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Lineage, War, Family – Michel von Ehenheim (1462/63-1518)

Michel von Ehenheim came from a large family of Franconian Imperial knights who had long served the margraves of Brandenburg-Ansbach. His work, not an autobiography in the modern sense but rather a family chronicle, was composed for the honor and pleasure of his kinsmen and their descendants. Ehenheim’s life of service to princes and monarchs was probably more typical of the lesser nobles of this time than the incessant feuds and brawls of the better known Götz von Berlichingen. Ehenheim’s account of his domestic life differs from Bernard Zink’s in that it is a spare register of major events and forms a kind of appendix to the chronicle. Above all, this text displays a nobleman’s dedication to the military way of life and attests to Ehenheim’s pride in his lineage and Franconian identity.

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In the name of the Almighty, Merciful, Eternal, Kind God, the Virgin Mary, and the holy knight St. George, also in the name of the holy bishop Kilian, our head, lord of the land and the duchy of Franconia (1).

In 1515 on the eighth day after St. Kilian’s Day [15 July], I, Michael von Ehenheim zu Wallmerspach, a knight, began this book. It was written by my own hand, to please and perpetuate the memory of the name and lineage of Ehenheim. The following records such things that I experienced, especially in the land and duchy of Franconia, where most of them [the Ehenheims] had their seats and lie buried; it also records how many epithets they had and partly still have, those who are still living. May God give long life! I record whatever was heard about an Ehenheim and retained in memory into the third generation [ . . . ]. Such, down to the present day, has been the name and lineage of Ehenheim, whom many have called the noblest of all nobles in the land of Franconia.

There is no difference among those of this name and lineage with respect to either coats of arms or helmet devices, rather all have the same arms. Therefore, dear kinsmen and friends and all descendants of this lineage, receive in a friendly and kind manner this record of experiences, written by me, Michael von Ehenheim, knight, to the perpetual memory of the name. May Almighty God and His dear mother Mary pray for me and all of my name, as I am willing to do here and, God willing, there for both living and dead, amen!

[Hungary 1491]

In 1490 King Matthias, king of Hungary, died during Holy Week. He died in King Ladislaus’ chambers in the castle at Vienna, and his body was taken in secret from Vienna by ship to Stuhlweissenburg [Székesfehérvár] and buried in the church there. And I, Michael von Ehenheim, was at his grave when the Roman King conquered Stuhlweissenburg. [ . . . ]

In the same year Duke Sigismund of Austria (2) transferred his land and subjects to the Roman king, Maximilian. I was there in the Roman king’s entourage, and I witnessed the act in the presence of his [Sigismund’s] wife, a duchess [Katharina] of Saxony. Margrave Sigismund of Brandenburg and many counts and lords were also there. Emperor Frederick [III] as [senior] archduke ordered that the Roman king, as the most closely related archduke, and his governors should receive the homage of this land and subjects. This happened during Lent in 1491. [ . . . ]

(1) St. Kilian (d. 688) was the Irish founder of the diocese of Würzburg; he is patron of Franconia – trans.
(2) The childless Count Sigismund of Tyrol surrendered his lands to King Maximilian I – trans.

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