The following incidents on Whit-sun 1533 in Leipzig were reported in a letter from Arnold Wüstenfeld. His letter was transcribed by Friedrich Zarncke 1857. “Arnoldus Woestefeldes” was the rector of the Leipzig University in the summer semester since April 23th 1533. It was his third period as a rector. Born 1477 in Lindau near Hannover he had been a Ingenuarium Artium Magister (studied magister) of the Seven Arts and a Baccalaureus Artium Theologicum (examined magister) when he was elected rector in April 1507. Twelve years later he was elected again. We have his comments on Cicero, Gilbertus Porretanus, Publius Ovidius Naso, and others in the BVB Munich in his handwriting.
The following map illustrates the places of the incidents. The map was published by the famous Merian and is from 1650. A lot of city defense system changed in those 120 years but the streets had been the same. They exists until today, mostly with the same name in modern Leipzig.
4. June 1533 – The first day of the troubles
In the year 1533 at Exaudi, the first sunday after Eastern, the fencing-master Sebold Froschlein held a Fechtschul as usual. Along with drummers and pipers he went through the narrow streets of medieval Leipzig along the Collegia (the university buildings – green area in map). He had been coming from somewhere near the Ranstädter Tor (left most city gate on the map – it is actually south) on his way to the castle. Later at nine in the evening he came back along the Brühl, went through the Ritterstrasse, and ended in the churchyard at the end of that street drumming and piping with several followers from the craftsmen quarter (red line in the map). There the drummer changed his rhythm to a beat called “Lehrmanschlag” (what may be translated as “teachers beat”). This was quite offensive and well executed. The Brühl was a traditional craftsmen street. A lot of furriers worked and lived in that street and other craftsmen like carpenters too (blue area in map). They were well organized and especially the furriers and shoemakers were well known for taking proud to be traditional fencers. The records of the fencing guilds like the Marxbrüder acknowledge that.
The fencing master Sebold Froschlein was provoking the students (for reasons we do not know, but maybe there was the disturbing fact, that the university had a fencing-master on it’s payroll not belonging to the traditional fencing guilds – records say that there was a fencing-master in Jena in 1550 and in Rostock in 1560, of Leipzig we have no such record). The students were enraged but held back. Here and there some quarrel started as the students started their own drumming. But nobody was wounded and some of the university peopled talked to the furriers, pleaded them to move back. The furriers agreed and went back, but not so the fencing-masters and one carpenter. Ignoring that they were called “teaser” from their fellows they threw stones at the students.
12. June 1533 – Whitmonday
At Whitmonday, nine in the morning, two tailors and a apprentice run into two young students at the pharmacy at the market place (red dot in the map). They exchanged strong words. The students had been ordered by the university rector to stay out of trouble, and so they tried to step back. Not so the tailors, they attacked the students heavily until three other students appeared. The tailors fled. But help came too late and one student died. The pharmacists apprentice was ready to testify that the fencing-master had his part in this scene.
13. June 1533 – Tuesday
On Tuesday three students from Prague stepped out the house of Hyronimus Walter. They passed the eighth house and were suddenly attacked by three man with long knifes. If it was not for the citizens around watching and shouting the students would have been wounded mortally. The students fled and the just came six houses further and were attacked again by five men. They escaped hardly crossed the churchyard of the Nikolaichurch (green dot in the map) and reached their home.
On the same Tuesday a craftsman held a Fechtschul. The fencing-master held a defamatory speech against the students: “do we not have anything from scriptis” (from the books) and “but no stone throwing, that does not count here” (on the Fechtschul). And loud to his apprentice he said “Maybe I should throw one to frighten them again“. The students stayed calm as ordered by the rector.
On the evening of this day the fencing-master Froschlein had collected his fellow craftsmen, shoemakers, tailors and others too. They called them to the Ritterstrasse for some “bouts” with the students. He ordered a drummer to start at the Collegium Paulinum and meet them in the Ritterstrasse (green line on the map). But a furrier and citizen named Blasius Meiß, who listened to the the appeal of the students, slapped the boy on his face and said “If you were my kind I would teach you to drum a good Lehrmannschlag“.
Not long after that the fencing-master sent a boy to the students. They should not be bored because the craftsmen will come soon. And the boy carried the words “those frightened should wear a harness” to the students. Soon the craftsmen run up to the Collegia on the Nikolai churchyard (green dot). But the students stayed behind the university walls as ordered by rector until eight shoemakers with drawn weapons entered the Collegium near to the church. Because there were around 40 craftsmen following the students draw their weapons and fought back. A shoemaker was killed. Thus most of the craftsmen stayed at the churchyard and threw stones. Finally the students armed now chased the craftsmen from the place.
15. June 1533 Wednesday
At the next morning the funeral of the shoemaker took place. Peter Federmacher had sworn revenge with raised fingers as other craftsmen did. The promised to beat down students, doctors, and university service men. They harassed two unarmed students, intimidated the host of the Liebfrauen Collegium. The students left the college only in big groups. Thus the fencing-master and his followers could do no more then to poke out his tongue at the students and doctors. They assembled at the churchyard. Later at seven in the evening they went with drawn weapons to the Collegium Paulinum and threatened to enter. Later the town judge came with several citizens and watchmen to the place. He ordered to open the gate of the Collegium Paulinum for him. But the Magister Gottfried denied. The craftsmen tried to open the gate with their large knifes and called out to use a wagon to open it. Others threw stones at the building so that every window was broken. Seeing that the judge gave order to scatter the mob. Which was done.
In the following of those events the university broke up the semester and the majority students left Leipzig. The rector Arnold Wüstenfeld wrote to Duke George and the captain of the castle asking for support. Otherwise the university would decay. This had been not the first time and it was not the last. Having half of the city inhabited by young students raised often trouble. The feud with the furriers and shoemakers had a tradition. The first records of events reach back to 1471 and 1521. Six years after the events of 1533 again the majority of the students fled the city and studied in Wittenberg. Nine years later the students threatened again to leave the city. Each time the rector and the duke reestablished a truce.
1471 – Six Shoemakers (namely the brothers Lorenz, Peter, and Stephan Stock, and Peter Tyle, Matthis Schmidt, Valentin Schmidt) declared a feud against the university. Together with three fellow shoemakers the plundered three of the colleges. The dukes Albrecht and Ernst answered that with the order to any citizen of Saxony to arrest the shoemakers and lock them up. Soon the feud ended.
1482 – The duke gave out an edict that attacks against the rector of the university will be punished by death.
1521 – This time the students and the university stuff declared a feud against the city counsel and the city servants. Again there was trouble that the dukes had to take care of.
1533 – A student and a craftsmen died in the events listened above.
1539 – The university blamed craftsmen for attacking students in two letters to duke Heinrich.
1539 – Request of the town counsel regarding a ban of weapons for students and craftsmen.
1545 – It was forbidden by the dukes order for any student or craftsmen to carry “wehre, büchssen, bleikugeln oder anders” (arms, guns, munition etc.). This order was renewed by the rector and the town major each quarter of the year.
1567 – The duke’s order separated the craftsmen apprentice from the students in the Fechtschulen.
Arnold Wüstenfeld died 1540.
Books used in this article:
Die urkundlichen Quellen zur Geschichte der Universität Leipzig in den ersten 150 Jahren ihres Bestehens, Friedrich Zarncke, Königlich Sächsische Gesellschaft der Wissenschaften zu Leipzig. Philologisch-Historische Klasse, Bei S. Hirzel, 1857