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Village Violence, Imperial Justice – Wolfisheim (Alsace) (1524/25)

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[6] Lienhart Burger swears without fear or favor. He knows that on the seventh day of the year, Arbogasts Jacob offered to sell a property to Lentz Biebel and Linsers Lentz. Then Schlucken Jerg said Jacob should keep the property and if he needed money, Jerg would lend him the twenty gulden that Lentz Biebel had offered. But Lentz Biebel then objected, and at once they fell out and got on their feet. But good fellows were right there, and the beadle warned them all to keep the peace with as much force as he possessed. This witness does not know of any further fight between the two parties, though he saw Arbogasts Hans upstairs with a knife in hand, and as the witness came up to the table, he didn’t see anyone who threatened Arbogasts Hans. When Linsers Hans came in, knife in hand, the witness tried as best he could to prevent further violence. He told Linsers Hans to keep away, for he came in angry and desperate, and he came not to help but struck the witness and pushed him away until the two parties again confronted one another. They were so close together that this witness could not see whether Linsers Hans actually engaged Arbogasts Hans, though he heard that the former stabbed the latter. This is all he knows.

[7] Hanns Burger testified under oath as to what he knows. On the aforementioned day, as he was drinking with other fellows in the evening, and Arbogasts Jacob offered a property for sale, Schlucken Jerg told him not to sell. Then Schlucken Jerg and Lentz Biebel quarreled, one word followed another, and they got up from the table. As the good fellows tried to stop it, Linsers Hans came up with a knife in his hand. The witness warned him to keep the peace and put away his knife. But Linsers Hans turned away und would not be dissuaded. This witness does not know whether Linsers Hans stabbed Arbogasts Hans at that time.

[8] Scheffels Martin testifies under oath that as they were drinking together in the evening, Schlucken Jerg and Lentz Biebel quarreled about a sale. Lentz Biebel pulled his knife, and the two men fought, and as the witness was leaving, someone said that someone in the room had been stabbed. But this witness saw nothing.

TESTIMONY ON THE SIDE OF THE DEFENDANT, LINSERS HANS. Lentz Biebel testified under oath. He knows that on the evening of the seventh day of the year, as they were drinking, Arbogasts Jacob offered to sell a property to the witness and Linsers Lentz, and they agreed to the deal. The witness said, “Landlord, bring us a measure of wine.” When the wine came, the witness stood up and said that he and Linsers Lentz had bought a property from Arbogasts Jacob, and this wine should fix the deal. Then Schlucken Jerg spoke up, “Jacob, you should keep your property. If you need money, I’ll lend you twenty gulden.” And as one word followed another, the witness and Schlucken Jerg quarreled, and everyone got up from the table. As the witness stood up, Hentzen Veltin threw him down to the floor, and when he got up again, Arbogasts Hans was warning them to keep the peace. Then the latter and Linsers Hans got into a fight. The witness did not see if they stabbed one another. That is all he knows.

AUTHENTICATION. All of this happened before and under the authority of us, the mayor and the court of Wolfisheim. Since, however, we had no seal to authenticate the hearings, we asked the noble and honorable Junker Heinrich von Neuneck, our dear lord, to seal it for us. This I, Jerg von Neuneck, have done without prejudice to me or my heirs. Given on Monday, March 27, in the year of Our Lord 1525.

Your Graces’ humble and poor Mayor and the Court of the village of Wolfisheim.

Source of original German text: Strasbourg, Archives Départmentales du Bas-Rhin, Série 3B, 707/8, transcribed by Leah C. Kirker and Thomas A. Brady Jr.

Translation: Thomas A. Brady Jr.

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