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

Lacedemonia (Lacedaemon) was a city in the land of Litaonie (Laconia, Laconica, or Loconice), in Achaea, and it was built by Lacedaemon, the son of Jove, of which Greece has its name. The same city was also called Sparta. But Herodotus states that Lacedemonia was a country, and Sparta was a city in it; yet the names have been used interchangeably. Justinus states why it was called Sparta and he says the people called Spartans had their beginning in the 50th year of King Ozie, after the death of Althumenis,[Probably Althemenes, son of Catreus, king of Crete. In consequence of an oracle that Catreus would lose his life at the hands of one of his children, Althemenes left Crete and went to Rhodes. There he unwittingly killed his father, who had come in search of his son.] the king of the Lacedaemonians, and after the destruction of their kingdom. And Cicero writes of the Spartan virgins, who were more assiduous in the development of their bodies for the action of knighthood, than in the acquisition and birth of children. Therefore (as Virgil states), they were also to be distinguished from others by the manner of their dress. The first king of the Lacedaemonians was Eurystheus,[Legendary king of Argos.] a Greek, in the 98th year of Abraham. Agesilaus[Agesilaus I, was the sixth king of the Agid line at Sparta, excluding Aristodemus. According to Apollodorus, he reigned forty-four years, and died in 886 BCE. Pausanius makes his reign a short one, but contemporaneous with the reign of Lycurgus.] was their 6th king, and he, by reason of his exemplary conduct is worthy of immortality. He descended from Hercules and conquered the land in his youth. He was a man of fidelity and faith. Lycurgus[Lycurgus was the reputed founder of the Spartan Constitution. About him it is not possible to make a single statement that is not called into question. Many scholars, indeed, suppose him to be in reality a god or hero. If this is so, he is probably to be connected with the cult of Apollo Lycius or that of Zeus Lycaeus. Tradition agrees in placing him in the 9th century.] was a prince and lawgiver of the Lacedaemonians, and a highly enlightened man. Among the learned he was looked upon as a man of high esteem. Concerning him, Plutarch, Valerius, Justinus and Aristotle have written much.

Laconia, Laconica, or Lacedaemon, in the southeastern part of the Peloponnese, is referred to by Homer only under the latter name, which is its most ancient one. He applies it to the city as well as to its capital. The usual name as found among the Greek writers, was Laconica, though the form Lacedaemon also continued to be used. The Romans called the country Laconica, Laconice, and Laconis. These names are applied to the whole free population of Laconia, both to the Spartan citizens and the Perioeci, old Achaean inhabitants who had become tributary to the Spartans and possessed no political rights. The Helots were also a portion of the old Achaean population; but they had been reduced to a state of slavery.

The Lacedaemonians are said to have derived their name from a mythical hero, Lacon, or Lacedaemon, their progenitor. The plain of Sparta is the very heart of the country, and accordingly, it was at all times the seat of the ruling class; and from it the whole country received its name. The city of Sparta was located on the right bank of the Eurotas (Iri), about twenty miles from the sea. The nearest modern town in the neighborhood is Mystra. During the flourishing times of Greek independence Sparta was never protected by a wall, since the bravery of its citizens, and the difficulty of access, were supposed to render such defenses unnecessary. Walls were not girded about it until the time of the Romans.

Sparta is said to have been founded by Lacedaemon, son of Zeus and Taygete, who married Sparta, the daughter of Eurotas, and called the chief city after the name of his wife.

From various causes the Spartans became distracted by internal quarrels, until at length Lycurgus, who belonged to the royal family, was selected by all those involved to give a new constitution to the State. This document laid the foundation for Sparta’s greatness; for she soon became aggressive and extended her sway over the greater part of the Peloponnese. Within later years this supremacy passed to Athens, then back to Sparta, then to Thebes, and finally to Philip of Macedon.

Mercury was experienced in many arts. These he taught the people, and was regarded as a god. All the poets write that he was the first messenger and interpreter of the gods. He was also the god of eloquence and the patron of merchants. He was also the messenger of thieves and the interpreter of the gods. He discovered the lyre of seven strings, and was highly learned in all the sciences, particularly in the natural sciences; for (as they say) he waked the dead by means of his plants and herbs. For these reasons he was considered one of the gods after his death, and the star Mercury was named after him.

Bacchus first discovered wine in Greece, and he was held to be a god. He also introduced wine into other regions, and taught the Germans how to brew barley.

Omagirus was the first to introduce the use of oxen in plowing and husbandry.

In this third age the women, called Amazons (Scythian women), ruled for 100 years, and concerning them we have in this book before written. With cruel wars they brought many cities of Asia and Europe under their sway. Their queens were Marsepia and Lambeta, Sinope, Anthiopa, Ipolite, Orothia and Penthesilea, who slew Pyrrhus, the son of Achilles before Troy.


The city of Lacedaemon (or Sparta) is illustrated by a general landscape, here used for the first time. It is a walled town, consisting largely of defensive structures, showing that the citizens are not relying for security on their bravery alone, as did the ancient Spartans. To help out the application of the illustration let us assume that the time is after the advent of the Romans, who walled up the city. But there are other difficulties; for over the gate of the castle, at the left, we see a coat of arms, apparently displaying an eagle with wings outspread; while to the extreme right a gothic spire is outlined against the sky. In the foreground is a circular structure with a balcony, apparently a watchtower. Behind the city walls we see rows of gabled houses, packed side by side, like barracks. The vegetation consists of a few blasted leafless trees. On a high hill in the background is another defensive structure—a castle or fort.


The same triple portrait of Amazon warriors, first introduced at Folio XIX verso, is here repeated, with a small amount of additional text naming the queens of the Amazons.


Mercury, Bacchus and Omagirus: The small portrait of Mercury does not have the slightest relation to the messenger of the gods—not a symbol, not an attribute is introduced. We have here just a wizened old man, selected for want of something else to fill the space.

Below him is Bacchus, who would at least make a good signboard to direct the thirsty traveler to a good glass of port. He wears a crown of leaves and holds forth a bunch of grapes.

Omagirus looks like a sturdy old husbandman, and in his hands he holds a yoke, a symbol of his calling.