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

Bernard, abbot of Clairvaux, a Burgundian, born of noble parents, in Castellione, the citadel of the Burgundians. His father was a sturdy and devout knight of the city of Fontaine, near Dijon. His mother was of the castle called Montibari. She had five other sons and a daughter, who later went into a cloister. She reared her children on coarse and common food, that they might be freer to serve God in the cloisters. While the mother was pregnant with this son, she saw a little white dog, slightly red on its back, and barking, as a prophecy of the future crying and baying of her son against the slanderers and disparagers of the church. At the age of twenty-two Bernard entered the Cistercian monastery together with thirty of his colleagues. There he so prospered that in a short time he was elected abbot of Clairvaux because of his piety, scriptural wisdom and teaching. He governed this monastery with great renown and honor for 36 years. During his lifetime he built 160 monasteries for his order, and made the Christian churches illustrious by the piety of his life, the sweetness of his teachings, and by the glory and renown of his miracles. Beside living a holy and venerable life, he left behind as the fruits of his intelligence and skill many pious, contemplative, devotional, sweet, and honeyed writings, books and teachings. When the city of Edessa was taken from the Christians by the Orientals, he aroused the princes, prelates, and people of Gaul, and also Conrad, the Roman king, to undertake a general crusade against the infidels. After performing many miracles he fell asleep in the Lord at the age of 63.

Bernard of Clairvaux was born in 1090 in the little village of Fontaine, near Dijon. After pursuing his studies at the university of Paris he entered the reformed Benedictine monastery of Citeaux at the age of twenty. At twenty-five, when the abbey became overcrowded, the abbot sent him on a mission with a number of his brethren to found a new monastery. He led his followers to the wilderness called the Valley of Wormwood, and there, in 1114, they built the abbey of Clairvaux. In a few years Bernard’s name became famous throughout the Christian world. He was called in to arbitrate differences between feudal lords, as well as between ecclesiastics. He drew up the statutes of the Templars. Louis VI appointed him arbiter between the rival popes, Anacletus and Innocent II; and when he decided in favor of the latter, the church received his decision with perfect submission. He was commissioned by the pope to preach a second crusade, and he succeeded all too well. He declined an invitation to assume command of the multitude he had incited to take up arms, and remained at home studying theology in his cell. But few of those who went forth on this crusade ever returned, and the people raged against Bernard as a false prophet. He defended himself on the ground that the armies of the crusaders were composed of such a vile, insubordinate, irreligious crew, that they did not deserve divine protection. He told the people to go home and repent – and they did so.

Worn out by fatigues, missions, and anxieties, by long and frequent journeys, by rigorous fasts and penances, his health gave way prematurely. Retiring to his cell, he languished for a few years, and died at the age of 63. His writings are numerous, centering on the allegorical understanding of the Bible. It is said of him that when writing his famous homilies on “The Song of Songs, which is Solomon’s,” the Virgin appeared to him and moistened his lips with the milk of her bosom; so that ever after his eloquence, in speech or in writing, was persuasive and irresistible. The finest example of this incident in later art is a painting by Murillo in the Prado that depicts the great abbot of Clairvaux seated amongst his books with jars of lilies on the table (an emblem of devotion to Mary), surprised by a visit from that personage. As the white-robed saint kneels before her in profound adoration, she bears her beautiful bosom, and causes a stream of milk to fall from it upon the lips of her votary, which were for that time forth endowed with a sweet persuasive eloquence that no rival could gainsay, no audience resist.

Pedro (Petrus) Alphonso, a Jew formerly called Moses, around the Year of the Lord 1100 was famous, for he abandoned the errors of Judaism, and devoutly received the sacrament of baptism. He wrote a book containing excellent disputations against the Jews and the Saracens. He was baptized on the day of the Apostles Peter and Paul. Alphonso, king of Spain, was his godfather, and in his memory, and in honor of Peter, he was called Pedro Alphonso.

At this time, being the Year of the Lord 1128, a number of people in the West were so consumed by holy fire that their limbs became as black as coals. But when they ran into the Church of the Blessed Mary there, and prayed to God, their health returned through the intercession of the Blessed Mary.

On the Ides of June in this year it rained blood in various parts of Italy.

A sow in the parish of Ligones (Langres), according to the testimony of Vincent of Gaul, bore a little pig with a human face. And in the same year a four-footed chicken was hatched.

Fiery rays appeared in the heavens and spread throughout the sky. Stars fell to the earth, and when water was poured on them they gave a loud sound.

It was a very harsh winter, followed by a great famine; and many people and much cattle died; and the birds strangled themselves.

In Italy occurred an earthquake, which lasted forty days, and overthrew the villages all around.

The moon was darkened at night, and it appeared as red as blood.

A woman bore a monster, double-bodied, having a human face in front, and the face of a dog in back.

John (Iohannes), who lived at this time, was Charles (Caroli) the Great’s chief armorer; and he lived 361 years, and died.


Bernard of Clairvaux, represented by a new woodcut—full figure, in the habit of a monk, but wearing a bishop’s miter, and carrying a crozier. At his feet, a shield.


Fiery rays in the sky, depicted by rays and darts shooting from the clouds; new woodcut.


Earthquake, depicted by a burst of darts and raindrops from a mass of darkened clouds. New woodcut.


A monster, half human, half dog, in the form of Siamese twins; new woodcut.