Memoir of “Götz” von Berlichingen, Pt 2: ‘Die Schlacht im Walde Anagoria’

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    Hans Hellinger

    So the saga of Götz continues!

    For more about this intrepid, quarrelsome knight, read our first post about his autobiography, here:

    First combat of Gottfried “Götz” von Berlichingen – 1499

    It is now three years later, in 1502. Götz has been ‘given a horse’ by, (and rides in the service of), a Swabian noble named “Hans von Masenbach, aka “Old Thalacker”. He is now riding as a lancer and wearing armor, though I’m still not sure if he has been knighted yet.

    Thalacker joins forces with Kasimir, the ruthless and formidable Margrave of Brandenburg, whose family has been in an on-again, off again feud with the Free City of Nuremeberg since the 1420s. The Margrave has accumulated a powerful force of horsemen and mercenary infantry (including 300 Swiss Reislaufer) and seeks to ambush the town militia in the vicinity of the town itself.

    For more about this Margrave, here is the Wiki:,_Margrave_of_Brandenburg-Kulmbach

    What follows is the “Schlacht im Walde Anagoria” / battle of the Anagoria forest on Sunday, St. Vitus Day, (June 15) 1502, a victory for the Margrave against the Nurembergers, in which young Götz himself seems to have played a significant role. I found a marvelous painting of this battle by an anonymous artist, in which you can see the chaotic battle that Götz describes, including the war wagons and cannon which played such a key role.

    The account of the battle:

    “I came back to my captain, we moved in towards Nuremberg, towards the Stichgraben [a canal near the city], and wanted to see, how the occasion was everywhere conditioned, and how or where those of Nuremberg would keep themselves. Then Sir Paulus [Paulus von Absberg] and we who were with him retired, as if we wanted to flee, and wanted again to hurry away, as if we could not well get along in the wood.

    But there were those from Nuremberg on us with cannon and the Wagenburg [wagon fort], and they let it there go in such a way that some of us were not bored, because not everyone can stand the rumbling [i.e. gunfire], and so we came also to those places where the Margrave had hidden himself with his troop, and held in battle order on horse and foot, and waited if not the enemy came out to him, because it was near the city, and not far from the Nuremberg forest [i.e. Anagoria] so that it was an advantage for them and we had about 700 horse, and the Margrave’s Land-Volk, about 300 Landsknechts and 300 Swiss.

    When it was now time, those from Nuremberg marched on us with their cannon, Wagenburg, and Reissigem Zeug [‘instruments of war’] as much as they had, and they really were not clumsy, but well ordered with the Wagenburg, cannon, and their people, and when the battle began, we and our captains sent to Margrave Casimirus a request that His Princely Grace should reinforce us, because it was time, and we were losing and they were winning, so that one must not tarry, then His Princely Grace again sent to us that we should in the Name of God continue, His Princely Grace would reinforce us, and soon be with us as it was the duty of a pious prince, there we continued in the Name of God.

    But the Margrave’s Landvolk fled all from us, alone with the exception of the Kizinger Fahnlein [a ‘banner’ or company of troops] that remained with us, and 300 Landsknechts and 300 Swiss, together with the with the Reissigen [men at arms, i.e. cavalry] with which we advanced against the enemy, and their cannon opened [fire] in such a way that one could hardly see that troop for all the smoke.

    And when we came directly to their Wagenburg, they wanted to close it, and not much had been missing, and really the wagoners were not inept, but swift in it, there stirred my heart in my body and said it to me, and as God gave it to my mind, also my wit required the necessity that I stabbed to death the foremost wagoner from the horse, that I do only so that the wagon could not come further forward, and that the others had to stop, and I held on to that gap without behest or order from my captain or someone else with the Grace and Help of God, so that they could not all close their Wagenberg, even if not much had missed, as told, that they would have closed it, and so my action was of the greatest advantage that we had, and has without doubt not been unfavorable to our victory and luck, because I do not know how it would have gone otherwise, as they were too strong for us, and also had before this cannon and the Wagenburg, and they had rested and we were tired, and they were also followed by a large troop.

    And they were already close to us, so that we skirmished with them, and we even lost most of the men-at-arms against the troop, because we thought at first they were on our side and were our comrades, until the cannon fired, and a number of our comrades of einspannigen Reissigen fled towards us, and I myself together with Hanns Hundenen [Hans Hund von Weknheim, a noble], the rider captain of the Margrave, assisted in disengaging them, otherwise without doubt they would have fallen, and we defended ourselves in such a way that they themselves had to flee, which was our main luck, because when they saw their fleeing body people fleeing towards them, there they realized that they had lost the battle and their troop had been beaten, and began and fled also, without that many a good comrade would have fallen apart and died, and I thought myself also lost, because my horse had been severely wounded and stabbed, and died of that stabbing, and it was a very hot day so that more people suffocated [heat exhaustion?] than were slain, and I thought for a while that we were so hot because were in a series of actions and work, but when I came there afterwords, everyone said how it had been such a hot day.

    When we, as mentioned, won the battle, we took the cannon and the Wagenburg, and moved with it to the camp at Schobach, I have also since seen the same cannon that we brought from there at Onolzbach in the arsenal, and were there iron feld-schlangen [literally ‘field serpent, culverin, a long barreled cannon] that I have wel-knonw that they were the self-same cannon”

    After this, Götz describes how the Nuremberg forces were routed and fled into the city, some falling into the moat, and had the Margrave’s army not been so pre-occupied with seizing the cannon and war-wagons they might have (in his opinion) captured the city itself. After this they retired to an inn where there was much rejoicing and congratulations to the surviving men of the Margrave,and Götz himself was singled out for praise. He perhaps someonewhat ironically notes that this was ‘even better than a gift of 2,000 gulden’ but then goes on to note that:

    “When I wanted to go back home from such a war, there I had of the 4 horses that I had in that battle not more than one left, which was among them the most evil, and my gracious Prince’ and Lords, the Lord Margrave’s superior councillors lent me their own horses, and especially Sir Veit von Vestenberg who had a horse that he much loved, and nevertheless he lent it to me so that all people were amazed and they thought if his Lord, the Margrave himself had asked him for it, he would not have lent it to me. That pay, as mentioned, has been for me and my brother [who also fought in this battle] the most amiable pay, and that was well enough for us poor lads of noble birth.”

    War horses of course, are very expensive!

    Hans Hellinger
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