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

Mohammed (Machometus), an Arab, or (as some would have it) a Persian, was born of a noble pagan father and an Ishmaelite woman of Hebrew parentage. And although he had his origin in two contrary sects or faiths, he was not fully attached to either, but according to his own notion and by his cunning intelligence, he drew upon the laws of both, blowing up a dangerous conflagration for all mankind. For among the Arabs (by whom he was held in great veneration), he openly said that Chosroes (Cosdroem), the king of Persia, together with all his relatives, was not wiped out without good reason, having caused himself to be worshipped above God, although he was a very evil person and himself worshipped idolatrous gods. However, in his disputations upon the Hebrew and Christian laws, he said that both laws were in unison, but that both people were misled through grave errors. These errors he summed up follows: He admonished the Hebrews because they denied that Christ was born of a virgin, although her parents had announced this beforehand. On the other hand he admonished the Christians for lightheartedness in holding that Jesus, though ignominiously born of a virgin, was God’s favorite, and yet God wished him to suffer death on the cross at the hands of the Jews. But Mohammed proclaimed his own law, promising that if the Saracens would accept and keep it, and follow him as the divine messenger sent to reveal it, they would attain freedom as well as rule and sovereignty over their neighbors. With a mighty army of Arabs he harassed the provinces of the Roman Empire; but Heraclius soon silenced the revolt. Afterwards the Arabs and Saracens again took up arms; and in the six hundred and twenty-third year from the Nativity of Christ they defeated the generals of Heraclius, and of him who was at first a fortunate man, they made a most unfortunate one. Mohammed called himself the Great Prophet of God, and he deceived the people of Asia and Africa by black magic; and by the pronouncement of a new faith he so influenced them that they completely extirpated the name of the empire. This false faith now holds the upper hand more than before; for all Asia and Africa, and a large part of Europe, has been subordinated to Mohammedan princes. Now by land and sea they are attempting to drive us out of this small corner of Europe. And in order that this Mohammed (as is stated in his book of laws) might lead his followers still further away from the Christian faith, he emulated certain heretics, chiefly the Nestorians, in the interpretation and description of his own laws; and he gathered together many things against the Mosaic laws and the Gospels, and assembled these in one book. And to increase the grip of his laws, he ordained that a man might take four wives of his own race, as many concubines as he could support, and as many purchased wives as he wished. However, he ordered his followers not to drink wine; and those who obeyed his laws he promised the Garden of Eden. Those who scorned his laws he threatened with hell. He stated that Moses and John the Baptist were the great prophets of God; but that Christ was the greatest of all the prophets and born of divine power and cooperation, and not of the human seed of the Virgin Mary, etc. After he had reigned six years and had attained the age of 34 years, he died in the Year of the Lord 632, after having indulged himself in adultery, drunkenness and wantonness.

Mohammed (also Muhammad and Mahomet), great lawgiver of the Arabs, and founder of a religion that has prevailed over large portions of Asia and Africa for 14 centuries – was born at Mecca in 569. He belonged to one of the most illustrious families of Arabia (the powerful priestly tribe of Koreish, and of the particular branch of Hussein, to which belonged the guardianship of the Kaaba, a temple of Mecca, which contained the Black Stone, believed by the Arabs to have covered Abraham’s tomb); and although powerful, his father was a poor merchant, and an idolater. His father died soon after Mohammed was born, and he was only six years of age when his mother passed away also. An uncle became guardian of the orphan.

For a time Mohammed gained a scanty livelihood by tending goats and sheep in the vicinity of Mecca. At 13 he accompanied his uncle on a caravan journey to Syria. At the fair of Bosrah he is said to have met the famous Nestorian monk, Felix, or Sergius, whom Christian writers accused of having afterward assisted the founder of Islam in the preparation of the Koran. At the age of 25 Mohammed entered the service of a rich widow, named Khadija, who, 15 years his senior, before long offered him her hand, for he had rendered good service. She was a faithful wife, bore him two sons (who died early) and four daughters. Their union of twenty-five years was a happy one, and as along as she lived Mohammed did not take another wife, although polygamy was sanctioned by the customs of his country. He became one of the chief citizens of Mecca. His character was marked by thoughtfulness and austerity, and he spent much time in solitary contemplation.

About the year Christianity had penetrated into the heart of Arabia; its northern parts were dotted over with Jewish colonies; and round about Medina were remnants of ancient sects, such as Sabians and Mandaeans. Men appeared who denounced the futility of the ancient pagan creed, and preached the unity of God; and in consequence, some turned to Judaism, some to Christianity. Under this influence Mohammed seems to have begun his religious reformation by endeavoring to fix his own belief and to free it from idolatry. Every year, for a month at a time, he retired to a cave near Mecca devoting himself to prayer, fasting and meditation. He recognized the existence of the divine as an eternal spirit, incapable of representation by an image. He began to have visions of angels, especially of Gabriel, commanding him to preach the true religion. These visions and revelations possessed him, and the Koran was the result. His whole knowledge of Christianity was confined to a few apocryphal books, and with all his deep reverence for Jesus, whom he calls the greatest prophet next to himself, his notions of the Christian religion were extremely vague. Yet he was sincere, and the people of his household and his close friends were his first converts. Progress was slow; by the fourth year of his mission he had made forty proselytes, chiefly slaves, and very humble people. He inveighed against the superstition of the Meccans, and exhorted them to a pious and moral life, and to the belief in an all-mighty, all-wise, all-just, but merciful God who had chosen him as he had chosen the prophets of the Bible before him, to teach mankind that they should escape the punishment of hell and inherit everlasting life. But he became an object of hatred to the Koreish, then the ruling class, and his life was in constant danger during the first twelve years of his public preaching. He did not profess to establish a new religion but simply to restore the only true and primitive faith, as it existed in the days of the patriarchs from Adam to Jesus. The fundamental doctrine he tried to restore was the Unity of God. With the Jews, who adhered to their ancient ceremonial, he maintained the authority of the Pentateuch and the inspiration of the Hebrew prophets. With the Christians he admitted the divinity of Christ’s mission and the truth of the Gospel, making the revelations of the Old and New Testament the basis of his own preaching. But he also indulged the extreme prejudices of the Arabs, while lamenting the folly of their idolatrous worship. He spared their popular traditions and ceremonies, at least such as suited his views, and he made them more attractive by giving divine sanction to customs already hallowed by immemorial usage.

In 609, Mohammed, now forty, having more fully developed his plans, announced his mission, proclaiming the cardinal principle of his creed: ‘There is no God but Allah, and Mohammed is His Prophet.’ He encountered the prejudices of his countrymen, who were alarmed for their gods. He stood his ground, but did not encourage his followers to martyrdom. His mission was to preach the One True God. The duty of this new religion was Islam, or submission to the Divine will. Its worship consisted of prayer, fasting, and almsgiving. The Kaaba and the pilgrimage were recognized by the new creed. The Mohammedans, or followers of Mohammed, were called Moslems (and, in earlier periods, Mussulmans)—“true believers.”

About this time Mohammed had a celebrated vision or dream in which he was carried by the angel Gabriel on a winged steed to Jerusalem, where he met all the prophets of God and was welcomed by them; after which he was carried to the seventh heaven into the presence of God. This vision was so vivid that Mohammed deemed it a reality. This and the Koran itself were the only oracles he ever claimed. His earliest Koranic dicta, written by amanuenses, consisted of brief, rhymed sentences, and for a time the Meccans regarded him as a common soothsayer, not in his right senses. Gradually they rose in fierce opposition. Many of the converted slaves and freedmen underwent terrible punishments, and some suffered so much that they abjured their creed. Mohammed fled from Mecca to Yatreb—more favorable ground. This flight occurred in the summer of 622, and is called the Hegira. It is the point from which the Mohammedans reckon time, as Christians do from the birth of Christ.

With the Hegira Mohammed’s era truly begins. He entered Yatreb in triumph, welcomed by his followers and their families, about 100 in number, who had fled before him, as a sovereign, as well as an apostle and a prophet. He changed the name of the city to Medinet al Nubi, “The City of the Prophet,” or Medina “the City,” as it is still called. Here Mohammed’s fortune rose and his converts increased; but his character may have changed; he was unable to bear prosperity as he had born adversity. He became a politician – the head of a party. He substituted force for truth, and claimed inspiration for every action. He built up Islam by the sword, declaring that the mission of every Moslem was to propagate the dominion of Islam by the sword, to destroy the temples of the infidels, to overthrow the idols, and to pursue the unbelievers to the remotest quarters of the globe. He shared the treasures of battle with his followers, but wealth did not corrupt the simplicity of his early life. He accepted all the essential truths of Judaism, and recognized Moses and Jesus as true teachers. He taught one Supreme Being who required prayer and alms alone. He now displayed the characteristics of a warrior and statesman, passing the last ten years of his life in raising and organizing an army of warriors, destined to conquer half the civilized world.

Mohammed, who had previously been kind and affectionate, now became capable of cruelties against those who resisted him. He hoped to form an alliance with the Jews, but he gradually departed from their customs; and since they would not follow him in this, he finally denounced them as obstinate unbelievers. He proclaimed a holy war against the Koreish, defeating them, and being in turn defeated. The Jews became the special objects of his enmity, and he slaughtered them in great numbers, selling their wives and children into slavery.

Mohammed now began multiplying wives beyond the legal limit, until the number reached ten, beside his slaves. His stormy and triumphant years were spent in warring upon the Syrians, the Koreish, and the Jewish tribes, and he rapidly became the most powerful prince in Arabia. Regarding himself as now firmly established, he wrote letters demanding the conversion of Chosroes II king of Persia; of Heraclius, Roman emperor in the east; the king of Abyssinia, the viceroy of Egypt, and the chiefs of several Arab provinces. From all parts flocked deputations to do him homage, either as God’s messenger, or as the prince of Arabia. He received the keys to the city of Mecca in 629, and the opening of its gates was the final triumph of Islam. Soon after, he commenced his foreign wars. He fought personally in nine battles, and his generals led his followers in fifteen military expeditions. He subdued Arabia, although his expedition against the Roman empire came to naught. In 632 he undertook his last pilgrimage to Mecca, and there on Mount Arafat fixed for all time the ceremonies of the pilgrimage. Soon after he fell ill and died on June 8, 632, in the 11th year of the Hegira.

Isidore (Isydorus), the Spanish bishop, a disciple of Pope Gregory, was at this time in great esteem because of his great learning, virtue, and numerous miracles; and he wrote very many notable things of service to the Christian faith, and concerning other matters.[Isidore of Seville (Isidorus Hispalensis) (c. 570-636), Spanish encyclopedist and historian, was born of a noble family from Cartagena. Distinguishing himself in controversies with the Arians, in 609 he was chosen to succeed his brother Leander as archbishop of Seville. He played an important part in the councils of the church. His great work, however, was the preservation of the remnants of Greek and Roman culture against the barbarians. His chief work, (‘20 Books of Origins or Etymologies’; better known as either the or ), written between 622 and 633, condenses the fruit of his extensive reading in the seven liberal arts, the sciences, architecture, war, political theory, etc. It was much cited in the Middle Ages, and though not original, is interesting for the history of thought.]

Goar, of Aquitania, in Gaul, was illustrious for his piety and miracles. He built a church in the suburbs of Trier, near the water, and in it deposited many relics of the saints. There, also, he served God day and night in watching, praying and preaching, converting many people to Christ, and curing the sick. He suffered many temptations at the hands of the Devil. He restored life and speech to a dumb dead child. He ignored efforts to make him bishop of Trier, and at the end of his old age, he died in blessedness.[Goar (c. 585-649) was born of aristocratic parents in Aquitania. He grew up loving God, and when he reached the canonical age, he was ordained priest. For some time he labored in his native land, but later became a hermit in a nook on the right bank of the Rhine in the bishopric of Treves. His piety attracted many pilgrims whom Goar received with hospitality, lodged and fed. The bishopric was offered to him several times but he declined it.]


Mohammed is depicted in turban and flowing robes, seated on his throne in his palace. He is apparently engaged in the act of making a convert; for in his lap he holds a book, probably the Koran, and from which he is announcing some tenet or doctrine to an elderly, richly appareled individual, who kneels before him, his hands stretched out in an attitude of adoration or prayer. Immediately to the left of Mohammed stands another man who, with his right hand points to the kneeling figure and at the same time looks at Mohammed, as if introducing the suppliant, or accusing him of some breach of faith. In his left hand he holds a cap, apparently removed from the head of the suppliant. Behind the latter stands a turbaned military officer, apparently the Lord High Executioner, a short sword in his scabbard, a much larger one held up in his right hand, seemingly ready to execute judgment.