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

The electors of the Empire who met after the death of Frederick and his son Conrad in the year 1256, were so divided in the choice of a Roman king, that they elected two kings, namely Alphonso, king of Castile[Alphonso X, El Sabio (‘the Wise’ or ‘the Learned,’ (1252 – 1284) is one of the most interesting, though not the most capable, of the Spanish kings of the Middle Ages. His scientific fame is based mainly on his encouragement of astronomy. As a ruler, he showed legislative capacity and a desire to provide his kingdoms with a code of laws and a consistent judicial system. His descent from the Hohenstaufen through his mother, daughter of the emperor Philip, gave him claims to represent the Swabian line. The choice of the German electors, after the death of Conrad IV in 1252, misled him into wild schemes of no effect but immense expense. To obtain money, he debased the coinage, and then endeavored to prevent a rise in price by an arbitrary tariff. The little trade of his dominions was ruined and the burghers and peasants were deeply offended. His nobles, whom he tried to cow by sporadic acts of violence, rebelled against him. His second son, Sancho, enforced his claim to be heir in preference to the children of the elder brother who died in Alphonso’s life. Son and nobles alike supported the Moors when he tried to unite the nation in a crusade; and when he allied himself with the rulers of Morocco, they denounced him as an enemy of the faith. A reaction in his favor was begun in his later days, but he died defeated and deserted at Seville, leaving a will by which he endeavored to exclude Sancho. ], and Count Richard of Cornwall[Richard, earl of Cornwall and king of the Romans (1209 – 1272), was the second son of the English king John by Isabella of Angouleme. He was the junior of his brother, Henry III, and received the earldom of Cornwall in 1225, from which date he was a prominent figure in politics. In 1240, he took command of the crusade in order to escape the troubled atmosphere of English politics. In 1257, a bare majority of the German electors nominated him king of the Romans, and he accepted their offer. He obtained recognition in the Rhineland, which was closely connected with England by trade relations; but otherwise he was unsuccessful in securing German support. On the outbreak of civil war in 1264, he took the side of his brother Henry III, and his capture in a windmill near Lewes after the defeat of the royalist army is commemorated in the earliest of English vernacular satires. He remained prisoner till the fall of Montfort. He died in 1272.], brother of the king of England; but neither of them was confirmed. Consequently the Roman imperial sovereignty was without a head for a number of years, until the time of Pope Gregory the Tenth and Rudolf, King of the Romans.

The historian Ptolemy of Lucca clearly states concerning Charles (Carolo) that said Charles, together with his spouse, Beatrice, through various cardinals sent for the purpose by Pope Clement, were invested with the royal crown of Jerusalem and Sicily at the Lateran Church. It is also known that Charles before receiving the crown obligated himself and agreed in writing to pay the sum of forty-eight thousand guilders annually as a reward for his fief, and in acknowledgment of his subservience to the Roman Church. By the same treaty it was also agreed that the successors to the Roman imperial sovereignty, even though chosen by the electors, should consider themselves bound by such treaty. And this conclusion was arrived at, having in mind the former emperors Frederick the First and Second, and the antagonism, uproar and dissensions which occurred in their time; for Alphonso, in view of the dissension in the election intended to acquire the Roman imperial title by grant and by the sword. Had the electors disregarded the Count of Cornwall (considering him of little consequence) and elected Charles, the result would have been disappointing to Alphonso, and he might have overrun Italy with an army had he not feared invasion of the kingdom of Castile in the meantime by his two brothers Henry (Heinricus) and Frederick, one of whom he had exiled to France and the other to Africa.

Pilgrimages had a marvelous rise at this time, not only in Italy, but among the people elsewhere; and so, through the temptations of the Devil, 2,000 children were marked with the cross, and proceeded to the various seaports in hordes. Many were captured by pirates, and but few returned.[Child Pilgrimages became a religious epidemic in Europe in 1212, although the last boy crusade was in 1459. Threats and persuasions, love and fear, had no effect on the boys, who wept day and night, pined and trembled in every limb. There was no difference in the social scale, in children of counts and barons running away from home as well as the sons of shepherds and tradesmen. The Children’s Crusade of 1212 was preached in France by Stephen, a peasant boy, and, in Germany, by Nicholas, also a peasant boy. Some 90,000 children proceeded “to rescue the Holy Land from the infidels,” and ships were placed at their disposal. The French contingent embarked at Marseilles, and part perished in the first month by shipwreck on the island of San Pietro; while the rest were sold into slavery through the Muslims. The German contingent reached Genoa, but was dispersed by various disasters before spring.]

Albertus Magnus, a native of the town of Lauingen, on the Danube, in Swabia, and of the Preaching Order, was at this time the most renowned and praiseworthy teacher of the church among all the celebrated men at Paris—the splendor and ornament of Germany. He was of such pious life and great learning that no one excelled him or could be compared to him; for this reason he was called the Great. In the Year of the Lord 1262 he was appointed bishop of Regensburg; but because of his love of learning he left the bishopric, spending many years in Cologne and Paris, teaching the Holy Scriptures and philosophy. He also wrote commentaries on all the works of Aristotle, and very intelligently opened up Christian theology. Writing more than four books of thoughts, he explained a great part of the Bible. He made eminently clear the Gospels and the Epistles of Paul. He also composed a very beautiful book on animals as well as other things worthy of praise. Finally he returned his spirit to God at Cologne at the age of eighty-seven years, and was buried with great honor in the choir of Church of the Holy Cross before the highest altar in a stone chest with Sisfridus, the archbishop of Cologne, officiating; and (as it is said) he performed many miracles during life and after death.

Albertus Magnus, Albert of Cologne (c. 1193/1206-1280), scholastic philosopher called Doctor Universalis (‘Professor of Everything’) was born of the family of the counts of Bollstädt, at Lauingen, in Swabia. In 1223, he joined the Dominican order, and after teaching at Cologne, Hildesheim, Freiburg, Ratisbon, Strasbourg, and again at Cologne, was sent to Paris from 1245-1248, and there acquired great fame. When he returned to Cologne in 1248, Thomas Aquinas, who had been under his direction at Paris, went with him. From 1254 to 1257, he was provincial of the German province, during which time he defended the Mendicants against the University of Paris and its spokesman, William of St. Amour. From 1260 to 1262, he held the bishopric of Regensburg. From that date to 1270, when he returned to Cologne as a lector, he seems to have been traveling about, preaching a crusade in Germany and Bohemia, and undertaking various other ecclesiastical missions. His works, which were mostly completed before 1256, were published in 21 folio volumes at Lyons in 1651, and reprinted in 36 volumes at Paris in 1890. They include paraphrases of all Aristotle’s works, a commentary on the Sentences of Peter Lombard, an incomplete Summa Theologiae, a treatise against Averroes, and the curious De Causis et Processu Universitatis – a work of Neoplatonic coloring.

Albert had a remarkable affinity with the early Franciscan philosophers of Oxford; thus, his love of experimental science, and his knowledge of geography, astronomy, medicine, zoology and botany are strongly reminiscent of Grosseteste and Bacon, while his interweaving of Aristotelian, Arabian, Jewish, Neoplatonic and Augustinan elements bear a close resemblance to the system of Thomas of York. However, as far as his Dominican successors are concerned, Albert’s chief influence seems to lie in his successful propagation of an esteem for Aristotle.

The Latin and German editions of the Chronicle differ greatly in the second half of the mini-biography devoted to Albertus Magnus. Below is the German edition following the sentence (shared by both editions) “In the Year of the Lord 1262 he was appointed bishop of Regensburg; but because of his love of learning he left the bishopric, spending many years in Cologne and Paris, teaching the Holy Scriptures and philosophy.”

He skillfully compiled many elegant, useful, keen, subtle, and sensible commentaries, not only on the Holy Scriptures, but also books on natural philosophy, and other works. In particular this learned man stated that a humble contemplation of the passion of Christ is more beneficial than fasting on bread and water throughout the year, or daily flagellation to the point of drawing blood. So that every man might earn a great reward with little labor, a book was printed at Nuremberg under the memo of the Schatzbehalter, which teaches an easy way to eternal blessedness.

The German edition once again abridges and summarizes the contents of the Latin text. But here, unusually, it also adds a single piece of new information, one that is directly connected to the publisher of the Chronicle. The Schatzbehalter was written by Stefan Fidolin, a monk, was printed by Anton Koberger at Nuremberg on November 8th, 1491, under the title Das Buch, der Schatzbehalter oder Schrein der waren reichtumer des heils und ewyger seligkeit genant, or “Shrine of the Veritable Riches of Salvation and Eternal Bliss.” It consists of 352 leaves, printed in two columns, and contains 96 full-page illustrations by Michael Wohlgemut (master of Albrecht Dürer), printed from 91 wood blocks, the difference representing repeated illustrations. The author died in 1498.

Bonaventura, a native of Tuscany from the town of Bagnoregio, was born from the faithful union of John (Ioanne) of Fidanza and Ritella. At the age of twenty-two he adopted the habit of the Franciscan Order. Through the teaching and guidance of Alexander of Hales he attained to such perfection in scriptural wisdom that in the seventh year after entering the order, he taught the Holy Scriptures as a master of the other brethren. Thirteen years after his entry into the Order he was made a general, and after that a cardinal. In addition to his great piety he was so gifted with ingenuity and great and worthy devotion, that his renown radiated through out the world. He wrote many excellent things conducive to devotion and contemplation. After his corpse had turned to dust, his heart was found perfectly intact. For that reason, and because of his manifold miracles, he was enrolled in the host of the saintly confessors by Pope Sixtus the Fourth in the Year of the Lord 1482.

Bonaventura (John of Fidanza), (1221-1274), Franciscan theologian, was born at Bagnoregio, in Tuscany. He became a Franciscan about 1243, and studied at Paris under Alexander of Hales and John of Rochelle, to whose chair he succeeded in 1253, having been lecturing from 1248. His opposition to the master of the University who, under the leadership of William of Saint-Amour, sought to exclude the mendicants from teaching, was successful owing to the intervention of Alexander IV, and as a result he received the degree of doctor in 1257, some few months after he had been appointed general of his Order. In 1273, Gregory X made him cardinal and bishop of Albano, and insisted on his presence at the great Council of Lyons (124). At this meeting he died. Bonaventura, known as Doctor Seraphicus (‘Angelic Professor’) was canonized in 1482 by Sixtus IX, and ranked as sixth among the doctors of the Church by Sixtus V in 1587.

Bonaventura combined the character of a man of action with that of a philosopher, theologian and mystic.


Bonaventura, cardinal; a new woodcut. The cardinal is portrayed in his official vestments, and holds an open book before him.