(p.177) Appendix A Original Eschatological Prophecies of Late Medieval Upper-German-Speaking Europe
(p.177) Appendix A Original Eschatological Prophecies of Late Medieval Upper-German-Speaking Europe
I. The Auffahrt Abend prophecy, also known as “Prophecy for 1401,” adapted from the “Visio Fratris Johannis”
DATE: The earliest known copy—M8—is from ca. 1400. The prophecy was probably adapted between 1386 and 1401. Many copies predict that the foretold events will commence in 1401.
PROVENANCE: Likely composed in Vienna. Often falsely attributed to Heinrich of Langenstein.
B3, fols. 224ra-226rb.
B4, fols. 142v-148r.
C, fols. 315r-316v.
D, fols. 297v-299v.
E, fols. 4r-6v.
G7, fols. 220r-221v.
H1, fols. 45r-49v.
H2, fols. 201a-203a.
K2, fols. 1v-3r.
L, fols. 222rb-224ra.
M2, fols. 247r-249r.
M5, fols. 49r-52v.
M8, fols. 77v-78v.
M9, fols. 267-271.
MU, fols. 92r-94r.
P1, fols. 35r-39v.
S2, fols. 93r-94r.
V1, fols. 172r-173v.
(p.178) V4, fols.162r-163v.
V8, fols. 37r-39v.
Vienna Österreichische Nationalbibliothek, Cod. 4764, fols. 187-189
W2, fols. 127v-130v.
W3, fols. 154r-155v.
P2, fols. 67r-67v.
S3, fols. 230r-231r.
INCIPITS: “An dem auffertabend nach mettenzeit, da ich lag an meinem gepet…”
EDITIONS: German editions: Jennifer Deane, “The Auffahrtabend Prophecy and Henry of Langenstein: German Adaptation and Transmission of the “Visio fratris Johannis” Viator 40, No. 1 (2009), Appendix C; Michael Beheim, “Prophezeiung auf das Jahr 1460,” Gille and Spriewald, eds., Die Gedichte des Michel Beheim, Vol. I, 384–90; Reifferscheid, Neun texte, 43–46; Lauchert, “Materialien,” 856–67; Wilhelm Altmann, ed., Eberhart Windecke’s Denkwürdigkeiten zur Geschichte Kaiser Sigmunds (1893), 357–60.
For an edition of earlier Latin Visio, see Samantha Kelly, “The Visio Fratris Johannis: Prophecy and Politics in Late-Thirteenth-Century Italy,” in Florensia 8 (1994–95): 7–42, Appendix A.
LITERATURE: See Chapter Four
DESCRIPTION: Adapted from a longer Latin prophecy (the Visio fratris Johannis) written in Rome in 1292, this prophecy predicts a time of suffering for Christendom as well as the Church and clergy. It begins with the author receiving a vision of a bishop while he is praying on the eve of the Feast of Ascension. The author weeps over the events of the Holy Land, and the bishop promises to show him the fate of Christendom. The bishop predicts first a terrible onslaught by the infidels, who will sully Christian churches and altars and murder Christians, throwing their corpses to the beasts. He then predicts the devastation of Rome and of the Church, foreseeing the murder and dispossession of the clergy, who will become subjects of disgust. This prophecy is highly critical of the clergy, particularly cardinals. It foretells the leveling of the Church hierarchy, and finally a renewal of Christendom and the coming of a “blessed time.”
II. The Letter of Brother Sigwalt (Prister Siegwalt/Sigenwalt/Sigeboldus/Engelbaldus)
DATE: ca .1420 (and probably 1424) to 1435. The earliest known version appears in Eberhart Windecke’s Deeds of the Emperor Sigismund, ca. 1435.
PROVENANCE: Almost certainly Nürnberg.
C, fols. 313vb-314vb.
G2, fols. 268r-v.
(p.179) M2, fols. 246r-247r.
MU, fols. 95v-96v.
P1 (introduction only), fol. 39v.
M12, fols. 230v-231r.
M19, fols. 121r-121v.
P2, fols. 81r-81v.
INCIPITS: “Dieser Brief ist funden worden in der cappeln bei Heidenheim, herdiszhalb auf der hohe gein Nuremberg zu…”; “Ego Engelbaldus sacerdos secularis volens de via erroris fugere…”; “Also ein weltlicher priester genant Sigewall von der welt zouch…”; “Vaticinium Engebaldi sacerdotis Anno MCC in heremo prope Winsheim ducens vitam solitariam…”; “Bruder Sigwald von Heidenheim (bei Gunzenhausen), … gefunden im Jahre 1488)”; “S. Sigeboldi heremetae Franconiae, qui vixit anno 1230 in nemore Winshaymensi…”
EDITIONS: Reifferscheid, Neuen texte, 41–42. Wolfgang Stammler, ed., Prosa der deutschen Gotik: eine Stilgeschichte in Texten (Berlin, 1933), 89–91. Altmann, ed., Eberhart Windecke’s Denkwürdigkeiten, 361–62. Beheim cites from the introduction, but not the body of the prophecy: Gille and Spriewald, eds., Die Gedichte des Michel Beheim, Vol. I, 424–28; Lazius, “Fragmentum vaticinii cuiusdam Methodi,” Vienna 1547, VD16 ZV 9507 H i, introduces a prophecy by “S. Sigebold, a Franconian hermit living near Winsheim in 1230,” but Lazius’s version does not resemble other versions of the “Letter.”
LITERATURE: See Chapter Three.
DESCRIPTION: This prophecy purports to be a letter written by a hermit living in the woods near Winsheim (or Haidenhaim, depending on the manuscript). In some versions the letter was written in 1230 and has only been recently discovered. It predicts a time of tribulations for the Roman Empire. This is followed by the victory of the emperor and vengeance against the Empire’s enemies. The citizens of Nürnberg will be particularly rewarded if they remain just and righteous. The prophecy also tells of three hidden keys, which will be found to the aid of the good people of the empire.
* For a related prophecy attributed to “Gigebaldus,” see below.
III. The Burgundy Prophecy
DATE: The earliest known manuscript copy—W5—is ca. 1463–66. The prophecy was probably written after the beginning of Friedrich III’s reign.
PROVENANCE: Bavaria. The two known copies were owned by the convents of Augustinian Canons in Bavaria.
M15, fol. 42v.
W5, fol. 27r (the prophecy may also have been in M10, but is now ripped out).
INCIPITS: “Anno domini m˚ cccc˚ xlvii usque ad annum domini m˚cccc˚ lxiiii (sic) ursa Burgundie in superiori parte…”
DESCRIPTION: This prophecy begins with a political prediction that from 1447 to 1464, the bear of Burgundy (the duke of Burgundy at this time was Philip the Good) will reign in the house of the lion (presumably Luxembourg). The prophecy then turns to more general predictions of suffering for the Church. The vainglory of the clerics will cease, apostolic bulls will no longer have authority, and all bishoprics and dioceses will devolve to the authority of the empire. The military will miraculously increase. The prophecy also predicts a time of calamity and plague when only a third of the people will survive. Many lords will be opposed by their vassals. The prophecy conclues that in 1464, a time of universal peace, and bread and wine, will begin. An emperor whose name begins with “F” will reform the military and the clergy.
IV. The Prophecy of Dietrich of Zengg
DATE: Earliest dated version is a versified prophecy of Michel Beheim, written ca.1460–61, which combines this prophecy with the Letter of Brother Sigwalt and does not attribute it to Dietrich. The earliest complete copy of the prophecy appears in the (MU) anthology from ca. 1465. A later caption claims that the prophecy was composed in Zengg (now Senj), Croatia in 1420, and predicts events beginning 1501. However, it is possible that Zengg refers to Senec (Wartberg in German), now in western Slovakia, 27 kilometers (approximately 17 miles) from Austria.
PROVENANCE: Probably Austria. None of the earliest copies contain the reference to the Croatian Brother Dietrich.
H1, fols. 42r-45v.
Mainz, Martinus Bibliothek, Priesterseminar MS 205, pp. 500–502b. (No published catalog.)
M17, fols. 41v-43v.
MU, fols. 103v-106r.
V11, fols. 1r-6r.
E, fols. 1r-4r.
G7, fols. 218v-219v.
V10, fols. 13r- 14v.
LATIN: The excerpt in G7 states that it was translated from a Latin exemplar, although no Latin manuscript versions are known to me.
INCIPITS: “Dise practica hat gemacht ein bruder sant Franciscus orden hat geheyssen mit namen Dietrich beschehen zu Zenng in Kravatten” incip: “Item wen man wirt zelen nach der gepurdt Cristi tausent funfthundert und ain jar in kurtzer zeit darnach so wirt kumen ain grausamer windt der selb wirt mannigen betruben…”; “Wenn man wirt zelen xiiii iar Darnach in kurzen iaren wirt kumen ain ostlich wind…”
EDITIONS: No full edition. A partial edition is in Lauchert, “Materielien,” 868–70. A partial version was versified by Michel Beheim, Gille and Spriewald, eds., Die Gedichte des Michel Beheim, Vol. I, 424–428. This prophecy appears often in print in the sixteenth century with the dates changed. Flacius (Lyon, 1597), II, 860. Lazius, L iii (b), a Latin partial edition. Two copies claim that the prophecy was made by a Carmelite: “Dise prophecy ist funden worden in Osterreich vff einem Schloß das heißt Altenburg. Jst gemacht von einem Münich Carmeliten ordens von Prag. Da man zalt nach der geburt Christi / Vierhundert / Zweyundsechtzig Jare.” Freiburg/Breisgau: Johann Wörlin, 1522 (German). VD16 D 1458; Speyer: Jakob Schmidt, 1523 (German). VD16 D 1457
LITERATURE: Lauchert, “Materialien” 867–870; Mentgen, 156; Lerner, “Medieval Prophecy,” 22; Wolfram Schmitt, “Bruder Dietrich von Zengg” in Die deutsche Literatur des Mittelalters: Verfasserlexikon, Vol. 2 (Berlin, 1980) and Vol. 11 (Berlin, 2004).
DESCRIPTION: This prophecy, sometimes named a “practica,” is attributed in some manuscripts to a Franciscan brother, Dietrich of Zengg. It predicts a frightful wind, and much suffering and death. It foresees a time when thousands of Christians will have to flee their homes and many will be stabbed and beaten. The prophecy singles out the “Welsch” lands for suffering, and mentions Florence, Lombardy, and Venice by name. Among the figures it describes is a “lion” with a banner of red and blue. It predicts that the French kingdom at Paris will be divided (this is probably ex eventu), and foresees a time of uprising and overthrow, when the Germans will rise up again as if from new. The prophecy further describes the advent of an unsteady emperor who will make a marriage with a Welsch bride, and between them they will divide the empire. The prophecy also predicts the advent of a vengeful German emperor, who will at first be valued at nothing, but will come to rule the lords of the Rhine. He will destroy Rome and the corrupt Church and all evil. He will subjugate the Greek empire. He will reform Christendom and renew justice. This German emperor will wear distinctive arms, with a shield colored red and white (the Hapsburg colors). Then will come a time of peace and plenty and no inflation.
(p.182) V. The Gamaleon Prophecy
DATE: ca 1394–1416. The earliest copy, Vienna, Vind. Lat. 3282, appears to be from ca. 1420s, but gives the date 1394.
PROVENANCE: Probably Austria.
G3, fols. 231r-233v.
G4, fols. 193v-196r
G5, fols. 308r-311v.
G6, fols. 253v-258r.
M2, fols. 249v-251r (with variations and an unusual rubric: “Johannes cum aurea arte XXI9” and incipit: “Gamaleon vir sanctus amicus Bonifacii pape VIII habuit visionem quandem de statu ecclesie”)
V7, (excerpts) fol. 33a.
Vienna, Vind. Lat. 3282 (of Bohemian provenance), fols. 25-28.
INCIPITS: “Epistola Gamaleonis de novissimis temporibus ad Bonifacium papam nonum…”; “Gamaleon vir sanctus bonifacii pape viii habuit visionem quandem de statu ecclesie…”
EDITIONS: None of Version L.
LITERATURE: See Chapter Three.
DATE: The earliest copies—M1 and V2—are from ca. 1450, but their introduction refers to Pope Innocent, presumably the VII, reigned 1404–06.
PROVENANCE: Southern Germany.
G1, fols. 477r-480r.
M2, fols. 249v-251r.
MU, fols. 100r-102v.
V3, fols. 104r-114r (highly variant)
INCIPITS: “Gamaleon schribt zu dem babst, der do genant was Innocencius wie im erschein ein gar hubscher knabe bei dreien jaren”;
EDITIONS: Reifferscheid, Neun texte, pp. 47–51.
LITERATURE: See Chapter Three.
DATE: The earliest known manuscript is M10, copied ca. 1463–66, although the prophecy is introduced as a sermon preached in 1439.
PROVENANCE: Southern German, probably Benedictines. The version in M10 was copied at Benediktbeuren, but the prophecy did not necessarily originate there. Attributed to the theologian, author, and preacher Johannes of Wünschelburg as a sermon preached in Amberg, 1439.
A4, fols. 211r-221v.
K1, fols. 91va-92ra.
M11, fols. 88r-91v.
M15, fols. 41r-42v.
M16, fols. 254v-255r.
W5, fols. 26r-26v.
INCIPITS: “Anno domini 1439 ipso die s. Barholomaei apostoli, venerabilis vir egregius magister Johannes Wünschelburg, sacrae paginae professor, oppidique Hamberg praedicator eximius in ambone praefati oppidi S. Martini verba sequenia intonavit: Gamaleon beatus vir et excellentis religionis, consanguineus Bonifacii Papae…”
EDITIONS: Lauchert, “Materialien,” edits the version from Lazius, 844–46. Von Bezold, “Zur deutschen Kaisersage” 604–06; Herrmann, 114–15. Wolfgang Lazius, Fragmentum vaticinii cuiusdam ut coniicitur Methodii (Vienna, 1547), VD16 ZV 9507, H ii. V; Matthias Flacius Illyricus, Catalogus testium veritatis qui ante nostram aetatem reclamarunt papae (Basel, 1556). Flacius probably took his edition from the manuscript Helmstedt-Wolfenbüttel 366, originally from the Augustinian Cloister in Regensburg. Flacius attributes the prophecy to a preacher in Amberg. Johannes Wolff, Lectiones memorabiles et reconditae (Lauingen, 1600), i. 720–21.
LITERATURE: See Chapter Three.
A note on the Gamaleon prophecy:
Two manuscripts include a note on the correspondence of other prophecies with the Gamaleon prophecy:
B4, fol. 148r: “Predictis quasi per omniam concordat Gamaleon quidam sanctus heremita scribens in quodam [sic] opusculum ad Bonifacium primum de huius dicitur per verbis fiendis venturis.”
W2, fol. 130v: “Predictis per omnia concordat Gamaleon quidam sanctus heremita scribens in quadam epistola ad Bonifacium primum de huius [damaged: omni] periculis venturis. Item ad idem per totum quasi est prophecia Joachim.”
DESCRIPTION: An unknown figure Gamaleon describes to the pope a vision he has received regarding the Church and Empire. The vision is of a heavenly little boy wearing a crown, marked with symbolic figures that give astrological forecasts relating to the End of Time. The boy shows Gamaleon an image of an evil emperor from the south, “of the lily field.” He foretells that the evil emperor will usurp the German imperial title and rule unjustly, bringing about terrible and marvelous things. Then an elected German emperor will arise and conquer the evil emperor. He will summon a general council at Aachen and appoint a patriarch in Mainz, transferring the Church to Germany. Rome and the papacy will falter, while the German empire grows in prestige and virtue until the commencement of the End Times.
(p.184) VI. The Prophecy of Philip the Astronomer
DATE: ca. 1472.
PROVENANCE: The prophecy appears in only one uncatalogued manuscript, now held at the Universitätsbibliothek in Basel. It is attributed to an astronomer named Philip, and derives from Basel.
B1 fols. 164r-165r.
LITERATURE: Lerner, “Medieval Prophecy,” 22–23, n. 59.
DESCRIPTION: This is an elucidation of the meaning of the comet that appeared in 1472. It uses astrology (superficially) to foretell a time of destruction. It predicts a great army from the east, earthquakes, floods, and storms. It foresees schism and destruction in cities, betrayal through poison, and curiously, forgiveness and the wearing of black clothing. It also foresees warfare, bloodshed, and the fragmentation of the Empire. The prophecy borrows heavily from earlier prophecies, such as Veniet aquila and possibly Gamaleon. It predicts the destruction of Rome and the other great cities of the world, accompanying the appearance of the Second Friedrich, although it reassures its readers that the unity of the Church will remain and the authorities will not be disdained. The pope will die, as will many kings and princes, especially in the German nation. Germany will be robbed by Gaul. But these events are followed by the advent of an eagle who will rule the world according to his will. He will reform matters with honor and the spirit of truth and justice.
VII. The Prophecy of Theobertus (of Anglia) for the 1470s
DATE: Composed after 1461, when Edward IV ascended the English throne, and before the comet of 1472, since the prophecy does not mention this event. The earliest copies known to me date from ca. 1470.
PROVENANCE: Unknown. The author is often named as Theobertus of England. However, I have not encountered any examples of this prophecy in English manuscripts. Even if a version of the prophecy originated in England, the version discussed here emphasizes German-speaking lands, and issues affecting the Empire. I conclude that it was therefore either composed in German-speaking Europe, or adapted there.
H1, here called “Theobert from England”: fol. 12r.
M14, fols. 260r-v.
Prague, National Library of Czech Republic I.D.47, fol. 10v.
Innsbruck Servitenkloster MS I B 28, fols. 176v-177v, had a copy of a prophecy for the years 1470–78 following the Reformatio Sigismundi. This manuscript appears to now be lost.
M1, fol. 11v.
M7, fol. 201r.
M14, fols. 260r-v.
M18, fol. 189r.
INCIPITS: “Practica Magistri Theoberti Anglici sequitur primas Padue calculavit sed partibus legitimis verum in se ut experimento probatu est” “anno lxx ˚ erunt tempora frigida”
EDITIONS: Günther Zainer, Augsburg, c. 1470, VE15.
LITERATURE: Lerner, The Powers of Prophecy, 6; Lynn Thorndike, Some Tracts on Comets 1456–1500 (1958), 237–38; E. Zinner, Geschichte und Bibliographie der astronomischen literatur in Deutschland zur zeit, 94, n. 22.
DESCRIPTION: This prophecy predicts events for the years 1470–79. These include predictions for fair weather and foul (such as a flood in Frisia in 1472), and the death of political entities including a “Lord Urbanus” for 1470, and King Edward of England for 1478. The prophecy also foresees the retaking of the Holy Land by the Christians in 1473, strife and trouble for the Franciscan Friars and suffering for the Church in 1475, and a successful election of a new German emperor from Bavaria in 1476. It concludes, for 1479, “with the sun ascendent in cancer and jupiter existing in his exultation, one can hope for peace and concord. The world will go back to its pristine state and all will have the blessing.”
VIII. The Prophecy of Master Theodorius
PROVENANCE: A “Master Theodorius” residing in Apulia, who appears to have been a German. He might have been a notary, perhaps in Italy on papal service, according to Lerner, “Medieval Prophecy,” 6.
MU, fols. 117v-119r.
N, fols. 50r-52r.
P1, fols. 25r-27v
W4, fols. 4v-6r.
INCIPITS: “Meister Theodorius in Appulia gesessen ein vermacker der dieren des herren in der zit …” “So ist mir maister theodoryo kunt getan von gotlicher himmlikaitt das vorder vorgenanten miiiilxiiii iaren sol grosser streben und plut vorgiessen geschehen …”
LITERATURE: Lerner, “Medieval Prophecy, 3–7.
(p.186) DESCRIPTION: This prophecy is for the year 1464. It foresees many tribulations for this year, including widespread mortality, bloodshed, eclipses, an earthquake, a flood, and “the appearance in pools of water of creatures with fiery hoes which they would use to drag in people and kill them.” The city of Venice undergoes special affliction, in the form of the miraculous levitation of the doors of St. Mark. The prophecy is highly anticlerical, and singles out the bishops (presumably archbishops) of the Rhine for particular wrath. It also predicts the destruction of the Hussites by the Duke of Austria. The prophecy foresees the coming of a force of infidels against Rome, the king of whom converts to Christianity and becomes the elected emperor. He then leads a crusade to the Holy Land, ends violence between the believers and the infidels, and lays down his crown at the Holy Sepulchre.
IX. The Rot Adler prophecy
DATE: ca. 1462.
PROVENANCE: Probably Austria.
G7, fols. 221v-222r
E, fols. 6v-7v.
INCIPITS: “Die hernach geschriben prophecey ist geweissagt worden von Kristi gepurd vierczehenhundert und zwayundsechtzigistenn Jar, als geschriben steet in ainem alten puech an Meran zw der pharr.” “Als kunig Artus von Frankchreich und herczog Eczim von Trient under Salmy erslagen ward, als sand Gersian legend sagt, der Bischoff auff Seben gewesen ist, da weissagt ainer und sprach …”
EDITIONS: A Latin translation appears in Wolfgang Lazius’s Fragmentum Vaticinii cuiusdam … Methodii (Vienna, 1547) VD16 ZV 9507, fol. Hiiiib; G7 and Lazius appear in Lauchert, “Materialien,” 870–72.
LITERATURE: Lauchert, “Materialien.”
DESCRIPTION: This is a political prophecy involving multiple “eagles.” It begins with a description of tribulations and warfare “until a lamb and a little lamb come and renew peace.” It predicts that the Empire will be divided until a red eagle emerges from the mountain of mountains who will “seize all things with his claws, and set all things under his wings and will set peace upon the lands.”
It launches from this into political predictions involving the red eagle, an eagle who is like him, an old black eagle, and yet a “third bird,” who will be a “man of violence,” bearing the Habsburg colors of red with white stripes. In the end this third eagle will be victorious, powerful, rich, and honored, and his son will rule against Rome.
(p.187) X. The Veniet F prophecy
DATE: Fifteenth century, presumably after 1440, the beginning of Friedrich III’s reign.
Cologne, Historisches Archiv Gymnasialbibliothek quart. 214, fol. 188r (here attributed to Hildegard of Bingen)
A1, fol. 1rb.
INCIPITS: “Veniet F cum magna discordia, rixa, et gwerra…”
LITERATURE: Lerner, “Medieval Prophecy,” 21.
DESCRIPTION: The prophecy foresees the advent of an “F,” accompanied by great discord, violence, and war. This “F” will prevale and reign for thirty-two years. During his reign there will be the highest peace and best of times. He will destroy the vain priests and all perverse men and women. He will make swords and spears into plowshares and sickles and put an end to war. And he will live in the area between the Rhine and the Danube for ten years. Then he will take a great army to the holy land and return the holy sepulchre to Christian hands.
XI. The Visio Gigebaldi, or “Prophecy for 1460”
DATE: The earliest known copy appears in the prophetic anthology W5, ca. 1460. Here, the prophecy purports to be from 1273, but predicts events for 1460 and 1461.
PROVENANCE: Southern Germany, possibly Nürnberg.
MU, fols 98r-v, 98v-99r, 99v-100r. (This version is attributed to St. Gregory and written partially in verse. It is missing the beginning and is broken up under different rubrics, with other prophecies written in between).
W5, fols. 62rb-63ra (here the prophecy is confused with the Letter of Brother Sigwalt and is introduced as a revelation receied in 1273 by “Gigebaldus,” a cleric living as a hermit in the woods near Winsheim).
INCIPITS: “Als man wirt zeln cccc und in lx so wirt solicher jamer ersten …” “So sol grossn angst und betrubnuß auf erd geschechen …” Later Augsburg print: “In den Jaren so man zellen wierdt. 1522. 1523. 1524. Jar werden erscheint. ain forcklicher vnd grosser Jamer in der weldt.”
EDITIONS: A print of a later version of the prophecy appears in Wolfgang Lazius’ Fragmentum Vaticinii cuiusdam … Methodii (Vienna, 1547) VD16 ZV 9507 fols. (p.188) G. IV-V (attributed to the hermit Sigeboldus from the woods near Windsheim and redated to 1522). Augsburg StSB 4o LR 249, #11: “Ain brophecya Oder weisagung Jetz lauffende Jar betreffendt geoffenbart / ainen fromben briester / mit namen Gigebaldus” This version redates the predicted events to 1522, 23, and 24.
LITERATURE: Johathan Green, Printing and Prophecy, Appendix, 159. Klaus Arnold, 43–44, Lerner, “Medieval Prophecy,” 22.
DESCRIPTION: This prophecy became confused with the Letter of Brother Sigwalt, and appears in two extant copies with the introduction to the letter under the names Sigeboldus and Gigeboldus. The contents have little in common with the Letter of Brother Sigwalt aside from the introduction and one line about Nürnberg. This line is the admonishment, found also in the “Letter,” to “let Nürnberg and other Roman cities be warned to do sufficient truth and justice.” Otherwise, this is an original prophecy that predicts violence for the years 1460 and 1461. The list of terrible tribulations to occur at this time includes large-scale conflict and bloodshed between “clergy and laity and all princes,” as well as the prediction that heathens and Turks together with “evil Christians” will wreak havoc and violence on Europe (the “Welsch” lands as well as “part of the Deutsch lands”). The lay princes will lose their lands to a Roman king, who will also conquer the Greek Empire, and destroy Rome. The pope will die. The prophecy also predicts a tremendous spiritual crisis, in which the power and honor of the clergy will be destroyed, the papacy will diminish, and the people, both lay and cleric, will fall into gross immorality and error.
This prophecy might have originally been excerpted from a longer work. The MU copy states that the prophecy continues with more dire predictions. The Wolfenbüttel manuscript actually does continue, forecasting that in 1461 the Roman king, along with the imperial cities, will gather a great army and demolish the priets, killing them and taking their power, as well as purifying the land of evildoers, heretics, heathens, and “sorcerers.” After this will come a time of Christian unity and justice, “according to the good old ways,” lasting until the coming of Antichrist.
XII. The Wirsberger Letters. Letter to “Johannes of the East” & Letter to Nürnberg
DATE: ca. 1465.
PROVENANCE: Egerland, Janko and Livin Wirsberger.
A3, fols. 190r-191v & fols. 192r-214r.
LITERATURE: See Chapter Five.
DESCRIPTION: The letters offer an explication of an eschatological program based on biblical passages related to the End Times. They also request the examination and approval of this program. The letter addressed to “Johannes” (p.189) introduces the subject of the second letter, asking how to communicate the matter to the people of the Empire. It also begins the process of glossing biblical texts. The “letter to Nürnberg” continues glossing biblical texts related to the End Times. The main points are that the End Times are at hand in the 1460s and Antichrist is already born into the world and will be defeated in 1471. Antichrist is present in the Church and clergy. The clergy have led people astray with their false teachings and interpretations of the Gospels. A mysterious figure (probably Johannes de Coronato Castro) has been filled with divine illumination, but is rejected by the authorities. The Empire, its cities, people, and elector-princes, will have a special role in the End Times. (p.190)