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

Roch (Rochus) of Narbonne, a confessor of Christ, was born near Montpellier, in the city previously called Agathopolis. John (Iohanne), his father, was a nobleman there; and his mother was Liberia (Libera). When he reached the age of 12 he began to decrease the amount of his food and drink. When his parents died they left him a large estate, which he at once began to distribute to the poor. He divested himself of the administration of the paternal properties, turning them over to his uncle. And thus, leaving all behind, and wearing a short garment, a hat, wallet and staff, he left France for Italy as a pilgrim. Having journeyed through many cities and all that region of France between the mountains of Lombardy and the English Sea, in which the plague prevailed, and having restored many persons to health by the sign of the cross, he came to Piacenza, where the plague also raged. He went into the hospital there and restored all the patients to health. Finally, according to divine premonition, he himself was attacked with a severe fever, and an arrow of the pestilence was shot through his left leg.[The reference in the text to an ‘arrow of the plague,’ which struck Roch through the left leg, is a figurative expression which recalls to mind that many people in the Middle Ages believed plagues were due to the wrath of God. And they thronged the shrines of saints to make vows and to pray, especially to Saint Sebastian, whose arrows were supposed to represent the shafts of the plague. Albrecht Dürer evidently had this belief in mind when he represented the plague as a rider on a white horse, who, with a bow, sends plague-arrows over the land.] The pain and burning became so intense that he could not rest. He was driven out of the city and crawled into a forest nearby, where God restored him to health. He now returned to France, where war and turmoil raged. Coming to a little estate which he had given to his uncle, he was seized as a spy. He was condemned to imprisonment by his uncle, who no longer recognized him, and to whom he did not disclose his identity. He remained in prison for five years, like that other Roman, Alexius. Having received the Holy Sacrament, he journeyed to the Lord in the Year of the Lord 1327 at the age of 32, having first offered up a prayer to God that all persons invoking his name be protected against the plague; which is attested by a writing found beside him. Then the news reached his noble uncle, who as judge had sentenced him. His uncle then realized that this was Roch, son of his brother; and he arranged for the burial of the body with great pomp. He also built a church in which Roch was illustrious for his miracles for many years. The merits of this holy man were unknown to the Italians until the year 1415, when he relieved of a great plague the city of Constance in which a council was held. In the year 1485 this holy man’s remains were stolen and carried to Venice, where a church was erected to him at great cost: and there he was held in great veneration.[According to legend (and everything about this figure is legendary, since his life appears to be a hagiographic doublet of the life of Saint Racho of Autun, who died c. 660), Roch was born at Montpellier, in Languedoc, the son of noble parents. Various authors place his birth in 1280, others in 1295. His father’s name was John, his mother’s Liberia. His early desire was to imitate the actual virtues of Jesus, while treading humbly in his footsteps in regard to the purity and sanctity of his life. When his father and mother died, he came into the possession of vast riches in money and land. He sold all the law enabled him to dispose of, and distributed the proceeds to the poor and to the hospitals. Leaving the administration of his lands to his father’s brother, he put on the dress of a pilgrim, and journeyed on foot towards Rome. When he arrived at Aquapendente the plague was raging, and the sick and dying encumbered the streets. He went to the hospital, and such was the efficacy of his tender treatment, that the sick were healed merely by his prayers, or merely by the sign of the cross, as he stood over them. Hearing that the plague was desolating the province of Romagna, he went there, and in the cities of Cesena and Rimini devoted his services to the sick. From there he went to Rome, where a fearful pestilence had broken out, and spent three years in the same charitable ministry. Years passed. He traveled from city to city and healed the sick. At length he came to Piacenza, and presented himself at the hospital. But one night he found himself plague-stricken; a fever burned in every limb, and an ulcer had broken out on his left thigh. The pain was so great that he shrieked aloud, and, fearing to disturb the inmates of the hospital, he crawled into the street. But here the officers would not allow him to remain, lest he should spread infection. He dragged himself to the woods outside the gates of Piacenza, and here was healed by an angel or, as some say, by a man of that country named Gothard. He bent his steps toward his own home and country, and arrived at his own little village of Montpellier. But the people no longer knew him, and he was arrested as a spy and carried to prison. He meekly submitted without disclosing his identity. He endured all with patience for five years until he died. Beside his body the jailer found a writing which revealed his name, and these words: ‘All those who are stricken by the plague, and who pray for aid through the merits and intercession of Roch, the servant of God, shall be healed.’ When this writing was carried to his uncle (who, as judge, had committed him to prison, not recognizing his nephew), he was seized with grief and remorse, and gave his nephew honorable burial. The death of Roch is placed in the year 1327, when he was in his 32nd year. In 1414, when a council was held at Constance (the same which condemned Huss), the plague broke out in the city, and the prelates were about to separate and fly from the danger. Then a young German monk who had traveled in France reminded them that there was a saint of that country, through whose merits many had been redeemed from the plague. The council, following his advice, ordered the effigy of Roch carried through the streets with prayers and litanies; and immediately the plague ceased. In 1485 the Venetians, constantly exposed to the plague through commerce with the Levant, resolved to possess themselves of the relics of St. Roch. The conspirators sailed to Montpellier under pretense of a pilgrimage and carried the body off to Venice, where they were received with great joy. The magnificent church of Saint Roch was built to receive the body. This saint is usually portrayed as a pilgrim, a cockle-shell on his hat, a wallet at his side, and a pilgrim’s staff. He lifts his robe to show the plague-spot on his thigh, or points to it.]

Giovanni d’Andrea (Iohannes Andree) of Bologna, highly learned jurist and prodigious fountain of knowledge in the canon law, flourished at this time. Mentally fit, and possessing a clear understanding of the canon law, he was able to write commentaries on and interpretations of it, as well as other commendable things known to the learned. He died of the plague at Bologna in the Year of the Lord 1348.[Giovanni d’Andrea (Johannes Andreae), canonist, was born at Mugello, near Florence, about 1275, and died in 1348. He was educated by his father and at the University of Bologna, where he later became professor of the canon law. He had previously taught at Padua and Pisa, and his period of teaching extended over 45 years. He died during the plague.]

Cino da Pistola (Cynus Pistoriensis), born of the noble family of Sinibaldi, was private secretary to said Giovanni d’Andrea (Iohannis Andree), and was a very distinguished doctor of the civil law. He wrote books that proved very useful in the understanding and interpretation of the civil law.

Cino da Pistola (Cynus Pisteriensis), Italian poet and jurist (1270-1336), whose full name was Guittonicino de Sinibaldi, was born at Pistola of a noble family. He studied law at Bologna under Dinus Muggelanus and Franciscus Accursius, and, in 1307, is said to have been assessor of civil causes in his native city. In that year, Pistoia was disturbed by the Guelph-Ghibelline feud. Cino was a Ghibelline and had to leave. Pitecchio, a stronghold on the frontiers of Lombardy, was still in the hands of Filippo Vergiolesi, chief of the Pistoian Ghibellines. Selvaggio, his daughter, was loved by Cino, who betook himself to Pitecchio. In 1313, the emperor died and the Ghibellines lost their last hope. Cino appears to have thrown up his party and to have returned to Pistoia, where he devoted himself to law and letters. After filling several high judicial offices, a doctor of civil law of Bologna in his forty-fourth year, he lectured and taught from the professor’s chair at the universities of Treviso, Siena, Florence, and Perugia, in succession.

Cino, master of Bartolus, and of Joannes Andreae, the celebrated canonist, was long famed as a jurist. His commentary on the statues of Pistoia is said to have great merit, while that on the code is considered by Savigny to exhibit more practical intelligence and more originality of thought than are found in any commentary on Roman law since the time of Accursius. He was the friend and correspondent of Dante’s later years. Petrarch coupled Cino and Selvaggia with Dante and Beatrice in the fourth chapter of his Trionfi d’Amore.

Oldradus de Laude, a pupil of Dino and private secretary to Giovanni d’Andrea (Iohannis Andree), flourished at this time, noted for his knowledge of the civil law and for his virtuous life. He left many commentaries on the law and gave good counsel.

Giovanni (Iohannes) Calderini, a citizen of Bologna, was a distinguished disciple of Giovanni d’Andrea (Iohannis Andree). He was celebrated for his scriptural wisdom and commendable life, and threw much light on the canon law by means of his lectures, disputations and writings. He also gave much commendable advice.[Giovanni Andrea Calderini, a celebrated jurist, taught at the University of Bologna, and, among other things, wrote a . He died in 1365.]

John (Iohannes) Mandena, who by others (is called) de Monte Villa, a distinguished doctor of medicine, and a knight native to England, wandered over the greater part of the globe as a pilgrim. He acquired a knowledge of many wonderful things, especially in Asia and India; and these have been recorded in many languages. He died at this time.

Jehan de Mandeville (here called “Johannes Mandena,” or “de Monte Villa” and known to the English as “Sir John Mandeville,”) is the name assumed by the compiler of a singular book of travels, written in French and published between 1357 and 1371. By aid of translation into many other languages, it acquired extraordinary popularity, while a few interpolated words gained for Mandeville in modern times the certainly spurious credit of being the “father of English prose.” In his preface the compiler calls himself a knight, and states that he was born and bred in England, of the town of St. Albans, and had crossed the sea on Michaelmas Day, 1322; had traveled by way of Turkey (Asia Minor), Armenia the Little (Cicilia) and the Great, Tartary, Persia, Syria, Arabia, Egypt, upper and lower, Libya, a great part of Ethiopia, Chaldea, Amazonia, India, and many countries about India; had often been to Jerusalem, and had written in Romance as more generally understood than Latin. In the body of the work we hear that he has been at Paris and Constantinople; had served the sultan of Egypt of a long time in his wars against Bedawin, had been vainly offered a princely marriage by him, and a great estate on condition of renouncing Christianity. He visited the Holy Land with letters under the great seal of the sultan; had been in Russia, Livonia, Cracow, Lithuania, and many other parts near Tartary; had drunk of the well of youth at Polombe (Quilon on the Malabar coast), and still seemed to feel the better; had taken astronomical observations on the way to Lamory (Sumatra), as well as in Brabant, Germany, and Bohemia, and still farther north; had been in China, where he served the emperor for fifteen months against the king of Manzi; had been among the rocks of adamant in the Indian Ocean; had been through a haunted valley in Armenia; had been driven home against his will in 1357 by arthritic gout; and had written his book as a consolation for his “wretched rest.”

This personal history of Mandeville is mere invention. There is no doubt that the travels were in large part compiled by a Liege physician known as Jehan a la Barbe, otherwise known as Jehan de Bourgogne, who drew his information from the works of Odoric, Carpiny, Vincent de Beauvais, and others. Jehan a la Barbe is himself a man of mystery.

The account of Prester John is taken from the famous Epistle which was so widely diffused in the 13th century, and created that renown which made it incumbent on every traveler in Asia to find some new tale to tell of him. Many fabulous stories, again of monsters, such as Pliny had collected, are introduced here and there, derived no doubt from him, Solinus, the bestiaries, or the Speculum naturale. And, interspersed, especially in the chapters about the Levant, are the stories and legends that were retailed to every pilgrim, such as the legend of Seth and the grains of paradise from which grew the wood of the cross, that of the shooting of Cain with an arrow by Lamech, that of the castle of the sparrow-hawk (which appears in the tale of Melusina), and the origin of the dragon of Coa. Yet it is only fair to recognize Mandeville’s imaginative powers, for it does not follow that the whole work is borrowed or fictitious. We find particulars not yet traced to other writers, and which may therefore be provisionally assigned either to the writer’s own experience or to the knowledge acquired by colloquial intercourse in the East.

Francis of Mayrone (Franciscus Maronis), of the Barefoot Order, highly learned in the Holy Scriptures, wrote much pertaining to the Christian religion, as well as memorable interpretations of the Bible.[Francis of Mayrone (Franciscus de Mayronis) (c. 1280-1327), a French theologian, was a scholar of Duns Scotus. He was probably born at Meyronnes, Ubaye Valley, in the Department of Basses-Alpes in Provence. He was a professor at the Sorbonne, and died after 1327.]

Michael of Cesena, a general of the Barefoot Order, wrote elegantly upon Ezekiel and a book of the higher criticism. He was accused of heresy by Pope John and deposed from his office of general; but he justified himself by explanations and reasons, and wrote much against Pope John.[Michael of Cesena (Michele Fuschi), Friar Minor, minister general of the Franciscan order and a theologian, was born at Cesena, a small town near Forli in central Italy, about 1270. He studied in Paris and took a doctor’s degree in theology; taught at Bologna, and wrote several commentaries on the Scriptures and the of Peter Lombard. He contended that Christ and his disciples possessed no property individually or collectively, and this contention, as applied to the Catholic Church, involved him in a controversy with the pope. In 1329, the general chapter of Paris condemned the conduct and writings of Michael and all who took part with him against Pope John XXII. The next year Michael and other schismatics followed Louis of Bavaria. In 1331 the chapter of Perpignan expelled Michael from the order and sentenced him to perpetual imprisonment. His remains lie buried in the Barfueserkirche at Munich.]


Roch is portrayed in the robes of a pilgrim, and sainted. He carries a spear instead of a pilgrim’s staff, for no apparent reason.