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A Nobleman Lives for War, Plunder, and Adventure – Götz von Berlichingen (1480-1562)

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At first I went to school for one year at Niedernhall on the Kocher and lived with a kinsman, Cuntz von Neuenstein, who had built a house and had his residence there. Since I had little taste for school but much for horses and riding and showed some corresponding skill, I went to my late kinsman, Sir Conrad von Berlichingen, with whom I lived for three years as a stable boy.

The first journey I made with my kinsman occurred when Margrave Frederick of Brandenburg-Ansbach sent him as his councilor to the great Diet called to Worms in 1495. I was to go with him and was accordingly outfitted and armed. We arrived at Worms in the first week of Lent, having ridden first from Ansbach to his residence in Schrozberg, then one day from Schrozberg to Mosbach and from Mosbach to Heidelberg. There we had breakfast at the inn “Zum Hirsch,” and afterward we rode on the same day to Worms. I calculate that we rode eight or nine [German] miles per day, which I thought then, when I was just a lad, to be very far and too much to ride. In later days I became accustomed to riding great distances in a few days and nights without food or drink, and did so out of necessity, because it had to be done.

Coming to Worms [we found that] my lord was the first to arrive, and he waited until all the electors, princes, and other estates, high and low, appeared personally or were represented by their envoys to the Imperial assembly. And in the three years that I lived with my kinsman, Sir Conrad von Berlichingen, as I’ve said, in addition to the great Diet of Worms, many assemblies were held here and there – at Worms, Ulm, Augsburg, and other places – to which electors and princes came, also His Imperial Majesty. They often employed my late kinsman, so that he resided for barely two months a year in one of his houses, of which he had three. And even when he came home, his affairs and those of his good friends and the Franconian knights as a whole were so many and various that even as an old knight he never had much peace. And I had always to ride with and serve him as a lad and squire.

[ . . . ]

After Conrad von Berlichingen’s death, Margrave Frederick of happy memory reared me as a lad at court, and I and many other boys had to wait at table on their princely graces. One time I sat down to eat next to a Pole who dressed his hair with eggs. As chance would have it, I was wearing a French great coat, which Sir Veit von Lentersheim had ordered made at Namur in Brabant. And as I rose up next to the aforementioned Pole, I brushed up against his lovely hair and disturbed it. And as I got up, I saw that he tried to stab me with a bread knife, but he missed, and, understandably, I got angry. As I was carrying a long and a short knife, I took the short one and hit him on the head. Then I went off to my duties, as was customary, and stayed that night in the castle.

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