Ulrich von Hutten

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Ulrich von Hutten with the ancestral coats of arms Hutten (top left), Eberstein, Stein (turned from Courtoisie ) and Thüngen (woodcut by Erhard Schön , around 1522)
Signature Ulrich von Hutten.PNG
Illustration in "Illustrierte Literaturgeschichte" (1880)

Ulrich von Hutten (born April 21, 1488 at Steckelberg Castle in Schlüchtern , † August 29, 1523 on the Ufenau in Lake Zurich ) was a German Renaissance humanist , poet , church critic and publicist . He is also known as the first imperial knight.


The early years

Ulrich comes from the Franconian noble family of the Hutts. He was a son of Ulrich von Hutten- Gronau (1458–1522) zu Steckelberg and Ottilie von Eberstein († 1523) zu Brandenstein . Although he was actually entitled to the inheritance as the firstborn, his father Ulrich ordered him to the Benedictine monastery in Fulda in 1499 , where he was to become a monk after he had reached the appropriate age. The family probably took this measure mainly for practical reasons: Due to his physical condition, the young Ulrich seemed unsuitable for service as a knight and should therefore embark on a spiritual career that promised care and numerous opportunities for advancement.

Studies in Erfurt, Mainz and Cologne (1505–1506)

But Hutten turned to the inclusion of a - first of all from the pen funded - studies final of monastic life from. In the summer semester of 1505 he studied at the University of Erfurt , where he joined the circle of humanists, which included Crotus Rubeanus , Mutianus Rufus and the poet Eobanus Hessus . Before he moved to the University of Cologne in the winter semester of the same year , he stayed for a short time at the University of Mainz . In the following summer semester he was enrolled at the Brandenburg University of Frankfurt (Oder) , the Viadrina , where he had followed his teacher Johannes Aesticampianus and where he took his bachelor's degree on September 15, 1506 . In honor of his newly founded university, he wrote In laudem carmen Marchiae at the age of eighteen .

Studies in Leipzig (1508–1509), Greifswald (1509–1510), the first literary works

In 1508 he attended the University of Leipzig . Hutten may already have been infected with syphilis in Leipzig . It is not known where he stayed in the subsequent period. For the winter semester 1509/1510 he appeared as a penniless student in Greifswald . The shipwreck on the Pomeranian coast, interpreted by Joachim Vadian from a contemporary depiction of his stay in northern Germany, is now considered unlikely. Hutten had received financial support from Henning Lotze , Professor of Law at the University of Greifswald . The initially good relationship with his sponsor soon cooled down, possibly irreconcilable differences between the humanistic poet Hutten and the scholastic academic Lotze played a part. Henning Lotze and his father, the Greifswald merchant and mayor Wedego Lotze , rejected Hutten's request to leave Greifswald and go to Rostock. The Hutten, who was indebted to the two, finally left Greifswald, according to his account with the consent of Lotze, whom he had promised to raise the funds for the repayment of his debts elsewhere. The Lotze, however, made use of their lien and had him pursued by officials who took away all of his belongings and, despite the harsh winter, his clothes. They consciously accepted Hutten's possible death. This still came to Rostock, where he processed the dispute with the Lotze literary in the Querelae in Lossios . In the Querelae in Wedegum Loetz et filium eius Henningum , he portrayed the two as devious, cruel and violent and ultimately stylized them as enemies of all humanists. In doing so, he succeeded in embedding the conflict that was rooted in the private sphere in the social and political context of the time.

Studies in Wittenberg (1511), Vienna (1511) and mercenary service in Italy (1512)

In 1511 Hutten wrote a small book on verse art ( De Arte Versificandi ) in Wittenberg , which was quickly recognized as a textbook abroad. It also established his fame among contemporaries as a Latin writer. He traveled to Vienna and on to Italy. In 1512 he stayed in the Republic of Venice and Pavia and then in Bologna . There Hutten took the already begun in 1511 in Vienna studying law again, most likely at the request of the father, which a job is likely to have promised in royal service for his son. The effects of the Italian wars cut the young Hutten off from the payments from home, so that he was forced to give up his studies and finance his return to Germany through mercenary services. During this time Hutten also wrote his first nationally motivated warning letters to Emperor Maximilian and the German princes to continue the war in Italy .

Court service (1514–1519)

A letter from Hutten to Willibald Pirckheimer, written no later than 1517 . Nuremberg, Germanic National Museum

1514 received Hutten, with the support of his two patrons Eitelwolf vom Stein († 1515) and Frowin von Hutten (1469-1529), the prospect of a job with the new Archbishop of Mainz , Albrecht von Brandenburg . In Mainz, Hutten also met Erasmus von Rotterdam personally for the first time . He presented the manuscript of the Epistolae obscurorum virorum ( Letters to Dark Men ), which he had written in collaboration with other humanists in defense of Reuchlin , for critical review . The sharp mockery it contained against the followers of the scholasticism was to have great aftereffects. At the request of his employer -to-be traveled Hutten 1515 again to Italy to continue his studies. After almost two years, however, in the summer of 1517, he left Italy again without having obtained an academic degree and returned to Germany. Maximilian I, who probably wanted to integrate Hutten into his own propaganda program, awarded him the poet's crown . This was wound by the daughter of the befriended couple Konrad and Margarete Peutinger, whom he sung about and awarded to him on July 12, 1517 in Augsburg.

In his warning Ad principes Germanos ut bellum Turcis inferant , published in 1518, he called on the German princes to settle their disputes and to act together against the Turkish threat . In the same year, Hutten vividly describes in his letter to Willibald Pirckheimer of October 25, 1518 the cramped and worried conditions at his home castle Steckelberg. This famous complaint has exaggerated moments, however, because it is not only written as a private letter, but also as a printed matter and literary topos, as a contradiction to criticism and as a detailed reason why he would like to go to a royal court. Hutten now finally entered the service of the Archbishop of Mainz, but where he was given enough freedom to continue to devote himself to writing. In 1518 Hutten observed the Diet of Augsburg on behalf of the Archbishop of Mainz , and in dripping satire he mocked Jakob Fugger .

In 1519 Hutten took part in a family feud against Duke Ulrich von Württemberg , in which the Swabian Federation also played a key role. The reason for this was primarily the murder of the court squire Hans von Hutten , a cousin of Ulrich, by the duke in 1515 due to a jealous drama. Ulrich von Hutten worked as a propagandist and in this context published Phalarism , a dialogue between the ancient despot Phalaris and a German tyrant - anonymous but unmistakably Ulrich von Württemberg.

"Pfaffenkrieg" and end of life

During his first trip to Italy, Hutten had experienced and denounced the secular appearance of the papacy. This opposition intensified in the following years: In Hutten's writings, instead of a humanist-enlightened criticism of the church, there was a desire for a radical liberation that should bring the secular church to reason (see the writings in the conversation book ). Hutten wrote appeals to the German nation to join the struggle against the so-called courtesans, the profiteers of the secular rule of the curia . His contemporaries therefore placed him at Luther's side, despite differences in content . The turn to a broader public also required the transfer of Hutten's writings into German - later he wrote directly in German (see for example the Clag and Vormanung ).

In 1520 Hutten published the first edition of the medieval script he had discovered, "Liber de unitate ecclesiae conservanda" by an anonymous partisan of Henry IV from the 11th century.

Hutten found an influential comrade in Franz von Sickingen . The powerful knight and mercenary leader promoted the Reformation movement and planned, even if more politically motivated, an attack on the Electorate of Trier . Hutten joined Sickingen in 1520 when he was threatened with the ecclesiastical ban . During the Worms Reichstag of 1521, the two knights could still be kept quiet. In the following year, however, they struck: Hutten announced the feud to the “unspiritual clergy” and hoped to persuade the knights to stand by him through daring individual actions. Sickingen meanwhile opened the war against Trier , but was repulsed by a prince opposition and died two days after his final defeat from the wound he had suffered in battle. This also marks the premature end of Hutten's “Pfaffenkrieg”.

Lake Zurich , Ufenau island : Church of St. Peter and Paul, next to which Ulrich von Hutten was buried
Gravestone next to St. Peter and Paul on Ufenau

He fled, probably already seriously ill with syphilis, before the execution of the now against him erwirkten imperial ban and finally retired to the Switzerland , where he did not receive from his former teacher Erasmus in Basel, but of Zwingli was recorded in Zurich. On August 29, 1523 Ulrich von Hutten succumbed to possible syphilis on the island of Ufenau in Lake Zurich . He was buried there next to the Church of St. Peter and Paul .


Ulrich von Hutten was primarily known to his contemporaries as a Latin poet. The humanists considered him the greatest hope in this field. They reacted all the more disappointed to Hutten's turn to political events and his aggressive agitation against the Roman Church. This dichotomy is most clearly expressed in Hutten's last (surviving) work, the Expostulatio , in which he complains about the reluctance of the humanists, especially Erasmus of Rotterdam, to fight the Curia.

The territorial situation of Western and Eastern Europe and the Middle East around 1500

As a member of a knightly family, Hutten saw the (armed) struggle against Rome as the most important task for his peers. Although his appeals were addressed to all classes of the empire, he actually dreamed of a strong empire based on the knights . For this reason, it is believed to be the exponent of a movement that ultimately led to the formation of the imperial knighthood.

The greatest aftereffect, however, was undoubtedly the establishment of a national myth by Hutten: In his work Arminius - which appeared only after his death - he celebrated the victor of the Hermann Battle as the “first among the liberators of the fatherland”, who threw off “the Roman yoke” and Germania from the Foreign rule would have liberated. The historical event was interpreted in a way that particularly inspired the 19th century, which was turbulent on a national level.

After the victory over Napoleon , a wave of patriotic enthusiasm was reflected in the German bourgeoisie , which also gripped Caspar David Friedrich . In 1823/24, for example, he painted the famous oil painting “ Hutten's Grave ”, which today hangs in the Weimar Classic Foundation's art collections .

During the Second World War a division (military) ( Ulrich von Hutten Infantry Division ) was named after von Hutten. Also beat Adolf Hitler in front of one of the two under construction battleships of H class to name after him.

The historical name Ulrich von Hutten has been appropriated since 1982 by a right-wing extremist organization, the Ulrich von Hutten Circle of Friends founded by Otto Ernst Remer and Lisbeth Grolitsch , which also publishes a magazine called Huttenbriefe .

Memorial plaque on the house at Schloßstraße 14–15, in Lutherstadt Wittenberg
Commemorative plaque attached to Ulrich von Hutten's place of birth, Steckelberg Castle

Ulrich von Hutten was and will be put in a light through the history of reception that made it difficult for a long time to judge his literary achievements as well as his political goals impartially. Only recently has his life and work been recognized again, primarily in the area of political history and research into the development of nationalism .

In 1888, the poet Karl Henckell called for the establishment of an Ulrich von Hutten Association by means of a notice on the notice board of the University of Zurich, which was particularly popular with German students who sympathized with social democracy. A literary monument was created by Hutten through the satirist Oskar Panizza . His burlesque tragedy The Love Council is dedicated to Ulrich von Hutten.

In Berlin, Huttenstrasse in Moabit's “Reformatorenviertel” is reminiscent of the great humanist, in Rostock's Reutershagen district there is Ulrich-von-Hutten-Strasse, in Vienna Huttengasse in the 14th and 16th districts is named after him and in Walhalla in A bust is on display in his memory of Donaustauf.

Commemorative stamp of the Deutsche Bundespost for the 500th birthday
Stamp pad of the GDR (1988) for the 500th birthday

The University and State Library of Fulda has what is probably the most extensive library holdings in Germany in the Hutten collection . The Hutten collection is located at Heinrich-von-Bibra -Platz.

According to Ulrich von Hutten, there are the Schlüchtern high school (near his birthplace Burg Steckelberg), a comprehensive school in Frankfurt (Oder) , a primary and a cooperative comprehensive school (KGS) in Halle (Saale) , a regular school in Erfurt and a recognized high school named in the south of Berlin .

Stanford University's 1891 motto, "The air of freedom blows," comes from Hutten's invective .

Selection of works

  • In laudem carmen Marchiae. 1506.
  • In Wedegum Loetz et filium eius Henningum querelarum libri duo. 1510.
  • Nemo . 1510/1518.
  • Epistolae obscurorum virorum . 1514/1516 (participation), translates letters to dark men
  • Phalarism . 1517.
  • Auditorium . 1518.
  • Epistola suae vitae rationem exponens . 1518 (see the Lehnsmann article ).
  • Arminius . 1519/1529 (published posthumously).
  • De Guaiaci medicina et morbo gallico liber unus. Mainz 1519 (on guaiac wood as a remedy for syphilis).
  • Clag and Vormanung against the excessive unchristian violence of the Pope in Rome . 1520.
  • Conversation booklet (own translation by: Febris I & II , Vadiscus , Inspicientes ). 1521.
  • A new song from Ulrichs von Hutten . Schlettstadt 1521 (known as its beginning I dared with my senses ).
  • Admonitions to the free and imperial cities of the German nation. 1522.
  • Expostulatio . 1523.
  • Trias Romana Hulderichi Hutteni Equitis Germani Et Poetae Laureati: Dialogus Lectu Dignissimus: in quo Romani Pontificis ipsiusque satellitum scelera & turpitudines, fraudes, imposturae & rapinae mira brevitate & concinna suavitate describuntur / Primum ante annos LXVI. scriptus, & nunc studio & opera M. Johannis Velii Anbecae ad S. Jacobum pastoris denuo in lucem editus. - Dusseldorpii: Albert Buys, 1588. Digitized edition of the University and State Library Düsseldorf

Editions and translations of works

  • Eduard Böcking (ed.): Ulrich von Hutten: writings. Five volumes. Zeller, Aalen 1963 (reprint of the Leipzig edition 1859–1861).
  • Eduard Böcking (Ed.): Ulrichi Hutteni equitis operum supplementum. Epistolae obscurorum virorum cum inlustrantibus adversariisque scriptis. Two volumes. Zeller, Osnabrück 1966 (reprint of the 1864–1869 edition).
  • H. Oppenheimer (translator): Ulrich von Hutten: About the healing power of Guaiacum and the French disease. Berlin 1902.
  • Martin Treu (translator): Ulrich von Hutten. The tyrant's school. Latin scripts. Darmstadt 1996, ISBN 3-534-13315-3 (German translation of the works Phalarismus , Das Fieber , Fortuna , Die Bulle , Der Warner I , Der Warner II , Die Räuber , Arminius , About the wonderful healing power of Gujak wood ).
  • Peter Ukena (Ed.): Ulrich von Hutten: German writings. Winkler, Munich 1978, ISBN 3-538-06050-9 .


  • Friedrich Wilhelm Bautz:  Ulrich von Hutten. In: Biographisch-Bibliographisches Kirchenlexikon (BBKL). Volume 2, Bautz, Hamm 1990, ISBN 3-88309-032-8 , Sp. 1222-1226.
  • Eckhard Bernstein, Uwe Naumann : Ulrich von Hutten. With testimonials and photo documents. In: Rowohlt's monographs. Volume 394, Rowohlt, Reinbek bei Hamburg 1999 (first edition 1988), ISBN 3-499-50394-8 .
  • Otto Flake : Ulrich von Hutten. S. Fischer Verlag, 1929 (1985), ISBN 3-596-25836-7 .
  • Heinrich Grimm:  Hutten, Ulrich. In: New German Biography (NDB). Volume 10, Duncker & Humblot, Berlin 1974, ISBN 3-428-00191-5 , pp. 99-102 ( digitized version ).
  • Georg-Wilhelm Hanna : The knight nobles von Hutten, their social position in church and state until the end of the Old Kingdom. Ministerialism, power and mediatization . Hanau 2007. ISBN 3-935395-08-6 (see dissertation, University of Bamberg 2006; full text )
  • Hajo Holborn : Ulrich von Hutten . In: Small Vandenhoeck series. Volume 266, extended new edition, Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, Göttingen 1968 (first edition by Quelle & Meyer, Leipzig 1929).
  • Ernst Schubert: Ulrich von Hutten (1488–1523) . In: Franconian pictures of life . New series of CVs from Franconia. Volume 9. Degener commission publishing house, Neustadt / Aisch 1980, ISBN 3-7686-9057-1 . Pp. 93-123.
  • Peter Laub, Ludwig Steinfeld: Ulrich von Hutten. Knight - humanist - publicist (1488–1523). Catalog for the exhibition of the state of Hessen on the occasion of the 500th birthday. Gutenberg, [Hofheim] 1988 (exhibition in Schlüchtern from July 3 to September 11, 1988, published by the State of Hesse in cooperation with the Germanic National Museum).
  • Johannes Schilling, Ernst Giese (Ed.): Ulrich von Hutten in his time . Evangelical Press Association, Kassel 1988.
  • Volker Press : Ulrich von Hutten: a German hero or a failed outsider? . Hessischer Rundfunk, Frankfurt am Main 1988.
  • Günter Scholz (Ed.): Ulrich von Hutten (1448–1523) brilliant humanist, failed Reich reformer . Stadtarchiv, Böblingen 1989 (exhibition catalog).
  • Franz Rueb : Ulrich von Hutten. A radical intellectual in the 16th century. Verlag Klaus Wagenbach, Berlin, 1976.
  • Heinrich Ulmann:  Hutten, Ulrich von . In: Allgemeine Deutsche Biographie (ADB). Volume 13, Duncker & Humblot, Leipzig 1881, pp. 464-475.
  • Norbert Weß: Ulrich von Hutten's coronation as a poet 500 years ago. In: Buchenblätter - supplement to the Fuldaer Zeitung for Heimatfreunde, 90th year - from November 4, 2017, No. 16 pages 61–63.


Web links

Commons : Ulrich von Hutten  - Collection of images, videos and audio files
Wikisource: Ulrich von Hutten  - Sources and full texts

Individual evidence

  1. ^ Heinrich Grimm: Hutten, Ulrich von. In: Neue Deutsche Biographie 10 (1974), pp. 99-102, online version, accessed on May 5, 2018 [1]
  2. Volker Hornemann: Ulrich von Hutten. In: Stephan Füssel (ed.): German poets of the early modern period (1450–1600). Erich Schmidt, Berlin 1993, pp. 359f
  3. ^ A b Arnold Becker: Ulrichs von Hutten Querelae in Lossios: Humanistic culture of conflict between invective and elegy. In: Uwe Baumann, Arnold Becker, Astrid Steiner-Weber (eds.): Culture of dispute. Occidental Traditions of Arguing in Literature, History and Art. (= Super alta perennis. Studies on the effects of classical antiquity 2. ) V&R unipress, Göttingen 2008, ISBN 978-3-89971-465-4 , p. 111f ( Google books ).
  4. Eduard Böcking : Hvtteni Opp. III , 1862, p. 5 ff.
  5. with German translation and comments also in Heinrich Grimm: Ulrichs von Hutten's years of apprenticeship at the University of Frankfurt (Oder) and his youth poetry. A source-critical contribution to the youth history of the advocate of German freedom. Trowitzsch, Frankfurt an der Oder 1938.
  6. Wolf-Dieter Müller-Jahncke : Hutten, Ulrich von. In: Werner E. Gerabek , Bernhard D. Haage, Gundolf Keil , Wolfgang Wegner (eds.): Enzyklopädie Medizingeschichte. De Gruyter, Berlin / New York 2005, ISBN 3-11-015714-4 , p. 645 f .; here: p. 645.
  7. Michael Klein: Historical thinking and class criticism from an apocalyptic perspective . Hamm 2004, p. 85 ( PDF, 841 KB [accessed on February 19, 2013] dissertation at the Fernuni Hagen ).
  8. Digital Archives Marburg: Excerpt from Ulrich von Hutten's (1488–1523) letter to the Nuremberg patrician Willibald Pirckheimer (1470–1530) about life in a castle, October 25, 1518 ( digam.net ).
  9. cf. Otto Zierer : 'Image of the Centuries', Bertelsmann-Verlag, undated, Volume 14, pp. 75f
  10. cf. Otto Zierer: 'Image of the Centuries', Bertelsmann-Verlag, undated, Volume 14, p. 137
  11. after M. Treu, Ulrich von Hutten: Deutsche Schriften , p. 230
  12. ^ Henry Picker (ed.), "Hitler's table talks in the Führer Headquarters", Ullstein, Frankfurt / M. - Berlin 1989, p. 411
  13. The air of freedom blows - On and Off. In: web.stanford.edu. Stanford University Office of the President, October 5, 1995, accessed March 28, 2006 .