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

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When the Count Palatine had left, the margrave himself led away the third contingent, having, as related, already sent two. And by the time we arrived at Überlingen, the Swiss had already defeated one force. We stayed there for some time, while the forces of the emperor and the Imperial estates were gathering, and then went with the united force to Constance. That night the emperor joined us. He wore a smallish, old, gray coat, and a gray cap under a gray hat, so that no one would take him for an emperor or try to take him captive. But even as a young fellow I recognized his nose, for I had seen him earlier, as mentioned, at the Imperial Diets I had attended with my late kinsman.

Emperor Maximilian had planned a good attack, for, as I’ve said, we came in the dead of night to Constance with all our cavalry and infantry units. On the morrow they were brought together and put into a proper order of battle, both infantry and cavalry. There Emperor Maximilian met with Margrave Frederick of happy memory, together with some of the war councilors and officers. I accompanied my lord, the margrave, carrying a long lance with a large banner on it, both painted black and white. On my helmet was a large black-and-white feather, which stood straight up.

As the emperor spotted me, he rode from the margrave to me and asked whom I served. I replied, “My gracious prince and lord, Margrave Frederick.” He rose up and said, “You have a long lance with a large flag on it. Come, ride with this troop until the flag with the Imperial eagle arrives from Constance. I did this, because I recognized the emperor and knew it was he, so I didn’t ask anyone [for permission]. So I rode for half an hour or so at the side of Schenk Christoph von Limpurg, who at the time held Nellenburg in Hegau in fief. Then Schenk Christoph was given the Imperial eagle (5), which I then saw in the field for the first and last time. So I then rode back to my own lord and waited to see what I should do.

As I, then a lad of seventeen or eighteen, understood from my gracious prince and lord, the margrave, and others, if we went forward that day, we wanted to catch and defeat the Swiss in Schwaderloch. The next day all units were commanded to be mustered and consulted. But then came the news that the Swiss had received reinforcements, and seeing that they now had gained the advantage, the march forward was abandoned. If we had attacked on the first day, however, as the emperor wanted to do, I believe, based on what I heard, that our side would have prevailed. But when many heads give much advice, it usually goes this way, as has also happened to me in my own affairs.

Shortly thereafter the commanders of the Württemberg troops and the margrave’s troops attacked Schaffhausen with cavalry and infantry. That night we came to a village called Thayngen not far from Schaffhausen. In the church there were some Swiss who had come out from Schaffhausen, and they defended themselves and would not surrender but said they would rather die, like all brave [Swiss] Confederates. To keep it short, the late Sir Melchior Sutzel lay between Schaffhausen and Thayngen, and the Swiss drove him away. One Swiss hit him in the face with a stone, and they all defended themselves in the church so well that many nobles and commoners, both on horse and foot, were hit and shot. After my horse, on which I accompanied the margrave, was killed, I ran afoot like an ordinary lad to the church with the squires. I found a short spear and tied my dagger to an ax, and I cut away my riding trousers. Master Jacob, a gunner and a small, tough little fellow, was shooting right at my side, and a shot went through him and hit a squire from the Württemberg troop who was dressed in blue. He died, but the gunner lived. Then Sir Dietrich Spät and others brought some powder, placed it in the church below the tower, and touched it off. A Swiss fell down from above with a young boy in his arms, and when he landed the boy fell away but would not leave him. But the Swiss was dead, and a Brandenburg trooper, I don’t know who, took the boy somewhere I did not see.

(5) He means the Imperial banner, which bore a black, double-headed eagle – trans.

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