First English edition of the Nuremberg chronicle: being the Liber chronicarum of Dr. Hartmann Schedel…

The ancient historians have written very little about Germany, as though this nation lay beyond the circumference of the earth, and have said fanciful things about it. In reading of ancient times we learn that at one time the Germans lived according to coarse barbarian customs, wearing inferior and dilapidated raiment, and sustaining themselves by the capture of wild game, and by the fruits of the earth. They were a free and warlike people, but lacked gold, and used no wine. Germany, called Germania in the Latin, at one time embraced the territory from the sea to the Danube, and from the Rhine to the river Elbe, or Albis. Just how far the Germans overstepped their boundary is not known to us; but in addition to the territory they originally occupied, they also extended themselves into Gaul, Upper Rhaetia, Nordgau (Noricum), Lechfeld, and toward Poland. As we look upon the noble, highly renowned, and illustrious cities, the magnificent houses of God, the mighty and powerful princes and prelates of the German nation, we note that all things considered, no country excels Germany; so that, should one of the Germans living In the time of Emperor Augustus arise and make a pilgrimage through Germany (like Ariovistus), he would say that it is not the same soil which he once knew, and he would not recognize as his fatherland this country with its vineyards and fruit trees, the dress of the people, the hospitality of the burghers, the brilliance of the cities, the neatness of the police, and the general administration of the government. This change is to be attributed to nothing other than the acceptance of the Christian faith; for by it the Germans were relieved of their barbarian coarseness and became so refined that now the Greeks are considered coarse, while the Germans are regarded as Latins (in refinement). As we consider the new, or recollect the old, it appears that of all the nations fitted for war none are more capable or zealous than the Germans; for in this German nation are to be found horses, weapons, and money; many illustrious princes, many highborn nobles, many sturdy knights and courtiers; many mighty cities, much wealth, much gold, much silver, much iron ore; a large population, a great army, as well as great courage, power and strength. Although the boundaries of Germany, (as the ancients state), at one time were the Vistula on the east, the Rhine on the west, the Danube on the south, and the Prussian Sea on the north, we see how far the German nation has now expanded itself. The Germans conquered England after the Britons were driven out. They also secured the Netherlands and the Swiss or Alsatian countries after the Gauls or French had been ejected; and they overran Upper Rhaetia and Noricum, and extended their dominions into Italy. The Germans also withdrew the people called the Hulmigeros, or Prussians, from the grip of idolatry. The Bohemians, a mighty and noble people, are the only foreigners located in the German domain; but they call themselves subjects of the German empire. Among the electors of the Empire their king is the most distinguished. The Germans are great, strong, warlike, and acceptable to God; and thus they have enlarged their dominions. They resisted the Roman power and might more than any other nation; for although Julius Caesar, the oppressor of the entire world, and the people within its circumference, after fighting and crushing the Gauls and French, led a number of expeditions across the Rhine, performing great feats in Germany, yet he was obliged to leave unconquered and untamed the free, warlike, and courageous Swabian people. Augustus Octavius, who above all Roman emperors was considered the most fortunate and universally favored, and whom the kings of Parthia and those of India sent gifts and presents, was never defeated in battle except by the Germans. It would require too much space to describe here all the mischief, the losses, and the distress which the Germans inflicted upon the Romans; for although the Germans were at times obliged to retreat in the face of Roman successes, they later frequently gave battle to the Romans, Gauls, French, Spaniards, Hungarians, and various other peoples, and triumphed over them. The Romans also after attaining great power, performed notable deeds with the help and assistance of the Germans, who proved themselves very fit in military matters, and so trustworthy and faithful in private affairs that they were selected from among many as the body guard of the emperor. We also know that Godfrey of Lorraine, with only the Rhenish Germans, a number of Gauls and a few Italians, defeated the Hungarians, forced his way through Greece, marched through Hellespontus, traversed Asia, relieved Jerusalem from the power of the infidels; and, although the Turks and Saracens opposed him in great number, he subjugated all the people on his way. His army is said to have consisted of 200,000 warriors; but Germany can collect a much larger body of men; for during the reign of King Conrad the Swabian, when Pope Eugenius incited the Christians against the Saracens for the succor of the Holy Land, and the Prussians with other people of the hinterland worshipped idolatrous gods, and the Saxons and their neighbors overran the Christians, King Conrad left the Saxons and their neighbors, and the Prussians and other unbelievers behind; and he proceeded to Jerusalem with the Rhinelanders, Swabians, Franks and Bavarians. How long and how broad this country; how devout, how truthful, how righteous, how loyal, and how rich in people and possessions is this German nation; how noble, how strong, how versed and experienced in war; how elegant its churches, and how celebrated and distinguished its clergy; how magnanimous its princes; how illustrious and brilliant its cities; how beautiful its skies, how fertile its soil, and how neat the countryside,- all these we would rather marvel at than relate. But since this work, entitled the book of histories, is now about to go forth in the imperial city of Nuremberg, which is located in the very heart of Germany, we will, in conclusion, make a few brief references to Germany and, in connection therewith, to the history (of Europe) by Aeness Silvius (Pope Pius II) and of the times of Emperor Frederick III comprehended therein, and which we have drawn upon and condensed, not giving the text as fully as the Latin from which it is taken; for in various parts of this book matters have already been related whereof the history of Aeneas makes mention. Moreover, the German text could not proceed beyond the scope of the Latin.