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A Nobleman Lives for War, Plunder, and Adventure – Götz von Berlichingen (1480-1562)

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Early the next morning the margrave entered the parish church and heard Mass, for he was a God-fearing prince, and as we were coming from the church up to the castle, someone closed the door behind me. The deputy marshal came and said that I must consider myself under arrest. I said, “leave me in peace, for I don’t believe that I have to go up to see the young princes” and uttered other unpleasant words to him. But the good man was wiser than I, and he let me go, for had he grabbed me, I would certainly have defended myself and gotten into very great trouble. Then I went up to the young princes and told them about the affair and what I had experienced with the marshal and with the Pole. The princes, who were about to sit down for their morning meal, said to me that I should remain, and that if anyone came along, I should go into the chamber and remain quietly hidden and bolt the door. I did so and waited until the brave princes came back from eating. It was thought that they had spoken on my behalf to the old prince, their father, and also to the queen, their mother, in order to protect me from punishment on the Pole’s account (1). But that was not to be, for the old margrave wanted to please his wife, and the young princes their mother, so the margrave had to agree to put me in the tower. The young princes said to me that I should not resist, for they wouldn’t let me lie there more than a quarter of an hour. I said, “Why should I be put in the tower? The Pole drew on me first!” They repeated to me that they wouldn’t let me be imprisoned for more than a quarter of an hour, so I allowed them to convince me and let myself be put in the tower. Margrave George of happy memory gave me a satin mantle lined with sable to cover myself while sleeping. But I said, “What shall I do? I might as well lie down in the dirt, and since my time will be so short, I don’t need it [= the mantle], and I will go to the tower of my own free will.” And the brave princes kept their word to me, and I was imprisoned no longer than a quarter of an hour. Then Paul von Absberg, my brave captain, came and let me out of the tower, and I had to tell him what happened, that is, why I was there. I did that, and he took me before the councilors. The brave knight spoke up for me and excused me, and all the lads and squires then at the margrave’s court stood by me – about 50 or 60, I believe. Sir Paul von Absberg wanted to get the Pole put in the tower, too, but he could not do it.

[ . . . ]

[War against the Swiss, 1499]

At the time when, as already mentioned, I was spending the winter until Fasnacht (2) with my late mother and my brother and sister, the Swiss War broke out, just around Fasnacht, and the margrave sent two forces, one after the other (3). When I heard this, I thought, “shall I sit here,” for I’d had enough of Jagsthausen. And so I rode to Ansbach to learn the news. As soon as I arrived at court, My Gracious Lord, Margrave Frederick, saw me. He sent one of his servants to me with the news that he would send his tailor, and so it happened. When the tailor came, the margrave said to him: “Take Berlichingen and dress him, for he is going to serve me.” The margrave wanted to depart immediately. But the next day [Elector and] Count Palatine Philip of happy memory (4) arrived, so the margrave had to delay for two days. Count Palatine Philip wanted to seize the New Mark and Upper Palatinate, for Duke Otto of Bavaria had recently died. Then I was sent to serve in the Count Palatine’s quarters, which I did.

(1) The persons involved are Margrave Frederick IV of Brandenburg-Ansbach (r. 1486-1515, d. 1536); Margravine Sophie (1464-1512), a Polish royal princess (hence, “queen”); and their two sons, Casimir (1481-1527) and George (1484-1543) – trans.
(2) Carnival – trans.
(3) The Swiss War (the Swiss call it the “Swabian War”) erupted in 1499 between the Austrian regime at Innsbruck and the Swabian League, on the one side, and the Confederation, on the other. It ended in 1501 with the Peace of Basel, the Swiss having been victorious in every theater – trans.
(4) Count Palatine Philip (1448-1508), Imperial elector from 1476 to his death, was a powerful figure in the southwestern parts of the Empire until his defeat in 1504 at the hands of Emperor Maximilian I – trans.

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