrocities and make 
them senseless, mad, beside themselves, as though they 
were live devils out of hell' Not few in number were 
the ' drunken brothers ' described in 1598 by the 
Bavarian Ducal Secretary Aegidius Albertinus, who when 
they had drunk up all their patrimony went from one 
friendly (or unfriendly !) nobleman to another and helped 
him to do the same ; or even went from one convent to 
another and caroused in these as though they were only 
founded for the use of such drunken, debased fellows, and 

the whoremongers, and were to punish their devilish indolence, laziness 
and sluggishness, God help us, where would our pastor and our chaplain 
at St. John's Cathedral, en campo flore et vacca del porta, find room for 
their bushy beards and their high heels ? ' — Archiv fiir Liberaiurgesch. vi. 


not for the maintenance of devout, prayerful, religious 
men.' ^ 

^ De conviviis, 76*', Philip Camerarius gives an account of a drinking 
tournament at the wedding of a nobleman when tho prize was won by a 
man who in a few hours di-ank eighteen measures of wine. Carpzov, 
Praciica Nova, iii. 374. Concerning immoderate drinking at tho court 
of the Count of Mansfeld (1564), see Spangenberg, Sdchsische Chronika, 
70L Of Count Christopher Ludwig von Wertheim we read in a report 
of 1612 : ' Senior goes on in his old ways at Lowenstein. Tho silver flask 
goes round day and night, and there is such an amount of drinking, that 
according to the accounts of the Captain von Hall, he is likely to reduce 
himself to insanity.' — A. Kaufmann, 312. Concerning the drunken doings 
of the Hessian squires ' who when reeling with drink staggered about in 
the fields, and fired guns, with the result that one of them was killed,' 
see the letter of the Landgrave William IV., of October 1585 to the Mayor 
of Homberg in Die Vorzeit (year 1823), pp. 317-319. Of Jerome von 
Schallenberg it is said : ' He has lately drunk day and night without 
ceasing and in one hour he died in the tavern.' — v. Hormayr, Taschenbuch, 
new series, viii. 230. A truly appalling account of a nobleman's drinking 
bout is given by Bartholomew Ringwalt in his Speculum Mundi (Mirror 
of the World) [1590] Bl. A 6''-D 4, E 3-F 5 ; see our remarks vol. xii. 
120-128. Cardinal Otto of Augsburg founded, in 1545, with forty-two 
counts and barons, a society for the abolition of ' drinking toasts,' which 
were the ruin of the nobles. — Histor. Jahrb. der Gorres^Oesellschaft (year 
1886), p. 192. Cliristopher Vitzthum von Eckstadt and Vespasian von 
Rheinsberg announced on January 1, 1592 : ' We have had two silver 
flasks made of the same size and pattern, and each person shall be free, 
at honourable gatherings, where a drink of welcome is a matter of etiquette, 
to drink this prescribed measure in one day either before or after noon, 
three times at the utmost : after the three flasks no one shall di-ink except 
for thirst, be it wine or beer.' A fine of 1000 gulden was the punishment 
for exceeding this quantity. — Miiller, Trinkstuhen, 727-728. When 
Andreas von Roebell obtained a canonry at Havelberg from the Branden- 
burg Elector John George, he took a vow on January 26, 1577, ' on the 
honour and faith of a nobleman,' that he would abstain from drunkenness 
and that he would not drink more at each meal than two good-sized 
beakers of beer and wine. If he should be found drunk, without electoral 
permission, he would, as soon as he was called upon to do so, repair to 
the kitchen, ' and with forty stripes save one, the same number that 
had been inflicted on St. Paul, if so be his electoral grace should order it, 
he would submit to being beaten with the rod.' — v. Hormayr, Taschenbuch, 
new series, xx. 141-142. 


' Decried to the uttermost, and, like the drinking- 
carousals, a most iniquitous example for the people, 
were the mad, villainous, immoral dances which were 
given by the nobles, and were veritable devil's schools 
and orgies in town and country.' i They were often of 
such a profligate character that special statutes were 
drawn up concerning them for the protection of respect- 
able people. Thus for instance in the ' Statutes for the 
nobiUty's dance at Delitsch which takes place annually 
on the festival of St. Peter and St. Paul,' it was decreed 
that ' each person in dancing shall behave properly and 
morally, not throw off mantles, run and scream, carrying 
women and girls along with them,' &c., &c. ' They 
shall not behave wantonly towards the women, as for 
instance, tearing off their hoods, and so forth.' ' Wild, 
bold, ill-behaved young women, who set a bad example 
to other worthy and discreet ladies, shall be turned out 
by suitable means, and not tolerated.' ' The unsteady, 
impudent youngsters were admonished not to attack 
the watchmen at night : transgressors of this rule were 
to be fined ten thalers.' ^ 

The gambhng and drinking with which such count- 
less numbers of the nobles disgraced themselves were 
closely connected with 'nocturnal frays and tumults, 
often ending in mortal wounds, and with the now almost 
universal vice of swearing and blaspheming.' ' Who,' 
asked a preacher in 1561, ' has ever been in the company 
of nobles without having been shocked most of the time 
by their devihsh cursing and swearing ? ' ' This is so 
notorious that the small number of thoughtful members 
of the nobihty acknowledge without scruple that this 

* Vam geilen und gottesidsterlichen Tantzen (1560), p. 4. 
' Curiosa Saxon., 1764, p. 77. 


accursed vice is nowhere so common as in their class.' 
' I say this with sorrow, all the more so that I am not 
an enemy of the nobles, by no means, on the contrary 
I honour and respect them when they are worthy of their 
name, and I have several friends amongst them who are 
kind to me and my children, and they do not deny that 
what I say is true/ ^ Enemies of the nobility, like 
Nicodemus Frischlin declared that : ' In some country 
districts the nobles had made a compact together and 
sworn that no one of them should go to bed or get up, 
that none of them should greet another except in the 
Devil's name. I shudder to talk of it.' ^ 

' Verily,' writes a contemporary, ' those squires are 
not very well spoken of, who let their parish churches go 
to such wrack and ruin that neither roofs nor walls are 
fit for anything, but in such a tumbledown condition 
that you can see through them everywhere ; and the 
people during service, and the preacher himself in the 
pulpit, in winter when the weather is rainy, can scarcely 
keep themselves dry, besides which these churches are 
often as dark and smoky as caverns. They also fre- 
quently let the schools built by their forefathers go to 
ruin, no less than the hospitals and sick-houses built by 
their ancestors out of Christian love. Formerly a great 
deal of money was spent on matins books, missals, 
antiphonia, psalters, beautifully written on parchment ; 
then everybody gave gladly towards providing them, 
each one wanted to be remembered by the good work ; 

1 'Vom Fluchen und Gotteslastern, insonders unter hohen Personen,' 
Eine Hausspredigt (1561) BI. B. und C'. 

^ Strauss, 179 ff. Frischlin's description of the nobles in his Oratio de 
vita rustica is excessively coarse, but in its main features scarcely exagger- 
ated. Of. Wachsmuth, v. 293. 


but now when a squire ought to buy a Bible in church 
there is nothing but reluctance and excuses/ i 

' In former days the squires thought it a great dis- 
grace if each one of them had not contributed something 
to the maintenance of divine service. They would give 
50, 100, 200 gulden. But when do we hear nowadays 
of any of the nobles giving 10, or even 5 gulden 
towards keeping up the churches and schools, which 
nevertheless are the two best jewels of every fatherland ? 
Yea verily, if only they would leave alone that which 
others have given for this object ! ' ~ ' We see, hear, and 
experience daily now, as is happening everywhere, one 
grabs from the church and appropriates a bit of rent, 
another a tithe, a third a plot of ground, a fourth a 
meadow, a fifth a copse, a sixth a garden, a seventh a 
vineyard, an eighth a hop-garden, a ninth a piece of 
grazing land, a tenth a fish-pond, an eleventh, some other 
appurtenage, revenue or privilege. In short they all 
want to have a portion of oiu: Lord God's garment, and 
none will be the last. There were of old numbers of 
churches, parsonages, chaplaincies and schools so well 
endowed and provided for that their incumbents and 
masters were comfortably ofi ; but now they are no 
longer so, for the squires take the parish property under 
their own control and give the pastors what they hke ; 
they take the fields, they themselves covet and give 
w-orse ones in exchange, they buy up land, but do not pay 
the taxes, and practise other meannesses, and so forth.' -"^ 
Bernhard Hund, councillor of Duke John, Elector 
of Saxony, has often said : ' We nobles have added 
the convent goods to our ovm baronial goods, and the 

1 'Vom Fluchen und GottesEstern,' Bl. C. Adelsspiegel, ii. 392 -393". 
- Ibid, 423='. -i Ibid. 394-395. 


convent goods have devoured our baronial goods, so that 
we have neither convent goods nor baronial goods left/ - 
' In order to help themselves out of their difficulties 
the squires now generally resort to all sorts of commercial 
business, shopkeeping and trading, baking, brewing and 
selling wine. This now forms part of the hfe of the 
nobles, and it would at any rate be better than idhng 
about, rechning on cushions, and emptying jugs and 
beakers (though the nobles of the past did not think it 
worthy of their class), if only this trading were carried on 
to the profit and good of their subjects ; but far from this 
being the case, the subjects are generally in the highest 
degree injured by this new pursuit of the nobles, as is 
sufficiently complained of in all directions : this new 
aristocratic occupation has indeed become a new form 
of merciless peasant fleecing, especially when the nobles 
are not only vendors but forestallers and raise all the 
prices/ ' Many of them are not satisfied with turning 
into merchants and shopkeepers, with usurping all 
burgher maintenance, with driving oxen, brewing, baking, 
wine-selling and butchering, but what is far worse they 
become monopolists, buy up all the wine, corn, wool, 
hops and such hke, become in short forestallers and then, 
further, in times of dearness, fleecers and bleeders of the 
poor. They corner the wheat for times of scarcity, buy 
the worst and most inferior wines, and afterwards free 
them on their poor toihng vassals at as high a price as 
they would have to pay for good wine. They brew bad 
unwholesome beer, sell it at an equally high price, and 
compel the poor people, on j)enalty of a large fine, to 
drink this mud-water, and when they are tired out, 
exhausted, or even ill, will not allow them to buy any 

' Adelsspiegel, ii. 64^ 


other drink, whether wine or beer anywhere else. They 
deal in all kinds of food hke veritable pork butchers and 
at much higher rates than other vendors ; they compel 
the butchers to keep their meat until they (the squires) 
have sold theirs and fleeced their lambs. ' There are 
some also who rather than sell their fruits to their poor 
vassals at a low price will let them be devoured by mice, 
or grow alive on the floor and fly out of the window, 
I knew one such man, who sooner than let the poor 
people buy his corn at the usual price, out of great wicked- 
ness, had it all shaken down from the window into the 
river Saale.' The common people speak of the nobles 
as of wolves : ' the younger the better," they say, ' for 
the young ones cannot do so much harm as the old ones.' ^ 
As regards also their attitude towards all that was 
foreign, especially to French influences, the nobles and 

' Eine Predig, Ob christliche Barmherzigkeit musse ausgestorben sein ? 
(1569) Bl. A^ Adesspiegel, ii. 347, 357, 461''. Cf. Strigenicius, Diluvium, 
185. ** Concerning the fight between the nobles and the towns brought 
on by similar proceedings of the nobles in Pomerania see Spahn, Ver- 
fassungs- unci WirischaftsgeschicMe des Herzogiums Pommern, 163ff. The 
convert Gerhard Lorichius, then pastor in Wetzlar, wrote as follows of 
the nobles : ' Qui hodie nobihtatis gloriam sibi vendicant, prae ceteris 
sunt fere omnes inhumani, iUiberales, astuti, feroces, difficUes, insuavos, 
intractabiles, severi, semper ad ulciscendum si quam acceperunt iniuriolam, 
proni . . . Sunt etiam legum egregii contemptores nobUistae nostrates. . . 
Hie assiduas crajjulas, vestium et luxum phrigium et vanitatem insanam 
praeteriero, non hie molliciam sardanapahcam indicavero, non denique 
scortationes, stupra et adulteria, non propudiosum et infandum fastum, 

usuram et quaeque avaritia monumenta profcram Quis hodie 

latrocinando grassatur hberius, quis praedatur audacius, quis pubUcam 
pacem pertmbat frequentius atque paludati nostrates et eorum ministri ? 
.... Adeo crudelitas in Germania invalescit, ut etiam sanguinarii 
homines, homicidae sacrilegi, imo etiam qui ferro et igne omnio devastant 
incendiarii, nobilitatis absolutae gloriam sibi mereantur.' Monotessaron 
passionis Christi Jesu, cum expositione omnigenae orthodoxae doctrinae 
fecunda . . . authore Gerhardo Lorichio Hadamario (SaUngiaci [Solingen] 
1553) p. 118a. 


still more the burghers, imitated the princes. For 
instance it had become the fashion among Protestant 
Princes in the course of the sixteenth century, to intro- 
duce a strong French element in the education of their 
sons, and this custom spread among the nobles.^ 

^ Concerning the spread of French influence, in the higher circles 
■especially, see G. Steinhausen's treatise, ' Die Aufange des franzosischen 
Literatnr- und Kultureinflusses in Deutschland in neuerer Zeit,' in Koch's 
Zeitschr. fur vergleich. Literaturgesch., New Series, 7 (1894), especially p. 
366 ff., 370. In France they found ' a new ideal of culture and life which 
incited them to imitation,' p. 352. See also the same author's Gesch. des 
deutschen Brief es, ii. 5 ff. 

VOL. XV. A. A 




' If anyone/ says a Christian sermon of 1573, ' should 
want to describe the hfe of the burghers and peasants of 
our time he must begin with the inordinate, extravagant 
display in dress and jewellery of all sorts, which is now 
the fashion among the burghers and peasants, and even 
among the lowest orders, and then next speak of the 
bestial gorging and drinking, of the inhuman carousals 
and drinking-bouts which go on in town and country 
alter the example of the princes and lords, and as it 
were in the highest seat of government/ ' We will 
first therefore," the preacher goes on, ' deal with the 
devil of dress, fashion, adornment and pride, and then 
with the devil of gluttony and drunkenness ' ; ' pardon 
me, dear Christain friends ' he adds, for using such foul 
names, but I can do no otherwise ; for I wish to be true 
and to speak German and I cannot embellish foul things, 
things that are most highly injurious to us all, with fine- 
sounding names/ ^ 

1. Dress and Fashion — Means of Embellishment — 
Gold and Silver Ornaments — Extravagance 
AMONG the Lower Classes 

Extravagance in dress and a craze for fashion beyond 
all measure and reason was a characteristic feature of 

^ Ein christlich Predigt wider das unmdssig Schmucken, Prassen und 
Vollsavfen (1578) BI. A. 


the closing Middle Ages,^ and one which grew more 
and more pronounced in the course of the sixteenth 
century, maintaining an inverse relation to the declining 
prosperity of the land.^ In the first decades after the 
outbreak of the religious disturbances, it certainly 
seemed as if ' greater modesty and decorum in dress 
were coming in ' ; very soon, however, morahty 
preachers had to complain that ' from their own observa- 
tion they could see that grandeur and shamelessness in 
dress were increasing from year to year, and that the 
fashions were more capricious and expensive than ever 
before ; and that the craze for everything foreign was 
also increasing.' ^ ' Nearly all nations and countries,' 
wrote Joachim Westphal in 1565, * keep to their own 
special costume and form of dress, so that one can say : 
that is a Polish, that a Bohemian, that a Hungarian 
or Spanish costume. We Germans, however, have 
nothing definite, but mix everything together ; Italian, 
French, Slav and almost Turkish fashions ; if people 
were to judge only by our clothes they would not know 
what to make of us, or what nation we belonged to.' * 
* It is, alas ! well known ' said the Meissen Superintendent 
Gregory Strigenicius, ' that with Italian clothes and 

^ See our remarks vol. ii. 62-70. 

- Steinhausen, Gesch. cles deutschen Briefes, ii. 3 : ' Luxury and extra- 
vagance, against which dress and wedding ordinances and other bye-laws 
waged incessant warfare after the second half of tlie sixteenth century, were 
a characteristic feature of this period. BrilUancy and display are not signs 
of great well-being, but the accompaniment of a universal mania. The misery 
of the Thirty Years' War could not eradicate this spirit. Luxury, despite 
all the numberless ordinances against it, flourished more and more ; the 
decline of agriculture necessitated the semblance at least of prosperity.' 

^ Predig wider den uhermdssigen und unverschdmten Kleiderschmuck 
(1542) Bl. A. 

•» Der Hoffartsteufel, Bl. B 7. 

2 A 2 


French fashions all sorts of ItaUan and French ways and 
morals and numbers of foreign words are brought to 
Oermany. It is a bad sign when the customary 
dress of the land is given up and foreign costumes 
adopted ; and it is to be feared that the nations 
we imitate in dress will one day possess themselves of 
Germany/ ^ 

Concerning the incessant changes of fashion Joachim 
Westphal said in 1565 : ' Who could or would recount 
all the manifold wonderful and eccentric shapes and 
styles in dress, both for ladies and gentlemen and the 
common people, which have come in and gone out during 
the last thirty years, all the varieties in the chains, 
cloaks, mantles, furs, ruffles, gowns, caps, collars, hats, 
boots, jackets, petticoats, doublets, capes, stomachers, 
hose, shoes, slippers, firearms, powder flasks, and so forth ? 
We have had to be in turn Polish, Bohemian, Hungarian, 
Turkish, French, Italian, English or devilish, Nurem- 
bergist, Brunswickian, Franconian or Saxon ; and every 
size and style have had their run : short, long, narrow, 
wide, plain, plaited, braided, corded, wadded, gallooned, 
with fringes, with tags, with rags, whole or slashed up, 
hned and unhned, with sleeves, without sleeves ; with 
foolish headgear party-coloured, crumpled, pointed, 

• Strigenicius, Jonas, 384 . (** See also the complaints of the Augus- 
tinian Joh. Hoffmeister in Paulus, Hoffmeister, 361 S.). With the evidence 
of contemporaries Julius Lessing is not in agreement when he says in his 
article ' Der Modeteufel ' (Berlin, 1884) : ' We regard the grave, decorous 
dress of the Reformation period as a faithful expression of this age of 
manly, vigorous striving ' (p. 9). Far more appropriate to this period 
was the exclamation of Moscherosch (f 1669), in Philander von Sittewald .> 
' Come hither ! you call yourself a German ! Your whole get-up would 
tell quite another tale. No sooner does a senseless Italian fasliion come 
up, than you ill-advised apes must instantly imitate it, even though it 
should vary every three months.' 


blunt, with or without tassels and tufts ; then it had to 
be of leather, felt, cloth or hnen, of all stuff and forms 
without end or measure. At one moment is worn the 
Swiss cut, the next moment the cross-cut, then a pea- 
cock-tail is cut in the hose, and this produces such a 
scandalous and abominable result, that a pious heart 
must be horrified at it. For no thief on the gallows 
can dangle backwards and forwards, and look more 
ragged and tattered than the present-day hose of the 
swashbucklers and grandees. Fie for shame/ ^ 

The garment here alluded to, the most ridiculous of 
all fashion's vagaries, and the plainest token of a demor- 
alised period was the trunkhose which came into vogue, 
in the Protestant district especially, after the middle 
of the sixteenth century. * At this time,' writes Olde- 
cop in his Annals of the year 1555, ' the great trousers 
came in.' 'Schlodder' or slashed hose were made with 
6 ells of English cloth and 99 ells of Karteke drawn 
through great shts that were cut in the thicker material, 
which only^came down to the knee ; the thinner stuff, 
drawn through the slits hung down to the feet in folds 
and plaits. A very thin silk material, Kartek or Arras, 
was used for this purpose, and as much as 30 or 
50 ells were often needed, so that the ' Pluderhose ' 
was often a very expensive article of apparel. It was 
an invention of the Landsknechts who were at the 
head of the fashion and dress movement. Accord- 
ing to a Nuremberg chronicle the ' Pluderhose ' 
was first introduced in 1553 in the camp of the 
Elector Maurice of Magdeburg.^ Hans Sachs, in 

^ Hoffartsteufel, I. c. 

" Falke, Deutsche Trachten- und Modenwelt, ii. 45 ff. Falke, Zur Kulhir 
und Kunst (Vienna, 1878) p. 129 ff. ** The passage from Oldecop's 


1537, makes Beelzebub say to Lucifer concerning the 
Landsknechts : 

More savage folk you cannot find, 
Their clothes are of the wildest kind, 
Slashed, hacked and cut in strangest guise. 
Part of their legs they do expose, 
The other part has great wide hose 
Hanging right down to their toes. 
In short their whole form is most evil 
Just like old pictures of the devil. * 

In a folk song reprinted from a lampoon of 1555 it says : 

To him who wants to know 

The latest curiosity, 

The soldiers folk can show 

A hideous atrocity. 

Hosen they make now 

Down to the ankle-bones I vow. 

They hang as big as a calf's head. 

And silk withouten bounds. 

No money 's spared thereon. 

E'en should they begging go. 

Ye nobles, lords and princes. 

These evUs take to heart, 

To rid us of these vices 

Do each of you his part ; 

For God wiU reckon with you, 

He 's given you the power, 

Break down the wicked, for right quickly 

Comes God's judgment hour. - 

Chronicle is now printed in the original text in the edition of EuUng, 
384 ff. Oldecop is pleased to regard this shameless and costly garment 
as an outgrowth of misapplied evangelical freedom, and to make Luther 
directly responsible for it. ' Now I know full well,' he writes, ' whence 
this devil with his vanity has come, for at the beginning of this " freedom " 
I was at Wittenberg, and for more than a year, and I bear witness before 
God, and wiU stand by it, that the seed, birth and whole progeny of this 
Hose-devil has come from nowhere else than from the doctrine of Dr. 
Martin Luther at Wittenberg ' (p. 386 of the edition of Euling). Cf. also 
Lau, Bitch Weinsberg, iv. 257. 

^ Hans Sachs, published by A. v. Keller, v. 123. 

^ Uhland, Alte hoch- und niederdeutsche Volkslieder, i. 525-531 ; cf. ii. 
1020 to No. 192. 


Some of the princes certainly did try to put a stop 
to this ' devihsh attire.' Joachim II. of Brandenburg, for 
instance, soundly punished the wearers of it. One 
man who figured about the streets in ' Pluderhose/ and, 
to make himself more conspicuous still, had a musician 
playing the fiddle in front of him, was by Joachim's 
orders confined for three days in a prison, through the 
bars of which he was on view to the pubhc, and the 
fiddler was made to play before him all day long. 
Another time Joachim punished a nobleman who went 
to church on Sunday in grand ' Pluderhose,' by having 
the girth of his hose cut away, so that the whole 
mass of toggery fell to the ground and the nobleman, 
in this humihating plight, was obliged to hurry home 
amid the laughter of the people. Andreas Musculus, 
the superintendent-general of the Middlemark, pub- 
lished in 1555 his ' Vermahnung und Warnung vom 
zerluderten, zucht- und ehrverwegenen pludrigten Hosen- 
teufel,' 1 in which he demonstrated that all those, be 

1 See Osborn, TeufelsUteratur, 98 S. Osborn brought out at Halle, 
in 1894 a new edition of Musculus's Hosenteufel. ' The incentive to this 
publication' saysW. Kawerauin the AUgemeine Zeitung, 1895, Beil. No. 212, 
' is not without its comic side. On a certain Sunday in 1555 at Frankfort, 
on-the-Oder, the Dean of the Oberkirche, Licentiate Melchior Dreger, had 
preached an edifying sermon against " Pluderhosen," and earnestly 
admonished his hearers to abstain from this iniquitous fashion. When 
he again mounted the pulpit the following Sunday, behold — oh, horror of 
horrors ! — just in front of him, hanging high up on a pillar, he saw a pair 
of the anathematised trousers which some rascal, presumably a student, 
had taken great trouble to fix up. Musculus, the superintendent-general, 
and also professor at the Frankfort university, whose whole existence 
was battle and strife, was not the man to let such an offence pass unnoticed ; 
on the contrary, he set heaven and earth in motion to find out the delin- 
quent and deHver him up to the justice. As, however, all his efforts 
were futile, on the day of the Assumption he himself mounted the pulpit 
and with the whole fury of his vigorous polemics he thundered against the 
' zerluderte, zucht- und ehrerwegene, Pluderichte Hosenteufel,' whereby 
he added this new special devil to the Lutheran Devil's literature of that 


they Landsknechts, nobles, people of the court, or even 
of still higher rank, who dressed in such abominable 
devil's hose, were sworn and abject lieges of the nether- 
most depths of hell. ' These new hose-devils ' he said 
' were the cause that the enemies of the gospel blasp- 
phemed against it and declared that whatever people 
might sing, say or write about the new doctrine, it 
was not possible that it came from God/ ' A 
Christian,' he goes on, ' might well wonder and ask him- 
self what could be the reason why such clothing was 
not made and worn by any but by Christians, and why 
it should be nowhere so common and terrible as in 
those very lands and towns in which God had poured 
out His grace, and had caused His precious Word and 
pure doctrine to be preached. For if any one had the 
desire, out of curiosity, to see these said " Pluderhosen " 
in all their horror and profusion, he must not seek for 
them under the papacy, but must go into the towns 
and countries which were now called Lutheran and evan- 
gehcal : there he would see them in plenty, and his heart 
would be sad within him, and he would be appalled 
and horrified as at the most gruesome sea-prodigy.' i 

Other preachers inveighed in similar style against 
this fashion, and gave accounts in special pubHcations 
of all sorts of portents, and tokens which were evidence 
of God's displeasure at these 'Pluderhosen.' For in- 
stance, a child was born with ' Pluderhose,' and ruffs 
round its neck and wrists ; the devil boxed the ears of a 
painter who had portrayed him in ' Pluderhose.' " But 

period ' (For the rest of this note readers are referred to the German, 
vol. viii. p. 252, n. 2 [thirteenth and fourteenth editions]). 

' In the Theatrum Diaholorum, 'Der Hosenteufel,' 433. 

- See Moehsen, 497-499. Cf. Spieker, Andreas Musculus, 166-175. 
** See also Bartsch, Sdchsische Kleiderordnungen, 20. 


in spite of all warnings and admonitions the new fashion 
gained the upper hand among artisans, ^ shop-people, 
councils, and even penetrated among the highest 
classes. * All nations/ wrote Musculus, ' ItaHans, 
Spaniards, Frenchmen, Poles, Hungarians, Tartars, 
Turks, wear the same kind of clothes and coverings for 
their bodies that have come down to them from their 
parents. Germany alone has become so possessed by 
the shameless demon of dress, that there is nowadays 
less modesty, decorum and discretion among us Ger- 
mans than in the Venusberg, although we all boast of our 
respectability and morality : but we haven't as much of 
these commodities as a fly could carry away on its tail.' ^ 
The ruhng authorities could not stop this fashion,^ 
but they endeavoured at least in their ' Dress ordin- 
ances ' to reduce the quantity of the costly material 
that was used for drawing through the slits. The 
Council of Brunswick in 1579 fixed 12 ells of silk 
as the allowance for the burghers ; the Council of 

1 ** Among students also, and even among school boys. At Witten- 
berg things went so far that the students, owing to the ' Pluderhose ^ 
(the purchase of which sometimes swallowed up the yearly revenue of a 
village), could no longer pay their college fees. In 1580 the government 
ordered the bursars of the Leipzig university not to wear anything slashed, 
whether the silk were above or beneath the article of clothing. The 
school ordinance of the same year decreed that ' The boys were not to 
be dressed like Landsknechts, but were to be respectably clothed in such 
apparel as is customary among pious, honourable people ; and the masters 
must not allow any of them to wear ' slashed Bloderhose, plumed hats, great 
full sack sleeves, slashed shoes, and so forth.' — Bartsch, I. c. 

" Theatrum Diabolorum, 432''. 

•' ** In 1565 Count John of Nassau forbade the wearing of the * abomin- 
able long, bagging " Pluderhose " on pain of imprisonment and a money 
fine ' ; the tailors who made such garments were to be punished in like 
manner; Achenbach, Oesch. der Staclt Siegen von 1530-1560, p. 14. 
In Nuremberg a man in ' Pluderhose ' was hung on the gallows as a warning, 
to others. 


Magdeburg, in 1583, allowed 18 ells of Kartek at 
the utmost, but this quantity was only for the mayors, 
the patricians and the well-to-do members of the 
community ; the Council of Rostock in 1585 allowed 
12-14 ells of silk, but only for the nobles. i 

Besides the ' Pluderhose ' the ' Gansebauch ' (goose 
stomach) was another of the most abominable articles 
of male apparel : ' a great hanging belly," wrote Kirchhof 
in 1601, ' which the tailors stuff out with wadding, 
a disgraceful object.' - In 1586 Lucas Osiander had 
already preached against ' the horrible, long, stufied out 
goose-belhes, which start from just below the throat 
and hang down a long way below the girdle, as a balcony 
hangs from a house.' To be specially grand the pouch was 
overlaid with strips of silk, velvet or gold material, or 
hung on with gold and silver cords. '^ ' And who could 
tell of all the luxury and extravagance which the greater 
number of men, young and old, indulge in ? ' ' Eound 
their hats they wear gold bands with clasps and rings, 
hke women's girdles. Their hair must all be roughed 
up hke an angry sow's, and behind it is all ragged and 
jagged as if a young kitten had been scratching at it. 
They look for all the world like a Pohsh peasant creeping 
out of his straw in the morning. Then, too, they sport 
women's ruffles and hang gold chains round their throats. 
Their sleeves are so big and sausagey that they look 
like ammunition bags.' ' The sleeves are so large and 
wide that the arm can scarcely carry them. Many people 
hide all their goods and chattels in them, as that prince 
said to his councillor : "I take it you have all your 
manorial property hidden in oiu^ sleeves ! " These 

1 Falke, Deutsche Trachtenvelt, ii. 49. - Wendunmuth, ii. 200. 

3 Falke, ii. 124. Cf. Strauss, Kleider-Pausteufel, 24-30. 


sleeves are gathered in at the wrist so as to form 
grooves.' ^ 

' If we were to dress up the prodigal son,' wrote 
Caspar Stiller at Freistadt, ' during his period of riotous 
hving according to the present fashion of our country, we 
should have to say of him that he wore a silk mantle, 
had a rough shock head with a fine plumed hat, and 
a pearl circlet, a short velvet doublet and large Lyons 
trousers, a beautiful ruff or collar of costly cambric, 
rings on his fingers, bracelets on his arms, a fine gold 
chain round his waist, a sharp rapier at his side, silk 
stockings, a wealth of thick-tasselled knee-bands, 
pohshed Cordova leather shoes, and velvet slippers 
over them.' ' He also always carried some sweet scent 
about him, a wreath of flowers on his hat, or a musk-ball 
in his hand : indeed he thought it necessary that all his 
clothes should emit a pleasant odour round about.' ^ 

' Any one who wants to cut a fine dash,' says a 
lampoon of 1594, ' must not dress in good old German 
style, but in Spanish, Itahan or French costume, and 
must also sport the manners and gestures of these nations ; 
above all he must wear a high, pointed, cocked up felt 
hat, a great, broad ruff and a bristhng Markolfus knot 
and a finely trimmed beard.' ^ 

' In order to be taken for persons of distinction ' 
says Aegidius Albertinus, ' some men wear quite long 
and full beards, in Greek style, others cut their beards 
short round the mouth, leaving only two long cat's 

^ Richard, Licht und Schatten, 51. 

' Stiller, Bl. K 2"-K3, Bl. O 2. 

^ Scheible, Schaltjahr, iv. 131-132. ** ' The tailors ' said Cyriacus 
Spangenberg in 1570, ' hacked and slashed up the clothes tiU the wearer 
looked as if the pigs had been eating out of him, or as if he had been hanging 
on the gallows for a week.' — Ehespiegel, 69''. See also above p. 341. 


tails to pull ; others shave off the whole beard like 
Turks, sometimes leaving two points or a tuft ; others 
follow the French, Spanish or Italian ' marquis ' fashion. 
* Other coxcombs let their hair grow long, so that 
it hangs down over their shoulders ; others again let 
no hair grow at all ; they go about with necks bare 
almost down to the hips, and have themselves fre- 
quently shaved, bathed, singed, shampooed and some- 
times painted ; they use costly perfumes, anoint 
themselves with rose-water, with precious, sweet-scented 
balsam, musk and civet ; they will often stand a whole 
hour before the looking-glass ' ; ' when my lord goes 
out of the house he looks more like a Spanish doll or 
a woman than a fine, dignified man/ ^ 

The dress of women and young girls, in large towns 
and small ones, and also among the peasants' wives and 
daughters, who all imitated what they saw at princes' 
courts and among the nobles, was quite^equal, so the 

' Hausspolicey, Part iv. 118,''-! 19. Of. Aegidius'Albertinus, Der Welt- 
Tummel- tmd Schauplatz, 922-923, 926. See also M. Volcius, Predigten, 
where it says (pp. 70-71), ' When they have to pay one or two hundred 
gulden for a cloak or some other unnecessary piece of finery they do not 
pity themselves in the least. But if they are asked to spend as many 
Batzen or Kreuzer on the poor for the love of God they think they will be 
ruined. Velvet and silk are no longer of any account ; they must have 
still costlier materials such as formerly were only worn by princes, and 
great lords and potentates, but which are now in common use among the 
burghers. They are indeed at a loss to procure stuff that is expensive 
enough. There are numbers of conceited coxcombs who when they 
have got the most splendid coat that can be made, directly they see some 
one else wearing one like it, will have no more of it, but must forthwith 
order something else which nobody has got. Do not our young men 
stalk about in great, stuck up, terrible ruffles, which almost entirely 
hide their heads ? Our young nobles and bachelors parade the streets 
with locks of dirty hair on a half-shorn head ; they stilt on high heels 
and pointed soles like goats ; the ribbons and fluffy stuff round their 
bodies and knees and shoes make them look like mad shaggy dogs or like 


preachers complain, to male attire in extravagance, 
eccentricity, immodesty and changeableness. ' Folly 
of this sort had indeed cropped up frequently in former 
times, but no one could deny that it was now 
growing worse and worse, and that it was all the more 
pernicious because the welfare and prosperity of the 
country, as was plainly manifest, were decreasing daily." 
' Burgher women and their young daughters,' so 
the accounts say, ' wear velvet hoods with trimmings 
of marten and ostrich feathers, and clothes made of 
^' nesselgarn " (nettle yarn), or some quite transparent 
stuff. Some of them line the transparent sleeves with 
gold tinzel and trim their dresses with gold braid. And 
what shall we say of the flounced, frilled, furbelowed, 
puffed, ruffled, embroidered dresses, and the petticoats 
which nowadays must be bedizened with pearls. 
Nothing good can come of it, and misery and want 
quickly follow. ' And in order that the idiotcy of us 
Germans may be quite unmistakable there must also 
be bells in the get-up ; yes, women and maidens must 
wear silver bells on their arms ! Then, too, the fine 
ruffles must hang down over their hands so that they 
dip and drag into all the plates and dishes ; and these, 
too, must be so transparent that, hke a cobweb, they 
:scarcely hang together. There must also be trains to 
drag in the mud when the women walk out. Another 
quite new dodge is to stiffen the trains with wire or 
old fig-baskets ; this used to be done with felt. They 
.also wear transparent clothes of nettle yarn and naked 
arms and open throats. Not less ridiculous and varied 
.are the ways they have of doing up their hair. Natural 
hair counts for nothing, it must be bleached ; they 
wear fine, thick, large, yellow tresses, borrowed or 


bought. It is now a common practice for women to 
cut of! the hair of dead people who had pretty hair, and 
to plait it in with their own/ ' Women also make their 
hair into a boar-feme : they drag their hair up over a 
wire frame — the sticks are drawn over and across the 
uprights. The hair was drawn up from the forehead 
and temples and the back of the neck, and it mounted 
spirally, with many twists and turns, up into a point, 
in Itahan fashion. Fixed firmly in the heights with 
hair-pins and wire, and plaistered do^vn with sticky 
stuff, the coiffure often supported a heavy weight of 
ornaments, pearl ropes, jewels, and other precious 
things.' ' Our women also nowadays procure from Italy 
tiny velvet hats, not meant to cover the head, but 
only for ornament and vanity ; they are so small that 
they do not cover a fourth part of the head, and it looks 
just as if a woman had stuck an apple on her head and 
said : " That 's a hat." ' 

' Who could count up all the tons of gold that are 
spent on such unnecessary female toggery in a single 
year, in a single small town, not to speak of the large 
towns ? ' ' Think now, for God's sake, dear reader, how 
great must be the folly, vanity and naughtiness of 
these women who, merely for washing and crimping 
a rufHe to adorn themselves with, pay fifty Eeichsthaler. 
Think again whence it is that so many great ladies and 
gentlemen come to poverty, trouble, disgrace, and 
disaster." i 

A special channel of expenditure was the fashion 
for long trains. At Nuremberg in the fifteenth century, 
a decree was issued forbidding women and girls to wear 
gowns ' that trailed more than a third of an ell on the 

^ Guarinoni, 67. 


ground ; for every gown longer than this a fine of three 
gulden is imposed for each day or night on which it is 
worn/ 1 ' Nowadays burgher women and their young 
daughters, even in very small towns, sometimes wear 
trains two ells long and much longer ; and this not only 
as an exceptional thing at festivities, but also when 
walking in the streets, where they sweep up the dust 
and the mud/ ' Oh, you senseless women,' exclaims 
Aegidius Albertinus, ' is it not enough that on your 
heads you wear false hair, silk and gold coifs covered 
with pearls, high hats and enormous clumps of feathers^ 
that you hang chains and necklaces round your throats, 
and girdles round your waists, and cover your arms with 
bracelets, your fingers with rings ; is it not enough that 
with your large, ample hoods, your frilled, furbelowed, 
slashed, puffed, expansive gowns, you sail about hke 
a majestic ship with sails outspread : must you over 
and above all this drag after you a tremendous tail ? ' 
' If you walk out in the winter in the streets you sweep 
up the mud with this tail ; if you walk out in the summer 
you stir up and scatter about the dust, blinding with 
grit the eyes of those who walk behind you ; people 
who are not strong are sometimes made ill by all this 
dust ; they get coughs, and they spit out and curse the 
women who are walking in front of them and stirring 
up so much dust. Oh costly trains, oh fine, fatal 
besoms, with which you so dihgently cleanse the streets 
and sweep up the dust and the mud ! ' ^ 

Another flagrant sign of corrupting vanity and 
luxury complained of by the preachers, one which in 
former times had only been in vogue among the pampered 

^ Baader, Niirnberger Polizeiordnungen, 99. 
2 Hausspolizei/, Part iv. 212 ff., 228^' ff. 


ladies of the higher classes, but had now become common 
with the bm:gher women and their daughters, and even 
with young men and dandies, was the custom of * rouging, 
of painting the eye-brows, and smearing on all sorts of 
false colours, which in no other country was so common 
among the lower orders.' ' It is supposed to produce 
great beauty, this painting and daubing, but in a 
short time it makes people look wrinkled, sallow, and 
ugly.' 1 ' The ingredients out of which the cosmetic is 
made,' ^vrites Aegidius Albertinus, ' are unwholesome 
and nasty, and the mixture has a most abominable 
smell, as those know best who prepare it and have to 
do with it.' ' When the face becomes hot, the paint 
melts, and between the white there appear streaks of 
black, yellow, and blue, and these different colours 
make the face look ugly and horrible ; sometimes the 
mixture actually trickles down in drops.' ' And though 
they may say that this only happens to people who are 
not adepts at the art, I say that the greatest adepts, 
even if they can deceive the eye, cannot deceive the nose.' 
' Certainly women would consider it a great deformity 
and disfigurement if they had six fingers on their hands ; 
why then do they think that a paste three fingers 
thick improves their faces ? ' ~ ' When women,' he says 
in another place, ' use quicksilver, fat of snakes, the 
dung of adders, mice, dogs and wolves, and all sorts 
of other disgusting, stinking things (which for very 
shame I cannot mention) for their cosmetics, and smear 
their foreheads, eyes, cheeks and Hps with this poison, 
it gives them for a while a bright-coloured, shining 
face, but in a short time they become all the more ugly 

^ J. Reinhold, Predig uber den unbdndigen Putzteufel (1609), p. 3. 
" Hausspolizey, Part iv. 212 S. 


and old-looking, and when they are forty they look 
as though they were seventy.' ^ ' Meister Fortius 
Vincentz,' published in 1593 under the title, ' Schminke 
fiir die Jungfrawen und Weiber die sich unterm Ange- 
sichte schon machen und schminken,' &c., an interesting 
philippic against the fashions of painting and hair- 
dressing of that period.- ' Women,' wrote the preacher 
John Reinhold in 1609, ' regard the books which have 
appeared at Frankfort compiled from the works of 
the Italian surgeon Leonardo Fioravanti, as excellent 
treasuries of things hitherto unknown. They think to 
find in them all the secrets and mysteries of heaven 
knows what hidden medicines, and to learn how to 
preserve their beauty : they buy these writings at great 
€ost as though they were the revelation of God and 
priceless treasures.' ^ To the number of these writings 
belonged a publication which appeared at Frankfort 
in 1604, a ' Kompendium der sekreten Geheimnisse und 
verborgenen Kiinste,' the fourth book of which dealt 
with all ' sorts of cosmetics which women are in the 
habit of applying to their faces and breasts.' ' The 
art of cosmetics,' says this book, ' was no less thought 
of at that period than were medicine and surgery 
themselves.' Amongst other things it taught the 
preparation of an oil ' which would not only produce 
a, beautiful face, but also a cheerful disposition ' ; 

' Luzifer''s Konigreich, 106-107. ** Duke Henry Julius of Brunswick 
in one of his comedies made fun of the women who paint and daub their 
faces and make the image of God into a devil's mask : whereby also 
they injure their health and grow old and wrinkled before their time, 
^sometimes even become quite blind. — Schauspiele des Herzogs Heinrich 
Julius, 82. 

■^ H. Hayn, Bibliotheca Germanorum erotica (Leipzig, 1885), p. 434. 

•'* Wider den unbdndigen Putzteufel, Predig von J. Reinhold (1609), 
p. 5. 



anotlier oil made ' all faces which were rubbed with 
it so bright and beautiful that they shone like mirrors/ ^ 
Amongst the hundred and more varieties of oil which 
the preacher Frederick Helbach described in 1605, 
there was also a magic oil invented by an Italian doctor : 
' Whoever uses this oil every day for a month will 
appear to have been made young again ; but whoever 
goes on using it for more than a year, although he be 
old will look like a young person again/ The much 
used balsam oil, also, was said to restore youth ; the 
effects of a third oil were learnt by a famous doctor from 
a woman, w^ho was a mistress of the art of beautifying 
or painting/ ~ * It is also the fashion nowadays,* 
Reinhold says fm-ther, 'for the sake of health and beauty, 
as they say, to drink pearls and eat precious stones ; 
and one hears not only of high princely and noble 
personages, male and female, but also of burghers' 
wives and daughters and young dandies and fools, 
even of tradespeoples' servants, who do this, if only 
they can raise enough money/ ^ The Strasburg doctor 
Gualtherus Ryfi gave a recipe ' ordered by one of the 
old doctors,' for making a confection of precious stones. 
' This concoction,' he said, ' takes away the pale, 
deadly complexion and makes people look blooming, 
gives the whole body a pleasant and dehghtful odom*, 
drives far away all melancholy, sadness and dyspepsia, 
and also restores to strength those who are half dead/ ^ 
Contemporaries were especially struck with the 
fact that ' vain and frivolous women practised on 

• Compendium, <t-c. ' Translated from Italian into German on account 
of its manifold usefulness ' (Frankfort, 1604), p. 273-327. 
■ Helbach, 92, 103-104. 111. 
^ ]Vidir den rnibandigen Putzteufel, p. 5. 
^ Spiegel und Regiment der Gesitndtheit (Frankfort, without date), p. 204'V 


their quite yoiing children the same folHes which they 
indulged in for themselves/ ' Is it not/ they asked, 
* a matter of the greatest wonder, that it is becoming 
more and more the fashion to bedaub little girls, and 
even httle boys, of four to eight years old, with cosmetics, 
to paint and besmear them, and to carry on other 
frivoHties with innocent childhood ? Dressing them, 
for instance, in velvet and silk, hanging pearls and 
gold chains about them ? * i In a Hamburg dress 
ordinance of 1583, it says : ' Whereas during the last 
years inordinate smartness has obtained in the dressing 
and adornment of children, and young boys and girls, 
we herewith forbid, under pain of considerable punish- 
ment, the putting of gold hoods on children's heads 
and dressing boys up in silk and pearls and gold/ 
Two years later this ordinance was renewed ; ^ in 1618 
there followed the enactment that ' Children under 
eight years shall not wear gold chains at all ; from 
eight years and onwards they shall not wear chains that 
cost more than 20 gold gulden ; but they must not 
wear such chains on their arms, and also they must not 
wear velvet clothes embroidered with gold or silver/ ^ 

To what lengths the outlay in dress and ornaments 
went was especially manifest at weddings and other 
family gatherings. 

1 Reinhold, I.e. Cf. p. 370, n. 3. 

- Voigt, Die Hamburgischen, Hochzeits- m. Kleiderordnungen, xvi. 47. 

^ Zeitschr. fiir Hamhurger Gesch. i. 560. ** See also Bartsch, Sdchsische 
Kleiderordnung, 23 ff. The above-named writer says : ' No other century- 
carried extravagance so far in ornaments of gold, silver, pearls and precious 
stones as did the sixteenth and the beginning of the seventeenth century 
in Germany. But Germany was by no means at the head in this respect ; 
nevertheless the expenditure of the German people on jewellery at that 
period bears no comparison to that of our own day. The women especially 
as may be imagined, lusted after it, so that Luther in his coarse way calls 
them ' senseless animals who are insatiable as regards ornaments.' 

B B 2 


* When I was a boy,' wrote the Meissen Suj^erin- 
tendent Gregory Strigenicius in 1595, ' the young 
women always wore at wedding festivities silver chains, 
and velvet girdles with silver or gilt clasps. This 
was the highest ornamentation at that time. Now, 
however, they must all wear gold chains which go 
once or several times round the throat, and real silver 
girdles ; the lace must be quite stiff, with large pearls 
and must be made in the most ingenious manner. 
People are always wanting something new and rare. 
Whatever is strange, foreign, Turkish, Spanish, French, 
is most popular. Everything must be corded, braided, 
crimped, plaited and wondrously embroidered. More 
must be spent on dress and adornment than the other 
household expenses of a whole year : 400 or 500 gulden 
more. When I was young, a father of a family could 
have dressed all his children for what must now be spent 
on one daughter only. Formerly young ladies put 
their wreaths on their heads, now they stick their 
little coronets on their foreheads, or hang them on one 
side, on one ear for instance, and they have to be 
fixed on so that they should not fall off. Round the 
throat they must have a great, long, thick ruffle made 
of the costliest cambric, which has to be starched 
and crimped with a hot iron, and supported with silver 
or other wire made especially to hold up these ruffles.' 
* The sleeves must be open under the arms so that 
the white skin may be seen and admired. The amount 
of vanity that is expended on the skirts is patent to 
every one. These must have long trains of velvet and 
silk, part of which must be transparent in order that 
the gold and silver lining may show through. Under 
the trains there must be a " springer," and in this a 


hoop, in order that the skirt may describe a circle, Hke 
a bell, and spread out far aild wide. In these structures 
they roll along hke beer vats ; they are unable to enter 
or leave their pews in church/ Half in despair, Stri- 
genicius adds : ' But go on ! Who knows who will 
tear your finery to pieces : maybe brother Landsknecht 
will trim his hose and his tatters with it/ i ' One 
single expensive wedding dress, '' wrote John Sommer 
in 1613, ' is no longer sufficient, there must be three, four, 
five, or six of different kinds of velvet and silk materials 
so that the bridegroom may dress and undress two or 
three times in the day. Yea, verily, three or four differ- 
ent coloured velvets are often used for one doublet 
and slashed and slit so that each one may be seen. 
The collars must be trimmed with pearls, and there is 
such splendour and smartness in the get-up of the 
bridegrooms that they look like the PJnglish comedians 
at the theatre." ^ ' At weddings in Berlin and Colln-on- 
the-Spree,' said the Elector Joachim Frederick of 
Brandenburg in 1604, ' they overload themselves with 
such an extravagant quantity of clothes and other 
expenses that after the weddings were over they are 
obliged to send their clothes to the rag fair where they 
scarcely got half the original price back."* ^ 

Not seldom ' the cost of the wedding clothes, 
jewellery and other splendour, was enormously higher 
than the whole amount of the marriage portion. 
Thus, for instance, the Frankfort publisher Sigmund 
Feyerabend, in 1589, gave his daughter a dowry of 
600 florins, while he spent 1000 florins on the wed- 
ding.'* When Lucas Geizkofler, in 1588, married the 

^ Strigenicius, Diluvium, 64-66. - Olorinus Variscus, ' Geldtklage,' 472j 
■* Mylius, i. Part 1, 78. ^ Pallmann, 63. 


daughter of an Augsburg patrician, 2000 gulden were 
settled on him out of the pkternal and maternal do^vry 
of the bride, to set against which he gave his bride 
2000 gulden and moreover, as a ' morning-present,' 500 
gulden. In this exchange of liberahties — dot and home- 
bringing of the bride, counter-dot and morning-gift of 
the bridegroom — the bridegroom's presents to his 
bride were : two gold chains, one of which went nine 
times round the throat, an emerald ring and a gold coif 
trimmed with pearls ; two signet rings with rubies 
and diamonds, one ring with sapphires, a gold bracelet 
and a pair of bracelets with Gesundsteine (health stones) ; 
a piece of satin, a piece of ' canasas,' and a piece of 
damask. The relations, too, received handsome presents 
in jewellery and costly materials. According to an 
exact calculation which Geizkofler made, the nuptial 
expenses, including the entertaining of the guests, 
amounted to 326 gulden 39 kreuzer for the betrothal 
ceremonies, and for the wedding itself 5873 gulden 
37 kreuzer. 1 The wedding of the Leipzig doctor 
Jonas Mostel in 1618, was considered highly punish- 
able for its extravagant costhness by the Elector 
of Saxony. The doctor took his departure with no 
less than 124 horses. He himself rode a brown nag 
with costly trappings ; the horse's bit and bridle, and 
the rider's spurs and sword were gilded, the saddle 
had a velvet covering worked and braided with gold 
and with black silk let in : he wore a suit of brown 
silk satin, on his hat was a plume of feathers and a 
jewelled ornament, and the horse also had feathers 
on his head and tail. At the church service the 
bridegroom wore ' a fine, black velvet suit, the 

1 Wolf, Lukas Geizkofler, 145-149. 


sleeves of which were made of gold pieces, and a 
mantle of black cloth lined with velvet the colour of 
his suit and embroidered with strips of black satin 
applique.' The bride wore ' a brown velvet gown with 
six rows of wide gold braid and a pearl necklace with 
pendant/ ^ 

Still greater pomp was displayed by the Bunzlau 
burgomaster Namsler at his wedding in 1614, The 
bridesmaid wore in her artistically dressed hair a com- 
plete and wonderful flower-garden, in which were 
252. choice flowers with leaves and stalks painted just 
hke nature. Large chandehers hung from her ears, and 
round her throat was a great gold chain with diamond 
loops and lockets ; from her bosom there ascended to 
the height of an ell a lace ruffle stiflened with wire, 
sewn all over with gold spangles and edged with gold 
lace ; her head was quite hidden in it. Her rose gown 
was distended by a hoop ; its train, twice the length of 
the garment, was edged with broad gold lace ; from 
stiffened slits in the sleeve there flowed triple rivers of 
lace ; on the golden stomacher there bloomed a whole 
garden of gay silk flowers ; her white gauntlet-gloves, 
embroidered with gold, had no fingers, and they left 
exposed to view the bright rings on the beautiful 
hands, which played now with the gold watch hanging 
on the left breast, now with the three-quarter-ell long fan- 
mirror. The partition line between the bosom and the 
mountain of the * hoop ' skirt was formed by a girdle tied 
round the waist. The stockings were white silk with 
gold clocks. The whole structure with all its rich and 
massive load, swayed backwards and forwards on a pair 
of high-heeled shoes of red silk stufl with pointed toes 

^ Weber, Atia vier Jahrhunderten, new series, i, 57-63. 


nearly half a foot long, and white heels of very great 
height/ 1 

The magnificence of the wedding presents was in 
keeping with that of the festivities. At the wedding of 
the chamberlain of the Elector of Mayence, Matthis 
Kreydt, in 1603, there were among the presents a gold 
pocal, sixteen gilt beakers, two of which were very large 
and worth 100 florins apiece, and all sorts of silver 
articles to the value of 1000 florins. ^ 

In a dress ordinance of 1530 leave was given to 
merchants and tradesmen to wear gold rings, and to 
their wives to wear girdles of the value of twenty gulden, 
and neck ornaments of the same value ; their daughters 
and haaids were allowed to wear hair bands, but these 
were not to exceed ten gulden ; the wives of councillors 
and patricians might wear a chain worth fifty and a girdle 
worth thirty gulden. But this ' ordinance of the empire 
and others issued later on, came so little into effect that 
little by little their regulations were exceeded fourfold and 
fivefold, as was shown by numerous burgher ordinances 
of the towns. The council of Weissenfels was obliged 
in 1598 to forbid the burghers to wear chains above the 
value of fifty and bracelets above that of twelve gold 
gulden.^ In Hamburg, according to an edict of 1583, 
the gold chains of the distinguished burgher women were 
not to cost more than 180 gold gulden, and their best 
necklaces not more than 100 gold gulden ; girls under 
fifteen were forbidden to wear gold chains at all.* The 

' From the report of Matheus Ruthard, who also describes the equally 
costly dress of the bride and bridegroom and the whole wedding festivities 
in V. Ledebur, Archiv, ui. 166-170. 

^ Archiv fiir hessische Oesch. und AUertumskunde, ii. 652, 655. 

'■* Neue Mitteilungen, xv. 434 , 

' Voigt, Die hamburgischen Hochzeits- und Kleiderordnungen, 11-12, 15. 


Brunswick councillor of mines, George Engelhart 
Lolineiss, inveighed against excessive display of orna- 
ments, but he said that the wives of tradesmen or shop- 
keepers might be allowed to wear a coif worth six thalers ; 
they might also wear a head-band worth twenty gold 
gulden, and bracelets worth five gold gulden, but not 

' The highly pernicious display with silk and velvet 
and other costly materials which was impoverishing 
Germany ' was, according to the statements of contem- 
poraries, ' habitual with all classes, even among common 
burghers and peasants, artisans and servant-maids. 
The material required in Germany during one year (1597) 
simply for male and female headgear was reckoned to 
have cost from 300,000 to 400,000 gulden/ As regards 
the use of silk, a contract was made at the Frankfort 
Fair with one single merchant for a consignment of silk 
to the value of one and a half million.^ 

While the great folk were vying with one another in 
splendour and blind imitation of all that was foreign, the 
fashions of the period were spreading among the lower 
classes of society and superseding the old simple dress 
of servants and working people. It was impossible, so 
it was complained, ' to distinguish maids from their 
mistresses ; luxury in dress had become a devouring 
poison with them also.' ' They wear fine gowns of 
velvet and silk, fine shifts with large frills, smart red 

Cf. Schwarten, ' Verordnungen gegen Luxus und Kleiderpracht in Ham- 
burg,' in the Zeitschr. fur deutsche Kulturgesch. (year 1897), p. 67 ff. In 
the Styrian poUce ordinance of 1577, it is decreed that ' ordinary burghers 
may wear two rings, with or without precious stones, but not above 
the value of ten gulden.' The more distinguished burghers were allowed 
to wear cloth at two gulden per ell, and ornaments to the value of thirty 
gulden. — Mayer, Oesch. der Steiermark, p. 282. 

' Lohneiss, 281. - Goldast, Poliiische Reichshdndel, 555. 


boots of Russian leather, shoes with white heels, velvet 
girdles, silk fichus, velvet purses, expensive lace, all 
sorts of silk galloons, red, green, yellow, black, white/ 
When they hire themselves out to service they do not 
only ask for sufficient wages, ' but also for twenty-four 
•ells of cambric, an under shift and an upper shift, a neck- 
collar of schamlot, a velvet ribbon, a pair of dancing 
shoes, a pair of red boots, a corset, two veils, a " Brabant '' 
veil and an ordinary one/ ^ Lohneiss insisted that 
maid-servants should be forbidden to wear ' high 
scalloped, tripping and clattering shoes, and wide 
bagging sleeves/ - 

' With the maid-servants the journeymen artisans 
were, so to say, in competition/ ' Many a poor journey- 
man,' wrote the preacher, Martin Bohemus,'at Lauben, 
in the ' Oberlausitz,' ' wears silk stockings, silk breeches, 
a silk mantle, a silk hat, and all his clothes must be of 
velvet and silk. Many a servant-maid must needs mix 
silk in with her clothes, at the cost of a whole year's 
wages and of what she has got out of her mistress, in 
order not to be below the mark in smartness. Women 
disport themselves in men's clothes and men in women's 
clothes, which God has expressly forbidden as a great 
piece of wantonness.' ^ 

Preacher Andreas Schoppius, of Wernigerode, said 
that * the daughters of poor town or country people and 

' Reinhold, Bl. 4. ' Der Tanzteufel,' in the Theatrum Diaholorum, 
222-223. In Jost Amman's Im Frauenzimmer ivird liermeldt von allerhi 
schonen Kleidungen, dsc. (Frankfort-on-the-Maine, 1586) there are two 
pictures of Frankfort maid-servants : v 

According to old use they wear 
Rough lioods of felt upon their hair. 

. When a maid-servant goes to church she carries her stool and her 
mantle on her arm.' 

- Lohneiss, 281. '^ Bohemus, i. 777, 782. 


maid- servants adorned themselves in a style which a 
few years ago would have been too good for the 
nobility/ ^ 

In Hesse, in 1610, Hartmann Braun, pastor at Griin- 
berg, complained that, ' Poor day labourers wear silk 
and velvet. Maid-servants who barely earn three gulden 
in the year must go about in elegant shppers, have high- 
heeled shoes, and wear gowns with seven or nine strips 
of ribbon sewn round the bottom.- Aegidius Albertinus 
inveighed against the female servant class for wearing 
trains hke the great ladies.^ ' The artisans,' M. Volcius 
complains in his sermons,* ' go about in velvet and silk, 
and their wives wear costly clothes trimmed and hung 
about with silver and jewellery, as though they belonged 
to the nobility. . . . Formerly an artisan bought himself 
one outfit of common stuff for two or three florins, which 
was respectable-looking and suitable to his station : now 
he pays as much for cords and braids to trim his coat, or 
to the tailor for making it.' ' Why then need we ask 
whence come poverty and high prices, and why there is 
no money among the people ? This godless, deviUsh, 
inordinate vanity consumes and devours all the money 
and is the reason that everything is as dear as possible ; 
and God will inevitably punish such scandalous pride.' 

That the morality preachers in their descriptions of 
' extravagant luxury in dress among servants, artisans, 
journeymen and suchlike ' did not lay the colours on too 
thick, is shown by the regulations for expenditure issued 
by princes and mimicipal authorities. 

In a dress ordinance of the Elector of Saxony in 1550, 

^ Triumphus muliehris, 63. 

2 Niedners, Zeitschr. filr histor, Theologie, 44, 436, 

^ Hausspolizei/, Part 4, 229. 

^l^Sechs schone Predigien (1615), 


artisans were altogether forbidden to wear velvet, satin, 
double taffeta and other expensive silk stuffs, gold 
chains, bracelets, rings ; all servants, male and female, 
were forbidden to wear silk and velvet, gold and silver, 
foreign cloths, and smart trains ; especially hoops, and 
gold wreaths ; also gold guldens, gold beads round their 
arms and other bracelets ; similarly common apprentice 
lads were not to wear ostrich or other feathers of all sorts 
of colours, &c., &c.^ 

In 1551, the Estates of the Oberlausitz decreed that 
* working men and day labourers in the country and the 
towns must not wear any gold, silver or pearls, or silk 
laces, nor embroidered collars to their shirts, and no 
feathers of ostriches or other foreign birds, no silk hose 
bands, or cut-down shoes, or birettas ; their wives and 
children must give up collars, veils with gold borders, 
gold, silver or silk girdles, all gold, silver, pearl orna- 
ments, and all silk attire.- In an edict issued for Berlin 
and Colhi-on-the-Spree the Elector Joachim Frederick, 
of Brandenburg, said in 1604 : ' All who see the present- 
day fashion of smartness in dress among people of all 
sorts, men, women and girls, artisans, and especially 
maid-servants in these two towns, and compare the 
dress of to-day with that which was formerly customary 
here, must own with surprise that vainty and pride have 
risen beyond everybody's means and are still continu- 
ally increasing, especially among women, who almost 
every month appear in a fresh costume, which they have 
either adopted or themselves originated, and none will 
be behind the other in this respect, however poor and 
needy they may be/ * Maid-servants nowadays strut 
about so proudly and smartly dressed that one can 

' Cf. Richard, 64-65. - Codex Angusteus, ii. Part 3, 85. 


scarcely see any difference between them and the families 
of burghers/ Accordingly he decreed that henceforth 
maid-servants must be forbidden, mider penalty of a 
fine, to wear any silk clothes, still less clothes trimmed 
with velvet, or to put any gold braids or cords on their 
heads. ^ In the little town of Hainan the day labourers 
and hand workers, together with their wives and children 
and the maid-servants, loaded themselves with all sorts 
of finery and frippery/ ' Many of them,' said the 
council of the town in 1598, ' spend all their wages on 
these senseless vanities, thus rushing through all that 
they earn and very soon coming to beggary/ The 
council therefore strictly prohibited, for the future, the 
wearing by working people of the costly, fanciful 
apparel of the higher classes ; maid-servants must not be 
allowed to hang tomfoolery round their throats and to 
set themselves up above their mistresses/ ~ 

In the same year the council of Weissenfels issued 
a burgher ordinance in which, among other things, it 
was said : ' Servants and day labourers shall be for- 
bidden to wear silk and velvet, gold and silver, braided 
and fine spun foreign or outlandish cloths, smart braids, 
trains to their gowns and petticoats, hoops and every 

^ Mylius, V. part 1, 78-80. Cf. the ordinance of 1580 in Mylius, v. 
abt. 1, 70. The ordinance of 1604, which laid down laws for individual 
classes in general, and aimed at reducing extravagance in expenditure, 
was issued by the Elector in 1600, but kept back for four years by the 
magistrates on account of the difficulty of enforcing such rules. When 
at last, at the urgent insistence of the Elector, it was ratified and pubUshed 
in 1604, it could not be carried into effect, ' because the inhabitants, 
especially the traders, set themselves against it.' — Fidicin, v. 502. 

- V. Ledebur, Archiv, iii. 184-185. Simultaneously the council 
decreed that ' Going about with naked breasts exposed to view is most 
earnestly forbidden to women and young girls.' ' The fashion of men and 
women greeting each other with kissing was also forbidden,' p. 179, 180. 


kind of bracelet. Journeymen artisans are not to 
wear silk stockings and large, long ostrich feathers.' i 

In the large towns still greater expenditure was 
met with. For instance, in 1568, the council of Nurem- 
berg forbade maid-servants among other things to wear 
fillets and pearls in their hair, to trim their gowns and 
petticoats with velvet and silk, and to wear lace.^ 
The council of Hamburg insisted in the years 1583 
and 1585 that ' maids, nurses and other servant women 
should not wear stomachers, petticoats or gowns of 
cochenil or other such bright colours ; also no pearls, 
or gold ornaments, no hoops round their clothes, no 
high-heeled pointed shppers or shoes, &c., &c.' ^ 
In an ordinance of 1618 the Hamburg council forbade 
all artisans and merchants' employes to wear ' velvet, 
caffar, satin or damask doublets, hose, or sleeves, 
gloves of pearls or gold, also gold seams on their gloves, 
and gold and silver cords on their clothes, and also silk 
stockings ' ; their wives were henceforth not to wear 
velvet, cafEar, satin or gold and silver braid on their 
gowns ; their pearl necklaces were not to be above the 
value of 100 marks.^ 

' The same luxury and extravagance in dress and 
jewellery which prevailed in the towns, great and small, 
is found,' says a publication entitled ' Putzteufel ' 
(demon of dress), ' almost in all parts of the empire, 
and also among the common peasant folk, notwith- 
standing that their poverty goes on increasing, and 
that the number of quite destitute among them grows 

^ Neue Mitteilungen, xv. 435. - Siebenkees, i. 98-100. 

^ Voigt, Die hamburgischen Hochzeiis- ii. Kleiderordnungen, xvii. 

■* Zeitschr. fiir Hamburger Gesch., i. 561-562. 


larger every year ; of the little they have they persist 
in spending one part on clothes and finery, the other 
on eating and drinking. One may hear them say : 
Why should I stint ? I would rather spend what I have 
on myself, my wife and children, cut a dash w^ith it 
or else pour it down my throat, than give it to the 
princes and nobles in taxes, which have come to be so 
exorbitant and which drain our life-blood. ' John Mathe- 
sius, however, gave the peasants food for thought 
respecting the burden with which they were oppressed : 
' When peasants ' he said, ' insist on dressing in gold 
and velvet, the old saying is verified, ' Weidenkopf und 
einen solcher stolzen Bauern muss man in drei Jahren 
einmal behauen.' (the top of the willow tree and such 
proud peasants must be cut down once every three 
years). And who knows but that the great taxes 
come from this, that peasants and their daughters dress 
nowadays like poor countesses.' ^ Zacharias Poleus, of 
Frankenstein, in a tragedy of 1603, makes two peasants 
discuss together the wretched condition of their class : 
amongst other things usury had become so great that 
12 per cent., besides presents, was exacted from the 
peasants ; the chief fault of this, however was the extra- 
vagance in dress which prevailed among themselves. 
Nowadays when a peasant woman married she must 
* have everything very grand ' : 

Whate'er new-fangled dress she sees 
That she must have at once, and she 's 
No whit ashamed of wearing it 
Though for her class it is not fit, 
Nor is a peasant now contented 
Unless her clorlies are ornamented 

^ Bergpostilla, 45. 


Sumptuously, in every place, 
With silken cords and velvet lace, 
Embroidered collars now they dare 
Like rich and noble folk to wear ; 
Nay, velvet is too poor and mean 
For servant-maids to-day I ween ; 
Something finer they must get, 
With pearls and gold and silver set. 

Om forefatliers knew nothing of this finery, but were 
quite content with a suit of simple cloth or hnen. 

But nowadays when money 's paid 
To farmer's man or servant-maid. 
Straight they go and spend their wages 
On clothing fit for lords and ladies. 
Silk and velvet they must wear, 
Nothing cheaper : I do swear 
No nobleman in olden time 
Was clad in raiment half as fine 
As that in which, now, peasants shine. ^ 

In an imperial police ordinance of 1530 it says : 
* We hereby decree that the peasants shall not wear any 
gold, silver, pearls or silk, or embroidered collars to 
their shirts worked in gold or silk, nor any breast-cloth, 
ostrich feathers, silk hose bands, scalloped shoes and 
buckles ; their wives are forbidden to wear collars of 
all sorts, ' tJbermiider ' (?) veils with gold borders, gold, 
silver or silk girdles, corals, paternosters, and all gold 
silver, pearl and silk ornamentation/ ^ 

A Pomeranian provincial ordinance of 1569 further 
^dded to this decree : ' the wives, daughters and maid- 
servants of peasants were to abstain from wearing 

' H. Palm, Beitrdge zur Gesch. der deutschen Literatur (Breslau, 1877), 
p. 121-122. 

- Neue Sammlung der Reichsabschiede, ii. 337. ** In the Styrian 
police ordinance of 1577 (Augsbm-g, Menger) the peasants were forbidden 
to wear gold and silver, silk stuflf and furs. Mayer, Gesch. der Steiermark, 
p. 282. 


slippers with gold tinsel, and also Spanish leather 

shoes and slippers/ ^ 

' Just as the burghers in Pomerania/ wrote Kantzow, 
' imitate the nobles, so the peasants will in no way be 
outdone by the burghers, and they now wear English 
and other good cloths of as fine a kind as formerly 
only nobles or burghers wore, and they compete with 
each other in dress in a way which they can very ill 
afford/ ^ In the villages of Bill and Ochsenwarder 
belonging to Hamburg the farmers and cottagers and 
their wives ' wear velvet and silk toggery and fringes, 
also silk and damask galloons, and collars trimmed 
wdth velvet.' ^ The same was the case everywhere in 
the north and the south. We read for instance in a 
Salzburg chronicle : ' Whenever a new fashion comes 
up in dress or anything, each one thinks he must be 
the first to have it ; as may be seen from the peasantry 
round about Salzburg, both men and women, also ap- 
prentice lads and maid-servants who dress in velvet and 
silk, which in the old times were only w^orn by knights 
and ladies." ^ It was ' pure truth ' which the preacher Bar- 
tholomew Hinojwalt in 1585 put into the following rhvme : 

There 's nowadaj^s in every land 
Great taxing, and hard times at hand, 
As in every class, I ween, 
Is all too plainly known and seen. 
Yet still each with another vies. 
In pomp which lessens in no wise. 
Garments slashed and slit and torn 
Hacked and gashed and rift are worn, 

^ Dahnert. iii. 817 : cf. the enlarged Schaferordnun^ of May 16, 1616. 
in Dahnert, iii. 831-832. - Kantzow, ii. 406-407. 

^ Voigt, Der hamburgische Hochzeits- unci Kleiderordnungen, 27-28. 
Zeitschr. fur Hamhiirger Gesch., vi. 524-52.5. 

•* Scheible, Kloster, vi. 671-672. 



Braided, broidered, trimmed, bedizened, 
Stiff, starched rufEs of monstrous size, and 
Hoops that make their skirts stick out 
Like tubs, and swing and sway about. 
Alas ! dear God, what will betide 
On earth through this gigantic pride. 
Which now aU German lands pervades, 
Without distinction in all grades ? ^ 

All the orders concerning expenditure issued for the 
different classes by the princes and municipal authorities 
remained without effect. Then, as later on, the words 
of Lauremberg in his poem, ' Von almodischer Kleider- 
dracht ' held good : 

The laudable dress regulations 

Are neither half nor wholly kept. 
The high authorities' intimations 

Into the rubbish-heap are swept. 

The laws for expenditure only served to show the 
greatness and stubbornness of the evil, as well as the 
powerlessness of those who ' laid down laws ' but who, 
as the preacher Reinhold admirably put it, * themselves 
and in their own famihes cared for no laws, and who 
even exerted a pernicious influence in that, by their own 
example, they incited the lower classes to vanity and 
the love of pleasure. 

All in vain did morality preachers point out how 
plainly the luxurious, extravagant mode of hfe now 
common everywhere, the passion for dress and finery, 
the excessive love of eating, drinking, and banqueting, 
betokened a lack of all higher intellectual interests, 
and the decline of religion and morahty, and how doubly 
ruinous inordinate expenditure and pleasure-seeking 
were to a people whose outward prosperity was con- 
tinually decreasing.2 

^ Hoffman v. Fallersleben, B. Ringwalt, 20-21. 

2 ' In a healthy nation luxor}'^ is itself healthy, in a sickly nation it is 

burgher and peasant life 387 

2. Eating and Drinking — Family Festivities and 
Public Amusements — ' Regular Banquets of 
Burghers and Peasants ' — Wines and Beers — 
Brandy Drinking — Length of Life. 

' When I was still young ' wrote Luther, * I remember 
that the majority of people, even among the rich, 
drank nothing but water and ate the very plainest food, 
and that which was easiest to obtain. Many people 
never tasted mne till they were thirty years old, or older. 
Nowadays even children are encouraged to drink" 
wine, and not only hght, ordinary wine, but the strongest 
foreign wines and also spirits, which they begin with 
the first thing in the morning. ' Drmikenness,' he 
adds, ' has become a common habit of the land.' i 
Similarly spoke also, in 1568, the theologian James 
Andrea, provost at Tiibingen and Chancellor of the 
university : ' The vice of drimkenness has now, for the 
first time in the memory of man, become common, 
every^vhere ; our dear forefathers under the papacy, 
as I have often heard old people tell, never allowed 
drunkards and wine bibbers to hold pubhc posts ; they 
were shunned and fled from at all weddings and social 
gatherings ; street boys ran after them and marked 
them as useless, godless people who were not wanted 
anywhere : now, on the contrary, drunkenness is no 

sickly. The history of any economic institution is, in small, the history 
of the whole people. As long as the national wealth is on the increase, 
consumption of goods likewise increases : decay sets in when by decreasing 
wealth consumption continues to grow. Then all luxury is unwise. But 
the economic decay of a people usually goes hand in hand with moral 
and poUtical decay. Thus in decaying nations luxury as a rule is immoral.' 
• — Roscher, Luxus, 51, 53. 

^ See our remarks, vol. iv. p. 150. 

c c 2 


longer regarded as a disgrace either among high or low 
classes/ ' Since we have been told that fasting in the 
papal manner is no good work, and not pleasing to God, 
but wrong and sinful, we, that is the great majority of 
us, have as it were ' thrown away the child with the 
bath ' (thrown away the good with the bad), and instead 
of fasting we have taken to gorging, sousing, swilling 
and banqueting, and when any one speaks to us of 
Christian fasting (or temperance) it sounds as if we 
were being admonished to become popish again/ ^ 

' Those who wish to remain in favour with the 
people, and not fall into great disgrace,' wrote the 
Frankfort preacher Melchior Ambach, ' dare not punish 
the swinish vice ; for to be tipsy and swinish is to be 
" merry, jovial, and good company," or to have " a 
good carouse or a good drink,'' and so forth. But when 
they find out that " somebody or other, in preaching, 
has touched this dirt " they let fly with cursing and 
blaspheming hke maniacs.' ^ The old religionists, said 
another preacher, speak as follows concerning this 
terrible drunkenness among the evangelicals : ' Look 
then, are those the Christians ? Are those the evange- 
licals ? Are those the fruits of the gospel which they 
boast of ? A fine gospel ! May the devil carry off 
such a gospel. If it were the true gospel, very different 
fruits from these would follow it.' ^ * To exonerate 
themselves,' said the preacher Matthew Friedrich in 
1562, ' these drunken sots say that drinking little or 
much is not a sin because it is not forbidden in God's 
word. They pretend that because the actual words 

'1 DoUinger, ii. 375-378. 

2 Von Zusauffen und Trunchenheif, dbc, Frankfort on the Maine, 1543. 

^ Theatrum Diaholorum, 289''. 


** drink neither little nor much '" are not in scripture, 
drunkenness is therefore not forbidden there. They 
say, also, I am never more fervent in prayer than when 
I am intoxicated. I must drink in bed ; I cannot 
sleep unless I am drunk. St. Paul says. Be not drunk 
with wine, but he does not mention beer. I see every- 
body else drinking, what can I do ? Do we not read 
that Noah and Lot drank themselves drunk ? ' In many 
places a strange new order was instituted which called 
itself the ' Sauforden ' (order of drinkers) into which 
no one was admitted who could not drink well, eat 
to excess, sit up all night, endure frost and cold, and 
be the devil's martyrs.' ^ The Meissen Superintendent 
Gregory Strigenicius also speaks of this order : ' There 
is now amongst us here a new order, the " Sauforden " 
the " Centius Brothers " as they call themselves, who 
pledge themselves to be ready when required to help 
each mutually in drinking.' ^ 

The preacher, John Mathesius, addressing the mine 
labourers at Joachimsthal in 1557, told them that ' at 
the swinish, epicurean and inhuman carousals and 
drinking-bouts they begin early in the morning, pour 
wine and beer into their stomachs, as into bucking 
tubs, and then fall to brawling, swearing and scolding 
as at a peasant's village feast, using bad language, and 
mocking the Sacraments, as I myself have witnessed 

1 Wider den Saufteufel, C 7, D 7 ff., K 4. 

2 Strigenicus, Diluvium, 624. ** Giordano Bruno, who sojourned 
in Germany from 1586-1591, ridiculed the Germans in his Spaccio delta 
bestia triomfante, as drunkards, unscrupulous place-hunters and fawners, 
while in a speech which he delivered at the end of his professorsliip at 
Wittenberg, the panegyric character of which is unmistakable, he praised 
them as the most zealous of students. See Carriere in the Deutsche Revue, 
XV. 320 e. 


with a sorrowful heart. Moreover all the wine taverns 
are full, not only on holidays, but all through the week, 
and the mining work flags ; what would happen if it 
stopped altogether ? Women also keep beer stalls 
and empty jugs and glasses and roll on the table Hke 
peasants^ wives. Young women are no longer content 
with wine sipping, but must needs learn to swill and 
gulp like men. And those who ought to put a stop to 
it gorge and drink with them.' ' With drunken rulers, 
at whose council-boards wine is lord and has the upper 
hand, there is no good management, but each one 
does as he hkes. By gorging and swilHng the body 
becomes heated and inflamed and Dame Venus and 
her company creep in, find room and welcome there, 
and take possession of the mad tipsy lot.' i Mathesius, 
however, did not take up a very strict standpoint. 
* God,' he said, in his sermons, ' does not grudge a respect- 
able German an honest glass ; many people, Hke the 
Count Palatine Ludwig, cannot sleep without a good 
drink for a pillow. Many people are obliged to drink 
away sorrow and care. There are also many good folk 
who before writing, speaking, or undertaking any work, 
must have a good drink, as, for instance. Dr. Scheid, 
Bishop at Segovia. Doctor Fleck used also to have his 
httle flask of malmsey by him in the pulpit. But this 
praise and defence of wine and drinking does not con- 
cern those who swill and tipple and drink themselves 
into a state of idiotcy, without any limit, and who, 
when they have no other boon-companions drink with 
the waggoners and servants, and go on drinking all day, 
turn night into day, wallow in dirt and filth hke pigs, 
&c., &c.' =^ 

' Mathesius, Diluvmm, 13-lG. ^ ji^^^^ i f. gj^ 235'^-236. 


Not more edifying is the picture sketched by Andrew 
Pancratius, Superintendent in the Voigtland, in 1575 : 
' When people meet together at meals they sit on till 
one or two in the night, and even on until the morning.' 
' What sort of conduct and hfe results from this swilling, 
is very evident in the morning ' ; ' we drink ourselves 
poor, and ill, and into hell into the bargain/ ' But what 
we have to complain of much more seriously is that 
people who on account of their position ought to main- 
tain authority and preserve manly dignity, are them- 
selves steeped in this vice.' i 

From Hesse, Hartmann Braun, pastor at Griinberg, 
wrote in 1610 concerning the prevalent vice of drunken- 
ness and its consequences : ' my God, preserve us 
from the rowdiness and insolence of these young 
fellows, farm boys and others, who thus drink them- 
selves full of wine ! They shout and bellow at night 
in the streets hke young demons from hell. They 
collect outside the houses of magistrates, the houses of 
preachers, the houses of councillors, to carry on their 
insolence. They hold devil's festivals in the churchyard. 
They chop and hack the hme trees, they throw stones at 
the windows ; even there where the rulers and preachers 
are guests. They stick up pasquils and libels of all 
sorts on the church doors and town halls. They tear 
off the wheels from carriages in which people are driving, 
and drag them into other streets, or throw them in 
amongst the trees and dash them to pieces. They 
break open the shutters of the shops, carry the wares 
round the streets, and nail them up in the burghers' 
houses. They break the windows of honest burghers' 

^ Pancratius, 84-85, 143, 147. Cf. what he says at pp. 65-66 about 
young journeymen and young women. 


sitting- and bed-rooms by throwing stones at them, 
whereby, not only are the parents and children fright- 
ened, but, if the dear God did not grant them special 
protection, the little children sitting at table or asleep 
in their cradles would be struck and killed/ 

Of drink-loving preachers Braun says : ' Such an 
one hangs his gown on a nail, puts on a strange hat, 
fastens a rapier at his side, and figures round on the 
dancing-place ; he comes with a trundle, with garden 
company, with topers, repeats at table a strange 
extract from the Pater Noster ' ; ' it is through such as 
he that the evangel gets a bad name : Eh, Eh, are 
these evangelical preachers, who set such examples of 
impropriety ? ' ' Drunkards make many a drinking song 
about their preachers; ah, God, Thou knowest how 
the poor preachers in the villages and towns must suffer 
at the wine carousals, and how many strange nicknames 
they carry away from them/ 1 ' Many a preacher," 
said Strigenicius, ' will sit a whole night drinking till 
the morning and then get up into the pulpit and preach ; 
he is full, indeed, but not with the Holy Ghost, but 
with strong wine, and he babbles out whatever comes 
into his head. Many a one is so tipsy, when he has 
to christen a child, that he cannot hold it, and causes 
all sorts of annoyance. Many of them go about uninvited 
into houses when meals are going on, or when they 
know there will be a good drinking-bout, Hke a St. 
Anthony's sow, let themselves be pelted with sweet- 
meats, eat and drink with the topers, no one can 
equal them, they can put up with anything for the sake 
of drink, and yet they call themselves ministers of the 

' St. Pauli Pfingstspruch von der leiblichen und geistigen Trunkenheit 
(1610) Bl. B 2^ C 2^ D. 


Word and servants of the Lord. They drink till they 
cannot keep their balance, and tumble down like beasts 
and have to be carried home. They cannot step over 
any ditch or puddle, but fall in and wallow hke sows. 
It's a sight both to laugh at and grieve over. But 
there are numbers of them who do not care a bit if all 
this and more happens to them.' ^ Sigmund Evenius 
also thought it ' highly to be wondered at ' that ' at 
the wedding repasts (concerning the irregularities of 
which an extraordinary book might be written) the 
preachers were always present and joined in gorging, 
drinking, making coarse jokes, telling wanton anecdotes, 
backbiting respectable people, shouting, quarrelhng, 
fighting, stabbing, dancing, and suchlike excesses ; ap- 
proving and encouraging such unseemly behaviour, 
giving offence to the right-minded, and strengthen- 
ing the debauchees and Bacchus brothers in their 
debauchery.' ^ 

From Catholic lands complaints were no fewer of the 
' gluttony and drunkenness which increased from one 
decade to another.' ' Respectable sobriety,' wrote the 
Bavarian ducal secretary Aegidius Albertinus in 1598, 
' has gone out of fashion everywhere and in all classes ; 
wholesome moderation has little place ; and fuddhng 
and wine drinking has grown into necessity and habit 
which cannot possibly be overcome ; for those who 
ought to punish and put a stop to it are sick with the 
same disease ; yea verily the law-makers are the first 
to become law-breakers. The one runs after the other : 
the noblemen follow the lords ; the lords go at such a 
pace that the princes can scarcely keep ahead of them, 
or win the goal ; hence it is no w^onder that the subjects 

^ Strigenicius, Diluvium, 90^. ^ Evenius, 139. 


do likewise.' ^ In another place Aegidius says : ' He 
who can drain the very biggest glasses and beakers 
and drink the largest " welcome/' he is prince among 
the wine-geese ; he who can sit or stand the longest 
and hold out the longest in drinking, that man is a 
brave Saxon fellow. Yea, to his eternal memory they 
inscribe their names in the great pocal with these words : 
Herr Peter Ochs, Paul Elefant, and so forth, drank this 
glass at one go and in one breath and gulp, so that they 
might well have burst their bladders. Others of the 
" Gansritter " (goose knights) would have hked to figure 
in the Chronicle, and so they had their names and coats 
of arms painted in the windows or on the tables of the 
inns, or hung them up in the drinking rooms, in eternal 
memory of the fact that here they drank clean away the 
whole of their inheritance.' ~ Albertinus gives an 
appalling description of the pubhc houses which ' not 
inaptly came to be called the abyss of hell.' ' The 
taverns and fuddling-houses are now nothing else than 
schools of every earthly and helhsh vice, and the whole 
land is overrmi with them, all the towns and markets 
crowded and almost all the streets laid waste by them. 
In these places night is turned into day, and day into 
night. Men are transformed into raging, senseless, 
ferocious wild beasts and hogs. If any one is in search 
of buffoons, backbiters, tricksters, gamblers, dicers, 
dancers, cursers, swearers and blasphemers, fighters, 
wrestlers, whores and scoundrels, let him go to the 
taverns where he will find a jovial crew of them.' ' Oh 
how many men go into the taverns fresh, joyous, and 

^ De conviviis, 89. 

- Liizifers Konigreich und Sedengejaidt oder Narrenhatz, 329 ; cf. 
Schultze, 210 ; Scherer, Postille, 470. 


healthy, who have to be carried out dead ! ' It is 
impossible but that people should be made ill with 
all the ' spurious, counterfeit adulterated drinks that 
are sold them : ' for instance bad or mouldy wine mixed 
with alum or brandy, mouldy Franconian wine mixed 
with chub-root, wormwood, sage, &c.^ 

The custom of drinking toasts, which had come 
generally into vogue, and at which the opposite party 
had always to stand the test, drove the vice of drunken- 
ness to the highest pitch. 

' The habitual topers,' wrote the Tiibingen professor 
John George Sigwart in 1599, ' are not satisfied with 
the wine which is in front of them, but fight together 
with drinking vessels as with spears and muskets. 
First the best man among them makes an attack by 
proposing an all-round drink. Soon afterwards he 
invites to a cross drink : each man challenging the man 
who faces him. Then drinking skirmishes take place 
between small parties, mitil at last the topers and their 
guests engage in formal drinking duels : man to man, 
or two to two. The victory rests with him who can 
empty half or whole a measure in one gulp, without 
taking breath or wiping his beard. In these contests 
more drink runs over the topers' beards than many 
poor, old, needy people set eyes on in a month. Again, 
if the victory rests imdecided between two drinkers, 
these stand a wager. The one who drinks the other to 
the floor is the conqueror. iVt times presents and prizes 
are offered to the best drinker. In short, gambhng 
and betting is resorted to to make the wine flow, it 
often comes to a point where one toper has to pour the 

^ Luzifers Konigreich, 239-240. On life in the inns, see also Olormus 
Variscus, Geldtklage, 189 ff. 


drinks down the other's throat. And for these per- 
formances they are not content with native wine but 
must have strong foreign wines * which formerly were 
an unheard-of luxury among ordinary people, but have 
now become quite common/^ ' It is not only at table 
and during the meal time that this toasting and health- 
drinking goes on/ says Aegidius Albertinus, ' but after 
they have sat hours at table and drunk long enough and 
hard enough, they then first begin in good earnest. 
Then they drink to each other one, two, three, four, five, 
six, ten, twelve little glasses of " St. Johannes Segen," 
all standing until they can stand no longer, nor walk, 
nor sit upright, nor talk, nor even loll about, but one 
here, another there, they sink down on the benches, or 
are thrown into carts like calves for fatting, and carried 
away. In this manner the drunken sots take leave of 
each other after having first indulged in all sorts of 
swinish, immoral and disgraceful practices.' - Aegidius 
makes his ' Landstortzer ' say : ' When an Enghsh- 
man asked me how I liked Germany, I answered : I 
like it uncommonly, for they do nothing but eat 
and drink, sing and dance there.' ^ They drank not 
only out of glasses and beakers but ' they had learnt 
from the nobles and great lords * to use also dirty 
greasy bowls, jugs, cans, young ladies' shoes, felt hats, 
stockings, &c.' ^ 

1 Sigwart, 101-104. " Luzifers Konigreich, 232-233. 

^ Der Landstortzer, 289-290. Concerning the shoals of books on 
drinking and the art of carousing, see our remarks, vol. xii. pp. 210-216. 

•* See above p. 293 f. Fischart, Oescliichtklitterung (edition of 1590), 
pp. 28, 156. Braun, St. Pauli Pfingstspruch (see above, 392, note), Bl. B. 
Guarinoni, 711. ' The little word "saufen" itself,' writes the preacher Eras- 
mus Griininger, ' in our German language does not mean simply drinking for 
necessity or for reasonable plc^asure, but it means : pouring in against will 
and nature, and filling oneself so full of wine that it might overflow : 


' Eating and drinking had become so common/ 
says a preacher, ' that it was not only looked upon as a 
special art and entertainment in itself, but was also 
turned into a profitable trade, and there were eating and 
drinking performers who went about Germany to fairs 
and yearly markets, showing of! their skill for money, 
and often coming to a bad end. Once at the fair at 
Frankfort a professional "Eater'' of this sort, who 
charged two pfennigs for admission to the sight, swal- 
lowed straight on end thirty eggs, a pound of cheese and 
a great loaf of bread ; but when he attempted to repeat 
the performance on the same day, he fell down dead. 
Another of these fellows at Straubing undertook to 
appear on the market-place and in a quarter of an hour 
to swallow ten measures of " Landwein " with five 
measures of water in between. But he was not any the 
better for his feat. And young and old, little boys and 
little girls flock to the show, and fiendish parents take 
their quite tiny children to see such things ; and children 
are actually trained to this professional eating and 
drinking in order to make money, so that it is time the 
chief magistrates looked into the matter and put a 
stop to such a devilish trade.' ^ Magisterial interference 
came at Ratisbon in 1596. A man there announced 
that he intended to show of! his proficiency in the art 
of overeating by devouring twenty pounds of meat at 
once ; but the magistrate had him turned out at the 
town gate, and signified to him that people should not 
TQake their living by eating but by working. ^ 

As regards * opportunities for drinking,' wrote 
John Sommer, preacher at Osterweddingen, ' there 

possibly it comes from the Hebrew word saba, which means to get drunk ; 
or soph, which is the same as schopfen or verschwenden (squander). 
^ Ein christlich Predig, Bl. C. "' Gumpelzhaimer, ii. 1014. 


are plenty of them in Germany every month, every week, 
every day/ * Not to speak of the orgies at weddings 
and christenings, they have now invented so many 
excuses for convivial gatherings that it is impossible to 
describe them all. Neither Christmas nor Easter, 
Whitsuntide or Ascension day can be kept in a Christian 
manner, unless Bacchus is worshipped at the same time, 
and perhaps more even than God, and the worship of 
God is turned into worship of idols performed with 
liquid veneration. Side by side with all these high 
festivals there are the special eating and drinking 
festivals : the harvest goose, the new wine, the last-catch 
the " Weimal,'' the welcome, the good-bye, the " Licht- 
braten," the " Strafmal '' (meal imposed as a fine), 
childbirth, business transactions of some importance, 
the opening of a new room, special friendly meetings, 
shooting match meals. In one place is kept the Wet 
Carnival, in others St. Martin and St. Urban are feasted 
with excessive drinking. The dead themselves cannot 
get out of the clutches of Bacchus until the sur- 
viving relatives, friends and neighbours have sung 
them a requiem from cans and glasses, with the juices 
of grape and barley oozing out of their eyes : such 
is their mass for the dead. What shall I say of the 
dinners given by the gentry on occasions of promotion ? 
or of professors", doctors', and students' carousals ? of 
all-night boozes ? ' ^ To all these occasions one might 

^ Olorinus Variscus, Geldtklage, 195-196. Aegidius Albertinus in 
like manner (217-219) counts up all the different occasions on which eating 
and drinking bouts were held, and designates twelve sorts of sons and 
daughters of the palate. * The first son is called Dominus praeveniens or 
Squire Friihzeiter, for before the eaters are out of bed and dressed some- 
thing to eat and drink must be taken to them.' ' The first daughter is 
called Frau Bibania, or the boozed maid, and must perpetually have 
something to drink. . . .' 


apply the saying : ' Gaudeanius, glim glam gloria, hand 
us a bumper, that we may vie with one another and 
see who drinks the most ; whoever is ripe let him drop 
off/ ' This language is well miderstood by true Germans, 
the genuine hop-brothers, through whom it has come 
about — little to the credit of Germany — that other 
nations say " to drink freely is to Germanise." ' ^ In 
Ruppin, at the election of new members of the council 
the carousals lasted full five days.- After the cere- 
monial opening of the high school at Altorf in 1575, 
the numerous company that took part in the pro- 
ceedings sat ' ten hours long ' at the farewell drinking.^ 
What seemed worst of all to serious-minded men was 
* the wolfish plundering of the poor and needy,' when, 
for instance, on the occasion of setthng accounts at 
hospitals ' great feasts and banquets were given at 
the expense of the poor- funds.' ' Might they not at 
such hospital banquets," asks Guarinoni, ' give heed 
to the great and pitiful complaints of the poor, for 
whom these endowments were given, and remember 
how miserably they come off in spite of all the revenues 
provided for them, how they have to eat suet for 
butter, bones instead of meat, bran instead of flour ? 
Have you not been startled by the common outcry, 
raised not without reason, that they have in this way 

^ Theatrum Diaholorum, 382. 

^ Tholuck, Das kircMiche Leben, 233. ** Weinsberg, iv. (published 
by Lau), 82-84 gives a description of an ' official repast ' which the Amts- 
meister gave the coopers' guild on November 15, 1589 ; Weinsberg adds, 
p. 84, ' And this is what goes on at standard dinners, marriage contracts, 
baptisms, wedding repasts, official repasts, funeral repasts and aU such 
great ceremonies, not only the first day, for if there is enough food left 
over, the friends, neighbour^ ixnd acquaintances are invited again for the 
second and third days.' 

^ Waldau, Neue Beitrdge, i. 358. 


deprived many hospitals of their own and indebted 
them for many thousands ? ' ^ Equally severe censure 
was passed by contemporaries on the almost universal 
<3Ustom of ' Frass der Juristen ' (jurists' repast) when 
inventories were being made in houses after a death. 
* Even as I write/ says Guarinoni in 1610, ' one of 
these inventories in the house of a deceased burgher 
has just been concluded. The assessors, guardians, 
assigners, notaries, &c., did not sit for more than 
fourteen days, and during the pauses they ate and 
drank in such a manner that it seemed as if that was 
the chief purpose for which they had come there, and 
whereas it was thought that there was a considerable 
fortune to be dealt with, in the end there was scarcely 
enough left for the poor legatee to pay for his yearly 
clothing.' 2 ' As to what goes on at the law assizes,* 
says another contemporary, * in the way of eating and 
drinking, each to\^Ti knows how to sing its owti little 
song ; above all is it known to the poor women who 
are condemned to be tortured as witches ; for while 
they are suffering cruel agonies at the hands of the 
executioner, the gentlemen of the tribunal, and the 
executioner himself are heard revelling and carousing 
like mad. May God Ahnighty punish these demented 
wretches. The judgment-chambers themselves are often 
turned into drinking-rooms.' -^ At Ratisbon in 1596 the 
Council passed a resolution to the following effect : 
' Whereas it happened a few days ago (as indeed it 
has often happened before), at an honourable town 
assizes, that in the judgment-chamber of the toMTi 

1 Guarinoni, 786-787. " Ihid. 782. 

^ Ein christlich Predig, Bl. D. For the drinking bouts during the 
torturing of the witches we shall bring proofs later on. 


hall there was so much carousing that many of those 
present had to be dragged out by their arms, it is 
herewith forbidden to hold such inordinate revelhngs 
in the town hall or in the judgment-chamber/ ^ 

' The abominable amount of eating and drinking 
at weddings/ was the most frequent subject of com- 
plaint. ' This habit/ says Andrew Schoppius, pastor at 
Wernigerode, ' is injurious to the whole country, for 
many a man becomes so involved in debt on account 
of wedding expenditure that for many years after, 
if not for the rest of his hfe, he is a poor man. A 
whole district might often subsist for a time on what 
is needlessly consumed at a wedding, yea verily, often 
left to spoil, and finally thrown to the cats and dogs. 
The ruling authorities make no laws against this, 
or else they do not keep to them ; we preachers also, 
for the most part, let pass what we see of disorder, im- 
propriety and sin at weddings, if we do not ourselves 
give occasion of great offence.' ' A specially bad 
custom has crept in here and everywhere, namely that 
men-servants and maid-servants, on the night before 
a wedding, order in a tun of beer and drink it all up, carry- 
ing on at the same time all sorts of impropriety, using 

' GumpelzJiaimer, ii. 1017. ** A case in point is mentioned by 
Schmid in the Histor. Jahrbuch, xvii. 94. ' The town of Ehingen in 
1398 got possession of the church treasure of Alhnendingen.' The 
accounts of the so-called * Liebfrauenpflege Allmendingen ' (charit- 
a,ble foundation) for the year 1591 contains no fewer than thirty-one 
■entries for different eating and drinking occasions ; for instance, item 
7 fl. 48 kr. for our meal after making up the accounts ; item 5 fl. 12 kr. 
for wine bought in the town liall wlien we bought the chaplain's corn and 
oats ; item 3 fl. 48 kr. when Ulrich Rieger paid his debt ; item 3 fl. 56 ki". 
spent with the parson and the mayor when these made a present of fish ; 
item 4 fl. 36 kr. spent with the Dettingen peasants ; item 1 fl. 40 kr. spent 
when Herr von Geissingen paid a visit to Ehingen. 



disgraceful language, singing ribald songs, dancing, 
and so forth, so that in the morning they are all tipsy ; 
in short, they behave in an unchristian and devihsh 
manner/ ^ The darkest picture of wedding proceedings, 
as they were usually carried on, is in Spangenberg's 
' Ehespiegel ' of 1570. ' Most of the guests,' he says, 
' drink to such an extent that they can neither speak, 
see nor hear. . . . When the fools have drained the 
pots some fall asleep, others sink down in a corner, 
others make themselves so obnoxious by their actions 
and talk that they would disgrace a pig-sty.' ' The 
company of drinkers is swelled by players and 
prostitutes, jugglers, jesters, and suchhke riff-raff ; 
these are called upon to sing their low songs and 
doggerel, and to carry on all sorts of fool's play so that 
the young people standing round may be in the highest 
degree disgusted. At the dancing which takes place 
after the banquet the proceedings are of a kind not 
fit for description ; the young people seem to be possessed 
by the devil and to have lost every vestige of decency and 
honour.' ' And if any right-minded youths or maidens 
are revolted by such goings-on and refuse to dance 
with such disreputable devil's heads they get blows 
on their faces. Such villainy ought to be severely 
punished.' Others ' run wild about the streets and 
roads all night, beating drums and disturbing a whole 
town or hamlet with their shouting and yelling. And 
when they have turned everything topsy-turvy in 
the market place, tables, benches, &;c., shoved carts and 
carriages into the stream and smashed them up, climbed 
into houses by the chimney, and smashed doors, windows, 

^ Triumphis muliebris, 127, 145 ; concerning Schoppius see our remarks 
vol. xii. 210 f. 


tables and chairs, and done nothing but mischief 
till daybreak, they are mighty pleased with their 
performances which they think quite masterly, and 
expect to be praised for. It would be no wonder if God 
were to let the earth swallow them up.' ' And what 
makes it worse is that people are not satisfied with one 
day's jolhfication at weddings, but they go on for 
two, three or four days. How useful all this is to the 
country experience shows.' ^ 

That Spangenberg's account was not exaggerated, 
is shown by the Church Ordinance of the Electorate of 
Saxony of 1580. In this document there are enactments 
against the ' very disorderly proceedings ' which com- 
monly occur at weddings in the village. Before the 
church service, in the house of the bride, ' improper and 
highly offensive doings go on, especially among the 
young people ; also the bride's father arranges a 
lengthy repast, and until this is finished the preacher 
is kept waiting in the church ; then part of the guests 
arrive accompanied by the bridegroom, all of them 
generally tipsy and reeling, while the rest, during the 
service, tear about the village or the churchyard scream- 
ing and bellowing.' " 

In other districts there was just the same senseless 
expenditure, the same disreputable procedure. In the 
Schwarzwald the peasants themselves described the 
abuses that had come to be connected with weddings 
and other festive occasions, and in 1608 they appealed 
to the magistrates for help in remedying the evils. 

* At honourable weddings,' they said in an address, 

* it is the custom now, with rich and poor ahke, on the 
morning of a wedding to flock to the house of the bride 

^ Ehespiegel, 273''-305. - Richter, Kirchenordnungen, ii. 443, 

D D 2 


and sit down to a meal of soup, fish and roast, with wine 
:in superfluity, of which all partake so abundantly that 
when they have to go to the church — for which they are 
often not ready till ten or eleven o'clock — they are all in 
such a state that the only signs of reverence they display 
are yelhng and shouting, drawing out their pistols, 
knocking off hats, and all sorts of other fool's play, 
as if they were holding a carnival. They go on in 
like manner when tljey come out of church and 
make their way to the host's house, and also again 
during the dancing which takes place after the wedding 
repast. Then when they have to go back to church 
for the offering, they stagger about from one side to 
the other, &c., &c.' The peasants begged that the 
magistrates would put a stop to these disorderly pro- 
ceedings and would settle definitely how much wine 
might be served at each table at the ' Morgensuppe,' and 
how the people were to behave in order that they might 
arrive in church in a properly devotional frame of mind. 
At later weddings, however, there was just as much ■ 
insobriety and rowdyism. ' The poor impecunious 
people would gladly escape all this, but they cannot do 
so, for fear of being thought unneighbourly, and also 
because they are told it is an obligatory custom ; and 
vet they have to make up for what has been so needlessly 
consumed by pinching themselves and their household 
ior a whole year, and with the heavy rents, taxes and 
dues they have to pay, it is very difficult to recoup.' ^ 
In Bavaria similar abuses prevailed. In his prin- 
cipahty,' said Duke William V. in an ordinance of 1587, 
' when there was a wedding among the common 
peasants there were very disorderly and offensive 

^ Gothein, Die oberrheinische Lande, 40 £f. to p. 15. 


proceedings in the villages ; when the bride was 
fetched from her house, all the neighbours got so 
drunk at the Suppe that they arrived at the church 
hallooing, shouting and yelhng, and rioting most 
disgracefully/ ^ 

Concerning weddings in the Tyrol, Guarinoni says : 
' What a scandal it is on wedding days to see 
people sitting for six hours at table, and then tumbhng 
about in the dancing-house and lying one upon the 
other in heaps : man and wife, mother and daughter, 
brother and sister, men-servants and maid-servants, 
young girls and their lovers. In one word, the goings- 
on at weddings are of a kind never witnessed among 
pagans, or Turks, or the coarsest and most shameless 
of nations, and strangers travelling through the land 
may well wonder and ask themselves whether this 
people does really believe in Christianity ? ' ^ 

' The same extravagant, drunken proceedings that 
characterised weddings and christenings,' ^ wrote a 

^ Westenrieder, Neue Beitrdge, i. 287. 

" Guarinoni, 722. ** Concerning the luxury in food, drink and dress 
the love of pleasure and feasting among the peasantry of Styria see Peinlich, 
Zur Gesch. der Leibeigenschaft, 76 ff. 

3 ** Q£ ^;2^g scandalous, harmful and sinful abuses at christenings, the 
Nuremberg patrician Berthold Holzschuher gives the following inter- 
esting description in a socio-political reform article of the year 1565 : 
' When the child is eight days old a " Weissat " or " Kindschenk " 
must be held, accompanied by eating and drinking, at which more guldens 
are needlessly squandered. It is a flagrant shame and disgrace that the 
occasion should be so unsuitably kept and so much time wasted : for 
to-day it is at one neighbour's, to-morrow at another's, and there is seldom 
a village where two or three christenings are not held every week ; this 
is a general misfortune, for in this way the people grow poor, squander God's 
gifts of food and drink, waste their time, and spend it sinfully in over- 
much eating, drinking, blaspheming and other iniquities,' Ehrenberg, 
' Ein finanz- und sozialpoUtisches Projekt aus dem 16 Jahrhundert,' 
in the Zeitschr. fiir die gesamte Staatswissenschaft, xlvi. (1890) 732. 


preacher in 1573, ' went on at funerals, as I myself 
witnessed several times when 80, 100, 140, 160 even 
more guests were invited, and to my deep sorrow I 
beheld how the whole crowd of them became tipsy ; 
fell down round the table and remained lying on the 
ground till they were carried away, and how at last 
bag-pipers, lyre-players and drummers were actually 
brought on the scene in order to play to the soul, as 
they said, and accompany it to heaven/ ^ ' The 
mourners,' said Sigismund Evenius, ' mostly show 
mourning only in their dress, without any real grief in 
their hearts, as is evident from the feasting that goes 
on in the house, where costly viands and hqiiors are 
consumed in huge quantities until deep into the night ; 
where the nearest relatives of the departed are forced 
to drink to intoxication for the good of the soul/ ^ 

' But what goes on in the way of drinking and 
swilhng at the church fairs and regular carnivals ' says 
a preacher in 1573, ' experience teaches us every year/ 
* They pour liquid down their throats as down sluices, 
and do not stop till they have driven out their 
senses/ ^ 

In * Fiinfzehn Kirmesspredigten * (Fifteen Church 
Fair Sermons), which Erasmus Winter, preacher in the 
Altenburg district, pubhshed in 1599, the general 
gluttony, drunkenness and debauchery which prevailed 
during the days of the church fairs are described more 
fully by an eye-witness. There was generally so much 
quarrelling, fighting and bloodshed at these times that 
it was commonly said : the Kirmess Ablass is a bloody 
head/ To attempt to punish these iniquities was Hke 

^ Ein christlich Predig, PI. C. " Evenius, 137. 

•^ Ein christlich Predig, Bl. C. 


beating the water, the sole result to bring down scorn, 
rating and calumny on one's own head/ ^ 

If a church fair meant three or four days of des- 
perate drinking, a ' proper ' carnival often lasted five or 
six days, during which there was often so much fighting 
and wounding that the barbers (surgeons) used to say, 
church fairs and carnivals were the most blessed seasons 
of the whole year/ In an edict issued in February 
1615 by the Elector John George of Saxony against the 
carnival mummeries at Leipzig, it says : ' At the last 
carnival there were horrid bands of men in abomin- 
able and scandalous dress with murderous weapons, 
Turkish swords and other arms, tearing about the 
market-place like senseless brutes, and not desisting 
till they had wounded each other in the skirmish and 
some of them had been Idlled.' In another Electoral 
edict of March 1615 the ' numerous cases of slaughter 
which ensued at the carnival in the capital town of 
Dresden ' were animadverted on.*^ ' Less murderous,* 
but quite sufficiently disreputable,' were other carnival 
jollifications at which the princely festivities were imi- 
tated and all sorts of scurrihties were indulged in. Thus, 
of the Nuremberg carnival in 1588 the shopman, Ulrich 
Wirsung, wrote : * We had also a merry pantomime, in 
which figured doctors, surgeons with cupping instru- 
ments and apothecaries with large syringes ; in the tail 
of the procession which represented a dragon, there was 
a sick person lying at the last gasp, and two mass^priests 
sitting by him and singing : * St. Ursula give us wine and 

^ Winter, Kirmesspredigten, BI. 9, 11, 15, 17, 30. In order to deter 
his congregation from such a vicious mode of Ufe, Winter once held forth 
for several houi's on hell and its punishments : tliis sermon fills thirty-six 
pages of print. Bl, 42'' ff. 

2 Ein christUch Predig, Bl. F. •' Godex Aiigusteus, i. 1481-1485. 


receive this sick man.' ^ The mummers had dressed 
themselves up as negro-women, pagans, harlots, and 
wayfaring women, some as birds, and sea-nymphs, some 
as heathen princesses, shepherdesses, enchantresses, 
nuns, recluses, others as merry-andrews, monks, and so 
forth, in all sorts of costumes, one more strange than the 
other/ Amongst numerous other ' mummeries ' there 
rushed in ' a wild troop of most extraordinary figures, 
with horns, beaks, tails, claws, humps, and behind all 
these on a wild, black horse came Frau Holda the wild 
huntress. This ferocious troop consisted of jovial 
drinkers and buffoons, merchants' sons, shop-keepers' 
servants, school-boys, and three school-masters, who let 
their voices be heard loud and strong.' There were also 
pupils of the St. Lorenz school dressed as shepherdesses 
who sang a song. A carnival of this sort was such a 
' jovial time, that when the fools woke in the morning 
they were still quite tipsy, and tumbled about all day in 
the streets.' Next came Venusberg, very grandly got up 
with all the joyous court of Venus. Dame Venus sat in a 
cockle-shell carriage drawn by doves, surrounded by her 
lovely maidens, and in the midst of them all sat the noble 
knight Tannhauser. ' Another procession had joined 
itself to the proceedings, a number of monks and nuns, 
who kicked up a rare hubbub ; they said they were 
flagellators and they let fly wildly at each other so that 
their hoods and veils whirled round mightily ; twelve 
priestess-cooks, jolly carnival butchers, conducted them- 
selves very badly. We, however, set up a stage, and 
performed on it, briefly and well, the journeys and perils 
of the young Tobias.' ' When we had finished our play, 
we heard that a very distinguished lady, had come to 

' Set. Ursula, da nobis vinum et recipe aegrotum. 


keep the carnival with the ladies of Nuremberg. Thinks 
I to myself, who can she be ? Then there appeared 
twelve angels with great golden, fluttering wings, one 
of which had his name inscribed in front of him, and it 
was Gabriel. The people said ' the angels are the retinue 
of the distinguished foreign lady, the wife of the Bishop 
of Bamberg." ^ 

In 1540 the council of Nuremberg had a small cart 
constructed for carrying away the drunken people lying 
in the streets.^ 

In 1557 the council had to complain ' of the numerous 
dangerous wounds daily inflicted owing to excess of wine 
drinking, and also of other mitoward acts committed by 
tipsy men and women.' ^ 

* In many places this drinking went so far that the 
tipsy people, at princes' courts even, as was known all 
over the country, often remained lying dead in their 
places.' ^ ' The princely councillors in the duchy of 
Wiirtemberg,' it says in Scherer's postille, ' once made 
a hst of 400 persons who, between the autumn and 
the first Sunday in Lent, died at banquets and 
carnival gatherings, as the Lutheran Manhus writes.'^ 
' In the Jahrbiicher, good wine, because so many 
people drank themselves to death with it, was called 
homicide.' ^ At a public-house on the Bohemian frontier 

1 Vulpius, X. 390-407 ; cf. 531, where the date 1588 is given. The 
Bamberg bishop, Ernst von Mengerstorf, under whom nearly the whole 
diocese became Protestant (see F. Stieve, Die Politih Bayerns, ii. 387), was 
present at this carnival, ' enjoyed the ridicule of clerical matters, and was 
not particular about jokes, &c.,' pp. 395, 397, 401. 

^ Vulpius, X. 145. ^ Waldau, Vermischte Beitrdge, iii. 253. 

■* Ein christlich Predig Bl. F. 

•' Scherer, Postille, 188. It happened between the autumn of 1540 
and Lent, 1541. Cf. Volz, Wiirltembergische Jahrbiicher, 1852, p. 179, 
« Arnold, i. 788. 


five journeymen drank themselves to death in one night ; 
at Cassel in June 1596, three people died in one day from 
drinking. 1 

' When I reflect/ wrote a preacher in 1573, ' on the 
drunkenness and the quite inordinate tippling and all 
the cursing, swearing, blaspheming, debauchery, killing, 
&c., which results from it, I am constrained also to blame 
many lords and rulers, and to say that they are in no 
slight measure themselves the cause of all this evil. 
And this not only because they themselves set a bad 
example in this respect to the people, but also because 
they actually encourage drinking by the erection of 
breweries, distilleries and taverns ' ; ' they want to sell 
a great deal and receive plenty of duty and excise.' ^ 
For the same reasons the preacher, Erasmus Sarcerius, 
in 1555, mentioned ' several lords and nobles, also some 
of the councillors in towns,' as chief promoters of the 
increasing love of drink. ^ In a letter from Martin Bucer 
to the Landgrave Philip of Hesse, on May 19, 1540, we 
jead : ' The vice of drunkenness which has invaded the 
country, is seen at its worst in Marburg, for there the 
town councillors are wine sellers.' * ' Whereas drink,' 
said the preacher, Ludwig Milichius, ' now brings in 
money to the lords, no excess is so great, no revelry so 
drunken, no banquet so splendid, no carousal so godless, 
but it is connived at. Organising extravagant wedding 
and christening feasts, holding church fairs, drinking all 
night long, setting up one or two taverns in every 
hamlet and corner, all this is admirable because it pro- 
duces plenty of excise money.' ^ 

^ Kirchhof, Wendunmuth, i. 269 and ii. 439. 

^ Ein christUch Predig, Bl. F. •' Zeitsch. des Harzvereins, xx. 524. 

^ See our remarks vol. vi. p. 91. '" Milichius, ScJirap-Teufell, Bl. L. 


' At the same time the lords behave very honour- 
ably, and issue laws and ordinances forbidding so 
much drinking and toasting, and such excessive 
hospitality. But what good can this do ? The people 
laugh at it and think it a fine joke. One hears them 
say : " The rulers themselves are lying ill in bed and they 
want to cure others ! Let them begin first at home." ' ^ 

The numerous edicts issued by princes and municipal 
authorities, in which, under threat of severe punishment 
for non-observance, minute rules were laid down for 
each separate class as to how much expense might be 
incurred at family festivities, weddings, christenings, 
funerals and so forth, how many guests might be invited 
at a time, and what sort of entertainment was to be 
provided, were all powerless to stem the tide of drunken- 
ness, lasciviousness and senseless extravagance, because 
the legislators themselves set such a bad example to the 
people, and did not strike at the roots of the evil. These 
laws and regulations are important, however, because 
on the one hand, they show what in those days was 
understood by * reduction of extravagance,' and on the 
other hand, they represent the continuous increase of 
luxury and expenditure. 

Thus, for instance, Joachim I. of Brandenburg, in 
a pohce ordinance of 1515 for the regulation of wedding 
festivities, hmited the number of guests to as many 
as could be seated at five tables in case of rich people, 
and at three tables for the common people, in order, 
as the ordinance said, that ' they should not in one 
day get through as much food and drink as was needed 
for a whole year's household consumption.' Further, 
wedding festivities were not to last more than two 

^ Ein christlich Predig, BI, F, 


days : a fine of one silver mark was to be the penalty 
for infringement of these regulations. Thirty-six years 
later, in 1551, the Elector Joachim II. issued a new 
ordinance, in which he decreed that ' none of the 
burghers or other inhabitants of towns were to invite 
more than 156 guests or lay more than thirteen tables, 
except the tables for the cooks, maids, waiters, pipers 
and drummers ; the local guests were not to be enter- 
tained for more than three days, the foreign ones might 
stay longer." ^ 

According to an ordinance of the Nordhausen 
Council issued in 1549 the number of persons invited 
to a wedding was not to exceed 140, and the cook and 
the bridegroom had to state on oath before the council 
how high was the number of guests invited and what 
quantity of provisions had been ordered. ^ In a Greifs- 
wald wedding ordinance of 1592 artisans were limited 
to eighty, the higher class burghers to 120 famihes, 
foreigners, however, excepted. ^ A pohce ordinance of 
the town of Miinden, in 1610, decreed that at large 
weddings there should not be more than twenty-fom: 
tables with ten persons at each, at small ones not more 
than fourteen tables.* Similarly a Hamburg ordinance 
of 1609 decreed that ' For a complete or " wine-wedding " 
not more than 240 persons must be invited ' : in the 
territory belonging to the town, according to a prescript 
of the year 1603, weddings were not to last more than 
three days.' ^ At Liibeck, in 1611, the burgomaster 
had to take proceedings against the peasants who 
* kept up their weddings for four or five days and drank 

^ Moehsen, 494-495. - Neue Mitteilungen, v. 99. 

^ Baltische Studien, 15 Jahrgang, Heft. ii. p. 195, 200. 

^ Spittler, Gesch. des Fiir&tentums Hannover, i. 380-381. 

^ Zeitschr. fur die Gesch, Hamburgs, i. 547, and v. 467. 


up twenty or more tuns of beer/ i In the Brunswick 
district also the common peasants entertained twenty- 
four tables full of guests, gave ten or twelve dishes at 
each meal, and drank twenty barrels of beer, if not 
more." In Wiirtemberg Duke Ludwig, in 1585, made a 
stand against ' the inordinate drinking, banqueting, 
and extravagance (especially at weddings), which 
had gained ground among both rich and poor, so much 
so that even among people of low estate and small 
means it was a common thing to have ten, twelve, 
sixteen and more expensive dishes at any festive meal, 
especially at supplementary weddings ; to have eight, 
nine, ten and more tables only for women " giving 
suck to infants," and young girls/ ^ 

The cook artist Marx Eumpolt in 1581 gave a 
detailed account, ' from many years' experience ' of 
the way in which ' proper burgher and peasant banquets 
should be given/ 

For a ' Friihmahl ' (early meal) at a burgher's 
banquet he considered the following dishes sufficient : 
^ First course : stewed beef with horse radish, capon- 
soup garnished with smoked meat and roast hghts ; 
a well-filled sucking pig, a dish of sour kraut boiled 
with smoked bacon and old hens. Second course : 
peppered pork ; roast veal ; a leg of mutton ; roast 
pork ; a capon, a goose, partridges, birds, a lamb or kid 
— these all roasted and served in one dish ; dried beef 
with juniper berries ; a dish of rice cooked in milk ; 
boiled veal yellow with lemons ; a veal jelly, sour and 
yellow. Third course : baked cakes, Holhippen (?), 
brown cakes, all sorts of biscuits, all sorts of good cheese ; 

^ Brockes, ii. 10-11 note. - Cf. Lohneiss, 284. 

"* Reyscher, xii. 440-444. 


large and small nuts/ For a ' Friihmahl dinner on 
fast-days there must be served up : First course : a 
wine soup ; boiled eggs ; poached eggs, blue-boiled 
carps ; preserved eels, yellow. Second course : spinach 
boiled with small raisins ; baked Koppen ; blue-boiled 
trout ; Briicken in pepper ; preserved pike, yellow 
a la Hungarian. Third course : stewed crab ; stuffed 
stock-fish, smoked ; plums ; blue-boiled pike in bacon, 
a pike jelly. Fourth course : all sorts of fruit, biscuits, 
cakes and cheese. ^ 

At a banquet of well-to-do peasants the following 
was the rule for the mid-day meal on days when flesh 
meat is allowed. First course : soup (the broth of cut- 
up beef) ; boiled beef, a capon and dried meat. Second 
course : a roast goose, a roast leg of mutton larded with 
sage, a roast pig, roast chickens, a roast of veal and 
sausages. Third course : sour kraut boiled with bacon 
and sausages laid round. Fourth course : old chickens 
preserved in jelly, yellow. Fifth course : pig- jelly 
(brawn). Sixth course : apples, pears, nuts, cheese, 
all sorts of pastry, cakes and biscuits. 

At a ' Nachtmahl ' (evening meal) also in six 
courses, the order was : ' a salad, hard-boiled eggs, 
sausage, shces of ham, dried meat ; good chicken broth 
with ox flesh ; a dish of all sorts of coarse roasts, a 
green cabbage with a smoked sucking-pig ; preserved 
goshng in pepper, and finally all sorts of pastry, cakes 
and biscuits. On a fast day the peasants were satisfied 
for the ' Friihmahl ' with pea-soup, boiled eggs, blue- 
boiled carps with vinegar ; sour kraut with dried 
salmon and baked fish and roast fish on the kraut ; 
yellow pike boiled a la Hungarian ; a white jelly 

1 Rumpolt, Bl. 38, 39. 


made of carps, and all sorts of pastry, cakes and 
biscuits, also ' Steigleder and Stetzkiichlein' (?), and 
apples, pears, nuts and cheese.^ 

At the grand banquets and drinking bouts of persons 
of position, as well as at those of burghers and peasants, 
it was customary, besides drinking the ordinary wines, 
' coarse or fine, such as God had provided, to have also 
artificial wines, for the preparation of which great skill 
and experience were needed." These quahfications 
Rumpolt possessed. * All people of high or low degree,, 
both male and female, he taught how to make good, 
sweet wine, which was sweeter than fermented wine, 
and also purer and clearer,' also * many costly wines of 
herbs, spices and other things, also spiced wines such 
as borage wine, ox-tongue, rosemary . . . orris, sage, 
wormwood, hyssop. 

' Out of benevolence to mankind,' he also reports 
concerning all sorts of powerful, secret ways of doctoring 
wine, * which a father ought scarcely to teach his chil- 
dren.' These must only be done in secret places 
so that people may not learn the secret, for this art, 
he says, is known to very few and for its great 
usefulness is worth 1000 gulden to a wine merchant or 
retailer, &c.- 

' Wine-arts ' of all sorts were a highly profitable 
business. The council of Leipzig, in 1539, found itself 
obliged to issue a new wine ordinance because, ' owing 
to the adulteration of wine, illness increased in the 
towns from day to day, and the doctors complained that 

1 Rumpolt, Bl. 40-41. 

^ Ihidt clxxxiv.-cxcvi. The preacher, Frederick Helbach, devoted 
a special pamphlet to dealing with all the 'medicated and herb wines,' 
see Helbach, Vorrede, A 2^ 


they could not get a drop of good pure wine for their 
patients. 1 The council of Cologne in 1562 was obliged 
to issue an injunction against ' new-fangled wines pre- 
pared with bacon, which were never heard of formerly, 
and which are highly injurious to health/ - By ad- 
mixture of brandy, lime, alum and other unnatural 
ingredients, * wine ' wrote Aegidius Albertinus,' is terribly 

adulterated/ ^ 

' They were also very skilful in all sorts of ways of 
manufacturing new kinds of beer. Amongst others 
they made ' rosemary beer, extremely good for melan- 
cholia ' ; ' scordien beer, good against poison, cohc, and 
female troubles ; lavender beer, which powerfully 
strengthens the head, and is also very valuable against 
apoplexy ' ; melissen beer, which strengthens the heart 
and the spirits, and is very wholesome and useful for 
women ; also giUiflower beer, allspice beer, brown 
betonian beer, jmiiper beer, laurel beer, wormwood 
l)eer, and sage beer — this last removes trembhng in the 
k:nee-caps and other hmbs, strengthens growing teeth and 
makes them firm ; wormwood beer is very good for 
women for its acts against barrenness ; also pennyroyal 

^ Wassermann, Lebensmittelfdlschung, 24-28. Richard, 199. 

- Zeitschr. filr deutsdie Kulturgesch. (new series) vol. iii. 61-62. 

3 K. V. Reinhardstottner in the Jahrh. fiir Milnchener Gesch. ii. 48. For 
the different methods of adulterating and poisoning wine, see Guarinoni, 
-678, 682, 683, 690, 695-696. In Uke manner groceries and spices were 
often adulterated with harmful things, ' whereby, for the common people 
there resulted sickness, and injury.' See the Wiirtemberg ordinance of 
1563, in Reyscher, xii. 325 ; the ReichspoUzeiordnung of 1577 in the 
Neue Sammlung der Reichsabschiede, iii. 392 ; the Kurpfalzische Landesord- 
nung of 1582, Tit. 23. For the Tyrol cf. K. Elben, Zur Lehre von der 
Warenfdlschung (Freiburg, 1881,) p. 55; see also our statements, 
vol. ii. p. 128 f. and vol. iv. 158, and Olorinus Variscus, Ethnogr. 
3Iundi, J 5. 


beer, hyssop beer and other kinds were praised as very 
health-giving/ ^ 

An especially fruitful source of evil was the increasing 
love of brandy drinking. The woes arising from this 
habit were sung in a poem of the year 1493.^ A Nurem- 
berg police ordinance of 1496 says : * Many people in 
this town, through the drinking of brandy, are daily 
guilty of serious misconduct and disorder, especially 
on Sundays and feast-days/ From experienced doctors 
the council had learnt how injurious brandy was to the 
health, and what fatal diseases it produced, all the more 
so as it was distilled from substances harmful and 
injurious to man's constitution. Hence it was enjoined 
that in future no more brandy was to be sold on Sunday 
and on feast-days ; on working-days it might be bought, 
but only drunk at home, and not more of it than one 
heller or pennyworth a day.^ In the course of the six- 
teenth century the love of brandy gained ground more 
and more, not only in towns, but also in the country."* 
In an enactment issued by the district council at Nurem- 
berg, in 1527, to the warden, burgomaster and council at 
Altorf, it was complained that many people there * had 
no shame in disgracing themselves with brandy drinking 
and in other ways in the pubhc streets and also in inns 
and taverns on Sundays and holy days whilst preaching 

1 Stengel, Bl. D. 3^— E 2. 

" See our remarks, vol. i. (German) 454, n. 2. See also Waller's AUes, 
ii. 805-809. 

^ J. Baader, Niirnberger Polizeiordnungen, in the Library of the 
Literary Society at Stuttgart, Ixiii. 264-265. ** Schultz, Deutsches Leben, 

4 ** In 1522, in the Trautenau Chronicle of Simon Hiittet (published by 
L. Sclilesinger, Prague, 1881), it is said of a schoolmaster and town clerk, 
that ' he drank himself to death with brandy at the " Wet King " public- 
house, owned by old Hans Hoffmann.' — Schultz, Deutschea Leben, 509. 


was going on ' ; suitable punishment, the edict said, 
must be inflicted on such dehnquents. because ' this 
inordinate drinking was productive of much offence and 
unchristian behaviour, with contempt and desecration 
of the Word of God, and other scandalous results.' 
In Nuremberg and its suburbs, as also in the country- 
round, there sprang up everywhere at that time 
brandy distilleries which paid taxes and duties. ^ For 
Bavaria the Landesordnung of 1553 decreed that ' no 
one should drink more than two pfennigs worth of 
brandy per day ' ; as highly injurious to the common 
people, it was forbidden under severe penalty to 
make brandy out of ' wheat, barley and suchlike 
grain.' " * The early masses,' preached the Jesuit Father, 
George Scherer, * have in many places been turned into 
early eating and early brandy drinking.' ^ In Hesse, 
in 1524, a general prohibition went forth against selhng 
and retaihng brandy ; but as this did not stop the 
* inordinate brandy-drinking ' there followed another 
severe ordinance in 1559, to the effect that ' no more 
drinking bouts were to be held either by innkeepers, or 
by burghers, peasants, nobles or commoners, and that 
brandy was only to be sold to men and women who 
were ill and infirm.' * How futile also this second 
ordinance was is sho-wn by another one issued for the 
town of Griinberg in 1579 : * Whereas in the brandy 
shops great disorder goes on and much offence is given, 
in that not only the inhabitants of the town, but also 
the people who come to church from the comitry, 
drink themselves drunk before and during the service, 

^ J. Baader, ' Zur Gesch. des Branntweins,' in the Anzeiger fur Kunde 
der deutschen Vorzeit, xv. 315-318. 

- Bayer ische Landesordnung, 97^, 98'\ ^ Scherer, Postille, 446-. 

"* See 0. Stolzel in the Jahrbiicher fur Nationalokonomie, vii. 160, 161. 


while many of them stay away from church, and others 
go there in a state of intoxication, it is herewith decreed 
that henceforth brandy drinking shall not be allowed 
either before or during service time/ ^ ' The high 
authorities/ preached the Meissen Superintendent 
Gregory Strigenicius, * have strictly enjoined that the 
disorderly traffic of brandy retailing during church 
service time and afterwards shall be given up. But 
Avho attends to this order ? There is so much carousing 
that it is a sin and shame, and strange to say, it goes on 
chiefly in the places where there is more than one 
judiciary district. If one magistrate will not tolerate 
the practice, and it is put down by the council, the 
people go across the water, over the bridges, into another 
district where the authorities connive at it and allow 
all sorts of improprieties to go on during church time.' " 
In the town of Zwickau, in 1600, no less than 34 
brandy distilleries are mentioned ;3 at Zittau, in 1577, 
the number was over 40. ' With us," the Zittau 
archdeacon, Andrew Winzinger, complained, 'there is 
no end to gorging and drinking. If at a dinner party 
each, guest has not drunk so much that he can neither 
walk nor stand, if the party has not lasted on far into the 
night, then it has been no proper dinner party. In this 
way many people drink themselves prematurely to 
death.' In Berlin, in 1574, brandy might still only be 
sold in apothecaries' shops, but already in 1595 the 
council was drawing a tax from brandy distilleries.* 

1 Glaser, 133. 

"" Strigenicius, Diluvium, 90'', According to an enactment of Duke 
Frederick William, in 1595, brandy was only to be distilled from wine dregs, 
not from corn, because otherwise the price of corn was raised too high ; 
pigs fattened on draff caused leprosy. — Codex A^igustinus, i. 1434-1438. 

^ Tholuck, Das kirchliche Leben, 235. '• Moehsen, 488-489. 

K E 2 


In Frankfort-on-the-Oder, in 1604, the number of these 
distilleries amounted to 80 ; they were, however, 
reduced to 14 by a decree of the council. ^ 

John Bussleb, teacher at the Egeln school, in his 
comedy, ' Ein spiegel, beide wie die Eltern ihre Kinder 
auferziehen, auch die Kinder gegen die Eltern sich 
verhalten sollen ' (A mirror showing both how parents 
should educate their children and how children should 
behave to their parents), impersonates brandy as a being 
bound over to the devil, and ascribes to it very special 
blame for the immorality and depravity of the time. 
A son who has laid violent hands on his father, and who 
sinks into all sorts of vice and shame, cries out in the 
play : ' Der Branntewein, der sol es geben ! ' Brandy 
is to blame ! - It had been noticed long ago that in conse- 
quence of the excessive eating and drinking in Germany, 
* the ordinary age of man was diminishing in a surprising 
manner." ' It is complained,' wrote Sebastian Franck, in 
1531, ' that no one nowadays grows old. For this we have 
to thank the fact that we spoil more wine than our fore- 
fathers drank, and that we eat hke hogs ; how can 
nature stand it ? I firmly believe that every tenth 
person dies no natural death. The women overeat, the 
men overdrink themselves.'^ *Ach, ach,' said another 
contemporary, 'it is the fault of the great drinking- 
bouts, that scarcely any man now reaches the age of 
forty, &c.' ^ 

The same wail is repeated in the sermon of Erasmus 

1 Mdrlcische Forschungen, iv. 332. 

- Zeitschr. des Harzvereins, i. 352. C!oncerning prohibitions of brandy 
selling in the Nassau district, see Steubing, 177 ; for Basle and Strasburg, 
see Geering, 578. 

^ Von dem greulichen Laster der Trunkenheit, Bl. C. C, F-. 

"* ' Der Faulteufel ' in the Theatrum Diaholorum, 363. 


Winter, published at Leipzig in 1599 : ' Owing to 
immoderate eating and drinking there are now few old 
people, and we seldom see a man of thirty or forty who 
is not afflicted with some sort of disease, either stone, 
gout, cough, consumption or what not/ i The preacher, 
Erasmus Griininger, in 1614, also bore witness to the 
general experience that ' owing to the godless drinking 
that went on, longevity in Germany was continually 
decreasing/ ' When people/ he said, ' have passed the 
age of 40 or 50 they are generally of no more use. The 
time when, nowadays, old age sets in, was formerly the 
time when people began to marry, and were at their 
prime. With us, at that age, people now begin to break 
up and go to infirmaries. When guests are so done up 
after a party that they have to be carried home half-dead, 
things have come to a pretty pass. What is going to 
become of us Germans when we are so hard, so 
merciless, so tyrannical towards our ownselves ! ' ^ 
Foreigners who visited Germany made the same 
observations. The Venetian Giacomo Soranzo, for 
instance, in 1562, ascribed the short span of life of 
Germans to immoderate drinking. ' Forty-seven is con- 
sidered quite an advanced age in Germany,' wrote 
Giovanni Correr to Venice in 1574.^ When the Margrave 
Hans von Kiistrin became very ill in 1570, his 
physician wrote to the Elector Joachim II., of Branden- 
burg, that it ' was doubtful if he would ever recover, for 
he had now reached the great age of 58.' ^ 

' Because we storm in upon ourselves with eating, 
drinking,' said the Saxon Elector's court preacher, 

1 Winter, Encdnia, 166. " Gruninger, 230-231. 

^ Alberi, Le Relazioni degli Ambasciatori Veneti, ser. i. vol. vi. 126, 179. 

■* Mdrhische Forschungen, xiii. 425. 


Micliael Niederstetter, in 1611, in his funeral sermon on 
Christian II., ' it is regarded as quite a miracle if 
nowadays anyone lives to be 70 or 80 years old/ ^ 
It was thought something quite extraordinary and 
out of the way that Count William Werner, of Zimmern, 
when he died in 1566, had reached the age of 81.^ 
' The majority of people," wrote the Tyrolese doctor, 
Hippolytus Guarinoni, in 1610, ' do not become older than 
30 or 40 ; out of 1000 people, male and female, 
scarcely one lives to 50, only one in 5000 to 60, and 
scarcely one in 10,000 to 70. ^ From his long years" 
experiences as a doctor, Guarinoni discussed with special 
attention ' the appalling evil of drunkenness among 
women and young girls and the terrible consequences 
resulting therefrom." '^ In every 300 persons, he assures 
us, there are not 10 who do not suffer in their stomachs.^ 

^ Drey christliche Predigten, Bl. B. 3^'. 

- Zimmerische Chronik, iv. 197-198. 

^ Guarinoni, ii., 12. ** Long before Guarinoni, Luther had made the 
same statement : ' When then we have become 50 years old we have 
worked ourselves out, and we are children again.' ' But if I, Doctor 
Martin Luther, die at the age of 36, I do not beUeve that 60 or 
100 of you will live as long, for the world does not grow old nowadays.' — 
Collected Works, vii. 255, 256. In a similar strain wrote the Protestant 
pastor, Nicholas Floras, in 1583 : ' Our' whole nature is deteriorating and 
losing its vigour and power. Out of thousands you scarcely find one 
who reaches 70 or 80 years, but we ourselves are the cause of this, 
with our intemperate Hving, eating and drinking, to which there is no end 
or limit. Our fathers Hved much more temperately, and accordingly they 
attained to their natural age. But nowadays those who reach a respectable 
age are few in number ; the majority die before they are 40 ; any one 
who lives to 50 or 60 is old in our days.' — Floras, Auslegung des 90 
Psalms (Strasburg, 1583), K. 6, 7. See DoUinger, ii. 57. 

' Guarinoni, 721-727 ; cf. 772. ' Consider, dear reader, whence it 
comes that nearly all young children, as well sucking infants as those just 
weaned, suffer in their cradles from gripes, or congenital gout, or caries, 
that most of them die of these comiilaints, murdered by their own 
mothers ' — p. 723. 

^ Guarinoni, 817. 


* In consequence of the disorderly lives which the 
people lead/ wrote the Augsburger Philip Hainhofer in 
the diary of his travels in 1617, * we have met nothing 
but sick folk between Nuremberg and Berlin/ ^ 

' All the world ' was forced to say with Lazarus von 
Schwendi : 

Gluttony and drunkenness have grown 

To honour, and as common have become, 

As though we had but these pursuits alone. 

We see thereby the German nation 

Sinking into degradation. 

Its strength and greatness have declined, 

No heroes as of old we find : 

The length of days God gives to man 

Is shortened by one half its span ; 

Of us the maxim old is true : 

' Drink slays far more than warriors do." - 

^ Baltische Studien, ii. Heft ii, 15. 

^ ' Ermahnung an die frommen Teutschen, unlangst von seinem End 
gestellt.' Precisely the same was the judgment of Aegidius Albertinus : 
' Far more people die from overeating than through war or the sword.' 
Ohristi Konigreich und Seelengejaid (Munich, 1618), p. 149. Concerning 
gluttony and drunkenness in schools and universities, see our remarks, 
vol. xiii. p. 82 ff., 236, 277 f., 282 £f., 303 ff. ** Germany, says so important 
an historian of civiHsation as Steinhausen (Die Anfange des franzosischen 
Literatur- undKultureinflussesinDeutschland), in the Zeitschr. fiir vergleicli- 
ende Literaturgesch. (new series, 7, 1894, 361), Germany, in the second half 
of the sixteenth century, shows itself in a decidedly retrograde condition, 
politically, economically, intellectually and morally. This was felt pretty 
generally. Quite apart from the numbers of morality sermons, and the 
countless literary products, filled with complaints and warnings, this 
feature of the age is also otherwise manifest. In my Geschichte des Deut- 
schen Brief es, vol. i. p. 181 ff., I have called attention to the melancholy 
views of life expressed at this period in letters from all sorts of circles, and 
in spite of the admission that utterances of tliis sort appear at all times, 
I still maintain that they are especially frequent at the epoch in question. 
The people itself is aware of its own decUne. ' O Dudeslant, Dudeslant,' 
writes a Nether German to the council at Brunswick {I. c. vol. ii. p. 1), 
'ick fruchte, dat Dudeslant eyne grote strafe avergan wart ' (O Germany, 
O Germany, I fear that a great calamity is awaiting the German land). 


Under such conditions, it is easy to understand, that the nation gave itself 
up unreservedly, not only to French, but to all foreign influences. The 
verses of Fischart, who himself was by no means closed against what was 
foreign, are well known : 

Scarce anyone cares nowadays 
For liberty and honour's ways ; 
With freedom we all trifle now. 
To foreign modes and uses bow. 




As early as the first quarter of the fifteenth century the 
council of Basle issued a memorandum on the different 
methods of fraud which the crippled and the lame went 
about practising, especially on the Kohlenberg in front 
of the town.i With the help of the swindlers' tricks 
and swindlers' slang set forth in this memorandum, 
Sebastian Brant, in 1494, in the sixty-third section of 
his ' Narrenschiff/ depicted all these proceedings in 
vivid colours. Many men, still young and strong and 
able to work, he said, go about begging, and early teach 
their children the same trade. In order that the chil- 
dren may cry and scream lustily they will break one of 
their hmbs in two or inflict wounds and hurts on them. 
Then again, you will see one of these impostors walking 
with crutches so long as he is observed, but the instant 
he is alone he can do without his crutches. Another 
one knows how to feign epilepsy ; others crawl about 
with their bodies crumpled up and bent double ; while 
yet others borrow a pack of children and perambulate 
the country with them : 

1 Ave-Lallemant, i. 122-132. ** iv. 57-58, 


For, alas, there are beggars galore 

And their number grows more and more, 

For begging is an easy trade, 

Except for those in need of aid ; 

Otherwise 'tis good to be 

A beggar flourishing and free. 

They never drink inferior wine. 

Aught but good Reinfal ^ they decUne. 

Many a beggar drinks and plays, 

Gorges and lives luxurious days ; 

And many a beggar 's richer far 

Than either you or I, friend, are. 

To this beggar class belonged also the so-called 
relic-bearers and ' stationers ' (= pardoners), who went 
about with all sorts of sham relics, and who, as Brant 
says, never missed one of the Church fairs, at which they 
used to proclaim piiblicly how, 

They carried in their sack the hay 
Which of old deep buried lay 
Beneath the Bethlehem manger ; 
A leg from Balaam's ass they bring, 
A feather from St. Michael's wing, 
A bridle from St. George's charger, 
A ' Buntschuh ' of St. Clara.^ 

In the mandate of the Basle council it is expressly 
said that * certain people go about with reUcs and 
pretend that they are priests, and wear a tonsm-e, 
although they have not been ordained and are ignorant 
men/ ' Some of them possess a little learning, but still 

' Wine of RivogUa. 

- Narrenschiff, No. 63 ; Von Bettleren ; edition of Goedeke (Leipzig, 
1872), p. 113-116. In the poem ' Des Teufels Netz ' of the first half of the 
fifteenth century (pubhshed by Barack in the Bibliotheh des Literarischen 
Vereins, Stuttgart, 1863), there is a vivid description (p. 201-203) of the 
beggars and vagrants, who cheat the people by shamming bodily infirmities 
and live in luxury. ** See also Schultz, Deutsches Leben, 227 ff. Highly 
interesting from the standpoint of the history of civilisation, and hitherto 
far too little noticed, is the description by Matthias von Kemnat of the 
twenty-six sorts of fraudulent beggars, with their slang names, ' Chronik 
Friedrichs I,' in the Quellen ziir hayerischen und deutschen Geschichte, ii. 
{Munich, 1862), 101 £f^ 


have not been ordained, and they say that they are 
priests, and they have shaven crowns hke priests, and 
they wander round about the country saying they are 
far from home and have come from Rome or elsewhere 
and have been robbed, and thus they deceive the people/^ 

* They ought by rights to be drowned,' said Thomas 
Murner, in his ' Narrenbeschworung ' of 1512, ' these 
scoundels who pretend to be epileptics, cripples, maniacs, 
these impostors who pretend they are begging for holy 
shrines and churches, these pretended priests who have 
a boy to take them about, beggars and pardoners who 
haw^k sham relics, cheat God and the whole world, 
obtain under false pretexts commendatory letters 
from the gentry, setting forth how they suffer from 
St. Vitus' dance and can rest nowhere ; others fall 
to the ground with foaming mouths ; others are led in 
chains as being possessed by the devil ; others again have 
the power to inflict wounds, and their hes would crack 
a beam : they have the pardon of the saints to give for 
pious cash/ ~ 

John Schwebhn, hospital master at Pforzheim, said 
in a report of 1522, concerning the heavy expenses 
which were incurred by the ' collectors ' who go about 
collecting money for the poor and the hospitals, on 
account of the papal bulls to be obtained, the equipment 
and board of the collectors and so forth, that out 
of every 1000 gulden that were collected not ten, he 
believed, were left over for the poor. ' For apart from, 
these collectors we are intolerably pestered by number- 
less pardoners, who humbug and deceive the ignorant 

1 Ave-Lallemant, i. 128, 130. 

2 Narrenbeschworung, No. 16 ; ' Der verloren Huf ' in Goedeke's 
edition (1879), p. 59-63, where Murner's expressions are also explained. 


people ; many new chnrclies and chapels are erected 
and every one is the occasion of a begging crusade. 
Then come the ' Aposteuzler ' renegade monks and 
vagabond priests. These knocked-out fellows discover 
some old wayside shrine with a picture in it ; the one 
shrine is good for pestilence, the other for St. Kiirius' 
plague, the third cures possessed people, the fourth 
cures mad dogs, the fifth protects from early death, and 
so forth. I will before long, if I have time, write more 
about these people from my own experience, for the 
benefit of pious Christians, that they may not be 
imposed upon by such cheats." ^ 

This projected account is very probably the pam- 
phlet, circulated in numerous editions, entitled : * Liber 
vagatorum, der Bettlerorden,' ' dictated by a highly 
worthy Meister, Nomine Expertus in Trufis,' ' for the 
instruction and information of all men, and for the 
improvement and reform of those who need bettering.^ 
The book is divided in three parts : the beggars' cadg- 
ing tricks, some notable tricks, and a slang vocabulary. 
A Dutch translation remarks on the vocabulary that it 
was the work of a hospital master who had the book 
printed at Pforzheim on the Rhine.- At least twenty 

^ Ermanung zu dem Questionieren abzustellen iiberfliissigen Icosten. Geben 
zu Pforzen am ersten Tag des Christmonat, 1522. See Ulilhorn, ii. 336-337, 

- Ave-Lallemant, i. 202 ; printed Pforzheim edition, 165-184 ; the 
Low-German translation prepared from this original version (of. p. 142), 
185-206 ; Uhlhorn, ii. 515, n. 12, has drawn attention to the passage 
quoted by us from this last edition, and certainly to our knowledge has 
been the first to express the opinion that Schweblin was the author of 
Liber Vagatorum. Like Ave-Lallemant, Uhlliorn, and certainly with 
right, considers the Liber Vagatorum — ' Bettlerorden ' of Pamphilus 
Gengenbach (in Goedeke, P. Oengenbach, 343-370) only a rhymed 
version of the Pforzheim original edition. If Schwebhn is the author, the 
* booklet ' cannot have been written earlier than 1523. 


different categories of beggars are distinguished by- 
proper names. 

To guard against this nuisance, beggar ordinances 
were issued in nearly all the large towns, and municipal 
guardians of the poor were appointed by the town 
councils. Parish funds were organised, and their 
management and distribution entrusted to the town 

The best poor-laws were those of the Netherlands, 
where, as early as the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries, 
there was more excellent provision for the care of the 
poor than in any part of the empire. This poor-law 
system was in close connexion with the hospitals. For 
all kinds of incapacitated people, for infirm old men 
and women, for cripples, for orphans, hospitals were 
founded : from these hospitals aid was also sent to the 
poor in town and to needy strangers. The so-called 
* Holy Ghost tables,' ' poor-tables,' and * poor-houses ' 
were found in all Dutch towns. In Antwerp, at the 
beginning of the fifteenth century, every parish had its 
poor-house, which also received within its walls travellers 
passing through the country, and afforded them sick 
nursing if necessary. In order to make possible an 
equal rate of expenditure in the different parishes, 
the council appointed a committee of fourteen persons 
who, in conjunction with the managers of the ' Holy 
Ghost tables,' were to superintend the care of the poor 
and report to the parish on the general condition of 
poor-law expenditure. With a view to still greater 
uniformity of management the council, after the middle 
of the century, appointed a ' master of the poor ' at the 
head of the general poor-law administration, with a staff 
of councillors under him whose election was bound up 


with solemn formalities. The men chosen were obliged 
to swear an oath that they would faithfully watch over 
all the poor, and then they received the ' Borse der 
Barmherzigkeit ' (the purse of charity). They were to 
feed the hungry, give drink to the thirsty, clothe the 
naked, visit the sick, comfort the forsaken, plead the 
cause of the captives, and provide for the burial of the 
dead. They were invested with a girdle as emblem of 
the bond of love which was to unite them with the poor. 
The wives also of these poor-law councillors devoted 
themselves to the care of the poor, and showed especial 
kindness to women in their confinement and to children. 
Further, there were special ' orphan-mothers ' and 
' orphan-fathers,' and from the year 1495 an actual 
' Waisenkammer ' or fund for orphans. For the care of 
the permanently disabled, such as lunatics, bhnd and 
dumb people, &c., two councillors were set apart, one 
of whom was chosen from the burghers, the other from 
the artisans. Burgomasters and justices called them- 
selves the guardians of all these unfortunate people. 
Thus, while an attempt was being made to unify the 
management of the poor, the system became more 
and more individualistic. 

In Brussels, Louvain, Mechhn, Ghent, Bruges, 
Namur, and so forth, the same system prevailed as in 
Antwerp. The council at Brussels was invested by 
Pope Nicholas V. in 1448 with the secular management 
of all the hospitals. In many towns the services of 
the ' grey sisters ' were employed for visiting the poor 
and distributing almsJ 

1 Fuller details on this subject are given by P. Alberdingk Tliijm in his 
Gesch. der W ohltdtigkeits-anstalten in Belgien (Freibm-g i. Br,, 1887), 
pp. 94-196, 


Out of the poor-law system as it had long existed 
in the Netherlands, there grew that model system of 
poor-law administration which the council introduced 
at Ypern in 1524 or 1525, and which the Emperor 
Charles V. adopted as the basis of the poor-law system 
for the whole of the Netherlands. The Ypern system 
went on the divine command that every one was bound 
to earn his living according to his powers, but those 
who were disabled from work were to be provided for 
by the Christian mercy of the parish. Begging was 
entirely forbidden. The various kinds of poverty were 
accurately distinguished ; the spheres of charitable 
institutes and poor-houses were strictly limited ; con- 
cerning the erection of charity schools and the treatment 
of strangers there were still minuter regulations ; the 
whole management of the poor was placed under 
uniform administration. ^ 

In the German towns the first thought was, at least 
to regulate the begging system by definite mendicant 
ordinances. In Vienna, for instance, according to an 
ordinance issued by the Emperor Frederick III. in 1442, 
a Beggar-Master was appointed with full control over 
all mendicants, male and female, native and foreign, 
and authorised to punish with the pillory or with 
imprisonment all ' immorality, disorder or unseemly 
behaviour.' It was the business of this official to see 
that nobody obtained alms by begging, 'but only in 
an honourable way when really needing them,' and 
'those only were to beg,' said the ordinance, 'who could 
say the Paternoster, the Ave Maria and the Creed, and 
who went to confession at least once a year, at Easter.' 

^ Ehrle, Beitrdge zur Gesch. und Reform der Armenpfiege (Freiburg 
i. Br., 1881), and Ratzinger, Armenpfiege, 442. 


To such^fpersons, and to such only, the Beggar-Master 
gave a ticket ' to carry about with them in order that 
everybody might be assured of the legitimacy of their 
begging/ People who begged without necessity, or 
who went about deceiving, were first to be quietly 
cautioned by the Beggar-Master, and if they did not 
attend to him, to be punished. ^ 

With regard to the town of Cologne it was resolved 
at a meeting of the council in 1446 that : ' Whereas 
numbers of people, male and female, from Itahan, 
French, German and other lands, loafers, vagabonds 
and wastrels, here in this town are given up to idleness 
and obscenity, although they are strong and able to 
work, our gentlemen of the council herewith decree, 
as they have already decreed before, that such able- 
bodied people, be they men or women, shall, within 
three days from the time of this meeting, set themselves 
to work to earn their daily bread. Any of them who 
do not obey this order, but remain idle after the pre- 
scribed time, shall be driven out of this town, and if 
they come back, a halter shall be put round their 
necks and they shall be beaten out of the town with 
rods/ ^ 

In Nuremberg, as early as the last half of the 
fourteenth century, an edict for the regulation of the 
mendicant system was issued to the following effect : 

1 Ulimorn, ii. 456. 

2 Annalen cles Histor. Vereins fiir den Niederrhein, Heft 28-29 (Cologne, 
1876), p. 298. ** Concerning the reasons of the terrible growth of 
begging in Cologne especially, seeV. v. Woikowsky-Biedau, Das Armenwesen 
des mittelalterlichen Koln in seiner Beziehung zur ivirtschaftlichen und 
politischen Geschichte der Stadt., Breslauer Dissert, p. 48 ff. The author 
comes to the conclusion (p. 62) that ' the reproach against the mediaeval 
system of poor law, that it was an essentially indiscriminating one, and 
that it fostered mendicancy, is not justifiable.' 


' Firstly, nobody shall be allowed to beg outside the 
churches or in the town, and nobody shall beg inside 
the churches nor inside the town, unless he has a warrant 
from the town, and said warrant shall be given him in 
the name of the council by an official thereto autho- 
rised/ Only such persons might receive a warrant 
(and each time only for six months) for whom at least 
two or three rehab] e burghers could give assurance on 
oath that they were in need of alms. People who, on the 
finding of the proper authorities, ' were able to continue 
their journey or to work, and were not deserving of 
alms, were not to be allowed to beg or to receive a 
warrant.' Foreign beggars were not to be tolerated 
in the town more than three days/ The so-called 
' meat and bread foundations ' which the burgher, 
Burkhard Sailer, founded in 1388 and placed under 
the control of the council, and which developed 
into a truly ' wealthy fund,' thanks to the endow- 
ments of other well-to-do burghers, and above all in 
consequence of the papal indulgences granted to bene- 
factors in 1460, 1474, 1479 and 1501, were not available 
for any pubhc beggars, but only for the genuine poor, 
and among these for the very poorest. Here, too, it 
was prescribed that ' two honourable and trustworthy 
burghers, who were acquainted with the character and 
hfe of the applicants must first give them a warrant.' 
Those considered ehgible for ahns were presented with 
a leaden counter.^ A more minute mendicant ordin- 
ance was issued by the council in 1478 : ' Almsgiving,' 
it said, ' is a specially praiseworthy, virtuous work, and 

1 Waldau, Vermischte Bntrdge, iv. 328-331. 

2 ' Stiftungsbrief ' in Waldau, Vermischte Beitrage, iv. 381-390. 'See 
also Th. Volbehr, ' Ein Beitrag zur Gesch. des Armenwesen,' in the 
Miiteilungen aus dem germanischen Nationahnusemn, ii. 211-215. 



those who receive alms unworthily and unnecessarily, 
Jay a heavy burden of guilt on themselves/ In order 
therefore, that the poor and needy ones should not be 
deprived of their alms by unworthy, non-needy beggar- 
men and women, the officers appointed to distribute 
the alms shall, before granting a warrant to anyone, 
inform themselves accurately as to the ' condition, 
character and working powers of the applicants ; shall 
find out whether they are married or single, and how 
many children they have, so as to know if they are 
really deserving of alms/ Children of beggars, above 
the age of eight, shall not be allowed to ask for alms, 
because they are certainly in a position to earn money ; 
such children shall be helped to find work in the town 
or in the country. Those among the poor, male and 
female, who were granted permission to beg for alms, 
were entered in a catalogue. The following rules were 
laid down for them : ' They must not, unless they are 
crippled, lame or blind, sit idly as beggars on any 
working-day outside the churches, but they must 
employ themselves in spinning, or some other work, 
according to their capacity. Any one afflicted with an 
open, pitiful wound or sore on the body or limbs, by 
the sight of which a pregnant woman might be harmed, 
must hide such wounds and not expose them to public 
view.' Those among the poor who were ashamed to 
ask for alms openly by daylight were given a special 
warrant, which allowed them to beg in the dark ; in 
summer, however, only during the two first hours, in 
winter during the three first hours after nightfall, 
and never without carrying a lantern. On lying-in 
women special care was bestowed by * honourable 
women.' The poor from foreign countries were only 


allowed to beg on a few specified days during the 

Like the council of Nuremberg, the Wiirzburg 
Bishop, Rudolf von Scherenberg, in his mendicant 
ordinance of 1490, by restricting the care of the poor 
to the parish, testing the claims of the native poor, 
compelling their children to work and helping them to 
get work, insured the genuine poor against loss and 
encroachment from undeserving beggars.^ 

In Frankfort-on-the-Maine the first municipal dis- 
pensers of alms, three councillors and one burgher, were 
nominated in 1437. Their business, under the super- 
vision of the council, was to distribute the donations 
in money or in kind presented to the council by the 
burghers, among those who had fallen into distress and 
poverty, although they had spent their days honourably ; 
among the poor who lived on their own honest toil and 
yet had not sufficient to keep them in comfort ; among 
the pious poor who were burdened with numbers of 
children whom they could not feed ; finally among 
good house-wives who were going through their con- 
finements or expecting to be laid up. The distribution 
of ahns always took place in a church. In 1486 
the council decreed that only those who had 
been citizens for eight years, or who had served 
that length of time in Frankfort, should be eligible for 
m.unicipal alms ; in 1495 ' certain useless persons who 
were not really in need of alms ' were excluded by the 
council. The poor were granted the right, on certain 

^ Baader, Polizeiordningen, 316-320. 

^ Concerning this Wiirzburg and unprinted ordinance, see V. Gramich in 
the Liter arische Rundschau filr das katholische Deutschland, 1883, Sp. 
500-501. The ordinance confined itself strictly to the Nurembergers. 

F r 2 


days in the week, to fetch fire-wood for their own use 
from the town wood ; the older poor were received 
into a hospital as beneficiaries, i 

As with the distribution of alms, so in the ' ordinances ' 
of many hospitals, care was taken that only persons who 
were really needy and deserving should be recipients 
of charity. Thus the Nuremberger Conrad Mendel 
stipulated with regard to the hospital which he founded 
and placed under the management of the council, that 
* 12 men were to be received into it, to the honour 
of the 12 holy apostles, all of whom must be old, 
infirm and poor, and unable any longer to five by their 
own work ; and under pain of excommunication these 
men shall be received solely for the love of God, without 
any regard to gifts of any sort, or any hope of temporal 
gain. On these 12 men the works of mercy shall be 
fulfilled, feeding the hungry, giving drink to the thirsty, 
clothing the naked, visiting the sick.' ' Idlers, pubhc 
beggars, rioters, ill-conditioned people and disreputable 
rifi-rafi were for ever to be excluded. For the founder 
wished, for the praise and glory of God, to provide for the 
comfort of hard and honest workers who had maintained 
themselves by strenuous labour, but were now poor and 
sickly, and were of good character and respectabihty." - 
Likewise in a hospital erected in Augsburg in 1454, 
none were to be admitted but * poor men who could no 
longer carry on their handicraft on account of age and 
illness, who brought with them a respectable record, and 
who had never begged pubhcly or taken alms/ A hos- 
pital founded at Cologne in 1450, ' was open only to the 
very poorest and most infirm, whether citizens of Cologne 

1 Kriegk, Burgertum, 163-166, 543. Notes 145 and 146. 

' ' Stiftungsbrief ' of 1388 in Waldau, Vermischte Beitrdge,[iv. 178-193. 


or strangers/ Two hospitals in Magdeburg were set 
apart for ' pilgrims and infirm people ' ; nobody was 
allowed admission there for payment of money or gifts/ ^ 
In nmnbers of hospitals, for instance at Freiburg and 
Lucerne, free places were bought for the insane ; in 
many towns, as in Bamberg in 1471, in Liibeck in 1479, 
in Esslingen in 1500, special houses were built for 
these unfortunate people.- The extremely numerous 

* Elenden-Herbergen ' (shelters for the miserable) were 
erected for the benefit of needy travellers. * Elenden- 
Confraternities ' were also founded for this purpose.^ 

' Of priceless value,' for the larger towns especially, 
was that ' voluntary devotion to the care of the poor and 
the sick ' of which the ' Weihegartlein ' said in 1509 : 

* By the grace of God there are in our towns very many 
hundreds of Brothers and Sisters who out of Christian 
love and benevolence combine together, solely for the 
love of God, to minister to the sick, the infirm, the de- 
mented and the lepers." ^ 

Among devoted ministers to the sick, special repute 
attached to the associations of the ' Wilhgen Armen ' 
(voluntary poor) or the Alexians, a society of lay brothers, 
who had their charitable houses in Hildesheim, Halber- 
stadt, Treves, Cologne, Aix-la-Chapelle, Frankfort -on- 
the-Maine, Strasburg, Augsburg and elsewhere, and who 
devoted themselves to the care of male patients, especi- 
ally insane persons, and the burial of the dead. The 
cloister reformer, the Augustinian provost, John Busch, 
who had the supervision of the associations at Hildesheim 

1 Uhlhorn, ii. 332-334. ' Ulilhorn, ii. 298. 

3 See for instance, for Frankfort-on-the-Maine, Biirgertum, 152-160. 
•* Wyhegertlin fur alle frummen Cristenmenschen (Mayence, 1509), 
Bl. 7. 


and Halberstadt, penned in 1470 a very edifying descrip- 
tion of the lives and work of the Brothers at Hildesheim. 
' The inhabitants/ he says, ' are in general very much 
attached to these Brothers, who watch by the sick, no 
matter what their illnesses may be, and tend them day 
and night until their death, fortify them in what is good, 
cheer and hearten them in their last fight with the temp- 
tations of the devil, and then attend to their corpses and 
carry them to their graves.' ' They do these works of 
mercy for all who appeal to them/^ No less praise was 
bestowed on the zeal of the Brothers at Halberstadt. 
The Council at Cologne testified of them that ' they 
are ready day and night to give their services to rich 
and poor, in life and in death,' and in 1487 made 
over to them a second house. Female ' Alexians ' 
also worked actively in many towns in nursing 
the sick in hospitals and in private houses. ^ Praise 
of a more meagre description, often indeed harsh 
censure, was the reward of the Beghine houses ; never- 
theless, many of these developed, in the second half 
of the fifteenth century, a blessed service of ministra- 
tion to the sick and education of orphan children.'^ 
Besides these associations living under conventual rule, 
there were in many places free brotherhoods of men 
and women for voluntary sick nursing. At Strasburg, 
for instance, every member pledged himself to devote 
one day and night of every year to sick nursing. On 
admission of members to the brotherhood, women were 
asked from the pulpit to collect benevolent gifts for 
the sick people from house to house. ^ 

1 Grube, Johannes Busch (Freiburg i. Br., 1881), pp. 243-247. 

2 Uhlhorn, ii. 390-394. 

•* See Kittel, Die Beguinen des Mittelalters im siidwestlichen Deutschhnd. 
Programm, Aschaffenburg, 1859. ■* Uhlhorn, ii. 389. 


A specially prominent place as ' Benefactor and 
Father of the Poor ' belongs to the Strasburg Cathedral 
preacher, Geiler von Kaisersberg (f 1510), who was 
also particularly serviceable in his efforts to organise 

The spirit of Christian love towards all who were in 
need, which speaks from his sermons and writings, was 
in no way different from that which permeates all the 
church books of instruction and edification of that period, 
but in clearness of thought and warmth of expression 
Geiler surpasses all his contemporaries. 

' Mercifulness, actuated by love of God, was,' so he 
preached, 'the most precious of goods.' * Oh, do not 
despise the poor on whom the eye of God rests, of whom 
the Lord is ever mindful, for whom He always cares ! 
Christ was born in poverty and lived in poverty ; for 
the sake of the poor He came into the world to proclaim 
the Gospel to them. He thought the poor worthy to sit 
at meals with Him, He went about with the poor, and He 
preferred their company to that of the rich of this world. 
He is the staff of hope on which the poor lean, while you, 
my friends, lean on the reed of riches and society, which 
soon breaks and pierces your hand.' ^ ' I never remember 
hearing,' he said with St. Ambrose, ' that any one ever 
died a bad death who had gladly practised charity 
towards the poor. But without love and mercy, no one 
can die a happy death.' ' He that hath this world's 
goods, and seeth his brother have need, and shutteth up 
his compassion from him, the love of God is not in him.' 
' Have you no money or goods, then give your heart, 
give good words. Hear what the Psalmist says : 
" Blessed is he who careth for the poor and the needy; 

• De Lorenzi, ii. 48-49, 


the Lord shall dehver him in the time of trouble." 
Understand well : " He who works for the poor/' They 
cry unto us those torn garments of the poor, those 
emaciated forms of the poor, those pallid faces of the 
poor ; the old age and the infirmity of the poor cry 
unto us : blessed are they who understand the poor 
better than their words. If you have only one son, let 
God, in the person of this poor, be your second son ; if 
you have two, let Him be third . . . such is charity." ^ 

It is not only, however, as regards temporal and out- 
ward goods, wine, bread, money, clothes and suchhke, 
that we must extend benevolence to the poor, but also as 
regards inward and spiritual goods, the milk of good 
doctrine and instruction of the unlearned, the milk of 
devotion, wisdom, consolation. ' All these are meant by 
the Word of God when it says how the Lord ' will set 
the sheep on the right hand and the goats on the left, 
because they fed the poor, gave them drink and clothing 
and so forth, and will say : " Come ye -blessed of my 
Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the 
foundation of the world ; for I was an hungered and ye 
fed me, I was thirsty and ye gave me drink," and so 
forth.' 2 

" Invite to your feasts the poor, the maimed, the 
lame and the bhnd " according to the admonition of 
the Lord, and you will be blessed because they have 
nothing to reward you with ; for your reward shall 
be in the day of the resurrection of the just.' Never- 
theless it was not for this reason that they must practise 
charity. ' Give your alms out of love to God without 
hope of reward ; give abundantly and from a good 

1 De Lorenzi, i. 267 272, 414. 

^ The passage in Hasak, Der christliche Glaube, 375. 


heart ; do not drive a profitable trade with benevolence ; 
angle not for great fishes with the worms of your good 
deeds.' ^ 

This applied to all the good works of a Christian ; 
those only were, according to the Church's doctrine, 
well-pleasing to God and truly meritorious, which were 
done solely out of love to God. ' Be not anxious 
through your good works to gain heaven or escape 
hell, but simply serve God because He is your Father/ 
* Some people only serve God in order to obtain eternal 
life, which is also a creature of God and not God Himself ; 
this aim in your good works is imperfect and spoils 
your works.' ' Those who serve God for the kingdom 
of heaven, for their own benefit, that they may not go 
to hell, those seek for themselves only.' - 

1 De Lorenzi, ii. 251 and iii. 130, 385. 

- Predigten von dem Baum der Seligkeit, vii. Predigt. The meri- 
toriousness of good works is well explained in a book, On The Love of God, 
published in Augsburg in 1494. ' No human work is truly good and 
virtuous unless it begins and ends in God. Love to our neighbour is only 
truly good and virtuous if it is founded on our love to God, that is : if we 
love God above all and our neighbour for God's sake. Our love to God 
must include love to our fellow-men, because they are His creatures 
and He commands us to love them, to wish and do them good as He does, 
and not to covet the goods they enjoy. Our alms must be given in the 
same spirit : out of love to God and for His greater honour and glory. 
And likewise all good works, to be pleasing to God and meritorious, 
require to proceed from God, to be done with God, and to tend to God's 
glory. The impelling motive must be Divine Love ; the performance 
must take place " in a state of sanctifying grace," i.e. the performer must 
have in him the infused virtue of charity ; lastly, the final object of the 
good deed must be the glory of God.' — In Hasak, Der christliche Glaube, 
163-164. This teaching is to be found in all the books of the period. 
See above vol. i. 48-54 (German). Martin Eisengiein {Sine Trostliche 
Predigt, 1565) candidly acknowledges that the CathoUc Church, ' the 
mother of aU that believe ' has always based the merit of good works on 
the efficacy of the grace merited for us by Christ. ' Wliosoever dares 
to assert that under the Pope the merits of Christ were ignored has, I 


With regard to almsgiving and all other help afforded 
the needy, not for the sake of reward, but in strict 
obedience to the command of God, and for the avoidance 
of deadly sin, there are as strong utterances on the 
subject in Geiler's writings, as in those of Markus von 
Weida, who, in an explanation of the Paternoster 
(1501), says, concerning the fourth petition : ' We 
shall have to render a heavy account to the Lord our 
God for the use we have made of our temporal bread 
and goods ; for we are servants and not lords of it, 
and they are not given us for ourselves alone, but that 
we may share them with others at proper times and in 
suitable ways, that is, we should come to our neigh- 
bours' help in their time of need. For in times of 
need all things are in common, especially among us 
Christians/ ' Therefore, we ask not each for his bread 
but for " our bread/' The rich, who do not help the 
poor in their need and give them alms, are guilty of 
as great sin as if they took another's property by 
force. And so they eat the bread of strangers which 
in the end will not profit them.' He, therefore, who 
would not eat the bread of strangers must be as Tobias 
taught his son : ' Turn not away thy face from any 
poor man, and the face of the Lord shall not be turned 
away from thee. As thy substance is, give alms 
of it according to thine abundance ; if thou have little, 
be not afraid to give alms according to that little ; 
for thou layest up a good treasure for thyself against 
the day of necessity/ ^ ' Nobody, however, must dare 

think, never opened the books of approved papal theologians or even 
seldom crossed the threshold of a Christian church.' — Hasak, Herbstbhimen, 
xlii. 74. 

' Hasak, Die letzte Rose oder Erkldrung des Vaterunsers nach Markus von 
Weida (Ratisbon, 1883), pp. 63-64. See the ' Plenarium ' of 1514 in Hasak, 


think that he ever did, or could do, so much good on 
earth that God would be bound in justice to give him 
his heavenly kingdom, for this gift can only come 
from the grace of God and by virtue of the bitter 
sufferings of Christ.' i 

But, however earnestly Geiler urged people to give 
alms out of love to God and in obedience to His strict 
command, he was equally emphatic in his warnings 
not to give bhndly or to any and every beggar and 
undeserving, unworthy importuner. ' That man was 
a fool,' he said, ' who did not bestow his gifts in the 
right way, at the right time and in the right measure.' '^ 

Die Himmelsstrasse oder die Evangelien des Jahres in Erlcldrungen fur 
das christliche folk (Ratisbon, 1882), pp. 330-331. As a strict command 
it was impressed on the hearts of all believers, with regard to the poor and 
the sick : ' If thou dost not provide for the needy, the sick, the orphans 
and the infirm, and wilt not help them according to thy means, thou art,' 
it says in the Wyhegertlin fur alle frummen Cristenmenschen of the year 
1509 (Bl. 5), ' no other than a murderer of thy neighbour.' ' In hke manner,' 
says the Spiegel des Silnders which appeared in 1470, ' hast thou refused 
thy bread to the hungry, or seen thy fellow Christian in sore need and not 
come to his help, as thou well mightest, then, as St. Paul says, thou hast 
slain him.' Geffcken, Bilderkatechismus, Beil. p. 64. Similar admonitions 
were uttered at the same time by the Spiegel des Christenglaubens of Ludolf 
of Gottengen : ' When a man sees another in want and poverty, leaves 
him to die of hunger and grief, does not help him out of his means, he is a 
manslayer in the sight of God.' Geffcken, Beil. p. 95. The Himmelsstrasse 
of 1510 says : Against the tenth commandment, ' Thou shalt not covet 
anything of thy neighbour's ' — all those commit sin who withhold the works 
of bodily or spiritual benevolence, or alms, those who do not, according 
to their means, succour the poor and the needy in time of want. Hasak, 
Herbstblumen, p. 110. Markus of Lindau in his explanation of the ten 
commandments sets forth identical thoughts. Cf. Hasak; Ein Efeukranz 
. . . (Ratisbon, 1889), pp. 62, 110. Contemporary Beichtbiichlein, e.g. 
the one published at Frankfort in 1478, exhort the penitent to examine 
his conscience as to ' whether he has treated the poor as he would have 
treated Christ.' 

^ Hasak, Die letzte Rose, 44. 

- De Lorenzi, ii. 251. 


By this, however, he did not mean that whenever 
a poor man asked for a morsel of bread his whole 
Hfe must be inquired into. ' Like Lazarus, he requires 
a bit of bread. He may be a very sinful man, but still 
he is worth a morsel of bread, for God still lets the sun 
ihine on him and gives him hfe, air and water.' ^ On 
the other hand he was urgent in warning people, simple 
burgher folk especially, against the sham poor who 
resorted to all sorts of dodges for getting as much 
given them as possible. ' These impostors," he said, * you 
must reject ; for every time you give them alms you 
injure them and yourselves, for you give them encourage- 
ment to sin.' ^ 

Concerning these humbugs and impostors he said 
in his sermons on Brant's * Narrenschiff ' of the year 
1498 : ' Some of them beg although they can well 
earn their own living ; able-bodied beggars who give 
themselves up to idleness are punishable ; others, 
beg out of greed only, in order to get a lot of money, 
and these are highly reprehensible, &c,, &c.' 

Amongst the ' Bettler-Narren ' he reckoned those 
who did not ' organise charity.' 

' There is a great amount of begging and a great 
number of beggars here. It is the fault of the gentlemen 
of the Council, who do not regulate and control it. 
They ought to appoint people to see into this matter. 
There are plenty of fimds here but they are unequally 
distributed. One man sometimes gets as much " alms " 
as would be enough for five.' ^ 

His own fixed opinion was that the municipal 

> De Lorenzi, i. 415. - De Lorenzi, iii. 179-180. 

^ Keiserspergs Narrenschiff, so er gepredigt hat zu Strasshurg, 1498 
(Strassburg edition, printed by John Grieninger, 1520), Bl. 129''-130. 


authorities ought to find means for putting a stop to 
all public begging. * Happy the town/ he said in 
a sermon in 1497, * where the care of the poor is so 
well organised that there are no beggars there ! This 
might be the case in Strasburg if only people went 
the right way to work.* ^ The matter came up for 
discussion by the Council and in 1500 an ordinance 
was issued to the following effect : ' Provisions have 
been made for supplying the wants of the needy poor, 
and it is therefore decreed that in future neither natives 
nor foreigners shall beg in the streets or in and outside 
of the churches/ The tax-gatherers received orders not 
to allow foreign beggars to remain in the town.^ 

The following year Geiler recommended the council 
to estabhsh an organised system of poor-relief. It 
was necessary, he said, in Strasburg, as indeed through- 
out Christendom, to insure that alms should only be 
given to the genuine poor and not to those who were 
least in need and least worthy of them. ' Do not 
the emperors say in the statute book : " It is our 
duty as men to provide for those in want and to endeav- 
our that the poor may not lack for food." Upon this 
emperors and princely councils should act. But they do 
not. It is, therefore, necessary that every commmiity 
should pro^dde for its own.' There were in the town 
large charitable funds for almsgiving, but provision for 
right distribution of them was lacking. One single 
official was not enough for this purpose. The town should 
be divided into six or seven circles and a supervisor 

1 L. Dacheux, Jean Geiler de Kaysersberg (Paris -Strasbourg, 1876), 
p. 91, n. 2. 

- Dacheux, Geilersvon Kmjsersberg, XXI. Artikel und Brief e (Freiburg'i. 
Br., 1877) Notes to Article xiii. p, 67 


appointed for every circle, whose duty it should be 
to inquire into the condition of the poor and to see 
that able-bodied beggars and children who could earn 
their bread were kept at work, and that only the really 
poor and those unable to work, were made recipients of 

Though Geiler complained that the Emperor and the 
Assembly of Princes did not properly interest themselves 
in the condition of the poor, it was nevertheless resolved 
in the Recesses of the Diets at Lindau in 1497, at 
Freiburg in 1498, at Augsburg in 1500 that ' Every 
ruler should seriously consider the question of beggars 
and begging, so that nobody might be allowed to beg 
for alms who was not weak and infirm in body, and 
who was not reallv in need. Also that the children of 
beggars should be in good time taken from their parents 
and put to some handicraft or else sent into service, so 
that they might not always be dependent on begging.' ~ 
At the Augsburg Diet of 1530 it was further decreed that 
* every ruler shall see to it that each town and community 
feeds and maintains its own poor, and nowhere in the 
empire shall foreigners be allowed to beg. And should 
any able-bodied persons be found begging, the same 
shall be suitably punished according to the law, in 

1 Dacheux, Geilers XXI. Artikel, xiii, p. 30-31. The facts set forth in 
our text fully meet the common assertion ' that the medieval Chm'ch 
teaching on the merit of good works favoured indiscriminate almsgiving, 
and stood in the way of organised charity, inasmuch as, to secure the 
reward, it was deemed sufficient to give alms, to get rid of one's wealth 
without regard for the use or abuse of the wealth so abandoned. Whereas, 
since salvation by faith \^ithout works was taught, ahns have been given 
from a less selfish motive, viz., grateful love springing from faith, the 
simple wish to do one's duty.' How this grateful and self-sacrificing love 
worked out in practice will appear from facts soon to be related. 

^ Neue Sammlung der Reichsabschiede, ii. 32, 48, 80. 


order that they may be a warning and example to others/ 
It was, however, added that : ' If any town or district is 
so overcharged with poor people that it is unable to feed 
them, the magistrates shall have power to send these poor 
people, with a written warrant, into another district/ ^ 
A poor relief ordinance issued by Bishop Conrad III. 
of Wiirzburg in 1533, in connexion with the earlier one 
of 1490 for the town of Wiirzburg, was specially distin- 
guished by benevolence and circumspection. It was 
decreed therein that ' The poor-relief was to be under 
the management of six honourable burghers, who should 
keep accurate registers of all the poor people and note 
down full particulars about every separate case. Every 
poor person found to be deserving should be given a leaden 
counter to carry about with him or her. Poor peoj)le 
afflicted with pox or the French disease (syphilis) must 
go into the ' French house ' ; other sick persons, and 
above all servants discharged from their situations on 
account of illness, must be taken into the poor-house 
and tended there, in order that, as sometimes happens, 
they may not be left lying friendless on the ground. 
Further, poor women who are near their time of lying-in 
laust be maintained ; poor orphans must be helped 
to learn some industry ; poor young women must be 
granted a dowry ; young and respectable married 
couples who are needy shall have a sum of money 
advanced them to start their handicraft, and likewise 
poor hucksters, so that they may not be compelled to 
risk their own small savings. For the supervision of 
beggars, instead of the four mendicancy baihf!s who 

^ Ncue Sammlung der Reichsabschiede, ii. 343. Renewed at the Diet 
of Augsburg in 1548, and at the Frankfort Assembly of Deputies in 1577, 
Bl. ii. 601 and iii. 393. 


had hitherto served, four sworn town servants were 
appointed ; to beggars suffering from special diseases 
a special place was assigned for collecting their alms ; 
as regards the poor scholars, only those who attended 
the school were allowed to obtain alms by singing in 
the streets. Further, it was decreed with regard to the 
women hving on daily wages that when the time of 
field work was over they were to receive alms, but that 
during the period of work they should only receive alms 
if their husbands were ill, or they had children to suckle, 
and were thus kept from work. The dispensers of alms 
were also to visit the sick and inform themselves as to 
their needs. ^ 

Among the German Synods which busied themselves 
with the question of the care of the poor, the Cologne 
Provincial Synod of 1536 stands out prominently. The 
communal poor-relief system of the Church was as it 
were focussed in the hospitals, which not only had to 
take in the sick and disabled poor, old men and women, 
orphans, neglected and forsaken children, the insane 
and the lepers, and give shelter two nights running to 
strangers passing through the land, but also to feed and 
maintain the poor (who do not beg pubhcly) in their 
homes. Every parish and important locality was to 
provide such a hospital for the benefit of the local poor. 
If the revenues of a hospital were not sufficient for the 
needs of all the poor of the district, the pastor was 
to commission a few trustworthy people of the parish 
to make collections during divine service, and in every 

^ Contributed by Scharold in the Archiv des Histor. Vereins von 
U Titer franken und Aschaffenhurg, v. Heft iii. 136-149. Ordinances 
adapted to the mitigation of the begging nmsance were also issued in 
the bishopric of Bamberg in 1546, 1569 and so forth. — Jack, Bambergische 
Jahrhucher, 255. 


church an alms box was to be set up for the benefit of 
the hospitals. But only such persons were to receive 
help and support who were disabled by illness, infirmity 
or age from earning with their own labour their 
needful food and clothing. To these alone, according 
to the canonical regulations, were the Church rehef and 
the benevolence of the clergy and laity to be extended. 
Beggars capable of work and people who were not in 
want of food and clothing, but only begged for admission 
from laziness and dislike of work, were not only to be 
excluded from the hospitals, but also were to be forbidden 
begging of every description. * For it is better,' said 
the Synod, ' that these people should be refused the 
bread of charity, than that they should be encouraged 
in their sinful idleness." On the really indigent and 
needy, however, the poor-relief officers were to bestow 
every possible care, and to remember that he was a 
murderer of the poor who neglected their welfare. i 

Heavy and shameful abuses existed in plenty. What 
the condition of things was in Wiirzburg, for instance, 
before Bishop Juhus Echter von Mespelbrunn called into 
being his splendid Julius Hospital ^ is shown by a protocol 
of the cathedral chapter there, dated October 21, 1572 : 
* The dean of the cathedral reports that there is great 
disorder in all the hospitals and poor-houses, and that 
no accounts have been kept in them for a number of 
years ; a woman was lately found dead in the street 
who, without doubt, had not been able to obtain shelter 
in any of these places.' ^ When, for instance, the Abbot 
Ulrich Hackl of Zwettl, in 1597, was commissioned by 

' Ehrle, 32. Ratzinger, Armenpflege, 469-470. 

- See our remarks, vol. ix. 361 ff. and fuller details in Buchinger, 247 ff. 

^ V. Wegele, TJniversiUit Wiirzburg, i. 143, n. 3. 



the Nether- Austrian Government, in conjunction with 
three other plenipotentiaries, to inquire into the con- 
dition of the Vienna burgher hospital, he found ' on a 
surprise visitation unknown to and unexpected by the 
hospital master,' that nearly 400 persons were crowded 
together in nine rooms ; in the children's ward there 
were thirty-five children and eighteen women and nurses ; 
in the school-children's ward forty- three school-children ; 
in the lying-in ward fifty women, and so forth. Often 
three or four people were in one bed ; the patients 
suffering from infectious diseases were not separated 
from the others ; the sick rooms were very uncleanly 
and full of intolerable stenches ; a doctor from the 
medical faculty who was supposed to visit the patients 
twice a week, had not put in an appearance for more 
than three weeks, and he never visited the patients in 
separate rooms at all, but simply had their urine brought 
to him by an attendant, and prescribed accordingly ; 
but often the patients never got the medicine at all, or 
else they got the wrong medicine. The hospital master 
was found to be spending on himself the revenues of a 
benefice which had been founded for the maintenance of 
a chaplain for the hospital, and so the patients were left 
without spiritual ministrations, and many of them died 
without confession or communion.^ In the hospital at 
Innsbruck which was founded by King Ferdinand I., 
and enlarged by Archduke Ferdinand II., and was under 
State supervision, the government was often obliged to 
interfere, because nobody took any interest in the care of 
the poor people, not even in their burial. Once in the 
winter when some poor sick people were brought from 

^ This account, compiled from the Acts, is written by Stephen Rossler 
in the Vienna Vaterland, 1885. 


a distance on a sledge, and the hospital was overfull, 
they were laid down outside the building, anywhere, 
in the snow, and left to their fate.^ ' In these quarrel- 
some, schismatic, hateful, usurious, unhallowed times, 
says a ' Christhche Klageschrift ' of 1578, ' with us 
Cathohcs also charity such as our forefathers showed to 
the poor, the needy, the sick and plague-stricken, has 
not increased, but in many places has greatly dimin- 
ished, so that these poor people are no longer christianly 
cared for, as they used to be almost everywhere, and as 
according to God's command and the ordinances and 
statutes of the Church, they ought to be." In order to 
bring back to works of mercy and Christian love ' those 
people who in these last perilous times were, alas, so 
sunk in avarice and usury that they had almost for- 
gotten all piety, virtue and devoutness,' the Frankfort 
abbey preacher, Valentine Leuchtius, published in 1598 
and dedicated to Bishop Neithard of Bamberg, a 
book of nearly 600 pages entitled, ' Historischer Spiegel 
von den denkwiirdigen Miraculn der vortrefflichen 
Tugend der Hospitahtat und Freigebigkeit gegen den 
armen Diirftigen/ This ' Spiegel ' (mirror) was to serve 
as proof that the virtue of charity did not consist in 
mere words, 'not in vainglorious boasting of the Hps 
and the tongue, but in good works and righteous 
actions, in present help and in heartfelt pity for an- 
other's need and misery.' - 

1 Hirn, i. 493-494. 

2 Cologne, 1598. Preface, The second part of the book, Bl. 347''-393, 
deals with the ' scandalous vices of greed and usury which are altogether 
opposed to the virtues of benevolence and hospitahty.' At the end o fthe 
Preface the author begs that the reader ' will remember him in his devout 
and secret prayers, as he ' (the author) ' will never forget the reader. 
God be with us all ! ' 

G G 2 


Like Geiler von Kaisersberg, Luther also, in liis 
address to the nobihty of the German nation, pleaded for 
the abolition of public begging. ' None among the 
Christians,' he says, ' ought to go about begging ; 
every town ought to provide for its own poor, turn out 
all foreign beggars, separate the genuine poor from 
tramps and vagabonds, and organise systematic relief 
for the deserving poor/ ' There should also be a 
manager or guardian, whose business it would be to 
know all the poor, and what their necessities were, and 
to inform the council or pastor concerning them, and 
what was the best way of proceeding/ Luther, however, 
went further than Geiler, in that he wished all the 
mendicant monks and pilgrims, by whom the people 
had hitherto been immeasurably taxed, to be done 
away with. 

In the following years admirable poor-relief regula- 
tions were formed in numbers of towns, in Augsburg and 
Nuremberg in 1522, in Strasburg and Ratisbon in 1523, 
in Breslau in 1525. The Nuremberg ordinance, which 
in all essential points was based on Catholic views, i 
forbade begging altogether, fixed liberally the amount 
of alms to be dispensed by guardians of the poor, and 
aimed at giving the utmost possible help to straightened 
and impoverished burghers. This document was 
extensively printed, and in a Leipzig edition its 
results were praised as follows : ' Now the streets 
and churches are clear and free from crowds of 
vagrants, at which everybody is well-pleased.' ^ In 
the Strasburg ordinance also, as Geiler had already 

^ Fr. Ehrle, ' Die Armenordnungen von Niirnberg (1522) unci von 
Ypern (1525),' in the Histor. Jahrbuch der Gorres-Gesellschaft, ix. 450-479. 
- Uhlhorn, iii. 57. 


wished, all begging was put down, and a system of 
poor-relief established. ^ 

The first attempt at complete remodelling of the 
poor-rehef system was made by Carlstadt at Wittenberg 
in 1532. According to his scheme all modes of begging 
whatsoever, that of the beggar monks also, and the 
collections by the ' pardoners ' and in the churches 
were to cease. All the rents and taxes due to the 
houses of God, the clergy and the corporations 
were to flow into one common chest, and out of 
these funds the clergy and the poor were to be 
provided for, and capital lent out to the burghers 
at 4 per cent. If these funds did not suffice, then 
everyone, whether priest or burgher, must pay a poor 
rate in proportion to his means.^ This ordinance, 
however, did not come into play. In the same year 
Luther's friend, Wenceslaus Link, under the title of 
' Ekklesiastes ' busied himself at Altenburg, for the 
organisation of poor relief in that town, and another 
ordinance was issued, but without any result. Towards 
the end of October of the following year Link, in a 
pamphlet addressed to the burgomaster and Council, 
inveighed very strongly against * the whole roguish 
corporation,' namely, ' priestdom, monkdom and all 
clerically denominated persons, who were commonly 
addicted to idlemongering and belly-pampering,' and 
insisted that ' donations, foundations, bequests and 
suchlike endowments for almsgiving must not be spent 
in fostering idleness and feeding able-bodied rascals.' 

' ** See A. Baum, Magistral unci Reformation in Strassburg bis 1529 
(Strasburg, 1887), p. 56-61. According to Reuss, Jmtice criminelle, 86, 
the prohibition of pubUc begging had Uttle result : soon afterwards public 
mendicancy began again. 

- Uhlhorn, iii. 61. 


For the rest he had nothing encouraging to say about 
the organisation estabhshed. * A year ago/ he com- 
plained, * it was attempted to set up a common fund 
for the maintenance of the poor, and two coffers also 
were placed in front of the churches, and foreign beggars 
and school children running round begging were put 
a stop to. But, unfortunately, not only have these 
Christian intentions not been carried out, but things 
have even gone backwards, so that many pious persons 
who were inclined to help in the new scheme, have 
withdrawn their hands, and much murmuring has 
arisen among the common people. I have frequently 
in the pulpit endeavoured to stir people up to carry 
into effect these Christian attempts, but nobody would 
take the matter up.' ' Where love is cold and does 
not help the needy, God sends a curse and with- 
draws the blessing, which methinks is plainly manifest 
here at Altenburg, for there is much loss of temporal 
goods, side-by-side with this contempt of the divine 
word ; be sure also that God will visit the town severely 
if no improvement takes place, especially in the matter 
of this common fund which no one much needs.' ^ In 
the course of the year 1523, through the immediate 
influence of Luther, an ordinance for the common fund 
came into effect in the Saxon town of Leisnig. To this 
fund all religious foundations, all convent property and 
pious gifts and bequests were to be devoted. It was to 
be under the management of a committee of ten men 
elected yearly from among the councillors, the nobles, 
the burghers, and the peasants, and to be used by them 

' Von Arheyt unci Betteln, loie man solle der Faulheyt vorkommen und 
yederman zu Arheyt ziehen (1523, at the end: printed at Zwickau by 
Jorg Gastel), Preface (Friday after SS. Simon and Jude, 1523), Bl. B. 3 fE. 
See the statements of Ehrle, Armenordniingen, 474-475. 


for the benefit of the parochial clergy and church 
officials, the German schools and the poor.^ The 
first of these, however, were so badly looked after, 
that only two years later, in 1525, Luther complained 
that the people of Leisnig would drive away their 
preachers by hunger. It was discovered by the church 
inspectors of the Saxon Electorate in 1529 that the 
preacher at Ijcisnig was obliged to carry on a trade and 
to maintain himself by selling beer ; as regards the 
schoolmaster, the inspectors, in 1534, found that for 
five years no salary had been paid him.^ 

By degrees all Protestant lands and towns came 
to have their own poor relief systems and poor funds 
under the management of men who were sometimes 
called deacons or Levites, sometimes simply coffer- 
masters, and who had to administer the poor rehef 
according to strict rules. 

Among the Catholics severe and denunciatory 
opinions were pronounced against this poor relief. 

* First of all,' wrote George Wizel in 1535, ' I bring 
against them ' (the sects) ' the charge of having nearly 
everywhere abolished and rendered useless the stipends 
which our fathers richly bestowed on the poor ; which 
proceeding is not only contrary to love but also to 
honesty ; contrary to love because it injures the poor ; 
contrary to honesty because it sets aside the last wishes 
of the dead. In this way also the "Seelbad,'' the 
"Caren,*' the yearly bounties bestowed on a certain 
number of poor people, the free meals and so forth have 
been done away with, and thus the poor suffer privation.' 

' Ehrle, Armenordnungen, 473. Uhlhorn, iii. 62-64. ** See also 
Nobbe in the Zeitschr. fiir Kirchengcsch, x. 575. 

^ Burkhardt, Sdchsische Kirchen- und Schulvisitationen, 95-188. 


* Altogether/ Wizel said in another place, 'the poor 
are treated with greater harshness than formerly/ 

* In former times there were Christians who so loved the 
poor and the beggars that they called them their 
lords, and even their sons ; they washed their feet, 
made their beds, cooked their food and waited on them 
at table, as though on Christ Himself. Now, however, 
it has come to this that entrance to the town is for- 
bidden them, they are driven out of it, the gate is 
closed against them, as though the poor miserable people 
were devils and sworn foes of every land/^ The old 
Catholic spirit, which regarded as a work well-pleasing 
to God that the great ones of the earth should do personal 
services to the poor, ' as to Christ Himself,' had become 
so incomprehensible that, for instance, the preacher 
John Brenz thought it quite contemptible when the 
Emperor Charles V. in 1544, on Maundy Thursday, at 
Spires, washed the feet of twelve poor people. ' Will 
the Son of God," wrote Brenz to Melanchthon, ' be 
able much longer to endure such spectacles ? He will 
not/ 2 

As regards the new poor-boxes, Wizel saw in them 
a proof that ' through the fault of this party all good 
works had lost their dignity.' ' Only see,' he said, ' how 
they proceed with this poor box which is in truth more 
an usury or a parsons' box, than an offering to God 

^ DoUinger, i. 50, 55. 

^ '. . . Haec spectacula filius Dei diu perferre posset ? Non feret.' — 
Letter of April 22, 1544 in the Corp. Reform, v. 368. It was equally 
repulsive to Bucer that the Emperor ' should daily repeat long prayers 
kneeling on his knees, should Ue on the ground saying his rosary, his eyes 
fixed on an image of the Virgin ' ; Bucer said of these devotions : ' The 
Emperor often now wars against Christ.' — Letter to Calvin of October 25, 
643, in Calvini Opera, xi, 634. 


and the community/ ^ 'The new poor-box which they 
have set up chiefly benefits the leaders of the sects ; 
the poor get scarcely a pfennig of what is collected on 
Sundays. The amount of the collections is meagre in 
the extreme according to the evidence of their own 
complaints. Only the very fewest are in favour of this 
poor-box, and nobody denies that the poor and needy 
live more hardly and starve more miserably under this 
new rule than was the case under the Roman Church.' ^ 

In like manner wrote the abbot of St. Michael's in 
Liineburg : * We advise the autliorities as well as the 
community, to look not only at the words of the poor- 
box preachers and their deacons or cash-keepers, but 
at their deeds. For the poor complain now much more 
than they did formerly. Through the proceedings of 
some one or other the ' coffer of God ' (Gotteskasten) 
has become a Judas' purse. What becomes of what is put 
into the coffer ? This is best known to the cash-keepers 
and their preachers, some of whom expect to receive 
their thousands. I keep silence as to the way in which 
so much of the money disappears, so that no one can 
find it.' ' W^here is there a town in which the coffers are 
placed under the care of such people as we read of in 
the Acts of the Apostles, chapter vi. ? Wherever did 
the deacons of those days preach and hunt in order 
to get the goods of the Temple, the revenues of 
the Jewish priesthood, into their own coffers or con- 
trol ? They took under their management only what 
their brethren in the faith brought them.' 

^ Dollinger, i. (2nd edition), 35. 

^ Dollinger, i. 64. Uhlhorn, iii. 104, quotes this utterance of Wizel's, 
but simply omits the thoroughly weU-founded statement : ' The amount 
of the collection is meagre in the extreme, according to the evidence of their 
own complaints.' 


The Hamburg preacher, Stephen Kempe, rephed to 
the Abbot as follows in 1531 : * It was the habit of 
wicked men to suspect others. What warrant have 
you for such murderous advice to the magistrates and 
the community ? Do the poor complain ? Who are 
these poor, I should like to know ? The wretched 
vagrants and imposters ? or the wretched beggar- 
monks ? To such as these you had better have quoted 
2 Thessalonians, iii. 10, " For even when we were with 
you, this we commanded you, that if any would not 
work neither should he eat/* If there are any more 
of these " poor '' let them come to the front and show 
themselves, that we may see what they are and what 
they lack/ 

What countless numbers of poor came forward and 
showed themselves, who did not belong to the class of 
land loafers or beggar-monks, is seen from the history 
of every land and every town. Many protestants 
and protestant rulers foimd reason enough for ' looking 
at the hands of the cash-keepers ' according to the 
abbot's advice, and for not despising this advice, hke 
Kempe, as ' unjust, seditious and blood-thirsty.' i 

In Wiirtemberg the Dukes frequently complained 
that the coffer-ordinances were not properly carried out, 
and that the poor funds were badly administered and 
dissipated. ' In particular,' says one of these ordinances 
in 1552, ' certain of the upper and under officials, 

' Staphorst, part II. of vol. i. 234-237 ; cf. UliUiorn iii. 103-104, and 
75, where are Kempe's remarks on the superiority of the ' common fund ' to 
the scattered alms and gifts at the doors, which the Abbot praised. The 
' Prowe-Bock,' of the Abbot against which Kempe directed his polemics, I 
have not been able to find. ** Concerning this lost work see A. Wrede, 
Die Einf'dhrung der Reformation im Liineburgischen durch Herzog Ernst 
den Bekenner (Gottingen, 1887), p. 151 ff. 


guardians and so forth, have been found guilty of daily 
excesses in drinking and eating by which they have 
robbed the poor funds : hospital money, fruit and wine, 
and also immovable goods, have been used by them 
for their own personal advantage, and the poor have 
been little cared for/ ' Among the poor in their own 
homes especially,' wrote Duke Christopher ten years 
later, ' there were now and again cases of serious want 
and starvation : nobody would take an interest in the 
poor, and so systematic collecting for the poor had 
been given up/ ' Moreover the revenues of the hospitals 
and of other charitable institutions were used for 
personal gratification and not for those in need/ Duke 
John Frederick also said that the poor relief ordinances 
had been so much disregarded that the hospitals and 
the poor funds had been subject to all sorts of disorder, 
neglect and waste, and also that there had been fraudu- 
lent dealings with the poor-boxes, so that the poor were 
wretchedly provided for. According to a decree of 1614, 
well-to-do people, who in spite of admonition would 
not give alms at all, or not adequately, were compelled, 
according to their means, to pay a weekly poor-rate ; 
if they refused to pay this, they were to be punished 
by a money fine which would go to the poor-box. ^ 

Concerning the ' Gotteskasten ' in Hesse, a Marburg 
Synod of 1573 said that ' some of them were quite at a 
low ebb, and some had only a fabulous existence.' ^ 

' As daily experience shows, * said the Elector John 
George of Brandenburg in 1573, ' the common coffers 

1 Reyscher, xii., 319, 321-322, 340, 635-638, 656, 660 note, 
" Rommel, Neuere Gesch. von Hessen, i. 204. The Anabaptist Jorg 
said in 1538 that the melancholy experiences he had had as a Protestant 
cashkeeper had driven him into the arms of the Anabaptists. — Niedners, 
Zeitschr. fur histor. Theologie, xxviii. 627. 


decrease more and more, for one reason because owing 
to the bad times and high prices the number of poor 
to be helped grows larger and larger, and secondly 
because no one any longer contributes to them/ ^ 

In an ordinance of 1588 for the Saxon electorate 
where the territorial Prince Augustus exerted himself 
strenuously to improve the system of poor-rehef, it says : 
The poor-boxes ' are almost lost to memory/ ^ 

The Lutheran Wolfgang Euss puts these words in 
the mouth of the people : ' Go to, we have indeed come 
in for good times ! The benefices and tithes of the 
parsons must do everything ; they can bear all, they 
must supply everybody. Is it not a happy state of 
things 1 We dare no more give anything for the love of 
God ; no beggar is any longer allowed to come to my 
house, therefore I am not allowed to visit any in their 
own homes/ ' Among rich ladies it is usual for each 
one to dispose of a little capital for her private expenses. 
They have a purse for playing cards, a purse for shop- 
ping, and a purse for daily household expenses ; but 
the fourth purse, i.e., the poor-bag, has got no bottom; 
this one is made of devil's skin and not a single kreuzer 
(coin with a cross) will stay in it, and none comes out of it 
either. The poor beggars' beggarly common coffer, the 
parsons' benefices and tithes must do it all.' ^ 

In Frankfort-on-the-Maine the average amount of 
collections for the poor, which were placed under the 
management of the cash-keepers, averaged 372 gulden in 
the years 1531-1536 ; in the years 1555-1556 they sank 
to 182 gulden, and in 1560-1561 to 149 gulden ; * in 
1583 they had become so insignificant as to evoke from 

' Mylius, i." 293. ^ c^^y. Augmteus, i. 1429. 

'•' DolUnger, i. 233, n. 49. ' UhUiorn, iii. 110-111. 


the town council the statement : ' In this town people 
are so careful and sparing in the bestowal of alms that 
when the alms-boxes are opened yearly in the churches 
there is scarcely enough in them — and it is a scandal to 
have to say this of Christians — to keep a handful of poor 
people out of want during the year, or even during one 
month. How more than true it is then and demon- 
strable that the majority of people do not give more to 
the poor in a quarter of or indeed in a whole year, than 
they spend at one drinking-bout in a tavern/ ^ 

The condition of things as regards poor-boxes and 
poor relief was particularly melancholy at Hamburg, 
where in the Middle Ages charity towards the poor had 
been so hberal and bountiful/ The new system of poor- 
rehef which came into existence with the introduction of 
the new doctrine, soon began to decline. The articles 
drawn up from time to time by the guardians of the poor 
show that as early as 1558 meetings for considering the 
wants of the poor seldom took place, that the deacons 
had to be kept up to their duties by fear of punishment, 
and that cases of punishment frequently occurred. In 
1600, the guardians themselves acknowledged that 
* they were remiss and negligent in their work, did not 
properly superintend the business of poor-relief, and 
were discordant and divided among themselves." They 
had also to be enjoined, in the exercise of their office, 
not to be influenced by feehngs of friendship, not to 

' Kirchner, QescTi. FranTcfurts, ii. 430. In 1587 the council decreed that 
' no will or testament should be confirmed in the chancery in which nothing 
was bequeathed to the common coffer, or the hospital, or to the town.' 

- Koppmann, Hamhurgs IcircMiche unci WohMtigkeitsanstalten im 
Mittelalter, Hamburg, 1870. Lappenberg-Gries, Die milden Privat- 
stiftungen zu Hamburg (2nd edition Hamburg, 1870), xv, ff. Biisch, 
Histor. Bericht von dem Gange und fortdauernden Verfall des Hamburger 
Armenwesens seit der Zeit der Reformation, Hamburg, 1786. 


accept gifts or rewards, but to have regard solely to the 
best interests of the poor.^ In 1613 the Directors of the 
Orphan House addressed to the council a petition in 
which they said : ' Some time ago we were obliged to 
state officially that the poor of this place were very 
badly looked after and provided for by the guardians of 
the " Gotteskasten/' It is a matter of daily experience, 
patent to all, that there are a great number of poor 
householders who are driven by their sore need and 
poverty to beg from door to door at the burghers' 
houses, and they complain very bitterly that they get no 
help from the " Gotteskasten/' ' ' There are also a 
number of poor widows who come to us every day with 
complaints that they have so many children that they 
cannot feed them by their own toil ; and when they 
apply for alms from the " Gotteskasten " they are 
repulsed, and are therefore compelled to bring their 
children up to begging and thieving and other im- 
proper ways, which they stick to all the rest of their 
lives, and from which it is very difficult to turn them, 
as daily experience shows. When poor people are laid 
up with illness, little or nothing is given them from the 
poor-boxes and they are left to die in great misery 
without any help : of such cases, were it necessary, 
more than enough could be brought forward/ Among 
these poor people there was great distress and misery ; 
on behalf of numbers of them they, the Directors of the 
Orphanage, had made urgent appeals to the cash- 
keepers and given them exact particulars as to where 
they lived, how many children they had, and what 
were their wants and infirmities ; but not only had 

' Kiehn, i. 6. W. v. Melle, Die Entwicklung des offentUchen Armen- 
wesens in Hamburg (Hamburg, 1883), p. 19 ff. 


no help been forthcoming, but the little which they had 
had before from the ' Gotteskasten ' was Mdthdrawn. 
The petitioners begged especially that "pity should be 
shown to the poor heavily burdened widows " who 
had young babies to suckle, or weak and sickly children, 
or such large famihes that they could not maintain them 
by washing, charing, spinning and other female work, 
even if they could get washing and charing to do ; but 
as they were often naked or ill clothed no one would 
take them into their employment, and so they were 
reduced to spinning/' ' The cash-keepers were all at 
loggerheads, but the council should consider whether 
such want of union was sufficient reason for leaving so 
many poor, aihng widows and orphans to starve. It 
was much to be desired that those who refused to befriend 
these poor sufferers should sometimes visit them in per- 
son, that they might see and hear for themselves their 
misery, their tears and sighs, and not leave everything 
to be done by the cloisters and the mendicancy baihffs ; 
they would then undoubtedly bestir themselves to im- 
prove matters, and would take these things more to heart. 
For it is, alas, a matter of daily experience that not the 
poor parents only, but numbers of children also come to 
ruin, almost starve, lose their health and so forth. 
And there are also frequent cases in which such merciless 
hardness drives parents to put their children out in the 
street, and run away from them, and then these children 
are brought to us in the orphanage. Others tell their 
children to get out of their way and do not care what 
becomes of them, so long as they are rid of them ; they 
say out plainly that it breaks their hearts to see their 
children starving and dying before their eyes.' In short 
it was urgently necessary that the burgomaster and the 


council should themselves look seriously into these 
things, in order that the poor of the district might be 
helped in their need, and better looked after, and that 
the wrath and chastisement of God might not descend 
upon the town/ In excuse of the cash-keepers the 
petitioners ended by saying ' it was not unknown to 
them that the '' Gotteskasten '' were very poorly 
supphed, and that they fell short every year, and that 
it was hard to give out of an empty hand/ Hence the 
council would do well to consider as to ways and means 
by which the ' Gotteskasten ' might be kept full * for 
God had abundantly blessed this town, above other 
towns, as well in population as in good food and good 
government, and it was a great scandal before God and 
man to leave the poor '' quite unaided and forsaken/' ' i 

This orphanage, whose manager pleaded so warmly 
the cause of the poor, was founded in 1597,^ but not very 
satisfactorily endowed : Twice a year, by order of the 
Council, gifts and alms were collected for it by the 
Director, and the Council also enjoined the clergy to ask 
for generous contributions from their pulpits. ' The 
managers,' said the Council, ' have not only circum- 
stantially described how intolerable the burden of the 
orphanage has become, both because the institute is 
filled to overflowing with orphans, native and foreign, 
and with unhappy foundlings and deserted children, 
and because the revenues of said orphanage have 
greatly fallen off owing to low rents and a marked 
decrease in charitable donations/ ^ 

This decrease of benevolence to the poor and of 
contributions in general to all good objects, and the 

' Staphorst, Part I., vol. iv. 677-683. Kiehn, i. 377-391. 

- Kiehn, i. 7 ff. ^ Kiehn, i. 348-349 ; cf. Staphorst, 649-650. 


increase of an insatiable greed of gain were matters of 
standing complaint among the Protestants. Nobody 
spoke more strongly and more frequently on the subject 
than Luther. ' Under the papacy/ he said, ' it snowed 
alms, foundations, legacies. Under the Evangel, on the 
contrary, no one will give a farthing.' ^ ' Under the 
papacy people were charitable and gave gladly, but now 
under the Evangel nobody any longer gives anything, 
but they all fleece each other, and each one wants to 
grab all for himself alone. And the longer the Evangel 
is preached, the deeper do people become sunk in avarice, 
pride and vainglory, just as if the poor beggar was 
always to remain here.' ' All the world fleeces and flays, 
and yet nobody must be called avaricious, but every- 
body is a good evangelical and a good Christian. And 
this fleecing and flaying in done to nobody so much as to 
poor Brother Study, and to the poor pastors in towns 
and villages.' ' These must stand still and let themselves 
be skinned and strangled, and what the peasants, 
burghers and nobles scrape off them they drink and 
gorge away, or spend on all too extravagant, luxurious 
food and clothing ; they either drive it down their 
throats, or hang it round their necks. Therefore I have 
often said that such a state of things cannot last much 
longer ; it must collapse ; either the Turks or Brother 
Veit will come and at one stroke carry off all that people 
have so long been amassing by flaying, fleecing, robbing, 
and thieving ; or the Day of Judgment will rush in and 
put an end to the game.' - 

In other parts of his writings, Luther says : ' Under 
the papacy everybody was kind and merciful, they 

1 Collected Works, xliii. 164. 
- Collected Works, v. 264-265 ; of. 23, 313. 


gave joyfully with both hands and with great reverence. 
Nowadays, although they ought to show themselves 
grateful for the holy Evangel, no one will give anything, 
but only " take/' Formerly every large town could 
richly support a few cloisters, not to speak of mass- 
priests and wealthy foundations ; now they even 
grudge to maintain two or three preachers, spiritual 
ministers and instructors of youths in one town, even 
when they have not got to do it out of their own but 
out of alien goods which are still left over from the 
papacy/ ^ And again : ' Those who ought to be 
good Christians because they have heard the gospel, 
are harder and more merciless than before ; as is too 
plainly patent to all beholders. Of old, when under 
the guidance of the papacy and of a false worship, 
people were obliged to do good works, everybody 
was ready and willing. Now, on the contrary, the 
world has learnt nothing else than to flay, fleece, and 
openly rob and plunder by lying and cheating, by 
usury, forestalling and overcharging. And everyone 
acts against his neighbour, as though he did not 
regard him as a friend, still less as a brother in Christ, 
but as a murderous enemy, and only wanted to get 
everything for himself alone. This goes on daily and 
gains head without intermission, and is the most 
common practice and custom in all classes, among 
princes, nobles, burghers, peasants, in all courts, 
towns and villages, yea verily in all houses. Tell 
me, where is there a town however large that is pious 
enough to collect together as much as would maintain 
one schoolmaster or pastor ? Yes indeed, if it had 
not been for the charitable alms and endowments of 

' Collected Works, xiii. 123. 


our forefathers, the burghers in our cities, the 
nobles and peasants in the country, would long ago 
have been deprived of the Evangel, and not a single 
poor preacher would have been fed and clothed. For 
we will not do it ourselves, but we take and seize by 
force what others have given and founded." ' Thanks 
also to the dear Evangel, the people have become 
so abominably wicked, so inhuman, so diabolically 
cruel and merciless, that they are not content with 
profiting by the Evangel themselves, growing fat 
thereon through plunder and robbery of Church goods, 
but as far as others are concerned they starve the 
gospel completely out. You may count upon your 
fingers, here and elsewhere, all that they give and 
do for it, they who profit by it themselves, for our- 
selves, who are living now, there has long been no 
preacher, no scholar able to teach our children and 
descendants what we have taught or believed.' ' Ought 
we not to be thoroughly ashamed of ourselves when 
we think of our parents and forefathers, kings and 
nobles, princes and others, who gave so liberally and 
so benevolently, even to superfluity, to churches, 
parsonages, schools, foundations, hospitals, &c., and 
by all which they and their descendants were not 
impoverished ? ' ^ 

' I fear me,' he said, preaching on the robbery of 
widows and orphans, ' that we are in such wise trifling 
with the Evangel, that we are a greater offence to God 
than the papists. For if there is to be stealing it is 
better to steal from a rich man than from a poor beggar, 
or an orphan who has nothing but a morsel of bread. 
Sirach said : " Do not the widow's tears run down 

1 Collected Works, xiv. 389-391. 

H H 2 


her cheek, and her cry against him that causeth them 
to fall ? For from the cheek they go up even to heaven, 
and the Lord that heareth will not be dehghted with 
them.'' God is not called in vain the Father of widows 
and orphans, for if they are forsaken by every man 
God still looks after them ! ' He pronounced a woe : 
' Woe unto you peasants, burghers, nobles, who grab 
and scrape up everything for yourselves and pretend 
all the time to be good evangelicals/ ^ 

Because people were so charitable under the papacy 
God, in reward, gave them good times then. ' Christ 
says : " Give and it shall be given unto you ; good 
measure pressed down and shaken together, and run- 
ning over, shall men give into your bosom." And this 
also is shown by the experience of numbers of pious 
people of all times, who before our day gave alms 
liberally for the office of preaching, for schools, for 
i^iQ maintenance of the poor, and so forth, and to whom 
God in return gave good times, peace and rest ; hence 
the proverb which has gone abroad among the people 
and which confirms what I have said : ' Churchgiving 
does not hurt any one, almsgiving does not impoverish, 
ill-gotten goods do not profit.' Hence we now see in 
the world the opposite of what was seen formerly : 
because such insatiable avarice and greed prevail, 
and nobody gives anything to God or man, but, on the 
contrary, they take for themselves what others have 
given, thus sucking the blood and the sweat of the poor. 
God gives us in reward scarcity, discontent and all 
sorts of misfortune, until at last we shall be reduced 
to eating one another up, rich and poor, great and small, 
all alike will be devoured by each other.' '^ 

1 CoUected Works, xliv. 356-357. = Collected Works, xiii. 224-225, 


Similar complaints of the decrease of the olden 
time charity towards the poor which helped them 
by benevolent foundations of all sorts and by alms, occur 
in the sermons of other preachers of the new Evangel. ^ 

' Cruel mercilessness/ wrote the preacher Thomas 
Rorarius in 1572, * has gained ground everywhere ; 
almsgiving is considered a thing of the past, and yet 
everyone who wished to give proof of his faith ought 
to abound in good works towards his neighbours ' ; 
as in former days the poor had been abundantly helped, 
so ought to it be nowadays : only the merciful would 
find mercy with God.' ^ 

* Our Catholic ancestors,' said Andrew Musculus, 
superintendent general of the Altmark, 'had thought 
diligently about future things, and in order to ward 
of! future punishment had done all they possibly 
could, in the way of mortification, fasting, praying, alms- 
giving, foundations and so forth ; now, on the contrary, 
people thought neither of heaven nor of hell, neither of 

^ The pi-eachers of the Duchy of Pfalz-Zweibrucken bear witness in a 
joint written statement of May 21, 1599, to the decrease of benevolent 
works. ' Our forefathers,' they complain, ' richly endowed the churches, 
but nowadays love is becoming extinct, for very few give anything, and 
what is given falls far short or is misused.' — J. Schwebel, Teutsche Biicher 
tmd Schriften, Part II. (Zweibriicken, 1598), p. 348. ** Stephen Hering 
(Preacher at Gottleuben in Saxony), in Eine guthertzige warnungschrift fur 
kiinfftigem Unglilck unsers lieben Vaterlandes Deutscher Nation (Dresden, 
1609), writes as follows of the neglect of the poor : ' If this is not true 
amongst us, why did the pious Christians in our land, for some length of 
time sing at their meetings : 

The poor are in their need forsaken, 
The bread from out their mouths is taken, 
The judgment day is sure at hand. 
This Church hymn is by Erasmus Alberus and appeared first in 1548. See 
Ch. W. Stromberger, Erasmus^ Alberus' Geistliche Lieder (Halle, 1857), p. 
46. According to this, the neglect of the poor was treated in a Protestant 
hymn as a sign of the coming of the Day of Judgment. 
- Fiinfundzwanzig Predigten, xxxv''. 93'', 154 ff. 


God nor of the devil/ ' Churches, schools, hospitals are 
plundered, robbed, destroyed ; the young are grievously 
neglected, the children of the poor are shut out from 
study, God's poor are forsaken/ ' Pilfering, steahng, 
taking,* preached Musculus at Frankfort-on-the-Oder, 
' goes on without ceasing, nothing is sj)ared, albeit 
it is the blood and sweat of the poor ; the devil is 
especially at home in the council-house/ ' The old 
women are obhgecl to freeze and starve in tumble-down 
hospitals ; their rooms are very dog-kennels ; rats 
and mice swarm in their beds of straw and nobody 
cares. All the years I have lived I have never seen 
the poor so badly looked after as now,' in the year 
1576. ' The cash-keepers deserve hell for their treat- 
ment of the poor ; they will not allow them to stand 
in front of the church doors, and yet they will give 
them nothing.' ^ 

Johann Winistede, preacher at Quedlinburg, im- 
plored the town councillors there that ' They would give 
all possible diligence to seeing that the poor people in 
the hospitals of the Holy Ghost, of St. John, and of our 
Blessed Lady, were well cared for, and that the funds 
intended for them were not kept from them or 
diminished.' ^ 

In the Mansfeld district, according to the report of 
Erasmus Sarcerius in 1555, the care of the poor was 
quite neglected ; the hospitals were wretchedly man- 
aged ; the funds intended for poor relief were fraudu- 
lently spent.' ^ 

^ See our remarks, vol. vii. 299 ff. Spieker, Andreas Musculus, 189- 
190, 288-290. 

- Kurtze Anzeigung, Preface Bl. C. 

^ Neumeister, ' Sittliche Zustande im Mansfeldischen,' in the Zeitschr, 
des Harzvereins, xx. 525, 526. 


Tlie town of Parchim in Mecklenburg had, in 1563, 
ten hospitals and poor-houses dating from Catholic 
times, but in that very year, owing to many foundations 
having been dissipated, the number had to be reduced 
to four.i 

As regards the hospitals founded in olden times, 
Ambrosius Pape, Lutheran pastor at Klein- Ammens- 
leben, said in 1586 : * It is a great and punishable evil 
that they no longer admit poor people, but only rich 
ones. Whoever cannot give 20 talers or 50 or 100, 
need not seek admission to these hospitals/ ' The 
excuse that they " cannot get on with this meagre 
income " will not hold water, for people may be ad- 
monished from the pulpits that every Christian ought 
to contribute something according to his means, and 
open a benevolent hand towards the poor, for which God 
would richly reward him." ' Further, several people 
might be sent out from such poor-houses, to make 
house-to-house collections for them ; God helping, this 
would be approved of by many people, not only because 
other beggars would not be allowed to go round and be 
a nuisance to them, but also because these organised 
beggars would pray for their donors and benefactors and 
wish and procure them all sorts of blessedness/ ' To 
give to the poor according to one's means was earnestly 
commanded by God and met with God's unfailing 
reward/ Pape quoted in proof of this a number of 
Bible texts, for instance : ' He that giveth to the poor, 
lendeth to the Lord, and the Lord will reward him with 
interest ' ; ' Almsgiving delivers from all sin, and from 
death'; 'Water quencheth a flaming fire, and alms- 
giving resisteth sins ' ; ' Make unto you friends of the 

' Boll, i. 390-399. 


mammon of iniquity, that when you shall fail, they 
may receive you into everlasting dwellings/ i 

In a German pamphlet on the first organised system 
of poor rehef in the Duchy of Zweibriicken, published at 
Zweibriicken in 1557 by the General Superintendent 
Cunemann Flinsbach, it says : ' It has come to pass in 
these last times even according to the prophecy of 
Christ, Matthew xxiv., where he says that in the latter 
days the love of many will wax cold. For in the days 
of the Apostles and in the primitive Church, godly zeal 
drove Christians to give gladly for the love of God. 
This too was the case with some of the Christian emperors 
who were very kind to the poor and helped them in 
a very Christian manner in their distress. And under 
the papacy people gave abundantly for the maintenance 
of divine worship and for the relief of the poor. But, 
alas, in these our days, although the Evangel and God's 
Word are being preached in truth and purity, not only 
has this zeal to help the poor ceased, but when the poor 
are deprived of the funds and endowments which 
were intended for them, the world does not protest. 
And this is certainly not the least among the causes of the 
present day scarcity, bad crops and other evils.' 

The writer then proposes schemes for poor relief 
modelled partly on the Catholic practice, partly on 
' Christian, well-ruled churches, such as were to be 
found in Saxony, Wiirtemberg, Strasburg and 
elsewhere.' ~ 

The preachers themselves could not be blind to the 
fact that the new doctrine of justification through 

> 'Bettel- und Gaite-Teufel' (see below p. 506 f.), in the Theatnim 
Diabolorum, ii. 183-184. 

- ** See Beitr. zur haijerischen Kirchengesch. iv. 279. 


faith alone, everywhere cut the nerve of vokintary 

' However much/ wrote the renowned theologian, 
Andrew Hyperius, professor since 1542 at the University 
of Marburg, ' people are exhorted to benevolence towards 
the needy and distressed, nobody will take any interest 
in them : it is, alas ! evident that all feehng of love is 
extinguished in the hearts of men. Preachers must 
therefore be more sparing in the pulpit with the 
doctrine of salvation by faith alone, they must incite 
their congregations to good works and, as far as 
this is possible, bring them back to a fruit-producing 
faith.' 1 

In like manner spoke the Superintendent General, 
Christopher Fischer : ' Works of mercy are all frozen up, 
while those of mercilessness have mightily increased. 
Our dear forefathers by bequests and in other ways 
made benevolent provisions for the maintenance of 
churches and schools, but now, alas ! we see every day 
that charity towards the poor, towards hospitals, towards 
poor students and others has grown quite cold ; the 
poor are fleeced and flayed, and ground down to the 
uttermost farthing.' - 

' With our forefathers,' wrote Sixt Vischer, pastor 
at Liitzelburg in 1608, ' works of charity were constantly 
practised towards the poor people in hospitals, in- 
firmaries, and lazarettos, and food, drink, cordials, 
money, sheets, shifts and other necessary articles were 
given to them in abundance. Where now are there 

• DoUinger, ii. 215-216. 

' Dollinger, ii. 306-307. See also what Daniel Greser, in 1542, superin- 
tendent at Dresden, says, ii. 349-350 ; further, A. Pancratius, AUgemeine, 
immerwdhrende geistliche Practica (Frankfort, 1605), p. 66, 148. 


any works of mercy ? Where any trust and faith, where 
disciphne and respectabihty ? What has become of the 
conscience of the nation ? ' ^ 

The lack of voluntary devotion to the poor for the 
love of God was especially evident among the Protes- 
tants during the reign of the pestilential diseases which 
became so frequent in Germany. It then became neces- 
sary to employ paid sick-nurses, and those available 
did the work more for the sake of a hvehhood than out 
of love. 2 ' Those people,' it says in an edict of the 
Elector Augustus of Saxony of April 21, 1572, ' who 
are appointed, in times of epidemics, to feed the sick, and 
who do not attend to them, but neglect them and let 
them die of hunger, shall be punished by imprisonment 
or banishment from the country according to the cir- 
cumstances of their offence.' ' The sextons, or other 
persons, often put an end to patients who are lying 
on their death-beds, and then rob them of whatever 
they find by them. Such persons shall be punished 
with the wheel as robbers, or if they have only 
put an end to the patients and not stolen anything, 
they shall be executed with the sword.' ^ In Kempten 
in 1564, from fear of the plague which had broken 

' Lutzelburgische Bekehrung (Munich, 1608), p. 26-27. The Catholic 
polemic, John Nas, did not on the whole exaggerate when he said : 
' Because the new faith is so powerful that it alone is enough for salvation, 
all works of mercy have ceased. When have there ever been as many poor 
people as now ? When have the hospitals been as poor as now ? What 
numbers of convents have been confiscated on the pretext of endowing 
hospitals, and yet these hospitals have never been so much in debt as 
now. What has become of the funds left to schools ? How many poor 
people have been fed from the goods of the convents ? The doctrine of 
salvation by faith only has annihilated the whole of Christian life ; through 
this doctrine Germany has been brought to ruin.' See our remarks, vol. x. 
102 ff, 

- Uhlhorn, iii. 131. ^ Codex Augusteus, i. 118. 


out, the preachers visited nobody on their sick- 
beds.^ That the Jesuits at these perilous times 
showed such heroic devotion in voluntary service, 
excited special attention among the Protestants. After 
a plague in Constance, where, in 1611, three Fathers and 
three Brothers who in nursing the sick and dying were 
themselves overtaken with death, the preacher, Henry 
Lauber, wrote : ' The enemies of the Jesuits in Constance 
cannot deny that at the time of infection, when all the 
world was nearly frantic with terror, they (the Jesuits) 
showed themselves courageous helpers of the poor sick 
people, for which they deserve praise, however much 
we may disagree with them otherwise/ In a chronicle 
of Hall it is said : * During the plague the Jesuits were 
especially assiduous in giving spiritual and temporal 
help to the patients, and in this service of love three 
Fathers fell victims to death.' - Among the Protestants 
magisterial decrees were actually issued forbidding people 
either to visit the sick or to accompany their corpses to 
the grave. When Duke Wolfgang of Zweibriicken 
issued a command of this sort on December 2, 1563, 
the preachers of the district of Lichtenberg, greatly to 
their honour, represented to the Duke that it was un- 
natural, unloving and unchristian not to nurse and com- 
fort anyone.'^ ' Woe unto the sick among us evangehcals 
at the time of the heavy epidemic,' said the above- 
mentioned preacher, Henry Lauber, in the second decade 
of the seventeenth century ; ' how very few there are 

' Haggemiiller, Gesch. von Kempten, ii. 82. 

2 See our statements, vol. ix. 328 ff., where there are also fuller details 
concerning the charitable labours of the Jesuits. ** See also vol. xiv, pp. 
73 ff. and 79 S. 

^ [J. G. Faber] Stoff fur denkiinfiigen Verfasser keiner pfalz-ztvei- 
briickischen Kirchengesch, ii. 24, 53, 60-63. 


among us willing and glad to help them ; are not most 
of our people, who by reason of their faith ought to have 
more courage than the Papists, full of fear and terror of 
death ? — most of them actually leave their nearest blood 
relations, father, mother, child, alone and comfortless in 
sickness and death/ ^ 

Concerning this strange phenomenon, unknown 
among the Catholics in the past, George Wizel had 
already remarked : ' Is it not the greatest shame that 
those who, as follov/ers of the Antichrist (to use their 
language) did not fear the plague at all, or at any 
rate very little, now as Christians show such an over- 
whelming dread of death ? Scarcely anyone visits 
the sick any more, nobody dares go near those who are 
stricken with the plague. Nobody will even look at them 
from a distance, and everybody is seized with paralysing 
fear. What has become of that faith, so often vaunted 
of nowadays, which can do all things, where is our 
love for our neighbour ? Tell me, pray, in the name of 
Christ, if there has ever been less kindness, less love among 
Christians than nowadays ? ' i Luther himself is the 
best voucher for these facts. When in 1539 an infectious 
disease broke out in Wittenberg, he wrote to Wenceslaus 
Link : ' One after another they are all fleeing away, 
and one cannot get either a bleeder or an attendant. 
I think the devil must have possessed the people ; they 
are all so disgracefully timid and frightened that 
brother forsakes brother, and sons their parents ' : 
he was pleased to see in all this a judgment of God 
' for contempt of the Evangel and for devouring greed.' 
In a letter to the preacher, Conrad Cordatus, he men- 
tions the same facts, but seeks a different explanation 

^ Von WercJcen christlicher Barmherzigkeit, Bl. C, - Bollinger, i. 64-65. 


for them. ' Here too great mercilessness towards 
relations has been shown, which has caused me un- 
speakable grief, and has tried me almost more than 
was good for me. It is quite a new and out of the way 
plague that has come this time, for Satan, while visiting 
few with the disease, is as it were striking all to the 
ground with overwhelming terror and driving them to 
flight ; verily, this is something preposterous, and an 
entirely new manifestation under the bright and mighty 
shining of the Evangel.'' ^ 

The whole system of poor rehef was grievously 
affected by the seizure and the dissipation of Church 
goods and of innumerable charitable bequests intended 
not only for parochial and church use but also for 
hospitals, schools and poor-houses. 

Luther had already in 1523 expressed the fear 
that ' the Church goods would come to be scrambled 
for, and that each one would grab what he liked, as 
had happened in Bohemia.' ^ The year before Thomas 
Murner had predicted concerning the plunder of Church 
goods : 

For when the goods they all have taken. 
And a mighty heap have maken, 
The poor will get as fair a lot 
As poor men in Bohemia got. 
There too the people thought to reap 
An equal portion of the heap ; 
But lo ! the rich man took the whole 
And left the poor man making dole.-^ 

1 De Wette, v. 218-219, 225-226 ; see v. 134-135, how he sought to 
comfort his friend Nicholas Amsdorf (November 25, 1538), who was witness 
in Magdeburg of the same facts. Further see DoUinger's explanations, i. 
345-348, and our remarks, vol. xiv. pp. 67 ff., and their confirmation by 
Paulus, ' Die Vernachlassigung der Pestkrauken im 16ten Jahrhundert,' in 
the KathoUk, 1895, u. 380 £f. 

- Collected Works, xxii. 107, 110. ^ See our remarks, vol. xi. p. 341 f. 


Later on Luther said that everybody ' wanted to 
grow fat on the plunder and robbery of Church goods/ ^ 
' The devil/ he wrote, ' is trying his hand with all 
classes, to make them deal dishonestly with the Church 
goods and the common funds. Great lords keep house 
with the Church goods clearly intended for better 
purposes. What the ancestors gave and bequeathed 
abundantly for the poor, they want to keep for them- 
selves and spend as they hke.' ' The same with burghers 
and peasants and that which they ought to give to their 
pastors : one sees how unfaithfully they act. Hence 
it follows, as the prophet Malachi threatened, that 
God's wrath is so manifest, that everybody, the great 
lords as well as the burghers and peasants, is reduced 
to beggary through these said goods. This could well 
be borne, were it not for the concomitant evil that 
schools and churches fall away and the poor people are 
sadly neglected. This is the work of the devil incarnate, 
who sees how it will all end.' In every principahty, every 
town, every village, Luther said, ' there was need for 
people who would deal honestly with the Church goods, 
who would have regard not to their own wants and 
avarice, but to the necessities of those to whom the 
goods by right belonged,' namely, the ministers of 
the Church, the poor, and indigent boys with capacity 
for study. ' The great misfortune is that we have 
no people of this sort, honest, Godfearing, and capable, 
to entrust with this management.' " 

The treatment of the Church ministers, the pastors 
and preachers grieved Luther most deeply. ' No one 

' ** In 1530 Luther complained that : ' Every peasant, who just knew 
how to count five, grabbed to himself fields, meadows, and forests from the 
cloisters,' — Collected Works, xlvii. 229. 

- Collected Works, iii. 270-271. 


gives anytliing to these men/ he said, 'and what's 
more, the Httle they have is taken out of their mouths by 
the scandalous, ungrateful world, the princes, nobles, 
burghers and peasants, so that they and their poor 
waives and children are obliged to suffer want and 
misery, and they leave destitute widows and orphans 
behind them/ ^ ' We see everywhere how the ofhcial 
people, the tax-gatherers, the judges, the burghers, 
the peasants, and their workpeople treat these servants 
of God ; they hold them cheaper and lower than 
cowherds and swineherds/ ~ ' So too do the nobles 
proceed and apj^ropriate for themselves the church 
benefices. We handed over to them the great abbey 
and Church goods only in order that they might provide 
for the pastorates, but they do not do this.' ^ * The 
nobles exact the most menial secular services from 
their pastors, they turn them into calef actors and 
stove-heaters, messengers and letter-carriers, they rob 
them of the tithes and incomes to which they look 
for sustenance of their families, and all the time these 
nobles are good evangelicals \ ' ' It is a matter of 
daily experience,' he says in another place, ' that 
nobody, neither burghers, peasants or nobles, gives 
gladly nowadays a farthing to the Evangel and the 
preachers, yea verily, they all of them much prefer 
to rob the poor churches of all that was given them 
of old/ In the villages the pastors were actually obliged 
to tend the cows and pigs like the peasants. ' The 
pastors and preachers are not only despised, they are 
also badly treated.' * 

1 CoUected Works, xiii. 208. 2 Collected Works, ui. 47, 48. 

'^ Collected Works, Ixii. 293-294. 

-* CoUected Works, vi. 182, 325 ; cf. 214. 


Luther stands by no means alone with his 

' Never before/ wrote Melanchthon in 1528, ' has 
the attitude of the world been so unfriendly and odious 
as to-day. Some folk, who pretend to be strongly 
evangehcal, take possession of the goods which were 
given for parsonages, pulpits, schools and churches, 
without which we should at last become pagans. The 
common people refuse their pastors their dues, and 
those indeed chiefly who boast most of being evangehcal.^ 

' The ungrateful world,' wrote John Winistede, 
' behaves as a rule in such a way to the pious, faithful 
preachers, that while they are serving and working, 
they have scarcely anything to eat. But when they 
become infirm and ill, and die, their poor wives and 
children must go about asking for bread, and are in 
fact reduced to beggary.' 

* The first poor Lazarus,' preached Nicholas Sel- 
nekker in 1580, ' is the churches which ought to be so 
helped and looked after that poor pastors and preachers 
may properly fulfil their office and have sufficient main- 
tenance. For we see, alas ! and experience in many 
places that many poor pastors with their great and 
arduous work have difficulty in feeding themselves and 
their families.' ^ 

* It is a dire extremity,' said the preacher, Hartmann 
Braun, ' when preachers are fed with dogs' crusts, and 

^ Unterricht Phil. Melanchthon ivider die Lere der Wiederteuffer aus 
dem Lutein verteutschet durch Justus Jonas. Wittenberg, 1528, D. 3^. 
** Luther's friend, Paul Eber, complains that the ministers of the Church 
are denuded and left to starve, and prophesies that futm-e times will show 
how Uttle blessing spoUation brought those who ' warmed and fed them- 
selves on Church goods.' — Sixt, 26. 

- Kurtze Anzeigung, Bl. H". ^ Selnekker, Drei Predigten, E. iii. 


their children have only a scrap of bread to break, so 
long as the fathers are alive.' ^ 

Even if some of the preachers were liberally re- 
munerated- their number was small in the extreme. 
Even in Nuremberg the incumbent and the chaplain of 
St. Sebald and St. Laurence complained to the council 
that they had suffered, and still were suffering, great 
scarcity in their daily food, so that at times they had to 
endure bodily weakness and sickness, and could not get 
necessary help." ^ The theologian, John Knipstro, said 
that as preacher at Stralsund he would have been 
obhged to beg from door to door if his wife had not 
earned something by embroidery. The Superintendent, 
John Frederus, in 1547, presented to the Stralsund 
Council a pamphlet ' Von dem rechten Gebrauch und 
Missbrauch geistlicher Giiter,' in which he begged 
urgently ' that at least necessary provision should be 
made for preachers starving with their wives and 
children : ' ^ the Church and the poor were being robbed.^ 

It was indeed ' a great and atrocious sin,' said 
several professors of the Rostock University in a petition 
to the Dukes of Mecklenburg, ' that numbers of lords, 

' Braun, Zehn christliche Predigten, 116. 

- See above p. 457, what the Abbot of St. Michael's in Liineburg wrote. 
For the way in which Bugenhagen let himself be bribed, see Paulsen, 
186, n. 1. 

^ Waldau, Vermischte Beitrdge, iv. 445-448. 

•* Kosegarten, i. 177, 195. 

^ As regards individual cases he said : the preacher Andrew Winter has 
a yearly stipend of 30 gulden ; on this sum he could not keep his house 
decently. The preacher Alexander Grote had only 23 gulden a year, 
out of which he had to pay 10 gulden for house rent, so that he had 
only 13 left for other expenses. When a preacher faithfully fulfilled 
his office he was blamed, abused and criticised, every mouthful he ate was 
counted up, and scarce a handful of respect was bestowed on him. — 
John Frederus, i. 33-34. 



in former times, had taken possession of the charitable 
foundations, whereby the churches all over the country, 
and especially in the villages, had been reduced to a 
lamentable condition/ i In order simply to keep alive, 
the preacher at Gnoien in Mecklenburg, for instance, 
was obhged in addition to his spiritual office to fill the 
post of chef de cuisine and tax-collector to a prince.^ A 
Wesenberg Church inspectoral protocol of 1568 com- 
plained that the Church revenues which the squires had 
not taken possession of were drunk away in beer by the 

In Pomerania-Stettin, in 1540, Duke Barnim XI. 
found ' from daily experience that the property in lands, 
capital, tithes and other usufructs, which in the past 
had belonged to the parish churches, had been diverted 
by the patrons or founders to other purposes, or stolen 
by other persons ; that capital loans and interest on 
loans were kept back by the debtors in spite of all calls 
and summonses : a ' sudden collapse ' of Church adminis- 
tration was threatening." * 

' It has alas, come about," said the Elector Joachim II. 
of Brandenburg in 1558, ' that each one would gladly 
have a piece of the garment of Jesus, and many people 
do all diligence, under whatever pretext they can, to get 
hold of and enrich themselves with the Church posses- 
sions." '^ ' In opposition to the divine law prescribed 
to all alike," says a decree of the Elector John George in 
1573, * each one tried to get possession for himself of 
the Church goods and revenues which our dear parents 

' Krabbe, Universitdt, i. 567, note. - Pranck, ix. 181. ^ Boll, i. 206. 

* Dahnert, ii. 575. Concerning the dissipation of Church goods in 
Earth see Baltische Studien, i. 196. ** See also Spahn, Verfassungs- und 
Wirlschaftsgeschichte des Hertogtums Pommern, p. 111. 

'" Mylius, i.=^ 268. 


and forefathers, out of Christian piety gave for the 
benefit of churches and schools ; people presume, 
(sometimes with violence) to take from the parsonages 
their farms, fields, meadows, and woods, their tithes, 
rents and dues ; the village pastors especially are 
deprived of all that wherewith they should sustain their 
poor wives and children, and they dare not for very 
fear complain ; sometimes indeed they are unable to do 
so ; a special attorney-general should be appointed to 
proceed against the criminals/ i 

In the villages and the small towns things were at 
the worst. In 1555 for instance, Erasmus Sarcerius 
reported, from his own personal experience, in the 
Mansfeld district amongst others : ' The great lords 
endeavour to appropriate the feudal rights and feudal 
possessions of the clergy and allow their officials and 
justices to take forcible action. The parsonages are 
going to ruin and the farm buildings belonging to them 
stand empty. The administration of Church property 
is just as bad. The revenues of the Churches are 
frequently not paid, nor does anybody call them in. 
Church capital is spent in making roads and bridges and 
giving banquets, and it is lent from hand to hand without 
hypothecary security. The nobles in particular are 
responsible for the unpaid Church tithes and revenues, 
and as to voluntary donations to churches and bene- 
volent foundations, they are quite out of fashion. 
Nobles and burghers treat the endowments of their 
forbears as if they were their own property, just as if they 
had not been given for the honour and glory of God. 

1 Mylius, i^. 299, 335, 337. Concerning the confiscation and dissipation 
of the Church goods in the Brandenburg district see our remarks, vol. vi. 
57 ff. 

I I 2 


Distant parishes are often amalgamated so tliat it is 
not possible for one central authority to manage them. 
For how can old pastors preach on Sundays in three or 
even four churches ? The pastors meanwhile are as 
poor as mice. Bread and water is their sole diet ; and 
many of them indeed are obliged to buy the water they 
drink.' ^ 

' Where formerly/ wrote the Lutheran, Anton Prae- 
torius in 1602, ' there were two or three preachers, 
now there is scarcely one. Our forefathers built abbeys, 
cloisters, churches and hermitages, and endowed them 
richly with yearly rents and revenues, so that there 
might be no lack of Church services and Church ministers/ 
These churches have been confiscated, and their revenues 
have been spent, but not for legitimate purposes. ' As 
King Belshazzar at his lordly banquet feasted with his 
mighty captains and his wives out of the plundered gold 
vessels of the temple, and drank himself drunk, so also 
are the great ones of the present day doing. In order 
that they may have grand houses and servants, Christ 
must be deprived of what is His own.' ^ 

Ceaselessly, from all Protestant lands and towns 
there went forth complaints concerning the plunder of 
churches and of the poor, and countless voices testified 
to the already palpable results of this robbery of God. 

' Of old,' said Deacon Eckhard Liincker in Marburg, 
in 1554, in a funeral sermon, ' the ministers of churches 
and the poor people were fed and maintained by the 

^ Zeitschr. des Harzvereins, xx. 522-523. 

" Pratorius, 1G9-170. ' I know several pastors of whom the one has 
5, the other 6, the third 8, the fourth 10, 12 or even more villages (besides 
the fields and meadows, from which he has to feed himself), to look after : 
some of these places he seldom visits, others never, and the inhabitants also 
cannot get to him. 


tithes, but in our own days these sources of income 
are strangely dispersed, distributed here and there and 
anywhere except among the ministers of God and the 
poor whose property they are/ ^ 

' When the change in rehgion took place,' wrote 
Wolfgang Kaufmann, deacon at Mansfeld in 1565, every- 
body made a grab at the Church goods ; they seized 
all the endowments in the shape of fields, meadows, 
woods, vineyards and houses, which had been intended 
for churches, schools and hospitals, divided them 
amongst each other and sold them, giving the clergy 
in return but meagre and uncertain pensions : they 
took away a certainty and left only an uncertainty in 
its place.' 

In the Palatinate, the Lutheran Church inspectors 
appointed by the Elector Otto Henry, in a memorandum 
addressed to him on November 8, 1556, pointed out as 
regards the Church goods that : ' Many persons both 
of high and low degree had sinned grievously before God 
and aroused His fierce anger against them, in that they 
had gotten into their own hands the possessions which 
had been given, once for all, to God and to His Church, 
and that they left poor servants of the Church to suffer 
hunger and need, wherefrom it resulted not only that 
the services of the Church were despised, but also from 
want of ministers, altogether given up/ ' Experience,' 
they went on, ' aheady, alas ! showed, with grievous 
injury and disgrace to the German nation, how httle 
such plundered Church property had benefited those 
who had stolen it, whether the robbers were of higher 
or lower status : not only had they not grown richer 
through their robberies, but they had grown poorer, and 

' Dollinger, ii. 207 note. - Dollinger, ii. 285. 


were obliged sometimes to mortgage and encumber their 
lands.' The Elector's Catholic ancestors had acted 
better. ' They had been rich and powerful electors 
and rulers/ said the Lutheran inspectors, ' rich in lands 
and in people, although they had not taken to themselves 
the Church goods, but on the contrary had administered 
them for the benefit of the Church, and had richly 
endowed the churches from their own means.' i 

' Formerly,' said Andrew Musculus in a sermon in 
1555, ' princes and lords were so rich that without taking 
Church property and without oppressing their subjects 
with taxes, they were able to build such great buildings 
— cloisters, abbeys, hospitals — as we now see standing, 
in addition to which they waged great wars, and they still 
had large funds left over. Nowadays princes and lords 
take back again what their grandfathers gave to the 
Church, oppress their subjects, and still have nothing. 
In those times one man alone was able to erect a town, a 
church, or other large edifices, such as we now admire 
and wonder at, but which a whole country now is unable 
to produce.' Formerly monks and clergy, in great 
numbers, were richly provided for, and yet the burghers 
and peasants had plenty left over and remained rich 
people. ' Nowadays the nobles take the farms and 
meadows away from the churches, the peasants give 
nothing, the burghers hold the benefices and the founda- 
tions — and yet nobody has anything, and all are beggars 
compared to our forefathers.' - 

It was not, however, only the churches and their 
ministers that were robbed by the confiscation and 
dissipation of the Church goods, but also, as all 

^ Schmidt, Anteil der Strassburger, 50-51. 

- In the ' Hosenteufel ' in Scheible, Schaltjahr, ii. 404-405. 


Protestant lands and towns unceasingly vociferated, * the 
poor and the sick and all sorts of indigent people who 
no longer benefited by the charitable endowments and 
gifts of the past. Hence the wrath and vengeance of 
God must inevitably follow this robbery of God. 

* All Germany/ wrote Nicholas Medler, superin- 
tendent at Brunswick in 1546, ' stands in jeopardy on 
account of this robbery. For God will surely punish 
this wickedness of men by destruction and devastation 
greater than has ever been heard of.' 

In the same town the superintendent, Joachim Morlin, 
inveighed against the ' JuHan (the Apostate) devil ' of 
the evangelical Church-robbers in the words : ' Go to, 
go to, be you who you may who have grabbed unto 
yourselves the Church goods, little or much, secretly or 
openly ; you have laid up for yourselves a dire judgment, 
you have hung a heavy burden on your souls and con- 
sciences, for which you will have to answer at the 
judgment day of God.' All the pious foundations 
of our forefathers were being wrenched away, under 
the clear light of the Evangel, in churches and in 
schools God's possessions were being torn out of His 
hands,' &c. In short : usury, pubhc theft and other 
great sins are heinous transgressions, but they do not 
injure as much, by a long way, as this abominable vice 
of Church-robbery.' ' Because the sin is too monstrous, 
God must and will soon intervene with grimmest wrath, 
and tighten your emptied money-girdles round your 
waist until you are crushed to the ground. ' Be your 
blood over vour neck ! ' ^ 

' I have seen,' wrote the preacher Lampadius at 
Halberstadt in 1559, ' how in some principahties, 

^ Hortleder, Von Rechtmdssigkeit, v. 1382-1383. 


counties and towns, the clmrclies, schools and poor 
funds have been, and still are, tampered with, given 
away, drunk up, eaten up, misused in all sorts of ways/ 
All sorts of trickery and blasphemy is carried on with 
these Church goods. But those who deal thus criminally 
with the churches, the schools and the poor, they have 
fire in their own houses, as the prophet Micali said, 
and are burnt up by it/ 

' At the courts of great princes also," said the Pro- 
testant jurist Melchior KJriiger, syndicus of the town 
of Brunswick, all these goods are a fire-brand in their 
coffers and treasuries, and bring one calamity after 
another on land and people, so that with all their 
scraping and grabbing they are no richer one day than 
another/ ' It would indeed be a pity,' he adds, * if 
they did grow more prosperous/ 

Erasmus Alberus said : ' They take away the goods 
of the churches and the poor, and leave the needy to 
suffer want ; they take the bread out of their mouths, 
fleece them to the bone, in a way unheard of before; 
and they will have to answer in hell for the blood of the 
poor/ ^ 

With equal fearlessness Nicholas Selnekker spoke 
of the ' blood-suckers and church-despoilers ' who, 
caring nothing for churches, schools and poor people, 
rob and plunder and parade about with the riches and 
booty which they have gotten to themselves by violence 
or cunning : what they gave away of the sjDoil was 
a drop in the ocean : ' they give a fly and take a camel, 
or if they give a paltry farthing they steal a horse/ ~ 

^ Winistede, Kurtze Anzeigiing, Bl. B 1-2, J 2''-3. Hortleder, Von 
Rechtmdssigheit, v. 1381-1384, 1400-1401. See our remarks, vol. vi. 
625 ff. - DolUnger, ii. 344. 


The preacher Bartholomew Ringwalt said in his 
poem on times and customs ' Die lauter Wahrheit ' 
(1585) : ' With robber hands they seize the great and 
small, which our pious ancestors founded in the dour 
sweat of their toil ; they care neither for the hospitals 
nor the schools in which the children of the poor can 
be educated, and as a righteous punishment for their 
sin they will be ruined in house, hoards and land/ i 

' One could easily name seven or eight princely 
houses, or houses of counts,' said the court-preacher 
Basilius Sattler in 1618, ' which have become quite 
extinct in consequence of their having turned ecclesi- 
astical property to mundane uses/ ^ 

Special attention is deserved by a pamphlet, which 
the preacher John Winistede pubhshed in 1560, under 
the title ' Wider die Kirchendiebe jetziger Zeit,' and 
in which he invoked the judgment of heaven on all those 
who not only stole from the churches and the charitable 
institutions all that with which the rich had in former 
times endowed them, but who also took away what 
poor widows had rung from the distaff and what poor 
artisans had spared from their scanty meals, often to 
the detriment of their own heirs ! ' They grab it all to 
themselves as though it was their own, drink and make 
merry with it, to the great injury and distress of the 
poor/ 3 

' And if they do leave some portion of these con- 
fiscated church goods to the convent schools, they only 
do so (as indeed the work in these schools betrays in 
many places), for a pretence, as if they were doing 

1 See present work, vol. xi. 363-366. 

- Sattler, Oesch. des Flirstentmns Hannover, i. 415. 

^ Kurtze Anzeigung, Bl. E. 


something grand. And therefore nobody is so much 
benefited by these said convents and their goods as the 
tax collector and administrators who are aheady rich 
enough. But of the way in which the poor teachers 
and boys are treated, fed and clothed out of the funds, 
many pious people are already too well aware." ^ 

Winistede inveighed in t;he most immoderate and 
passionate language against ' the Romish, satanic syna- 
gogues and their daughters, that is to say the abbeys 
and convents ' ; he demanded that ' all Church goods 
should be taken away from the papists ; ^ but ' three- 
fold worse/ he said, ' than the papists were the tyrants 
and oppressors of the present day, who under the pretext 
of the Evangel divided the Church goods amongst them.' 
' They sell these to have and to hold as if they were their 
own, transfer, mortgage, give them away, bestow them 
as rewards on their servants or other unworthy persons, 
lend them to their court parasites, who dress, drink and 
gorge extravagantly out of them, and do httle or nothing 
in return for them," and so forth. ' We ought to pray 
against them in the words of the eighty-third Psalm : 
" my God make them like a wheel ; as the stubble 
before the wind." It would serve them right if the 
Turks, the French, the Spaniards, the Muscovites, or 
any other tyrants were to plunder, rob or consume them 
with fire, and avenge their robberies and thefts.' ^ 

If we consider all these utterances of Protestant con- 
temporaries (and their number might easily be doubled 
and trebled), we shall find full justification for what was 
said on the Cathohc side in 1577 in a ' Klage der Armen 
und Diirftigen wider die, so entweder unter dem herr- 
lichen Schein des heiligen Evangelii oder auch unter 

' Bl. D. 2\ - Bl. C 2" ff., D 2. ^ Bl. G 3. 


Titel und Namen, dass sie es wollen besser anlegen als 
die Geistlichen, die Kircliengilter gewaltiglicli. zu sich 
reissen.' ^ 

' In a criminal manner/ says this complaint, ' tlie 
Clinrch goods were confiscated, the endowments and 
donations which our ancestors gave for the benefit of the 
poor, taken away : and now, too, benevolence and mercy 
are withdrawn, just wlien there are more poor than ever 
on the earth, and all deeds of charity ought to flourish/ 

' Besides which, all clerical fiefs that have fallen in 
through death have been seized and diverted : they were 
true alms funds and intended for that purpose, but they 
have been either given or taken away. The poor very 
rarely get any profit out of them, but the poor have to 
pay the rent on them, which they never did before/ 
Likewise the Church jewels, which had been given in 
former days by rich and poor, were carried off, but no 
profit accrued to the poor from them/ 

' It was said indeed that the donations and suchlike 
had been put into the common coffer, out of which they 
would be distributed among the poor ; but nobody knew 
what was done with the money. How could the 
founders find out whether you always distribute their 
common funds, or what you do ? You cause a great 
deal of suspicion, and many a one must wonder what 
becomes of his donation. Would it not have been 
more Christian and upright if you had left the above- 
mentioned great alms funds alone to be used as was 
originally intended, especially as many hundreds of 
people were then gladdened by them whereas now only 
a few get anything ? ' Some insignificant rents go 
indeed to the poor-chest, but the fat ones go to the 

1 Ingolstadt, 6 pp. 


vaults and cellars of the rich. The coffer has become 
the coffin of Church goods ; the poor may look on, but 
they are not for them. 

' Jf the priests are no longer to have the Church lands, 
then neither ought you to have them, for they are less 
suitable to you, and were intended for them. Who 
then is to have them ? I answer : Give them to the 
poor. What sort of a Christian are you, to take what 
does not belong to you ? ' and so forth. 

' But granted,' the author goes on," that all the en- 
dowments do go into the coffers. Whose is the credit ? 
Yours or the founder's ? It cannot be vours, for the 
endowments are not yours, and you have not contributed 
a penny or a farthing to them, but have only taken what 
others gave. The ancestors put in and you take out. 
The ancestors filled the coffers and you empty them. 
And if it is evangehcal to put money into your coffers, 
none were so evangelical as the ancestors, because they 
gave the most. . . . Which is the most evangehcal, to 
give or to take ? God's Word shall answer us from Acts 
XX., ' It is more blessed to give than to receive.' Accord- 
ins to this our ancestors were more blessed than you are. 
You might indeed have boasted of your coffers if you 
had filled them with your own cash without the help of 
other people's money. But it is the same with these as 
with ahBost everything else, namely, that whatever 
good your sect can boast of you have got from the 
Church,' &c., &c. 

' The stolen convent and Church goods,' the same 
author says elsewhere, in 1578, ' have turned to dust, 
and the curse of God lies on them, as the Protestant 
themselves declare by hundreds. Is it the poor per- 
chance who have taken them ? Has poverty become 


less, and not rather more crushing and more common 
by far than it was before the rehgious dissensions, in the 
times of uniform Christian faith ? Ask this question 
wherever you will in German lands, you will get but one 
answer, and you can see it for yourself in villages and 
towns. 1 

At any rate poverty had by no means grown hghter 
in the course of the sixteenth century, but much more 
crushing and imiversal, and the begging and vagrant 
system, which people had tried to root out, had become 
one of the greatest plagues of the land, and grew worse 
from year to year . 

The terrible effects of the peasant war, in the districts 
where it had raged, were such * as in all futurity could 
never be effaced in the Holy Empire." ^ The war was 
followed by ten years of scarcity and dearness, a term 
never equalled in past times. Sebastian Franck wrote 
on the subject in 1531 : ' The great dearness still goes on 
at the present day and prices rise higher and higher as 
regards all the necessaries of life. Many people ascribe 
this state of things to the fraudulence and the usmious 
forestalhng of those who buy up everything that the 
common people have. Then when they have it in their 

1 See our statements, vol. vii. 90 &. ** See further the pamphlet Wie 
und wass massen Gott der Herr zii alien Zeiten gestraffet hah die, so fre- 
ventlich, wider recht, fug imd billichkeit Geistliche Gilter eingezogen, 
Kirchen und Kloster herauht imd eniunehret haben. Durch ainen 
gutherzigen christlichen und catholischen heschrihen (Ingolstadt, 1560) 
Here (BL H^''), it is said : ' It is a fact beyond all doubt and a matter of 
daily experience that one single convent which has remained unattacked 
and unimpaired in its old conditions is of more profit and help to the poor 
tenants, indoor-poor and artisans, than are ten convents that have fallen 
into the hands and the power of the tyrants.' See Paulus, Hoffmeister, 
327 ff. ; the same author's pamphlet on Usingen, 89 ff., and the article on 
Lorichius in the KatJiolik, 1894, i. 520. 

- See our remarks, vol. iv. 344 ff. 


grip, the poor man has to pay their arbitrary price. 
Formerly no period of high prices was of more than a 
year or half a year's duration. In 1527 wine rose 
quickly from 5 fl. a firkin, to 25 and 30 fl. ; corn also 
rose rapidly, but almost as quickly fell again. Nowa- 
days in this dishonest world high prices cannot be 
stopped, to such an extent is everything overcharged and 
gambled with." But the want and distress came from 
other causes also : ' Because the common people are 
such spendthrifts, and so extravagant, and always 
saddle themselves with expenses beyond what they can 
earn or afford, Hve from day to day and are so evangeHcal 
— please God ! — that they have nothing left over.' 

* The farmers, who in such times of distress should come 
to the rescue, have nothing themselves, for in good years 
they have spent and wasted their profits and are now 
indebted to the ground- lords.' 

* If in the good years people saved up the overplus 
and if the common people were not so extravagant in 
food, drink, dress and feasting, all this misery and 
dishonesty might be overcome.' i 

Later on the Smalcald war ' inflicted such injuries 
on the very foremost and richest towns that they never * 
recovered.' ' Thus Augsburg, which had lost nearly 
3,000,000 gulden by this war, never revived again after 
this time. In 1553, ' whereas there was scarcely any 
ready money among the people, and the yearly revenues 
hardly sufficed to cover the great expenses of each day,' 
the town was obhged to borrow money from noble 
families and merchants. 

In 1569, apart from the ' numerous other beggars,* 

* 1700 persons were given alms in the loan house, the 

' Chronik, 724 fif. 


next year the number of recipients of charity rose 4000. '^ 
The council of Memmingen wrote on November 30, 
1553, to George Besserer of Ulm that the town had 
been plunged into such insolvency, poverty and ruin, 
so loaded with taxes that the expenditure was 
greater than the receipts, and it had been necessary to sell 
the great revenues which they had from lands. ^ Frank- 
fort-on-the-Maine motioned in 1547 for a diminution 
of its imperial tax in proportion to its ' present reduced 
means.' Aheady before, when the town was still in a 
flourishing condition this tax had been ' high and oppres- 
sive,' now however it was no longer endurable in view 
of the manifold and great expenses by which the town 
had been exhausted and the heavy debts with which it 
was burdened, and also the overwhelming damage it had 
suffered from both the armies through incendiarism 
and quartering of the soldiers. ^ 

Greater still were the ravages of lands and towns by 
the ' evangehcal war ' of the Margrave Albert of Branden- 
burg- Culmbach,^ and later on by the wars in the Nether- 
lands, the inroads of the Dutch and Spaniards laying 
everything waste. ^ ' Owing to the continuous dis- 
turbances, conflicts, plunderings, raids, bad harvests 
and imperial taxes,' wrote the Elector John Adam of 
Mayence on January 3, 1603, ' most of the territory is 
so exhausted that not only can the rulers scarcely make 
their way, but the subjects have little else than dry bread 

1 V. Stetten, i. 405, 500, 589, 592. 

2 In the Frankfort Archives, Mittelgewolbe, T>. 43, Fol. 318, No. 1. 

3 ' Instruktion des Rates fiir Ogier v. Melem,' in the Frankfort Archives, 
Mittelgewolbe, J). 42, No. 21., Fol. 199. 

^ See our statements, vol. vi. 449 ff. 

* See our statements, vol. ix. 236-242 ; and Stieve, Die Politik Bayerns, 
u. 298 flE. 


to eat, and tlie old imperial taxes cannot be collected, 
still less the new ones, unless a house-to-house visitation 
is instituted and a general insurrection thus risked/ ^ 

' On account of the Dutch and other wars," says a 
pamphlet of 1598, ' commerce and business have 
decreased, with the result that the revenues, taxes and 
other dues of the princes, counts and lords are daily 
diminishing. Smartness in dress (which the foreigners 
have introduced) is gaining the upper hand ; all neces- 
saries of life, which are brought from a distance, and 
which cannot be dispensed with, become dearer every 
day. Whereas everyone wishes to, and indeed must, live 
according to his station, the subjects are hard pressed, 
and for the princes, counts and lords, of whom there are 
so many and whose number daily increases, their own 
country is too small and contracted. It is the same 
with the nobles, of whom there are also such a large 
number, and who multiply at such a rate that they do 
not know what they are to live upon, and on account of 
the number of their children (although many of them are 
wealthy), with all their revenues they cannot make both 
ends meet. And in some principalities where bond- 
service — a fruitful source of poverty for land and people 
as experience shows — is in vogue, the poor people are 
so grievously plagued and oppressed that they can 
scarcely find means to earn a bit of bread for their wives 
and children. The artisans and journeymen in the 
towns, who are so numerous and become daily more so, 
to such an extent that they take the food out of each 
others' mouths, can hardly manage to live.' ~ 

1 Stieve, Die Politih Bayerns, ii. 628, n. 4. ** In the year 1597 the 
Westphalian cu-cle complained that since the last imperial Diet it had 
lost 1,000,000 gulden.— Hiiberiin, xxi. 267. 

' Stieve, Die Politik Bayerns, ii. 301. 


How the debts even of towns formerly the richest 
grew and multiphed is shown for instance by Nuremberg. 
Before the war with the Margrave Albert of Brandenburg- 
Culmbach the mmiicipal debt of this town amounted to 
453,000 gulden ; in 1600, owing to the dechne of com- 
merce and the block in all industries, it reached the 
height of 3,475,000 gulden ; in 1618, before the outbreak 
of the Thirty Years' War, it was up at 4,904,000.1 The 
Hanseatic towns were in a similar condition of dechne 
and increasing insolvency.- 

Added to wars and tumults, to the dechne of com- 
merce and industry, to the continually increasing 
falsification of coinage, there were pestilential diseases, 
which had never been so frequent as in the sixteenth 
century, and which carried off thousands of victims and 
spread misery and want all around.*^ Not seldom these 
diseases were the result of periods of scarcity and starva- 
tion, during which all sorts of things injurious to health 
were used as food. Thus, for instance, in Bavaria in 
the years 1570-1572, when there were bad harvests and 
frightful dearness, plagues spread all over the country.^' 
From similar causes there developed in the Liineburg 
district in 1581, in the Silesian mountains in 1588-1593, 
in Hesse in 1596 ' a poisonous, infectious malady, 
unknown before in these lands, the so-called raphamia, 
or spasms, leaving after it epilepsy, catalepsy, and 

' Soden, Kriegs- und Sittengesch. Nurnbergs, i., ii., and iii. 392 ; cf. i. 376. 

- See above pp. 4-19. 

^ See vol. xiv. 63 £f. Concerning the plague in Wittenberg in the 
years 1527-1530, see the letters of contemporaries in Buchwald, Zur Wit- 
tenberger Stadt- und UniversiUitsgesch, S. iii. 5-23, 36 ff., 44 ff., 82. ff., 
109. Again in the years 1538-1539, I.e. pp. 139 £f. 

•* Westenrieder, Neue Beitrdge, i. 304 ; concerning the universal 
dearness, see Gumpelzhaimer, ii. 948, 989. 



insanity.! ' How/ said a preacher in 1571, ' how 
should people, the poor especially, escape all sorts 
of contagious diseases in these constant times of 
dearness and famine when they eat God knows 
what unwholesome, disgusting food, rotten corn, 
the flesh of dogs and cats, and suchhke improper 
things ? And even in better years what do the poor get 
to eat ? Are not all food commodities adulterated in 
the most fraudulent manner V '^ 'To the question. Why 
in many parts of Germany there are lepers, plagues and 
plague-houses ? I answer,' wrote the Tyrolese physician 
Hippolytus Guarinoni, ' chiefly because of the unclean 
animal food which is generally given to the poor, because 
it is feared that the more important folk might dis- 
cover the fraud and the miscreants come to merited 
punishment/ ^ 

' This,' wrote Thomas Korarius, preacher at Giengen, 
in 1572, ' is the complaint uttered nowadays : Ah, God, 
that things should have become so miserable in our 
lands. There is no longer any settled peace, any 
happiness, blessing or hope in the world ; wherever one 
turns one finds lamentation and woe. If you go to 
Bavaria everything is dear ; if you go to Suabia things 
are still dearer ; if you seek for peace you find war.' 

* An impatient man of the world might w^ell say : I 
wish I had never been born, or that I had died long ago, 
rather than suffer myself and see my wife and children 
suffer such misery as is going on all over the world.' 

* After a meal that has cost two, three or more batzen 

' Sprengel, iii. 107-111. See our remarks, vol. xiv. 74. 
- Predig iiber Hunger- und Slerbejahre von einem Diener am Wort 
(1571), Bl. 2. 

^ Guarinoni, 747. 


one still feels hungry, whereas a few years ago one 
could have an excellent meal for one batzen. If you 
drink anything nowadays it does you no good, for the 
drink is either adulterated, or else otherwise inferior : 
a few years ago this or that wine was the very best ; 
if you drank half a measure, you had had enough, as 
both stomach and head witnessed, and you were merry 
and good-humoured after it, now however these same 
wines are the very worst, or at any rate not worth much, 
and yet they're dear enough with a vengeance. It is 
the same, too, with all trade and industry : everything, 
good or bad, gets dearer day by day/ ^ The, soil too, 
is deteriorating ; the vineyards no longer produce such 
good wine, the fields do not yield as much hay and 
corn, nor the trees as much fruit as a few years 

' I find,' said Polycarpus Leiser, in a speech at Torgau 
in 1605, ' that food is deteriorating very much and 
that everything is double the price it used to be. Indeed 
one can scarcely procure the necessaries of life. The 
stalls are empty of cattle, the waters of fish, the birds 
of the air are scarce, burghers and peasants grow 
poor. Food fails, pride augments ; in swilling, sousing 

' Fiinfundzwanzig Predigten, Bl. 60''-61 : 39'', 41, ' The people say 
now : " Since the Evangel came in, all good things have gone out." ' 
' When God punished men for their sins with poverty and hunger , 
nobody would put up with such punishment for the love of the Gospel, 
but there was only impatience, murmuring and blasphemy against God 
and His Word.' Andrew Lang in the ' Sorge-Teufel,' Theatr. Diabol., 
535 ; cf. 537. 

- Bl. 47''. Among his corehgionists Rorarius heard the following talk : 
' So long as we lived under the papacy, and did homage to the dear saints 
with masses, pilgrimages and so forth, we had a golden time and plenty 
for all. Since, that time, however, now that we have forsaken the papacy 
and the service of the saints and adopted the new doctrine, everything 
has gone to ruin and we have no morsel to gnaw or to bite.' Bl. 76i'. 

K K 2 


and gorging we do not neglect the least tittle.' ^ 
' Hundreds are asking for the reasons/ said the 
already mentioned preacher in 1571, ' why in lands, 
towns and villages, everything is palpably deteriorating 
and going to ruin ; one gives this reason, another that, 
but most of the causes are open as the day ; there 
are wars and devastation, incendiarism, bad crops, 
starvation, plagues and pestilence, stoppage of trade 
and industry, insecurity of roadways, miserable justice, 
draining of the subjects by taxation, immoderate 
tolls, cheating of all sorts in the currency, so that one 
can scarcely any longer get a good pfennig, and on the 
top of all this, as though all the world were out of its 
senses, there is splendour and hixury in dress, in every 
class beyond its means, and no less extravagance in 
gluttonous eating and drinking, as if people were 
bound to throw away whatever they have in their' 
hands. Tell me, moreover, how many there are who 
are wilhng to do honest work, and who do not much 
prefer to go about begging and to live at the expense 
of others ? Have not beggars become innumerable as 
though they came up from the bowels of the 
earth ? ' ' Another by no means slight cause of all 
this poverty and ruin is the countless number of 
lightly contracted marriages, when people come 
together and beget children without knowing where 
they will get food for them, and so come down 
themselves in body and soul, and bring their 
children up to begging from their earliest years.' ' I 
cannot approve of this sort of thing that Luther has 
\mtten,' said a preacher : "A lad should marry when 
he is 20, a maiden when she is 15 or 18, and leave 

' Landiagspredigt, 31, 41. 


it to God to arrange how they will maintain their 
children.'*' No, people should not think of marry- 
ing, and the magistrates should not allow them to do 
so, before they are sure of being able at least to provide 
their families with the necessaries of hfe, for else, as 
experience shows, a miserable, degenerate race is 
produced.' i 

George Engelhart Lohneiss, who examined, closely 
into the causes of this general poverty, attributed it 
very largely to the universal growth of usury and to 
the ' numerous innovations, and all the fresh pretexts 
devised for multiplying taxes, by which the people 
were so oppressed and drained that they had to pay 
away all that they managed to earn and scrape to- 
gether.' * But that God should allow so much taxation 

' Predig uber Hunger- unci Sterbejahre, Bl. 4. Respecting this injunc- 
tion of Luther (Collected Works, xx. 85 ff.), and the still more extreme one 
of Eberlin von Giinzburg : ' As soon as a girl is 15, and a boy 18, they 
should be given to each other in marriage,' Oscar Jolles remarks, 196 : 
' These demands are obviously not practicable from the economic point of 
view, but from the ethical standpoint also they seem to us extremely doubt- 
ful. To rush into marriage without prospect of sufficient maintenance is 
not trusting God but tempting Him. Such marriages are extremely 
immoral actions, and they deserve legal punishment on account of their 
danger to the community.' ' Greater evil to the world can scarcely be 
caused in any way than by such marriages. Even in the most favourable 
cases such early marriages must have a deteriorating influence on the 
physical and intellectual culture of posterity.' At p. 207, Jolles quotes a 
passage from Pufendorff which is in judicious contrast to Luther's opinion : 
' Matrimonii autem contrahendi occasio non ex sola aetate aut generandi 
aptitudine intelligitur ; sed ut copia quoque sit decentis conditionis, 
nee non facultas alendi uxorem et prolem nascituram, ac ut mas quoque 
sit idoneus ad gerendum partes patris famiUas.' ' Igitur non modo non est 
necessarium, sed stultum insuper iuvenes animum ad uxores adplicare, 
qui sibi suisque nihil nisi strenuam esuritionem possint polliceri, ac civita- 
tem mendicabulis sint impleturi, aut qui ipsi supra pueros parum sapiant.' 
' Quite consistently also Pufendorff is not altogether strongly antagonistic 
to celibacy.' 


and oppression/ he added, ' is on account of our sins, 
and we can see plainly how the people in the towns 
and in the country are becoming corrupted, and how 
all classes are changing/ Chief among these sins, and 
the foremost cause of impoverishment, was the ' inordi- 
nate eating and drinking that went on, the misuse of 
God's gifts, which gave rise to high prices and dearth 
of all commodities ' ; and the second cause was, ' the 
great extravagance in costly clothes/ But people are as 
it were bhnd, so that they cannot see the injury and 
ruin they are causing, and they will not allow any one 
to tell them of it/ ^ 

The preacher Rorarius also gave as a reason for 
the general poverty the fact that ' nobody is content 
with his own position ; everybody wants to soar higher 
than he can afford : the peasant apes the burgher, 
the burgher the nobleman in this vicious feastiug, 
banqueting and display/ ' Eating has grown to 
gorging, drinking to carousing/ ' People will not 
work, but only lounge about idly/ Hence the lack 
of thrashers, ploughmen, day-labourers, men-servants 
and maid-servants, wilhng to serve an employer for 
suitable wages. ' They would rather beg than earn 
their bread honourably, and so the country is over- 
flowing with mendicants.' ^ 

1 Lohneiss, 304-305. Of. his words quoted above at p. 121. 

- Fiinfunclzimnzig Predigten, 54", 72"-73, 75", 79". ** The rcaUsation 
that the people were everywhere sinking more and more into poverty 
stirred the Niiremberg patrician Berthold Holzschuher to draw up a 
scheme of socio-pohtical reform, which at the end of March 1565 he sub- 
mitted to the town council of Hamljurg and, as it appears, to other towns 
and princes also. As causes of this poverty Holzschuher begins by men- 
tioning hasty, ill-considered mu,rriages : ' the common people marry quite 
thoughtlessly, and marry into poverty, which becomes all the more serious 
when God gives to such poverty numerous cliildren who, with then- parents, 


The generally prevailing idleness of the people wa,s 
designated as one of the most cancerous evils of the da}^ 

In 1542 the committee of the Provincial Estates in 
the Duchy of Saxony said there was a dearth of servants 
everywhere, because everybody preferred begging to 
working, 1 

' Numbers of idle men and women/ says a police 
ordinance of 1550, ' live upon alms and will not work ; 
although they are quite able to earn their living, they 
prefer idleness and begging, and this makes it difficult 
to get day-labourers and servants. An electoral decree 
against beggars (1588) said : Young, healthy, strong 

soon take to the begging trade.' The next reason he gives is extravagance, 
especially among the young, in dress and banqueting, in every kind of 
vanity and ostentation, the one vying with the other, and all trying to out- 
do each other in pomp and splendour in spite of the smallness of their 
means. ' Hence it follows that the children grow up in the midst of debt 
and come to poverty, and when they marry they have nothing to live on, 
and if God gives them children they have a hard matter to feed these little 
ones and bring them up according to their ideas of grandeur, and the 
children are brought to the same misery as their parents were in, and owing 
to this poverty they fall into evil ways, immorality and all sorts of wanton- 
ness,' and so on. For the prevention of such conditions Holzschuher 
deemed it necessary that human beings should have a helping hand held 
out to them as soon as they came into the world. This must be managed 
by means of a compulsory regulation for insuring a marriage portion, 
whereby for every new-born infant, at least one thaler shall be paid to the 
State when the birth is registered. When the child grows to manhood and 
marries, on presentation of the government bond received for his or her 
deposit, a sum equal to three times the deposit, is to be paid out as marriage 
portion. Should the parents be too poor and the godfather unwilling to 
make the deposit, then the State can remit it, and the young people abou^ 
to marry may none the less claim a marriage gift equal to three times the 
missing deposit. Holzschulier calls this remission a work of mercy — 
whence appears the sociaUstic bent of his mind. Cf. K. Frankenstein, ' B. 
Holzschuher, ein Sozialpolitiker des sechzehnten Jahrhunderts,' in supp. 
to the Allg. Zeitung, 1891, n. 197, and Ehrenberg in Zeitschrift fiir die 
gesamie Staatswissenschaft, xlvi. (1890), 717-735. 
^ Falke, Steicerbcivilligungen, xxx. 433. 


men and women give themselves up to begging and 
teach their children the same trade, so that in all 
towns and villages the inhabitants are pestered and 
annoyed by these vagrants in all the streets, lanes 
and roads . . . fatherless and motherless children joam 
about in the towns and in the country begging Uke the 
adults/ 1 

' There is a dearth of working people,' said the 
Landgrave Louis of Hesse, in L571, ' because most of 
the people, as experience shows, are given up to idleness ; 
many who are quite able to earn their bread, instead 
of working, go about begging with their children/ 
The I^andgrave Maurice of Hesse complained even 
more strongly, in 1601, of the ' idleness and begging that 
was gaining ground everywhere, in consequence of 
which workmen were difficult to get/ ^ 

Conditions of this sort prevailed almost everywhere. ^ 
' The whole world,' said Luther in the gospel sermons 
of the Church postilles, ' is full of useless, cheating, 
wicked scoundrels, day-labourers, lazy artisans, farm- 
servants, maid-servants, and the idle, vagabond beggar- 
folk who prowl about everywhere unpunished with their 
tricks and their impudence, cheating, humbugging, and 
stealing and defrauding the genuine poor of their rightful 
dues/ * As a warning against all this sort of riffraff,by 
whom ' he himself had been humbugged this very year 
more than he liked to say,' Luther prepared and 
prefaced, in the years 1528 and 1529, new editions 

' hand-AU, Materielle Zusidnde,3A4i. Codex Aug usteus,\. 1398, 1403 ff., 
1429 ff. 

- Landau, 345 ff. 

:i ** Qj^ ^i^g Rhine the pest of vagrancy was at its worst in the middle 
of the sixteenth century. Cf. Quetsch, 265 note. 

^ Collected Works, xiv. 391. 


of the ' Liber vagatorum ' ^ under the title ' Von 
der falschen Bettler Biiberei/ He insisted emphati- 
cally that, ' Every town and village ought to be 
acquainted with its own poor, as put down in the 
register, so that they might know how to help them, 
but that alien and foreign beggars were not to be 
tolerated unless they could produce credentials. For 
there is far too much villainy carried on amongst them 
as this little book will show. And if every town were 
to take cognisance of its own poor such villainy would 
soon be put a stop to." - Nevertheless so little was this 
villainy stopped that in 1560 Cyriacus Spangenberg 
pubhshed a fresh edition of the 'Booklet,' because, 
said he, ' share begging and trickery has so gained the 
upper hand that scarcely anybody is safe from imposture. 
Those therefore who wished to be forewarned should 
read this book carefully ; those who will not be advised 
cannot be helped." ^ Twenty years later the Superin- 
tendent Nicholas Selnekker complained that the land 
was full of beggars ' who practised all sorts of evil and 
rascality, thieving, murder, magic and so forth." The 
magistrates he said ought to keep a watchful eye on 
them ; but who could possibly get rid of them all.' * In 
order, however, to help as much as possible he had the 
' Biichlein von den Bettlern/ with Luther's preface 
published anew at Leipzig, and said in his own preface 
that ' there were plenty of funds for churches, schools, 
hospitals and the maintenance of the poor, if only the 
devil incarnate did not blind our eyes and take such 
strong possession of our avaricious hearts, that we 
sought to make our own profit and riches out of the 

1 See above p. 428. - Collected Works, Ixiii. 269-271. 

^ Ave-Lallemant, i. 152, 154-155. ^ Selnekker, Drei Predigten, Bl. H. 


alms boxes. ' There are too many land loafers and 
itinerant scholars going about with rank imposture 
and tricker}^, people who ought not to be tolerated in 
a well-regulated community. They like to live and 
enjoy themselves on other people's toil, to beg and idle 
about ; they work at nothing regularly, and only annoy 
and injure other people.' ' It is also very harmful and 
wrong that some of those who ought to forbid and stop 
these practices, themselves take bribes from Jews, 
gipsies, jugglers, treacle- water vendors and other lewd 
fellows — beakers, money, and money's worth — and 
leave them free to carry on their " Truphas " as they 
call it, their villainy, imposture, lying and cheating 
without shame in Christian places, in towns and villages, 
and justify their proceedings on the score of privileges, 
passes and old traditional usage. Fie, for shame, that 
they should ever dare mention such things ! There 
cannot be a spark of Christian feeling in these people 
who are ready to harbour Turks, Jews, Muscovites, the 
worst of villains, yea the very devil himself, if only 
they will give them money.* i 

A full description of the entire system of mendi- 
cancy was given by Ambrosius Pape, Pastor at Klein- 
Ammensleben, in his ' Bettel- und Garte- Teufel of 1586.'® 
This nuisance, he wrote, became more and more terrible 
and unbearable because no one had the courage to 
oppose it resolutely, and because the magistrates were 
negligent in inflicting punishment and took no pains 
to put down the offenders. ' Where any and every 
scoundrel is free to carry on his iniquity, things get 

' Selnekkor, Preface, Bl. N 3-4. 

- Magdeburg, 1586-1587 ; cf. Goedeke, Grundriss, ii. 482 (** See also 
Osborn, Tetifelsliteratur, 159 ff.), printed in the Theatrum Diabolorum, ii. 



worse and worse and the godless riffraf! increases from 
day to day, as has happened here and always does 
happen. Whereas no steps were taken to check this 
evil at its beginning, and it has spread hke a cancer and 
almost covered the whole land and choked all the good 
seed, the matter must now be taken up in good earnest 
and no trouble spared to help in its suppression." It 
was for this reason that he had written his book as a 
' faithful and bold attempt ' by which he might perhaps 
succeed in raising up a deliverer for the nation oppressed 
by this countless horde of beggars, &c., &c.^ 

Like all his contemporaries Pape, too, gave as reasons 
for the ever-increasing plague of beggars, the general 
distaste for work ' nobody any longer caring to live by 
toil, but all wishing to have good times, and further the 
prevalence of drunkenness, the way in which fathers of 
households neglected their homes, and the depravity 
of the populace, whose lewdness, insolence, dishonesty 
and rascality were so great in towns and villages that 
it was impossible to write enough about it all. Many 
kingdoms had been impoverished and reduced to beggary 
through the special visitation of God on account of their 
oppression of the poor and the robbery of ecclesiastical 
goods — churches, schools, hospitals and poor houses, 
which was carried on by high and low.^ 

First among the beggars who infest the country 
Pape puts the able-bodied tramps and odd-jobbers, ' the 
terror and torture of the whole land.* Next come the 
idle young fellows who loathe work and, in company of 
lewd women and rogues, rob, steal and murder wherever 
there is a chance. Akin to these are the wandering 
musicians who ask for no alms, but sell their songs 

' Fol. 159 ff., 18r\ - Fol. 163^' flf. 


and tunes and waste the proceeds in rioting ; they are 
mixed with every mischief going on. Then we have 
queer treshers, ditchers and such who can find no work 
to do, no master to serve. Also clerks and all sorts of 
artisans who tell you how they have travelled through 
many lands, and lost all they possessed through sickness, 
or robbers. Further, vagrant scholars, by word or 
writing, apply for a viaticum, a trifle to help them on 
the road ; preachers ' and other common folk ' pretend 
to have suffered persecution and exile for the true 
religion whereas in truth they have been removed for 
their evil deeds ; numerous old and worn-out people, 
past work, drag their wretchedness from village to 
village and are present at every feast. Among these 
beggars there are many downright scoundrels ever 
up to mischief. Young women are often in their 
company. They like to travel together, but when they 
approach a township they separate in order to multiply 
their begging power. All these are ' the honest poor.' 
Besides them there are the impostors who ' have a 
house full of children with nothing to eat ' ; pretended 
orphans ' with no home and no one to look after them ; ' 
the maimed, the lame, the bhnd and sufferers from the 
most loathsome and most painful diseases who encumber 
churches, squares and roads, preying alike on pubhc 
and private charity. Many have learned some dodge 
to simulate illness : that dodge is to them more famihar 
than the Paternoster and more pleasing than a new coat.' 

Pape then recounts all the unfortunate experiences 
he himself had had with beggars, especially in the open 
country, where he scarcely felt sure of life and property 
owing to the swarms of strong-bodied mendicants. 

In short ' the villainy of all the many different kinds 


of beggars was greater than anything ever known on 
earth before.' ^ 

In the large towns also where most energetic efforts 
had been made to do away with the nuisance, mendi- 
cancy had increased in an appalling manner. In 
Liibeck, for instance, in 1531, the council had prohibited 
begging of every description, but already in 1553 it was 
necessary to issue a decree to the effect that the mendi- 
cancy officer was to go on Sunday morning with the 
bailiffs to all the churches and drive the beggars into the 
service, and also forbid them to expose their wounds 
shamelessly to view.- In Hamburg the council com- 
plained in 1604 that begging had so gained the upper 
hand in the town that the burghers and other inhabi- 
tants were not only pestered and annoyed by it from 
morning to night and also all through the night, but that 
no respectable man who had anything to say to some- 
one else in the house or out of it, could get through his 
talk without being interrupted by a beggar.' ^ When 
Nicholas Selnekker in 1580 published anew, at Leipzig, 
his ' Biichlein von den Bettlern,' he said in the preface : 
' Here; with us, Nuremberg has the repute of not allow- 
ing any land loafers, beggars, gipsies, Jews, jugglers, 
quack doctors and such hke impostors to come to the 
pubhc fairs and markets in the town or district.' ^ In 
Nuremberg itself, however, one heard a different tale. 
In spite of all the ordinances frequently used against the 
' hanging about and begging of natives and foreigners ' 
in the streets and in front of houses, daily experience, ' 
said the town council on July 28, 1588, ' shows that 
hitherto such orders have met with scant obedience.' 

"' Fol. 166 ff. -' Ave-Lallemant, i. 42 note. 

'•> Staphorst, Part I. of Vol. iv. 636. Kiehn, i. 260 ; cf. 363. 
•* Selnekker, Preface, n. 3. 


' The burghers here are still beyond measure annoyed 
and tormented with vagrants, beggars and riotous 
persons and with the howUng and screaming of httle 
boys and girls, which goes on day and night in the 
streets and in front of the houses, especially in winter- 
time/ It was therefore necessary, the council said, 
to issue still sterner enactments and to multiply the 
number of mendicant officers, and of protective measures. 
In addition to penal enactments against the mendi- 
cants themselves, the inhabitants of the town were 
forbidden on pain of severe punishment to hinder the 
mendicancy officers in the fulfilment of their duty, ' to 
abuse them, assault them, or in any way check them by 
words or deeds/ Housing, harbouring and smugghng 
in useless, mischievous beggars, rioters, vagrants, and 
other disreputable riffraff was again prohibited on pain 
of heavy fines. ^ 

The proceedings of the beggars and gipsies in Upper 
Suabia, Alsatia and North Switzerland were vividlv 
depicted by Nicodemus Frischhn in a comedy of the 
year 1597 ; other poets too described the pleasures of 
beggar hfe.~ ' The beggars and vagrants of all sorts ' 
wrote Aegidius Albertinus in 1612, ' prefer loafing about 
in idleness to working and earning their bread honom'- 
ably ' : ' they get on so remarkably well in this way that 
they call begging the golden trade, and they pursue it 
in a masterly manner for they tramp and stroll and loaf 
through all lands, up and down, hither and thither, 
attend all the yearly markets and church fairs, and 
haunt the courts of all the princes and lords, and all 

' Waldau, Vermischte Beitrdge, iv, 498-505. 

- See our statements, vol. xii. 159 ff. ** Concerning mendicancy in 
Bern, especially at the beginning of the sixteenth century, see Geiser, 
Gesch. des Armenwesens im Kanton Bern (Bern, 1894). 


the abbeys and cloisters/ i We quote the following 
hnes from a poem on the beggars at the Frankfort Fair : 

Always the first these folk arrive, 

Old ones, young ones, big ones, small ones. 

Hither they walli, or ride, or drive. 

Lots of children hanging round them. 

From twenty, thhty miles, I ween 

These beggars coming here I 've seen. 

If any of them should not come. 

It 's thought there 's something wrong at home, 

' Either they are ruined quite, 

Or else somebody has died.' 

Many thousands they all number. 

The best quarters they encumber, 

In the most distinguished streets 

All these vagabonds one meets. 

They call this their electoral town, 

Here sits their council, here they crown 

Their monarchs, and here too in state 

Weddings galore they celebrate. 

One who weds outside the clan 

Becomes a scorned, despised man. 

Wide extended is this race. 

Gamblers in it have a place. 

Wandering scholars, and . . . 

Pedlars, hawkers . . . - 

What an amount of poverty there was and what 
enormous crowds of wandering beggars is shown by 
quantities of reports of undoubted veracity. In 1529, 
for instance, at the time of the great dearness, there 
appeared in Strasburg 1600 alien poor who were lodged 
and fed in one of the suppressed convents until the 
following spring ; in 1530, 23,545 aliens passing through 
the town were received into the refuge for the destitute. 
In 1566 on a certain day about midsummer, 900 strangers 
driven there by hunger, were counted. The council let 
them stay one night in the refuge for the destitute, 

1 Der Welt Tummel- und Schauplatz (1612), p. 384 ff. 
" M. Mangold, Marckschiff, in Miiteilungen des Frankfurter Alteriums- 
vereins, vi. 347. 


gave them food and drink, and the next day they were 
marshalled out of the city gate, and the whole enormous 
gang trudged off to go and beg elsewhere. From St. 
John's day, 1585-1586 the number of vagrants received 
into the said refuge was 41,058, in the following year 
there were, actually 58,561 ; as to indigenous paupers, 
the council during these last two years, out of a popula- 
tion of 30,000, reported no less than 142,203 cases of 
recipients of charity, i At Basle there were sometimes 
in one year 40,000 ahens to be dealt with.- Similarly 
in Wiirtemberg, ' there was an overwhehuing concom-se 
not only of poor women and children from neighbouring 
towns and hamlets, but also of indigenous and ahen 
disbanded soliders, land loafers, students, musicians, 
writers, schoolmasters, lackeys and so forth.' ^ 

For coimtless nmnbers of people without homes, 
without fixed callings and dwelling-places, begging 
became a regular profession ; vagabondism, gaining 
continually in strength, was one of the plainest tokens of 
the weakness and disintegration of national and social 
life, of the corruption not only of socio-pohtical but also 
of rehgious conditions. ' Whereas,' said a preacher in 
1571, ' the highest authority in the Empire, and the 
provincial and municipal authorities have lost nearly all 

1 Mone, Zeitschr. fur die Gesch. des Oberrheins, i.151, 152, 155. Rohrich, 
Gesch. der Reformation in Elsass, i. 268 ff. Jahrbucher fur Nationalokonomie 
und Statistik, new series, viii. 416. In Offenburg also there were ' shoals 
of poor i^eople who were a great annoyance to the burghers every Sunday,' 
Even to the outlying town of Wolfach wandering beggars of the highest and 
lowest classes came in crowds — nobles, clergy, schoolmasters, students, 
burghers and peasants, sick, wounded and otherwise infirm. Zeitschr. 
fur die Gesch. des Oberrheins, xix. 161-163. At Wolfach, for instance, in 
1600 there were among the recipients of charity four poor itinerant school- 
masters, in 1604, ' one schoolmaster from Chur, with his wife and children ; 
one poor schoolmaster from JIuntzingen. ' 

- Ochs, vi. 305. ^ Reyscher, xii. 616 ; cf. 635-636. 


their power, and princes and people, from top to bottom, 
are ruined, all the many mandates and penal edicts 
against beggars, vagrants, land loafers, disbanded 
soldiers, gipsies, swindlers of every description, thieves, 
robbers, murderers, are of no avail, as we can see for 
ourselves every day.' ^ 

Criminal riffraff of every kind and description, 
downright swindlers who systematically carried on fraud, 
pilfering, robbery and murder, were the outcome of the 
system of beggary and vagabondage, and increased in 
equal proportions. 

Contemporary reports on the proceedings of these 
people border on the incredible. 

' The lying and cheating of which all these many 
kinds of beggars are guilty might be bearable if it stopped 
there,' said Ambrosius Pape in his ' Bettel- und Garte- 
TeufeV ' but it does not stop there : they rob and 
strangle people and beat them in such an abominable 
way, that one scarcely can go out of one's house 
in safety, or sleep therein in quiet ease. If a wedding 
takes place in any village they come in swarms, so 
that there are often more of them than of invited 
guests, and one wonders whence all this rabble has 
sprung, and who brought them the news that here 
or there something was going on. Young and old, 
women and children, they fill nearly the whole court- 
yard, and seating themselves in row after row take 
possession of four or five tables, and almost as much 
food is carried round to them as to the guests who 
c were bidden. Hence the prospect of a wedding in 
a village is enough to give one " the blues." I have 
often said that if I were to court ten times, even the 

' Predig iiber Hunger- und SterbejaJire, BI. 3. 


very ricliest of brides, and to have wedding festivities 
in a village, I should verily hesitate, for the villainy 
that goes on is too atrocious and there is no fear what- 
ever among these scoundrels. In wintertime they 
force their way into- private rooms, and sit down at 
the table or round the stove, so that one can neither 
go in nor out/ ' After cunningly watching their 
opportunities in houses they come at night, break in, 
steal and carry off what they like, and if they have a 
grudge against the householder, and are bloodthirstily 
inclined, or perhaps afraid they will not be able to 
complete their robbery should the household awaken, 
they will murder all whom they come across, as is 
known from experience, witness the case of the pastor 
at Ebendorf/ Pape describes many frightful murders 
which took place in his immediate neighbourhood, all 
within fourteen days : * so horrible that to hear about 
them might well make one's hair stand on end and 
one's skin creep.' ^ 

Corresponding descriptions from all parts of Germany 
show that the whole country, especially since the second 
half of the sixteenth century, was a prey to the scourge 
of swindling beggars, with their brutal, inhuman rob- 
beries, murders, incendiarism and so forth. ' Would 
that God,' wrote Hans Sachs in 1559, ' might send us a 
German Hercules to rid our land of robbery, murder 
and torments ; for nobody is safe any longer.' ~ 

In the same year the Franconian Imperial Estates 

1 Bl. 172, 180^ 184 ff. See above p. 506. 

- Hans Sachs, published by Keller, viii. 508. Wlien Lucas Rem of 
Augsburg went with his wife from Wildbad to Ulm in 1535, being in great 
fear of highway robberies, he took with him a large escort of horsemen 
and footmen ; the journey lasted from the 12th to the 16th of September. 
GreifE, Rems Tagebuch, 28. 


joined together in a league simply and solely ' on account 
of the injurious and dangerous plunderings, swindlings, 
robberies, murders, &c., which were of such frequent 
occurrence in the Holy Empire. They had, however, 
as little success with their league as the separate Estates 
had with numerous ordinances against all the mendicant 
crew. Nor could there be any result, since almost the only 
means resorted to was banishment, and so one magistrate 
drove the riffraff to another magistrate, and it was kept 
in a continued state of circulation and driven to the per- 
petration of the most manifold crimes and iniquities.' ^ 
* The worst of all these depredators were the dis- 
charged Landsknechts, gartende, i.e., roving soldiers, 
who went about in large gangs, quartered themselves 
on the peasants and even in the markets and small 
open towns, and committed the foulest excesses. 
In their train followed often all sorts of vagrant riffraff, 
beggars, male and female, gipsies, jugglers and the like.' 
They were not satisfied with plunder, robbery and 
murder, but they also set fire to the ripe cornfields.- 

^ Landau, Materielle Zustdnde, 338 £f. 

' The historian Aventin said with truth that the chief cause of all this 
evil was that no one looked after the discharged soldiers. ' It is a great 
curse from God,' he wrote in 1529, ' that those who have to risk hfe and 
body for the pubUo good, for land and people, are obliged to go about 
begging, have no assured income, no Uberty like other citizens who sit 
at home eating and drinking to excess, skinning and scraping the poor. 
When soldiers are wanted anyone is accepted regardless of character, 
and golden mountains are held out before him ; when they are no longer 
wanted they are treated like useless dogs, like murderers and thieves. 
It is a great shame on us Germans that men who risk their lives for King 
and country receive no pay, and a greater shame it is that we rid the 
land of them by hanging and disgrace. Their choice lies between thieving 
and begging.' — Aventin, i. 216, 247-248. ** Concerning soldier life in 
the sixteenth century, see G. Liebe, Der Soldat in der deutschen Ver- 
gangenheit (Steinhausen, Monographie ztir deutschen Kulticrgeschichte, i.), 
Leipzig, 1899. 

L L 2 


In Bavaria, for instance, these disbanded soldiers 
formed raiding bands,^ against whom the communities 
and the provincial tribunals were in a state of perpetual 
warfare. In 1565 they burned down four large villages 
in the district of Pfaffenhofen and Schrobenhausen.^ 

* The accursed race ' became so strong that Duke 
Albrecht V. was repeatedly obliged to order a general 
crusade of the whole country against the malefactors. 

* On the fifteenth day of every month,' said a ducal 
* edict of May 1, 1568, all ' guardians, judges and poHce 

officials shall meet, and scour the country.' All who 
were caught, it was said in later edicts, were to be 
sent to the galleys or hanged with a rope. A ducal order 
of June 1579 strongly reprimanded the punishable 
remissness of the princely chief officials who, ' regardless 
of the multitude of mandates issued, allowed all the 
disbanded soldiers, roysterers, beggars and land loafers 
to pursue unchecked their plunder and ojDpression of 
the poor subjects.' ^ When in 1593 the Provincial 
Estates described the distressed condition of the peasant 
class, Duke Maximihan I. answered : * All that could 
be done for the peasants was to be done, but above 
all, means must be devised for ridding them of this 
plague of disbanded Landsknechts, beggars, &c.' ^ 
Five years later, however, as the Duke complained, it 
was still notorious what the poor peasants, especially in 
the hamlets and the waste lands, suffered through night 
surprises and plunderings^ and how they were in danger 
of hfe and body from the criminal hordes of ' gartende 
knechten,' roysterers, beggars, gipsies and so forth, a 
scourge which proceeded chiefly from the neglect and 

' See Schmeller, ii. 1179. - Westenrieder, Beitrage, viii. 296. 

=* Westenrieder, viii. 298 ff. ^ Wolf, Oesch. Maximilians, i. 114-115. 


remissness of many of the ruling authorities and their 

The same objectionable state of things prevailed in 
Baden. In 1576 the Margrave Philip II. warned his 
subjects against the * incendiaries ' who had again 
banded together in the country. The following year 
three fresh edicts were issued against a dangerous * gang 
of incendiaries who were to be known by red buttons 
on their hats." In the years 1581 and 1582 things 
had come to such a pass ' owing to several bands of 
robbers, nmrderers and incendiaries who were secretly 
aided and abetted that scarcely anybody was safe in 
his own house.' ' It also happens daily/ said the 
Margrave in 1582, * that men, forgetful of all honour, 
run away and leave their wives and children behind 
them ; for their punishment their wives and children 
shall straightway be sent after them.' " 

Added to all the other varieties of thieving, murder- 
ing riffraff, in Baden, as elsewhere, the gipsies w^ere a 
fruitful source of terror to the peasants. According 
to a report of 1591 it was ' not an unfrequent occurrence 
for gangs of these people, mounted or on foot, to fall on 
villages, and by plunder or fire do them great damage, 
or else to attack the peasants in the open fields, throw 
them violently down and rob them.' ^ 

What were the conditions in Wiirtemberg as regards 
public safety is seen from an ordinance of Duke Chris- 
topher of 1556, which says : * Day by day we find the 

^ Ernewerte Mandata und Landtgehotl Herzog Maximilians I. vom 13 
Man 1398, fol. xxvii. 

^ See the evidence for this of 1570-1584, in Roth v. Schreckenstein 
in the Zeitschr. filr die Gesch. des Oberrheins, xxx. 132, 149, 155-156^ 

^ J. Bader, Gesch. der Sladi Freiburg, ii. 88. 


incendiary scoundrels going on with their murderous 
work ; not only are houses and barns burnt down 
here and there, but whole hamlets, villages and castles 
are devoured by fire, and that so quickly and unexpec- 
tedly that the old people often cannot escape and are 
cruelly burnt to death with the young children/ ^ 

In Hesse in 1590 it was complained that ' all sorts 
of alien beggars, foreign and other unemployed riff- 
raff pour into the town, amongst them also freebooters 
from the Netherlands. These people commit arson, 
lie in wait for travellers, assault and rob pedestrians 
in the roads, often even in the neighbourhood of 
populous towns/ In 1600 an edict was issued by the 
Count of Schaumburg against roving GardenknecJits, 
land loafers, foreign beggars, planet readers and other 
impostors, who greatly oppressed the people in many 
ways, but especially at weddings and christenings, 
where they frequently gathered and compelled people 
to give them charity. Even at funerals the vagabonds 
actually clamoured for alms. The house of mourning 
would be beset by a crowd of beggars and children, 
all asking alms of the mourners, and if their requests 
were not favourably received, they would proceed to 
threats and defiance. They came in shoals into towns 
and villages, forced themselves into houses under 
the semblance of beggars, made the streets unsafe, 
practised robbery, murder and incendiarism. In a 
written document of the Elector of Mayence they 
were described as ' indigenous and Itahan beggars," 
in a Nassau ordinance as 'unemployed and gardende- 
knechte, as pedlars, gipsies, incendiaries, lewd rabble