The beautiful Magelon

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Title page of Die schön Magelona , Augsburg 1535
Title page of the first Low German edition of the beautiful Magelona, ​​Hamburg 1601

The beautiful magelon is a narrative material that originated in 15th century France as a prose novel and became immensely popular in the Holy Roman Empire through the translation by Veit Warbeck (first printed in Augsburg in 1535).

It is about Magelone, the daughter of the King of Naples. Magelone and a Count Peter of Provence fall in love, although Magelone has been promised to someone else, and flee the court together. When a bird steals the ring of the magelon and Peter pursues him, he falls into Turkish slavery. He managed to escape, but only after years of wandering around him would he again embrace his Magelon, which has since established a hospital for the poor.

Origin and reception

The story of the Magelon goes back to stories from the area around the Arabian Nights Collection . We find the motif constellation especially in the story of Prince Kameralzaman von Khaledan and the Chinese Princess Budur . The French, anonymous prose novel Ystoire du vaillant chevalier Pierre filz du conte de provence et de la belle Maguelonne has been handed down in manuscripts since the middle of the 15th century and in numerous prints since 1472. It has been translated into German twice. While the first translation (around 1470?) Received no response from an anonymous person and is only available in a manuscript ( Staatsbibliothek zu Berlin , currently in Krakow , mgq 1579, around 1525), the one devoted to the future Elector Johann Friedrich von Sachsen by Veit Warbeck in 1527 was developed Transmission, which appeared posthumously in 1535 at Steiner in Augsburg, had an even greater effect. Repeatedly printed (Steiner alone published eight editions by 1545), it is one of the early modern folk books that was enthusiastically devoured.

Probably the most moving testimony to the general awareness of the text is provided by the archives of the witch trials in Nördlingen . In the cash register of Rebecca Lemp , who was burned as a witch in Nördlingen in 1590, to her husband Peter on August 2, 1590, it reads: O Schaz your guilty Magalona . Rebecca and her husband Peter have stylized their love according to a literary model. By adopting the name Magelone, Rebecca Lemp throws “the light of a story of love and adventure that is experienced as binding on the tragic separation from her beloved husband Peter. Far from being a flirtatious game, this allusion testifies to the effectiveness of a literary model and brings life to the otherwise so colorful concept of literary identification. "

There are several references in which Warbeck's Magelona is mentioned in the context of other early modern folk books, for example in a novel by Johann Beer from the 17th century:

"During the winter time I sit down over the Spanish winter nights, and when the servants spin their pluckers and work, I have my boy read them Dietrich von Bern or the knight Otto from Hungary [...] and the like." the old mothers sometimes sigh from the bottom of their heart when such a newspaper comes from Magelona, ​​and what more of the fool antics may be. "

- Quoted from Steinlein, 1982

In the 16th century, Hans Sachs treated the story three times in 1554/55. Lope de Vega based his drama Los tres diamantes (1609) on the subject with other names .

In Goethe's boyhood, in the middle of the 18th century, the magelon was distributed in a cheap Frankfurt blotting paper edition, and the German poet also read it as a child. A few decades later, in 1785, an enlightened-minded anonymous broke the bar on the work in the Berlin monthly journal : “A boring thing, which maidens and women in many small towns read with great patience, presumably because they have nothing else to read. “But at the end of the same century, Ludwig Tieck undertook the most important literary adaptation in 1797 with the love story of the beautiful Magelone and Count Peter of Provence . In addition, between 1861 and 1869 Johannes Brahms presented [15] romances from L. Tieck's Magelone (op. 33), a setting for a voice with pianoforte . In the 19th century, the material was then also included in the popular book collections of Gustav Schwab , GO Marbach and Karl Simrock . It was also included in France in the two-volume collection Contes populaires de la Lorraine (Paris, n.d. [1886/1891]) organized by Emmanuel Cosquin as a popular fairy tale.

After the version in the Book of Love ( Frankfurt am Main 1587), Hans-Gert Roloff published Warbeck's Magelone in 1969 as No. 1575 of Reclam's Universal Library , after an edition with 37 woodcuts from a Leipzig print from 1598 as Insel-Buch 39/1 (from 1938: IB 408/2), which Severin Rüttgers had looked after, was published. In 1985 Peter Bichsel approached the subject parodistically under the title The Busant. About drinkers, police officers and the beautiful Magelone ( Luchterhand , Darmstadt and Neuwied). This parody is again based on the verse tale of the same name from the early 14th century.


  • Max Brösel , Rudolf Schulz: The beautiful Magelone and other stories. Hahn, Leipzig 1930.
  • Gertrud Klausner : The three diamonds of the Lope de Vega and the beautiful Magelone ; Berlin (Felber) 1909, reprint Nendeln / FL (Kraus) 1977
  • Felix Karlinger (ed.): Romanesque folk books. Cross sections on the history of material and the function of selected texts ; Darmstadt (WBG) 1978 ISBN 3-534-07154-9
  • Gmünder Volkshochschule (ed.): Veit Warbeck and the entertaining Historia of the beautiful Magelone ; Schwäbisch Gmünd 1985 (exhibition catalog)
  • Werner Röcke , Minne, flight from the world and legitimation of rule. Changes in the late court novel using the example of the "Good Woman" and Veit Warbeck's "Magelone" ; in: G. Stötzel (ed.), German studies. Research status and perspectives , Vol. 2, Berlin a. New York (1985), pp. 144-159.
  • Armin Schulz: Poetics of the Hybrid. Scheme, variation and intertextual combinatorics in the Minne- and Aventiureepik: Willehalm von Orlens - Partonopier and Meliur - Wilhelm von Österreich - The beautiful Magelone ; Erich Schmidt Verlag Berlin 2000, ISBN 3-503-04964-9
  • Hans-Hugo Steinhoff: Magelone , in: Enzyklopädie des Märchen Volume 8, Berlin (de Gruyter) 1996, Sp. 1414-1418 ISBN 3-11-014339-9
  • Hans-Hugo Steinhoff: Magelone , in: The German literature of the Middle Ages. Author lexicon ; Volume 5, Berlin (de Gruyter) 1985, Sp. 1142–1148 ( ISBN 3-11-009909-8 )
  • W. Theiss, Die "Schöne Magelona" and her readers. Storytelling strategy and audience change in the 16th century ; in: Euphorion, 23 (1979), pp. 132-148

Web links

Primary texts


Individual evidence

  1. Klaus Graf: Veit Warbeck, the translator of the "Beautiful Magelone" (1527) and his family . Einhorn-Jahrbuch Schwäbisch Gmünd 1986, p. 139, accessed February 28, 2015.
  2. On the means of getting better books into the hands of the lower reading class. In: Berlinische Monatsschrift Vol. 6 (1785), Volume 2, pp. 295-311, here p. 300 ( digitized version ).