The History of Peter Hagenbach and the Burgundian Wars

The History of Peter Hagenbach and the Burgundian Wars Facsimile Edition

Strasbourg (France) — 1477

The first commander held responsible for war crimes in history: the story of how Peter von Hagenbach was executed for atrocities committed by him and his troops and how it led to the outbreak of the Burgundian Wars

  1. The Alsatian knight Peter von Hagenbach (ca. 1420–74) is the central figure of the chronicle

  2. It was written by Konrad Pfettisheim and printed in Strasbourg by Heinrich Knoblochtzer in 1477

  3. 8 colored woodcuts, 7 borrowed from a contemporary work, illustrate the outbreak of the Burgundian Wars

The History of Peter Hagenbach and the Burgundian Wars

Inc. 265 Hofbibliothek Donaueschingen (Donaueschingen, Germany)
  1. Description
  2. Detail Picture
  3. Single Page
  4. Facsimile Editions (1)
Description
The History of Peter Hagenbach and the Burgundian Wars

This rhyming chronicle narrating the Burgundian Wars and the story of Peter von Hagenbach in particular was written by Konrad Pfettisheim and printed in Strasbourg by Heinrich Knoblochtzer in 1477. The work is illustrated by eight full-page colored woodcuts, seven of which were borrowed from the Burgundische Historie by Hans Erhart Tüsch, which was published in Strasbourg in the same year, probably by the same printer. At the center of the chronicle is the story of Peter von Hagenbach, an Alsatian knight, military captain, and bailiff in the service of Duke Charles the Bold of Burgundy, a great enemy of the Swiss who tried to carve out a new kingdom between France and the Holy Roman Empire. Hagenbach is also credited with coining the term Landsknecht to differentiate between Swiss mercenaries and infantry soldiers from the Holy Roman Empire who used similar tactics. He was executed in 1474 for atrocities he and his troops committed during his occupation of Breisach including murder, rape, and perjury, making him the first commander held responsible for war crimes that "he as a knight was deemed to have a duty to prevent."

Codicology

Alternative Titles
Geschichte Peter Hagenbachs und der Burgunderkriege
Size / Format
22 pages / 28.5 × 20.5 cm
Origin
France
Date
1477
Style
Language
Illustrations
8 full-page colored woodcuts
Artist / School
Previous Owners
Donaueschingen Court Library

Available facsimile editions:
The History of Peter Hagenbach and the Burgundian Wars – Müller & Schindler – Inc. 265 – Hofbibliothek Donaueschingen (Donaueschingen, Germany) Facsimile Edition
Müller & Schindler – Simbach am Inn, 1966
Limited Edition: 1000 copies
Detail Picture

The History of Peter Hagenbach and the Burgundian Wars

Foot Soldier Killing a Knight

During the Late Middle Ages, the supremacy of heavily armored knights on horseback was challenged by infantry tactics using tightly packed phalanxes supported by archers. Swiss mercenaries, also known as Reisläufer, distinguished themselves as the premiere infantry force and were hired by virtually every power in Continental Europe. Here we see an unarmored foot soldier killing a knight who has been knocked off his horse by stabbing him in the neck through a gap in his suit of armor.

Geschichte Peter Hagenbachs und der Burgunderkriege
Single Page

The History of Peter Hagenbach and the Burgundian Wars

Execution of Peter von Hagenbach

Kneeling blindfolded with his hands bound as a crowd looks on, Peter von Hagenbach waits for the blow of the executioner’s sword to deliver him to God’s judgement. He was executed in 1474 for atrocities he and his troops committed during his occupation of Breisach including murder, rape, and perjury. His violent and tyrannous behavior contributed to the outbreak of the Burgundian Wars.

This was one of the first trials in history based upon the principle of command responsibility and von Hagenbach argued that he was only following orders from the Duke of Burgundy. He is also credited with coining the term Landsknecht to differentiate between Swiss mercenaries and infantry soldiers from the Holy Roman Empire who used similar tactics.

Geschichte Peter Hagenbachs und der Burgunderkriege
Facsimile Editions

#1 Geschichte Peter Hagenbachs und der Burgunderkriege

Müller & Schindler – Simbach am Inn, 1966

Publisher: Müller & Schindler – Simbach am Inn, 1966
Limited Edition: 1000 copies
Binding: Canvas box with wooden frame
Commentary: 1 volume by Lilli Fischel and Rolf Müller
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