The emperor as a chivalric hero: a partly biographical knightly epic written by Maximilian I himself

Emperor Maximilian I: Theuerdank

Augsburg (Germany) — 1517

Emperor Maximilian I: Theuerdank

Emperor Maximilian I: Theuerdank

Augsburg (Germany) — 1517

  1. An epic chivalric poem written by Emperor Maximilian I (1459–1519) himself was printed in Nuremberg in 1517

  2. The Kaiser presents his 1477 journey to meet his new bride, Mary of Burgundy, as a chivalric epic

  3. Leading artists of the time contributed to the magnificent manuscript in the form of 118 woodcuts

Kaiser Maximilians Theuerdank (Leather Binding)

Emperor Maximilian I: Theuerdank

The Execution of Unfalo

Despite its grisly theme – a hanging – this superb woodcut demonstrates the artist’s ability to realistically and artfully depict architectures, landscapes, and human figures. In the story, three captains fear the dissolution of their army if Theuerdank (Maximilian) is able to marry his betrothed and attempt to stop his chivalric adventure, but their schemes are foiled and all three are executed. Unfalo, whose name is a variation of the German word for “accident”, meets his end on the gallows.

Emperor Maximilian I: Theuerdank

Alternative Titles:
  • Kaiser Maximilian der I. - Die Abenteuer des Ritters Theuerdank
Emperor Maximilian I: Theuerdank – Württembergische Landesbibliothek (Stuttgart, Germany)
Emperor Maximilian I: Theuerdank – Württembergische Landesbibliothek (Stuttgart, Germany)
Emperor Maximilian I: Theuerdank – Württembergische Landesbibliothek (Stuttgart, Germany)
Emperor Maximilian I: Theuerdank – Württembergische Landesbibliothek (Stuttgart, Germany)
Emperor Maximilian I: Theuerdank – Württembergische Landesbibliothek (Stuttgart, Germany)
Emperor Maximilian I: Theuerdank – Württembergische Landesbibliothek (Stuttgart, Germany)
Emperor Maximilian I: Theuerdank – Württembergische Landesbibliothek (Stuttgart, Germany)
Emperor Maximilian I: Theuerdank – Württembergische Landesbibliothek (Stuttgart, Germany)
Emperor Maximilian I: Theuerdank – Württembergische Landesbibliothek (Stuttgart, Germany)
Emperor Maximilian I: Theuerdank – Württembergische Landesbibliothek (Stuttgart, Germany)
Emperor Maximilian I: Theuerdank – Württembergische Landesbibliothek (Stuttgart, Germany)
Emperor Maximilian I: Theuerdank – Württembergische Landesbibliothek (Stuttgart, Germany)
Emperor Maximilian I: Theuerdank – Württembergische Landesbibliothek (Stuttgart, Germany)
Emperor Maximilian I: Theuerdank – Württembergische Landesbibliothek (Stuttgart, Germany)
Emperor Maximilian I: Theuerdank – Württembergische Landesbibliothek (Stuttgart, Germany)
Emperor Maximilian I: Theuerdank – Württembergische Landesbibliothek (Stuttgart, Germany)
Emperor Maximilian I: Theuerdank – Württembergische Landesbibliothek (Stuttgart, Germany)
Emperor Maximilian I: Theuerdank – Württembergische Landesbibliothek (Stuttgart, Germany)
Emperor Maximilian I: Theuerdank – Württembergische Landesbibliothek (Stuttgart, Germany)
Emperor Maximilian I: Theuerdank – Württembergische Landesbibliothek (Stuttgart, Germany)
Emperor Maximilian I: Theuerdank – Württembergische Landesbibliothek (Stuttgart, Germany)
Emperor Maximilian I: Theuerdank – Württembergische Landesbibliothek (Stuttgart, Germany)
Emperor Maximilian I: Theuerdank – Württembergische Landesbibliothek (Stuttgart, Germany)
Emperor Maximilian I: Theuerdank – Württembergische Landesbibliothek (Stuttgart, Germany)
Emperor Maximilian I: Theuerdank – Württembergische Landesbibliothek (Stuttgart, Germany)
Emperor Maximilian I: Theuerdank – Württembergische Landesbibliothek (Stuttgart, Germany)
Emperor Maximilian I: Theuerdank – Württembergische Landesbibliothek (Stuttgart, Germany)
Emperor Maximilian I: Theuerdank – Württembergische Landesbibliothek (Stuttgart, Germany)
Emperor Maximilian I: Theuerdank – Württembergische Landesbibliothek (Stuttgart, Germany)
Emperor Maximilian I: Theuerdank – Württembergische Landesbibliothek (Stuttgart, Germany)
Emperor Maximilian I: Theuerdank – Württembergische Landesbibliothek (Stuttgart, Germany)
Emperor Maximilian I: Theuerdank – Württembergische Landesbibliothek (Stuttgart, Germany)
Emperor Maximilian I: Theuerdank – Württembergische Landesbibliothek (Stuttgart, Germany)
Emperor Maximilian I: Theuerdank – Württembergische Landesbibliothek (Stuttgart, Germany)
Emperor Maximilian I: Theuerdank – Württembergische Landesbibliothek (Stuttgart, Germany)
Emperor Maximilian I: Theuerdank – Württembergische Landesbibliothek (Stuttgart, Germany)
Imageof
Price Category: € (under 1,000€)
Edition available
Price: Login here!
  1. Short Description
  2. Codicology

Short Description

One of the most important works of the German Renaissance was printed in the year 1517 in Nuremberg: an epic poem by Emperor Maximilian I himself! In Theuerdank, the Kaiser addresses his journey to meet his new bride, Mary of Burgundy, which is embedded in an environment which is typical for that time – full of adventure and chivalrous virtues. The most important artists of the time, including Hans Burgkmair, Hans Schäufelein, and Leonhard Beck, contributed to the magnificent illustrations in the form of 118 woodcuts. The Augsburg printer Hans Schönesperger, Maximilian’s imperial book printer, produced the work with a specially designed typeface. In light of this abundance of quality, the fact that the specimen housed in the Württembergischen Landesbibliothek in Stuttgart is Hans Burgkmair’s personal copy seems a mere side note.

Emperor Maximilian I: Theuerdank

One of the most important works of the German Renaissance was printed in the year 1517 in Nuremberg: an epic poem by Emperor Maximilian I himself! Therein the Kaiser addresses his journey to meet his new bride, Mary of Burgundy, which is embedded in an environment which is typical for that time – full of adventure and chivalrous virtues. The most important artists of the time, including Hans Burgkmair, Hans Schäufelein, and Leonhard Beck, contributed to the magnificent illustrations in the form of 118 woodcuts. The Augsburg printer Hans Schönesperger, Maximilian’s imperial book printer, produced the work with a specially designed typeface. In light of this abundance of quality, the fact that the specimen housed in the Württembergischen Landesbibliothek in Stuttgart is Hans Burgkmair’s personal copy seems a mere side note.

The Emperor as Author

In the year 1477, Maximilian I, who would eventually become Holy Roman Emperor, married Mary of Burgundy, the daughter of Charles the Bold. 40 years later, this marriage served as the template for one of the most important pieces of 16th century literature: the epic chivalric poem concerning the adventures of the knight named Theuerdank. The author of this work is Emperor Maximilian I himself – or at the least the overwhelming majority comes from him. Maximilian I (1459–1519) is considered to be the most important ruler of his time, received a humanist education, and was a lover and generous patron of the arts.

The Adventurous Journey to his Bride

In the adventures of the knight Theuerdank, the journey by Maximilian I to meet his first bride, Mary of Burgundy, is described. Serving as the protagonists are the knight Theuerdank – Maximilian himself – and the lady Ernreich – Mary of Burgundy. During his trip to meet his beloved lady, Ernreich, the knight Theuerdank experienced numerous adventures, which he heroically overcomes with chivalric virtues and divine help. Themes typical for the time, such as hunting and tournaments, make up the background of the plot.

The Woodcut Illustrations

This piece of (literary) history is stored in a precious book in Stuttgart’s Württembergischen Landesbibliothek: the personal copy of Hans Burgkmair. Hans Burgkmair was one of the numerous artists who were commissioned to illustrate the imperial epic poem. The most significant artists of their time – alongside Burgkmair, Hans Schäufelein and Leonhard Beckknown were known as the Three Primary Masters – completed 118 woodcuts altogether, which accompany the text.

An Imperial Print Order

The Adventures of the Knight Theurdank were finally printed in Nuremberg in 1517. Hans Schönsperger was responsible for the printing thereof. Schönsperger, who was actually active in Augsburg already, and who Maxmilian named imperial printer in 1508, specifically moved his printing shop to Nuremberg for this publication. The German text of the imperial work was laid out in a specifically designed typeface on a total of 589 pages. Thus arose one of the most important works of German Renaissance art, offering a glimpse into the glimmering time period of the German Renaissance and its chief agents, the great Kaiser Maximilian I above all!

Codicology

Alternative Titles
Kaiser Maximilian der I. - Die Abenteuer des Ritters Theuerdank
Size / Format
580 pages / 36.0 x 25.0 cm
Date
1517
Language
Illustrations
118 woodcuts
Artist / School
Kaiser Maximilians Theuerdank (Leather Binding)

Emperor Maximilian I: Theuerdank

Theuerdank Jousts with another Knight

Among the many insights into life in the early–16th century that these woodcuts offer, its tournament scenes are among the most entertaining. This scene depicts Theuerdank and another knight in the moment that they have unseated one another. Both figures in full plate armor come crashing to the ground, feet in the air, broken lances flying.

The joust is occurring in the courtyard of a castle, which is partitioned off to separate the spectators from the action. An older, mustachioed man armed with a sword and a young page with a staff officiate the joust while two musicians, a male drummer and a female flautist, perform from a window in the background. The woodcut is remarkable for its detail, dynamism, spatiality, and perspective.

3 available facsimile edition(s) of „Emperor Maximilian I: Theuerdank“

Kaiser Maximilians Theuerdank (Leather Binding)
Emperor Maximilian I: Theuerdank – Württembergische Landesbibliothek (Stuttgart, Germany)
Emperor Maximilian I: Theuerdank – Württembergische Landesbibliothek (Stuttgart, Germany)
Emperor Maximilian I: Theuerdank – Württembergische Landesbibliothek (Stuttgart, Germany)
Emperor Maximilian I: Theuerdank – Württembergische Landesbibliothek (Stuttgart, Germany)
Emperor Maximilian I: Theuerdank – Württembergische Landesbibliothek (Stuttgart, Germany)
Emperor Maximilian I: Theuerdank – Württembergische Landesbibliothek (Stuttgart, Germany)
Emperor Maximilian I: Theuerdank – Württembergische Landesbibliothek (Stuttgart, Germany)
Emperor Maximilian I: Theuerdank – Württembergische Landesbibliothek (Stuttgart, Germany)
Emperor Maximilian I: Theuerdank – Württembergische Landesbibliothek (Stuttgart, Germany)
Emperor Maximilian I: Theuerdank – Württembergische Landesbibliothek (Stuttgart, Germany)
Emperor Maximilian I: Theuerdank – Württembergische Landesbibliothek (Stuttgart, Germany)
Emperor Maximilian I: Theuerdank – Württembergische Landesbibliothek (Stuttgart, Germany)
Emperor Maximilian I: Theuerdank – Württembergische Landesbibliothek (Stuttgart, Germany)
Emperor Maximilian I: Theuerdank – Württembergische Landesbibliothek (Stuttgart, Germany)
Emperor Maximilian I: Theuerdank – Württembergische Landesbibliothek (Stuttgart, Germany)
Emperor Maximilian I: Theuerdank – Württembergische Landesbibliothek (Stuttgart, Germany)
Emperor Maximilian I: Theuerdank – Württembergische Landesbibliothek (Stuttgart, Germany)
Emperor Maximilian I: Theuerdank – Württembergische Landesbibliothek (Stuttgart, Germany)
Emperor Maximilian I: Theuerdank – Württembergische Landesbibliothek (Stuttgart, Germany)
Emperor Maximilian I: Theuerdank – Württembergische Landesbibliothek (Stuttgart, Germany)
Emperor Maximilian I: Theuerdank – Württembergische Landesbibliothek (Stuttgart, Germany)
Emperor Maximilian I: Theuerdank – Württembergische Landesbibliothek (Stuttgart, Germany)
Emperor Maximilian I: Theuerdank – Württembergische Landesbibliothek (Stuttgart, Germany)
Emperor Maximilian I: Theuerdank – Württembergische Landesbibliothek (Stuttgart, Germany)
Emperor Maximilian I: Theuerdank – Württembergische Landesbibliothek (Stuttgart, Germany)
Emperor Maximilian I: Theuerdank – Württembergische Landesbibliothek (Stuttgart, Germany)
Emperor Maximilian I: Theuerdank – Württembergische Landesbibliothek (Stuttgart, Germany)
Emperor Maximilian I: Theuerdank – Württembergische Landesbibliothek (Stuttgart, Germany)
Emperor Maximilian I: Theuerdank – Württembergische Landesbibliothek (Stuttgart, Germany)
Emperor Maximilian I: Theuerdank – Württembergische Landesbibliothek (Stuttgart, Germany)
Emperor Maximilian I: Theuerdank – Württembergische Landesbibliothek (Stuttgart, Germany)
Emperor Maximilian I: Theuerdank – Württembergische Landesbibliothek (Stuttgart, Germany)
Emperor Maximilian I: Theuerdank – Württembergische Landesbibliothek (Stuttgart, Germany)
Emperor Maximilian I: Theuerdank – Württembergische Landesbibliothek (Stuttgart, Germany)
Emperor Maximilian I: Theuerdank – Württembergische Landesbibliothek (Stuttgart, Germany)
Emperor Maximilian I: Theuerdank – Württembergische Landesbibliothek (Stuttgart, Germany)
Imageof

Kaiser Maximilians Theuerdank (Leather Binding)

1 volume: Exact reproduction of the original document (extent, color and size)
Limited Edition
250 copies
Binding
Leather
Commentary
1 volume (40 pages) by Heinz Engels, Elisabeth Geck and H.Th. Musper
Language: German
More Information
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.
Price Category: € (under 1,000€)
Edition available
Price: Login here!
Kaiser Maximilians Theuerdank (Linen Binding)
Imageof

Kaiser Maximilians Theuerdank (Linen Binding)

1 volume: Exact reproduction of the original document (extent, color and size)
Limited Edition
550 copies
Binding
Linen
Commentary
1 volume (40 pages) by Heinz Engels, Elisabeth Geck and H.Th. Musper
Language: German
More Information
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.
Kaiser Maximilians Theuerdank (Parchment Binding)
Imageof

Kaiser Maximilians Theuerdank (Parchment Binding)

1 volume: Exact reproduction of the original document (extent, color and size)
Limited Edition
50 copies
Binding
Parchment
Commentary
1 volume (40 pages) by Heinz Engels, Elisabeth Geck and H.Th. Musper
Language: German
More Information
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.
  1. Matching Works
  2. Matching Background Articles

Matching Works

Gottfried von Strassburg: Tristan and Isolde

Gottfried von Strassburg: Tristan and Isolde

The primary work of the great poet Gottfried von Straßburg: the oldest edition of perhaps the most beautiful German love story of the Middle Ages

Experience More
Divine Comedy from the Biblioteca Angelica in Rome

Divine Comedy from the Biblioteca Angelica in Rome

Unfinished, but of great historical importance: Dante's masterpiece as an example of the Trecento in illumination

Experience More

Matching Background Articles

Publisher