Hans Jakob Christoffel of Grimmelshausen

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Hans Jakob Christoffel von Grimmelshausen (picture from 1641, authenticity not clarified)

Hans Jakob Christoffel von Grimmelshausen (* around 1622 in Gelnhausen ; † August 17, 1676 in Renchen ) was a German writer who often immortalized himself in his works as an anagram of the first-person narrator: "Melchior Sternfels von Fuchshaim", "Simon Leugfrisch von Hartenfels "," Michael Rechulin von Sehmsdorff "," Samuel Greifnson von Hirschfeld "," German Schleifheim von Sulsfort "," Israel Fromschmidt von Hugenfelß "," Erich Stainfels von Grufensholm "," Philarchus Grossus von Trommenheim ".



Hans Jakob Christoffel von Grimmelshausen came from an impoverished aristocratic family who came from the Thuringian village of Grimmelshausen an der Werra and had settled in Gelnhausen in the 16th century. At that time Gelnhausen was a Protestant free imperial city in the Kinzig valley in what is now the state of Hesse , but was pledged by the empire to the Electoral Palatinate and the county of Hanau-Münzenberg in equal parts. Grimmelshausen's grandfather, a baker and innkeeper, gave up his title of nobility in 1592.


Hanau Fortress - extract from the Topographia Hassiae

There is no clear documentary evidence for Christoffel's first twenty years of life. His father Johann Christoph died when Christoffel was four or five years old. The widow married again soon afterwards and moved to live with her second husband in Frankfurt am Main . Her son stayed behind in Gelnhausen, grew up with his grandfather and attended the local Latin school . In September 1634, the Thirty Years War (1618–1648) reached the city. It was captured and devastated by the imperial troops of the Roman Catholic party, the same was repeated in January 1635. A large part of the inhabitants, including very likely Grimmelshausen, fled to the nearby fortress Hanau , which was run by General Jakob von Ramsay and Swedish - was held by the Lutheran military.

Military time

Magdeburg around 1650 (Matthäus Merian)

There are indications that Grimmelshausen was involved in the siege of Magdeburg as a pack boy in the summer of 1631 and belonged to an imperial dragoon regiment in Westphalia in 1637 , but not yet as a regular soldier because of his youth. In 1639, now 17 or 18 years old, he was an active fighter in the regiment of Imperial Colonel Hans Reinhard von Schauenburg. There he was promoted to clerk in the regimental office, since 1644 there have been documents from his hand. In 1648 he served as a clerk in the regiment of Colonel Johann Burkard von Elter in Wasserburg am Inn . In July 1649 he finished his military service in Vilshofen in the Upper Palatinate.

Civil life

Apparently around this time Grimmelshausen converted to the Catholic faith, in any case his marriage on August 30, 1649 in Offenburg took place according to the Catholic rite. The bride's name was Catharina Henninger and was the daughter of a regimental sergeant. In the marriage certificate, the nobility predicate "von" , which the grandfather had discarded, was used again in connection with "Grimmelshausen". After the wedding they both moved to Gaisbach im Renchtal  - today a district of Oberkirch in Baden-Württemberg  - where Grimmelshausen worked from 1649 to 1661 as estate and castle administrator ("conductor") for the Counts of Schauenburg . During his time there, Gaisbach Castle was expanded , for which stones from the Schauenburg Castle were used. In addition, from 1656 to 1658 he ran the restaurant "Zum Silbernen Stern" in the Schaffnerhaus in Gaisbach. From 1662 to 1665 he was castle vogt on the neighboring Ullenburg , which is owned by the Strasbourg doctor Johannes Küffer the Elder . J. (1614-1675) located. After another attempt as an innkeeper, he joined in 1667 as mayor of Renchen in the service of the Prince Bishop of Strasbourg , Franz Egon von Furstenberg , whose territory this village belonged. He was responsible for the lower jurisdiction on site, for collecting taxes and duties and for maintaining public order.

End of life

In 1673, the French King Louis XIV , supported by Grimmelshausen's employer, the Bishop of Strasbourg, opened a new theater of war against the imperial troops in the French-Dutch war on the Upper Rhine . Renchen and its surroundings were also affected by the heavy strain on the country and its people. Grimmelshausen was apparently doing military service again. About his death on August 17, 1676 is noted in the Renchen church book: “The honorable Johannes Christophorus von Grimmelshausen, a man of great intellect and high education, mayor of this place, and although he did military service because of the turmoil of the war, and his children died in the Lord were scattered in all directions, they all came together on this occasion, and so the Father died, piously strengthened by the sacrament of the Eucharist , and was buried. May his soul rest in holy peace. ”Grimmelshausen's wife Catharina, with whom he had ten children, died on March 23, 1683.


It remains unclear when exactly Grimmelshausen began his work as a writer. An indication is provided by the fact that all of Grimmelshausen's works were published in the last ten years of his life, i.e. since 1666. Numerous documents that he wrote as regimental clerk and castle administrator have survived, but neither manuscripts , diaries nor letters about his writing activities or his private life . With only three exceptions, he published his books under pseudonyms . He preferred to use anagrams that he formed from his name, shortened by the components "Hans" and "Jakob": "Melchior Sternfels von Fuchshaim", "Simon Leugfrisch von Hartenfels", "Michael Rechulin von Sehmsdorff", "Samuel Greifnson von Hirschfeld "," German Schleifheim von Sulsfort "," Israel Fromschmidt von Hugenfelß "," Erich Stainfels von Grufensholm "," Philarchus Grossus von Trommenheim ". It was not until 1837, a good 150 years after Grimmelshausen's death, that Hermann Kurz succeeded in resolving these anagrammatic pseudonyms and tracing them back to the real author Grimmelshausen. In particular for the history of the reception of Grimmelshausen's works, it is therefore important that the work unit under the author's name Grimmelshausen only owes itself to a subsequent “decryption”. On the other hand, the contemporary view only offers a heterogeneous amount of pseudonymous published writings that are linked to one another by fictitious authorship drafts.

The "Simplicissimus Teutsch"

Frontispiece of the first edition, 1669

Grimmelshausen's main work The adventurous Simplicissimus Teutsch , published 1668/69, is a baroque novel of vital versatility. The author paints a detailed picture of the Thirty Years' War and the overgrown German society after the war. Former representatives of literary criticism and scholarship saw the meaning of the work either in the description of personal experiences or in the "abundance of real mood". Such evaluations ignored the fact that Grimmelshausen playfully used set pieces from the classical literature of antiquity as well as from the genre of the Spanish and French picaresque novel ; Mateo Alemán's Guzmán de Alfarache (German 1615) and Charles Sorels Francion (German 1662) should be mentioned here in particular. In addition, the extremely well-read author has processed an astonishingly large number of other templates from different areas of knowledge of his era in his multi-layered novel.

What is striking is the contrast between the hero's longing for peace - it is already mentioned in the caption of the title copper and forms a leitmotif of the entire novel - and the bloody soldier's life and wild adventurism, which Simplex gets into either through external doom or through one's own efforts. There are demonstrably some biographical parallels between Grimmelshausen and his main character , but not a complete match. Even haunted fighting scenes can often be traced back to their literary sources as reading fruits of the author. Scholarly excursions and hilarious scenes, instruction and entertainment alternate with each other in the appropriate language gesture. Often bitter truths are presented in an entertaining satirical form. Last but not least, the novel is an allegorical one, which, according to a narrative style that was still widespread in the 17th century, contains further, more or less difficult to understand, levels of meaning “behind” or “above” the foreground plot.

The Simplician cycle

Rolf Münzner : The boy and the power (1991). Lithograph for Simplicius Simplicissimus.

After the baroque editions of “Simplicissimus Teutsch”, new editions carefully related to the original did not follow until the 19th century:

  • Adelbert von Keller edited for the literary association in Stuttgart, two parts in four volumes, 1854 and 1862.
  • Heinrich Kurz : Simplicianische Schriften. Leipzig, 1863–64 (with literary introductions and notes)
  • Julius Tittmann: Simplician writings. two volumes; Leipzig, 1874 and 2nd edition 1877.
  • Rudolf Kögel : Reprint, Halle 1880.
  • Revisions were published by E. von Bülow (Leipzig 1836, only including the first five books), Lauckhard (das. 1876) and E. H. Meyer (Brem. 1876).

The first edition of Simplicissimus Teutsch contained only books one to five, since 1669 part of it constantly as the sixth book is a continuation ( Continuatio ). Four more books followed by 1675, in which episodes from the life of Simplicissimus are commented on, corrected or put in a different light. It is not known whether Grimmelshausen planned these works as a cycle from the outset. At least in retrospect, he understood it that way and explained in the preface to the tenth and last book that "everything from these Simplician writings is linked / and neither the entire Simplicissimus, nor one [of the parts] alone can be adequately understood without such a combination."

The Simplician cycle consists of the following works:

  • Books 1–5: The adventurous Simplicissimus Teutsch / That is: The description of the life of a strange vagante / called Melchior Sternfels von Fuchshaim / where and what form he came into this world / what he saw / learned / experienced and confessed / also why he willingly acknowledges such again. Extremely fun / and masculine useful to read. On the day from German Schleifheim von Sulsfort. Monpelgart / Printed by Johann Filion / Jm year MDCLXIX. [Printing and publishing: Johann Jonathan Felßecker, Nürnberg . Three further complete editions: 1683/84; 1685/99 and 1713 each in three volumes (veiled was indicated on the title page Mömpelgard as the place of publication).] ( Digitized and full text in the German text archive )
  • Book 6: Continuatio des adventurous Simplicissimi or the end of the same. By German Schleifheim von Sulsfort. Mompelgart / Bey Johann Fillion / 1669
  • Book 7: Trutz Simplex or detailed and wondrous biography of the Ertz cheater and landstorter Courasche […] From Courasche himself to the widely known Simplicissimo to the annoyance and reluctance of the author who calls himself Philarchus Grossus von Trommenheim this time / on Griffsberg / etc. / Printed in Utopia / by Felix Stratiot [1670 in Nuremberg by Felix Stratiot alias Eberhard Felßecker ] ( digitized and full text in the German text archive )
  • Book 8: Der Strange Springinsfeld […] Written and put on paper by Philarcho Grosso von Tromerheim. Printed in Paphlagonia by Felix Stratiot. Anno 1670 .
  • Book 9: The wonderful bird's nest / the Springinsfeldische Leyrerin […] made out by Michael Rechulin von Sehmsdorff. Monpelgart / Printed by Johann Fillion / Jm zu Endlauffenden 1672nd year
  • Book 10: The wonderful bird's nest, part two. On day giving from Aceeeffghhiillmmnnoorrssstuu [Frankfurt 1675 from Georg Andreas Dolhopff]

More fonts

Popular writings of a satirical character are also part of Grimmelshausen's oeuvre:

  • Black and White or the Satirical Pilgrim (1666)
  • The German Michel (1670)
  • The Rathstübel Plutonis (1672)
  • The upside-down world (1673)
  • Deß Weltberuffenen Simplicissimi Pralerey and Gepräng with his German Michel (1673) ( digitized and full text in the German text archive )

There are also some broad-based, gallant art novels in the style of his time:

  • The edifying biography of the excellent chaste Joseph in Egypt (Nuremberg 1670)
  • Dietwald's and Amelinden's graceful description of love and suffering (1670)
  • The Serene Prince Proximi and his incomparable Lympidä love story (1672)

Monuments, museum, literary prize and honors

Memorial stone for Grimmelshausen on the Mooskopf in the northern Black Forest
Special stamp for the 300th anniversary of death
  • In 1879 a memorial in the form of a 6.5 m high obelisk made of blue-red sandstone was erected in Renchen. The monument stands next to the Catholic parish church. Originally the obelisk was donated as a reminder of those who were legally shot in the Baden Revolution of 1849. The Baden and Prussian authorities had not approved the installation in Rastatt and later in Offenburg for political reasons.
  • On August 17, 1976, on the occasion of the 300th anniversary of death, a special postage stamp and a 5 DM commemorative coin were issued in the Federal Republic of Germany.
  • In 1979 the Grimmelshausen fountain in front of the Renchner town hall was inaugurated. The Burda company financed the construction of the well .
  • Three schools in Germany bear the name of the great poet: The Grimmelshausen-Gymnasium Offenburg , founded in 1660 , the Grimmelshausen-Schule in Renchen (elementary, secondary and secondary school) and the Grimmelshausen-Gymnasium Gelnhausen , founded in 1909 , today one of the largest schools in Hesse .
  • A monument to Grimmelshausen stands a little south of the summit of the Mooskopf in the central Black Forest, where he lived for several years.
  • At Mummelsee in the northern Black Forest, a place of action in the Simplicissimus, there has been a memorial since 1980.
  • Since 1993 the Grimmelshausen Prize has been awarded every two years as a literary prize.
  • In 1998, the Simplicissimus House was inaugurated in Renchen , a literary museum for the history of the reception of Grimmelshausen's work.

Work editions

  • Works in four volumes. Published by the National Research and Memorial Centers for Classical German Literature in Weimar. Library of German Classics, Aufbau-Verlag Berlin and Weimar, 3rd edition 1972.
  • Simplicissimus Teutsch. Edited by Dieter Breuer. German classic publishing house, Frankfurt a. M. 2005, ISBN 978-3-618-68002-4 .
  • Courasche / Springinsfeld / Wonderful Bird's Nest I and II / Rathstübel Plutonis. Edited by Dieter Breuer. German classic publishing house, Frankfurt a. M. 2007, ISBN 978-3-618-68021-5 .
  • The adventurous Simplicissimus German. From the German of the 17th century and with an afterword by Reinhard Kaiser . The other library at Eichborn Verlag, Frankfurt am Main 2009, ISBN 978-3-8218-4769-6 .
  • Description of the life of the arch cheater and troublemaker Courage / The strange Springinsfeld. From the German of the 17th century and with an afterword by Reinhard Kaiser. The other library at Eichborn Verlag, Frankfurt am Main 2010, ISBN 978-3-8218-6233-0 .
  • The wonderful bird's nest. First and second part. Adventure of two invisible people. From the German of the 17th century and with an afterword by Reinhard Kaiser. The Other Library, Berlin 2012, ISBN 978-3-8477-0328-0 .
  • Chaste Joseph. Translated from the German of the 17th century and provided with an afterword by Reinhard Kaiser. Comets of the Other Library, Berlin 2014, ISBN 978-3-8477-3007-1 .

Audio book

  • Biography of the arch fraudster and troublemaker Courage / Der seltsame Springinsfeld (excerpt) read by Barbara Nüsse and Reinhart von Stolzmann, Eichborn AG 2010, ISBN 978-3-8218-6348-1 , radio production of the Hessischer Rundfunk Frankfurt am Main 2010, 4 CDs.

As translator

  • Francis Godwin : The flying wanderer to the moon. From English to French by Jean Baudoin 1654; from the French of HJCG. Wolfenbüttel 1659 2nd edition 1660; Reprint Herzog August Bibliothek , ibid. 1993 ISBN 3-88373-074-2 (with 165 pages)
    • Excerpt from: Johannes Mittenzwei, editor: The flying wanderer to the moon. in Fantastic Space Stories, New Life, Berlin 1961, pp. 7-23


Adventurous simplicissimus. 1


  • Artur Bechtold: Grimmelshausen and his time. Munich, 1919: online at archive.org .
  • Jörg Jochen Berns: The “assembly” of the Simplician writings. Comments on the cycle problem. In: Simpliciana X (1998), pp. 301-325.
  • Heiner Boehncke , Hans Sarkowicz : Grimmelshausen. Read and write. From musketeer to world author. Biography. Eichborn ( The Other Library ), Frankfurt a. M. 2011, ISBN 978-3-8218-6127-2 .
  • Dieter Breuer: Grimmelshausen manual. Fink, Munich 1999, ISBN 978-3-8252-8182-3 .
  • Misia Sophia Doms: "Alkühmisten" and "Decoctores". Grimmelshausen and the medicine of his time. Lang, Bern a. a. 2006, ISBN 3-03910-949-9 .
  • Gerhard Dünnhaupt : Hans Jacob Christoph von Grimmelshausen. In: Personal bibliographies on Baroque prints. Vol. 3. Hiersemann, Stuttgart 1991, ISBN 3-7772-9105-6 , pp. 1825-1851.
  • Peter Heßelmann (Ed.): Grimmelshausen and Simplicissimus in Westphalia. Lang, Bern a. a. 2006, ISBN 3-03910-991-X
  • Lars Kaminski: Vita Simplicii. Hermit life and worship of Antonius near Grimmelshausen. Peter Lang, Frankfurt am Main [among others] 2010, ISBN 978-3-631-60861-6 .
  • Ingo Kober: Gender Relations in the Simplician Cycle. A gender-oriented study. GRIN Verlag, Munich 2017, ISBN 978-3-668-51892-6 .
  • Karl Friedrich Gustav Könnecke : Sources and research on the life history of Grimmelshausen. Two volumes; Society of Bibliophiles, Weimar 1926.
  • Volker Meid : Grimmelshausen. Life, work, effect. Reclam, Stuttgart 2011, ISBN 978-3-15-017682-5 .
  • Torsten Menkhaus: “O great love for us ungrateful people!” Aspects of self-discovery and becoming human in Grimmelshausen's Simplicissimus Teutsch and in the Continuatio. Tectum, Marburg 2011, ISBN 978-3-8288-2656-4 .
  • Günther Weydt: Hans Jacob Christoffel von Grimmelshausen. Metzler, Stuttgart 1971, ISBN 3-476-10099-5 .



  • Simpliciana : Writings of the Grimmelshausen Society. Published by the Johann Jakob Christoph von Grimmelshausen Society in Münster , Francke, Bern 1979–1983 ISSN  0259-6415 ; Series title: "Beihefte" in Peter Lang, Bern 2005 ff. ISSN  1660-9298 .

See also

Web links

Commons : Hans Jakob Christoffel von Grimmelshausen  - Album with pictures, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. equally often in the spelling: Jacob
  2. ^ Hermann Kopf : Christoph Anton Graf von Schauenburg (1717–1787): Rise and fall of the district chief in Breisgau ; Rombach, Freiburg im Breisgau 2000; ISBN 3-7930-0343-4 ; P. 11
  3. Hans Jacob Christoffel von Grimmelshausen: The adventurous Simplicissimus German. From the German of the 17th century and with an afterword by Reinhard Kaiser ; Eichborn, Frankfurt am Main 2009; ISBN 978-3-8218-4769-6 ; P. 725.
  4. ^ For example, the title page of Simplicissimus Teutsch names German Schleifheim von Sulsfort as the editor. The "decision" of the Continuatio des Simplicissimus identifies German Schleifheim von Sulsfort with Samuel Greifnson von Hirschfeld, who also wrote the Chaste Joseph , while the Simplicissimus declares his main character Simplicius Simplicissimus himself the author of the Chaste Joseph (3rd book, chapter 19).
  5. Wolfgang U. Eckart : Medical criticism in some novels of the baroque period - Albertinus, Grimmelshausen, Lesage, Ettner. In: Wolfgang U. Eckart and Johanna Geyer-Kordesch (eds.): Health professions and sick people in the 17th and 18th centuries. The source and research situation. Münster contributions to the history and theory of medicine No. 18, Burgverlag Tecklenburg 1982, zu Grimmelshausen pp. 57–59, ISBN 3-922506-03-8 .
  6. Könnecke, Karl Friedrich Gustav: Sources and research on the life history of Grimmelshausen. Society of Bibliophiles, Weimar 1926. 2 volumes.
  7. after the 2nd ed. 1660. In the Biogr. Note p. 396 the ed. Goes into the edition history in detail, for him there is no doubt about Godwin's authorship, just as for the ed. From 1993. Hans Belting, on the other hand, gives in a scientific publication from 2007 still “probably Grimmelshausen” as author to: Image - History. Festschrift for Horst Bredekamp. Oldenbourg Akademie, Munich 2007 ISBN 3-05-004261-3 , p. 214, note 32, with reference to an American Publication from 1936. Link to cpl. Text in Lemma Godwin, there also more on the history of the edition. Spelling at Mittenzwei "Baudin" instead of "Baudoin".