The following is a transcription of letter of Hans Talhoffer to the knight Erhard Haller in Nürnberg. It is part of the Case of Hans Villenbach. The file is to be found in the Staatsarchiv Nürnberg Reichsstadt Nürnberg, Losungamt, 7-farbiges Alphabet, Urkunden 874. It was written at 1435 February 2nd. The letter bears the sigil of Hans Talhoffer identical with the letter of receipt he gave to the archbishop of Salzburg and other letters.
To the honorable and steadfast Erhard Haller, knight to Nürnberg, my mericiful master
Honorable wise gracious noble Sir, my humble service your gracious, I am willing. As I have written to you by my last messenger, I was waiting at Passau and Hals for three weeks. I did not receive any message by you. I have ordered a messenger by myself, but if he came back to me, I did not see him again.
Gracious Sir, as you have written to me, I will loyally give my reverence to you. I would love to meet you. You know that you and my masters of Nürnberg and their men must give me safe conduct. I will do and be loyally to them according to the content of your letter. I will keep you copied in.
Gracious Sir, I have such a support, by my confidence in God. I want to have my revenge on Villenbach. Recently I waited to ambush him at a ford, at that day he had been to Julbach at Kaspar Achheimer. To this there is a lot more, that I wish to put open to your request.
Gracious Sir I don’t want to stay, as it is going a bit chaotic here in Passau. I beg your gracious that you write to me to the house of Von Schindau in Vienna, if I should come or how I should handle the matter. I will do loyally so. If necessary I will try to wait for another five weeks, you can find me here.
Gracious Sir I commend myself to your mercy. Given at Halls on the Friday next to our beloved virgin day at Candlemas 35 year.
In the second today still existing letter Hans Talhoffer reminds his commander to write to him and send him a letter of safe conduct. After laying down a false testimony which accused high Nürnberg merchants and members of the city council to be involved in the murder of Wilhelm von Villenbach, Hans Talhoffer wants to undo the problems and trouble he caused. He swears that he was forced to give the false testimony to Hans von Villenbach to save his life. Now he wants to do two things: he wants to come to Nürnberg and give a new testimony in front of the nobles in which he will present new facts. For this he needs a letter of safe conduct. Next thing is that he wants to lay hands on Hans von Villenbach and tries to catch him and bring him to Nürnberg or any other place that will suit his case. Nürnberg was indeed interested to get Hans von Villenbach into custody. It would solve a lot of problems. There was a price of 50 Gold Gulders on the head of this knight.
It is noteworthy that Talhoffer is telling that he had been ambushing a knight. Beside the judicial implications it shows that he is capable of laying hands on a well armed and experienced warrior. By several accounts the capability of the Villenbach knights to use their weapons is reported. Talhoffer could not have done such a deed alone. He had armed helpers and support.
The communication to the knight Erhard Haller had not been easy due to him riding with the Hungarian King Sigismund to Rome (1433-1434), where the king became the emperor and the knight became a “real knight”. Knightship had several meanings, first that you will bring at least three armored horses into the service (Erhard and his brother Paul brought in a dozen), second that you are of a noble birth, third that you have completed a pilgrimage at least to the bridge over the river Tiber in Rome or to the holy grave in Jerusalem where you get knighted (Erhard Haller did both journeys).
Hans Talhoffer announces that he will leave Passau, where he had waited already for some weeks for news out of Nürnberg. His next stay will be the house of a knight in Vienna.
Article on the full Case of Wilhelm von Villenbach.
Sam edlen und westen errharten haller Ritter zu nurenberg meinen gnädigen herns
Ersam weisser gnädiger heberer herr Mein williger undertänig dienst seyen
ewer gnaden mit willen berayd alß ich euch bey dem nästen boten geschriben
han ich gewart zu bassaw und zu halß dery bochen und ist mir kain
bottschaft von euch worden und hab selb ainenm botten geben ??? groß der
von euch wider zü mir kam den hab ich nit mer gesechen gnädiger her
als ir mir geschriben habt welich meiner erbietung getrewlich nach komen
So müg ich mich wol nächter zu euch fügen und euch daß zu wissen
tun und mir ewer genad ain gelayd zu gesagt hat von meiner herenß
von nurenberg und den iren dß ich mich ganz halt und ich trewlich och
hallten weill gegen Inen nach ewerß briefß inhalt dß ich euch aber ain
abgeschrifft sende & genedigr her ich habe solch gehilffen daß ich gott
getraw ich woll mich rechenn an den fillenbach wan ich itzo in ainer
fürtz auf in gelegen bin dien tag dar isd er gewessen zu iulbach bey
dem Kasper achhaimer darvon ir och mit fil fromeß habt ettlich me
die ich langt ewer gerenn geoeffnett heit genödiger her ich möcht mich
nicht langer enhalten wan eß gett fast durch an ander ietz zu bassaw
und bitt ewer genad daß ir mir schreibt zu wienn in deß von schindaw
haus wa ich bin komen scholl oder wie ich den sachen nach komen daß
will ich drewlich dun und wan eß eber wiert so mag ich bas wersechen
dan ietz und will ewer bottschafft warten sein noch fünff wochen
uff dey zeitt will ich mich finden lassen genädiger her lasst
mich ewer genadenn empfellen geben zu halls am nechsten freytag
nach unßer liebenn frwawen tag zu leichtemeß xxxv jar
Table of persons:
Hans Talhoffer was hired like other mercenaries in the early 1430s to fight against the Hussites under the command of the captain Erhard Haller. There was a battle in 1431, a time Hans Talhoffer was enlisted in the payroll. Next to the duty in the war he was regularily ordered to execute judicial services, and escortes for merchant goods.[RHN-Sander]
Erhard Haller, the noble knight, judge belongs to a old family (see German Wikipedia article on the Haller family – not a trustworthy source but good enough for an impression). This part of the family stems from Hersbruck 30km near Nürnberg. The family owned a castle in Eckental since the end of the 14th century. Erhard Haller was in the duty of Nürnberg and a member of the city council. Together with his brother Paul he travelled with the King Sigismund at the 13 May 1433 to Rome. He brought in 12 full harnessed horses and was knighted there in 1434 at bridge of the river Tiber soon after the king became the emperor Sigismund. The Nürnberg council payed a lot of money to get their council members there together with some papers. By this the new crowned emperor signed the letters of privilege before any other city could have the chance to send a higher bribe sum. According to the records of the city Erhard Haller did not return before end of July 1434. Later Erhart Haller travelled to Jerusalem and according to the chronicles he died in 1437.[Chroniken]
[RHN-Sander] Die reichsstädtische Haushaltung Nürnbergs, dargestellt auf Grund ihres Zustandes von 1431 bis 1440, Paul Sander, 1902, pp. 157
[Chroniken] Die Chroniken der fränkischen Städte: Nürnberg. Auf Veranlassung und mit Unterstützung Seiner Majestät des Könige von Bayern Maximilian II. herausgegeben durch die Historische Commission bei der Königl. Academie der Wissenschaften, Band 1
S. Hirzel, 1862