Apocalypse - Heinrich von Hesler

Apocalypse - Heinrich von Hesler – Orbis Pictus – Rps 64/III – Biblioteka Uniwersytecka Mikołaj Kopernik w Toruniu (Toruń, Poland)

Germany — Mid 14th century

Written in rhymed prose by the artist Heinrich Hesler and richly illuminated: one of the most fascinating Apocalypse manuscripts in German

  1. A rich Apocalypse manuscript in rhymed German prose composed by the 13th century poet Heinrich von Hesler

  2. One of the most precious and valuable specimens of Middle High German

  3. The word-by-word translation of the Revelation of St. John was designed to be read aloud

Apocalypse - Heinrich von Hesler

Facsimile Copy Available!
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(1,000€ - 3,000€)
  1. Description
  2. Detail Picture
  3. Single Page
  4. Facsimile Editions (1)
Apocalypse - Heinrich von Hesler

The Apocalypse of Heinrich von Hesler was composed in the 13th century. Its exact period of origin remains unclear to this day. The heady work is a German translation of the Book of Revelation, the last book of the New Testament. The text of the manuscript is in rhymed prose and its stunning illumination, richly embellished with gold, makes this Apocalypse manuscript one of the most interesting works of medieval German literature.

Apocalypse - Heinrich von Hesler

The Revelation of John, also known as the Apocalypse, is the last book of the New Testament. The tale of the end of the world and the Day of Judgement belongs among the most influential literary works worldwide and for centuries it has been continuously adapted in literature, film, or the visual arts. A particularly interesting edition of the biblical text was composed by the German noble Heinrich von Hesler. The origin story of the Apocalypse of Heinrich von Hesler continues to puzzle historians and researchers. The fascinating manuscript is illustrated with 35 breathtaking, colorful miniatures richly adorned with gold.

The Layman Heinrich von Hesler

Only a few facts are known about Heinrich von Hessler. He probably originated from the von Heßler family from Burgheßler near Eckartsberga and lived in the 13th century. Heinrich appeared to have been a “nôthafter rîter”, hence a layman in the circle of the Franciscan Order of Thuringia and composed a few manuscript codices, of which only three still exist today. One of his works is the Apocalypse, which belongs among the most precious literary works of the Middle Ages. The mysterious manuscript remains an important historical research project to this day. It period of origin is estimated to be somewhere between the years 1260 and 1335. In any case, the magnificent illuminated work demonstrates the comprehensive theological knowledge and talent of the author Heinrich von Hesler.

Medieval German Literature

Heinrich von Hesler’s version of the Book of Revelation is a German translation of the biblical text in rhymed prose. It remains nonetheless a word-by-word translation. Here the story is combined with the writings of a few medieval theologians and with Hesler’s own lessons. The fact that the text is written in verse with a uniform meter is especially impressive, thereby preserving a catchy melody for the Apocalypse that is particularly well-suited for reading aloud.

A Unique Illumination

The Revelation of John was reproduced in numerous illuminated manuscript throughout the Middle Ages. In contrast to most of the other Apocalypse manuscripts, the edition by Heinrich von Hesler exhibits a special characteristic. Many pictures of his manuscript correspond with the text of the work and illustrated the portrayed representations in a breathtaking manner. Having said this, other pictures were in all likelihood painted according to the desire of the patron. Alongside apocalyptic depictions of Hell and Paradise, which awaits all the righteous, one also finds numerous images of battling knights. The depicted knights acted according to divine providence in order to defend the destiny of the church on Earth. Such an illustration cycle was truly astounding and unique for the literature of that time.


Alternative Titles
Apokalypsa - Heinrich von Hesler
Apokalypse - Heinrich von Hesler
Size / Format
320 pages / 30.0 × 21.5 cm
Mid 14th century
35 beautiful gilded miniatures
Luther of Braunschweig
Artist / School
Previous Owners
Library of the Teutonic Order in Marienburg
Library in Tapiau
Castle Library in Königsberg

Available facsimile editions:
Apocalypse - Heinrich von Hesler – Orbis Pictus – Rps 64/III – Biblioteka Uniwersytecka Mikołaj Kopernik w Toruniu (Toruń, Poland)
Orbis Pictus – Pelplin, 2013
Limited Edition: 198 copies
Detail Picture

Apocalypse - Heinrich von Hesler

The Sixth Seal

As the Lamb of God breaks the Sixth Seal and a bombardment of golden stars descends from a deep-blue, diamond-patterned sky, the people of earth both rich and poor alike take shelter in caves and other deep places, hands folded in an equal mix of prayer and terror. The mountains under which they hide are shown undulating as a pink church slides off to the right. All of this movement is made possible through a wonderful color palette and skillful shading.

Apocalypse - Heinrich von Hesler – Orbis Pictus – Rps 64/III – Biblioteka Uniwersytecka Mikołaj Kopernik w Toruniu (Toruń, Poland)
Single Page

Apocalypse - Heinrich von Hesler

The Sixth Trumpet

Then the sixth angel sounded: And I heard a voice from the four horns of the golden altar which is before God, saying to the sixth angel who had the trumpet, “Release the four angels who are bound at the great river Euphrates.” So the four angels, who had been prepared for the hour and day and month and year, were released to kill a third of mankind.

Now the number of the army of the horsemen was two hundred million; I heard the number of them. And thus I saw the horses in the vision: those who sat on them had breastplates of fiery red, hyacinth blue, and sulfur yellow; and the heads of the horses were like the heads of lions; and out of their mouths came fire, smoke, and brimstone. (Rev. 9:13–17)

Apocalypse - Heinrich von Hesler – Orbis Pictus – Rps 64/III – Biblioteka Uniwersytecka Mikołaj Kopernik w Toruniu (Toruń, Poland)
Facsimile Editions

#1 Apokalypsa - Heinrich von Hesler

Orbis Pictus – Pelplin, 2013

Publisher: Orbis Pictus – Pelplin, 2013
Limited Edition: 198 copies
Binding: Boards dressed in blind-stamped leather, closed with two brass clasps. Comes in wooden box with jute padding.
Commentary: 1 volume
Languages: English, Polish
1 volume: Exact reproduction of the original document (extent, color and size) Reproduction of the entire original document as detailed as possible (scope, format, colors). The binding may not correspond to the original or current document binding.
Facsimile Copy Available!
Price Category: €€
(1,000€ - 3,000€)
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