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The Rise of a Burgher – Burkard Zink (1397-1474/75)

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As I had worn myself out for nothing, I set out afoot once more and came back to Memmingen. The master was already home, no one was glad to see me, and none of my friends regarded me at all. I moved to an honest fellow, who had come to town from a village, and took his two lads to school. I stayed with him for a year, taught the boys, and charmed his daughter. Yet the longer I stayed in school, the less I liked it, and eventually I wanted to go no more but to learn a trade. My sister had married a weaver, a pious, wealthy man. I visited them often, and I considered how well his apprentice had it. His trade pleased me so well that I wished to learn it, so I left school. My brother-in-law would gladly have taught me, but my other friends didn’t want me to learn his trade, so I decided to learn another. My friends advised me as though I had never wanted anything else than to learn the furrier’s trade, which, so they advised me, would be a good, honorable one. Thus I let them persuade me and apprenticed myself to a furrier at Memmingen called Master Jos, who was also a watchman at the Kempten Gate. After I had been with this master for two weeks, I had had enough of him, for my back ached, and he liked nothing about me. So I went to my sister and said that I didn’t want to stay with the furrier but to return to school. My sister favored this move, and so did her husband, for he would have been glad to see me become a priest.

So I packed up once more, got my schoolbook, and asked my sister and her husband for some help. They gave me a bare six shillings, and the same day I went to Waldsee. I spent the night in a hostel, for I had little money. And it happened that when I left the furrier, my friend had to pay him seven shillings, which he had been promised for teaching me. After I had spent one night in the hostel at Waldsee, I arose early and went over to Biberach [an der Riß], where I soon found an honest man (he was very rich, a cobbler who no longer practiced the trade). For the love of God, he wanted me to live with him for a year or longer and go to school, but I would have to find my own provisions. So I went to school for two weeks, and it shamed me to beg. When I left the school, I bought a loaf of bread and sliced some of it, and as I came home, the master asked whether I had been in town to buy bread. To my positive reply, he said that in this town people were glad to give to poor scholars. But I did not want to beg. A student told me that there was a good school in Ehingen. I wanted to go there with him, so I did. There were lots of older pupils [bachanten] who begged in the town. When I saw that the older and bigger pupils went around and sang for bread, I fell in and became friendly with them. I, too, wanted to get enough by begging and, no longer ashamed to beg, got plenty to eat.

When I was in Ehingen, where I went to school for half a year, an older student came to me and asked whether I would go with him to Ballingen, which had a good school. He offered to help me find a good position with pay, also to help me in other ways and advise me. I was so taken by his good words that I went with him to Ballingen. It is a small town, one mile from Hochenzoll. After arriving in Ballingen, we stayed for more than a year. I went to school, and my companion abandoned me, giving me neither help nor advice. So I found a poor man, a smith named Spilbentz. I lived with him for a while and taught his son. Next I found a host who gave me full board, so that I did not have to beg. Then I left him and went to Ulm, where I remained a full year with a fifer. He was the city fifer, Hänslin of Biberach, and he was good to me. I taught his boy, who has since become a fifer, too. I begged for bread.

In 1415 I went from Ulm back to Memmingen (2). My brother-in-law, seeing me changed, convinced me to go to Augsburg and be ordained an acolyte (3). So I travelled to this city of Augsburg and soon came to a merchant named Ulrich Schön, once a rich man but now impoverished. I stayed with him for a year and didn’t go to school at all. Once at Fasnacht, I rode over a boy near St. George’s, and his friends’ reaction forced me to flee and go to Nuremberg. I traveled with the merchant on business all over, to Bavaria and elsewhere.

So I came to Nuremberg, where I lived for three years with a rich man, Cuntz Beham, an older, honorable, pious man. He had his business at the market on a corner next to the chapel of Our Lady on the Saltzberg (4), where he had his shop. His wife was the daughter of a respectable man named Schultheiß von Pernhaim, who lived behind the Dominican convent toward the Haymarket. He was rich, and he sold wine.

(2) The year cannot be right, for Zink says that he spent seven years in Carinthia, and his second journey there was in 1415. He had been wandering for at least three and a half more years, so the correct year must be around 1419 – trans.
(3) One of the minor orders, a step toward ordination as a priest – trans.
(4) An error for the Salt Market, which lay on the way from the market square up to St. Sebald’s Church – trans.

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