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

Mainz (Maguncia), a city and archbishopric of Germany, was begun at the time of the destruction of Troy, by Maguntius, a Trojan, after whom the city was named. So Carinus states in his Chronicles. It is located on the river Rhine. Drusus Nero, who is called Germanicus after the German nation, greatly enhanced the reputation of this city and the praise bestowed upon it during the time he was conducting a war against the German states beyond the Rhine. A horse fell upon him and broke his leg, and he died thirty days later. Nero Claudius having heard of his brother’s illness, came at once; and he took his corpse to Rome. It was laid in the grave of Julius, the emperor. The great deeds performed by Drusus Nero on the Rhine are mentioned by Tacitus and other historians.[Nero Claudius Drusus was the son of Tiberius Claudius Nero and Livia, and he was the stepson of Augustus, and the younger brother of the emperor Tiberius. From youth he was liked by the people. His manners were affable, his conduct beyond reproach. He was greatly trusted by Augustus, who employed him in important offices. He carried on the war against the Germans and penetrated far into the interior. In the year 12 CE he drove the Sicambri and their allies out of Gaul, crossed the Rhine, followed the river down to the ocean, and subdued the Frisians. Three succeeding campaigns brought him to the river Elbe. He resolved to cross it but is said to have been deterred by the apparition of a woman of unusual stature, who, speaking to him in Latin, said: "Where are you going, insatiable Drusus? The fates forbid you to advance. Away! The end of your deeds and of your life is near." On the return of the army to the Rhine, Drusus died of a fractured leg, which happened through a fall from his horse. Upon receiving news of the serious illness of Drusus, Tiberius immediately crossed the Alps, and after traveling with extraordinary speed, arrived in time to close the eyes of his brother. He brought the body to Italy where it was burned in the field of Mars, and the ashes deposited in the tomb of Augustus. Germanicus Caesar, the Roman general and provincial governor, was his son. The name Germanicus, the only one by which he was known in history, he inherited form his father. He was adopted by his uncle Tiberius, with whom he fought against the Germans.] At Mainz are to be found good specimens of antiquity. Some say that this city was completed by Paulinus Pompeius, the Roman commander of the forces in Germany under Nero, the emperor. The archbishop of this city aids in the election of the Roman emperor[Paulinus Pompeius had command of the Roman forces in Germany in 58 CE. Seneca dedicated to him his treatise .]. The city has in it (the body of) the most holy man, Albanus the martyr. Not far removed from Mainz is Frankfurt, the noble industrial center, where the upper and lower Germans meet twice a year. And there also the emperor is elected according to ancient custom. The river Main flows by it. Ptolemy calls it the Obrigma. He states that this river separates the High Germans from the Low Germans, and there is no other river that makes such a division. Even today the Low Germans extend to Mainz, while beyond this point the inhabitants are called High Germans. The river has its source in the mountains near Bohemia, and from the region of Mainz it flows into the Rhine. Some believe that Mainz was named after the river. In this city are to be seen large open courts and buildings in the Roman style as well as many other ruins and relics of war.

Mainz was a pre-Roman settlement, and there Drusus, the stepson of Augustus, erected a fortified camp about 13 BCE. The castellum Mattiacorum (the modern Castel) on the opposite bank, was afterwards added to it, the two being connected with a bridge at the opening of the Christian era. The earlier name became latinized as Maguntiacum, Moguntiacum, Maguncia and Maguntia, and a town gradually arose around the camp, which became the capital of Germania Superior. At certain times Mainz suffered severely, being destroyed on different occasions by the Alamanni, the Vandals and the Huns. Charlemagne, who had a palace in the neighborhood, gave privileges to Mainz, which rose rapidly in wealth and importance.

In 1244 certain rights of self-government were given to the citizens of Mainz; and in 1254 it was the center and mainspring of a powerful league of Rhenish towns. According to legend the first bishop of Mainz was a disciple of the Apostle Paul. He preached among the Roman battalions about the year 82 while they were stationed here, and here he died a martyr. In 1462 there was warfare between two rival archbishops. The citizens, having espoused the losing cause, were deprived of their privileges. Many were driven into exile, and these carried into other lands knowledge of the art of printing which had been invented at Mainz by Johann Gutenberg in 1450. Mainz still retains many relics of the Roman period, notably the Eigelstein, believed to have been erected by Roman legions to Drusus.


7-3/4" x 8-3/4"

This landscape, representing the ancient city of Mainz, is here used for the first time. We are on the river Main, which appears to have a very strong current at this point. A delicate young lad is ferrying three passengers across the river in a rather fantastic boat. Other and larger craft appear in the background.

Christianity was introduced into Mainz in the middle of the eighth century under Boniface. The city became an archbishopric, and to this the primacy of Germany was soon annexed. Considering its ecclesiastical distinction, it is only fair and just that this ancient archepiscopal city should be well supplied with cathedrals and churches. Of these, two appear behind the battlements, occupying the greater part of the town. In the year 1160 the citizens of Mainz revolted against their archbishop and three years later the walls of the city were pulled down by order of Frederick I. But here we see them restored, tightly girding the city about. From the farther side of the walls roads lead into the hills and rocky country in the distance.

Along the river runs a road or natural wharf, and there lie nine barrels awaiting shipment. These barrels or casks were of much importance to merchants in the days when the Chronicle was written. One of the most serious difficulties with which shippers had to contend was inclement weather. Although the roads were not always passable, commerce encountered little difficulty on the main highways. The most serious problem was to keep merchandise dry and free from weather damage, for it had to be carted great distances on wagons that did not give sufficient protection against the elements. For instance, carters required five weeks to make the journey from Nuremberg to Basle and return, sometimes longer, depending on the season of the year and weather conditions. It was necessary to wrap each piece of merchandise separately.

Anton Koberger, publisher of the Chronicle, carried on an extensive book business. Shipping cases were not suitable for this class of merchandise, as they did not keep out rain and moisture. On the other hand, barrels were readily obtainable, were generally well made and water proof. They were easy to open, without damage to the container, and could therefore be used again and again, unless, perhaps, they were broken open by highwaymen.

It is not difficult to imagine that some of these barrels lying on the wharf may have come from or were destined to Nuremberg; for in such containers it was the custom of the Kobergers to ship their wares, and in such containers the Chronicle itself was no doubt originally distributed to its first purchasers all over the continent of Europe by wagons.

It was in the city of Mainz that Johann Gutenberg was born in the year 1397, almost a century before the advent of the great picture book of the late Middle Ages, the Nuremberg Chronicle. Here he invented the art of printing by moveable type in the year 1450, and here he died in 1458, thirty-five years before the Chronicle was published.