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

Clara, admirable, and holy virgin of the city of Assisi, born of noble family (for her father was a knight) and instructed in the ways of divine virtue through the discipline and example of Saint Francis, was held in high esteem at this time in the city of Assisi for her virtue, piety and grace. She started a congregation and order of poor women at Saint Damian’s Church; and there she was illustrious for 42 years through remarkable castigations of the flesh, and in the practice of virtue. She also performed various miracles by the sign of the cross. But when the Church was oppressed by Emperor Frederick, and the enemy took Assisi, and the Saracens attacked the convent of Saint Damien, although ill, she caused herself to be carried before the enemy, a silver box containing the Holy Sacrament preceding her. And in tears she said her prayers to God, asking: My Lord, is it your wish that your unarmed servants shall be given up to the infidels? Dear Lord, protect your servants. And soon she heard a voice saying, I will always protect you. Shortly afterwards the enemy, who had already surmounted the walls, gave up the hostile undertaking. Pope Innocent the Fourth, together with his cardinals, visited Clara while she was dying; and he absolved her of all sin. She was so strengthened by God that for thirteen days she lived without food, and then died in blessedness. Her sister Agnes soon followed her. And as the Lord performed many miracles in Clara’s honor, she was enrolled among the number of the saints in the year 1255.

Saint Clara of Assisi, daughter of a noble knight, was the eldest of his children. Her beauty and parental wealth exposed her to many temptations and offers of marriage; but she longed to follow the example of those who sought the crown of salvation by mortification and prayer. While still young she secretly devoted herself to a religious life, and went to Francis for counsel. He advised her to renounce the world, and she became his disciple. On his advice, she took refuge in the convent at San Paola, where her father and kinsman pursued her, but failed to induce her return. Her sister Agnes followed her example, and soon their mother joined them. Other ladies of rank did likewise, and from this point dates the commencement of the Order of the Poor Clares. Their habit was gray, girded with knotted cord, and they went barefoot or sandaled. Abstinence and silence were maintained, and poverty insisted upon. They existed on charity. The extreme austerity of her life wasted Clara’s health.

At this time, Emperor Frederick ravaged the shores of the Adriatic and had in his army a band of Saracens who plundered Spoleto. One day they advanced to the gates of Asissi and attacked the convent of Damiano. Though bedridden, Clara arose, took the silver container holding the sacrament from the altar, placed it on the threshold and began to sing, “You have rebuked the heathen, you have destroyed the wicked, you have put out their name forever and ever!” The story goes that at that point the barbarians were said to have thrown down their arms and fled.

Pope Innocent IV visited Clara in person and confirmed the rule of the Order. She died at 60, in a kind of trance or rapturous vision. She was canonized in 1256.

Anthony (Antonius), a Spaniard, native of the city of Olisipic (Vlixibona)[Vlixibona, or Olixibona, correctly Olisipic (now Lisbon), a town in Lusitania, near the mouth of the river Tagus, was a Roman municipium with the surname Felicitas Julia. Its name is sometimes written Ulyssipo, because it was supposed to have been founded by Ulysses.], Barefoot Brother, and a man of piety and virtue, first baptized as Ferdinand, was originally a Regular Canon. But when he learned that several Barefoot Brothers had suffered death for the sake of Christ he joined that order on their account, and honored the body of Christ in a wonderful manner. He lived and preached in Padua for a long time and is therefore called as of that place. At the pope’s request he preached many pilgrimages at Rome, and his tongue became so fluent that the Greeks, French, Germans, Latins, English, and all others who heard him clearly understood him; for he was so highly educated that he was called an ark of the Holy Scriptures. He died at this time in Padua, celebrated for his countless miracles, and soon after Pope Gregory the Ninth enrolled him in the number of the holy confessors in the year 1232. After his remains had been interred for some time, and he was being translated to another city, his tongue was found to be still fresh and red as though he had just died. Of the same tongue the saintly Bonaventura said, O blessed tongue, which always blessed God! Now it appears what great merit you have. Afterwards, in the Year of the Lord 1263, those of Padua erected a beautiful large church to his honor.

Anthony of Padua, Portuguese by birth, took the habit of Francis, and devoted himself to the life of a missionary with the fixed determination to obtain the crown of martyrdom in the cause of Christ. He arrived at Assisi when Francis was holding the first general chapter of his order. Feeling the lack of a man of science and learning in his community, Francis encouraged him to devote himself to his studies. He taught divinity with distinction in the universities of Bologna, Toulouse, Paris and Padua, but gave up this career to preach among the people. He preached peace.

Anthony generally preached in the open air, for his audiences were too great for any church to hold. Like Francis, he was a man of poetic imagination, tender of heart, and a lover of nature. After an active ministry of ten years he died, worn out by fatigue and austerities, in his thirty-sixth year. The following year he was canonized by Gregory IX and the citizens of Padua ordered that a church be erected to him at public expense. The magnificent edifice was begun in 1237, but was not completed until two centuries later. It is said that in all Italy there is not a church richer in ancient and modern monuments of art than this one.

The Order of The German Brothers originated at this time in Prussia, which was occupied by the Prussians (Pruteni)[The early Prussians, here called the “Pruteni,” were known as the Borussi, that is, inhabitants along the river Memel, which Ptolemy calls the Rutta. They were of Lithuanian origin, and during the 10th and 11th centuries successfully opposed the introduction of Christianity.], a barbarous pagan people until the time of Frederick, the second emperor of this name. When the Christians during the reign of said Frederick lost the city of Ptolemais in Syria, the German Brothers of Saint Mary were driven from there and returned to Germany. They were noblemen, learned and experienced in knightly affairs. In order that they might not fall into dissipation through idleness, they called Frederick’s attention to the fact that Prussia, the country adjoining Germany, was not of the Christian faith, and that the pagans there often attacked and injured the Saxons and other Christian peoples in the vicinity; and so they suggested that the German Brothers stood ready to tame these coarse pagans, if the emperor would allow them to retain such lands in Prussia as they might conquer by the sword. To this the emperor and Conrad, duke of Masovia, who called himself ruler of the same country, assented; and accordingly the emperor gave them a letter under the golden seal. The German Brothers soon brought the entire land of Prussia into their dominion by the sword. This region is rich in grain, fish, game, cattle, water, pastures and meadows. It has many inhabitants, renowned cities, and fortifications. Since then the German tongue and Christian faith have been in the ascendant there; and later many episcopal churches were erected there. Here also is a large noble castle, called Marienburg, where the grand master holds his court and has his residence. As the Germans originally founded this order, no one was admitted to it, unless he were a German of noble parentage. The members wore a white habit, inscribed with a black cross to indicate their readiness to fight the enemies of the cross. They all wore beards, except the priests, and in place of (observing) the canonical hours, they make use of the Lord’s Prayer; but they did not study the Scriptures. They were very rich, quite equal to kings in power, and they often fought with the Poles.

The Teutonic Order, or Teutonic Knights of St. Mary’s Hospital at Jerusalem (Der Deutsche Order, Deutsche Ritter) was one of three great military and religious orders that sprang from the Crusades. It traces its birth to the third Crusade. The order had its beginnings amidst the privations and plagues that attended the siege of Acre (called by its ancient Hellenistic name Ptolemais in the Chronicle). In the winter of 1190-91 certain pious merchants from Bremen and Lübeck laid the foundations of a hospital in a vessel which had been drawn ashore. Within a few years, the foundation apparently became attached to the German Church of St. Mary the Virgin of Jerusalem, and in March 1198 (there being present in the Holy Land a number of Germans, the relics of the projected crusade of Henry VI), the great men of the army and the kingdom raised the brethren of the German Hospital of St. Mary to the rank of an order of knights. The original members were thus ennobled, and from that time on it was the rule that only Germans of noble birth could join the Order.

The Teutonic Order began with charity, developed into a military club and ended as something of a chartered company, exercising rights of sovereignty on the troubled confines of Christendom. Even in its last phase, the Order did not forget its original purpose; it maintained several great hospitals in its new home on the southwest shore of the Baltic, in addition to an hotel des invalids at Marienburg for its sick and aged brethren. But long before that period, the Order had begun to find that its true work lay on the eastern frontiers of Germany. In 1228 Christian, bishop of Prussia, who had received from the Polish duke of Masovia a part of Kulmerland as a fief, had founded the knightly Order of Dobrzin, and was attempting to subdue the non-Christian peoples of Prussia. Unsuccessful in the attempt, he invited the Teutonic Order to come to the rescue, and on the Order he bestowed Kulm and some of the frontier towns of his territory, with such lands as it should conquer.

Thus the Order took its place as the founder of one of the marks on the eastern frontier of Germany, and began to play its part in the Drang nach Osten, which is perhaps the vitally important thing in the history of Germany from the 12th to the 14th century. In 1229, the Order began the conquest of Prussia, founding fortresses at each step to rivet its conquest (for instance, at Thorn, named after Toron in Palestine); and, in 1234, the Order established its independence of all authority except the Papacy by surrendering its territories to the Holy See and receiving them back again as a fief. The pope gave to those who joined in the work of the Order the privilege of Crusaders; and the knights, supported by numerous donations and large accessions to their ranks, rapidly increased their territories. But, in consequence, the Order lost its connection to the East, and after the fall of Acre in 1291, the grand master (whose seat had been at Acre, while the German master (Deutschmeister), had controlled the Order in Germany) moved first to Venice, and then, in 1308, to Marienburg on the Vistula.

With the accession of large territories, the Order became a governing aristocracy; the original care of the sick, and even the later crusading zeal of the period of conquest gave way to the problem of governing a frontier state. A whole system of administration arose. At Marienburg, the grandmaster maintained a magnificent court.

The concord of the Order at this time with the towns and the Hansa was one of the causes of its prosperity until the close of the fourteenth century, and the Order was able to weather the storm that destroyed the Templars at the beginning of the 14th century. For a time the Order lay under papal sentence of excommunication; but the transfer of his seat to Marienburg in 1308 gave the grand master a basis from which he was able to make easy terms with the pope. Nor was the Order, during the 14th century, unfaithful to its calling. It was the school of northern chivalry, engaged in unceasing struggle to defend Christianity against the non-Christian Lithuanians.

But at the height of its glory irretrievable ruin descended upon the Order. It suffered a crushing defeat at the hands of the Polish king Ladislaus at Tannenberg in 1410; and although this brought Ladislaus little immediate gain, it stimulated the elements of unrest in Prussia to new activity. The discontented clergy in Livonia; the towns, such as Danzig; the native aristocracy, organized in a league (the Eidechsenbund, or ‘League of the Lizard’), all sought to use this opportunity. It was in vain that the heroic grandmaster, Henry of Plauen (1410-1413) sought to stem the tide of disaster; he was deposed by the chapter of the Order for his pains. The success of the Hussite raids in Germany gave fresh confidence to the Slavs of Poland. The Order was at variance within itself; some of the houses of the brethren refused to obey the marshall, and the grandmaster quarreled with the German master. Above all there arose in 1440 the Prussian League in which the nobles and towns joined together, nominally for protection of their rights, but really against the Order. The League naturally sympathized with Poland, not only because under Poland it hoped to enjoy the practical liberty which Polish anarchy already seemed to offer. The final result was that in 1454 an embassy of the League offered Prussia to the Polish king, and that, after many years of war, the peace of Thorn, Danzig, and other towns; and, while leaving East Prussia to the Order, made the Order the vassal of Poland for the territory which it retained. Henceforth the grandmaster was to sit in the Polish diet on the left of the king, and half of the knights were to be Polish.

From this point on the Teutonic Order lived in Germany and in Livonia. The master of the latter province had beaten off an attack of the Russians in 1502, and secured a 50 years’ peace. The Order was now confined to Germany alone. In 1809, the Order was entirely suppressed by Napoleon I, and its lands went to the secular principalities in which they lay. But in 1840 the Order was resuscitated in Austria as a semi-religious knighthood, closely connected with the Hapsburgs. But its real heirs were the Hohenzollerns of Prussia. When Frederick the Great gained West Prussia by the first partition of Poland (1772), he was uniting together once more the dominions of the Order, sundered for 300 years.


Clara, founder of the Poor Clares, is portrayed in the habit of a Franciscan nun. She holds before her the container that was carried before her when she faced the Saracens who were about to invade her convent, and miraculously drove them off.


Anthony of Padua, a Franciscan Friar, is portrayed in his habit, apparently delivering a sermon.


German Brother in the garb of a Teutonic Knight. He holds a rosary. He is bearded, according to the custom of the Order, and on his habit is the crusader’s cross, indicating the original mission of his order.