A fascinating picture of courtly life: Eschenbach's Middle High German epic of the knight Willehalm struggling against the Saracens

The Willehalm - Wolfram Von Eschenbach

Western Germany — Around 1320

The Willehalm - Wolfram Von Eschenbach

The Willehalm - Wolfram Von Eschenbach

Western Germany — Around 1320

  1. Willehalm is one of the most popular heroes of the greatest Middle High German poet: Wolfram Von Eschenbach (d. ca. 1220)

  2. In the story of the knight Willehalm’s fight against the Saracens, the heathens are granted their own religious and ethical significance for the first time

  3. No less than 117 miniatures in the Vienna Codex illustrate this fascinating and epic history in Middle High German

Wolfram von Eschenbach: Willehalm

The Willehalm - Wolfram Von Eschenbach

Willehalm Jousting

Wearing a great helm and otherwise dressed in 14th century armor, Willehalm unhorses his opponent against a brilliantly burnished gold background. Identified with the crescent-and-star associated with the Turks, the “pagan” rider is shown toppling from his saddle and has been struck with such violence that his helmet has fallen off. Wolfram von Eschenbach’s chivalric epic provided medieval artists with plenty of opportunities to depict the life of the medieval nobility in such scenes.

The Willehalm - Wolfram Von Eschenbach

Alternative Titles:
  • Willehalm - Wolfram von Eschenbach
The Willehalm - Wolfram Von Eschenbach – Cod. Vindob. 2670 – Österreichische Nationalbibliothek (Vienna, Austria)
The Willehalm - Wolfram Von Eschenbach – Cod. Vindob. 2670 – Österreichische Nationalbibliothek (Vienna, Austria)
The Willehalm - Wolfram Von Eschenbach – Cod. Vindob. 2670 – Österreichische Nationalbibliothek (Vienna, Austria)
The Willehalm - Wolfram Von Eschenbach – Cod. Vindob. 2670 – Österreichische Nationalbibliothek (Vienna, Austria)
The Willehalm - Wolfram Von Eschenbach – Cod. Vindob. 2670 – Österreichische Nationalbibliothek (Vienna, Austria)
The Willehalm - Wolfram Von Eschenbach – Cod. Vindob. 2670 – Österreichische Nationalbibliothek (Vienna, Austria)
The Willehalm - Wolfram Von Eschenbach – Cod. Vindob. 2670 – Österreichische Nationalbibliothek (Vienna, Austria)
The Willehalm - Wolfram Von Eschenbach – Cod. Vindob. 2670 – Österreichische Nationalbibliothek (Vienna, Austria)
The Willehalm - Wolfram Von Eschenbach – Cod. Vindob. 2670 – Österreichische Nationalbibliothek (Vienna, Austria)
The Willehalm - Wolfram Von Eschenbach – Cod. Vindob. 2670 – Österreichische Nationalbibliothek (Vienna, Austria)
The Willehalm - Wolfram Von Eschenbach – Cod. Vindob. 2670 – Österreichische Nationalbibliothek (Vienna, Austria)
The Willehalm - Wolfram Von Eschenbach – Cod. Vindob. 2670 – Österreichische Nationalbibliothek (Vienna, Austria)
The Willehalm - Wolfram Von Eschenbach – Cod. Vindob. 2670 – Österreichische Nationalbibliothek (Vienna, Austria)
The Willehalm - Wolfram Von Eschenbach – Cod. Vindob. 2670 – Österreichische Nationalbibliothek (Vienna, Austria)
The Willehalm - Wolfram Von Eschenbach – Cod. Vindob. 2670 – Österreichische Nationalbibliothek (Vienna, Austria)
The Willehalm - Wolfram Von Eschenbach – Cod. Vindob. 2670 – Österreichische Nationalbibliothek (Vienna, Austria)
The Willehalm - Wolfram Von Eschenbach – Cod. Vindob. 2670 – Österreichische Nationalbibliothek (Vienna, Austria)
The Willehalm - Wolfram Von Eschenbach – Cod. Vindob. 2670 – Österreichische Nationalbibliothek (Vienna, Austria)
The Willehalm - Wolfram Von Eschenbach – Cod. Vindob. 2670 – Österreichische Nationalbibliothek (Vienna, Austria)
The Willehalm - Wolfram Von Eschenbach – Cod. Vindob. 2670 – Österreichische Nationalbibliothek (Vienna, Austria)
The Willehalm - Wolfram Von Eschenbach – Cod. Vindob. 2670 – Österreichische Nationalbibliothek (Vienna, Austria)
The Willehalm - Wolfram Von Eschenbach – Cod. Vindob. 2670 – Österreichische Nationalbibliothek (Vienna, Austria)
The Willehalm - Wolfram Von Eschenbach – Cod. Vindob. 2670 – Österreichische Nationalbibliothek (Vienna, Austria)
The Willehalm - Wolfram Von Eschenbach – Cod. Vindob. 2670 – Österreichische Nationalbibliothek (Vienna, Austria)
The Willehalm - Wolfram Von Eschenbach – Cod. Vindob. 2670 – Österreichische Nationalbibliothek (Vienna, Austria)
The Willehalm - Wolfram Von Eschenbach – Cod. Vindob. 2670 – Österreichische Nationalbibliothek (Vienna, Austria)
The Willehalm - Wolfram Von Eschenbach – Cod. Vindob. 2670 – Österreichische Nationalbibliothek (Vienna, Austria)
The Willehalm - Wolfram Von Eschenbach – Cod. Vindob. 2670 – Österreichische Nationalbibliothek (Vienna, Austria)
The Willehalm - Wolfram Von Eschenbach – Cod. Vindob. 2670 – Österreichische Nationalbibliothek (Vienna, Austria)
The Willehalm - Wolfram Von Eschenbach – Cod. Vindob. 2670 – Österreichische Nationalbibliothek (Vienna, Austria)
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  1. Short Description
  2. Codicology

Short Description

Wolfram von Eschenbach was arguably the greatest representative of Middle High German poetry and literature, and his Willehalm is one of the most popular heroic epics of all time. The heroic epic in the style of a chanson de geste is unique for several reasons, perhaps the foremost being that the pagan antagonists were portrayed as human beings with their own significance and not just as faceless heathens. Closely interwoven with classical elements of courtly romance, such as the hero courting his beloved young lady of the nobility, the writer draws a fascinating picture of courtly life in the Middle High German language. This is possibly the most luxurious version of the manuscript and features 22 deluxe initials and no less than 117 miniatures.

The Willehalm - Wolfram Von Eschenbach

This courtly epic is perhaps the most famous of the Middle Ages and ranks among the most popular pieces of poetry in history. It was written in the early 13th century by Wolfram von Eschenbach (1170–1220), possibly the foremost representative of Middle High German epic literature. Although little is known about his life, we may assume that he was a member of the nobility. His outstanding literary works have inspired writers throughout the centuries.

A German Heroic Epic with Golden Pictures

Wolfram patterned his famous work on a 12th century French chanson de geste, a kind of warrior epic poetry. After his defeat near Narbonne and Carcassonne in 793, Willehalm, a hero based on the historic figure of William of Orange, halts the march of the Saracens. He defends his wife Gyburc, the baptized daughter of the pagan King Terramer who arrives with a pagan army to free her; Gyburc had previously liberated Willehalm from captivity and followed him to his homeland. In the first battle, the Christians are defeated. Now young Rennewart, Gyburc’s brother, enters the scene. Fighting side by side with Willehalm in the second battle and delivering crushing blows with his mace, he leads the Christians to victory. In Willehalm the struggle between Christians and pagans, a popular theme of Middle High German poetry, corresponds to a battle between the realm of God and that of the Devil in accordance with the crusaders’ ideology. Nonetheless, Wolfram breaks with this classical way of thinking. For the first time, the pagans are given their own religious, ethical significance. They are regarded as creatures of God and treated on an equal footing with the Christians. Closely interwoven with classical elements of courtly romance, such as the hero courting his beloved young lady of the nobility, the writer draws a fascinating picture of courtly life in the Middle High German language.

117 Golden miniatures

Our manuscript constitutes possibly the finest version of the epic and clearly owes its impressive appearance to its exuberant decoration: countless colored initials, 22 deluxe initials and no less than 117 miniatures illustrate the fascinating epic tale and also introduce the reader to the exciting world of courtly love.

Codicology

Alternative Titles
Willehalm - Wolfram von Eschenbach
Size / Format
702 pages / 31.0 x 22.0 cm
Date
Around 1320
Style
Illustrations
117 miniatures, 15 initial letters
Artist / School
Wolfram von Eschenbach: Willehalm

The Willehalm - Wolfram Von Eschenbach

Willehalm and Rennewart before the Gates of Oransche

After assuming command of the host of the Franks, Willehalm and his companion Rennewart lead this army to his capital of Oransche, which is besieged by Muslim forces under King Terramer and King Tibalt. They find the city in flames after an assault – only the castle of Glorjet is spared – while the pagans have withdrawn to their ships to resupply themselves.

The bright clothing, flowing curls, and serene facial expressions of the figures belie the urgency of this scene. Numerous figures are bathed in red flames as those in the castle, which is differentiated from the rest of the city by color, and those outside the walls look on helplessly. The scene seems to pop out from its golden background as the towers and walls of the city exceed the simple blue frame.

1 available facsimile edition(s) of „The Willehalm - Wolfram Von Eschenbach“

Wolfram von Eschenbach: Willehalm
The Willehalm - Wolfram Von Eschenbach – Cod. Vindob. 2670 – Österreichische Nationalbibliothek (Vienna, Austria)
The Willehalm - Wolfram Von Eschenbach – Cod. Vindob. 2670 – Österreichische Nationalbibliothek (Vienna, Austria)
The Willehalm - Wolfram Von Eschenbach – Cod. Vindob. 2670 – Österreichische Nationalbibliothek (Vienna, Austria)
The Willehalm - Wolfram Von Eschenbach – Cod. Vindob. 2670 – Österreichische Nationalbibliothek (Vienna, Austria)
The Willehalm - Wolfram Von Eschenbach – Cod. Vindob. 2670 – Österreichische Nationalbibliothek (Vienna, Austria)
The Willehalm - Wolfram Von Eschenbach – Cod. Vindob. 2670 – Österreichische Nationalbibliothek (Vienna, Austria)
The Willehalm - Wolfram Von Eschenbach – Cod. Vindob. 2670 – Österreichische Nationalbibliothek (Vienna, Austria)
The Willehalm - Wolfram Von Eschenbach – Cod. Vindob. 2670 – Österreichische Nationalbibliothek (Vienna, Austria)
The Willehalm - Wolfram Von Eschenbach – Cod. Vindob. 2670 – Österreichische Nationalbibliothek (Vienna, Austria)
The Willehalm - Wolfram Von Eschenbach – Cod. Vindob. 2670 – Österreichische Nationalbibliothek (Vienna, Austria)
The Willehalm - Wolfram Von Eschenbach – Cod. Vindob. 2670 – Österreichische Nationalbibliothek (Vienna, Austria)
The Willehalm - Wolfram Von Eschenbach – Cod. Vindob. 2670 – Österreichische Nationalbibliothek (Vienna, Austria)
The Willehalm - Wolfram Von Eschenbach – Cod. Vindob. 2670 – Österreichische Nationalbibliothek (Vienna, Austria)
The Willehalm - Wolfram Von Eschenbach – Cod. Vindob. 2670 – Österreichische Nationalbibliothek (Vienna, Austria)
The Willehalm - Wolfram Von Eschenbach – Cod. Vindob. 2670 – Österreichische Nationalbibliothek (Vienna, Austria)
The Willehalm - Wolfram Von Eschenbach – Cod. Vindob. 2670 – Österreichische Nationalbibliothek (Vienna, Austria)
The Willehalm - Wolfram Von Eschenbach – Cod. Vindob. 2670 – Österreichische Nationalbibliothek (Vienna, Austria)
The Willehalm - Wolfram Von Eschenbach – Cod. Vindob. 2670 – Österreichische Nationalbibliothek (Vienna, Austria)
The Willehalm - Wolfram Von Eschenbach – Cod. Vindob. 2670 – Österreichische Nationalbibliothek (Vienna, Austria)
The Willehalm - Wolfram Von Eschenbach – Cod. Vindob. 2670 – Österreichische Nationalbibliothek (Vienna, Austria)
The Willehalm - Wolfram Von Eschenbach – Cod. Vindob. 2670 – Österreichische Nationalbibliothek (Vienna, Austria)
The Willehalm - Wolfram Von Eschenbach – Cod. Vindob. 2670 – Österreichische Nationalbibliothek (Vienna, Austria)
The Willehalm - Wolfram Von Eschenbach – Cod. Vindob. 2670 – Österreichische Nationalbibliothek (Vienna, Austria)
The Willehalm - Wolfram Von Eschenbach – Cod. Vindob. 2670 – Österreichische Nationalbibliothek (Vienna, Austria)
The Willehalm - Wolfram Von Eschenbach – Cod. Vindob. 2670 – Österreichische Nationalbibliothek (Vienna, Austria)
The Willehalm - Wolfram Von Eschenbach – Cod. Vindob. 2670 – Österreichische Nationalbibliothek (Vienna, Austria)
The Willehalm - Wolfram Von Eschenbach – Cod. Vindob. 2670 – Österreichische Nationalbibliothek (Vienna, Austria)
The Willehalm - Wolfram Von Eschenbach – Cod. Vindob. 2670 – Österreichische Nationalbibliothek (Vienna, Austria)
The Willehalm - Wolfram Von Eschenbach – Cod. Vindob. 2670 – Österreichische Nationalbibliothek (Vienna, Austria)
The Willehalm - Wolfram Von Eschenbach – Cod. Vindob. 2670 – Österreichische Nationalbibliothek (Vienna, Austria)
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Wolfram von Eschenbach: Willehalm

1 volume: Exact reproduction of the original document (extent, color and size)
Publisher
Akademische Druck- u. Verlagsanstalt (ADEVA) – Graz, 1974
Limited Edition
950 copies
Binding
Leather according to the character of the manuscript
Commentary
1 volume (70 pages) by H. Heger
Language: German

The facsimile comes with a comprehensive commentary dealing with the historical background and heroes on the manuscript as well as with a description of all individual miniatures in great detail.

Scholarly introduction by H. Heger, Vienna. 70 pp. text and 4 fold-out plates. Half leather.
More Information
All folios are cut according to the original.
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