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

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Later, when we were well, on All Saints’ Day [3 November] my wife bore a daughter named Barbara.

In the same year on St. Nicholas’s Day [12 December] my son Conrad died of the plague. He lies under my stone at St. Moritz’s with my son Jacob.

Note that at this time, when my wife gave birth (as related), I was working again. I rode to Venice to trade, brought bales back from that city, and conducted my master’s business and served as his partner. This time I gained more than 1000 gulden, thanks to God in heaven.

In 1440 on Thursday after St. Gallus’ Day [20 October] my dear wife Elisabeth died. May God in His boundless mercy be gracious to her. She lies at St. Ulrich [and Afra] under my stone. At that time I lived in my house in the broad Kirchgaße, which I had bought from Master Hainrich. Our married life lasted for twenty years in true friendship, virtue, and amity, and we did very well. May Almighty God keep her soul forever and in all eternity. Amen.

In 1441 on Sunday after Pentecost [11 June], I married Dorothea Kuenlinbeck, the legitimate daughter of Heinrich Adeltzhauser von Wickerhofen. May Almighty God give us good fortune and prosperity. Note that Dorothea, my wife, was at that time living with her brother, who was bailiff at Möringen. Her husband, who had died at Landshut, was a nobleman, servitor to Duke Heinrich. He was a good man, Bernhart Keulnbeck by name. After he died, the creditors swarmed in and took from the good widow everything she had, so that she and her children had nothing, though many owed her money. The dear woman then had to go to her brother at Möringen, for she had nothing [ . . . ] to live with him. His wife, [Barbara] von Westernach, a sharp, angry woman, didn’t want the widow in her house. She always spoke uncivilly to her and insulted her and her children – a son and a daughter. Many persons told me that she was a lovely woman, good and virtuous without compare, so I, moved by sympathy on account of her beauty, goodness, and virtue, sent to her in Möringen. She then came afoot, just like a poor woman, and she pleased me so much when I first saw her that I asked her if she would have me. This gladdened her heart, and she said that she would willingly have me and do everything I wished. She would be solicitous and obedient, asking for nothing except that which accorded to my free and good will. Further, she would treat all my children honorably and accept them as her own. When I heard that the woman was so favorable she pleased me even better than before. I took her as my wife, and many honorable folk attended. [ . . . ]

Source of original German text: Burkard Zink, Chronik des Burkard Zink 1368-1468, Book III, in Die Chroniken der deutschen Städte, vol. 5, edited by Carl Hegel. Leipzig, 1866. 2nd edition: Göttingen, 1965; reprinted in Horst Wenzel, ed., Die Autobiographie des späten Mittelalters und der frühen Neuzeit. Munich: Wilhelm Fink Verlag, 1980, vol. 2, pp. 51-67.

Translation: Thomas A. Brady Jr.

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