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

Heraclius was acknowledged as an augmenter of the empire. He was crowned by Sergius, the Constantinopolitan patriarch, and received the Eastern Empire. And immediately he sent to Italy the Constantinopolitan imperial chamberlain, Eleutherius, a well informed captain, experienced in military matters and practises; and he equipped him with men and money for the purpose of confirming these matters in Italy. And now he organized the men from the vicinity in Asia and Europe, and the men his father Heraclianus sent him from Africa (and continued to send him from day to day), and sent them against Chosroes (Cosdroem), the Persian king, for the protection of the Roman provinces. For after the said Chosroes had harassed Mesopotamia and Palestine, he marched against Jerusalem and captured it; and he destroyed the churches and holy places, although (as some historians state) he is said to have shown the holy cross some veneration; for he carried off that part of the cross which Helena, the mother of Constantine the Great, had deposited at the place where Christ was crucified. And he kept it at home in a throne which he caused to be made, ornamented with wonderful work in gold and precious stones. In the sixth year of his reign the Persians conquered all of southern Asia, then turning their arms to Egypt. They captured Alexandria, and tarried there until the cry was heard that Heraclianus, the emperor’s father, had assembled a great army in Africa. But at this same time Heraclianus died. When the Persians heard this they captured Carthage. At the same time Heraclius assembled a large army, and brought back into his power many provinces that had been harassed by the Persians. In a singular battle he struck the captain of the Persians, knocking him from his horse as dead. And he crushed Chosroes, the Persian king; but his son, whom he captured, he caused to be baptized and restored to his father’s kingdom. And he marched into Persia and plundered the castle of Chosroes, which was filled with treasures. Of those he gave one portion to his soldiers, setting aside the other for the rebuilding of the temple and the churches which Chosroes had destroyed. He came to Jerusalem with seven elephants loaded with the great riches he had taken from the enemy; and the cross of the Lord, which the Persians had carried away, he brought back and restored to its former place. Those who had been taken prisoner by the Persians he sent back home. Now it so happened in the twelfth year of the reign of Heraclius that he brought the cross of the Lord to Jerusalem with great pomp; and when he arrived at the gate, through which one passes to the place called Calvary, and the hosts preceding him had gone out, and he himself was about to pass through, he stood still before the gate, although no one restrained him. Then the patriarch, who tarried at his side, said to him: Jesus, the master of poverty and humility, did not carry the cross out of here as you are about to do, clad in purple and costly raiment. Then the emperor immediately humbled himself. And having donned humble apparel, walked barefooted through the gate, now open, where before it appeared to be closed. He carried the cross to the place called Calvary. This Heraclius indiscreetly prided himself upon his accomplishments and fell into various errors of heresy. He finally died of the dropsy in the 30th year of his reign.

Heraclius (c. 575-642), East Roman emperor, was born in Cappadocia. His father held high military command under the emperor Maurice, and as governor of Africa maintained his independence against the usurper Phocas. When invited to head a rebellion against the latter, he sent his son with a fleet which reached Constantinople unopposed, and precipitated the dethronement of Phocas. Proclaimed emperor in 610, Heraclius set himself to reorganize the utterly disordered administration. At first he found himself helpless before the Persian armies of Chosroes II, which conquered Syria and Egypt and since 616 had encamped opposite Constantinople. After some preparations he took the field against Persia, and finally beat the enemy in the open field. A revolution at the Persian court led to the dethronement of Chosroes in favor of his son Kavadh II; the new king promptly made peace with the emperor whose troops were already advancing upon the Persian capital. Having secured his eastern frontier, Heraclius returned to Constantinople with the true cross, which in 629 he brought back in person to Jerusalem.

The triumphs which Heraclius had won did not bring him lasting popularity. In his civil administration he followed his own ideas without deferring to the nobles or the church, and the opposition he encountered went far to paralyze his efforts at reform. Worn out by continuous fighting and weakened by dropsy, he failed to show sufficient energy against the new peril that menaced his eastern provinces toward the end of his reign. In 629 the newly Islamified Arabs made their first incursion into Syria, won a notable victory a number of years later, and then conquered all Syria, Palestine and Egypt. Heraclius made no attempt to engage the Arabs, but evacuated his possessions in sullen despair. The remaining years of his life he devoted to theological speculation and ecclesiastical reforms. His religious enthusiasm led him to oppress his Jewish subjects, while on the other hand he sought to reconcile the Christian sects. He died in 642.

They say that in these days fire fell from the heavens; and a huge rainbow appeared, and the people thought that the end of the world had come because of the frightful lightning and claps of thunder. This was followed by a great plague which, during the summer, consumed many people. A good and an evil angel were seen passing through the city. And the evil angel, at the direction of the good angel, knocked on the doors of the houses; and on the next day as many people died in each house, as knocks had been given on the door.

Various wonders and frightful things occurred in Greece at this time, presaging the misdeeds of Mohammed (Mahometi); for in a certain year a fiery comet was seen at Constantinople; and a child with four feet was born. And in the island of Delos were seen two sea-wonders in human form. And so many things of a like nature appeared in various regions and places.


Heraclius; a full-length portrait. The emperor appears as a rather disproportionately drawn figure, the head too large for the body. He wears a mitred crown, and carried orb and scepter. He is clad in a long, simple and unadorned robe.


Extraordinary Phenomena: Only the child with two heads is not mentioned in the text.