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1434 März 20 blog

The following is a transcription of an “open letter” containing a witnessed confession of Hans Talhoffer in regard of a murder done by fellow  mercenaries in the duty of Nürnberg merchants. The file is to be found in the Staatsarchiv Nürnberg Reichsstadt Nürnberg, Losungamt, 7-farbiges Alphabet, Urkunden 873. It was written at 1434 März 20.

The letter is a copy of the original document, it does not bear the sigil of the named witnesses but bears the sigil of Hans Talhoffer identical with the letter of receipt he gave to the archbishop of Salzburg and further letters.

Translation

I Hans Talhoffer say and tell openly by this letter to everyone of the evil and wrongdoing that I have done to the honorable and steadfast brothers Hans and Wilhelm von Villenbach. Therefore Hans von Villenbach had taken me into custody at the fortress of Salzburg to have me condemned as if it hat been my guilt. Thus the stern and steadfast knight Hans Kuchler and his honorable wife Katharina appealed to Hans von Villenbach to free me from imprisonment, if I would do an oath by god and by the saints to tell the truth: what happened to his brother Wilhelm von Villenbach (who he lost and was murdered), who had taken part in this, and who did this to him. Thus I will tell him the truth and will not cease whether be it because of love or sorrow, on the oath that I have sworn to him. The oath and the testemony was witnessed by the pious and steadfast Heinrich Pienzenauer, Hans Zaunrid, Johannes Hartlieb, and Jörg Schottel. All four are lay judges and here on my request for legal reasons in the following matter.

  • Hereby I Hans Talhoffer state by good free will and unforced by being set unbound and free, and on the oath I have sworn:Hans Siegwein and Jakob Auer of Nürnberg had talked to me and offered me a payment of 60 Gulden a year for my lifetime if I could capture Hans von Villenbach for them. So did the following persons: Hans Talhoffer, Hans Goldner, Rüdiger Freis (Jakob Auer’s servant), a servant of Schütz named Fritz Hiern, Lienhart Leutrer (Hans Lepach’s servant), all the time in duty of Nürnberg.
  • Furthermore I do state how Wilhelm von Villenbach was brought from life to death:This had been done by Andres Kräenzagel, Fritz Baier, Hans Pesler, Hans Ott, Fritz Stumpf, Albrecht Jud. The latter had told me personally he had stabbed him and that they had thrown him into the river Danube somewhere between Graisbach and Schönfeld. After that those four rode home to Nürnberg. Where they are in service all the time.
  • Furthermore I state that when the acts, how the former listed treated Wilhelm von Willenbach, became known to me, the mayors of Nürnberg, Volkmair and Hans Ortlieb forbid to tell anyone about it by my strict oath (of duty). In exchange they lend me a horse.
  • Furthermore Lienhard Ploben addressed me at Nürnberg, wanting to be a good customer and pay a ransom on Hans von Villenbach. I sent him to those named above. In what they agreed I don’t know.

All that said above will be documented and handed by me to Hansen von Villenbach and his heirs and friends in an open letter, sealed by the named strict and steadfast knight Hans Kuchler and brother Friedrich Lampordinger.

Attached sigils added below on my request without any loss of honor on my appeal by sealing are the witnesses the wise and steadfast Jörg Prakker, Nicklas Gernstetter, Friedrich Gainsberg, Stefan Dachsberger, Christian Squringer. These are honorable men enough. Written at Saturday before Palm Sunday, 1434.

Comments

Hans Talhoffer was not the only one who had the chance to win the ransom on the knights of Villenbach. Hans Kremser was in duty for 50 Gulden yearly from 1434 to 1438. He was offered a price of 100 Gulden if he would catch Hans von Villenbach [RHN-Sander].

darum schuepfen sy mir ein pferd” means to give a mercenary a horse. The horse is not owned by the mercenary but by the city. If the horse dies of sickness or in a fight the horse is replaced. This would mean to raise the income of the mercenary as he is now a rider and not a soldier on foot anymore.

A great amount of the mercenaries accused had been in fact in service for Nürnberg reported by the account books of the city.

The place where the dead body of Wilhelm von Villenbach is dropped into the river Danube is near the mouth of the river Lech into the Danube. It is described by two small villages on both sides of the river delta ca. 4km direct distance from each other.

Article on the full Case of Wilhelm von Villenbach.

Transcription

Ich Hanns talhoffer beckenn und vergich offenleich mit disem brieff und aller menchleich von solichs ubels und unrechts wegen So ich pegangen hann an den vesten hannsen und wilhalm von villibach gepruder darumb mich hans von villibach zu Salzpurg gefangen hat und ynn die franfest gelegt hat und mich mit recht geferttigt wolt haben als ich das wohl verschult han So hat mich der streng und vest
Ritter herr hanns kchuchler und die edel fraw kchartherina des obgenannten her hannssen kuchler hawsfraw erpeten das mich hanns von villibach der vanknus ledig gelassen hat auf Solich mas das ich ynn ain gelerten aid geswarn he mit auffgeboten umgern zw got und zw heiligen geswarn han ynn die warhait Zw sagen wie [radiert] seinen pruder wilhalm von villibach geschehen sey den er verloren hat und ym ermort ist warden von vem es her gee und wer diesem die es getan haben dabey So ich ym sagen die warhait und nicht lassen weder durch lieb noch durch laid und auff den aid den ich ym geswarn han pey dem aid und der Sag sind gebessen die frommen und vesten hainreich preczenauwer hans czawnrued hanns hartlieb Jorig Schotl all vier freischopffen die sind der ob und nachgeschriben Sach recht recht czewegen durch meiner fleissigen pet willen Also beken ich hans talhoffer mit gueten freyen willen und un peczwungenleich das ich ledig und las gestanden pin und auf den aid den ich geswarn han Also ist es an mich pracht wurden von hannsen Sigwein Jakoben awer von Nuernberg die czwen habe mit mir geret von hansen von villibach wegen wen ich yn pracht gefangen yn ir gewalt darumb haben Sy mir versprochen mein Lebteg jerleich zw geben Sechzig gulden Also haben wir nachgeschieben mit namen hans talhoffer hanns goldner ruedel frais Jakoben awers cknecht und ainer des schuczen chkecht fritz hiern lienhardt lauttrar hanns leppachs chnecht all die czeut der von Nuenberg chnecht. Item ich tue auch zewissen wie Wilhalm von villibach von leben zum tod pracht ist warden die haben die nachgeschriben mit namen getan Andre Kraczlan fritz pair hans pester hans ott fritz stumpf albrech Jud hat mir Selb gesagt er hab ym erstochen und haben yn zwischen graisspach und schanneldh yn die tunaw geworffen und Sind darnach zw vierd durch geriten haim gen Nuernberg und Sind die czeit alhir cknecht gebesen Item ich tue zw wissen da mir der handl ckund ward wie die obgenennten mit wilhalm von villebach umbgangen warn do verputten mir die purger maister zw nuernberg mit namen der volkmair und hans ortlieb per meinem starkken aid das ichs nimant mer sagen solt darum schuepfen sy mir ein pferd Item lienhart vboln ckam zw mir gen Nuernberg und sagt mir er wolt geut ckuntschafft machen und geben Auf Hansen von villibach den schikkat Ich zw den obgenannten die mit mir geret hetten wes er mit yn aing nanden ist des wiß ich ich nicht Aller obgeschriben sach und wart Zw urkund der warhait gib ich mich hannsen von villibach und al seinen erben und frwnten den offen brief versiegelt mit des obegenannten strengen und vesten ritter herhansen chuchler und mit des festen friedrich lamppottinger pruder anhang unden ynsigle die sy durch meiner fleige  fleissigen pet willn darin gehengt haben yn und von erber ain schaden der pet umb die ynn Sigle Sind czeug die weyssen vesten Jorig prackker niklas gernstetter fridrich gaingsperg steffan dachsperger kristan sewesinger und sind erber Lewt genüg Geben am samstag vor dem Heilligen palem tag doman czelt von kristn gepurd virzehen hundert Jar darnach und dem vierunddreissigisten Jahre etc

Table of persons:

Mercenaries paid to capture Hans von Villenbach:

Hans Talhoffer, the later famous fencing master

Hans Goldner, probably Hans Pötlinger, a mercenary with a horse in duty for Nürnberg between 1431-1440, reference [RHN-Sander]

Rüdiger Freis (Riedel Freis), Jakoben Auer‘s servant, a mercenary with a horse in duty for Nürnberg between 1431-1440, reference [RHN-Sander]

Fritz Hiern, Schuzen’s servant. Hans Schütz was a mercenary with a horse in duty for Nürnberg between 1431-1440, reference [RHN-Sander]

Lienhardt Leutrer (Lauttrar), Hans Lepach‘s chnecht, probably Andres Leutrer, a mercenary with a horse in duty for Nürnberg between 1431-1440, reference [RHN-Sander]

The accused of murder:

Andres Kräenzagel (Kraczlan), a mercenary with a horse in duty for Nürnberg between 1431-1440, reference [RHN-Sander]

Fritz Baier (Pair), a mercenary with a horse in duty for Nürnberg between 1431-1440, reference [RHN-Sander]

Hans Pesler (Pestler), a mercenary with a horse in duty for Nürnberg between 1431-1440, reference [RHN-Sander]

Hanns Ott, a mercenary with a horse in duty for Nürnberg between 1431-1440, reference [RHN-Sander]

Fritz Stumpf, no reference found

Albrecht Rietenburger (Jud), a mercenary with a horse in duty for Nürnberg between 1431-1440, reference [RHN-Sander]

Paying for it:

Hans Siegwein is a successful merchant in Nuremberg had been in Venice at least in 1420, 1431 [Fondaco dei Tedeschi]

Jakob Auer, merchant in Nuremberg had been in Venice at least in 1418, 1420, 1431 [Fondaco dei Tedeschi]

Merchants of Mürnberg:

Hans Volkmair, member of a known Nürnberg  patrician family of Volkmair, multiple references

Hans Ortlieb the younger, member of a known Nürnberg  patrician family, member of the city council by heritage, connected to the Stromer merchant society. Multiple references.

Lienhard von Ploben (Lienhart vboln), member of the Nürnberg honorable family of Ploben, connected to the Stromer merchant society. Multiple references e.g. in Paradiesgarten oder Gefängnis?: das Nürnberger Katharinenkloster zwischen Klosterreform und Reformation, Barbara Steinke, 2006

Witnesses of the confession:

Heinrich Pienzenauer, a mercenary knight or squire, references:

  • Salzburg, Erzstift (798-1806) AUR 1427 VII 23, giving receipt at 23th July 1427 to Archbishop Eberhard.
  • Salzburg, Erzstift (798-1806) AUR 1427 IX 17 (27), giving receipt at 17th September 1427 to Archbishop Eberhard for service as a mercenary.
  • Salzburg, Erzstift (798-1806) AUR 1431 VI 30, declaration of commitment of duty as mercenaries at the 30 June 1431 to Archbishop Johann to fight for 3 months against the heathens in Bohemia.
  • Salzburg, Erzstift (798-1806) AUR 1430 VII 28, declaration of commitment of duty at the 28th July 1430 to Archbishop Johann.
  • Salzburg, Erzstift (798-1806) AUR 1431 VII 04, giving receipt together with Hans Lampodinger at 4th July 1431 to Archbishop Johann
  • Salzburg, Erzstift (798-1806) AUR 1432 V 05, declaration of commitment of duty given 5th May 1432 to Archbishop Johann
  • Salzburg, Erzstift (798-1806) AUR 1432 VI 16, giving receipt together with Hans Lampodinger at 16th June 1432 in Burghausen for expenses on the crusade in Bohemia.
  • Salzburg, Erzstift (798-1806) AUR II 27, giving receipt on expenses at 27th February 1436 to Archbishop Johann

Hans Zaunrid (Zaunrud), knight and bailiff of Möörmosen, references:

  • Sammlung historischer schriften und urkunden: Geschöpt aus handschriften, Bände 1-2, Max Freiherr von Freyberg, 1827, p. 235, transcription of a letter of Hans Zanrud as a juryman at a vehmic court 1424.
  • BayHStA Kurbayern Äußeres Archiv 1146, fol. 93r-94r, a dispute of Hans Zaunrud with Heinrich dem Reichen in regard of the jurisdiction of Möörmosen around 1441.

Johannes Hartlieb, well known medicus and doctor of science, multiple references and books

Jörg Schottel, serviceman to Archbishop Johann, references:

  • Salzburg, Erzstift (798-1806) AUR 1429 – 1440, sigil as witness
  • Allgemeine Urkundenreihe AT-KLA 418-B-A 1045 St, letter of receipt

Keeper of the document (copy):

Friedrich Lampodinger, mercenary knight or squire, part of the Lampodinger family in the service of the Archbishops of Salzburg, multiple references (see references for Hans Lampodinger)

  • Salzburg, Erzstift (798-1806) AUR 1431 VI 30, together with other mercenaries for services in Bohemia against the heathen at 30th June 1431
  • Salzburg, Erzstift (798-1806) AUR 1431 X 02, giving receipt at 2nd October 1431 for expenses on the crusade in Bohemia.

Hans Kuchler, high knight in the service of the Archbishop of Salzburg, multiple references, ordered a book by Johannes Hartlieb. See 

Witnesses of sealing:

Jörig Prakker, no references found

Niklas Gernstetter, no references found

Friedrich Gansperger, no references found

Stefan Dachsberger, there are several members of the Dachsberger family listed in the files of the Erzstift Salzburg in duty of the Archbishops but no “Stefan”.

Christian Seuringer (Kristan Sewrsinger), multiple namings of Seuringer family members but no Christian.

References

[RHN-Sander] Die reichsstädtische Haushaltung Nürnbergs, dargestellt auf Grund ihres Zustandes von 1431 bis 1440, Paul Sander, 1902, pp. 157

[Fondaco dei Tedeschi] Der Fondaco dei Tedeschi in Venedig und die deutsch-venetianischen Handelsbeziehungen. Quellen und Forschungen, Henry Simonsfeld, Volume: 2, Stuttgart, J.G. Cotta, 1887

Special thanks

To Paul Becker for some really good hints that helped me in my research on this letter and the background.

Places

Salzburg, Austria