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Title: Women of the Teutonic Nations
Author: Schoenfeld, Hermann, 1861-1926
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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[Illustration 1:
After the painting by G. L. P. Saint-Ange
Charlemagne had so great an affection for his children, legitimate and
natural, that he prevented his daughters, of whom Emma was one, from
marrying, in order not to lose their company. They were reputed to be
very beautiful. Being debarred from marriage, they sought unlawful love
adventures, and gave birth to illegitimate children. The romantic story
of Emma's nightly meetings with Eginhard, and of her carrying her
learned lover through the freshly fallen snow to conceal his footprints,
is an unauthenticated legend.]


In all ages and in all countries




Professor of Germanic Literature in the
George Washington University



Dedicated to


Adequately to write the history of the woman of any race would mean the
writing of the history of the nation itself. There is no phase of the
cultural life of any people that is not founded upon the physical and
moral nature of its women. On the other hand, mental and moral heredity,
both through paternity and maternity, determines the character and
innermost being of woman. If we knew all the preponderating influences
of heredity for ages, we could with almost mathematical accuracy compute
the traits of human biology in every case. The forces of environment,
tremendous though they are, modify, but do not alter in any way the
original nature of man, which is established and standardized "by
eternal and immutable laws." Anthropology is continuously progressing
toward a firm scientific foundation, and is beginning to organize even
the vast domain of psychology into a well-defined system. The
interdependence between physical, mental, and moral traits is well
recognized, but its exact determination is impossible, owing to the
infinite complexity of the endless ancestral potencies.

So much is established, however: Teutonic woman, as she appears in
history, is the product of two groups of influences, the one group,
inherited nature; the other, environment; she is the exact sum of these
antecedent causes. And only so far as these causes differ does the
Teutonic woman differ from her sister of any other race of other times
and climes.

In this book of a purely historical, literary, and cultural character
must be excluded all that refers to the physiological and ethnographical
characteristics of the Teutonic woman and of her Slavic sister. Nor are
we concerned with the theory of their evolution, _i. e._, the search of
the physical principles according to which the consequences of their
existence are true to the laws of their antecedents. Many eminent
scientists have tried their great faculties on this subject of universal
interest and importance. Standard works of a scientific character, like
Floss's _Das Weib in der Natur und Volherhunde_, abound in scientific
and medical bibliography.

Our limited task is merely to deal succinctly with the most general
evolution of the social position and the cultural status of the Teutonic
and, even more briefly, of the Slavic woman at the various epochs of
their respective histories, and how far the history of civilization
among those races was influenced by them, how far the symptoms of
national morality and the degree of culture were shaped by feminine
achievements, proclivities, virtues, and vices. Two thousand years of
the richest, almost unfathomable, history had to be traversed in the
attempt to glean the essential red thread from the enormous masses of
facts which in their entirety would be inaccessible even to the most
universal historical scholar. Most difficult of all the periods is
perhaps the question of the present and actual women's movement, which
is now in its liveliest flux and in a most variable condition both in
the German and in the Slavic world. It is impossible as yet to
systematize the entirety of the problems and the requirements which have
resulted in recent times from the transformation of society with regard
to the position of woman among the two modern peoples. Many of the
questions belong to the domain of private and public law, of political
economy, of sociology, of education in all its phases. The leaders of
state and church and society, the higher schools and universities, are
signally undecided concerning the final solution, though the mist of the
conflict of opinion begins slowly to clear away. Even under the changed
conditions of modern society, one party still clings to the old
tradition of the family ideal of wifehood and motherhood, which is no
longer possible in all cases, as of yore, and considers extra-domestic
activity as abnormal, unhealthy, transient; the other extremists desire
to wipe out the natural differences and the limitations prescribed by
sex to human activity and capacity. A middle ground and a rational
solution will certainly be found during this century.

The author has strenuously endeavored to avail himself for every period
of all the source material and the secondary works accessible to him in
the Library of Congress and in the other libraries of the national
capital. The chapters on the Reformation Period, the Era of Desolation,
and on Woman Held in Tightening Bonds, a long period of dreariness so
distressing and humiliating to German pride, were prepared with skill
and scholarship by Miss Sarah H. Porter, A. M., at the time a graduate
student in the author's department. Credit for the chapter on Russian
Woman belongs to Mr. Alexis V. Babine, of the Library of Congress.

The author also expresses sincere gratitude to the publishers, and
especially to Mr. J. A. Burgan, the publishers' editor, for his careful
revision of the English text and for the generous, vigilant aid extended
to the author throughout the entire work.


The George Washington University.



Women were valued by the primeval Teutonic race, as by all other races
of the human family, as mere chattels means whereby the profit or the
pleasure of man might be maintained or increased. The custom of burning
the wife or wives with the dead master and husband was, from the
prehistoric times until far into the light of historic days, prevalent
in the tribes of the Teutonic family. Sacrifices of widows were
especially prescribed in eastern Germanic law, and the low status of
woman among the Teutons of the early times is sufficiently indicated by
the established and quasi-legalized right and prerogative of the
husband, as the owner of the female chattel, to bequeath, give, sell, or
hire her person or services to strangers, guests, or friends; or even to
kill her if she committed adultery, or if want and distress made such a
course expedient.

We must admit the harshness and cruelty to which woman, according to the
most ancient conscience of the Teutonic race, could lawfully be
subjected. Evidences that her status was outside of the pale of right
and law is manifest in all historical proofs. Traces of the old status
still abound. One lies in the present refinement of woman's actual
position a refinement which cannot obscure its real origin from the
student of culture and civilization.

It is certain that the prehistoric Germanic community began with the
communal use of women for pleasure or profit. This common use could be
broken and suppressed only by marriage by capture. If the man wished to
have exclusive possession of a wife, he had to procure her from outside
his own community. Besides this exogamic marriage, an endogamic marriage
was later recognized as conferring title, on the condition that the man
reconciled the woman's blood relatives by the payment of a definite
compensation. This system of marriage by capture survived the Migration
period, and was found in Sweden even in the early Middle Ages.

Marriage by treaty also existed even in prehistoric times. This compact
(_Gifta_) is always between the blood relatives of the bride and the
bridegroom. It is a presentation, a giving away (_Verschenkung_) of the
bride. The parent or guardian gives her away, an act which requires no
consent of the bride, but only a counter gift, or rather purchase money,
from the bridegroom. Thus a kind of purchase, the symbolic pursuit of
the bride (_Brautlauf_) as an imitation of the ancient marriage by
capture, and the technical consummation of marriage (_Beilager_), for
which the man, however, owes her a gift (_Morgengabe_), are the phases
of marriage.

Polygamy is the rule at first. The northern Teutons, especially the
Scandinavians, practised an unmitigated polygamy down to a very late
period, and only yielded after a most persistent struggle with the
ethics of Christianity. As late as the eighth century the bitter
accusations of the churchmen against Pepin of Heristal for having two
wives, and their arraignment of Charlemagne's sins of concupiscence,
show how ineradicable this ancient Teutonic usage was. However, as early
as B.C. 57, Cæsar mentions King Ariovistus's marriage to two wives as an
exception to Teutonic custom, due, perhaps, to political motives.
Tacitus praises the Germans as those who, with few exceptions, live in
monogamy, and though Tacitus is not an unimpeachable authority, owing to
the fact that he wished to idealize the vigorous race as a model to the
decadent Roman world of his time, his statements seem to prove that at
the dawn of Christianity southern and western German tribes at least had
the highest conception of family purity. Later on, under the teachings
of Christianity, polygamy was first modified, then abolished; and
marriage by capture was either suppressed or treated as a crime.

Upon the status of women among the Teutonic tribes the study of
philology sheds some light. From it we learn that the Gothic _quind_,
woman (in general), and _queue_, married woman, signifies the
child-bearing one, from the verb _quinan, gignere_; or _wip_ (Saxon
_wif_, Old Norse _vif_), indicating the root of _wib_, motion, the
mobile being; though _frouwa, frau_ (Old Norse, _freyja_), means
originally "joyous, mild, gracious," and is used to signify "illustrious
ladies" down to the thirteenth century.

The female child was allowed to live only by grace of the father. If
this right of the father over the life of his female child appears
barbarous, we must understand that the valuation of life in primitive
times is always very low. Not only among the early Teutons, but also
among the early Romans and Slavs, a custom prevailed by which the
children might kill their old or incurably sick parents, because of the
conception that life is valuable only so long as physical vigor dwells
in the body. Believing this, it is easy to conclude that when vigor
departed death was a blessing, the bestowal of which parents could
legitimately expect from their children.

The daughter was bought from the father for marriage purposes for a
value, and, without recourse, she was placed in the absolute possession
of the buyer, who might be an entire stranger to her. Friendship, favor,
or material advantage might induce the buyer to transfer his wife to
whomsoever he chose. Nothing was left to her but resignation, and,
obeying a stern necessity, she followed her husband and taskmaster to
death, "not to sweeten his after-life, but to continue her dreary

The Norse sources are full of tragic examples of immolation. When the
bright sun god Baldur, the wisest, most eloquent, and mildest of all the
Ases, is finally slain, at the instigation of the evil god Loki, by a
twig of mistletoe in the hands of the blind god Hodur, his wife, the
goddess Nanna, is burned with him. Likewise, the Valkyrie Brunhild, in
the Old Norse version of the Siegfried legend, kills herself so that she
may be burned with her beloved Sigurd. Hakon Jarl, the last great
partisan of paganism in Scandinavia, woos in his old age beautiful
Gunhild, but she is unwilling to expose her blooming youth to the risk
of being burned with her aged husband.

The toil and trouble of life rested upon woman's weak shoulders; the
menial work at home and in the field was her lot. The man roved in war
or on the hunting ground, and while at home was an impassive onlooker of
her labors. He gave himself up to the enjoyment of his barbarous
pleasures of drinking mead, lying idly on the skins of the wild beasts
killed by his rude weapons, or gambling with such desperateness as
sometimes to impel him, when all else was lost, to stake wife and
children, nay, his own person, on the result of chance. Freedom and
absolute liberty of life was the manly ideal, since according to the
word of Cæsar "trained and accustomed from childhood to no business or
discipline (outside of war and hunt, to be sure,) they do nothing at all
against their own will."

A highly important occupation of the ancient Teutonic woman was the
brewing of beer from barley and other grain. Thus, the Edda relates that
King Alrek of Hordaland decides the question which of his two wives he
is to discard, in order to terminate their eternal altercations in his
household, by the superior skill of one of them in brewing beer. Also
the making and the care of wine, which the Teutons learned to know and
appreciate from the Romans, belonged to the sphere of woman, for women
not infrequently served as cupbearers to the men in their halls. It is,
however, true that the Suevi, at least, forbade the importation of wine
within their realm, because they believed that men by its use became
effeminate and unfit for heavy labors.

Even though we assume the menial labors of the household to have been
done by slaves, yet we learn that royal women took an active part in
washing. The pernicious strife between Brunhild and Gudrun breaks out in
the business of veil washing. (In the old Norse version.)

In its beginnings Teutonic family life was undoubtedly hard; it was,
however, destined to emerge from its early barbarity and one-sidedness
into a strong, sound, and healthy moral relation between the sexes. Only
thus could have been produced a race now dominant throughout the world,
and always capable, by this development, of the best and highest
progress in political advancement.

When first the light of history is shed by the two great historians,
Cæsar and Tacitus, upon the Teutonic family eastward of the Rhine and
northward of the Danube, woman has already conquered and appropriated to
herself many traits of Freya and Frigg, the divine mothers of the
Teutons. Something holy and providential is perceived and acknowledged
in woman's nature: she has already become priestess and prophetess and a
political power in the state.

Of the sacrificing and prophesying priestesses of the Cimbri, the first
Teutons who knocked powerfully at the gates of Italy, we shall speak
later. When, in B. C. 58, Cæsar offered battle daily to Ariovistus, the
Suevian king who had broken into Gaul and installed himself there, the
latter, though a fierce and heroic warrior, did not accept it. Cæsar
learned from Teutonic prisoners that the prophetesses, in consequence of
lots and divinations, forbade the king, if he hoped for victory, to
engage in battle with the Romans before the new moon. The battle was,
however, forced by Cæsar and it ended with the total rout of the
Teutons. Cæsar's envoy, Procillus, who had been held in chains by
Ariovistus according to the barbarian fashion, escaped from his captors
and related to Cæsar his terrible experiences in the camp of the king.
It had been a vital question whether Procillus should be burned at the
stake or kept for a future occasion, and this was thrice determined in
his favor by the lots cast in his presence by the wise women. Here, as
elsewhere, women interpreted the decree of fate. Tacitus mentions
Albruna (called Aliruna by Grimm) as an ancient prophetess venerated by
the Germans during the expeditions of Drusus and Tiberius in the
interior of Germania.

The greatest veneration, however, ever enjoyed by a prophetess, fell to
the lot of Veleda during the heroic war of liberation waged against the
Romans by the Batavi, a branch of the Chatti, under their great leader
Civilis. Veleda's influence extended far beyond the theatre of the
uprising on the "Island of the Batavi." Johannes Scherr, the historian
of German civilization, finds in her name an allusion to Valkyrie, Vala,
Volur, thus indicating the quasi-deification of Veleda. In reality, she
belonged to the tribe of the Bructeri. She received embassies, formed
alliances, and the most precious portions of the booty fell to her
share. Her power was at its height when she correctly predicted the
defeat of the Roman army. She dwelt solitary and inaccessible in a tower
and was the Pythia of the Low-Rhenish tribes. Approach to her was
forbidden in order to increase her divine prestige. On the downfall of
Civilis, she was brought to Rome as a captive to enhance the triumph of
the Roman conqueror, Crealis, the general of Emperor Vespasianus.

There are many other such divine women mentioned in the ancient books,
though the records of their deeds are scanty. Ganna is a prophetess
among the Semnones at the time of Emperor Domitianus. The Langobardian
Gambara and the Alemannian Thiota belong to a late time, probably the
ninth century.

From these few examples it appears clearly that in spite of the harsh
treatment of woman by the more ancient Germans the veneration of her is
inherent in the Teutonic soul. Hence prophetesses gradually become
goddesses in the consciousness of the people; hence the depth of the
later cult of the Virgin Mary (_Marienkultus_), and the extraordinary
sentimental and poetic evolution of the Love Service (_Minnediensf_)
which inspired and enriched what was perhaps, the greatest period of
German literature and life.

The oldest traces of German literature left to us are, in fact, charms
pronounced by such deified women. The Old Saxon word _idis_ (from ict,
ictn, work, activity, _i.e._, the working, active, skilful one) means
originally "divine virgin," especially a goddess of fate. This is
illustrated in the two charms found in Merseburg thus the first story
runs: The gods Phol and Wodan rode into the forest; suddenly Baldur's
horse sprained his foot. Sindgund and her sister Sunna uttered a charm
over him. Volla and her sister Freya did the same; but all in vain. Then
Wodan, who understood such things well, uttered his charm. He charmed
away the sprain in the bone, the blood, and the joint. He uttered the
potent formula: "Bone to bone, blood to blood, joint to joint, as if
they were glued." Great as the art of the four heavenly women is in the
treatment of wounds, it is yet inferior to that of Wodan. But it is an
indication of the Teutonic conception that the curing of the sick and
the tending of the wounded appertains to the domain of woman.

It will furnish a more accurate idea of the alliterative form of this
most ancient Germanic poetry if we place here a clever translation by
Professor Gummere of the story just told:

        "Phol and Wodan fared to the holt:
        Then Haider's foal's foot was wrenched.
        Then Sinthgunt besang it and Sunna, her sister:
        Then Fryja besang it and Volla, her sister:
        Then Wodan besang it, who well knew how,
        The wrenching of bone, the wrenching of blood,
        The wrenching of limb: Bone to bone, blood to blood,
        Limb to limb, as if it were limed."

The second Merseburg charm attributes to the Idisi (wise women) the
power, on the battlefield, of loosening prisoners' bonds. This is
apparent from its text, which runs:

        "Once sat (wise) women (idisi), sat hither and thither.
        Some bound bonds; some hindered the host;
        Some unfastened the fetters:
        Spring from fetters; fly from the foe."

It describes the activity of the heavenly women, the Valkyries, in
battle. They are, according to the charm, divided into three
detachments; the first, binds prisoners in the rear of the army which
they favor; the second, engages the foe; the third group appears in the
rear of the enemy where the prisoners are secured, and, touching their
fetters, utters the formula of deliverance: "Escape from your bonds,
flee from the enemy."

Though Weinhold, perhaps the foremost scholar on the position and
achievements of early Germanic womanhood, does not concede the existence
of a real priestcraft among the ancient Teutons, he gives, nevertheless,
numberless examples of their great influence and prophetic mission. Like
the above-mentioned mythological women, mortal women were supposed to
know secret charms to make the weapons of their men victorious: some
possessing the charm over the blade (_Schwertsegeri_). This spell was
worked by scratching secret runes (letters) upon the handle or blade of
the sword while calling thrice the name of the sword god Tyr.

The most potent influence of Teutonic women rests upon their
guardianship of the sacred runes, which are a primeval, Teutonic method
of searching the future: the power of divination. The Anglo-Saxon and
Scandinavian word _run_ signifies a letter, a writing, or literally a
secret, mystery, confidential speech, counsel. A letter was also called
_runstaef_. Little staffs with significant signs and symbols were thrown
by women, as dice are cast, to the accompaniment of prayers and charms,
and from the result of the cast prophecies were made. Odin (Wodan)
himself taught the wise women the greatest of runes "which [in this
connection] means both writing and magic, and many other arts of life."
Whittier, Kallundborg Church, says of them: "Of the Troll of the Church
they sing the rune: By the Northern Sea in the harvest moon."

The _runes_ or charms are twofold. The good and wholesome ones are
called _galdr_; the pernicious ones, carrying with them sickness,
madness, and death, are called _soidr_. The women of magic possessed of
the art of the _runes_ were called _volur_ or _seidkona_, and wandered
through the land in fantastic attire, a dark cloak set with pearls
around their limbs, a cap of black lambskin on the head, a staff with a
brass button, set with stones, in their hand. Wherever they appeared,
they were reverently invited to a feast and propitiated in every way,
that they might be induced to practise beneficent magic arts during the
night. They enjoyed an almost semi-divine veneration. There were,
however, "_balewise_ women" against whom the Scandinavian warrior was
warned. "The sons of men need an eye of foresight wherever the fray
rages, for _balewise_ [horrible, hideous] women often stand near the way
[with _baleful runes_] blunting swords and minds."

A still higher, more divine and poetic mission than that of bond
breakers is assigned to the Valkyries _i.e._, choosers of the slain or
Walmaids. Odin, the supreme god of the Germanic Olympus, sends them out
to every battlefield to turn the tide of battle and to make choice of
those who are to be slain. Glittering in their armor and their waving
golden hair, bright as the sun, they ride through the air and above the
sea with shields and helmets and sparkling breastplates to execute the
orders of the war god, whose handmaidens they are. With their spears
they designate the heroes who shall fall and whom they afterward conduct
to _Valhalle_ (Valholl), the hall of the slain, the heaven longed for by
the Germanic warrior. This magnificent hall is in Asgard, the garden of
the Ases, the gods of Old Norse mythology. Here Odin receives and
welcomes the gods and all the _einherjes_, the brave warriors who died
in battle.

The hall is resplendent with gold; spears support its ceiling, it is
roofed with shields, and coats of mail adorn it. According to the Elder
Edda it has six hundred and forty doors, through which nine hundred and
sixty _einherjes_ may enter side by side. The Valkyries make it a
perfect paradise. As the servants of the divine host they bear the
drink, take care of the mead horns and wait upon the table. Here they
appear in the loveliness of their peaceful, housewifely mission. This
unwarlike side of their nature should be emphasized, for it is apt to be
forgotten when we think of Valkyries as spirits of the clouds flying
over land and sea, driven by the wind, messengers of the storm god,
shining in lightning, rattling in thunder.

Nowhere does the poetry inherent in the primitive Germanic conscience,
in spite of all its apparent, warlike savagery, appear in a brighter
light than in the many sagas relative to those superhuman, semi-divine
beings. Their conception sheds a brilliant light upon the soul life of
the primitive German as we consider it in connection with womanhood, and
especially with womanhood elevated to the level of the divine.

In one way might the Valkyries be brought into subjection to man. A hero
who surprised them bathing in the quiet forest lake obtained power over
them if he succeeded in carrying off their feather garments, for he thus
prevented them from flying away. In this respect the swan-maiden and the
Valkyries are identical. A swan-maiden thus surprised must then follow
the hero as his wife, until she perchance finds again her feather
garment, for this will permit her to fly away as a swan. One of the
loveliest passages in the _Nibelungenlied_ is the story where fierce
Hagen, the slayer of the sunny hero Siegfried, surprises the
prophetesses of the Danube by stealing their raiment, and thereby forces
them to reveal to him the future fate of himself and of the Burgundians
wandering to the court of the Hunnish king Attila, or Etzel:

        "Spake one of the mere women Hadburg was her name:
        Here will we tell you, Hagen, O noble knight of fame;
        If you now, gallant swordsman, our raiment but restore,
        Your journey to Hunland, and all that waits you more.

        "Her words were glad to Hagen and made his spirits glad.
        He gave them back their raiment. No sooner were they clad
        In all their magic garments they made him understand
        In truth the fate that waited his ride to Etzel's land.

        "It was the second mere-wife, Sigelind, who spake:
        'O Son of Aldriana, Hagen, my warning take!
        'Twas yearning for the raiment my sister's falsehood made;
        And if thou goest to Hunland, Lord Hagen, thou'rt betrayed.'"

The number of the Valkyries varies; more than a dozen are named in the
Elder Edda. The belief prevailed that heroic women of transcendent
beauty could become Valkyries through Odin's choice and love. In the
Norse sagas we find Valkyries in the suites of great kings. In the poems
of the Edda, which deal with the _Volsungs_ and the _Hniflungs_, with
their wonderful power, there are accounts of love between Valkyries and
earthly heroes, ending in the premature tragic death of the hero. Best
known and of the highest poetic value is the _Volsung-saga of Brunhild_
(Brynhildr), the daughter of Odin, immortalized again in Richard
Wagner's music-drama, _Die Walküre_.

In defiance of the order of Odin, Brunhild chooses victory for her
favorite, Siegmund the Volsung. At the last decisive moment of the
battle the Father of the Universe appears. Siegmund's spear is broken to
splinters by Odin's sword, and he himself sinks dead to the ground to
expiate the crime against Hunding's marital honor. The disobedient
Valkyrie tries to flee from the terrible wrath of Odin; but he overtakes
her and decrees that she shall lie and sleep until a man discovers her
and kisses her lips; to him shall she then belong. Moved by the sorrow
of the proud maiden and mindful of his former love for her, Odin
modifies his punishment by surrounding the sleeping beauty with a
blazing fire, to frighten back every cowardly and unworthy man. Finally,
after long, long years, Siegmund's son, the incomparable hero Siegfried
(Sigurd), penetrates the fire and carries away the divine bride, kissed
to life again, whose passionate outburst of delight is characteristic of
the fallen Valkyrie:

        "Hail to thee, Day!
        Hail to you, Sons of Day!
        Hail to thee, Night and thy daughter Earth!
        Hail to thee, fruit-bearing field!
        Word and wisdom give to us two, and ever-healing hands!"
                                                      (H. S.)

In her unbridled passion lies the cause of her destruction and also that
of the beloved Sigurd. After their union, Sigurd abandons her for the
love of Gudrun, and even inflicts upon her the disgrace of winning her
for Gunnar, whom he impersonates. In an altercation with Gudrun, the
Nibelung princess, she learns that it was Sigurd, not Gunnar, who
conquered her and subjected her. Her wrath is unbounded. She causes the
Nibelungs to murder Sigurd, but in reawakened love she kills herself to
be united in death with her beloved.

Here we have the source of the lovely fairy tales of _Dornroschen and
Sneewittchen_. In the former, the Valkyrie Brunhild is pictured as a
beautiful princess, and the glowing flame becomes a hedge of thorns.
Instead of intrepid Siegfried (Sigurd), who penetrates the flames, a
fairy prince appears, and rescues the sleeping beauty, through a magic
kiss, from the doom of eternal sleep. In the second story, the
metamorphosis of Brunhild is accomplished through a poisoned comb which
is thrust in Sneewittchen's head: as Brunhild sleeps in her brilliant
castle, so the maiden sleeps in the mountains in a glass coffin, guarded
by seven dwarfs, until the prince rescues her.

But not in all cases are the divine women thus transformed into lovely
fairies. Under the influence of mediæval theology and scholasticism and
their hostility toward the lingering ancient faith, they are distorted
into malicious, hideous beings witches. _Thrud_, the name of a Valkyrie,
is the mediæval designation for "witch."

In the oldest Germanic sagas we find frequently confounded with the
Valkyries, the _Norns_, the rulers of the fate of gods and men. It is
characteristic, indeed, of the Germanic world conception, as, in fact,
also of the cognate Greek and Roman mythology, that the fate of men and
gods rests in the hands of divine women; for where the Valkyries act by
order of Odin, the _Norns_ act independently and by their own free will.
They weave the web of men's lives, "stretching it from the radiant dawn
to the glowing sunset." The destiny of the world lies with them, and
nothing that is, is exempt from their irrevocable decrees. Time and
space are embraced in the domain of their influence: _Urd_ (the Past),
_Verdande_ (the Present), and _Skuld_ (the Future) supervise, as it
were, the judgment place of the gods where they meet in council at the
sacred well, _Urdharbrunn_, at the foot of the ash tree _Yggdrasil_. It
is interesting to note how their influence is reflected and depicted by
Shakespeare's genius in Macbeth, where the three witches surely, though
perhaps unconsciously, derive their origin from the Norse Norns. In the
witches' kitchen in Goethe's Faust is brewed likewise the charm that
controls the fateful lives of Faust and Gretchen.

[Illustration 2:
After the painting by H Konig_
_It is in the period of Roman attack that we meet for the first time
agreat royal character, Thusnelda, the wife of Arminius, the liberator
of Germania from a foreign yoke. Her history is the oldest Teutonic love
story. Betrothed to another man, she is by force carried away by
Arminius from her father Segestes, the friend of the Romans. Betrayed to
the latter under Drusus Germanicus, she is captured. Inspired more by
the spirit of her husband than by that of her father--no tear, no
complaint or entreaty came from Thusnelda's lips at her capture. The
news of the capture of his wife and of her slavery exasperated Arminius
to mad rage. But in vain he flew to her rescue. With her son and her
brother Segimunt she adorned the triumph of Drusus, while traitor
Segestes looked on._]

Under such circumstances the elevation of woman among the Teutons was
more of a religious than of a social character. The Teuton considered
woman as a physically weak but spiritually strong being, who had a just
claim to protection and reverence. Though it is true that women
prophetesses, like Veleda and Albruna with their far-reaching influence,
were regarded rather as semi-divine beings than as ordinary women, and
though the legal status of woman was thoroughly subordinated to that of
man, being in fact about equal to that of a minor child, yet her honor
and chastity were held sacred, and her intellectual gifts were highly
prized. Her natural physical weakness began to be her strength, and her
lack of legal rights was compensated for by her great spiritual
influence in family and society.

The potential and inherent virtue, in the Latin sense, and the physical
as well as moral vigor of Teutonic men began to assert itself earlier
than among many other races further advanced in civilization. It rose
unconsciously from the stage of crude sensuality to a free humanity. But
we must in no wise modernize the single trait of the ancient veneration
of woman, as mentioned above. Though harshness and cruelty were yet the
order of the day, nevertheless, gradually the cruel tenets of primitive
law began to be softened and modified in practice by many exceptions.
This occurred especially in the higher levels of primitive society. The
natural affections arising from family ties and blood relationship
steadily transformed woman's status in fact, if not in law. What the
dim, though growing intellect of the man, trained only for war and the
hunt, could not compass, the natural reasoning power of woman, her
natural womanly prudence, did accomplish. Concessions regarding the
purchase money, which originally subjected her absolutely to the buyer,
were made in her favor; the purchase of her body and soul became
gradually the acquisition of the right to protect her; the husband's
power over his wife's body became more limited; her immolation with her
dead husband fell into disuse; the widow's right over her children, even
her male children, arose and increased. Womanly power and influence made
many a free man dependent, regardless of law; women began to exert a
tremendous influence over their husbands, their tribes, their state
formations. All the Roman sources preserved to us prove that when the
Romans, after the conquest of Gaul, entered upon the gigantic task of
subjugating the Germans, women played a prominent part in the political
upheaval which then occurred.

It is in the period of Roman attack that we meet for the first time a
great royal character, a tragic type of a historical German woman:
Thusnelda, the wife of Arminius (Hermann), prince of the Cherusci, the
liberator of Germania from a foreign yoke. Her history is the oldest
Teutonic love story. History, legend, and poetry have vied in idealizing
and immortalizing her. Betrothed to another man, she is by force carried
away by Arminius from her father Segestes, Arminius's political
adversary, the friend of the Romans. Betrayed to the latter under Drusus
Germanicus, she is captured. "Inspired more by the spirit of her husband
than by that of her father no tear, no complaint or entreaty came from
Thusnelda's lips at her capture; with her hands clasped over her bosom,
she looked down silently at her pregnant body. The news of the capture
of his wife and of her slavery exasperated Arminius to mad rage. But in
vain he flew to her rescue. She was carried to Rome and there bore
Thumelicus. With her son and her brother Segimunt she adorned the
triumph of Drusus, while the traitor Segestes looked on, as son,
daughter, and grandson walked in chains before the carriage of the
triumphator." Indeed, Strabo, the celebrated Greek geographer, confirms
the story in his _Geographica_ (vii, i, 4): "To them, conquerors of
Varus in the Teutoburg forest, Drusus Germanicus owed a splendid triumph
at which the foremost enemies were carried personally in triumph:
Segimuntos, son of Segestes, chieftain of the Cherusci, and his sister
Thusnelda, with Thumelicus, her three years' old son. Segestes, however,
who from the beginning had not shared his son's policy, but had rather
passed to our side, overwhelmed with honors, beheld how those who ought
to have been dearest to him, walked in chains." Here Johannes Scherr
makes the pertinent remark that, eighteen centuries before Napoleon had
founded the Rhenish Confederacy, there were already in existence princes
of that Confederacy; that is, traitors to the German cause.

How long Thusnelda outlived the disgrace is unknown. It is reported,
however, that, to accomplish the revenge of the Romans, Thumelicus was
trained to be a gladiator at Ravenna, if nothing worse. Gottling, in
_Thusnelda and Thumelicus, in Contemporaneous Pictures_, 1856, seems to
have proved that the beautiful marble statue of a German woman in the
Loggia de' Lanzi at Florence represents Arminius's wife bearing herself
with a wonderful majesty to impress the Romans with her regality.

Now, in contrast to Thusnelda's strength, we have Bissula, a picture of
Germanic grace. Ausonius, a poet of the late Roman period, sketches the
portrait of this German maiden a prisoner who had been captured in the
expeditions of Emperor Valentinianus I. against the Alemanni on the
Neckar and Upper Rhine. She fell as booty to the poet, who stood high in
pedagogical and political offices. The beauty and grace of this charming
Alemannian maiden contrast strangely with the majesty and heroism and
tragic bitterness of Armin's wife. The slave Bissula becomes a queen, as
the queen had become a slave. Ausonius speaks with enthusiastic
tenderness of her shining countenance, her blue eyes and blonde hair.
"Art possesses no means," he says, "to imitate so much grace."

        "'Bissula, inimitable in wax or in color,
        Nature adorned with charms, as art never succeeds.
        Mix then, O painter, the rose with the white of the lily,
        Choose then the fragrant blend to paint fair Bissula's face.'"
                                                          (H. S.)

The ancient Teutonic woman is, in general, represented as beautiful in
countenance and form. Her rich, reddish-blond, flowing hair became the
envy and imitation of the Roman ladies of fashion. Ovid and other poets
mention how the Roman ladies tried to change their black hair to German
blond. The _rutilce comce_ of Tacitus, became a valued Roman article of
trade. In Heinrich von Kleist's drama, _Die Hermannschlacht_,
Thusnelda's revenge upon the Roman general Ventidius hinges upon an
intercepted letter of his, containing a lock of her golden hair obtained
by ruse, and sent to his Roman princess:

        "Varus, O princess, stands with seven legions
        Victorious on Cheruscan land:
        Cheruscan land, mind well, where those locks do grow,
        Shining like gold and soft like Roman silk.
        Now mindful of the word spoken in jest by thee,
        When last thou saw'st me parting for the war:
        I send a lock of hair destined for thee,
        When Hermann falls, to clip from his queen's head.
        By Styx! the trader by the capitol can't offer it:
        It's a love token from the foremost lady of the land:
        The Princess of Cheruscia herself."
                                                    (H. S.)

The blue eyes, described by the Roman witnesses as full of fire and
chaste defiance, the white rose cheeks and the strong, well-proportioned
form make almost ideal the beauty of the German woman when undefiled by
foreign admixture. Emphatically does Tacitus state that the German
tribes not taking in foreign blood became a genuine, unmixed nation,
similar only to themselves (_Germanice populos, nullis aliis aliarum
nationum connubiis infectos, propriam et sinceram et tantum sui simikm
gentem exstitisse._)

The physical beauty of the ancient German woman was heightened by the
fashion of her garments, though Tacitus relates that these were not
essentially different from those of man. Despite the assertion of the
historian, we do not doubt that a touch of innocent vanity was present:
a cloak of skin or fur, held together by a gold buckle, or, in the case
of the poor and lowly, by a thorn, constituted the outer garment. This
usually covered a linen, purple-edged undergarment, somewhat like the
Roman tunic, which, by its cut, left the arms, neck, and the upper
breast uncovered. The question of dress is so interesting and so
indicative not only of the state of civilization of any people, but also
of their moral characteristics and habits, that works like Weiss's
_Kostumkunde_, and Falke's _Deutsche Trachten und Modenwelt_, with the
object lessons of good pictures, shed a flood of light upon the
subsequent stages of the evolution of dress. The scanty clothing of the
early historical period was chiefly for out-of-door use; it gave way to
absolute nakedness at the hearth-fire of home, as well as at the common
bathing of the two sexes.

Cæsar's account of the sexual life of the Germans of his time is of
great importance to our theme. Says the imperial historian: "It is a
matter of the highest praise to the youth of a people whose minds, from
early childhood, had been directed to strenuous conditions and warlike
efforts, to remain sexually undeveloped as long as possible, since this
made the body stately and vigorous, and strengthened the muscles. It was
a disgrace for a youth to know a woman before his twentieth year. Nor
could such things be kept secret, since both sexes bathed together in
the rivers, and had only furs as garments, which left the body, to a
large part, naked."

Their garments, as described above, remained, on the whole, unchanged
for centuries; even until about the time of the Prankish kings. The
upper body was free, though often cloaked, the lower body clothed in
trousers, _braccce_, the genuine manly German garment, and it is thus
clothed that we meet their men in the first historic records. In winter
a sagum, mantle, was added, according to Tacitus and Pomponius Mela. We
have in plastic art only two pictorial reproductions: the so-called
_Vienna gemma_, Augustus's Pannonian triumph, and the _Parisian gemma_,
Germanicus's triumph, to show us objectively the vestments of the
ancient Germans.

A word concerning the proper names of ancient Teutonic women may be in
order here. Wilhelm Scherer, the eminent historian of German literature,
divides them into two distinct groups: those which combine nature and
beauty and tell of love, gentle grace, purity, and constancy; and those
which apply to battle, arms, victory counselling, inspiring, tending
men. Perhaps two different epochs in the spiritual growth of the nation
are thus indicated. Most ancient names seem to be: _Skonea_ (_schon_,
beautiful); _Berchta_ (shining); _Heidr_ (_heiter_, serene); _Liba_
(living); _Swinda_ (swift); compounds like _Swanhvit_ (swanwhite);
_Adalhert; Brunhild; Kriemhilde_ (maiden in armor, with helmet).

As we proceed through the centuries with the aid of existing documents,
we find again and again that in Germanic women chastity is the
fundamental trait, as loyalty and good faith is in man. And this despite
the evidences of the violation of the rule which are found in the law
that provided that adultery by women should be punished with unmitigated
cruelty, and that the punishment according to the ancient Germanic law
should be left entirely to the outraged husband. In the presence of her
relatives, her hair, the pride of a free woman, is cut; then she is
expelled naked from the house and scourged through the village, and
sometimes buried to her neck and left to die. There is many a Teutonic
Lucretia, though we meet also now and then with some German Judiths. The
Langobard king Sighart falls in love with the beautiful wife of Nannigo,
one of his men. She rejects his wooing with contempt. The prince,
employing the old means of tyrants since King David's time, sends the
husband as an ambassador to Africa, and forces the wife to submit to
him. Her heart is broken; she lays aside the vestments of a noblewoman,
and clothes herself in sackcloth and ashes. When her husband returns,
she bids him kill her, since a stranger has stained his and her honor.
Though her husband tried to console her, no smile ever sweetened her
lips again.

Paulus Diaconus relates, in the _Gesta Langobardorum_, a trait of
touching humility and modesty in a Teutonic woman, Radberg, wife of Duke
Bemmo, in the Forum Julii. Conscious of her lack of physical beauty and
deeming herself unworthy of her noble husband, she requests him to
divorce her for some better wife. But Bemmo esteemed her chastity and
loyalty higher than the beauty of others, and led an ideal life with

But in spite of many such lovely traits, it cannot be denied that a
strong, fierce atmosphere pervades woman's life in Teutonic antiquity.
The womanly emotions for good or for evil almost surpass human measure.
Tremendous feelings find expression in Titanic passions and actions, or,
as Weinhold has it: "No tender tears are shed, but the flood of the eyes
rolls, mixed with blood, over the cheeks and garments of ancient
Teutonic woman." In a wild woe, Brunhild wrings her hands so that the
cups rattle on the wall boards and the fowl start up frightened in the
courtyard. The whole house shook to its foundations from her bitter
laugh at Siegfried's death, which she had caused. Freya's diadem bursts
because of the wrathful motion of her bosom. In the twilight between
mythology and history love is as unmeasured as hate in Teutonic women.
All the sagas of all the legendary circles (_Sagenkreise_), the sagas of
_Brunhild and Kriemhilde_, of _Hildegund, bride of Walther of
Aquitaine_, of _Gudrun_, of _Sigrun, Helgi's wife_, teach us the nature
of the Teutonic woman's love and hate. Only the strength and power of
the man awaken love in her bosom. She inclines toward even an unloved
man when he proves strong and heroic; and only to the bravest is the
Teutonic maiden willing to give her heart and hand. Brunhild stakes her
own person as a prize for the bravest hero in the games for warlike
honors. When she falls by fraud to the lot of the inferior and weaker
man, her nature rebels in a terrific wrath that destroys all, the
beloved and the unbeloved, and those connected with both. Pride, too, is
the incentive of woman's action, thus spurring man to crime or to noble
endeavor, as the case may be.

Harald Schonhaar (Fairhair), of Norway, wooes Gyda, daughter of a petty
Norwegian king. But she will not sacrifice her virginity to a man who
rules over a small land. Proudly she sneers: "Methinks it strange that
none of the princes of Norway strives to conquer the whole land, like
Gorm in Denmark, and Erich in Sweden." This arouses Harald the wooer,
and he begins that fight for the supremacy over all Norway that wins
both lands and Gyda. But a still prouder maiden, Reginhild of Denmark,
conquers him, though he has ten wives and twenty concubines. The maiden
scornfully rejects his love, claiming that no king in the world is
powerful and great enough for her to sacrifice her virginity for the
thirtieth part of his love. Thereupon, Harald dismisses his thirty women
and takes Reginhild as his sole bride.

The pride of the Teutonic woman extends, however, to an anxious regard
also for her husband's honor. The old German romance of Erek and Enite
demonstrates that she will rather lose her husband forever than see him
disgraced by effeminate idleness.

Even the beasts succumb to the influence of Swanhild, daughter of Gudrun
and Sigurd. On a false charge against her womanly honor, she is
condemned to be trampled to death by the hoofs of wild horses. "But when
she looked up at them, the horses dared not tread upon her, and Bike
(_Bicce, Sibich_), the treacherous counsellor of the king, had a sack
drawn over her eyes.... and so she ended her life."

The noblest poetic expression of the wonderful depth of ancient Teutonic
love is set forth in the _Helgi songs_ of the Elder Edda, the tragic
power of which truly raises them to the standard of the Germanic _Song
of Songs_.

Helgi, a Volsung, at the age of fifteen years, avenges the death of his
father, Siegmund, on Hunding and his whole race, whom he exterminates in
a fierce battle. As he is about to leave the battlefield, he sees the
train of Valkyries riding through the air in their golden armor, rays of
light shining from their spears and helmets. Helgi invites them to his
triumphal feast in his royal hall. Yet Sigrun, the most beautiful among
the Valkyries, exclaims from her lofty white horse:

        "'Woe is me! Other cares than feasting oppress my heart.
        All-father has betrothed me to an unbeloved man.
        Fierce Hodbroddr will carry me off in a few nights, if you,
        O hero, shining in the beauty of youth, will not save me and
            challenge him to mortal combat.'"

With these words she entwines caressingly her white arms around the neck
of Helgi, whose heart melts and inclines to her. He challenges the hated
rival, and on the morning of the combat he stands against the countless
host of Hodbroddr, who is aided by Sigrun's father and brothers, who are
resentful of the bold Helgi's suit. The earth trembles and shakes under
the onslaught, but Helgi's resistless sword mows down his enemies.
Beasts and birds of the field hold a rich repast. When the tumult of the
battle subsides, Sigrun rides over the field, and her lamentation for
her slain father and brothers is heard amid the exultations of victory.
Only one brother, Dag, survives, and he weds her to Helgi. But impelled
by the sacred duty of blood revenge, he breaks the peace which he has
sworn. Odin himself, wrathful against the Volsung, offers Dag his
invincible spear. In the ensuing combat Helgi falls. Before his sister,
Helgi's loving wife, the slayer pleads the will of Odin and the Norns,
goddesses of immutable fate, and offers rich compensation to her. But
Sigrun breaks out in bitter woe, cursing her brother: he shall be a wolf
out in the forest, all joy shall be far away from him, no horse shall
carry him, the ship which may save him from his enemies shall stand
still under him.

The tomb is piled up over Helgi's corpse. When Sigrun's maid goes to the
grave, the dead master comes riding along and bids her ask his wife to
soothe his wounds. Before he can lay aside his bloody armor, Sigrun
embraces him, lamenting how cold are his hands, how wet he is with the
dew of the night. Helgi replies: "Thine is the blame; for every tear
which thou weepest falls as a cold and piercing drop of blood upon my
bosom. But let us be of good cheer and drink the sweet mead, let no one
complain of the wound on my breast, since, though dead am I, my wife is
with me." Sigrun prepares the couch to sleep on the breast of the
beloved dead, as she did when he was still alive. Helgi, touched by so
much love, exclaims: "It has happened what no one ever deemed possible:
the white daughter of Hagen, the living one, sleeps in the arms of the
dead." At the morning dawn, before the cock crows, Helgi is obliged to
return to Valhalla, and Sigrun returns to her solitary palace. In the
evening she awaits him, but waits in vain, and in her sorrow her heart

The motive of this legend lives in German literature in varied forms.
Burger has reawakened it in _Lenore_, the greatest German ballad.

But, to conclude the chapter on the Teutonic women of antiquity, it is
necessary to return once more to the prose of history, where, for the
first time, the women of the Teutons, in their general aspect, enter
into the bright light of historical observation, in this instance so
much the more valuable, since it is the observation of the enemy. In
conformity with our other sources, the Greek-Roman historians, Plutarch,
Dion Cassius, and Strabo, have to report regarding Teutonic womanhood
only traits of tremendous strength, power, and love of liberty. Savage
virtue and heroism are there, but not a single trait of grace and
loveliness appears in their accounts. And if there is exaggeration, it
simply proves the terror the furor Teutonicus which was inculcated by
the Teutons into the hearts of the Romans at their very first encounter.
The years B. C. 113-101 witnessed the first Titanic clash and conflict
between the Cimbri and the Teutones, mere splinters of the Teutonic
race, and the world power of the Roman Republic at the height and zenith
of its greatness. For the first time, Teutons thundered at the gates of
the Alpine entrance to Rome, and thus began the incessant struggle which
continued for nearly six centuries between the two most powerful races
in the history of the world, until the Empire finally succumbed.

When one legionary army after another, led by the foremost commanders of
Rome, had been destroyed under the onslaught of the two combined tribes,
the Cimbri and the Teutones, it was only the military genius of Marius
which finally succeeded in stemming the tide of the Teutonic flood, and
then only after the tribes had divided their forces and, thus weakened,
hurled their naked bodies against the phalanx of the overwhelming Roman
army. When the legionaries of Rome pursued the defeated Teutones to
their camp, Plutarch relates: "the Teuton women met them with swords and
axes, and making a terrible outcry, drove the fugitives as well as the
pursuers back, the first as traitors, the others as enemies, and mixing
among the warriors, with their bare arms pulling away the shields of the
Romans and laying hold on their swords, endured the wounds and slashing
of their bodies invincible unto death with undaunted resolution."

An account by Valerius Maximus emphasizes not only the bravery, but also
the chastity of the Teuton women. When captured, they requested of the
victor Marius to consecrate them to the service of Vesta's sacred
virgins, promising to keep themselves as pure and immaculate as the
goddess and her servants. Upon the refusal of their request they
strangled themselves the following night. Thus ended the battle of Aquas
Sextise in B. C. 102, with the annihilation of the Teutones root and

In the subsequent year Marius destroyed the Cimbri also, on the Raudian
fields near Vercellas. Among their women were prophetesses, hoary with
age, barefooted, clothed in white garments with iron girdles, and fine
flaxen cloaks. Thus apparelled they went sword in hand to meet the
prisoners of war in camp, whom, after wreathing them, they conducted to
a large iron kettle. Then one of them mounted a high step and bending
over the kettle, cut the throat of the prisoner who had been lifted over
the edge, and prophesied from the blood which streamed into the brass

During the battle they drummed on hides fastened over the wagons, and
made a horrible noise. When the largest and most warlike part of the
Cimbri had been annihilated, and the Romans pursued the rest within the
wall of the camp, they were astounded by a highly tragic spectacle. The
Cimbri women standing in black garments of mourning on the wagons,
inflicted death upon the fugitives: one upon her husband, another upon
her brother, another again upon her father. But their own children they
strangled and hurled under the wheels of the wagons and under the hoofs
of the horses. Finally they laid hands upon themselves. One, it is said,
was hanging from the top of a wagon with her children, tied with ropes,
dangling from her ankles.

The later struggles, too, between the Teuton and the Roman offer many
examples of the German woman's absolute contempt of a life which could
be preserved only in shame and servitude.

When Drusus battled with the Cherusci, Suevi, and Sigambri, it happened
that their women, besieged by the Romans in their wagon fortifications
(_Wageriburg_), instead of surrendering, desperately defended themselves
with everything that might serve as a weapon. Finally despairing, they
struck their children against the ground and hurled their dead bodies in
the face of the enemy. The most perfect model of heroic stoicism in
connection with those wars, Princess Thusnelda, whose fate we discussed
above, was only the first woman among her equals. Teutonic women in
those primitive times invariably followed their husbands to war,
carrying food and encouragement to the warriors in battle, counting
proudly the wounds of their husbands and sons, and nursing the wounded.
Through threats or entreaties they restored many a tottering battle
array, inciting the men to heroism.



Until the period of the migrations of the Teutons, the precursors of
which were the hapless attempts of the Cimbri and the Teutones to invade
the Roman Empire, the ancient world, as known to history, was sharply
divided into two parts: the Roman world and the world of the Barbarians.
The consequences of the invasion and infiltration of the Germanic
barbarians into the northern and western provinces of the Roman Empire
were the ethnographic combinations from which arose well-nigh all the
nations of modern Europe. It is those barbarians who created the mixture
of blood, of ideas and ideals, of institutions and customs, from which
every State of Europe was born. Their influence for good, as for evil,
was lasting and universal.

The combinations of the Teutonic races during the fourth, fifth, sixth,
seventh, and eighth centuries, until the race movement came to some sort
of a standstill under the Carlovingian dynasty, were numberless. When we
consider those tribes rushing one upon another, the newcomers ever
pressing upon those before them, as waves beating upon a shore, and see
the first germs of incipient civilization overwhelmed again and again by
swift following surges of barbarity, or even savagery, when we observe
newly formed states crushed and swallowed up by opposing states, we have
great difficulty in perceiving anything but the play of the blind,
brutal forces of nature. The changes are countless, a tremendous
revolution endures for centuries, and everything is in a state of flux;
and yet, such were the influences evolved from this chaos that there is
no modern Caucasian state, however remote, where the Germanic impulses
springing from the migration period are not to-day visible.

But, in spite of the existing confusion, there was no epoch of human
history when the influence of thought is more plainly manifest than in
the time of the Teutonic upheaval that left no stone unturned. There was
no German knight who did not endeavor to adopt some shred of the Roman
Empire which he helped to tear to pieces.

Christianity, too, which for centuries was but a vague longing in the
hearts of most men, began to arise and to assert itself, at first
indefinitely, still groping in darkness and strongly intermingled with
the ingrained and venerated pagan conceptions, then more and more as a
living issue. Christianity so gained in force that at the time of
supreme need it saved humanity from sinking back into the degeneracy of
the Roman bacchanal. Under the action of Christianity the ephemeral
barbarian confederacy crystallizes into a permanent political

At the end of the third century of our era the Teutonic race is already,
though indistinctly, consolidated into four large nationalities, or
tribe leagues, with two inferior, though independent, branches. Where
Tacitus, in the angle between the Rhine and the Main, had seen Sigambri,
Bructeri, Chamavi, Tencteri, Chatti, there is now one great, though
loose, confederation: the Franks. Between the North Sea, the Rhine, and
the Elbe are the Saxons with the Angli in the north, and the Thuringians
in the south. In the angle between the Rhine and the Danube, the beehive
of all tribes (all man), is the confederation of the Alemanni, mixed
with Suevi (_Schwaben_); behind them, pressing toward and beyond the
Rhine, are the Burgundians; and following closely are the Langobards,
who appear on the middle Danube. Near the Baltic, which derives its name
from the Gothic dynasty of the Balti, we have the Turcilingi, the Rugii,
the Sciri, and the Heruli who were tattooed blue. Between the upper Elbe
and the Oder Rivers, the Quadi (in Moravia) and Marcomanni (Bohemia)
seem to disappear gradually, and are probably merged into the Suevi.

The Gothic or Scandinavian race is agitated by the same movements,
disputing with Finnish tribes (related to the Turks and the Hungarians)
the Danish and Scandinavian peninsulas and the isles of the Baltic:
Gothia, Ostrogothia, Westrogothia, and the Isle of Gothland. At the same
time they spread over the plains of eastern Europe. The Visigoths under
the dynasty of the Balti and the Ostrogoths under the Amali occupy the
steppes of Russia; behind them are the Gepidas. The Jutes (from whom is
derived the name of Danish Jutland) and the Vandals, perhaps mixed with
the Slavic Wends, occupy the Baltic for two centuries. The race of the
Slavs, as yet existing in almost complete historical darkness, is known
to Tacitus but dimly by the name of Wends.

When brought in contact with the Romans, the purely Germanic
individuality ceases, the tribes become Romanized; their gods change,
their habits, their religion: a new world, undreamed in its southern
radiance and sunny luxury, opens before their eyes, accustomed to the
dreary north; victory itself carries with it corruption. In the third
century Rome is no longer feared, in the fourth it is already considered
a German prey. The infiltration goes on through the engagement of
Teutons for Roman military service. The German soldiers, with their
barbarous strength of body, soon reappear as Roman comites, duces,
patricti, counts, dukes, patricians, _i. e._, supreme civil and military
officers at the court; they enter also in masses as laborers, servants,
_fcederati_, or auxiliaries. From such or from simple legionaries they
rise to be dignitaries of a rank but a shade under imperial, like the
Vandals Stilicho and Rufmus, who for a time uphold the existence of the
Roman Empire.

It is true, then, that in those centuries of upheaval the Teutons lost
many of their racial characteristics, of their stock of primeval sagas,
but they also gained immensely from the intellectual, spiritual, and
cultural influence of the southern nations that furnished them with a
stupendous stock of basic material for their future progress.
Christianization and amalgamation instilled into their Teutonic spirit
the germs of that Romanticism which we are wont to consider as purely
Germanic, while in reality it is an elixir of the Christian-Roman
fountain assimilated by the Teutonic soul. The Roman Catholic Church
working upon the soul through the senses the only possible way to reach
and penetrate the soul of primitive man, who is unfit for abstract
thought, created the "divine arts" poetry, music, architecture, in the
progressive sequence of the centuries of German history.

In religious symbolism lies the root of Romanticism, the blossom of
mediæval life: Romanticism, a Romance word in sound, is German in
spirit. Its soul is the romantic ideal of love: woman is its centre. It
radiates first from a fervent soul with an ecstatic, passionate devotion
to the Christian _Allmutter_, the mother of God, the Holy Virgin, Saint
Mary, who was from the first deeply revered by the Teutons, owing to
their inherent veneration for woman. Among the Germans of all times,
even the most corrupted and dissolute, this spark of veneration is not
entirely extinct. Love is surrounded with a halo in contrast with the
severe Oriental treatment of women by the Church Fathers. The harsh
words of the Gospels, "Woman, what have I to do with thee!" is
transformed into: "Pure woman, and mother mine!"

Thus the picture drawn by the Edda truly called the Norse Bible of the
Teutonic race of the doomsday of the world, the _Gotterdammerung_, is
nothing if not a representation of the whirl of the immigration. Yet all
that is valuable, culturally speaking, rises like a phoenix from the
ashes. As, in the ingenious words of the poet, "Conquered Greece
conquered, on her part, the fierce Roman conqueror and carried her
(intellectual) arms into Latium," so conquered Rome transformed the
fierce Germanic conqueror into a new man. The unity of the Roman Empire
had furthered Christianity, and the complete German conquest mightily
influenced the entire Germanic race in the direction of Romanization and
Christianization, though the latter for long remained crude and was
affected by the cult of the gods of Olympus as well as of those of
Asenheim and Niflheim, and, even where not so affected, Christianity was
divided between Arianism and the Orthodox Romanism. With the political
conquest, however, a new order was by no means assured. The Empire was
destroyed, it is true, but nothing firm, solid, or steady took its
place. The wavering new political aggregates put in its stead were no
longer purely Teutonic. They succumbed too easily to the treacherous and
manifold, if silent, influences that on every side assailed them. The
majority of such political groups, whether in Italy, in Gaul, in Spain,
or in North Africa, lost their nationality and even the German language:
they became Roman mongrels and some even turned against their old
mother, Germania.

Even at home, the Roman Christian foreign culture seemed for a time
destined to overwhelm Germanism, but the Alemanni in the south and the
Saxons in the north and west proved too strong for denationalization and
carried Teutonic principles triumphantly through all the phases of the

Having thus described the tribal existence of the Teutons in Germania
proper, in order to give to our study of the cultural history of German
womanhood full point, a word must be said about German colonization

The Burgundians, after a checkered career of adventurous wanderings from
North Germany to the Alpine mountains of Savoy, conquered southeast Gaul
in the fifth century. In the southwest, or ancient Aquitaine, the
Visigoths settled, and, crossing the Pyrenees, conquered a large part of

When Odoacer, the German king of the wandering hosts, had dethroned the
last shadow Emperor of Rome, Romulus Augustulus an ill-starred,
diminutive reminiscence of Rome's glorious inception as kingdom and
empire the Heruli were the dominant race. Their rule lasted but thirteen
ominous years. The Ostrogoths, under the great Theodoric, Dietrich von
Bern, the paramount hero of Germanic saga and song, replaced them and
founded a more permanent government. In northern Italy, the Langobards
succeeded the Ostrogoths and gradually extended their rule southward,
and pressing upon the Italian domain of the Bishops of Rome, who, by
this time, had asserted their supremacy and headship of the ruling
church of the world, brought about that cataclysm which finally
submerged the power of Rome under the flood of the Prankish universal
empire. The Salian Franks had, in the fifth century, conquered northern
Gaul from the Batavian coast to the Somme River; the Ripuarian Franks
formed a state along the Rhine, the Maas, and the Moselle, with Cologne
as a capital. Chlodwig, the Salian Frank, one of the most cunning and
unscrupulous kings in history, began, in A. D. 480, the unification of
the Franks and the adjacent German tribes into one nation. After the
subjugation of the Alemanni, the principal role, the hegemony within the
Teutonic race, belongs to the Franks. Christianity becomes a political
lever by which they extend their sway from north and east and finally
create that Carlovingian-Prankish Empire which inaugurated the Middle
Ages proper and founded therewith a stable Germanic civilization.

Up to this time, in spite of Christianity, the pagan imprint is still
very strong. The Latin titles _rex, dux, comes,_ are applied to the
German chiefs, as they were in Italy under Roman rule; sovereignty
passed but slowly from the body of the freemen to individual chiefs, a
transition finally accomplished by Charlemagne yet the old spirit of
German liberty was not rooted out. The ancient Teutonic laws and
traditions, though committed to mediæval Latinity, are German in spirit.

The political status remains as of old. There are two great divisions of
the people: the free men and the unfree. The former are subdivided into
nobles (_adalinge_ or _edelinge_) and common freemen (_Gemeinfreie,
liberi_); the unfree are either tributary (_Horige, liten or lassen,
manumitted_), or real serfs (_Schalke, servi_). Exactly the same
division holds true for women. The serfs, men and women, are without
rights, and are valued as chattels, though manumission or absolute
liberation is possible. Bravery in war creates a "nobility of arms"
(_Waffenadel_), based upon the sword; and thus renders this species of
nobility accessible to all in the same manner that, among the
Carlovingians, "court nobility" (_Amtsadel_) may be obtained by the
ministeriales, or civil servants, as the reward of merit or by the favor
of the king. Women serfs, because of beauty or of manifest superiority,
often become concubines, mistresses, and even wives of nobles and
princes, and sometimes of kings.

Blood relationship, family, and the rulership of the housefather are in
this early period the base and centre of social order. So the legal
relation between man and woman is command and obedience; protection and
responsibility. The wife is subordinate, and has no official voice or
vote in the community or the body politic. Woman could not be a witness
before a court, and in most states she was excluded from rulership over
land and people, though this rule was frequently circumvented, broken,
or repealed, for we early meet with women rulers or ruling women, who
will be separately treated.

Though the laws in favor of woman's equality with man are still
precarious, yet customs and traditions, as well as the ancient and
innate veneration of German men for women, frame regulations for their
strong protection. It is well known that every crime, including murder,
but excluding high treason or assassination of the military chief, is
atoned for by the payment to the family of the insulted, injured, or
murdered person of an expiatory sum of money (_Suhngeld_ or _Wergeld_)
or cattle, according to the valuation by the ancient Teutonic law. This
law, among most of the tribes, attributed higher value to woman, because
she is defenceless, than to man. The wergeld, according to Alemannic and
Bavarian law, is double for a woman, and, according to Saxon law, the
double wergeld applies while a woman is able to bear children. The
Prankish law prescribes in ordinary cases a treble wergeld, namely, six
hundred solidi (shillings) or cows (which are equal in value); and in
the case of a pregnant woman the expiatory sum is seven hundred solidi.
Johannes Scherr informs us how the Salian law determines accurately the
fines for misdemeanors against womanly modesty. It says that a man who
immodestly strokes the hand of a woman shall be fined fifteen shillings,
and if her upper arm is stroked, thirty-five shillings, while if her
bosom be touched he must pay forty-five shillings or cows. Many
centuries later, in the highly polished, super-refined period of the
Love Song (_Minnesang_), the wergeld, for an offence against a woman, on
the contrary, sank to one-half of that inflicted for an act against a
man, and this in spite of the increasing love service to women
(_Fraitendiensf_), which, however, was degenerating to sensualism.

[Illustration 3:
After the painting by Ferdinand Leeke_ Women serfs, because of beauty or
of manifest superiority, often became.... even wives of great leaders.

A Teutonic marriage was concluded when the bridal couch was entered and
"one cover touched both."

Not until the fourteenth century did the legality of marriage become
dependent upon the conscent of the Church; on the morning after the
marriage, the wife received the bridal gifts from her husband;
henceforth she enjoyed all the marital rights, but remained subordinate
to her husband, who could chastise her of even sell her into slavery.]

In the early times the housefather has the guardianship, _mundium_ (from
Old High German _munt_, hand), over his wife, daughters, sisters, and
also the duty of protecting them. The father has the right to sell his
sons during their minority and his daughters until their marriage, and
this barbarous action is common. At the death of the father, the
guardianship passes to the next male relative, (the sword relative,
_Schwertmagen_, as opposed to the spindle relative, _Spillmageri_). In
case of legal marriage, guardianship passes to the husband.

The law of inheritance is greatly in favor of sons, and daughters are
frequently entirely excluded from participation in the heritage, or
their share is reduced to one-half or one-third of the son's
inheritance. This is, however, only in the case of real estate (_Odal_)
probably because it needs the sword of the male protector, for the
remaining or movable property is equally divided.

The conception of caste privileges, social birthright
(_Ebenburtigkeif_), is very strongly developed, inasmuch as women lose
caste by marriage with inferiors and give up every claim to the
inheritance of their blood relations (_Sippe_); and the caste
degradation results at one period in the exclusion from the inheritance
of a free father of the children of an unfree woman.

It is but natural that, in the loosening of all the bonds of social
order, during the wanderings, the ancient Tacitean purity and monogamy
was, to a large extent, lost. Among the high classes, concubinage was
the rule, since the lord had absolute power over the unfree maidens, and
war and conquest have it in their nature to blot out all natural rights.
We meet concubines, called _Fritten_ or _Kebse_, everywhere in the lives
of the great kings and chiefs. The Merovingian Franks are especially
famous, or rather infamous, for their sexual sins. Charlemagne and Louis
the Pious held concubines. The Church, especially at the synod of
Mayence, A.D. 851, began to thunder against licentiousness, but in vain.
Nor did the monasteries always remain pure from the taint. Winfrid, or
Bonifatius, the apostle of the Germans par excellence, complains of the
Prankish _diacons_ (deacons) who kept four or more concubines.
Frequently, however, the Church submitted, on political grounds, to a
recognition of two or more lawful wives taken by one man. But the sense
of dignity and self-respect on the part of the women themselves, as we
have seen in the case of Harald Fairhair, finally forced monogamy upon
the full blooded, semi-barbarous Teutonic warriors, as the leading
principle of a lawful marriage.

Teutonic marriage is concluded when the bridal couch is entered and "one
cover touched both" (_eine Decke das Paar besetting_). To the very end
of the Middle Ages the Church function is quite an indifferent matter,
though as early as the Carlovingian time the Church prescribed a
"confession of marriage in the Church" and "a priestly blessing." In the
_Nibelungenlied_, Siegfried and Kriemhilde, Gunther and Brunhild, marry
without mention of a priest, yet on the morning of the bridal night the
two couples go to the cathedral where a mass is sung. This latter
statement is due to the attempt of the mediæval Christian poet to color,
from numberless constituent parts of varied antiquity, the ancient
Germanic heroic saga, originating in paganism, to the advantage of the
newer religion. The _Nibelungenlied_ arose about the beginning of the
thirteenth century, and, with all its grandeur and splendor, is "like
unto an ancient grove of the Teutonic gods forced below the roof of a
Christian cathedral." The shining Valkyrie-patterned Brunhild, so
magnificent in the pagan naturalness of her divinity and her
surroundings, appears in the _Lied_ as a gloomy, hermaphroditic being
between two different and irreconcilable worlds. She is unfit for the
Christian frame and setting that have been given her. Thus it is with
Kriemhilde, with Siegfried, with Hagen. Their virtues and qualities and
passions are not yet fully infused with the light which emanates from
the Crucifixion.

During the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries, the legality of marriage
first becomes dependent upon the consent of the Church. On the morning
after the bridal night the wife, whose hair is now put up, no more
allowed to wave freely as that of a virgin, receives the morning gift
from her husband. She henceforth enjoys all the marital rights, but
remains subordinate to the husband. He is the administrator of her
fortune and has, _ipso facto_, its usufruct. But at his death one-half
or one-third of the property acquired during his married life belongs to
the wife according to the law of the Saxon and Ripuarian Franks.
Chastisement of the wife still belongs to the husband; he might even
inflict death or slavery for adultery. Divorce is possible if the wife
is barren or the husband impotent.

Most interesting, historically speaking, is the circle of women
surrounding Theodoric the Great, for the sagas have associated with him
all the powerful women of the legendary history of the German tribes. He
may be truly called the political forerunner of the Habsburg dynasty of
the Middle Ages in the policy of strengthening dynasties by marrying
royal women to powerful kings. Such marriages enhanced the strength and
extent of Ostrogothic rule and cemented alliances with the other
Teutonic tribes. Following, consciously or unconsciously, the rule of
Theodoric, the Habsburgers, during the Middle Ages, built up by their
judicious political marriages their tremendous dynastic power
(_Hausmacht_), which finally became superior to that of the Holy Roman
Empire itself.

These marriages gave rise to the proverb: Let others wage wars; thou,
happy Austria, get married, for what realms the God of War gives to
others are given to thee by the sweet Goddess of Love (_Bella gerant
alii, tu, felix Austria, nube; nam quce Mars aliis, dat tibi regna
Venus_). Theodoric married his sister, Amalfreda, to the Vandal king
Thrasimund; his daughter Theodicusa to Alaric; his daughter Ostrogotha
to the Burgundian prince Sigismund; his niece Amalberga to the
Thuringian king Hermanfrid. Political marriages, then, are as old as
German history.

Amalasuntha, one of the daughters of Theodoric, shines preeminently in
history as the worthy daughter of the greatest German king of the
creative epoch. Her contemporaries, the authors Cassiodorus and
Procopius, praise her as an ingenuous, high-minded, lofty woman, an
excellent ruler, and a noble protector of arts and sciences. Early
widowed through the death of Eutharich, also a scion of the race of the
Amali, she becomes, upon the demise of her great father, regent and
guardian of her minor son, Athalarich. Reared in Græco-Roman culture,
Amalasuntha inclined in her life and thoughts toward the Roman element
in the state, and was to a certain extent estranged from the
semi-barbarous Ostrogoths, who unwillingly submitted to her guardianship
over her son, their king, and even more unwillingly to her rule over
themselves. Though her rule was mild and wise, yet the discontent of the
national party increased. Bitter reproaches were heaped upon the head of
the noble queen for keeping young Athalarich removed from the company of
the youth of Gothic race, for surrounding him with aged men, "though the
mildest and wisest of their people," and for sending him to a Latin
school of rhetoricians. For this was the training of a Roman emperor,
not of a Gothic king, and their ancestors had taught them to despise
such education. The queen was forced to yield to the popular demand, and
the consequences of her surrender justified her fears. In the company of
young Gothic nobles, Athalarich soon learned all the evil which the
young barbarians had drawn from the Roman mire. His new friends had
almost roused the youth to open rebellion against the "woman's rule,"
when, fortunately, he succumbed to the unaccustomed life to which his
delicate constitution was not equal. By his opportune death, history is
spared the record of the horrible tragedy of matricide which, in all
probability, would have been enacted by the misguided prince a tragedy
occurring frequently in the history of the Merovingian dynasty.

Amalasuntha's fate is full of tragic pathos. A great ruler and an
extraordinary woman, she had indeed the qualities to become the
benefactress of her nation, had not the epoch of unrest and agitation,
the unsteadiness and the irreconcilable conflict between an overripe
Roman civilization and Germanic barbarism, made her a victim of untoward

In order to strengthen her tottering throne, she elevated to the
position of her husband and king the last prince of the race of the
Amali, the unworthy Theodat, a man of whom Procopius says that "the
principle of never tolerating a neighbor beside himself had raised him
to power and riches." Immediately upon his ascending the throne, he
openly sided with the so-called nationalist party against Amalasuntha,
and murdered the last friends and partisans of the hapless queen. In her
despair she appealed to the eastern Roman, or Byzantine, emperor,
Justinian, and implored him for protection and hospitable reception. But
she did not escape to Constantinople. Theodat seized her and sent her as
a prisoner to a fortress on a small island in the Bolsen lake. Shortly
after the arrival of the Byzantine ambassador, who brought her a
courteous invitation to the court of Constantinople, she disappeared in
a mysterious way, whether by Theodat's orders or through the intrigues
of the Byzantine is not known; but the king hated her; and the
ambassador, according to Procopius's narrative in his _Historia arcana_,
had been bribed by Empress Theodora, the infamous wife of Justinian, to
prevent by any means the appearance at the corrupt Byzantine court of
the highly cultured, royal Gothic lady.

The history of the Langobards, a Germanic race which plays a great role
in the Migration period in shaping the fate of Italy, and, by driving
the Popes into the arms of the Franks, in elevating that race and the
Carlovingian dynasty, furnishes us a kaleidoscopic sequence of royal
women, who exhibit all the vices and passions, crimes and virtues.

Paul Warnefried, a Langobard noble, calling himself, in his clerical
capacity, as an author, Paulus Diaconus, is, through his historical
work, _De Gestis Langobardorum_, the principal source of our knowledge
concerning his great but barbarous race.

For the first time in the history of the Langobards we meet with a
wicked woman in the person of the murderess Rumetruda, daughter of the
seventh Langobard king, Tato, who, through her lust of blood,
precipitated her people into a terrible war with the Heruli.

Looking from the window of her palace she perceived one day a Herulian
embassy, which, under the guidance of the brother of the king, had just
concluded an alliance with the Langobards, and was now returning to its
own country. The demoniacal woman sent to the prince of the Heruli a
cordial invitation to a cup of wine. No hospitable feelings, however,
had induced Rumetruda to send the invitation, but curiosity and scorn at
the somewhat abnormal, heavy-set shape of the foreign prince. Soon she
began to mock and ridicule him concerning his stature and finally
enraged him to such a degree that he also began to upbraid her with
insulting words. Revenge arose in the soul of the cruel woman, and,
having conciliated him politely and forced him back upon his seat, she
proceeded to the execution of her murderous plan. Behind the seat of her
royal guest there was a large window covered with costly curtains,
behind these she placed a number of Langobard warriors, bidding them
hurl their spears against the curtain. Pierced by several lances, the
prince of the Heruli sank to the ground; the flagitious woman had
satisfied her revenge at the expense of the peace and the alliance
between the Langobards and the Heruli. A terrible war was kindled by
this violation of the sanctity of ambassadorial rights.

The savagery of these times of bloodshed in the constant wars, when
every race had to be "hammer or anvil," appears in the stirring history
of the death of King Alboin, the Langobard. The latter had, with the aid
of the Avars, defeated the old enemies of his tribe, the Gepidae, and
with his own hand slain their king, Kunimund. According to a barbarous
custom of his time, he had a drinking cup fashioned from the skull of
the slain enemy. Rosamunde, the beautiful daughter of the unfortunate
king, Alboin took for his wife, his former consort, the Prankish
Clodsunda, having just died. Sometime after these events, it happened
that Alboin at a great feast held at Verona, was seized by the desire of
drinking wine from the skull of his dead enemy. Flushed with wine, and
careless of the feelings of his wife, he bade her, following his
example, drink from the ghastly cup. Rage and desire for revenge filled
Rosamunde's heart, but of necessity she obeyed the cruel order, though
at the same moment she resolved upon a terrible retribution for the
horrible deed. Through her personal charms she won Helmichis, the royal
shield bearer, and while Alboin lay sleeping upon his couch after a
heavy repast, he was pierced by the murderer's sword. To make sure of
his death, Rosamunde had fastened Alboin's weapon to the bedpost so that
he might the more safely be delivered into the hands of her lover.
Helmichis's hope to succeed to Alboin's throne was vain. He was
compelled to flee with Rosamunde to the eastern Roman prefect, Longinus,
at Ravenna. Tired of her now useless tool, Helmichis, the treacherous
woman was easily persuaded by Longinus to do away with the murderer and
to marry the prefect. She offered to Helmichis, who was arising from his
bath, a cup of poisoned wine. While drinking it, either the taste of the
wine or a triumphant glance in the eye of his mistress suggested his
fate, and, sword in hand, he forced Rosamunde to drink the rest of the
poison and thus to die with him.

Turning from this ghastly tragedy, we may read the first story of
romanticism. This is the tale of the love and marriage of fair-locked
Authari, a successor of Alboin in the kingship of the Langobards, to
Theodelinda, daughter of Garibald the Bavarian duke. A brilliant
embassy, headed by King Authari himself, who was incognito, arrived at
the Bavarian court to sue for the hand of the beautiful princess. At a
solemn festival, King Authari besought that Theodelinda herself should
give him a draught of wine. The lady gratified his desire, and Authari,
charmed by so much loveliness, caressingly stroked the hand of his
future bride; she, blushing at his boldness, modestly cast down her
eyes. Later on, she complained to her nurse of the boldness, but the
wise old woman consolingly assured her: "No simple Langobard nobleman
would have dared the deed; this man can be no other but the king himself
and your bridegroom." Having obtained the consent of the duke and the
princess, the Langobard embassy, accompanied by a host of Bavarian
nobles, joyfully rode homeward. Arrived at the frontier, Authari, his
heart swelling with love, raised himself aloft in his saddle and hurled
his battle-ax with a powerful arm deep into a tree, exclaiming: "This is
the throw of Authari, the Langobard." Unfortunately, the romance ended
shortly after the marriage. Authari died one year later, as the rumor
goes, by poison. Theodelinda became a passionate missionary of
Christianity among the German tribes; and it is a general fact that
royal women, as we shall see later in the case of the Christianization
of the Franks, were the most ardent propagators of the faith.
Christianity appealed especially to women because of its spirit of
humility, of charity, and of submission to a higher will. The Church
showed due gratitude by canonizing many noble and deeply pious women of
the time. After the death of Authari, Theodelinda, seeing that the reins
of rulership were too heavy for her, looked for the worthiest of the
Langobard princes, to whom she might offer her hand and heart. Agilulf,
the brave Duke of Turin, was her choice. A prophetess had, on the day of
Theodelinda's marriage with Authari, prophesied to Agilulf that he would
become the consort of the Bavarian princess. Theodelinda now summoned
him and offered a cup of welcome, which the duke accepted with a
grateful kiss on her hand. Blushingly she withdrew her hand, with the
words: "he should not kiss her hand who was permitted to kiss her lips
and cheeks." The overjoyed vassal, who had always suppressed his love
for his queen, saw his most secret desire fulfilled, and lovingly
embraced her. And the queen never had to regret her choice.

In strange contrast to the attractive and poetic queen Theodelinda
stands the detestable Romilda, wife of Duke Gisulf of the Forum Julium.
At the time of the invasions of the savage Avars, she was compelled,
with her husband and her children, to take refuge in the fortress of the
Forum Julium. One day she noticed, from the height of the wall, the
handsome form of the young Avar prince Cacon, and the undutiful woman
was seized with a violent passion for the fair barbarian. Secretly she
sent him a message that she would open the fortress for him, if he vowed
to take her for his wife after the conquest. The Avar consented; and
having become master of the important stronghold, he married Romilda.
But after the bridal night, to shame and disgrace her, he turned her
over to twelve Avar warriors; and when they had wrought their will upon
her, he caused her to be impaled on a pole in the open field,
exclaiming: "This is the husband thou art worthy to have!" Paulus
Diaconus, while condemning Romilda, praises the exemplary conduct of her
two chaste daughters, Appa and Gaila, who, to protect their virtue,
placed pieces of putrid meat between their breasts. This heroic measure
drove the assailants back, but unjustly secured to the entire Langobard
nation the reputation of a bad odor. Pope Hadrian evidently credited the
slander, for, when he seeks the aid of Charlemagne against Desiderius,
he writes of the "perjurious and stinking nation of the Langobards." But
our two chaste virgins escaped and were richly rewarded for their
virtue, as one was married to the Alemannian duke and the other, to the

We find a curious lack of foresight related of another Langobard queen,
Hermilinda, wife of Cunipert. The queen once surprised Theodata, a
wondrously beautiful Roman slave, of patrician family, in the bath. Her
form was exquisite, her golden hair flowed down to her very feet, and
the queen could not help praising her charms to the king. The
consequence was that in due course of time Theodata gave constant
pleasure to Cunipert, and Hermilinda became an inmate of a fine
monastery named after her, where she died in the odor of sanctity.

The migration of the Teutonic peoples had been in great measure
spontaneous, it is true, but the impetus of the avalanche had
undoubtedly been tremendously increased by the irruption of a mysterious
nomad people, the Huns, who broke forth from the steppes of middle Asia
like a hurricane, hurled the Alans to the ground, overpowered the
Ostrogoths, pushed the Visigoths over the Danube into the eastern Roman
Empire, and, occupying the Roman province of Pannonia (Hungary), made it
the centre of an empire which, though loosely connected, extended, more
or less, over the length and breadth of Europe. About the middle of the
fifth century the Huns arose anew from their Pannonian seat, and again
threw Europe in a turmoil. The moving spirit of that commotion of
savagery and barbarity which seemed to shake the three continents known
to antiquity was Attila, called Etzel in the German lays and sagas, the
"scourge of God" (_Godegisel_). His hordes were estimated at more than
half a million warriors. His death was an event of immense political
significance, and appears in the German saga in many romantic forms. The
historian Jordanes relates, after Priscus, that Attila died suddenly of
violence during his bridal night, while lying intoxicated beside his
young wife Ildico (_HildikS_). In the morning his servants found him in
his blood, but without wounds, beside him was the young wife with
downcast eyes, weeping under her veil. The circumstances of his death
were such as to throw suspicion upon the young woman. Ammianus
Marcellinus reported as a fact that "Attila came to his death at night
by the hands of a woman." But the legendists have tried to establish
motives for the deed of violence, and nothing was more natural than the
story that Ildico committed the deed out of revenge for Attila's murder
of her relatives. According to the poet Saxo and the _Quedlinburg
Chronicle_ she avenged the murder of her father.

The famous _Nibelungenlied_, however, in its fundamental Norse form
shapes the story as follows: Attila, the Terror of Europe, is the
consort of the Burgundian princess Hild. He conquers and treacherously
kills her brothers, the Burgundian kings Gundaheri, Godomar, and
Gislahari, sons of Gibica, and afterward meets his death by the hand of
their sister, his wife.

Felix Dahn has immortalized Ildico by his genius, and made her the most
ideal, heroic woman of the Migration period. Reared in the palace of her
father, King Visigast, in the land of the Rugii, she gives her tender
love to Daghar, the son of Dagomuth, King of the Sciri; but a dark cloud
hovers over her young life. Attila has heard of her incomparable beauty,
and is still further aroused by the descriptions of her charms given by
Ellak, his son by a Gothic princess. The Hun resolves upon the
possession of Ildico.

Accompanied by her father and her betrothed, Ildico appears, by order of
Attila, at the Hunnish court in Pannonia, where she is received with
barbarous splendor and conducted into the reception hall. Here she sees
the terrible Hun for the first time, but she was not frightened by the
hideousness of the man; proudly erect she looked in his face firmly,
defiantly, menacingly. He recognized in this glance such a cold,
fathomless hate that he involuntarily closed his eyes before her: a
slight shiver of a mysterious fear moved his frame; he dared not meet
again her eye which pierced him, but he drank her overwhelming charms
with the unbridled passion of the barbarian. Then the feast began,
accompanied by the wild, discordant song of a Hunnish bard, in which he
hurled scorn against the Germans. The bitter stanzas aroused Daghar to
warlike poesy, which nearly cost his life at the hands of the wrathful
Hunnish princes. Attila personally interfered so that hospitality should
not be violated even toward hated Germans. But only for a moment is the
protection extended, for by accident Attila obtained information of a
mighty conspiracy of Visigast, Daghar, and Ardarich, king of the
Gepidae, and then the full cup of his wrath is poured over the German
princes, whom he reproaches with perjury and murderous intentions
against himself. Foaming, he announces their punishment. The old king
shall be put on the cross, the youth shall be impaled "behind my
sleeping hall! Thou shalt hear his screams of agony, fair bride, while
thou becomest mine."

The night arrives; the king of the Huns orders the sleeping hall to be
prepared. For the first time in forty-six years he has the high pitcher
of gold filled with unmixed Gazzatine wine and placed in his bridal
chamber. He desires to gain courage to face the glances of the
beautiful, but terrible bride. She is locked in the bridal chamber; no
weapon, no means of escape can be found by her despairing search. To her
enters the "scourge of God." He tries to win her by the promise that her
son to be born shall become the lord over the world, the successor of
Attila. She rejects the very thought of becoming the mother of a son
whose father should be Attila, she would rather crush the head of the
monster at birth. To give himself courage for the struggle with the
proud, chaste German princess, the king drinks the heavy wine in eager
draughts, and, unaccustomed to the potion, sinks into a heavy sleep.
Ildico strangles him with her own golden hair, as he lies in drunken

When on the next day, after the long bridal night, the vassals of Attila
break the heavy oaken entrance, they find their master dead on the
floor, in a pool of blood. A loud, boisterous, barbaric mourning and
lamentation arises in the Hunnish camp over the death of the greatest
hero and ruler of their race. The fate of Ildico and her relatives seems
sealed. But at the most critical moment help appears in the person of
Ardarich, King of the Gepidae, and his retinue, who at the last moment
save the Germans from the revenge of the exasperated Huns. The German
tribes rise in masses and, after a few months, the liberation from the
Hunnish yoke is accomplished.

The fame and glory of fair Ildico as the liberator of her people from
the yoke of Attila rings from tribe to tribe in epic sagas and lyric
lays. The song of Daghar, her bridegroom, in honor of the heroine,
immortalizes her thus:

        "Hail to you, heroes in golden hair,
        Good Goths, Gepidae, sprightly with spears;
        Greetings to you, glorious Germans!
        Exult rejoicing to sounding harps:
        He failed and fell, terror of holiness,
        Scourge of God, Etzel the Evil!
        Sword struck him not, nor shaft of the spear.
        No: in darkness of night, vicious viper
        Had crushed its hideous head.
        Woman of woe, Ildico, the mighty maid,
        Avenged with awe the races of men
        And holy honor with heroic deed.
        Sing to the harp the wailing song,
        Raise it rousing to Daghar's bride,
        The shimmering, shining savior,
        Guarding German men prison-bound:
        Ildico, idol of fame,
        Hail to thee, lofty one, hail!" (H. S.)

The extensive Hunnish circle of lays throws light on the life and love
of German womanhood during the centuries of wanderings; and so powerful
is the influence and impression made by the Asiatic onslaught, that
there is hardly a German saga of any importance that does not stand in
some kind of relation to the Hunnish conquerors. To "sing and say" was
an ancient talent of the Teutonic race, whose warlike life, with its
bravery and heroism, inspired mightily to music and song. But the
migrations, with their powerful changes, the contact with formerly
unknown peoples, altered considerably the trend of the ancient
traditions and the sagas of a world which they had abandoned. Indeed,
many of the ancient racial sagas vanished from the memory of the
Germanic tribes. Christianization and Romanization instilled into the
souls of the race the germs of romanticism which rapidly overspread the
old Germanic paganism with a luxuriant growth of new ideas founded on
new ideals, and, great as that poetry is, it shows everywhere a contrast
and a conflict between two different states of existence.

The Anglo-Saxon Beowulf, in its original Teutonic tongue, introduces us
to the primeval life of Germanic heroism and warlike turmoil at the dawn
of a still mystic past. The oldest High German lay, of _Hildebrand and
Hadubrand_, telling of a superhuman duel between father and son, reveals
to us the Titanic fierceness of the era of wanderings. We discover,
however, in the third great poetic remnant, the _Saga of Walthari of
Aquitaine_, not only the same descriptions of tremendous conflicts, of
perfidy and greed, of joy over blood and wounds, but also the new
elements of love and the loveliness and delicacy of the relations
between the hero and his bride. The ancient legend, however, is
transmitted to us only in the Latin garment in which Ekkehard, the monk
of Saint Galle, clothed it in the tenth century, when the German
language was at its lowest ebb and ecclesiastical Latin covered
everything. But though the garment be Latin, the spirit of the saga is
thoroughly German.

_Walthari of Aquitaine_, though composed in the tenth century, is a
monument of love, and tells us graphically of the position of woman, at
least in the upper stratum of ancient society, at the time of its
composition. Attila, King of the Huns, who appears here in a very
different light from that which throws such ghastly rays upon him in
Felix Dahn's novel, Ildico, is represented in the epic of Walthari as
almost a Germanic hero; and his career is pictured as a glorious
conquest, in which he crushes all resistance. Like a torrent in flood,
his hosts roll over the land of the Franks, the Burgundians, and the
Aquitanians. Resistance is out of the question; hostages are demanded
and given to guarantee faithfulness and peace. Hagen, Hildegund, "the
pearl of Burgundy," and Walthari are taken to King Etzel's court. Here
the romance begins. Hildegund, through the grace of her manners, her
beauty, and her skill as a housekeeper, endears herself to Queen
Ospirin, Attila's wife, who makes her treasurer and stewardess of her
household. Hagen and Walthari become the heroes and heads of the Hunnish
army. Hagen, however, seizes the first opportunity for flight on the
news of King Gibich's death reaching him, believing himself thereby
freed from all obligation toward Attila. Walthari, who has become better
beloved by the Hunnish king than were his own sons, also meditates
escape, a great longing for fatherland, parents, and friends having
seized him. In the hope of escape, he declines marriage with the noble
Hunnish maiden offered him by the king, under the pretext that love
would interfere with his duties as a warrior and leader; for he who has
once tasted the delights of love is weakened and unfit for deeds of
valor. At this time a distant subject tribe revolts. Walthari is placed
at the head of the army sent to crush the revolution, accomplishes acts
of great heroism, and returns victorious. A triumphal feast is
celebrated, and while the king and his retainers are overcome by wine
and sleep Walthari prepares for escape.

Long before, however, he had won the consent of the maiden to whom he
had once been betrothed as a child, and whom he secretly loves, to
follow him in his flight. Weary and thirsty, he met Hildegund and asked
for a drink. He tenderly kissed her hand and, while drinking, held and
pressed it lovingly. He reminded her how they were betrothed as
children. Hildegund, however, with maidenly modesty, mistook his
advances for scorn. Said she: "Why dost thou let thy tongue speak
whereof thy heart knows naught? Thou dost not desire a maiden like
myself." But he convinces her, and in humble confidence Hildegund
declares she will follow whither her beloved one will lead.

Now the occasion offers itself during the feast of victory. Well armed,
and with horses laden with treasures, the lovers flee from the Hunnish
court. During the day they hide in thickets; at night they ride over
wild, almost impassable paths. Not once does an unchaste desire enter
the heart of the hero, though he is brimming over with life and love.
Thus they reach the Rhine, cross it near Worms, and seek a safe refuge
in the Vosges Forest (_Wasgenwald_), to take the first rest since the
night of their flight. Hildegund sings her hero to sleep; Walthari, his
head in her lap, intrusts himself to the watchfulness of his love. But
Gunther, King of the Franks, has heard of the treasures which Walthari
carries; and despite the resistance of Hagen, who is pained by the
necessity of fighting against his former brother in arms, he attacks the
fleeing hero with twelve of his best warriors, including Hagen himself.
Hildegund takes the approaching warriors for Huns, awakens Walthari,
'and entreats him to kill her, that she may not fall into the hands of
the enemy. No one shall ever touch her body, as she is not to be his. It
is not our task here to describe the ghastliness of the wounds
inflicted, and Walthari's victory at the cost of the loss of a leg.
Hildegund, in true old German fashion, again appears as an angel of
mercy: she tends the wounds of the warriors and mixes their wine, as
merry jests and friendly speeches cement the reconciliation. Walthari
and Hildegund travel on to Aquitaine, where they are received with joy,
and celebrate their marriage. Thus, we are able to gather from the
Walthari Saga the traits of womanly modesty, humility, faithfulness. The
woman's watch over the sleeping hero is especially touching. Her purity
makes her ask for death when she sees the end of her hero and her own
shame. Chaste and undefiled, she enters the realm of her future husband.

Most important among all the tribes of the German nation, and of most
abiding value and influence for the future not only of Germany, but of
Europe, were the Franks.

The early history of that great and important people, or rather bundle
of tribes, is wholly legendary. Their legends describe certain
characteristics of weakness and vice of the men of that Merovingian
dynasty which again furnishes us rich material for the study of royal
womanhood, which, with few exceptions, was of the most depraved
character. Our principal contemporary source is a _History of the
Franks_ by Gregory, Bishop of Tours (A. D. 538-593). Though called the
"Father of French History," we must confess that his honesty is equalled
only by his credulity. The history of the Merovingian women belongs
locally to France, but racially to Germany; it would, therefore, be
impossible to leave it unnoticed in this volume.

One of the earliest kings of the Merovingian dynasty was Childeric, who,
owing to his luxury and vices, was driven out by the Franks. He retired
in exile to Bisinus, King of the Thuringians, where he seduced Basina
the wife of the hospitable king. Childeric had left behind in Frankland
a loyal friend with whom he had divided a gold piece, the friend
promising when times were auspicious to send his half as a signal for
Childeric's return. Eight years passed. The gold token reached the
wandering king and he was restored to his realm. Basina soon afterward
joined him at his court. She followed him, she said, because he was the
bravest man she knew, but she warned him that she would desert him if
she could find a better and mightier man than he was. This woman bore
Clovis, a son who was worthy of his mother. In 493, Clovis took for his
wife a Christian woman, Clotilde, the pious and beautiful daughter of
Chilperic of Burgundy. The importance of this marriage of Clotilde to
the pagan Clovis is self-evident, and it may have been suggested by the
famous bishop, Saint Remigius. Clotilde at once began earnest efforts to
convert her royal husband, but at first without avail. Everything tends
to prove that Clovis was exceedingly tolerant, or perhaps rather
indifferent, toward the Christian religion. His resistance was entirely
passive, and without prejudice. Clovis's sister, Lantechilde, was an
Arian, so was Autofleda, Theodoric's wife; but Albofleda, another sister
of Clovis, remained a pagan. Clovis allowed the Christian baptism of his
first son, who died in infancy. He reproached his wife, because he in a
measure ascribed the infant's death to the influence of baptism, yet he
consented to the baptism of the second son, Chlodomir, who fell ill, but
survived. There was no spirit of propaganda in the naturalistic religion
of the pagan king; he gave his wife a free scope, but refused to adopt
the doctrine she advocated. In the fifteenth year of his reign, Clovis
was at war with the powerful Alemanni. During the battle of Tolbiacum
(_Zulpich_) he sees with apprehension the ranks of the Franks giving way
before the rage of their opponents, and vows to adopt the religion of
Christ, if He grants him victory. "O Christ," he exclaims, according to
Gregorius of Tours, "I invoke devoutly thine glorious help. If thou
accord me victory over these enemies, I shall believe in thee and shall
be baptized in thine name. I have invoked my gods, but they are not
ready to aid me." After the victory, he loyally executed the promise he
had made to the God of Clotilde, the queen perhaps taking good care that
the vow should be fulfilled. Bishop Remigius, with that prudence and
political wisdom which always guided the princes of the Church,
proceeded very slowly in the matter until he was assured that the
consent of the Franks had been obtained. Three thousand of them allowed
themselves to be baptized with their king, an event of the greatest
importance in the world's history, for thereby the advance of Arianism
was checked and heathenism was cast down. Clotilde, a woman and a queen,
thus inaugurates the Christianization of the Germans, for Clovis thus
becomes a "new Constantine" and the precursor of Charlemagne, the
unifier of the Germans, the founder of the Holy Roman Empire of the
German Nation. The words of Bishop Remigius are fulfilled: "Bend thine
head, proud Sigambrian: adore what thou hast burned heretofore; burn
what thou hast adored heretofore." From this time on Clovis's life is
but a chain of successes. It is true that all those successes of the
most Christian king (_rex christianissimus_), a title bestowed upon him
and his successors, were attained by atrocity and perfidy surpassed only
in the later history of his own dynasty, and then by the female members
of the royal line. The central point of his policy was the murder of the
smaller Prankish kings so that he might be the sole chief of the entire
people. He caused Sigebert of Cologne to be slain by his own son, whom
he then assassinated, thereby securing for himself the kingship over the
Ripuarian Franks. He dispossessed Chararic and his son and, later,
killed both for the sake of greater security. He slew Racagnar, King of
Cambrai, and the latter's brother, Richard, with his own hand, and,
later on, murdered their brother, Rigomer; so that the tale of deaths is
a long one. The manner in which the Christian religion aided Clovis in
the execution of his ambitious plans, shows with terrible truth how
deeply in the sixth century the ideal of Christianity had sunk from its
lofty height. No one of his contemporaries ever reproached Clovis for
his crimes; the Franks sang them in lays; and the pious Bishop Gregory
of Tours having related the murder of Sigebert, adds naïvely: "Every day
God thus felled his enemies to the ground and increased his kingdom
because he walked with a pure heart before the Lord and did what was
agreeable in his sight."

His four sons, when among them was divided the Prankish realm, soon
found a pretext to wage a religious war against the Arian Burgundians.
Their king, Sigismund, after the death of his first wife, Ostrogotha, a
daughter of the great Theodoric, took a second wife who, like a real
stepmother, ill-treated the young son of the king. When the youth once
bitterly reproached his stepmother for wearing the garments and jewels
of his mother, the wicked woman persuaded the king that his son aspired
to his throne. She attained her purpose: the youth was murdered. But
Nemesis soon overtook the murderer of his son: he lost his throne and
his life in battle against the Franks.

Besides Clotilde, the pious wife of Clovis, we meet, among the many
women of terrible moral depravity, with another saintly woman in the
Prankish dynasty. Chlotar, the youngest of Clevis's four sons, after
having conquered the Thuringians, though he had numberless wives and
concubines, took Radegundis, the daughter of the defeated Hermanfrid,
for a wife. But the saintly woman shrank from the touch of the immoral
king, and threw herself on the icy stone pavement, unmindful of the pain
it gave her body, for her soul was filled with the agitation of ardent
religious passion, and spent her time in prayer and devotion. When she
returned to the bridal chamber, neither the heat of the fire, nor the
impure royal bed could restore the natural heat of her body; and the
king declared that he possessed rather a nun than a wife. Radegundis
succeeded in obtaining a divorce from Chlotar and retired to a cloister,
where she obtained the dignity of a deaconess, an honor which canonical
regulations reserved only to virgins. In the cloister founded by her in
the neighborhood of Poitiers, Radegundis introduced a very strict
discipline, she enriched the house with precious relics, and passed the
rest of her life in pious devotions and expiations for the sins of
Chlotar, who was sinking deeper and deeper into the mire of moral

A story is told by Gregory of Tours concerning Ingundis, one of the
concubines of Chlotar, the pious bishop calls her _uxor_ (wife),
however, which is worth repeating. Ingundis, in the full possession of
the love of Chlotar, begged of him to secure a worthy husband for her
sister Aregundia, and expatiated on the physical qualities and moral
virtues of her sister. Chlotar betook himself to her country residence,
and as she pleased him well he married her. Then he returned to Ingundis
and informed her that he had given her sister the best man he could find
in the realm of the Franks, namely, himself. With bitter disappointment
in her heart, she, according to the statement of the chronicler, meekly
submitted, saying: "What may seem good in the eyes of my lord, he may
do; only may thy maid live in the grace of the king."

The fratricidal and internecine wars of Clovis's four sons were yet
surpassed during the next generation by crimes and atrocities which
overstepped all the limits and bounds of nature. Of Chlotar's four sons,
only Sigebert's character is praiseworthy. Gregory relates that Sigebert
was greatly ashamed of the disgraceful alliances of his brothers, who
married daughters of the people of the lowest strata of society and
changed them as lust and caprice prompted. Sigebert, however, married
the daughter of Athanagild, King of the Visigoths. Her name was
Brunehild (_Brunehaut_), a woman of great beauty and excessive vices and
passions, whose name is linked in history with those of the greatest
female criminals of royal blood.

Chilperic, Sigebert's degenerate brother, jealous of the latter's
alliance, asked in marriage Galswintha, Brunehild's sister, but he soon
sacrificed her to the ambition of Fredegond, one of his concubines, who
had the queen strangled and then occupied her place. This blond-haired
woman of low birth, with most alluring charms and versed in all the arts
to arouse passion, soon reduced her royal paramour to such subjection
that he had her crowned with great pomp in his capital of Soissons.
Beginning with this marriage, atrocities do not cease until the entire
family becomes extinct. But to this very day to quote the words of a
French poet "The fair, the blonde, the terrible Fredegond is unforgotten
and sung in lurid songs from Austrasia to Perigord."

Brunehild undertook to avenge her sister; the terrible struggle began
between the Prankish slave girl and the daughter of the King of the
Visigoths, a dramatic strife which has left an enduring memory in the
annals of the history of crime. A son of Chilperic joins his father's
enemy, and, with his aid, Sigebert is victorious everywhere; but when,
in his city of Vitry, he is on the point of being raised upon the shield
as king over the land of his brother, Sigebert is assassinated by two
emissaries of Fredegond, who thus once more saves her husband by crime.
The widowed Brunehild was at the time in Paris with her five-year-old
son Childebert, and, as it seemed, at the mercy of Chilperic. But upon
the news of Sigebert's death, Gundovald, an Austrasian chief, brought
Childebert from Paris and had him proclaimed king. Brunehild was exiled
to the basilica of Saint Martin's Cathedral, at Rouen. The oath of
Fredegond upon sacred relics that she will not harm the fugitives is
violated at once. She murders two sons of Chilperic, also Bishop
Tractesetatus, who had solemnized the marriage. Brunehild saved herself
by flight, and an even more sanguinary civil war ensues, in the course
of which Chilperic too is murdered. At last the flagitious murderess
Fredegond, at the age of sixty, equally dreaded and abhorred by friend
and foe, dies strange to say by a natural death.

[Illustration 4:
After the painting by L. Alma-Tadema_
_Chilperic had taken a most unwilling bride, Galswintha, daughter of a
king of the Visigoths and younger sister of Brunehild, notwithstanding
the fierce jealousy of one of his concubines, Fredegond, who soon had
the new queen strangled and then occupied her place. This blond-haired
woman of low birth, with most alluring charms and versed in all the arts
to arouse passion, soon reduced her royal paramour to such subjection
that he had her crowned with great pomp in his capital of Soissons.
Beginning with this marriage, atrocities did not cease until the entire
family became extinct. But to this very day to quote the words of a
French poet "The fair, the blonde, the terrible Fredegond is unforgotten
and sung in lurid songs from Austrasia to Périgord"._]

Her rival and lifelong enemy Brunehild, who had vied with her in crimes
and vices, met with a far more terrible end. After many years of further
struggle she fell into the hands of Chlotar II., a son of Fredegond, who
inflicted upon her a terrible punishment. Having charged her with the
murder of at least ten Merovingian princes, he caused her, though a
matron of seventy, to be frightfully tortured for several days; then she
was placed on a camel and led for shame through the camp. Finally, she
was tied to the tail of a wild horse and dragged to death: the hoofs of
the horse crushed the limbs of the sinful queen into a shapeless mass. I
know of no poem in the whole range of German literature which gives a
more ghastly picture of that realistic scene of atrocity than one in
which Ferdinand Freiligrath relates:

        "How once in the fields of the river Marne near Chalons
        Chlotar, the son of Chilperic, had the sinful Brunehild
        Tied by her silver hair to a wild stallion;
        To drag her galloping through the Prankish camp.
        The neighing stallion started, and the hind hoofs struck
        The aged form, breaking and wrenching limb from limb.
        Dishevelled flew her whitened hair about her bloody brow.
        The pointed pebbles drank her royal blood; and shuddering
        Beheld the blood-accustomed Franks the horror of the judgment
        Of their wrathful king Chlotar.
        The glow of the red fires burning before every tent
        Fell ghastly on the pain-distorted countenance.
        With icy shower now the Marne washed from it the dust
        The camel which had borne her through the ranks was spattered
        with her blood...."
                                                               (H. S.)

We gladly leave the chapter of the Prankish nation under the
Merovingians, for it is stained with the uninterrupted tragedy of brutal
superstition, lust, perjury, treason, incest, murder of the closest
blood relatives, malice, and cruelty. Such scenes as the Langobard
Alboin's deeds and death, Brunehild's end, and the countless unspeakable
vices mentioned by Bishop Gregory of Tours demonstrate sufficiently the
terrible corruption of which even the best races are capable, when
released from all the bonds of legal restraint in the time of peace, and
when torn, root and branch, from a healthy native soil.

Even more characteristic is perhaps the poetic literature of the time,
in which the unnatural vices are transformed and reflected as lofty
virtues. What is the historian of culture to say when the contemporary
presbyter and bishop, the pious poet, Venantius Fortunatus, glorifies
and elevates both Brunehild and Fredegond as mirrors of virtue and
grace? The latter, the slave girl who attained the crown through murder
and prostitution, is to him the queen "who adorns the realm by her
virtues. Wise in council, skilful, provident, useful to the Court;
powerful of mind, magnanimous, excelling in all merits." Brunehild, on
the other hand, "The ethereal Brunehild, shining more brilliantly than
the stars, surpasses the light of the gems by the light of her
countenance of milk and blood. The lilies mixed with roses cannot
compare with her. She is a sapphire, a white diamond, a crystal, an
emerald, a iaspis, nay, more, for all must yield the palm to her; Spain
[referring to the Visigoths having occupied southern France and northern
Spain] has produced a new jewel."



The literary remnants of the pre-Carlovingian era are too scanty to
permit us to form from them a perfect picture of Teutonic woman during
the centuries of migrations. We are, however, able fairly to reconstruct
the record by the aid of the rich treasures transmitted to us from a
period five or six centuries later, a time epochal in the stormy youth
of the German peoples. Though the original songs were partly destroyed
through the antagonism of the Church and her efforts to root out the
pagan memories and traditions, and, though these causes, to a large
extent, made futile the strenuous efforts of Charlemagne to collect and
preserve the ancient lays and sagas, the people continued to be
influenced by their memories. The spirit of the "_Legend from Ancient
Times_," of which Heine writes in his beautiful poem, _Lorelei_, never
died out in the soul of the race. The spirit of expansion, of
enlargement of horizon, fostered by the crusades and by the broad policy
of the great Hohenstaufen dynasty brought about an extensive knowledge
of the poetic, romantic, and historic materials and forms among the
older French and Italian literatures. The old heroes of the German
legend and history awakened from the long slumber of vague recollection
and lived again in their influence upon the ideals of the people. The
origin of the German heroic epic is thus closely connected with the most
decisive period of the political birth of the nation. The heroic epic in
its entirety, therefore, flows from, and is reflected in, the great
revolution of power and in the changes of habitation which, for the
first time, awakened the historical self-consciousness of the German war
nobility and made possible a new development in the national literature.
The hour of birth of the German heroic epic is the Migration period. In
the heroic epic the story is clothed in a romantic garment. The epic
poets, looking backward from their own stirring times as far as the
formation period, symbolize the progress of history in the time when it
may be said that ancient Europe was broken to pieces, and the Germans in
a new formation and in a new soil came uninjured and even strengthened
from the general devastation.

The type of heroes and heroines formed in the fifth and sixth centuries,
and the heroes grown and developed from those ancient, yet largely
mythological ideas and ideals were adapted to the new type of chivalrous
manhood of the eleventh and twelfth centuries by the poets and singers
of the circles of the princes and nobles whose high culture promoted the
first classical period of bloom. The heroic saga is then the
crystallization of the treasure of traditions formed in the heroic
period of the race.

The saga material is divisible into the group or tribal cycles, and
every cycle revolves around a galaxy of great, good, heroic, or evil
women. This saga literature, in fact, furnishes us with a perfect
portrait gallery of the German women of the two most important and
formative periods of their race. We have mentioned in the previous
chapter a few of the Hunnish cycle around Attila (_Etzel_). Of these
Ildico and Hildegund are preeminent. We have alluded to the historical
women of the Ostrogoth cycle those associated with the great Theodoric
or, as called in the saga, Dietrich von Bern (_Verona_). Other cycles
there are: the Norse, embracing Beowulf, King of the Jutes, and the
Scandinavian heroes Wittich and Wieland, belongs to our theme but
incidentally; the Langobard cycle, singing the Langobard heroes King
Rother, Ortnit, Hugdietrich, and Wolfdietrich, and their adventures on
the Mediterranean Sea and in a legendary Byzantine Empire, with a type
of Oriental-Greek or Byzantine women, lies a little aside from our
present consideration of German women. We can well confine ourselves to
the _Nibelungen Saga_ and _Gudrun_, the German _Iliad_ and _Odyssey_,
for these two heroic sagas of the German nation are the true exponents
of all the characteristics of German women and men. The heroic epic in
its germ is historical, but its growth freed it from its fetters of fact
and decked it with ornaments from the domain of imagination. Historical
and mythical elements are, then, strangely blended in these sagas. They
develop exotically, scarce one that does not grow outside its original
sphere, assimilate foreign unhistorical matter, blur all chronology, and
anachronistically poetize the dim recollections of a historical but
long-forgotten underground. The resultant of the convolutions and
accretions is a complex epic cycle of sagas originating at different
times, but always deeply rooted in the Migration period, wherein lay all
the origins of Germanic historical existence.

The _Nibelungenlied_ is the crystallization of the Burgundian Low
Rhenish Hunnish cycle of Sagas. No more complete psychological record in
poetic form of all the emotions, love and hate, vice and virtue, vanity
and modesty, chastity and passion, piety and wickedness, womanly
gentleness and virulence, is imaginable. All the phases of human
existence are put before us in the lives of the Burgundian royal
brothers Gunther, Gernot, Giselher; their mother Ute; and their sister
Kriemhilde, whose character, as outlined, is the grandest and the most
complex woman's character in the literature of the world. Kriemhilde, as
the wife of the Low Rhenish hero Siegfried, and Brunhild, in the Norse
version of the Saga, a former Valkyrie, humanized only to make it
possible for her to be the wife of Gunther and to bear a deep love for
Siegfried, are the opposite poles of womanhood.

It is, however, very difficult to obtain through the epics a correct
estimate of the status of woman at a definite period. This difficulty is
due not only to the poetic and fictitious characterization of the
womanly types, but especially to the constant blending of ancient
Germanic elements and twelfth century chivalry, knighthood, and romantic
love (_Minne_), from which results an almost inextricable web of
mythical and historical and purely romantic threads.

Siegfried wins Kriemhilde by a long wooing in the truly romantic fashion
of the period of _Minne song_, but later inflicts upon her, in the truly
old Germanic fashion, a severe physical chastisement for her quarrelsome
temper. We find in the story traces of the primeval Germanic beliefs of
the power of divination and prophecy. Kriemhilde has a momentous dream;
she sees a beautiful falcon that she had reared with care seized and
overpowered by two eagles. Her mother, Ute, interprets the dream
correctly as foreshadowing the fate of her future husband:

        "The falcon, whom thou cherished, he was a noble man,
        May God in safety keep him, for no one other can."

In the morning before the final catastrophe overtook Siegfried,
Kriemhilde related to him with a sorrowful heart another dream:

        "I dreamed last night of trouble, and how that two wild boar
        Chased you thro' the thicket, then were the flowers red.
        That I must weep so sorely, in sooth! I have full need."

The magic arts and the cutting of _runes_ by women are no longer
mentioned in the greatest epic of the Middle High German period, while
they are yet in full sway in the Norse version of _Sigurd and Brunhild_,
or, as she is there called, _Sigrdrifa_. The gift of healing, however,
is attributed to women in both versions.

As we have seen in ancient Germanic law, woman is under the
guardianship, or Mundium (hand), of her nearest male relatives. So she
is at the period of the Nibelungenlied. Of Kriemhilde it is said:

        "Her guardians were three kings, rich and of noble race...
        The maiden was their sister; the princes had her in ward."

Noble women resided usually in the inner secluded rooms, called
_hemenate_. Siegfried did not see Kriemhilde at the Burgundian court for
a whole year. Her favorite occupation in her seclusion was to embroider
gold and jewels on silk, fashioning splendid garments for the bridal
expeditions and courtly travels of the heroes. Rarely, and only on
festal occasions, women appeared to receive distinguished guests. Then
they are surrounded by their attendant warriors, who as a symbol of
ready protection carry swords in their hands. Any offence to a
noblewoman is taken up by her entire following and is expiated in bloody
fashion. Marriage by capture no longer occurs, yet traces of it can be
found everywhere in the later bridal expeditions of Gunther and the
Hegelings. On the battlefield, Siegfried pays no gold for his bride, it
is true, but he has to earn her in a hard struggle against the enemies
of her three brothers.

The lot of woman is suffering and sorrow and care, as evidenced from
such verses as:

        "Whatever sufferings fall to the lot of the men,
        All those are wept over by the women."

This is the tenor of all the epic songs. The _Nibelungenlied_ has
devoted an epilogue, _The Lamentation_, to the expression of those
sentiments. There are constant allusions to woman's woes: here, the
death of a hero is "lamented by many a woman;" there, "heavy heartache
harasses the women;" "all the worthy women weep over him."

We may, after this brief introduction, consider the great characters of
the lay. A peculiar position in the Germanic heroic epic is occupied by
Helche, King Attila's first consort. Although a pagan, the conception
left to us of the wife of the dread Hunnish king is of a woman who has
become almost entirely Germanized. Because of her traits of mildness,
kindness, and purity, she appears as the ideal of a true German queen,
just as Attila himself, with his Germanized name (attila, little father,
from Gothic _atta_, father), appears in many lays as a good, liberal,
kind-hearted king. Helche is especially motherly toward the numerous
noblewomen who stay at the Hunnish court as hostages; she is a friend of
the conquered and the helper of the miserable and the exiled. Dietrich
von Bern, in his exile from home and throne, is under her protection.
She obtained for him from Etzel money and men for the reconquest of
Bern; and when the enterprise failed, she intervened for him with the
irate Hunnish king, and even gave him her sister's daughter in marriage.
When the king complained of the obnoxious foreign fugitives, she
convinced him that the reception of a hero like Dietrich could only be
of advantage to his realm and an honor to himself. At the death of
Helche there is universal mourning throughout the land; for, says the
chronicler, a true mother of the innocent virgins and of the entire
people has departed.

In the foreground of all the epics of the German cycles stand the two
greatest characters of ancient womanhood, Kriemhilde and Brunhild.

At Worms on the Rhine in the land of the Burgundians, the three royal
brothers Gunther, Gernot, and Giselher guard a glorious treasure,
Princess Kriemhilde. Many kings and heroes try to win her hand, but she
is indifferent to the love of men. The most glorious hero of the age,
Siegfried, hears the fame of Kriemhilde's beauty and proceeds with a
numerous and splendid retinue from his royal father's castle at Xanten
up the Rhine to Worms to win Kriemhilde. After a six days' sail,
Siegfried and his escort reach their destination, and without disclosing
their identity they ride to court. Only Hagen of Tronje is able to give
information to the Burgundians regarding the strange heroes. He relates
how Siegfried, in spite of his youth, has already accomplished great
exploits, how he slew the dragon and became invulnerable by bathing in
the blood of the monster, how he defeated the Nibelungs and seized their
immense treasure. Hagen exhorts Gunther to receive the youthful hero
with kindness and honor in order that he may not "earn the hatred of the
bold prince."

Hagen's advice is followed and Siegfried is received by the Burgundians
with great honor. But before he is permitted even to look upon the
beautiful Kriemhilde, he is invited to aid the Burgundians in reducing
to subjection the rebellious kings Ludeger of Saxony and Ludegast of
Denmark. Upon his triumphal return from the war his eyes are gladdened
by the sight of the royal maid at the festive celebration of the
victory. The princess attended by a hundred sword-bearing chamberlains
and a hundred richly adorned gentlewomen, steps forth from her
_hemenate_, or as says the lay:

        "Then came the lovely one, as does the rosy morn
        Through sombre clouds advancing...
        As the bright Queen of heaven steps forth before each star
        Above the clouds high soaring, in shine so pure and clear,
        So shone the beauteous maiden o'er other ladies nigh."

The very first glance exchanged between the princess and the prince
betrays their mutual love. Siegfried is more than ever resolved to win
the beauteous maiden for his wife.

But the time of trial is not yet over for him. King Gunther has set his
heart upon the war maid Brunhild, Queen of the Isenstein, and he is
determined to win her as his wife. Siegfried's presence seems to offer a
favorable opportunity to press his suit; he therefore agrees that if the
hero from the Netherlands will help him to obtain the hand of Brunhild,
he may marry Kriemhilde. With a heavy heart for well he knows Brunhild
Siegfried consents. Accompanied by but a few warriors, Gunther and
Siegfried sail down the Rhine, and after a twelve days' journey they
land on Isenstein. In sight of the royal castle, surmounted by
eighty-six towers rising in gloomy magnificence, Siegfried, in order to
pass for a vassal, holds the stirrup of Gunther. Brunhild receives the
dragon slayer, whose fame and glory are well known to her, with the

        "'Welcome you are, Sir Siegfried, here to this my land.
        What means your journey hither, now let me understand?'
        Quoth Siegfried: 'Lady Brunhild, great thanks to you I owe,
        That you, most gentle princess, should deign to greet me so
        Before this noble hero who stands beside me here;
        For he is my master...
        He is by name Gunther, a mighty King and dread;
        If he your love can conquer, his fondest wish is sped.'"

Brunhild proclaims the conditions upon which she may be won. The hero
who wishes to win her to wife must conquer her in three games: spear
throwing, stone throwing, and leaping. If he fails in one of the three
tests he must lose his head. Gunther declares himself ready for the
trial though he feels that his strength is not equal to the superhuman
power of Brunhild. Siegfried comes to his friend's assistance, and clad
in his Tarn-cap which he had won from the Nibelung treasure, and which
makes him invisible, he undertakes the task while Gunther merely
executes the gesture of the action. Brunhild is defeated and with
forebodings of evil follows the Burgundian king to Worms where a joyful
double marriage is celebrated. Then Siegfried takes his bride to Xanten,
his capital, where he passes ten years of peace and happiness. But the
Norns, the Fates, have decreed that his joy shall not endure. King
Gunther invites his friend and his sister to a great festival at Worms
at the time of the summer solstice. On the eleventh day before Vespers,
during the walk to church, a fatal quarrel breaks out between the
queens. The quarrel is precipitated by a question of precedence.
Brunhild, consumed by jealousy of Siegfried's heroic fame and
Kriemhilde's happiness, insultingly taunts the latter that her consort
is after all but a vassal of Gunther, an accusation which Kriemhilde
violently rejects. The two queens part with vehement words. Kriemhilde

        '"Since thou hast my Siegfried claimed as thy subject now,
        So shall this very day the knights of both kings see,
        Whether, before the Queen, the church I enter may.'"

Arrived at the same moment at the entrance to the church, Brunhild calls
out to her sister-in-law:

        "'Before wife of a monarch, a subject shall not go.'"

Kriemhilde, forgetting herself and all about her, breaks out in terrible

        "'Couldst thou have kept silent, 't would have been for thy good.
        Thou hast thyself dishonored thine own body fair;
        How could a concubine as a king's wife appear?'
        'Whom wouldst thou a concubine?' speaks the haughty Queen.
        'That will I thee,' quoth Kriemhild; 'thy body fair, I ween,
        Was at first embraced by Siegfried, my dear man;
        'Sooth was it not my brother who thy maidenhood won.'"

In the agony of shame, Brunhild sank with tears on the threshold.
Kriemhilde passes through the door of the church with her attendants,

        "For this must soon perish many knights, brave and good."

The insulted queen swears vengeance; Siegfried's blood alone can wash
away her shame. Here begins the work of fierce, grim Hagen, one of the
most sombre characters in German legend. Brunhild wins for the execution
of her revenge this knight, with his fearful record of crime and
passion, though with, on the other hand, his tragic greatness and his
unfaltering devotion to his king and master, to whom he is joined by the
ties of absolute loyalty. As justified by his oath of vassalage he vows
to slay the man who has insulted his sovereign. Gunther reluctantly
consents to the murder of the man to whom he is so deeply indebted;
Giselher, who decidedly rejects the murderous project, is outvoted.

A treacherous plan is concocted, and to make the perfidy still more
flagrant Kriemhilde's innocent cooperation is mendaciously engaged. As
Siegfried, after his bath in the blood of the dragon whom he had slain,
is invulnerable except at one point between the shoulder-blades where a
fallen linden leaf had prevented the skin from becoming "horny,"
Kriemhilde is persuaded by Hagen to mark the spot with red silk that he
may protect him from harm. A hunt is chosen as the occasion for
Siegfried's murder. While Siegfried stoops to a fountain to drink the
limpid water, wine having intentionally been kept away from the hunting
party, he is pierced by Gunther's vassal through the silken mark
indicated by his innocent, loving wife. He sinks to the ground dying,
rallies once more to face his murderer, but his strength leaves him, and
dying he commends Kriemhilde to Gunther's care:

        "'Would you ever, Gunther, on this world again
        To any one show kindness, let it well appear,
        In truth and in favor, to my wife so dear.
        Let it at least speak for her that she your sister is:
        By every princely virtue, pledge your troth in this.'"

The murderer causes Siegfried's corpse to be laid before the door of his
sleeping queen. When leaving her chamber in the morning to go to early
mass, Kriemhilde fainted on viewing the heartrending sight

        "She sank down on the ground, no word more did she say;
        The lovely, joyless lady before them prostrate lay.
        Kriemhild's anguish was terrible to view,
        So loud her cries and wailing that the room echoed through."

The body of the divine hero is laid on a bier in the cathedral. Then
Kriemhilde challenges the king and Hagen to approach the shrine
containing Siegfried's corpse and take the test that will decide their
guilt or innocence. The ancient ordeal reveals the murderer, for at
Hagen's approach the wound begins to bleed anew. In Kriemhilde's soul,
that heretofore had been so filled with unspeakable love for her
incomparable hero that other passions found no place, there arises now
an all-destroying hatred and lust of revenge. The expression of this
pervades the second part of the _Nibelungenlied_, and reaches its climax
in an orgy of blood, in a cataclysm that overwhelms alike all the
participants in the murder, her brothers and herself.

Kriemhilde secludes herself at Worms, and mourns her dead for thirteen
long years. During all this weary time no single word is addressed by
her to Gunther her blood-stained brother. The silence becomes
intolerable; and to reconcile her and to divert her thoughts, the kings
send for the Nibelung treasure of red gold and precious jewels which
lies under dwarf Alberich's guard in the land of the Nibelungs. During
four days and nights twelve heavy wagons haul the shining treasure from
the hollow of the mountain to the waiting ship. A truce is patched up
between the widow and the brothers, but she hates Hagen with a deep and
silent hate. Her only consolation lies in chanty toward the poor. Hagen
fears the effect of her liberality. He takes the treasure away from her
and thus adds further to her debt of hate. Upon Gernot's advice, Hagen
sinks the Nibelung hoard in the Rhine, at a place between Worms and
Lorsch, and there it rests, according to popular belief, to this very
day. Those who knew where it rested swore solemnly never to betray its
hiding place, and not one of those who knew survived Kriemhilde's hate.
Nemesis now passes from Siegfried the Nibelung to the Burgundian
Nibelungs. The Nibelungs' distress begins with the second part of the
national epic.

Far away in Hungary, Etzel had lost his wife, Helche, the song-famed
queen. Fair Kriemhilde is proposed to him, and, after some doubts
whether he should wed a Christian, he is persuaded by his great vassal
Riidiger of Bechlarn to undertake the wooing. Riidiger himself is sent
on the errand, and proceeds from the Etzel castle to Bechlarn, in
Austria, where he is heartily received by his faithful wife, Gotelinde,
and his blooming daughter. Gotelinde is deeply affected by the death of
the good and noble Helche, and by the thought that she is to be replaced
by another wife. At last the envoy arrives at Worms, where Hagen alone
recognizes the hero with whom and Walthari of Aquitaine he had once
associated at Etzel's court. The kings are not averse to the proposal of
marriage, but Hagen, conscious of the irretrievable wrong which he had
inflicted upon the queen and apprehensive of the effect of her
independence and power, dissuades them: "You do not know Etzel; if you
knew him, you would reject his wooing, even though Kriemhilde might
accept; it may turn out disastrously to you." Gunther replies: "Friend
Hagen, thou mayst not render loyalty; repair by kindly consent to
Kriemhilde's happiness the sorrow which thou hast caused to her." But
Hagen is unmoved: "If Kriemhilde wears Helche's crown, she will inflict
upon us as much sorrow and distress as she will be able to. It becomes
heroes to avoid harm."

This anticipation of horror, this foreboding of dreadful evil, continues
throughout the lay, until the measure of woe is full. The kings are
unconscious of the dark clouds gathering above their heads, but Hagen,
in spite of his ferocious bravery, seems, though defiant throughout, to
be pursued by Nemesis of the Furies. When Kriemhilde is informed of
Etzel's wooing, she replies mournfully: "God forbid you to mock me, poor
wretched woman. What shall I be to a man who has already won love from a
good wife?"

Heartrending lamentations for the unforgotten and still beloved
Siegfried break from the queen. To Rudiger, Etzel's envoy, she states:
"He who knows my sharp pain will not ask me to love another man. I lost
more in the one than any woman can ever gain." Still, she asks time for
deliberation. Gernot and Giselher encourage her: "If anyone can reverse
your sorrow, the man is Etzel; from the Rhône to the Rhine, from the
Elbe to the sea, no king is powerful as he; rejoice that he has chosen
thee for his partner in his glorious realm." "Woe is me, lamentation and
mourning beseem me better than marriage; I can no longer go to court as
befits a queen; if once I was beautiful, my beauty has vanished long
ago." With dry eyes, in bitter pain, she awaits the morning. Nothing can
move her to consent. At last, Riidiger vows to her under four eyes with
a solemn oath: "And though you had in Hunland no one but me and my loyal
kinsman and warriors, still anyone who causes sorrow to you, shall
heavily atone for it by my hand." Instantly all the spirits of revenge
are aroused in her breast; but Riidiger knows not the terrible thoughts
that linger in her bosom, as he swears the solemn oath; he knows not
that by his oath he dooms his child, his men, himself to a double death.
Kriemhilde, with her heart thirsting for revenge, proceeds with the
embassy to Etzel's court. Twenty-four mighty kings and princes are sent
by her great husband to meet her. Attila's brother, Blodel, renders her
homage; and so, too, does Havart, the Dane, and his faithful vassal,
Iring, and of others a host. And there she notices, at the head of his
men, whose faces shine forth defiantly from their wolf's helmets, a
lofty, almost gigantic hero a lion-like man with his powerful shoulders
and loins, cast as of iron; he resembles Siegfried in bright looks and
royal brow; but in him Siegfried's serene youth is mellowed to manly
maturity. Heavy storms have raged over the head of the hero, whose hair
is bound with a regal diadem, whose right arm leans upon his lion
shield. This is Theodoric the Goth, Dietrich von Bern of the saga, the
greatest hero of the Migration period, next to Siegfried the centre of
Teutonic epic, now an exile at Etzel's court until he returns as a
victor to the dominions of his fathers.

The strength and majesty of this heroic warrior appeal to the heart of
Kriemhilde, but appeal only as the means to the accomplishment of sure
revenge on the murderers of her husband, Siegfried. The marriage feast
is celebrated at Vienna for seventeen days with profuse magnificence and
numberless gifts to the bride; but Kriemhilde's heart is faithful to her
first and only love.

        "When now the thought would cross her how by the Rhine she sat
        Beside her noble husband, with tears her eyes were wet;
        Yet must she weep in secret that it by none was seen."

Thus she proceeds sadly down the Danube to the Etzel castle, a stranger
in a strange land concealing her deep woe under her royal splendor.
After seven years she bears to Etzel a son, Ortlieb, then six years more
pass by twenty-six years in all since Siegfried was murdered at the
linden fountain in the Oden forest then at last the time arrives to
quench the thirst of her revenge.

Kriemhilde says to Etzel: "For long years I have now been here in a
strange land, and no one of my lofty kinsmen has visited us. No longer
may I bear the absence from my relatives, for already the rumor goes
here, since no one of my family visits us, that I am an exile and a
fugitive from my land, without home or friends." The king, ever ready to
please Kriemhilde, sends the two singer-heroes, Werbel and Swemlin, to
Worms as envoys to invite the Burgundian kings with their suite to visit
Hungary at the next solstice. Kriemhilde urges all her relatives to
come. The ever suspicious Hagen dissuades the kings from the journey.
"You know indeed what we have done to Kriemhilde, that I with my own
hand slew her husband. How can we dare to travel in Etzel's land? There
we shall lose life and honor King Etzel's wife is of long revenge!" When
his warning fails, he advises that the expedition shall be strongly
armed and of large numbers. All the vassals are summoned, and eleven
thousand men go joyfully forth on their dire mission. The element of
music and song is not wanting; brave, cheerful Volker, the fiddler, an
expert singer and musician as well as a great warrior, is of the party.

Kriemhilde is informed of the success of the mission, and voices her
grim joy: "How are you pleased with the good tidings, dear husband and
master; what I have desired ever and ever is now fulfilled." "Your will
is mine," replied Etzel; "I never rejoiced thus over the arrival of my
own relatives as I do over the arrival of yours."

An ill omen almost prevents the fateful expedition. The hoary mother of
the Burgundian Kings and of Kriemhilde dreams, during the preparations
for departure, that all the birds in the land lie scattered dead on the
fields and groves. Hagen realizes the purport of the dream; but when
scorned by Gernot, he says: "It is not fear that moves me; if you order
the journey, I shall ride gladly to Etzel's land."

The journey is full of adventures and novel experiences; Hagen, because
he is well versed in the intricate roads, is the leader; his adventure
with the mermaid-prophetesses is recorded in the first episode. Out of
the rustling water the ominous voice of the swan-virgin is heard:
"Hagen, Aldrian's son, I will warn thee. Return, as long as it is time
yet; no one of your great host will return across the Danube, but one
man, the king's chaplain." Hagen fights with the ferryman, whom he
found, according to the warning of the mermaids, untrustworthy. He slays
him and hurls the corpse into the flood, but, though this is done, the
kings still see his blood streaming in the ship. Hagen himself ferries
the entire army over the stream. On the last boat rides the chaplain.
Him Hagen seizes, as he leans with his hand on the sanctuary, and hurls
him pitilessly beneath the surface of the rippling water. The chaplain
then turns and safely reaches the home bank; as he shakes in his
dripping garments, he sees the Burgundians file into the distance. The
first prophecy is fulfilled, and Hagen now realizes the irretrievable
doom that awaits the kings and their followers. He destroys the ship,
knowing well that it will serve for no one's safe return from the land
of the Huns; but he justifies the act as a means of preventing retreat
if a coward sought to gain safety by flight.

The description of the hospitality afforded to the Burgundians by
Margrave Rudiger of Bechlarn, in Austria, is a classical account of
German court life. In it are welded together the customs and manners
both of the migration period and the transition period between the
twelfth and thirteenth centuries. In the noble hostesses, Rudiger's
wife, Gotelinde, and Dietlinde, her lovely daughter, are depicted true
types of the loftiest German womanhood. The royal housewife receives the
guests in true German fashion, with a kiss, thus honoring the brothers
of her queen. The lovely maiden, too, proceeds along the ranks of the
king's suite, offering them the kiss of welcome; but, with the intuitive
soul of a pure German woman, she shudders before Hagen's grim features,
and only in obedience to her father's order she offers to him her pale
cheek for a kiss. There is hardly in any literature such a charming
illustration of the joyous nature of a people, as shown in their customs
and pleasures and music, as the banquet given by Rudiger. Good cheer
prevails at the joyful table over which presided the noble and
hospitable Gotelinde. During the afternoon, the daughter of the house
appears with her companions to inspire Volker to song and merry jest.
The climax of the scene is reached when the Burgundian heroes woo lovely
Dietlinde for the youngest of their kings, Giselher. The suit is
accepted by the parents, and the betrothal of the noble couple is
concluded amid joyful consent and pleasurable anticipation of the
marriage, which is to be celebrated when the Burgundians return from
Etzel's court. When the hour of parting approaches, precious gifts are
exchanged in truly Homeric fashion as a symbol of intimate connection
and eternal friendship. Rüdiger presents Gernot with his own sword,
which he had gloriously wielded in many a battle. The last blow of the
glorious, but ill-fated, sword is, alas! to cleave the head of noble
Rüdiger himself. Gotelinde honors Hagen with the shield of her own
father, who had fallen in battle.

Dietrich, the hero, first receives the Burgundians on Hunnish soil: "Be
welcome, Gunther, Gernot, and Giselher; be welcome, Hagen, Volker, and
Dankwart; are you unaware that Kriemhilde still grievously weeps for the
hero from the Nibelung land?" "May she weep yet for a long time: he has
been slain many years ago; Siegfried will never return; may she cling to
the King of the Huns," is Hagen's grimly defiant reply. "How Siegfried
fell we will not now investigate: but so long as Kriemhilde lives,
grievous calamity is impending; do thou beware of it most of all, O
Hagen, heir of the Nibelungs." Still more definitely Dietrich expresses
his fears to the Burgundian kings in secret interview; though unaware of
a determined plot of revenge, he knows that Etzel's wife raises every
morning her loud dirge to mighty God for strong Siegfried's direful
death. "It cannot now be helped," replies the brave fiddler Volker; "let
us ride to Etzel's court and await what is destined to us by the Huns."

When the eagle helmets and coats of arms of the Burgundians gleam at the
gate entrance to the castle, Kriemhilde exclaims: "There are my
relatives; let him who loves me be mindful of my sorrow." The heroes are
received at Etzel's castle with barbarous splendor, yet a terrible gloom
seems to overhang everything. Hagen and Volker, in the consciousness
that death is near, join each other in a personal compact for life and
death. They seat themselves outside on a stone bench, and are looked at
with fear and awe. When Kriemhilde sees from the window her deadly
enemy, she is overcome by emotion, her tears flow, and she calls upon
her royal vassals around her to avenge her bitter woe and sorrow on
Hagen, the murderer of Siegfried. Sixty men buckle on their armor.
Kriemhilde herself, with the royal crown on her head, descends to the
courtyard to obtain from Hagen's own lips the confession of his deed as
a testimony for her men. "I know," she says, "he is so haughty, he will
not deny it, so I do not care what happens to him for the deed." While
the sixty hostile warriors approach, the two Burgundian heroes once more
renew their bond for life and death. To Hagen's question whether Volker
will stand by him "in true love as I shall never forsake you," Volker
replies: "So long as I live, even though all Hunnish knights storm
against us I do not yield from you, Hagen, not a finger's breadth." "Now
God reward you, noble Volker, what more do I need? Let them approach,
the armored heroes!" This splendid monument of German loyalty partially
reconciles us to the horrors soon to be enacted.

Kriemhilde then approaches the terrible pair. Though Volker prompts his
comrade to rise before the queen, Hagen defiantly remains seated, and
lays before him on his knees a shining sword with a brilliant jewel of
green color on the handle. Kriemhilde at once recognizes Siegfried's
saga-famed sword Balmung. Her grief is thus renewed. "Who bade you come,
Hagen, how could you dare to ride hither? Do you not know what you have
done to me?"

"No one sent for me; three kings have been invited hither, they are my
masters, I their vassal; where they are, I am."

"You know indeed," continued Kriemhilde, "why I detest you? You have
slain Siegfried, and for him I shall weep to the very end."

"Yes," snarled grim Hagen, "I did slay Siegfried, the hero, because Lady
Kriemhilde chided fair Brunhild, my queen. Avenge it whoever will, I
confess, I caused you much sorrow." Thereupon, war is declared for life
and death. However, the sixty Hunnish heroes do not dare to attack the
two Burgundians, who rise and go to the royal hall in order that they
may stand by their kings should they be in distress.

Kriemhilde enters and salutes her brothers, but bestows a kiss and
handshake only on Giselher, the youngest. Hagen ties his helmet more
tightly. Kriemhilde inquires whether they had brought her property, the
Nibelung treasure, with them.

"The Nibelung treasure," replies Hagen scornfully, "has been buried in
the deepest Rhine where it shall lie till the last day, and

        "'To thee I bring the devil!
        In this my buckler have I quite enough to bear,
        And also in my armor this helm so fairly wrought
        This sword my hand is holding; therefore I bring thee naught.'"

Kriemhilde requests the Burgundians to give up their arms, as is
customary, at friendly visits; Hagen refuses. She thus realizes that the
Burgundians must have been warned.

"Who has done this?" she inquires angrily. Proudly and firmly Dietrich
replies: "It is I, I have warned them; on me, thou, terrible one, wilt
not avenge this warning." Before his piercing eye Kriemhilde conceals
her boiling anger and retreats, throwing hostile glances upon her
enemies. The guests, too, retire guarded by the indefatigable Hagen and
Volker. For the last time, Volker's music rings out into the night as he
sings in sweet melodies the parting from life. It is the _dirge_ for the
Burgundian kings and heroes. Kriemhilde vainly endeavors to enlist
Hildebrand and Dietrich to aid her revenge. Both refuse.

"He who will slay the Nibelungs will do it without me," says Hildebrand.
Nor will Dietrich break faith to those who came in good faith and from
whom he had suffered no harm. He says: "By my hand Siegfried will remain

At last the queen by great promises wins Blodel, Etzel's brother. He
agrees to attack the lesser knights and the men-at-arms who under
Dankwart's command rest in the out-houses. During the surprise,
Kriemhilde quietly enters the dining hall of the royal castle where the
great heroes are already assembled. Her son Ortlieb, only five years
old, is presented by Etzel to his uncles and their favor is bespoken
when the prince shall be sent to Burgundy for his education. Now the
untamed fury of Hagen suddenly breaks out in a fearful explosion. The
fierce savagery of the Migration period, regardless of the Christian
varnish of the thirteenth century, in striking contrast to the elegiac
traits exhibited in the departure of the kings, in Giselher's betrothal
to Dietlinde and voiced in Volker's sweet melodies, reappears in an
unheard of act of brutal murder. Hagen exclaims that the young king does
not look to him as if he would grow very old; that no one would ever see
him in Ortlieb's court. While everybody is yet stunned by the ferocious
prophecy of the terrible man, Dankwart breaks into the festal hall and

"Why do you sit here so long, brother Hagen; to you and to God in heaven
do I complain of our distress. Knights and servants lie altogether slain
in the outhouse." Indeed, Blodel had kept his word, but lost his life in
the attempt. Not one Burgundian escaped the carnage, save Dankwart who
succeeded in cutting his way through the press. Hagen sprang up like a
wounded lion, the sword shone in his mighty hand, and with one blow the
head of the innocent royal child was tossed into the lap of his mother
Kriemhilde. This atrocious deed is the signal for a universal carnage.
In her deathly agony Kriemhilde appeals to Dietrich, who is at once
ready to fulfil his duty toward the queen and consort of his host and
protector, Etzel. Dietrich demands peace for himself and his men, who
are no participants in the strife. King Gunther bids all go who are not
involved in the murder of his men; he will take his revenge but on the
retinue of Etzel who are in the plot. Etzel and Kriemhilde, Rudiger of
Bechlarn, Dietrich and his retinue, leave the hall. Then the battle
began to rage again, until all Etzel's men were slain. Their bodies were
hurled by the Burgundians downstairs in front of the door. Intoxicated
by the victory, Hagen, in the doorway, reviles Kriemhilde for her second
marriage, and the latter, exasperated, promises to fill Etzel's shield
with gold for him who would bring her Hagen's head. It is not our task
to describe here the battle, the blood flowing in rivulets from the hall
to the courtyard. The attempt to obtain a free departure from the hall
to die in open battle fails, since Kriemhilde fears Hagen might escape
her vengeance. Yet even among those horrors a feature of love and truth
is not missing. Giselher, who was hardly a boy when Siegfried was
murdered, addresses his sister:

"O fair sister, how could I expect this great and dire calamity when
thou invitedst me from the Rhine. How do I deserve death in this strange
land? At all times was I true to thee, and never did I a wrong; I hoped
to find thee loving and gracious to me; let me die quickly, if it must

Deeply moved by his words, Kriemhilde demands only the surrender of
Hagen. "As to you, I will let you live, for you are my brothers, and
children of the same mother." But Gernot rejects the offer: "We die with
Hagen, even though we were a thousand of the same race." And "We die
with Hagen, if die we must," repeats Giselher; "we shall not forego
loyalty unto death."

At the failure of this last attempt at peace, the wrath of Kriemhilde
knows no bounds. She orders fire to be put to the hall, and the flames
are fanned by the wind to a roaring shower of fire. A terrible thirst
increases the torture, until the heroes quench it according to Hagen's
advice with the blood of the slain. When the night sets in, the
Burgundians protect themselves with their shields from the falling
timbers. The last morning dawns. The battle rages anew. At last Riidiger
decides, though with a bleeding heart, that the loyalty to his king and
queen, the faithfulness of the vassal, must prevail over his truth and
love for his new friends, for Giselher, the betrothed of his child. In
the ensuing struggle Rudiger splits Gernot's head, while Gernot's last
blow with Rüdiger's own sword ends the latter's life. Both heroes thus
mingle their blood in death.

The bloody contest continues until all the Goths, with the exception of
Hildebrand and Dietrich, are slain. In the royal hall, Gunther and Hagen
alone stand over the bodies of their brothers and companions from
Burgundy. Dietrich demands their surrender; the demand is rejected by
Hagen. The last terrible duel begins. Dietrich inflicts a severe wound
upon Hagen, seizes him with his mighty arms, chains him in his lion's
grasp, and thus delivers him to Kriemhilde. The same fate awaits
Gunther. Recommending the lives of the heroes to Kriemhilde, Dietrich
leaves the court.

Kriemhilde vows to Hagen that she will spare his life if he will return
to her the hidden hoard, the Nibelung treasure. Though grievously
wounded and lying in chains, Hagen, loyal to his masters, replies: "So
long as one of my masters lives, I will not reveal the hiding place of
the treasure." The queen is desperate. She causes her own royal
brother's head to be cut off, and herself carries it by the hair to
Hagen. The true vassal cries out with sad resolution: "Now it is
accomplished as thou hast willed."

        "'Dead is now of Burgundy the noble monarch true,
        Giselher, the young prince, and eke Gernot too.
        Of the Hoard knows no one save God and I alone;
        To thee, thou devil's wife, shall it ne'er be shown.'"

"Then only the sword of Siegfried, my sweet husband, is left to me." She
draws it from the sheath, and, by the hand of the long-sorrowing wife,
Siegfried's sword avenges Siegfried's death upon his murderer.

At this moment old Hildebrand, wrathful over the breach of the condition
imposed upon her by Dietrich when he delivered Gunther and Hagen to her,
cuts her down. Kriemhilde, with a frightful scream, sinks to the ground,
beside the body of her deadly enemy.

        "With anguish thus had ended the monarch's revelry,
        As love will to sorrow too oft become a prey."

Kriemhilde, the German woman par excellence, with her heart filled with
all the virtues of love and faith, outraged in her holiest feelings, and
thus "turning the milk of human kindness to fermenting dragon's poison,"
presents to us all the potentialities of womanhood, and withal the
entire range of the psychology of German womanhood.

When we emerge from the orgy of hate and bloodshed with which the second
part of the _Nibelungenlied_ is filled, when we have fathomed the depths
of the passion of which a high-minded, loving type of royal womanhood
such as Kriemhilde is capable, we are glad to resort to the beneficent
contrast of womanly gentleness and loveliness which we find in _Gudrun_,
the second great mediaeval German epic, whose roots and branches are
deeply set in the Migration period. We discover here a portrait of the
culture of the time, its warfare, its seafaring, its discoveries, its
geographical horizon, and, especially, its love and truth and faith. If
we were stirred in the former epic by the gloomy and lurid background
that overshadowed even its sunniest scenes; if the sinking of the
noblest, purest, most affectionate Kriemhilde into demoniacal passion
did not permit us to arrive at a serene contemplation of that gigantic
work of art, we now celebrate the triumph of the loyalty and devotion
and perseverance of a genuine womanly heart over long and bitter sorrow
and humiliations. While Kriemhilde's fierce hatred immolates both
herself and a great dynasty on the altar of revenge, in _Gudrun_ we
celebrate the victory of self-abnegation, patience, and peace, and the
reconciliation of two mighty dynasties.

The theatre of action of this, the second greatest national epic, is the
entire range of the North Sea, with its measureless limits extending
into mythical infinity, with its long coast line and sea-girt isles,
with its Viking ships storm-tossed on the watery roads of all the races.
The North Sea did not limit the sturdiness of the Teutonic seafarers of
the Norse race, just as the Mediterranean did not restrain their energy
and wandering instincts. As the Lombard cycle of sagas reaches out
beyond the confines of the Teutonic world to Constantinople, to Syria,
to Babylon, and to the mythical lands beyond the seas, so the cycle of
the North leads us not only to the Netherlands, the land of the Frisians
and Ditmarsch, but over to Seeland, Normandy, Ireland, even to the
Orkneys, and perchance to Iceland.

And perhaps it may not be amiss, by way of contrast and to show the
opposite poles of the Germanic world, to recount briefly an epic lay of
the Lombard cycle which breathes quite a different atmosphere and
exhibits different colors, geographically and morally speaking, from
those of the North Sea. In the Lombard cycle there is a connection of
the Teutonic cosmos with the fabulous Oriental world. King Ortnit of
_Lamparten_ (Lombardy) wins by a series of stratagems the resplendent
daughter of the heathen king Nachaol, of Muntabur, in Syria, and makes
her his wife. Descriptions of golden armor, magic rings, and rich
treasures of the East betray everywhere the Oriental character of this
Langobard legend.

More Germanic, though its sources lay entirely in the Byzantine Empire,
is the saga of _Hugdietrich_ with its moral of the all-pervading power
of love. The names of the leading characters especially indicate the
Teutonic setting of the saga. Hugdietrich is King of Constantinople,
and, after the early death of his father, is reared by Duke Berchtung.
At the age of twelve an Oriental age for marriage he consults with his
guardian concerning the choice of a wife. The choice falls upon the fair
maiden Hildeburg, daughter of King Walgund at Salnek (_Saloniki_); but
this princess is confined in a lofty tower, for it has been decided that
she is never to marry. Unlike Danae, the Greek beauty, who is reached in
her solitary tower by the love of the Olympian Zeus in the form of a
golden rain, Hildeburg receives Hugdietrich in a more satisfactory form.
The young king to attain his end disguises himself in the garb of a
maiden with flowing golden hair; he learns feminine arts, among them
that of embroidery, and journeys to Salnek, accompanied by a numerous
retinue. Here he represents himself as Hildegund, the exiled sister of
the King of the Greeks, and is hospitably received by King Walgund. The
false Hildegund quickly gains the favor of the royal couple of Salnek by
her wonderful embroideries in gold and silver; and when her position at
the court is assured, she requests the honor of becoming an attendant
and playmate to Hildeburg. This granted, Hugdietrich is admitted to the
tower of the captive princess. For twelve weeks, Hugdietrich plays his
rôle and teaches his love the art of embroidery, but he is unable longer
to restrain his passion, and he reveals himself to her. His love is
reciprocated, and a blissful year is passed by the loving pair. At this
juncture, Duke Berchtung arrives from Constantinople to conduct
Hildegund home, since the king, her brother, wishes to receive her again
into grace and brotherly affection. Hildeburg is left in painful longing
and sadness. Soon afterward she gives birth to a son, whom she tries to
conceal from the sight of men. One day, however, her mother surprises
her by an unexpected visit; and the frightened nurse lets the babe,
wrapped in silken cloths, down among the bushes of the ditch surrounding
the castle. When, after the departure of the queen, the child is
searched for, he is not to be found. A wolf has carried him away as food
for his young. But King Walgund, who, as it happens, is out hunting,
kills the wolves, and finds the child grievously weeping. The king takes
him under his mantle and brings him to his queen, calling him
Wolfdietrich, as he had found him among the wolves. Hildeburg, too, sees
him, and recognizes him as her own child by his birthmark, a red cross
between his shoulders. She confesses everything to her parents, and is
forgiven. Hugdietrich is sent for. He comes, recognizes the boy as his
own, kisses him in truly Germanic fashion, wraps his golden mantle
around him as a token of recognition, and pronounces the words:

        "'Wolfdietrich, O dearest child of mine,
        Constenople be the inheritance thine.'"

The sagas of the Lombard cycle are the poetic crystallization of the
spread of Teutonism over the world of the Orient; they symbolize the
national thirst for adventure and strife.

We now turn back from the extreme southeast of Europe to the extreme
northwest of that continent, the ideal realm of Gudrun, the noblest type
of German womanhood in the domain of German literature.

King Hagen of Ireland, and Hilde, his wife, have a beautiful daughter,
also called Hilde. But the king "grudges her to any man who is not over
him," and has her suitors slain, for no one is his equal. The fame of
Hilde's beauty penetrates also to the coast of the German North Sea, and
King Hettel of the Hegelings desires her for his wife. Five great
vassals of the king, Wate of Stormland (Holstein), the great hero and
singer, Frute, Horant of Denmark, Morung of Nifland, and Irolt of
Ortland, set out to win the cherished bride for their king. Seven
hundred warriors are hidden in the hold of the great ship built of
cypress wood, covered with silver plate, and brave in golden rudders,
silken sails, and anchors forged from silver. The stratagem devised by
the suitors lies in the tale by which they will inform King Hagen that
they were driven out by Hettel, the tyrannical king, and that, being
merchants, they carried away their treasures on their flight to Ireland.
By exceedingly rich presents, they win the good will of Hagen and
especially that of young Hilde, who persuades her father to admit them
to the court. Horant delights all by his Orphean music, "so enchanting
that his melodies pierced the heart, and the little birds stopped
singing before his divine harmonies."

        "The beasts of the forest forsook the fresh pasture,
        The beetle forgot to crawl on through the green grass,
        The fish fond of shooting through the waves of the waters
        Arrested their path. Truly, Horant could boast of his art."

Young Hilde's delight in his music prompts her to invite the sweet
singer to her chamber, where he sings enchantingly; one of his lays
tells of the mermaids, and this leads up to the story of the suit of his
royal master. The princess consents to accept the suit, if Horant will
promise to sing for her every morning and every night. The hero endowed
with the divine art of song entices her still further by telling her
that at the royal court there are twelve minstrels greatly superior to
himself, the greatest and most musical of all is King Hettel himself.
Hilde is then invited to visit the ship and see the treasures thereon.
On the fourth day, under the pretext that their king has called them
back and makes them amends, the visiting heroes take leave of Hagen. At
parting Hagen is requested to pay them a visit with his queen. While the
king and the queen are walking upon the strand, young Hilde with her
women step upon the ship. Immediately the anchors are hoisted, the sails
are unfurled, and the ship shoots through the waves like an arrow.
Hagen's ships have shrewdly been made unseaworthy by the cunning
Hegelings, who joyfully proceed homeward with their fair booty and land
at Wales, the western boundary of Hettel's domains, where they are
royally received by the overjoyed king. A brilliant festival is
celebrated; in silken tents covered with flowers the heroes surround
Hettel's beauteous bride. But before sunset the scene changes to a
bloody _Wahhtatt_. King Hagen arms other ships and pursues the captors
of his daughter. A terrible battle ensues on the strand of Wales.
Lightning sparkles from the golden helmets, the spears fly like
snowflakes in a northern winter. Hettel is wounded by Hagen, Hagen by
Wate. As once at the very cradle of the Roman Republic, the Sabine
spouses saved their Roman husbands from annihilation at the hands of
their Sabine fathers and brothers by hurling their own fair bodies
between the embittered armies, thus Hilde's loving intercession calms
the passions of the struggling heroes. Fierce Hagen is at last
reconciled to his daughter and Hettel, and he accompanies them to the
royal castle where they are solemnly united in marriage. Historically,
we see in these adventures a reminiscence of the ancient Teutonic custom
of gaining the bride by conquest or violence.

From the union of Hettel and fair Hilde sprang two children: Ortwin and
Gudrun, who even surpasses her mother in beauty. The Hegeling daughter
is sought by the most powerful princes, but Hettel deems none worthy of
his daughter. Hartmut, King of the Normans, when rejected, appears
disguised at Hettel's court and reveals himself to Gudrun, who, feeling
pity for the beautiful youth, advises him to flee from her father's
wrath: "His life would be done for, were Hettel to recognize him."
Hartmut retires but to prepare for war, for once having seen charming
Gudrun, he can no longer live without her. Meanwhile, Herwig of Seeland,
a Frisian king, who had also been rejected, appears with three thousand
heroes before Hettel's castle: he strikes the flaming wind from many a
helmet. Fair Gudrun has never known such delight as that which the deeds
of the brave heroes give; the sight of him is to her both love and
sorrow. Herwig and Hettel meet in deadly combat, "fiery glow flamed from
their shields, red wounds are struck," until Gudrun intercedes in
person; peace is concluded, and Herwig is betrothed to Gudrun.

The news of this engagement exasperates King Siegfried of Morland, who
had sought vainly for Gudrun's hand. He invades Herwig's country, and
Herwig in his extremity appeals to Gudrun, his betrothed. Her father,
Hettel, with his men, goes to Herwig's aid. While he is thus engaged,
Ludwig and Hartmut of Normandy, having learned through spies that the
land of the Hegelings is denuded of men, sail with a powerful host to
Hettel's land and soon advance upon the sunny castle of Hilde. Hartmut,
unwilling to wrong his beloved Gudrun if she will accept his suit,
announces his love to her, and threatens to carry her away by force if
she resists. Gudrun replies that she belongs, body and soul, to Herwig
and that she will never break faith with him. Ludwig and Hartmut storm
the castle and carry away Gudrun and her sixty-two attendants, among
them her best beloved companion, Hildeburg. Queen Hilde looks on with
powerless tears and broken heart. She sends messengers to Hettel and
Herwig, who conclude an honorable peace with King Siegfried, and with
their new ally set out in pursuit of the Normans. At the mouth of the
river Sheldt, on the island of Wulpensand, the Normans with their
beautiful captive rest. Here they are overtaken by the Seelanders. The
terrible battle that ensues has been sung in many lays throughout
Germany. "You'd see the heroes' bodies with glowing blood color the sea.
The waves flowed to the strand reddened everywhere."

More and more Hegelings sink to the ground. Ludwig slays King Hettel:
"This was sorrowful tidings to many hearts." When fierce Wate perceives
his master's death, he begins to rage like a wild boar. Ortwin and
Horant are beside themselves with rage and strive to avenge their fallen
king, but night stops the carnage. The Normans succeed in reaching their
ships under the cover of darkness and in escaping with their hard-won
booty. The Hegelings are so reduced in numbers that no further pursuit
can be made. Wate brings the sad tidings to Queen Hilde in the desolate
tower: "No use to keep the calamity from you; I will not deceive you,
they are all dead, our heroes." Revenge must be postponed, "until all
those who now stand before us as children, have grown ripe for the
sword; many a noble orphan will then be mindful of his father and will
be a helper on the new journey." But poor Hilde expresses her despair of
the distant hope.

Meanwhile, the triumphant Normans approach the coast of their
fatherland. King Ludwig, in sight of the towers of his castle, kindly
reminds tearful Gudrun that all this beautiful land shall belong to her
if she will marry Hartmut. This only increases her sorrow: "Ere I'll
take Sir Hartmut, I shall rather be dead. His is not of a house that I
could love him. I'll lose life rather than win him as my friend."
Incensed at her bitter words, Ludwig seizes the princess by the hair and
hurls her into the foaming sea. But loving Hartmut springs after her,
rescues her and places her with tender care in his boat. At the landing
Queen Gerlinde and her daughter Ortrun with their attendants hasten to
welcome the Norman heroes and fair Gudrun, who accepts Ortrun's kiss,
but refuses that of the old queen, knowing well that the latter is the
source of all her misfortunes, and having a presentiment of the greater
evils that threatened her. As she continues to cling to her betrothed,
Herwig, and defies the advances of Hartmut, whose father had slain hers,
Gerlinde undertakes to break her pride while Hartmut is absent upon a
new expedition. But the young king entreats his mother before his
departure "to instruct the poor, homeless princess in all kindness."
This the queen attempts, but as Gudrun persists in her refusal, Gerlinde
is enraged and exclaims: "If thou wilt not have joy, sorrow shall be thy
share." Thereafter, she subjects Gudrun to a series of humiliations.
First, she is separated from her noble playmates, who are condemned to
spin and do other womanly handiwork. The royal virgin herself is forced
to perform the most servile work, she is obliged to heat the stoves, to
wash the linen, and to sweep the floor, this last with her silken hair;
she is chastised by Gerlinde, she is fed on black bread and water, and
her couch is a hard bench. Ortrun's sisterly affection for Gudrun is the
only bright spot in her gloomy existence. Hartmut's love and the
protection which he vowed to her at first, finally turn to impatience,
and he abandons her to the unmitigated ill treatment of her tormentor,
Queen Gerlinde, by whom Gudrun is condemned to perpetual servitude and
shame. Gudrun's noble attendant, Hildeburg, by piteous entreaty obtains
permission to participate in the grievous work of her royal mistress.
For nearly six years they wash Gerlinde's garments in the sea, in wind
and storm, in snow and ice. But Gudrun's pure and faithful heart remains

Thirteen years have now passed since the terrible events on the
Wulpensand. The boys of the land of the Hegelings have grown to be men.
Queen Hilde, unforgetful of the captivity of her daughter Gudrun, and of
her duty to avenge King Mattel's death, summons her heroes and friends
and allies, foremost among whom is Herwig, to an expedition against the
Normans. A strong fleet is armed; some sixty thousand men follow Hilde's
summons. Horant of Denmark is the leader of the fleet. After a stormy
passage the coast of Normandy is reached. The allies land unnoticed
under the cover of mountain and forest, safe from the observation of the
spies. Ortwin, Gudrun's brother, and Herwig, her betrothed, go forward
as scouts.

Following the natural order of events, we now pass in the grand epic to
the romantic element, the lyrical _intermettfp_ of longing and love, of
truth and faith, to the realm of hope and consolation. All the virtues
and charms of the Teutonic woman's nature are revealed in Gudrun:
superhuman agencies intervene for her deliverance. One day Gudrun and
Hildeburg stand on the strand of the sea, occupied with their customary
menial work of washing, in strange contrast to the same womanly
occupation of the Grecian princess Nausicaa and her noble attendants in
the Odyssey, where everything is brightness and delight, when they
suddenly perceive a beautiful bird swimming toward them. It is a divine
messenger, who brings them glad tidings, pronounced with a human voice:

"Be ready, homeless maid, a lofty happiness awaits thee; God sends me
for thy comfort to this strand." He satisfies her longing questions,
tells her that Hilde lives, and of the hosts and the fleet she has sent
out for Gudrun's rescue, of Ortwin and Herwig and all the rest of her
liberators. Then the mysterious bird disappears, and the two princesses
are left in suspense. They forget their work, and must therefore at
their return endure the bitter chidings of Gerlinde, who sends them
forth the next morning to the same work, to which they go barefooted and
clothed only in their shirts, though heavy snow covers the fields, and
ice dams the waterways. Well might they then send out their longing
glances over the sea whence are to come the messengers whom the queen
Hilde has sent for their rescue. Suddenly they perceive two men
approaching in a boat. Ashamed of their servile work, and still more of
their nakedness, they flee, but Herwig and Ortwin call them back and
offer their mantles to the unknown and beautiful servants, who tremble
from cold, in their wet shirts, their locks flying in the sharp wind.
Modestly they refuse to accept the mantles of the men. Ortwin inquires
the name of the person who has subjected them to such cruel work. Herwig
looks in silent amazement at the beautiful, the glorious, the royal
woman in her degradation; "the hero compared her to one whom he
cherished in true memory."

When Ortwin further inquires after the noble women, especially Gudrun,
who many years ago had been dragged into Normandy, she replies: "Gudrun
died in sorrow," a characteristic reply which proves that in the ancient
Germanic world, as well as in that of Greece, a cunning little lie was
not amiss even in the mouth of a charming princess. When the tears well
forth from the eyes of the heroes, another trait of the ancient Germanic
past as well as of the Greek, and Herwig draws forth the betrothal ring
of yore, Gudrun says, smiling:

        "'Well do I know this ringlet, betimes it came from me;
        Behold now this one, warriors, by Herwig sent to me,
        When I, abandoned orphan, lived in my father's land.'"

Overwhelmed by joy, Herwig clasps his beloved Gudrun in his arms to
carry her away at once, but proud Ortwin wil! not snatch her away
stealthily from the enemy; and Herwig promises to stand, before the sun
rises in the morning, before the gates of the Norman city with sixty
thousand chosen warriors. The maidens follow with their eyes the
departing heroes till their boat vanishes in the mist.

Gudrun exults over the thought of their approaching liberation. Her
entire nature seems to change. From the patient, enduring, humble,
martyr-like, though constant and faithful, maiden, she changes to a
proud, self-asserting queen. Angrily she hurls the linen, the symbol of
her humiliation, into the flood; she is too highly placed; she declares
to the warning, anxious friend Hildeburg that she will never wash again
for Gerlinde, for two kings have kissed her and held her in their arms.
When, at their late arrival at the castle, Gerlinde receives them with
harsh words, asks for the linen, and learns that Gudrun has thrown it
into the sea, the she-wolf as she is called here in the epic orders
thorn rods to be tied together to chastise Gudrun. But the cunning
maiden, who, as we have seen, does not shrink from a needful little lie,
escapes by a clever ruse:

        "'Release me from chastisement, you'll gladly do it sure;
        For whom I have rejected, I choose now for my lord;
        As queen will I reside in the Normanish fields;
        In power I shall perform deeds: you'll scarcely trust your eyes."

Gerlinde immediately informs her son Hartmut of Gudrun's decision; but
when he hastens to the spot to embrace her, she declines, saying:

        "'O King Hartmut, leave this yet undone!
        If people saw this action, it would be your dishonor;
        I am a lowly servant, how would it be befitting,
        Were a mighty king to embrace me or to touch me?'"

Overjoyed, Hartmut orders Gudrun and her maidens to be clothed in costly
garments and to be regaled royally; and for the first time in fourteen
years Queen Gudrun laughs merrily among her Hegeling sisters, who are
overcome by the sudden change of events. The report of Gudrun's
merriment causes Gerlinde a presentiment of evil; she warns her son, but
he has no eyes or ears but for Gudrun's charms. When the maidens retire
for the first time in fourteen years to a soft couch, Gudrun reveals to
them the fact that help and salvation are near, and promises "buroughs
and acres" to her who will first announce to her the morning which shall
bring to them the day of freedom and of revenge.

Meanwhile, Herwig and Ortwin return to their host and relate to the
companions Gudrun's and Hildeburg's fate. Old Wate proposes to attack
the Normans without delay, and "to wash red the white garments which
their white hands had washed in the sea." "Before dawn they shall stand
as guests before King Ludwig's fortress." And, indeed, at the rising of
the morning star, one of Gudrun's maidens sees from the window the
fields shining with arms and the sea filled with sails. Quickly she
awakes Gudrun, while at the same time the king's warders cry from the

        "'Get up, ye proud heroes, get up, hosts, to your arms:
        Brave Normans, all too long, methinks, have you slept.'"

The masterly description of the terrific battle, which is worthy of the
best traditions of the German epic, does not belong to this work. Yet
the gathering of the Hegelings around Queen Hilde's banner, King
Herwig's bride standing high on the battlement of the tower, while King
Hartmut and the Norman heroes march under the arch of the gate are
objective pictures showing that the womanly element is the pivot upon
which the story turns.

When old King Ludwig is slain by Herwig, the she-wolf, Gerlinde, sends
out a murderer to kill Gudrun, but Hartmut generously saves her mindful
of the beloved one even in the stress of battle. When Hartmut himself is
on the point of succumbing under the blows of Wate, Gudrun, softened by
Ortrun's prayer, sends out Herwig to intercede in Hartmut's behalf. Wate
scornfully refuses, but Herwig, from his love for Gudrun, covers the
enemy with his own body, and Hartmut is snatched away and carried into
captivity with eighty of his knights. The contrast of this battle with
its many traits of love and compassion, even for the enemy, of
self-restraint and humanity, to similar scenes in the _Nibelungenlied_
with its ruthless, merciless, savage lust of blood and revenge, is
strikingly apparent.

Gerlinde, in miserable fear of death, seeks at last a refuge with
Gudrun. The latter is willing to save her old tormenter, but Gerlinde is
betrayed to Wate by one of her servants. Wate, who has many of the
traits of Hagen in the _Nibelungenlied_, seizes her, wildly exclaiming
in fearful wrath, yet using her royal title:

"Lady Queen Gerlinde, you'll never more condemn to menial servitude my
queen's sweet daughter." With these words he cuts off her head. The same
fate befalls also young Duchess Hergart, one of Gudrun's attendants, who
for gifts had bestowed her love upon Hartmut and had been faithless and
overbearing to Gudrun. Poor Ortrun, who had befriended Gudrun, and her
other women were spared upon Gudrun's intercession. Thus punishment and
reward are evenly balanced; the ethical element of equal justice
prevails everywhere, leaving no bitter aftertaste to the reader of the
glorious epic. When King Herwig enters the lofty hall of the Norman king
with his companions, Gudrun lovingly hastens toward him, and puts her
arms around her hero.

The dead are removed, the blood-stained walls are cleaned so that Gudrun
may dwell in the castle, and the Hegelings begin "to inspect Hartmut's
inheritance." After the hostile fortresses are broken and justice is
satisfied, the conquerors depart with Gudrun and rich treasures: Hartmut
is carried away with the other prisoners. Queen Hilde receives her
heroes on the shore, but, at first, does not recognize her daughter
Gudrun when she is led up to her. Mother and daughter hold one another
in a tender embrace: sorrow and pain quickly turn to joy and delight.
Ortrun, too, is received graciously for the noble friendship bestowed by
her upon Gudrun during the long years of captivity. Hartmut and his men,
having pledged themselves not to escape, are freed from their fetters.

Now the preparations for the festivities of love and marriage are begun.
The epic rings out in a sweet chant of love and reconciliation. Gudrun's
faithfulness is blessed by Herwig's marital love. But Gudrun is
unwilling to be blessed alone. The hate between the Normans and the
Hegelings must be wiped out: the Norman princess Ortrun is married to
King Ortwin. Hartmut, who for so long had cherished a hopeless love for
Gudrun, transfers his affections to noble Hildeburg, who had shared
Gudrun's sorrowful captivity.

The bridals are celebrated on one day, mourning and woe are changed to
joy, the hostile races are reconciled and reunited by the ties of blood
and love in an alliance for defence and offence. The end of the _Gudrun
saga_ stands thus, in direct contrast to the end of the
_Nibelungenlied_. The type of Kriemhilde has revealed to us one-half of
the possibilities of the German woman's soul; the type of Gudrun, its
other half, in its sweetness, its endurance, its martyrdom for all that
is great and good and noble; its patriotism, love, and virtue. Within
the range of those two natures we can differentiate all the souls of the
millions of German women that lived and loved, hated and struggled,
suffered and died in the dim ages of the foundation of Germanic social
order and institutions.



Charlemagne, the man typical of Teutonic force and power, a consummator
of ancient forces and an initiator of a new progress, stands between the
German and the Roman worlds as a gigantic form on the boundary line of
two nations and two civilizations. Charlemagne was the first to realize
the political unity of western Christendom as spiritually personified in
the Papacy. This is the significance of that mighty event, pregnant with
tremendous possibilities for good and for evil, when on the Christmas
day of A. D. 800, the Pope bestowed upon Charlemagne the political crown
of the Christian world with the obligation to support the church in its
spiritual and secular supremacy. Only by the imperial crown, as a
continuation of the majesty of the Roman Cæsars, could Germany maintain
even its ascendancy among the other nations of Europe.

When the German races were organized as a nation and imbued with the
Christian faith by Charlemagne, this new political formation became the
bearer of a new civilization amalgamated from its various constituents
and as complex as was the state itself. Though preeminently papal and
clerical, yet it was, also, eminently intellectual and classical. The
treasures of a new thought, of culture, of Greco-Roman refinement, and
even of material wealth, were opened to the people of Germany. Fruitful
as these Roman germs were, they were only a ferment for German strength
and characteristics; for the Germans alone made Christianity a living
issue. It was impossible for the putrid soil of the decaying Roman
Empire to become a fruitful abode for Christianity.

Men and women fled to the desert to worship God in solitary
contemplation and far from the temptation of the world. The monks in
spite of the faults and the degeneration which will ever cling to things
human are, after all, the purveyors of intellectual and moral culture.
The cloisters, too, were at first fortresses of civilization, labor,
agriculture, artisanship, and, though with monachal limitations, they
were yet transmitters of literary and classical antiquity.

We need only recall the life of the disciples of Saint Benedict in the
cloister of Saint Gall, so dramatically described by Scheffel in his
_Ekkehard_, their activity in letters and missionary work and gardening,
in the copying of the classics and in teaching, as _Ekkehard_ taught the
Duchess Hadwig the intellectual charms of the great pagan poet Virgil,
to realize the debt owed by civilization to these monks. Though they and
their classics, Aristotle, Cicero, Virgil, etc., sunk into the
foundations of our civilization, yet, in their fanatic zeal, they
destroyed many priceless old German treasures, relics of antiquity,
which are, unfortunately, irretrievably lost. Charlemagne, with his deep
intuition, recognized the value of these relics, and, assisted by the
staff of free-hearted and free-minded scholars with whom he had
surrounded himself, tried to save what could yet be saved.

With the advent of the monk came the nun. The great Boniface, the
apostle of the Germans, with inflexible will and diplomatic shrewdness,
availed himself of the especial gifts of woman to aid in subjecting
Germany to the Holy See. Not finding sufficient aid in Germany, he
fetched women from England. The Anglo-Saxon abbesses, Lioba of
Bischofsheim, Thekla of Kitzingen, and Walpurgis of Heidenheim, were of
immense utility in his missionary work, and left a saintly memory in
Germany. They raised the female priesthood of the nuns to a lofty
height, their cloisters were nurseries of culture. Princesses and royal
daughters sought the veil as an honor or as a refuge from the trials of
their high station. It is true, however, that the monasteries of the
nuns did not always maintain their original purity. Not seldom a nun
broke her vow and preferred excommunication to a loveless existence.
Sometimes the nuns tried to console themselves in the cloister itself
for the dreariness of their existence. The Capitularies of Charlemagne
inform us of the manner in which vagrant nuns, amorous dwellers in
cloisters, offended against religious laws. Sometimes, indeed, the nuns
even carried on amours for money, and the natural consequences of the
breach of the vows of chastity were removed by crime, while, on the
other hand, the chastisements meted out for such crimes were truly
barbarous. There are Capitularies that prescribe that nuns' cloisters be
not too conveniently near to the monasteries of monks, and others that
accurately define the intercourse between clerics and laymen, that set
forth the rule that "no abbess should presume to go outside of the
monastery without episcopal permission nor permit her subordinate nuns
to do so, that they shall not dare to write or send love-songs
(_winileodes_);" but it is not less true that _winileodes_ continued to
be realistically played in the nunneries and played in earnest. That
luxury and high living must have developed in cloisters appears from a
capitulary which forbids abbesses to have packs of hounds, and falcons,
and hawks, and jugglers; that they shall live "regularly," and that
their cloisters should be "rationally" established.

We prefer, however, to write of the many holy women, the nuns,
especially the Anglo-Saxon nuns, who obtained martyrdom by cooperating
with Winfrid, the apostle of the Germans and other holy missionaries of
the time. The monk Rudolf of Fulda wrote a biography of Saint Lioba
after the report of her female disciples. Lioba was educated in an
English nunnery which had been founded at Winbrunne (to-day Wimborne
Minster, Dorsetshire), together with a monastery. Very naively Rudolf
asserts that in spite of the proximity of the institutions no undue
intercourse between their inhabitants ever occurred; nay, the abbess was
so strict that she forbade entrance to the assemblies of the nuns, not
only to clerics and laymen, but also to the bishops. At this holy place
did the virgin grow up, soon becoming the star of piety and wisdom in
the cloister, and the favorite of the abbess. Thence she was sent by the
will of Boniface to Germany and placed at the head of the cloister of
Bischofsheim. From all parts of Germany young women went to her cloister
to learn virtue and wisdom from the holy woman. When Boniface prepared
himself for his last missionary expedition to the pagan Frisians, he
commended his pious sister to his successor, exhorted her not to weary
in her holy work, and directed that her body after death should be
placed with his own in one grave, that they should both await the day of
resurrection after they had served Christ in the same endeavor and
aspiration during their lives. When Boniface had found the martyr's
death in Frisia, Lioba worked on for many years with beneficent activity
in the Christianization of Germany. Venerated by all she was an especial
favorite of Charlemagne and his consort Hildegard, yet she preferred at
all times the atmosphere of her cloister to the luxurious life at the
court. She died A. D. 780, sanctified by the Church, and many miracles
are related by Rudolf as having happened at her grave.

There are scores of similar legends in the Latin literature of the time,
for, from the eighth century on, Germany is filled with holy women and
maidens, promoters of the Church, founders of cloisters. The nun's
garment is revered everywhere; the veiled, consecrated maids of God owe
their high appreciation to their virgin state for which as already
especially mentioned the Germans felt a deeply ingrained veneration. The
"Maria-cult" had constantly grown in importance since the fifth century.
Goethe's "eternal feminine" celebrated its apotheosis in the new faith
as it had in the old belief in Freya and the Valkyries. Mary's
motherhood was sacred, but sacred only because it was motherhood with
virginity, eternal virginity. Yet the ideal of womanly beauty and
fascination is not at all lacking. Scherr translates a description given
by the Church Father Epiphanius as early as the fourth century of the
Holy Virgin as the ideal of pure womanhood. And, though the memory of
Olympus is apparent everywhere in the description, Epiphanius from
Palestine pictures Mary, the Mother of Christ, as a truly German ideal
of beauty: a golden-haired, blue-eyed Madonna. "The most beautiful of
women, gloriously formed, neither too short nor too long. Her form was
white, finely colored and immaculate; her hair was long, soft,
gold-colored. Under a well-shaped forehead and bright brown eyebrows
shone her moderately large eyes with the lustre of a sapphire. The white
in her eye was milk-colored and brilliant as crystal. The straight and
normal nose as well as the mouth were comparable to snow in whiteness.
Each of her cheeks was like a lily upon which lies a rose-leaf. Her
well-rounded chin bore a dimple, her throat was white and ivory, her
neck slender and well-proportioned. Fine was her gait, graceful the play
of her features, chaste her entire attitude. Briefly, excepting the Son
of God, none ever possessed such a beautiful and pure body as the Holy
Virgin Mary." Indeed, the humanizing of the Mother of God was as
complete as that of foam-born Aphrodite in Homer. Mary is the leader,
the choregetes of saintly womanhood; solemnly enthroned in the heavens,
she moves everything, including Christ, her Son. She is the alpha and
omega of Christian poetry and art.

No wonder that women of all states of society found high incentives
toward dedicating their lives to the service of Christ and the Holy
Virgin. The disappointments and trials of womanhood, too, prompted many
to seek seclusion from the world. Scheffel, in his _Ekhehard_, describes
such a type of holy recluse under the title of _Wiborada Reclusa_. She
had once been a proud, unapproachable maiden, he says, well versed in
many arts; she had learned from her priestly brother Hitto to repeat all
the Psalms in Latin, and had not once been inclined to sweeten the life
of a husband; the bloom of her land (_Suabia_) had found no grace before
her eyes, and she had made a pilgrimage to Rome. There her soul must
have been shaken to its foundation; for three days she was lost sight
of, for three days her brother Hitto was running up and down the Forum,
and through the halls of the Coliseum and under Constantine's triumphal
arch, down to the four-headed Janus on the Tiber, seeking his sister and
finding her not. On the morning of the fourth day, she came in through
the Salarian gate and carried her head aloft, and her eyes were shining,
and she spoke, saying that everything was vain in the world as long as
the honor due to Saint Martin was not rendered to him.

When she returned home, she bequeathed her property to the Episcopal
church at Constance, on condition that the priests on the eleventh day
of every October should celebrate in honor of Saint Martin. She herself
entered into a narrow hut, where the recluse Citia had established
herself, and led a cloister life. And when this place no longer suited
her, she removed to a cell in the valley of Saint Gall. The bishop
himself conducted her thither and put the black veil around her, and led
her by the hand to the Irish hill (Saint Gall had been an Irish
missionary in Germany) and spoke the blessing over her; with the trowel
he made the first stroke on the stones with which the entrance was
walled up, and pressed four times his seal upon the lead wherewith they
closed the cracks, and thus separated her from the world, and the monks
sang at that, mournfully and with muffled tones, as if someone were
buried. But the people of the neighborhood held the recluse in high
honor; they said that she was a "hard-forged mistress of holyness," and
on Sunday they stood head to head on the meadow plain, and Wiborada
stood at her little window and preached to them, and other women settled
in the neighborhood and sought instruction from her in virtue.

The influence of the Church was especially beneficial to the position of
woman in married life. The Church insisted upon, and frequently
enforced, monogamy and the sanctity of marital vows, and sanctified
marriage by making it a sacrament. Dissolution of marriage, according to
the law of the Church, was permitted only in case of adultery, of danger
to the life of the one or the other party from hate or crime, the exile
of one of the couple, impotence on the part of the man, or sterility on
the part of the woman, and by common agreement between husband and wife
for sacred purposes, e. g., entrance into a monastery or cloister. Yet
while the influence of the Church, in theory, was, on the whole,
extremely helpful in fashioning the standard of morals, there prevailed,
nevertheless, even during the Carlovingian epoch, a terrible
demoralization and sexual laxity a legacy from the preceding Merovingian

It is historically doubtful whether at Charlemagne's birth his mother
was married to his father, Pepin. It was no uncommon practice for the
actual consummation of marriage to follow close upon the betrothal, and
for the actual marriage, with the consecration of the Church, to follow
much later, if at all. The private life of the greatest German emperor,
who was canonized by the Church and who thus is a saint, at least in his
imperial city, Aachen, or Aix-la-Chapelle, is by no means edifying.
Gustav Freytag characterizes Charlemagne from the moral point of view
with the greatest psychological truth. He describes him as greatly in
need of woman's love. Indeed, even here his tenderness was that of a
lion, and was felt by wife and daughters with secret awe, though
answered by flattering caresses. When not on warlike expeditions he
lived always with his family. He ate with them, and took them with him
on all his journeys. This was tedious enough for his successive wives
and daughters, since he was almost always on journeys, especially during
the first half of his long reign. While his children were small, he had
hardly a permanent home. His family life appeared reprehensible, even to
his contemporaries, who were accustomed to great digressions from moral

The chroniclers of the time, mostly court historians and court poets of
the great emperor, naturally express themselves rather cautiously
concerning his private life; and yet we can deduce strange facts from
their reports, especially from the _Life of Charlemagne_, written by
Eginhard, the friend and counsellor of the emperor. The latter's mother,
Berthvada, induced him to marry Desiderata, daughter of King Desiderius
of the Langobards; but he divorced her at the end of one year, whether
for political reasons not to be entangled in the complications between
the Langobard dynasty and the Papacy or for private considerations is
not known. His next wife was Hildegard, an Alemannian duchess, who bore
him three sons, Charles, Pepin, and Louis, and three daughters,
Hruodrud, Bertha, and Gisela. By his third wife, Fastrada, a German
princess of Eastern-Prankish birth, he had two daughters, Theodorada and
Hiltrud, and by a concubine, Ruodhaid. His next wife, Liutgard, bore him
no children. After her death he had three concubines, Gerswinda, a Saxon
lady, the mother of Adaltrud; Regina, the mother of Drogo and Hugh; and
Ethelind (_Adalinde_). It is characteristic, however, that this
authentic account does not designate the mothers of all his children.
Charlemagne desired that all the children of his mistresses as well as
of his legitimate wives should live together at his court and be of
equal royal rank. Without distinction of sex, he gave to all of them a
liberal education in the sciences; and as soon as their age permitted,
his sons were trained in arms, and his daughters instructed in the use
of the loom and the spindle. He had so great an affection for his
children that he prevented his daughters from marriage, in order not to
lose their company. They are reputed to have been very beautiful, and,
in spite of their occupation with the spinning-wheel, they found time
for love adventures; so that, as Eginhard tells us, "though otherwise
happy, the Emperor experienced the malignity of fortune so far as they
were concerned; yet he concealed his knowledge of the rumors current in
regard to them, and of the suspicions entertained with regard to their

Eginhard himself did not escape suspicion, though his amour with fair
Emma, and the romantic story of their nightly meetings and Emma's
carrying her learned lover through the freshly fallen snow to conceal
his footprint must be assigned to the domain of unauthenticated legend.
But it is a historical fact that several of Charlemagne's daughters had
illegitimate children. Being debarred from marriage they sought unlawful
love adventures. The oldest, Hruodrud, who had been several years
betrothed to the Greek emperor, Constantine Porphyrogenitos, until her
father dissolved the betrothal, left a son by Count Rorich. Bertha's two
sons, Hartnid and Nidhard, the latter a brave warrior and a famous
chronicler, owed their existence to Angilbert, the court poet and
historian who was afterward Abbot of Centulum. Especially after the
death of Charlemagne were the lives of his daughters so shameful that
King Ludwig, the German, saw himself forced to remove some of the most
scandalously behaving lords from the suite of the princely sinners.

In spite of those moral shortcomings, Princess Bertha was especially
brilliant as a scholar. She was called Delia, sister of Apollo, in
Charlemagne's "Academy." She sang her teacher Alcuin's poems, which she
accompanied by string music. Besides the emperor's wife and his
daughters, there were two nuns in the academic circle: the elder,
Gisela, Charlemagne's sister, surnamed Lucia, Alcuin's best friend, and
her intimate, Riktrudis, with the academic name of Columba; also
Gundrada, of illustrious nobility and charm, the sole secular lady at
the court against whom no word of gossip was ever uttered by courtiers
or clerics.

So flagrant are, however, the sins of love at that brilliant court which
did so much for classical, Germanic, and sacred learning in Germany,
that even the saga, in dim recollection of past events, seized upon
Charlemagne's towering figure in respect to his moral side. He is
represented by a later legend as having been misled into grievous sins
by a mysterious, magic precious stone in a ring which he had presented
to his queen. As long as she wore the ring, he could not live away from
her. At last the queen fell ill and came to die. But grudging the stone
to any other woman and desiring that the king might not love another as
he loved her, she concealed the ring under her tongue and died.
Charlemagne unable to live without her did not allow her to be buried,
but carried her with him day and night on the journey through his vast
realm. An inexpressible sin, due to the magic ring in her mouth, ensued.
At last, when Charlemagne was absent, the corpse of the dead woman was
examined and the ring was found in her mouth. A knight took the ring
away and kept it. Charlemagne had the queen buried at once. But all the
love which he bore to his dead wife, he now transferred to the knight as
long as the latter possessed the stone. The knight, annoyed by this love
and the shame thereof, threw away the stone into a morass. Charlemagne
conceived such an affection for the place where the ring lay that he
built there the Cathedral of Our Lady at Aachen (Aix-la-Chapelle). And,
as a higher irresistible power had brought about the moral sins as well
as other sins bearing the character of incest, Saint Ægidius and Saint
Theodolin secured for him atonement, expiation, and absolution.

The court life at the time of Charlemagne, loose as it was, had its
great redeeming features; it sank, however, under his weak successors
into the utmost decay and degradation. The dynasty perished with Ludwig
the Child (A. D. 911). Charles the Fat, the unworthy descendant of his
great sire Charlemagne, had given the world, during his calamitous
reign, the melancholy spectacle of a king publicly accusing his wife,
Richardis, of adultery with his own chancellor, Liutward, Bishop of
Vercelli. But Richardis asserted that she was a virgin though she had
been living with her husband for twelve years. The emperor forced an
ordeal (A. D. 887) to free her from the terrible accusation: and an
ordeal remained, during the entire Middle Ages, the only means for an
accused woman to purify herself and redeem her honor. This special
ordeal is minutely described in the so-called _Kaiserchronik_ (Chronicle
of Emperors), how Richardis slipped into a garment made for that
purpose, which was set on fire at all four ends, at her feet and arms,
simultaneously. In a short hour the garment burned from her body; the
wax dripped down to the pavement, but the royal lady remained unhurt,
and the spectators of the cruel ordeal cried _Deo gratias!_ Richardis,
however, retired after this disgrace to a cloister which she had

The same accusation was raised later against Kunigunde, wife of the last
Saxon emperor, Henry II. the Pious, but she, too, was exonerated by the
ordeal of "the hot iron" upon which she trod with impunity. Kunigunde
has been canonized by the Church for having preserved her virginity also
in married life, and for having forced the devil to church building.

The moral life of the higher classes was duly reflected in the lower
walks of life. The female serfs, who, as we learn from imperial decrees
of the time, when they did not work in the fields, carried on their
domestic labors in a separate house, called _screona_ (shrine), were
practically helpless in the hands of their masters. Those out-houses
were frequently used as places for gratifying lust by forcing their
inmates to sin, though nominal fines still prevailed for rape or
violence: he who "covered" (_belag_) a maid "without her thanks," _i.
e._, against her will, paid a fine of three shillings; if she was a
head-maid, or a stewardess or skilled laborer, six shillings. Thus it
happened that as early as the time of Charlemagne the women's house came
to have the flavor of infamy _Frauenhduser_ was the name of houses of
prostitution during the Middle Ages. Unfree women could marry only with
the permission of their masters; the bridegroom had, in recognition of
this fact, to pay a tax (_maritagium_) called by different obscene names
in different localities, as a redemption, as it were, of the bride's
virginity. Naturally, the female serf was helpless against the lord, who
did what he pleased: a shameful abuse, which, in the course of time,
crystallized into a right; the infamous _jusprinuz noctis, i. e._, the
right of the lord to the body of his unfree female serf during the first
night of her married life. The several attempts to relegate this usage
to the realm of legends have signally failed. Both Scherr and Freytag
expatiate on this gloomy subject, on which a whole legal and cultural
literature has sprung up. Passing quickly over this saddest of all the
chapters of human subjection to shame, many a beautiful feature of the
growth of womanhood among the lower classes may be noted.

With the general improvements of agriculture under Charlemagne, there
was a corresponding improvement in the art of building. Instead of the
old German block-house, plastered with clay, the crevices filled with
reed, and without windows or staircases, in which people and cattle were
stalled together, dwellings fit for human beings were gradually evolved.
The dwellings of unfree people (_Hdrige_) consisted of house, barn, and
stable for cattle, while the estates and houses of landed proprietors
comprised mansion (_Herrenhaus_), cellar house (_cellaria_), bath house,
grange (_picarium_), stables, and a separate house for women (_genitium_
or _screona_) in which the women handled distaff and spindle, spinning
linen and wool, making ornaments, embroidery, figures in cloth, and
other feminine work. There they sat, the distaff between their knees,
the spindle in their hands, beautiful pictures of noble German
womanhood. There they made the linen garments for themselves and their
families, including their husbands. Royal ladies worked not less than
peasant women or unfree maids. Later on, Luitgardis, daughter of Emperor
Otto the Great, was so famed for being an industrious spinner that a
golden spindle was hung over her grave. The tailoring needle and
scissors were handled with skill, as is certified in many a mediæval
song. The Carlovingian period, therefore, furnishes us with much over
which to lament, but also with much over which to rejoice. Virtue and
vice are there in abundant measure.

The Christian-German civilization founded by Charlemagne was almost
destroyed under his successors. Under Charlemagne we could treat his
vast realm, at least so far as it covered France and the North, as
genuinely Teutonic land; two generations later, under his grandsons,
Charles the Bald and Ludwig the German, we must begin the separation of
France and Germany, by the Treaty of Verdun, A. D. 843, while the middle
land, namely, Burgundy, Alsace, and Lorraine, which fell to Lothaire
with the already shadowy imperial crown, becomes the Eris-apple between
the two. Germany and France, originally one, are separated by a
territorial dispute for more than one thousand years.

Side by side with the heroic figures of Henry I. (919-936), who
refounded the shattered empire, and his still greater son, Otto I., who
rebuilt it, we find spirited princesses, some of them, like Adelheid of
Burgundy, foreigners, with great zeal for culture, who brought an
appreciation of refinement and art to the German court. Otto the Great's
son and grandson added the Byzantine culture to the Roman-Carlovingian
substratum. The women of the tenth century played a remarkably active
part in politics and literature. Mathilda and Editha, the pious wives of
the first two Saxon emperors, powerfully affected the civilization of
their time. The reigns of Otto II. and Otto III. bear most decided
traces of the influence of two royal women, Adelheid and Theophano, who
exercised a strong influence upon the political and intellectual life of
the century.

The period of the Ottos marks the climax of an early renaissance as
distinguished from the great classical movement so called five centuries
later. In art, this renaissance is expressed by churches and palaces
built after late Roman and Byzantine models, partly even with the
materials of those times; in literature, the renaissance blossoms in
classical studies, Latin historiography and poetry. Indeed, Tietmar of
Merseburg, the famous chronicler of the Saxon emperors, could well say:
"Proud like Lebanon's cedars the Empire towered, a terror to all nations
far and wide;" and again: "Highly blessed was the world when Otto
wielded the sceptre."

As regards the moral life of the times, Tietmar's _Chronicon_ presents
Henry, the founder of the dynasty, as not faultless. The legend also
weaves around Henry the wreath of romance when it reports that Princess
Use of the Herz Mountains kissed the cares from his royal brow in her
wondrous castle, a favor which, according to the charming Use song, she
bestows some nine hundred years later on Heine, the darling of the
Muses. When still very young, Henry concluded a marriage with
Hatheburch, a distinguished widow at Merseburg, but rejected her after
she had borne him a son, Thammo (_Thankmar_). He had fallen in love with
Mathilda, a rich and beautiful maiden of the race of Duke Widukind, who
had immortalized the Saxon name in the thirty years' struggle with
Charlemagne. She became Henry's wife and bore him three sons, Otto,
Henry, and Bruno. She seems to have steadied her great husband, though
their married life did not remain always cloudless. An episode related
by Tietmar, "to deter and warn the pious," may be repeated here because
of the flavor of its time: Henry had once on the day before Good Friday
of Easter week intoxicated himself, and, driven by the devil, abused his
pious wife in the following night. Satan, rejoicing over the deed, could
not refrain from telling the story to a respectable matron of Merseburg,
adding that the fruit of that unholy embrace would undoubtedly belong to
him. The matron betook herself to the queen and exhorted her "to keep
constantly priests and bishops ready to wash by holy baptism off the
newborn child all that may be pleasing on him to the devil." When the
devil learnt of this betrayal of his confidence, he chided the matron
violently, but added that, after all, something of the godless deed
would ever cling to the race of the king. And the chronicler explains
the violent feuds of the sons of King Henry and their fratricidal,
internecine strifes by the flagitious transgression of God's
commandment: "thou shalt keep the Sabbath holy." Tietmar, continuing,
says: "That there is nothing which is not permitted in legal marriage,
is proved by the Holy Scriptures. But such lawful married life obtains
through the observation of holidays and honorable dignity, and is not
disturbed by the storm of threatening danger." Another example of the
same sin is quoted: Uffo, a Magdeburg burgher, while violently
intoxicated, forced his wife, Gelsusa, to yield to his will. When the
woman, having conceived in that night, in due time bore a child, it had
bent and crooked toes. Terrified at that sign, she had her husband
called and complained to him that this mark of divine displeasure was
due to their common sin: "Behold, the wrath of God reveals itself to us
and exhorts us that we should not act thus further! Thou hast committed
a grievous sin in that thou commanded me what was not right; and I have
sinned equally in that I obeyed thee." The fruit of sin, however, the
babe, was taken from the exile of this life to the hosts of innocent
children in heaven.

Queen Mathilda outlived her consort; and though she favored the
succession of her younger son, Henry, she saw her eldest son, Otto
(936-973), elevated to the throne of his father. Otto married an English
princess, Editha, the pious daughter of King Ethmund. She was to the
great emperor a pure and faithful consort. She was endowed with
numberless virtues, a fact which became manifest after her death by
miracles and heavenly signs. After nineteen years of married life
"pleasing to God and men," says the chronicler, "she died, the noblest
foreign princess who ever adorned the German Imperial throne." She left
but one son, Luidoulf by name, whom Otto married to the only daughter of
Hermann, Duke of Suabia, whom he succeeded. Otto married again, his
bride being Adelheid, widow of the Italian king Lothaire, who, hard
pressed by Berengar, ruler of Ivrea, had called the Emperor to Italy as
her protector and liberator. "Otto," says Tietmar, naively, "who had
heard of her far-famed beauty, under the pretext of travelling to Rome,
marched to Lombardy, wooed the princess, who had escaped from Berengar's
cruel prison, and induced her, after he had won her favor by rich
presents, to yield to his wishes." We have a life of Empress Adelheid by
the abbot Odilo of Cluny, who was an intimate friend and closely
connected with her during the last years of her reign. He deprecates his
ability to write the life of the empress, to do which either Cicero
would have to be recalled from Orcus or the presbyter Hieronymos from
heaven. "For she deserves to be revered as the most imperial of all
empresses. Not one before or after her was her equal, she so elevated
and increased the Empire. She subjected defiant Germania, fruitful Italy
and their princes to the sword and sceptre of Rome. Then noble king Otto
won through her the imperial crown. Also the son whom she bore him, was
the pride and ornament of the Empire."

After the death of Otto I., Adelheid, with her son, Otto II. (973-983),
happily conducted the affairs of the empire and firmly established its
supremacy. But evil people alienated the heart of her son; she retired
to Burgundy, her home. Meanwhile, Germany mourned the absence of the
benefactress, but all Burgundy exulted over her return. Seized by
repentance, Otto humbly besought his mother to meet him at Pavia.
Weeping, he threw himself down before his mother, and from that time the
insoluble bond of love remained until Otto's premature death. Otto III.
(983-1002) and his Greek mother, Theophano, his guardian, succeeded Otto
II. Theophano, incited by the Greek, Philagathus, Archbishop of
Piacenza, became hostile to the empress, and, overcome by anger, she
uttered these menacing words: "If I shall still reign one year, Adelheid
shall not rule over more ground than one can encompass with one hand."
Before one month was over, Theophano was overtaken by Nemesis and died
(June 15, 991), while Adelheid outlived her in the enjoyment of
happiness. "So many realms as she possessed, through the grace of God,
first as the consort of the great Otto, then as the guardian of her son
and grandson, so many cloisters did she found at her own expense, in
honor of the King of kings." Before the year 1000 of Our Lord had ended,
longing to be united with the Lord of Hosts, on the 16th of December,
she died "and her soul rose to the pure light of the purest ether," says
the chronicler, "and to describe all the miracles at her grave, another
book would be necessary. But not to cover them entirely with silence at
her grave the blind recover their lost sight, the paralyzed the use of
their limbs, those sick with fever are cured there. Many ailing with
manifold diseases are healed by the grace and the compassion of Our Lord
Jesus Christ." Forsooth, A. D. 1000 is yet the blessed time when "faith
transported mountains."

The most memorable women of the Ottoman epoch is perhaps the nun
Roswitha, or Hrotsuit, of the cloister of Gandersheim, who is regarded
as the first German poetess, although her works are exclusively in
Latin. Born of a noble Saxon family she came early to Gandersheim, where
she was educated by the Carmelite sister Richardis and the highly
cultured Abbess Gerberga, Otto's niece. She became steeped in the
classics, and was soon able to imitate them to such an extent that her
fame as the bright ringing voice of Gandersheim soon spread over the
Christian world. She composed in Latin hexameters a eulogy on Saint
Mary, legends of saints, and an epic of Otto's great deeds (_Carmen de
gestis Oddonis I. Imperatoris_). The last work is rich in valuable
information, but a part of it has, unfortunately, been lost. She also
wrote the history of her cloister from its foundation until 919. But her
fame is founded especially on her Latin comedies, or rather dramatic
sketches, six in number, imitating the style of Terentius, but borrowing
the material from sacred legends, and chiefly glorifying chastity and
virginity. She takes as her themes womanly martyrdom, and the strength
of which even the frail woman is capable, if animated by faith and
virtue. She writes with a moral ascetic view and preeminently for her
sisters in the cloisters. Yet, because of the taste of her time she
introduces the reader to situations which are rather delicate. Hence
ensues a strange blending of classic sensualism and Christian
spiritualism. The fire of sensuality blazes throughout, though the
conclusion is always edifying through martyrdom; there is a struggle
between vice and virtue, but in the end, the triumph of Christian
sacrifices carries the day over the temptations and the sins of this
world. Kuno Francke (_Social Forces in German Literature_) thinks that
Roswitha, though surrounded by the atmosphere of the nunnery, was
carried away by the naturalistic tendencies of her time. Scherr asserts:
"Methinks that we may not offend her state as a nun when we suppose that
she must have had, before she wrote her comedies, some experience in
love, not merely in Terentius." Preferably, she chooses quite equivocal
situations. It is true that in her preface she deprecates any such
purpose with great ardor: "There are many good Christians who, for the
sake of a more refined language, prefer the idle glitter of pagan books
to the usefulness of the Holy Scriptures, a fault of which we also
cannot acquit ourselves entirely. Then there are industrious Bible
readers, who, though they despise the writings of the other pagans, yet
read the poems of Terentius too frequently, and, allured by the grace of
diction, stain their minds through acquaintance with unchaste objects.
In view of this I, the clearly ringing voice of Gandersheim, have not
disdained to imitate the much read author in diction, in order to
glorify the praiseworthy chastity of pious women according to the
measure of my feeble ability in the same way as the vile vices of
lascivious women are there represented." It is interesting to see how
she executes her plan. Take for example, her play entitled Abraham. In
this an old hermit hears that his stepdaughter, who had run away with a
seducer, is living in abject misery. He seeks to rescue her from a house
of ill repute where she has sought shelter. She does not recognize him
in his disguise, but he comes to see all the wretchedness of her life of
shame, and melts her heart in a wonderfully poetic conversation which
reminds one of Erasmus's colloquy between the youth and the fallen
woman. "O my daughter, part of my soul, Maria, do you recognize the old
man who with fatherly love brought you up and betrothed you to the Son
of the Heavenly Lord?" "Whither has flown that sweet angelic voice which
formerly was yours?" "Your maiden purity, your virgin modesty, where are
they?" "What reward, unless you repent, is before you? You that plunged
wilfully from heavenly heights into the depth of hell!" "Why did you
flee from me? Why did you conceal your misery from me from me who would
have prayed and done penance for you?" The miserable woman in her agony
replies only by exclamations of pain, and confesses: "After I had fallen
a victim to sin, I did not dare approach you." Abraham replies to that:
"To sin is human, to persist in sin is hellish. He who stumbles is not
to be blamed, only he who neglects to rise as quickly as possible."

In the play Dukitius, the Roman general so named, to commit an act of
criminal wantonness, enters at night time the prison of three Christian
maidens who had been thrown into confinement by order of Diocletian, the
persecutor of Christians. But the would-be ravisher is confounded by the
Holy Virgin, the protectress of innocence, and takes the pots and
kettles and pans for the maidens. The virgins look through the chinks of
the wall, and see the fool out of his mind holding the pots caressingly
on his lap, and kissing tenderly the pans and kettles. Irene remarks:
"His face and his hands and his clothes are soiled and blackened all
over by his imaginary sweethearts." "Just as it should be," replies
Chiona, "it is the color of Satan who possesses him."

Such was the work of the virtuous Christian singer in a strange foreign
garment, the only one possible for her to write in, for a popular
written German language did not yet exist. But her work was not lost, or
as she said herself in her preface: "If anybody shall find pleasure in
this my devotion (_devotio_), I shall be glad; but if it should please
no one, on account of my humble station or the rusticity of a faulty
diction, I myself at least rejoice over what I have done." Later on,
copies of her works were spread beyond her cloister. One copy was dug up
some five hundred years later from the dust of the cloister library of
Saint Emmeran at Regensburg by Conrad Celtes of Humanist fame, and
edited by him in 1,501. Roswitha was greeted by the world of the
Renaissance as the "German Muse." Celtes's edition is adorned by the
immortal Albrecht Durer with a woodcut representing Roswitha in a
kneeling posture, presenting her works to Emperor Otto the Great in the
presence of Archbishop Wilhelm of Mainz.

While dealing with the womanhood of the Ottoman era, it is incumbent
upon us to mention the history of a true German type of a royal woman,
who has been immortalized by Scheffel in the romance _Ekkehard_, already
mentioned: Hadwig, Duchess of Suabia, niece of Otto I., sister of
Gerberga, the abbess of Germersheim, the famous connoisseur of the
classical authors, and the teacher of Roswitha. Early widowed by
Burkhard of Suabia, the young, strong-minded princess of Saxon imperial
blood with a firm hand continued the administration of the duchy. "The
young widow," as Scheffel paints her, "was of royal disposition and
uncommon beauty. But she had a short nose, and the sweet mouth was
somewhat disdainfully puckered up, and her chin projected boldly so that
the dimple which becomes woman so sweetly, was not to be found with her.
And whose countenance is thus shaped, he bears with a sharp spirit a
hard heart in his bosom and his nature inclines to severity. Therefore
the duchess, in spite of the bright roses of her cheeks, inspired many a
one in her land with a strange terror." Scheffel describes her
steel-gray garment which flowed in light waves over the embroidered
sandals; this garment clung close to her body; over it was a black tunic
reaching down to the knee; in her girdle that encased her hips, shone a
precious beryl; a gold-thread embroidered net held her chestnut-brown
hair, yet carefully curled locks played around her bright forehead. The
boudoir, too, of the illustrious lady of the tenth century is minutely
described. On the marble table near the window stood a fantastically
formed, dark green vase of polished metal, in which burned a foreign
incense and whirled its fragrant white fumes up to the ceiling of the
room. The walls were hung with many colored, embroidered rugs.

On the whole, there is in the wide domain of literature scarcely
anywhere such a detailed and absolutely accurate picture of the state of
the culture and civilization of the tenth century as in this novel. The
description of the characters, Hadwig's chamberlain Spazzo, the abbots
and monks and warriors, the home industries, the vintage, the life of
all the classes of people, the cloisters, the festivals, the Hunnish
terror, the virtues and faults of the time, clerical purity and piety
and the little and great shortcomings of celibacy, the German Christmas
and Easter and Whitsuntide, the German soul (_Gemuf_), the patriarchal
relations between the imperial mistress of Otto's blood and her lowliest
maidservants pass before our eyes in a charming, ever-changing
kaleidoscopic procession. The young widow, in her lofty castle of the
Hohentwiel, whiling away her idle hours in the study of Virgil, with the
pure-hearted and scholarly monk Ekkehard, whom she invited from the
famed cloister of Saint Gall; Praxedis, the lovely chamber-woman of the
duchess, of Greek race, a living souvenir of the time when the son of
the Byzantine Emperor Basilius had wooed Hadwig; Hadumoth, the lovely
forest flower and the foundling of the lowest stratum of society with
her heart of love and truth and beauty, the personification of all that
is great and good in the soul of German womanhood of the lower classes;
the wood witch, who continues the old beloved custom of worship and
loyalty to the old gods, in bitter hate of the new faith that has robbed
her of husband, happiness, and child; the servant maid Friderun, tall as
a building of several stories, surmounted by a pointed roof, her
pear-shaped head, whose heart is now desolate, since her sweetheart was
slain in the Hunnish battle, and who turns her attention to the solitary
Hunnish prisoner, Cappan, whom she domesticates, Christianizes and
marries; all these types of German womanhood are so perfect, so
fragrant, so real that the historian of civilization loses heart in
attempting to describe other or better types. The love of Hadwig and of
Ekkehard, the latter's brief forgetfulness of his and her mission,
Ekkehard's trial, his escape and recovery on the snowy Santis mountain
in the Alps, the composition of the Walthari saga in the bracing
mountain air, close to the blue heavens, inspired by the Alpine
shepherd's godly child, Benedicta, are all episodes worthy of King
Solomon's Song of Songs.

After the Ottoman dynasty follow the Franconian emperors, descendants,
both through the female line and through marriage, from the
Carlovingians and the Ottomans, since Konrad II. (1024-1039), the first
Franconian, was descended from Otto's daughter and married Gisela of
Burgundy, a descendant of Charlemagne. Theirs is a period of transition,
of struggle between the Papacy and the empire, the preparation for the
crusades, fantastic, impolitic expeditions to the Orient for the
recovery of the Holy Sepulchre, fostering the spirit of aimless
adventure, but, at the same time, widening marvellously the narrow
horizon of the European world.

In contrast with the Latin poetry of court and cloister, the humble
people cultivated in their own way the German popular love song and the
tales that stir the popular soul. From those old folk songs we derive a
great deal of our knowledge of the life and love of the women of the
time. It is undoubtedly this awakening of the people which stimulated
the clerics also to the necessity for preaching in German. An
interesting spiritual poetess arises, known as the Frau Am, the recluse
and sacred singer, who died in Austria in 1127, and who was the first
woman known to us who in poetic German language worked out Biblical and
evangelical stories. The naïve tone of her poetry is exemplified in her
description of the scene where the enemies of Christ lead the adulteress
to Him. Before retiring from the wicked world she had been married, and
had had two sons who seem to have been theologians. They furnished her
with material for three spiritual poems in which she described, with the
inartistic hand of a plain woman, the seven gifts of the Holy Ghost as
they are communicated to man and create his virtues; further, she deals
with the Antichrist and the Last Judgment.

We must not leave the Prankish-Salian dynasty without mentioning briefly
a few superior royal women. Konrad II. found in his consort, Gisela, a
beneficent helpmate and also a coadjutor in the affairs of state. To
Konrad attaches the particularly characteristic and touching story of
the _Women of Weinsberg_, which has again and again been made the
subject of poems exalting the virtues of the faith and love of German
womanhood. When the emperor besieged the city of Weinsberg in Suabia he
met with such a stout resistance that he swore in his wrath to slay all
those who were able to carry arms. At last when hunger forced surrender,
the women appeared in Konrad's camp pleading for mercy, but the emperor
permitted them only to take as much of their precious possessions from
the doomed city as they could carry on their backs. And behold! next
morning when the gates opened, every woman tottered along under the
burden of her husband on her shoulders. Konrad's magnates maintained
that this was not the meaning of the grace offered to the women, but the
emperor, touched by so much loyalty and love, exclaimed: "An Imperial
word shall not be distorted by interpretation. The pledge as understood
by the Women of Weinsberg shall hold good!"

Konrad and Gisela's great son, Henry III. (1039-1056), who was strong
enough to bend and break the power of the Papacy during his brief reign,
married Agnes, a princess with a manly soul. She would have saved her
minor son, Henry IV. (1056-1106), perhaps the most unfortunate prince
who ever wore the thorny crown of the empire, if the perfidious, selfish
magnates of the empire had not snatched him by force too early from her
motherly and royal care. With the loss of his mother Henry lost the
direction and control and he seldom regained it during his long and
calamitous reign. At the age of sixteen he was married to Bertha of
Savoy (A. D. 1066), to whom he conceived a strange and unmerited
aversion, which she overcame in the course of time by her faithfulness
and loyalty in times of misfortune. She shared all the sorrows and
humiliations inflicted upon him by the haughty magnates of the realm and
especially by the German Pope Hildebrand, Gregory VII., the overtowering
personality of his time. But divine providence tried to compensate her
for her life of trial and bitterness: she became the mother of Agnes,
wife of Frederic of Hohenstaufen, ancestress of that glorious dynasty
under which blossomed up the First Classical Period of Bloom of German
Literature and Civilisation.

Of tremendous influence in all states and conditions of women and men is
the enforced celibacy of the clergy, an institution due, with all its
consequences of good and of evil, to the energy and iron will of Pope
Gregory VII. It is true that among the ancient Hebrews the marriage of
the high priest, and even of the priests in general, to a divorced woman
or to a widow, or, in fact, to any woman not a virgin, had been
forbidden. The New Testament, however, knows no such ordinance. Several
apostles, especially Saint Peter, were married. The Latin Church,
however, since the eighth century, insisted more and more upon the
celibacy of the clergy; but, nevertheless, it remained the rule for the
clergy in Germany, France, and Upper Italy to be married. During the
tenth century the moral decay among the clergy and the fear of its
increase, if the ordinances of celibacy were enforced, left priestly
marriage undisturbed. But the theory of the greater sanctity of the
priestly state, and the mediæval spirit of the mortification of the
flesh, as well as the growing conviction that only the sacraments
administered by spiritually pure priests without carnal knowledge of
woman had a saving grace and force, and prepared the way for the final
stroke of entirely abolishing priestly marriage. As the power of the
Papacy increased, and as the necessity for an army of instruments
severed from the binding ties of family life and consequent dependence
upon the secular powers became ever more pressing, the great Gregory
VII. ventured the decisive and final decree of 1074, according to which
every married priest who administered the sacrament at the altar, and
every layman who accepted it from his hand, should be excommunicated,
Amid a fearful storm of protest, the order for priestly celibacy was
carried out in Germany. But the overwhelming power of Gregory VII. and
the weakness of the emperor, which drove the princes and bishops into
the arms of the Pope, lessened the resistance, though for centuries the
storm did not subside, and in the north of Germany it continued far into
the fourteenth century. Celibacy became a strong weapon in the hands of
the Papacy; it subjected the priesthood absolutely to the Church, and
withdrew its members from subjection to the secular power; but celibacy
did not at least during the first centuries redound to a higher morality
of the clergy. The complaints of their immorality increased with the
firm establishment of celibacy, and after the fourteenth century
actually fill the literature of Germany. These complaints are indeed one
of the primary forces and agencies in bringing about the great
revolution against the Church, known in history as the Reformation. It
is no less true, however, that, with the counter reformation within the
Ancient Church, a purifying influence was exerted upon the clergy, that
the Reformation was to the Church a blessing in disguise, and that no
doubt celibacy had its redeeming features, inasmuch as it made the
genuine, earnest, and honest part of the priesthood pure and independent
and fearless in their uplifting mission to the people of the Catholic
faith: a true ecclesia militans. But celibacy, like any other great
institution, is a two-edged sword! One needs only to trace the literary
and historical sources of those centuries to become convinced that, on
the whole, celibacy was a failure so far as the greater part of the
clergy was concerned, and a still greater failure in so far as it
affected the sphere of womanhood. The priestly farces
(_Pfaffenschwanke_), the popular wisdom as expressed in hundreds of
proverbs and sententious references, as well as the history of the time
in question, prove the truth of this assertion and testify to the low
moral status of both the clergy and the laity.



With the extinction of the Franconian dynasty we approach the golden era
of the Hohenstaufen emperors. The ascent of that noble race was due to
that German loyalty which they had borne to Henry IV. in his distress.
Their home was the lofty Suabian Staufen which towered over the wooded
valley of the Rems and looked down on the beautiful land with its
vineyards and continuous orchards. The Hohenstaufens belonged to the
poetic, highly gifted race of the Suabians from which have sprung some
of the greatest German poets and thinkers. Suabia is the cradle of many
of the choicest spirits from antiquity down to Schiller and Uhland.

German history during the golden reign of the Hohenstaufen emperors is
filled with the deeds of royal women no less than with those of their
anointed husbands. Imperial women held the insignia at the death of the
emperors. Kunigunde, consort of Henry II., at his death turned over to
Konrad II., the first Salian Frank, the insignia of the empire, the
crown, the sceptre, and the holy relics which belonged to the regalia;
which the last Frank, Henry V. (1106-1125), on his deathbed, intrusted
to his consort, requesting her to hand them to his successor, that she
might win gratitude and influence; for great weight was attributed to
their possession, as they were deemed to contain mysterious forces and
to give to their possessor the favor of the saints. Archbishop Adalbert
of Mainz, a cunning politician, induced the widowed empress to deliver
the crown jewels to Frederic of Hohenstaufen, and then intrigued for the
election of Lothaire the Saxon, who won the crown. At the next vacancy
Konrad of Hohenstaufen (1138-1152) was elected, and founded the great
Suabian dynasty. During its governance (1138-1254) the Germanic body
politic displayed the highest degree of energy, and with that dynasty
began and ended the most glorious period of mediæval German social life
and literature. By the magnificence of their rule, the Suabian emperors,
in spite of many and great political errors, through which they
exhausted much of their strength in Italian wars, carried the
romanticism of the Middle Ages to its zenith. In the same proportion in
which the nation was raised by a knowledge of its own power, the
national productions of art and letters were stamped with a bold and
original character. Great men of extraordinary genius arose to exalt
their own names with the glories of the empire.

The Roman expeditions of Frederick Barbarossa, who sought to restore the
grandeur of Charlemagne, and of Otto the Great brought to Germany a new,
original culture that took a place beside the old Latin, monkish,
scholarly culture, with its gloomy clericalism. Chivalry, courtliness,
the "gay science" of the Romance peoples, were grafted upon a knotty,
rugged, but intensely healthy trunk. The very foundation of the new
society stood in contrast with the ascetic gloom of the former church
philosophy. The highest praise was now to be "gay and joyous in chaste
moderation"; life, vigor, beauty, courtly elegance in form and
countenance and speech marked the gentleman and the lady of the age. The
eye was delighted by beautiful features and lovely expression; by
stately appearance, fine movements, harmonious rhythm and dance, by
splendid processions and courtly functions. Grace, charm, and loveliness
were ardently sought: the commonplace and the vulgar were avoided as
rustic and ridiculous.

The Hohenstaufens are the impersonation of romantic chivalry. There is
in all of them, especially in Frederick II. (1212-1250), a profound
romantic tendency, a thirst for heroic greatness, glory, immortality. A
vein of poetry pulses through their history, "to develop which says
Scherr will be reserved perhaps to some future German Shakespeare." The
power of Frederick Barbarossa (1152-1190) raised the nation to an
intellectual elevation which created imperishable works of art and
poetry. Glorious, though fruitless expeditions to Italy and crusades to
the Orient extended mightily the limited horizon of the Germans:
Southern and Oriental beauty penetrated the monachism of the North. The
Italian and Sicilian courts of Frederick II. were thronged with the
fairest ladies of Orient and Occident. Saracen beauties were
intermingled with the loveliest women of the German and Roman and Greek
world. All were bent upon gallantry, and song and poetry were the common
accomplishments. The Orient once more fertilized the Occident; the
fulness of Oriental fancy and symbolism poured over the Germans romance,
wisdom and love, passion and vice, and cast a roseate bloom over the
coarse actuality of the death struggle between Empire and Papacy,
idealizing the "blood and iron" services of German warriors on Southern
and Eastern battlefields.

The struggle for the Holy Sepulchre blended Christian monachism and
Christian chivalry in the spiritual orders: the Knights Templars, the
Knights of Saint John, the Teutonic Order. Their holy vows taken in the
presence of ladies and princes "to honor and defer to the Church, to be
true and obedient to the sovereign or feudal lord, to conduct no unjust
feud, to defend widows and orphans," characterize sufficiently the ideal
of their mission. The rules of honor are laid down in the new word
Courtoisie, an essential part of which is devotion and service to
ladies. Nevertheless, this service to ladies has a religious root: it is
but the evolution to its final consequence of the old German veneration
for women which Christianity crystallized in the cult of the Holy Virgin
Mary. Religion is greatly dependent upon the emotions, thus making even
this cult more sensuous than rational. Inasmuch as this religious
affection is transferred to the entire sex, we find the most beautiful
side of knighthood expressed and codified in the _Minnedienst_, or love
service. And, in so far as the delight of youthful life and feeling was
considered as dependent upon the life of nature in general, the subject
of the minnesongs dealt with love within the natural environment of
fields and forests, rivers and mountains, spring and flowers, winter and
ice. "In the month of May," runs Freytag's beautiful description, "when
the trees were adorned with foliage, and the heath with flowers, when
the birds sang, and the brooks, freed from ice and snow, trickled
through the meadows, then began also for the courtly man the sunny time
of joy. Then he prepared his arms and armour, thought of adornment and
fine garments, and wandered away for love-wooing, to repasts, to wedding
and tournament, or to earnest war to acquire honor or to serve his
chosen lady, or to win estates. But when the winter approached, the
little birds migrated away, the meadows faded, the leaves sank from the
trees, frost hovered about the burgh, then the joyful activity in the
district terminated, the German knight retired to the interior of the
house, lived honorably with wife and children and dreamed golden dreams
in the hope of the next awakening of life." This conception of a dualism
of human life, a serene, sunny side, and a cold twilight pervades the
entire chivalrous poetry. It is but a realization of the dualism of the
human soul, as Goethe has wonderfully expressed it in his Faust:

        "Two souls alas! reside within my breast,
        And each withdraws from, and repels, its brother.
        One with tenacious organs holds in love
        And clinging lust the world in its embraces;
        The other strongly sweeps, this dust above,
        Into the high ancestral places.
        Yet in each soul is born the pleasure
        Of yearning onward, upward and away,
        When o'er our heads, lost in the vaulted azure,
        The lark sends down his flickering lay."

The fantastic devotion to woman and the love for her at the time of the
Minnesingers thus changed the entire life of the Teutonic race. Woman
became the centre of the rich animated social circle. The love of woman
controlled the hearts of the ruling class and the imagination of the
poets. Her power in state, court, and home was firmly rooted and
remained great, even though the golden sheen and glimmer of the period
of the minnesong vanished after a few generations. Her legal status,
too, was raised; she became equal, and in many respects superior, to
man. If the basis of her existence was the house, the family, she was
the ruler of the units of which the fabric of the state is composed. The
sacred flame of the hearth was nourished by her; the children were in
her safekeeping; in her eye and heart rested the blessing or the curse
of home and state.

The love of woman, the life of minne, during that epochal era shines
most brightly, though idealized, in the greatest lyric and epic poets
Germany ever produced.

True poetry is, after all, the highest truth. To describe woman's life
and love in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries, we cannot do better
than view her reflection in the mirror of that poetry of which she is
the almost exclusive subject. The minnesong is the especial history of
women. Elevation and degeneracy appear as clearly in poetry as in life.
Woman, wine, and the eternal laws of nature are the essence of poetry.
Poetry, on the whole, is the history of love in all its aspects, and
minne is especially the soul of the Middle High German poetry, which, in
spite of its brilliancy, is, alas! too self-confined in this one, though
supreme, all-pervading emotion.

In this respect, German minnesong is quite different from that of the
Provençal troubadours, who sing also warlike strains of patriotism, of
the sweet and glorious death for the fatherland, of revolution against
an overbearing Church or political tyranny. Among the German
minnesingers, Walter von der Vogelweide alone, the greatest of all,
sings in the same strain.

One sided as the subject of that period is, its modulations are varied.
There is the language of the pensive heart, of the gay boundings of hope
and happiness, of cheerfulness and melancholy, of depth of feeling, of
buoyant spirits, and again there is a dirge bewailing a lover's fate in
tones that breathe mystic feelings.

We cannot, therefore, agree with the harsh judgment of the great
Schiller regarding the Minnesingers: "If the sparrows should ever chance
to think of writing or publishing an almanack of love and friendship, we
might bet ten to one that it would be composed pretty much in the same
manner. What a poverty of ideas in these minnesingers! A garden, a tree,
a hedge, a forest, and a sweetheart! quite right! somewhat such are the
objects which have a place in the head of a sparrow. And the flowers,
they exhale! and the spring comes, and the winter goes, and nothing
remains but _ennui_!"

The minnesongs of the greatest masters, nevertheless, whose treasures
were unearthed after Schiller's time, enable us to form a true and vivid
estimate of the regard in which women were held when this poetry
flourished. Wolfram von Eschenbach sings the sorrows of unrequited love:

        "Would I that lofty spirit melt
        Of that proud dame that dwells so high,
        Kind heaven must aid me, or unfelt
        By her will be its agony.
        Joy in my soul no place can find:
        As well might I a suitor be
        To thunderbolts, as hope her mind
        Will turn in softer mood to me.
        "Those cheeks are beautiful, are bright
        As the red rose with dewdrops grac'd;
        And faultless is the lovely light
        Of those dear eyes, that, on me plac'd,
        Pierce to my very heart, and fill
        My soul with love's consuming fires,
        While passion burns and reigns at will;
        So deep a love that fair inspires!
        "But joy upon her beauteous form
        Attends, her hues so bright to shed
        O'er those red lips, before whose warm
        And beaming smile all care is fled.
        She is to me all light and joy,
        I faint, I die, before her frown;
        Even Venus, liv'd she yet on earth,
        A fairer goddess here must own."

The longing for a distant, hard-hearted, beloved lady is expressed by
Heinrich von Morungen in tones worthy of the best traditions of the
Greek lyric poets:

        "My lady dearly loves a pretty bird,
        That sings and echoes back her gentle tone;
        Were I, too, near her, never should be heard
        A songster's note more pleasant than my own;
        Sweeter than sweetest nightingale I'd sing.
                For thee, my lady fair,
                This yoke of love I bear,
        Deign thou to comfort me and ease my sorrowing.

        "Were but the troubles of my heart by her
        Regarded, I would triumph in my pain;
        But her proud heart stands firmly, and the stir
        Of passionate grief o'ercomes not her disdain.
        Yet, yet I do remember how before
                My eyes she stood, and spoke,
                And on her gentle look
        My earnest gaze was fix'd; O were it so once more!"

Another Minnesinger, Kristan von Hamle, is an exponent of romantic love:

        "Would that the meadow could speak!
        And then would it truly declare
             How happy was yesterday,
             When my lady was there:
        When she pluck'd its flowers, and gently prest
        Her lovely feet on its verdant breast.
        Meadow! what transport was thine,
        When my lady walked across thee;
        And her white hands pluck'd the flowers;
        Those beautiful flowers that emboss thee I
        Oh, suffer me, then, thou bright green sod,
        To set my feet where my lady trod!"

And again, Master Hadlaub, the last of the line of true Minnesingers, at
the end of the thirteenth century:

        "I saw yon' infant in her arms carest,
        And as I gazed on her my pulse beat high;
        Gently she clasp'd him to her snowy breast,
        While I, in rapture lost, stood musing by;
        Then her white hands around his neck she flung,
        And prest him to her lips, and tenderly
        Kiss'd his fair cheek as o'er the babe she hung.

        "Straight she was gone; and then that lovely child
        Ran joyfully to meet my warm embrace:
        Then fancy with fond thoughts my soul beguiled;
        It was herself! O dream of love and grace!
        I clasp'd him, where her gentle hands had prest,
        I kissed each spot which bore her lips' sweet trace,
        And joy the while went bounding through my breast."

The minnesong reached its climax of perfection in Walter von der
Vogelweide, who is unsurpassed, even by Goethe, as a lyric poet. The
following dancing song is typical of his work:

        "Lady, I said, this garland wear!
        For thou wilt wear it gracefully;
        And on thy brow 't will sit so fair;
        And thou wilt dance so light and free;
        Had I a thousand gems, on thee,
        Fair one! their brilliant light should shine:
        Would'st thou such gift accept from me,
        O doubt me not, it should be thine.

        "Lady, so beautiful thou art,
        That I on thee the wreath bestow,
        'Tis the best gift I can impart;
        But whiter, rosier flow'rs I know,
        Upon the distant plain they're springing,
        Where beauteously their heads they rear,
        And birds their sweetest songs are singing:
        Come! let us go and pluck them there.

        "She took the beauteous wreath I chose,
        And like a child at praises glowing,
        Her cheeks blush'd crimson as the rose
        When by the snow-white lily growing;
        But all from those bright eyes eclipse
        Receiv'd; and then, my toil to pay,
        Kind, precious words fell from her lips;
        What more than this I shall not say."

Minnesong represented at first, and during its growth, purity in love,
and profound respect for noble womanhood. Goethe's word: "Wilt thou in
life know what is seemly, inquire it of noble women," is fully realized.
We like to dwell on this phase of our theme, for soon we shall have to
descend to the very depths of corruption and impurity.

If we had not the chronological records of history, it would be hard to
believe that a nation could be swept by a century of religious wars from
the ideals set forth in minnesong to the degeneracy that characterized
the "Era of Desolation."

But in the early days of minnesong, modesty, chastity, and measure or
moderation (_diu maze_) are concomitants of the ideal of womanhood. Love
is then the extinction of self. Walter von der Vogelweide says: "True
minne never entered false hearts!"

Even Gottfried von Strassburg, the poet of passion and sensual love, in
this respect the very counterpart of Walter von der Vogelweide, sings:

        "Of all the things of this our World,
        On which the golden sunlight shines,
        Not one is blessed as a wife
        That vows her life and body sweet
        And manners also to measure refined."

Measure, like the Greek _kalokagathia_ of a gentleman, implies the
harmony and the development of all the inner and outer virtues and
charms. The sacredness of the relations between the sexes is originally
almost of a religious nature. The lady of the knight's heart and the
Holy Virgin are strangely blended.

There are among the lyrics of the Minnesingers many which are devoted
entirely to religious topics, especially the glory of the Virgin, a
specimen of which may here be given:

        "Maria! Virgin! mother! comforter
        Of sinners; queen of saints in heav'n that are!
        Thy beauty round the eternal throne dost cast
        A brightness that outshines its living rays:
        There in the fulness of transcendent joy
        Heaven's king and thou sit in bright majesty:
        Would I were there, a welcom'd guest at last
        Where angel tongues reecho praise to praise!
        There Michael sings the blessed Saviour's name
        Till round the eternal throne it rings once more,
        And angels in their choirs with glad acclaim,
        Triumphant host, their joyful praises pour:
        There thousand years than days more short appear,
        Such joy from God doth flow and from that mother dear."

The eternal longing for the divine then melts mysteriously into the
longing for the youthful love of woman. This longing is perhaps nowhere
in literature expressed with more touching, more naïve delicacy than by
Gottfried when he has fair Sigune speak to Herzeloide concerning her
Schionatulander whom she loved as ever woman loved man, and who was then
absent in war:

            "For the loved friend is all my spying;
        From the window on the road, over heather and bright meadows
             All in vain; I espy him not:
        Alas! my eyes by tears must dearly pay for longing love.

        "From the window do I ascend to the battlement,
        And spy eastward, westward, after tidings from him,
        Who long ere this has conquered all my soul;
        Count me among old lovers, for my love abides.
        'When I then on wild tides glide in my boat,
             My eyes glance over thirty miles away,
             If I may find such tidings
        As would free me from sad longing for my bright young friend.

             "Where is my joy? Why has departed
             Lofty spirit from my heart?
             Pain and woe expelled our peace;
        I would gladly suffer for him, if I suffered but alone,
      Yet I know sweet longing draws him hither, though he must be far.

        "Woe to me! How can he come? All too far is my true one.
        For him I shudder now in cold, now burn in fire.
        Thus Schionatulander makes me glow,
        His love kindles me as Agremontin does the Salamander."

Yet whether lofty or earthly, platonic or ardent, the centre of the
lyrics of the Minnesingers is always the relation of the sexes. The
manner of giving expression to the "eternal feelings" as Goethe calls
them varies according to the desire, the hope, or the hopelessness of
the lover. The lady is entreated for grace (Huld); she encourages the
knight or keeps him at a distance; love ceases to be pure, feelings
become fantastically exaggerated; the veneration of woman becomes
morbid, sometimes even senseless; love is often allegorized; a magic
charm envelops the singer; the world surrounding him is changed, his
nature passes the natural bounds; melancholy, ever the legacy of German
nature even in the midst of joy, prompts the desire that the epitaph on
his tomb should record how faithful he was to his lady. He dreams,
perchance, that a rose tree with two blooming branches embraces him and
interprets the dream as a fulfilment of his secret desire. This
fantastic unnaturalness of the super-realization of love had a
demoralizing effect upon both men and women: it developed mock lovers
and mock love.

Thus the love cult gradually degenerated. This was especially due to the
fact that married women were in most cases the object of minne. French
customs and thought entered more and more into German life. When the
consummation of love appeared hopeless because of obstacles of a moral
or social nature, the lovers, perchance, indulged themselves in a
perverse mutual satisfaction of a puerile nature, such as the exchange
of their undergarments for a night. Wolfram von Eschenbach relates that
Gahmuret used to wear the shirt of his beloved Herzeloide over his armor
in battle.

With the development of heraldry, the knight wore the colors of his lady
love. He fought in tournament of real war for his lady. Frequently
ladies imposed services and even hard and dangerous exploits upon their
importuning lovers, either to test their love, or for the sake of
sensation, or even to keep obstinate lovers at a distance. We must not
believe that the knights went out cheerfully. "Let no one inquire," says
Hartmann von der Aue, "after the cause of my journey. I confess frankly:
love bade me to vow the crusade and now commands me to undertake the
journey. It cannot be helped, and an oath must not be broken. Many a one
boasts of what he has done from love, but where are deeds? I hear only
words.... This is love indeed, if one for its sake expatriates himself.
Behold, how it drives me from home! Truly, if Sultan Saladin still lived
and all his army, they would not move me one pace from Franconia! Yet
only the body crosses the sea, the heart remains behind with the beloved
one." But the reward of love (_Minnesold_) is always kept in view. In
the rarest cases it consists in an ideal satisfaction, except perhaps if
the lady is of a very high rank and birth. Generally, however, it is
real sensuality. The descent of morality can be gauged from the fact
that it was not unusual for a lady to permit her lover to pass a night
in her arms, upon the condition that he might not touch her impurely
without her express consent. Perhaps a bare sword was placed between the
two lovers as a guard of good behavior. Hartmann von der Aue defends the
practice in _Iwein_: "If any one declare it a wonder that Iwein lay so
near a strange maiden without indulging in love, he knows not that a
strong man can abstain from anything he chooses to abstain." In fact,
the custom of a common couch became well-nigh a national German
institution, as it was called "_Beilager upon truth and faith._" Among
German peasants of certain sections says Weinhold this Beilager
continues to this very day; but it is considered as a real betrothal.
There is a small literature in existence on the "nights of proof"
(_Probenachte_) of German maidens.

Yet in general the heads of families were not so accommodating regarding
the young female members of their household. We learn of a class of
"watchers" or spies (_Merker_) whose mission it was to watch over the
honor of the maidens. A whole crop of poetry, the so-called watch songs,
sprang up, dealing with the subject. The business of the clandestine
lover is to escape from the snares and the watchfulness of those spies.

The following example of a watch song, of a high literary and poetic
value, is typical:

        "I heard before the dawn of day
        The watchman loud proclaim:
        'If any knightly lover stay
        In secret with his dame,
        Take heed, the sun will soon appear;
        Then fly, ye knights, your ladies dear,
        Fly ere the daylight dawn.

        "'Brightly gleams the firmament,
        In silvery splendor gay;
        Rejoicing that the night is spent,
        The lark salutes the day;
        Then fly, ye lovers, and be gone!
        Take leave before the night is done,
        And jealous eyes appear.'

        "That watchman's call did wound my heart,
        And banish my delight;
        Alas, the envious sun will part
        Our loves, my lady bright
        On me she looked with downcast eyes,
        Despairing at my mournful cry,
        'We tarry here too long.'

        "Straight to the wicket did she speed;
        'Good watchman, spare thy joke!
        Warn not my love, till o'er the mead
        The morning sun has broke:
        Too short, alas! the time, since here
        I tarried with my leman dear,
        In love and converse sweet.'

        "'Lady, be warn'd! on roof and mead
        The dew drops glitter gay;
        Then quickly bid thy leman speed,
        Nor linger till the day;
        For by the twilight did I mark
        Wolves hying to their covert dark,
        And stags to covert fly.'

        "Now by the rising sun I view'd
        In tears my lady's face;
        She gave me many a token good,
        And many a soft embrace.
        Our parting bitterly we mourn'd;
        The hearts which erst with rapture burn'd,
        Were cold with woe and care.

        "A ring with glittering ruby red,
        Gave me that lady sheen,
        And with me from the castle sped
        Along the meadow green:
        And whilst I saw my leman bright,
        She waved on high her kerchief white:
        'Courage! to arms!' she cried.

        "In the raging fight each pennon white
        Reminds me of her love;
        In the field of blood, with mournful mood,
        I see her kerchief move;
        Through foes I hew, whene'er I view
        Her ruby ring, and blithely sing,
        'Lady, I fight for thee.'"

The end of wooing is thus always understood to be the gratification of
passion. But many ladies of the era of chivalry were extremely exacting,
and imposed heavy tasks for the attainments of the prize which they
alone could bestow. They allowed very slight favors at first, a glance,
a trifle, otherwise they let the lover long and languish, as, for
instance, in the case of the knight Ulrich von Lichtenstein, whom we
shall soon consider more closely. Sometimes, however, favors which by
modern standards would appear very improper were readily granted with a
charming naïveté! The lover was allowed to accompany the lady of his
heart to her bed chamber, and wait upon her and help her undress, a
rather crucial service, as the mediæval custom was to sleep without any
garments at all.

Weinhold calls minne the crown jewel of the German language, the love
which rests in the soul; but it also had its shameful history of
debasement, and finally met its death when the sensual prevailed over
the spiritual, when minne became lust. Reinmar von Zweter could well
say: "Minne is the gilding of love, a treasure above all virtue a
teacher of pure morals, companion of chastity and fidelity, the noblest
thing that is in the world, to which only woman can be compared. Minne
flees from the fool, associates with the wise; minne strengthens honor,
truth, and modesty." At the era of decadence of chivalry, however, minne
came to mean sexual enjoyment par excellence.

The life of love in the high society of Germany for the lower gentry,
according to Scherr, lived in their narrow, miserably equipped burgh
stalls on a very low level became, in the course of time, a perfectly
developed art and science; and Weinhold firmly believes that the
highborn lords and ladies at the German courts dialectically treated
interesting themes of love which may have had the forms of real courts
of love, in imitation of the French _Cour d'Amour_. It is true, however,
that some great Romance scholars deny their existence altogether. This
seems erroneous. We know that Queen Alinora (Eleanor), the ill-famed
consort of Henry II. (1154-1204), after her French divorce, was a high
authority in love affairs. Schiller in The _Maid of Orleans_ described
the nature and character of such a _Cour d'Amour_.

It is but natural that the minne of a knight was not always smooth
sailing: his springtide feelings were frequently tossed on the sea of
his lady's caprice; longing and suspense, "heaven-high exultation and
sadness unto death," to use Clarchen's words in Goethe's Egmont, held
him in a constant state of agitation. Tannhauser charmingly satirizes
woman's whims. She demands impossible things of her foolish suitor, who
is ever ready to serve: she asks him to have the Rhône River flow past
Nürnberg; to turn the Danube back toward the Rhine; or to build an ivory
palace, wheresoever she will, in the midst of a lake; or to bring her
the light of the moon; the salamander from the fire, or from Galilee the
mountain upon which Adam sat; in recompense of which she will bless him
with her sweet love! "If I bring her the great tree from India, or the
Holy Grail, which Parsifal guarded, or the apple which Paris adjudicated
to Venus, or the magic mantle which fits only faithful ladies, or the
ark of Noah from which he sent the doves, she will fulfill my most
ardent desires! Alas, the sharp rod was kept too far away from her when
a child!"

Some knights and Minnesingers console themselves by choosing other
subjects for their songs, spurning the intolerable demands of their
exacting mistresses, and their too expensive charms we need only recall
that unmerciful lady who dropped her glove from the gallery between the
lion and the tiger, and lovingly invited her knight to pick it up for
her. The knight having accomplished the feat, threw the glove in the
pretty face that welcomed his return, with the words: "Thanks, lady, I
do not desire." But the majority became Don Quixotes and allowed
themselves to be played with and mocked by their whimsical taskmasters.

From the sunny south, the Provence, the home of minstrels and songs, we
learn how the troubadour Pierre Vidal of Toulouse fell desperately in
love with Loba of Carcasses. As her name was Loba (she-wolf), he called
himself Lop, encased himself in a wolf's skin and roamed, wolflike,
through the mountains. Shepherds and dogs misunderstood the joke and
tore him almost to pieces.

In Germany we meet with an extraordinary type of a knight-errant in the
person of the noble Ulrich von Lichtenstein (died January 6, 1275 or
1276), who spent a long life in the self-imposed service of a capricious
princess. During his long career of minne service, which, however, never
brought him fulfilment of his desires, he committed one folly after the
other, and, worst of all, he was never cured of his passion, though he
often pathetically sings his misfortunes and the cruelty of his lady. He
was no mean singer, and his poetry is a most interesting human document.

At the time of the purple bloom of Middle High German civilization, or
when it first began to fade, Ulrich von Lichtenstein was a boy. Under
his parental roof he heard and absorbed the epics of the romantic school
of his time, and learned to appreciate the worth of a nobleman by his
chivalrous aspiration for the grace of a high born lady. As a page of
twelve years he was overwhelmed at the sight of a brilliant princess,
very likely Agnes of Meran, the future consort of Frederick the Warlike.
His youthful love was inflamed to such ardor by the alluring beauty of
the queen of his heart that "he carried secretly away the water
wherewith she had washed her white hands and drank it out of sheer
love." But while he vowed chivalrous service and songs to the sun of his
life, he married a gentlewoman who became the mother of his children. At
the court of the marquis Henry of Istria he was still more confirmed in
his adulation of woman. But his poetry in the "_Ladies' Book_"
(FraueribucK) and his poetic messages to the queen of his heart betray
not only an exaggerated love, but also the qualities of charity,
bravery, honor. Von Lichtenstein's description of his own interesting
life is due not to his self-love, but, as he tells us, "to the pure,
sweet, much beloved lady." It is true that pure, sweet lady is
capricious and cruel enough; for example, she invites her paladin to
mingle among the lepers who assembled before her castle; promising as a
reward to appoint an hour for a nocturnal visit and the fulfilment of
his desires. But his exposure to a disgusting malady serves him to no

Even religion is subordinated by Von Lichtenstein to his lady love. He
is not especially anxious for a pilgrimage across the sea, unless his
lady so orders. He reproaches ladies for their nun-like costume, and
says: "Alas, when you ought to go to dance with us, you are seen
standing by the church."

His wishes for wealth are concentrated in five things: "fine women, good
food, beautiful horses, good garments, brilliant armour." Von
Lichtenstein calls himself blest that "his senses are intent to love
her, to love her more and more." He hopes that in her goodness the good,
dear, "pure" lady will reward his constancy more graciously than
heretofore with the fulfilment of his wishes. Comfort and joy he has
only in her, the fair one, the bright one, in her laughter. "When he is
reflected in her playing eyes, his high mind blossoms like the roses at
May time." "He would rather dwell in his lady's heart than in heaven

But real madness begins when, to please his lady, he has a painful
operation performed on his lip; on another occasion he cuts off his
little finger and sends it to her in a precious box. The lady is
astonished that any man can make such a fool of himself. And yet we
learn incidentally that Ulrich has a good wife and dear children at home
whom he visits when his knight-errantry carries him past his ancestral
castle. He lives with his wife during the wintry days, he mentions her
housewifely virtues in his poetry, she nurses him when he returns,
perchance, sick and injured by his mocking-bird of a lady who, promising
him sweet fulfilment, has him drawn up in a sheet to the window of her
castle, and then prevents his entering by causing him to be dropped
fifty feet into the moat. A strange chapter, truly, in the history of
human folly and perversity!

It is pleasant to record that this kind of chivalry and love service
found no welcome among the North Germans or Scandinavians. In their
poetry that is left to us we find none of the degenerated, effeminate
sensuality of the Romance and South German courtoisie. True German
character does not permit the profound feelings of real affection to
pass into publicity. Love is purer and more genuine; women stand on no
imaginary, fantastic pinnacle, but are, on that account, really freer
and nobler. The higher that women are raised to the domain of unreality
and unnaturalness, the lower is generally their moral standard. This
explains the fact that among civilized nations morality is always
highest in the middle classes of society. Among the poorest and
lowliest, alas! the demon of physical hunger, the moloch of distress,
when there is frequently nothing for sale but womanly honor, militate
against innate virtue.

A beautiful example of woman's gratitude toward a singer of her virtues
must here be recorded. When Heinrich von Meissen, called Frauenlob
(Women's Praise) from his glorification of the fair sex, died, A. D.
1317, at Mainz, he was magnificently entombed in the hallway of the
Cathedral. The ladies of Mainz carried the bier of the deceased
minnesinger with loud lamentations and mourning to his grave, and poured
upon it such an abundance of wine that it flowed through the entire
expanse of the church. Heinrich had indeed well deserved the women's
special affection, as he had glorified the Holy Virgin, and given new
place in the language to the ancient term Frau (the joygiver), that had
been supplanted by Weib. The fame of Frauenlob has been perpetuated by
German womanhood; in 1842 a monument, by Schwanthaler, was erected in
his honor by the ladies of the city, in the cloisters of the Cathedral,
where he is buried. The grave itself is still marked by a copy, made in
1783, of the original tombstone.

A few words about the education of a woman of noble birth may not be
amiss. The difficult arts of writing and reading were more generally
acquired by noble ladies than by their knights. While the great Wolfram
von Eschenbach, though possessing all the social culture of his time,
could not read, and Ulrich von Lichtenstein had to keep an epistle of
his lady unread for ten days, as his secretary was absent, ladies
generally studied those branches which appear to us now quite
rudimentary. Heinrich von Veldeke, we learn, lent the manuscript of his
Emit, before it was quite finished, to the Countess of Cleve, to read
and to see (_i. e._, the pictures).

The noble maidens, whose instructors were usually the castle chaplains,
learned early to sing minnesongs, to sing and say the ancient sagas and
legends; they often even composed songs and poems; they learned music,
which was part of a liberal education, played the fiddle, zither, and
harp. Isolde, according to Gottfried von Strassburg, knew Irish, French,
Latin, and played the Welsh fiddle. Fine handiwork belonged to a noble
lady's occupations. The laws of courtesy were, as we have mentioned,
codified into a perfect science for use under all conditions: at the
court, at home, at the dance and play, on the street, to control conduct
toward high and low, men and women; minute directions were provided for
all occasions. Even the conversation in society, at the banquet table,
is prescribed; noble ladies must show grace and measure in the favorite
ball play, ride horseback, chase with falcons, blush, and nod their
heads courteously at the tournaments. The reception of guests and their
hospitable entertainment is their business, and the social savoir-faire
constitutes ladylike courtoisie or moralitas. Religion toward God and
the world, churchgoing, all are strictly regulated; and we see women in
all their aspects, as we pass in review the vast literature of the time.
The arts of adornment, of painting the cheeks and lips, are highly
developed; the men seem to have been even more eager to adorn and
decorate their persons than were the women. Male garments are adorned
with symbolic colors; coats of arms of silk embroidery appear on the
most ridiculous parts of knightly dress. Superficiality and superstition
widely prevail. There is a strong belief in magic or love potions, as we
learn, e. g., from a bit of poetry by Veldeke:

"No thanks to Tristan that his heart had been Faithful and true unto his
queen; For thereto did a potion move More than the power of love: Sweet
thought to me, That ne'er such cup my lips have prest; Yet deeper love,
than ever he Conceived, dwells in my breast: So may it be! So constant
may it rest! Call me but thine As thou art mine!"

The knightly dwelling, that is, the palace or castle of a lord, with a
watch tower outside, rising above the strong wall and separated from the
other dwellings, had always distinct from it a ladies' house, called
"the women's secret" (_der frouven heimliche_), or the _kemenate_. This
consisted of at least three rooms: one for the familiar intercourse of
the family; this was also the sleeping chamber of the lady of the house;
one, a room where the lady devoted herself, with her women, to the
female occupations of the time; and lastly, the sleeping room for the
maidservants. In each kemenate there were, usually, a kitchen, a chapel,
cellars, and provision rooms. Arched niches in the wall gave opportunity
to the ladies to look far overland. The furniture was rich, and often
finely carved, but of heavy and clumsy pattern. Tables, chairs, and
chests were abundantly provided. The bed was a large, square, high piece
of furniture, and it was treated with great care and respect; it was
covered with elaborate curtains, which hung from a silken canopy; heavy
feather beds and fine linen were the pride of the highborn housewife.

Food was plentiful, but plain. Field and forest furnished the principal
dishes: game, bread, vegetables. On festivals, delicacies and highly
spiced dishes in great number burdened the table. Wine, beer, cider, and
fruit brandies were drunk in large quantities. It is highly suggestive
to read in the records the allowances of liquor made to princely ladies
of the time and to their noble attendants. We forbear furnishing
statistics from the records, which may seem to our time slanderous

The ideal of womanly beauty as established by the poets of the romance
when knighthood was in flower is as follows: to be considered beautiful
a woman must be of moderate stature, of slender and graceful build, of
symmetrical and well-developed form. Out of the white countenance the
cheeks must blossom forth like bedewed roses; the mouth must be small,
closed, and sweetly breathing, the teeth shine forth from swelling red
lips, "like ermine from scarlet"; a round cheek with snow-white dimple
must heighten the charm of the mouth. The ideal nose was not Grecian,
long, or pointed, or stumped, but straight and normal. Long eyebrows, a
little curved, the color of which slightly contrasted with that of the
hair, were praised. The eyes must be clear, pure, limpid like sunshine,
preeminently blue or of that indefinite changing color which we note in
some species of birds. The Oriental ideal of "the black eyes' spark is
like God's ways, dark" is not acceptable to the mediæval Teuton. The
hair was preferably of that golden blond which did not contrast too
strongly with the snow-white, blue veined temples and the mild blue
lustre of the eyes. A slender neck, a firm and plastic bust of moderate
fulness, strong hips, round, white arms, long, slender fingers, straight
legs, small, well-arched feet, must not be wanting. There are, of
course, constant variations of that ideal according to the aesthetic
views and the sensuous predilections of the love singers. In the late
Middle Ages the womanly ideal of beauty becomes materialized and merely
sensual: the different parts of woman's form are brought together from
the various lands according to the particular local reputation for
womanly beauty. Among the hundreds of types, Konrad Fleck's description
of _Blancheflur_ may be mentioned: gold shining hair fell around her
temples, which were whiter than snow; fine straight eyebrows arched
above her eyes, the power of which conquered everybody; her cheeks and
lips were red and white, her teeth ivory, her throat and neck were those
of the swan; her bosom was full, her limbs were long and slender, her
waist was tender and delicate.

This detail painting of womanly beauty by the Minnesingers is a great
advance over the descriptions given by the epic poets, which deal mostly
in poetic generalities. A minnesong type is given in this description of
the appearance of Kriemhilde:

        "Now came that lady bright,
        And as the rosy morn
        Dispels the misty clouds,
        So he who long had borne
        Her image in his heart,
        Did banish all his care,
        And now before his eyes
        Stood forth that lady fair.

        "From her embroider'd vest
        There glittered many a gem,
        While o'er her lovely cheek
        The rosy red did beam;
        Whoe'er in raptur'd thought
        Had imag'd lady bright,
        Confess'd that lov'lier maid
        Ne'er stood before his sight.

        "And as the beaming moon
        Rides high the stars among,
        And moves with lustre mild
        The mirky clouds along;
        So, midst her maiden throng,
        Uprose that matchless fair;
        And higher swell'd the soul
        Of many a hero there."

Most expressive of popular feeling toward woman is, perhaps, the ballad
and folklore poetry of a people. Though preserved mostly without date or
name they breathe national sentiment most faithfully. True folk songs
would betray the nationality from which they sprang even though the
language did not. All the characteristics of the German _Gemut_ (mood,
soul, sentiment, and longing strangely blended) exhale from songs like
the following:

        "Sweet nightingale, thyself prepare,
        The morning breaks, and thou must be
        My faithful messenger to her,
        My best beloved, who waits for thee.

        "She in her garden for thee stays,
        And many an anxious thought will spring,
        And many a sigh her breast will raise,
        Till thou good tidings from me bring.

        "So speed thee up, nor longer stay;
        Go forth with gay and frolic song;
        Bear to her heart my greetings, say
        That I myself will come ere long.

        "And she will greet thee many a time,
        'Welcome, dear nightingale! I will say;
        And she will ope her heart to thee,
        And all its wounds of love display.

        "Sore pierced by love's shafts is she,
        Thou then the more her grief assail;
        Bid her from every care be free:
        Quick! haste away, my nightingale!"

Even more naïve and lovely is perhaps this gem:

        "If a small bird I were,
        And little wings might bear,
        I'd fly to thee:
        But vain those wishes are;
        Here then my rest shall be.

        "When far from thee I bide,
        In dreams still at thy side
        I've talked with thee;
        And when I woke, I sigh'd,
        Myself alone to see.

        "No hour of wakeful night
        But teems with thoughts of light--
        Sweet thoughts of thee
        As when in hours more bright,
        Thou gav'st thy heart to me."

But in whatever sense the chivalry and minnesong were conceived, they
certainly turned toward worldliness. The struggle of the Papacy against
the Empire was accompanied by a struggle of the clergy against the
knighthood. The clerics attempted to turn the warlike and passionate
instincts of the time in the direction of spiritual things. An immense
number of holy legends of good women resulted, the ideals of which were
humility, self-abnegation, and chastity; we have the legend of
Crescentia, a pure woman, who, accused like Saint Genevieve, is at last
justified and saved; others die for their virtue, and are sanctified;
the story of Lucretia of ancient Roman memory is revived in the style of
contemporary court life, where she appears as a white raven.

This spirit of religious revival appears most strongly in a versified
story of the thirteenth century, related by Konrad von Wurzburg in a
work entitled _Frau Welt_ (Lady World):

Wirent von Grafenberg, a Franconian knight, a romancer, and a man of the
world, strove incessantly for worldly goods and honors. He was handsome,
well educated, brilliant, a good hunter, player, and musician, loved by
the ladies and ever ready to serve them; whenever there was a
tournament, no matter how far, there he rode to win the minne-prize. It
was love, and love alone, that filled all his senses. One day he sat in
his chamber, passing his time in the perusal of a love romance until
evening. All at once the dusky room brightened up in wonderful radiance,
and a marvellously beauteous woman entered; she was more lovely than any
earthly woman, than Venus or Pallas; she was clad with splendor, and a
golden crown was upon her head. In spite of all her magnificence, Wirent
became pale from fright. "Do not be frightened; I am indeed the woman
for whose sake thou hast frequently risked life and limbs, whose
faithful servant thou wert, of whom thou hast said and sung so much
good; thou bloometh like a twig of May in manifold merits; thou hast
from thy childhood worn the wreath of honor; now I have come to bestow
thy reward upon thee." "Forgive, noble lady, if I have served thee, I do
not know it; but tell me who thou art!" "I shall gladly tell thee; thou
needest not be ashamed of having served me; I am served by emperors,
kings, princes, counts, freemen. I fear no one but God, he is more
powerful than I am. My name is Lady World. Thou shalt now have the
reward which thou hast wished for so long: look at it!"

With these words, she turned her back. It was full of snakes and vipers
and toads, of ulcers and sores, wherein flies and ants teemed and vermin
crept. An abominable stench arose; her rich silken dress looked ash
pale; and thus she went hence. But Wirent von Grafenberg, the spoiled
child of the World, perceived the perdition of the soul in the service
of the world; he left wife and children and the pleasures of the world,
took the Cross, fought against the heathen, atoned for his sins, and
obtained divine forgiveness and eternal bliss.

This story, evidently of clerical origin, proves the position of Church
and clergy toward the life of chivalry and the ideals of the
Minnesingers. They condemned the service of the world of love and power
which, they averred, led only to eternal damnation. Earthly ideals, with
their inner sins, were symbolized by the poetic picture of Lady World,
which was even plastically represented on the Cathedral portals at Worms
and Basle.

As here the typical knight is turned from the joys and aspirations of
the world, thus the women of that brilliant period were drawn from their
delight in earthly life and love; Christ was shown to them as the
bridegroom of their souls; ideal joys of the world beyond were depicted
to them in attractive colors. Numberless German hymns are devoted to
Mary, but so little was it possible to get away from the realism of the
love of the time that the sublime glow of holy fire makes room for the
almost frivolous ardor of the time of chivalry. The Holy Virgin becomes
more and more an earthly queen, whose court is provided with all the
luxuries of the time. Religious sentimentality changes into passion. The
piety of the noble ladies by no means deprives the minstrel knights of
their due, or, as Scherer ingeniously says, "the result of the hundred
years' struggle of the clergy against the world ends in the triumph of
the latter." But not entirely so, for again and again there stirs in the
German conscience the eternally spiritual element.

The Church placed in the field new troops, who did their work with
victorious energy. Orders of beggar monks arose, and the Popes soon
realized what a valuable instrument they were. The Dominicans and
Franciscans had begun to settle in Germany. As preachers and confessors,
they strove for dominance over souls. They inveighed passionately
against the courtly life. Sinful was the tournament, sinful the luxuries
of the table and courtly dress and fashions, sinful the dance and the
minne, the worldly song and the service to women out of wedlock. Their
influence upon women became very marked; many ladies began to turn from
the world, sat like nuns, hid their bosoms and faces, and wore
scapulars. "Instead of going with us to dance, you stand day and night
in church," is a knightly complaint.

Not only piety and mysticism, but scholarship, which also was in
conflict with chivalry, destroyed the minnesong. The great Italian
Dominican, Thomas Aquinas, furnished to German mystics a considerable
part of their philosophy. The essence of mysticism, poetically
conceived, is the conviction that the soul is a bride of Christ. Mystic
theology described the passionate emotions of the soul, in her ascent
to, and union with her heavenly bridegroom. Eckard, Tauler, and Suso are
the great leaders of the mystic movement which, seizing especially the
minds and souls of women, transfers the nature of earthly minne to
heavenly minne.

In this connection, we must mention a princely woman whose
self-abnegating virtue rises well-nigh to the superhuman: Elizabeth of
Thuringia. She was a daughter of King Andrew of Hungary, and in 1218 was
married to Ludwig of Thuringia, after whose death she was treated most
brutally by her brothers-in-law. Her confessor, the monk Konrad of
Marburg, a dark fanatic, who tried to introduce the Inquisition the
horrible Spanish institution into Germany, and who was killed in 1233 by
a band of robber knights, tortured the pious princess with his gloomy
ascetics. This princess devoted her life to charity and noble deeds for
the poor and sick, whom she nursed and tended with her own hands. She
died at the age of twenty-six, after having rejected the suit of the
great and romantic Hohenstaufen emperor Frederick II.; she is said to
have earned her living during her last years by spinning wool. The saga
has illumined the fame of that saintly royal woman with the aureole of
glory and affection.

Pious women nursed the entire mystic movement. Mathilda of Magdeburg
(1277) describes in her fragmentary and profoundly passionate
revelations the mingling of the soul with God. Many ecstatic women
followed her. Visions became a fashion in the fourteenth century. The
ecstatic state of passionate love for the divine which shook her frame
was considered the union with God, and the blissful rapture of one nun
wrought a holy contagion among all her sisters. All the cloisters were
drawn into the nervous whirlpool of religio-sensuous emotions. Ladies
who formerly found satisfaction in the charms of the minnesong retired
to the cloisters and passed through all the stages of the emotions of
love toward the divinity, the Creator of all life.

Such was the period of the Minnesingers, and such the reaction against
them. The cultural forces of the epoch can be expressed only by
describing the literary trend of the events of life. They are
correlative and interdependent. If, therefore, this chapter should
appear to the reader to be unduly literary rather than historical, we
can defend it by stating the fact that this was an era of song, and that
this literature bears everywhere the stamp of truth. It is the faithful
reflection of an infinitely rich time from which only the brilliant
melodies of saga and song ring down to our prosaic and materialistic



After the lofty house of Hohenstaufen had been overwhelmed with
destruction, the _interregnum_, the time of anarchy, "_the emperorless,
the terrible time_," in Schiller's words, (1250-1273), and the reign of
Rudolf of the house of Habsburg mark the beginning of the era of the
decline in German culture. Princes and nobles had long ago ceased to
sing, for between arms the Muses are silent. Tenderness and refinement
of feeling gradually drifted into the commonplace if not into downright
coarseness. We are obliged to record a cheerless period of mediocrity
and degradation lasting almost four centuries, though, of course,
interwoven here and there with illuminating stars that shoot up to the
heavens from this dreary waste, and continuing until about the middle of
the eighteenth century, when the second classical bloom came into
florescence and intensified strongly the classical era of the Middle

The decline that found its perigee in the period of the Mastersingers
went on gradually. It was the result of various political and social
causes. The aesthetic ideals, because of which in the time of the
Hohenstaufens women were revered, vanished. With the decadence of
culture superstition asserted itself more strongly. Women were burned as
witches; and the general references to them in the literature of the
period of decline are usually vulgar, and not infrequently obscene.
Refined deportment toward women ceased. Saint Ruffian (_Sanct
Grobianus_) became the idol of the era of decadence, and the vulgarities
of _Till Eulenspiegel_ furnished amusement. "Shamelessness celebrated a
boisterous carnival." The classics alone, though diluted by pitiful
scholasticism until rescued and raised to a higher plane by the
Humanists of the Renaissance, became the only oasis in the dreary waste
of the decadence.

In most of the cities that were centres of intellectual life, the
plebeians arose and replaced the formerly highly cultured patricians.
The burghers began to tune the melodies of a new music: a banausic
artisan song. The comic anecdote and the dramatic farce pleased the
people best and, therefore, prevailed. There was a general delight in
comical, farcical roles, and such elements were even introduced into
religious plays. For example, Saint Mary complains that she has no
diapers to protect the Holy Child from frost. Saint Joseph gets into a
quarrel with two maids; there is a free fight; vulgar reproaches and
blows are exchanged. Darkness begins to spread over Germany. The devil,
stupid or otherwise, introduces his spook; sorceresses and hags
professing magic skill are everywhere. The defamation of the grand
institutions of the Papacy, owing to several unworthy successors of
Saint Peter, promotes contempt and ludicrous treatment. The ridiculous
fiction of the alleged "Papess" Joanna becomes a farcical subject, but
is, nevertheless, jokingly rescued from the claws of the devil. Her
story goes thus: a maiden elopes with a priest, her lover, to Rome, dons
man's dress, becomes a doctor, a cardinal, and at last a Pope. She is
finally ignominiously unmasked, received by the devils in hell, but
saved by the intercession of Saint Mary and Saint Nicholas. Dietrich
Schernberg treated this strange subject at Muhlhausen, in Thuringia, in
his play of _Frau Jutla_. All these morality plays, mysteries, farces,
sottises, sacred or profane, are scarcely ever edifying, and this
whether they treat of court sessions regarding love troubles, marriage
calamities, allegorical figures, fools of love, women, wicked monks, or
quacks. Here, a maiden leads her lovers by the nose; there, lovers
present themselves before Lady Venus. An immoderate coarseness and
indecency in manner and action is part of the game; even in the presence
of women the utmost vulgarity was permitted. Women joined in the most
obscene conversation, and it is astonishing to what depths of immodesty
their speech descended. Nürnberg was the centre of carnival plays. Hans
Rosenblut and Hans Folz, authors of incredibly obscene, though very
clever, farces, were the forerunners of the great and lovable Hans

        "Who was a shoe-
        maker and a poet, too."

But it is incumbent upon us to return to the beginning of the period of
decadence and consider the decline in its sequence. During the era of
chivalry the follies of the nobles were imitated by the peasants and
burghers. Inter-marriages between poor nobles and rich peasants occurred
now and then, liaisons and amours between them were much more frequent;
the caricature of the _bourgeois gentilhomme_, whom Moliere satirized in
his immortal comedy, was ever present. Neidhart's and Strieker's poems
and Werner's _Meier Helmbrecht_ furnish delightful figures and
caricatures of the upstart class which was so scorned, ridiculed, and
snubbed by the "smart set" of the time.

Yet, on the whole, it may be said that the boys and girls of the
peasants and bourgeois led natural lives, courting and dancing and
wooing, as long as they were kept from the influence of the chivalric
craze. Instead of knight-errantry there were among these young people
simple though not always platonic relations. The lords still exercised
their harmful influence upon the freedom of the peasantry, but it
gradually diminished. At springtide there was love and marriage, not
always voluntarily, but in deference to the right of lords and princes
to command their dependants to marry. In some localities a system of
pairing prevailed, and maids were assigned as companions by lot, and
mated couples danced together during an entire summer. Such play, very
naturally, and not infrequently, became earnest.

The nobles were mostly landed proprietors, but when the cities began to
grow, urban patricians, proud and self-satisfied, arose. The common
people, however, because of their number and increasing wealth, gained a
share in the government. They formed themselves, for strength and
self-defence, into "corporations and guilds." They won city rights. In
the course of time, instead of the rule of the "families," or
patricians, there came the rule of the guilds. The democracy gained
control, though not until after hard and frequently very bloody fights
of the factions at the polls for municipal supremacy. With the victory
of democracy begins the industrial, commercial, and political vigor of
the common people. This is manifested in the great and important city
leagues: especially the _Hansa_, but also the League of Rhenish and of
Suabian Cities unions that were at times more powerful than kings and

Socially, nevertheless, the picture is reversed: the castes remain
separated even in the church, as they were separated in dancing halls
and other places of pleasure and drinking. Yet the free artisans, their
wives and daughters, led a joyful life at their weddings, dances, and
carnivals, though they dwelt in narrow lanes and alleys, in houses of
wood, straw-covered and with a few windows, and these frequently with
panes of paper or none at all. Goethe in Faust describes these abodes:

        "Out of the hollow, gloomy gate,
        The motley throngs came forth elate:
        Each will the joy of the sunshine hoard,
        To honor the day of the Risen Lord!
        They feel themselves their resurrection:
        From the low, dark rooms, scarce habitable;
        From the bonds of Work, from Trade's restriction;
        From the pressing weight of roof and gable;
        From the narrow crushing streets and alleys;
        From the churches' solemn and reverend night,
        Ah come forth to the cheerful light."

On the other hand, especially later during the Renaissance period when
the wealth of the burghers excited the jealousy of the mighty country
nobility, the houses of the wealthy burghers were often genuine palaces,
with rich antique and Italian or French furnishings. Nürnberg, Augsburg,
Strassburg, etc., were real treasure cities with their mediaeval
architecture; so were Ulm, Frankfort, Mainz, Cologne, with their
mansions filled with fine tapestry, rich furniture, colored carpets,
precious art objects, painted windows, silver and gold trappings.

When the _interregnum_ was over, with its political anarchy, with its
plague (black death) that swept away hundreds of thousands, with its
flagellants and other crazy penitents, the natural concomitants of the
plague; when the gloomy religious fanaticism which vented its horrible
"hatred of races and classes and masses" on heretics, Jews, and infidels
in terrible Jew slaughters and witch burnings began to melt away under
the radiant sun of the incipient Renaissance, there arose in western and
southern Germany a wondrously rich and luxurious life among the city
aristocracy. A caricature of chivalrous customs sprang up. It is
characteristic that "a light miss" was the prize of a tournament in
Magdeburg in 1229.

In the cities, life was more refined than on the estates of the nobles
in the country. There were sleigh riding, dances, carnivals, and
serenades before the windows of the fair ones. Even the churches, as
stated before, offered for entertainment "mysteries and passion plays
that verged on blasphemy." We hear of practical jokes which the ladies
played with illustrious guests, like Emperor Sigismund and, later,
Maximilian I., which genial lord the ladies took from his bed half
naked, threw a wrapper over him, and danced with him through the streets
of the city, which pleased the debonnaire emperor immensely.

Many German patrician women were already given over to the pleasures of
society and became ladies of fashion rather than mothers, housekeepers,
and helpers to their husbands. The nouveau-riche artisans soon began to
imitate the luxuries of the patricians: we hear of gold bracelets, silk
garments, gold girdles studded with diamonds; of shoes with silver
buckles, garters embroidered with gold brocade. A chronicler relates the
immense amount of wealth squandered at the wedding of a rich baker, Veit
Gundlinger, in 1493. There were then consumed twenty oxen, thirty stags,
forty-six calves, ninety-five swine, twenty-five peacocks (turkeys?),
etc., etc.

Patricians were, however, more elegant: bridegroom and bride adorned
with rings and bracelets of gold, walked to the Cathedral surrounded by
bridesmaids, while fiddles, lutes, pipes, trumpets made music. At the
dancing hall, however spacious, not more than five couples could dance
at the same time on account of the ladies' long trains which, according
to a preacher of the time, "served the devil as a dancing place." With
torches the newly wed couple were at last led home to the bridal
chamber, where the maidens undressed the bride, the cavaliers took off
her shoes, and "when one cover covered the couple" as the technical term
ran the companions discreetly retired.

But the unfree peasants, alas! continued to live in debasement; as also
their wives and daughters. There is even documentary evidence from A. D.
1333 that women could be sold into slavery and at a very low price,
moreover, "with all their descendants." The free and rich peasants, on
the other hand, sometimes lived in an unbecoming state of luxury. We
glean the most interesting types of peasant life from the poets who
arose among the Bavarian-Austrian race. Neidhart von Reuenthal, who
lived till about 1240 at the Bavarian and Austrian courts, though a
noble himself, is a rugged, old German type who neutralizes the
sentimental minnesong. He contrasts strikingly the bizarre life of the
lower people with the unnaturalness of the "chivalric courtoisie." All
is depicted in strong relief, though it appears to our taste extremely
coarse. Yet if any poet ever understood the life and actions of the
lower classes, it was Von Reuenthal. He describes South German peasant
life as it is, their dances and carousals; he compares satirically the
breaking of lances at tournaments, as practised by knights, with the
peasants' festivals that are turned into bouts of gluttony and free
fights. His types of rustic women, however, are "courteously" dressed,
with wreaths in their prettily arranged hair, fashionable hand mirrors
in their girdles; they appear at the village linden tree on a Sunday,
courting and flirting with the rustics (_Törper_) who carry swords and
spurs in truly knightly fashion. Nevertheless, the peasant girls prefer
their liaisons with the genuine article, and the poet reveals no idyls,
no abstinence, no innocent play, but downright immorality. As they could
not have the knights for husbands, they chose them for lovers.

Frivolity is general also among the lower strata of society. Drastic
pictures are drawn and overdrawn. There are dialogues in spring songs.
Sometimes two maidens converse and open their hearts. Then mother and
daughter commune; the mother desires to participate in the dance, the
daughter tries in vain to dissuade her; or the daughter wishes to go and
the mother dissuades; the daughter desires to join Neidhart, but the
mother has a peasant ready for her to whom she is, however, indifferent;
the mother keeps her clothing from her; the daughter takes it by force;
the mother whips her daughter with a rake or a spindle; the other
resists, and there are blows on both sides. In all these songs the girl
is longing and passionate; the knight is a successful lover.

In the winter songs the case is reversed. Here the knight is sighing,
complaining, rejected. The peasant girl for whom he pines makes him
languish. The peasants prove superior to the knight, who avenges himself
by mocking, satirizing, caricaturing the brutalities of the peasant
dances, their fights, their gluttony, tawdry luxury of dress, and

However painful it may be to the historian of culture to record the
mournful facts of degeneracy and demoralization of entire periods in the
life of great and noble nations, yet he owes it to historical truth to
conceal nothing. It is unfortunately true that entire classes of the
German people, entire periods, entire regions, were sunk in the mire of
immorality due to outer and inner conditions over which neither the
nation nor its leaders had any control. Yet, such periods of moral
depression are perhaps as necessary for a vigorous convalescence as the
glorious periods of the moral purity, honor, and chastity of women.

As there can be no life without death, no joy without pain, no good
without evil, as no religion was ever conceived in which the principle
of God, of immortality, and of infinite goodness remained unassailed by
the evil forces, be it devil, demon, Loki, or Ormuz, so the history of
the German nation is filled with evil forces, against which generation
after generation, so far as our records go, struggled, yet finally
conquered _per aspera ad astral_.

Every German historian of culture, especially Scherr, who sought the
truth and stated it fearlessly, has been attacked, reviled by captious
critics, but strong is the truth and it will prevail! _veritas

In this period of German decadence the moral sense seems indeed
frequently to have entirely vanished. In a mutual confession by a
peasant and his wife of their moral shortcomings, which are treated
jestingly, the demoralization appears plainly, without any apparent
conception of its impropriety. At a peasant wedding, we hear of brutish
drinking and gluttony, coarse speeches and actions, consummation of
marriage before church consecration, brutal and deadly fights.

The character of the peasantry of the time appears most distinctly from
Werner's _Meier Helmbrecht_, a Bavarian village story, which depicts the
ambitions, sorrows, and joys, and the dissatisfaction of that class.
Young Helmbrecht, an ambitious peasant boy, who had been spoiled by
mother and sister, proud as a peacock in knightly raiment, desires to
play a role at the court. In spite of his father's warnings, he joins a
robber knight. After one year of debauch and degradation, he returns
home as a braggart, and the old and the new generation of peasants are
contrasted. The father, who in his youth had known court life, when he
went to the castle to sell his products, tells of knightly noble games,
chaste dances with beautiful song and music, and the reading of the
ancient heroic lays. The son reports heavy drinking, impure speeches,
lies, quarrels, frauds. He replies to the exhortations of his father
with vile threats. He induces his sister to follow him secretly, to be
married to his comrade Lamsling; but the crisis comes at the wedding.
The judge and sheriffs come and capture the robbers. Helmbrecht is
blinded, driven away from home, and hanged by the peasants.

In the cities the state of affairs is even worse. Pandering is a common
and thriving business, though the laws against it are of barbaric
severity. In Brunswick, those convicted of the heinous crime of
fostering prostitution were buried alive. But when did laws and police
measures ever do away with crime when moral putrefaction once
impregnated a social structure? The clerics and monks play a prominent
role in the literature of the sexual excesses of that time, although, or
perhaps because, celibacy as such has now become an enforced
institution. It is true, however, that the literature of a decaying
time, catering to corrupt tastes, furnishes to us sensational and
extraordinary cases of impurity, while it fails to record the numerous
instances of virtue, self-abnegation, and nobility.

An authority of first rank, Ænea Silvio Piccolomoni, later Pope Pius
II., transmits to us a glaring picture, with little light and much lurid
shadow, of Vienna as he saw it. We find there society of all ranks sadly
demoralized. The burghers invite to their houses vile carousers and
"light misses;" the common people are represented as steeped in
immorality and drink. Wives are rarely satisfied with one husband, and
the husbands knowing their shame are not specially pained by it. Gallant
nobles call on married burgher women, their husbands offer wine and then
leave them to themselves. Widows do not wait, even for decency's sake,
the expiration of the year of mourning before they remarry; rich old men
marry young girls, who then carry on adultery with their husband's
valets as they did before marriage. It happens not infrequently that
fathers or husbands who dare to disturb their daughters or wives in
their iniquities with the nobles are killed or poisoned. Such is Æneas
Silvio's account of Viennese society.

Similar stupefying pictures of social life in many other cities may be
gleaned from chronicles, history, and sermons. Debauch is constant and
appalling. In the thriving Hanseatic city of Lübeck we hear of
illustrious ladies masked by thick veils holding bestial orgies with
common sailors in the vilest drinking resorts. Again we read of the
great severity of the penal laws, and again we note their practical
inefficiency. The punishment for the crime of rape was death, usually by
decapitation, but in Suabia and Hessen the criminal was buried alive or
transfixed. The injured woman, however, to give legal force to her
accusation was required to announce her disgrace immediately by loud
screams and by the exhibition of dishevelled hair and torn garments. The
statutes vary, but all are harsh. Adulterers belonging to the lower
classes,--in the upper classes adultery was too common to be
punished,--when seized _in flagranti delicto_, were liable to be
decapitated or to be buried alive together. Incest was punishable by
confiscation of property; bigamy, by death. The penalty for infanticide
also was death, either by decapitation or by drowning; sometimes a
snake, a cat, or a dog was put into the sack with the victim to render
her punishment more terrible. Shrews and evil-tongued women were
sometimes punished by being placed backward on asses and driven through
the streets in disgrace.

Even the pleasures considered legitimate during the late Middle Ages and
the beginning of the modern era, were decidedly equivocal or immoral.
Public bathing which was so general that even in the country every
well-arranged house had its own bathroom, might be considered rather a
redeeming feature of the unclean life recorded. But excesses soon make
it doubtful whether public baths should not be regarded as baudy houses
of the worst kind. The city of Basle in the thirteenth century had not
fewer than fifteen bathhouses. As in ancient Rome, the bathhouses were
public places of amusement somewhat like the clubs of to-day. There men
were shaved and had their toilette perfected and the ladies had their
hair dressed. Massage was in fashion. Amusements of all kinds, gambling,
drinking, flirting, and love intrigues made public bathing a rather
costly pastime. At most places there was common bathing of men and
women. The most famous water resorts were the Wildbad in the Black
Forest, Baden in the Breisgau, and Baden in Aargau. There is gathered
all the wealth of the surrounding country. Princes and knights, highborn
ladies, rich merchants, prelates, and abbesses bathed, jested, and led a
gay life.

We have an intensely interesting account from the pen of the scholarly
Francis Poggio of Florence (1380-1459) of the bathing customs of Baden.
He had accompanied Pope John XXIII. to the Council of Constance, and had
then gone to Baden to cure the "chiragra" from which he suffered. From a
Latin letter written to his friend Niccolo Niccoli, in the summer of
1417, and translated by Gustav Freytag, in his famous Pictures from
German Life, we glean the following facts:

"Baden itself affords for the mind little or no diversion; but has in
all other respects such extraordinary charm that Venus seems to have
come from Cyprus, for whatever the world contains of beauty has
assembled here, and so much do they uphold the customs of this goddess,
so fully do you find again her manners and dissoluteness, that, though
they may not have read the speech of Heliogabalus, they appear to be
perfectly instructed by Nature herself....

"Two special baths, open on all sides, are prepared for the lowest
classes of the people; and the common crowd, men, women, boys, and
unmarried maidens, and the dregs of all that collect together here, make
use of them. In these baths there is a partition wall, dividing the two
sexes, but this is only put up for the sake of peace; and it is amusing
to see how, at the same time, decrepit old beldames and young maidens
descend into it naked, before all eyes, and expose their charms to the
gaze of the men. More than once I have laughed at this splendid
spectacle; it has brought to my mind the games of Flora at Rome, and I
have much admired their simplicity who do not in the least see or think
anything wrong in it....

"The special baths at the inns are beautifully adorned, and common to
both sexes. It is true they are divided by a wainscot, but divers open
windows have been introduced, through which they can drink with, speak
to, see, and touch each other, as frequently happens. Besides this,
there are galleries above, where the men meet and chatter together, for
every one is free to enter the bath of another, and to tarry there, in
order to look about, and joke and enliven his spirits, by seeing
beautiful women nude when they go in and come out. In many baths both
sexes have access to the bath by the same entrance, and it not
unfrequently comes to pass that a man meets a naked woman, and the
reverse. Nevertheless, the men bind a cloth around their loins, and the
women have a linen dress on, but this is open either in the middle or on
the side, so that neither neck, nor breast, nor shoulders are

"It is wonderful to see in what innocence they live, and with what frank
confidence they regard the men; the liberties which foreigners presume
to take with their ladies do not attract their attention; they interpret
everything well. In Plato's Republic, according to whose rules
everything was to be in common, they would have behaved themselves
excellently, as they already, without knowing his teaching, are so
inclined to belong to his sect....

"There can be nothing more charming than to see budding maidens, or
those in full bloom, with pretty, kindly faces, in figure and deportment
like goddesses, strike the lute; then they throw their flowing dress a
little back in the water, and each appears like a Venus. It is the
custom of the women to beg for alms jestingly from the men who view them
from above; one throws to them, especially to the pretty ones, small
coins, which they catch with their hands or with the outspread dresses,
whilst one pushes away the other, and in this game their charms were
frequently unveiled....

"But the most striking thing is the countless multitude of nobles and
plebeians, who gather here from the most distant parts, not so much for
health as for pleasure. All lovers and spendthrifts, all pleasure
seekers, stream together here, for the satisfaction of their desires.
Many women feign bodily ailments, whilst it is really their hearts that
are affected; therefore, one sees numberless pretty women, without
husbands or relations, with two maidservants and a man, or with some old
beldame of the family who is more easily deceived than bribed.... There
are here also virgins of Vesta, or rather of Flora; besides, abbots,
monks, lay-brothers, and ecclesiastics, and these live more dissolutely
than the others; some of them also live with the women, adorn their hair
with wreaths, and forget all religion.... And it is remarkable that
among the great number, almost thousands of men of different manners and
such a drunken set, no discord arises, no tumults, no partisanship, no
conspiracies, and no swearing. The men allow their wives to be toyed
with, and see them pairing off with entire strangers, but it does not
discompose or surprise them; they think it is all in an honest and
housewifely way." Poggio, with truly Rabelaisian irony, adds: "No baths
in the world are more apt for the fecundity of women."

But whether the Italian classicist is willing to excuse the luxury and
debauch, refined or otherwise, which he found at Baden, or which he
might have found anywhere in the social circles of the rich German
cities, the truth is that the intercourse between the sexes had become
loose, and that the prelates and their ladies, the cavaliers and their
mistresses, the rich burghers and the "light misses," the monks and
roving women were swarming everywhere; and that those abuses became one
of the foremost grievances which helped to swell the ranks of those
German patriots so that a reform in head and limbs of the social
structure became a necessity.

Indeed, "the good old time of pious memory" had reduced prostitution to
the standard of a science; there is an ostentatious freedom in the
treatment of the question which is quite offensive to modern ears. The
fantastic romanticism described in the preceding chapter had really
contributed very little to genuine morality: the theory of the
veneration of women and the practice of unrestrained lust were
absolutely opposed. The history of prostitution during this period is
divided into two chapters: one treats of the women who remain stationary
in their cities; the other of the migratory women who travel to fairs,
church councils, tournaments, imperial diets, coronations. Scherr gives
some statistics of the high prices paid for lust; he mentions the gain
by one woman of eight hundred gilders on such an excursion, a sum which
at that time represented a fortune. The armies, too, were accompanied by
hosts of women who, with the other baggage, were under the control of
the general provost (_Hurenweibel_). This stage of corruption, however,
belongs more immediately to the abominations of the Thirty Years' War.

The settled prostitutes lived in public houses (_Frauenhduser_) of
which, in large cities, there were several, usually under communal
administration. We read that entertainment in these houses was then part
of the hospitality offered to honored guests, just as at present the
privileges of our clubs are extended as a courtesy. The houses were
built and maintained avowedly for "a better protection of womanly and
virgin honor" of the burgher wives and daughters. Emperor Sigismund and
his suite were entertained without expense in the bawdy houses of Bern
and Ulm, in 1413 and 1434 respectively, as is proved by historical
evidence. Such houses, under the directorship of a landlord, called
"ruffian," were the property of the communities, nay, they sometimes
belonged to the "regalia" of secular or spiritual princes. The inmates
must be strangers and unmarried. Married men, clerics, and Jews were to
be excluded, but this was only a paper law. According to the spirit of
accurate definition prevalent at the time, everything was strictly
regulated: payment, food for the inmates, etc. The houses were closed on
Sundays and holidays and on the eves before these festivals. The inmates
were treated harshly in some cities, were under the surveillance of the
hangman, and when dead they were buried in the potter's field; in other
cities they were privileged; in Leipzig they had even the freedom of the
city to pass yearly in solemn procession at the beginning of the fasting
period. A certain professional or guild pride existed among them; they
rigidly persecuted the unlicensed, unprivileged prostitutes. Some cities
gave them citizenship for "their sacrifice for the common good"; in some
places donations were given to those who married, a generous way indeed
to rescue many unfortunates from shame. To make them noticeable, their
garments, usually green in color, were prescribed for them. Augsburg
ordered the hood of their veil to be green and two inches wide; Leipzig
prescribed a short yellow mantle; Bern and Zurich a red cap. Sometimes
luxurious fashions adopted by distinguished ladies were permitted to
prostitutes in order to bring luxury into disrepute.

At the end of the fifteenth century, prostitution had assumed enormous
proportions and carried in its train the terrible, loathsome, venereal
disease. The Renaissance and the Reformation, it is true, had at first
beneficent effects; disreputable houses were closed; a higher spirit
swept over the land, but everything soon returned to its former
condition, as we read in Erasmus's dialogues or Luther's writings. The
brave and patriotic knight and humanist Ulrich von Hutton himself died,
young and abandoned, of the loathsome disease; it is unknown whether he
contracted it through his own fault, or by contagion.

Catholicism performed a noble work by opening many cloisters and asylums
to penitent fallen women, and thus saved many victims. The church
certainly strove, on the whole, to improve the moral conditions of the
country. The monasteries were in most cases resorts for the daughters of
the poorer nobility, and for the pious maidens, whether highborn or
lowly, when marriage was impossible or other motives urged them to
retire from the world. This statement must be made and emphasized for
the honor of the millions of pure and noble women, who lived and worked
and suffered and sacrificed themselves for humanity in the Church and in
the cloisters which were the female academies of the time. Women lived
there a happy and quiet life with intellectual and spiritual
occupations. Reading, writing, religion, sewing, weaving, and embroidery
were taught.

But it is only natural that among the thousands of women in religious
life many failed in their mission, having mistaken their vocation. They
became unhappy in their solitude without love, especially such as had
been forced into the nunnery against their will and inclination. In such
cases their conduct sometimes stands in glaring contrast with their vows
of chastity.

The centuries leading up to the Reformation are full of complaints of
priestly debauchery, which naturally reflected also upon the nuns. The
cloister of Gnadenzell is reported to have been a pleasure resort for
the neighboring nobility, who there celebrated nightly orgies and
infamous dances; Count Hans von Lupfen, A. D. 1428, chided the prioress,
in a document of historical interest, for having failed to remove in
time the nuns who had become pregnant, and for having thus given cause
to the neighbors to complain that "the cloister walls were resounding
with the cries of babies." Bishop Gaimbus, of Castell, reports to the
Pope (June 20, 1484) of the nunnery of Loflingen, near Ulm, that, at an
investigation for reforms, the majority of the nuns were found "in an
advanced state of motherhood" (_in gesegneten Leibesumstanderi_).

Sebastian Brant's _Ship of Fools_ (1494) gives a terrible picture of the
sins and follies of the era; never has there been such a heavy freight
of perverse and wicked fools from all ranks and walks of life.

Thomas Murner's _Conjuration of Fools_ (Narrenbeschworung), fourteen
years later, shows the mediaeval ideals in the caricature to which they
had degenerated. The old conditions that had produced lofty and genuine
ideals had died away, nothing remained but the shell, the mere form and
outline. The satire against the dissolute world, the chastisement of it
by stinging words and sarcastic writings, proves simply the righteous
anger which the good and patriotic men of the time felt regarding the
national degradation; a total reform became a dire necessity. This was a
Titanic task indeed, for during the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries
intellectual barrenness, spiritual corruption, and luxuriant debauchery
prevailed. The worst feature was the chain of vice which, through apish
imitation, was transmitted from the debased women of the upper classes
to the women of the bourgeoisie, and from the latter to the peasants.

The new fashions were not only hideous, but became even obscene: "What
nature wants to be concealed, that do they expose and prostitute. Shame
upon the German nation!" are Brant's harsh words. The famous preacher
Geiler von Kaisersberg thunders from the pulpit words hardly expressible
in modern language: "Women's dresses are so short that they conceal
nothing in front or behind, the upper garments are so cut down that the
bosom is visible. Then again the trains are as long as tails. Women
imitate man's foolish garb: the ridiculous high pointed shoes and
tinkling bells on their garments." The pictures of the time and the
attempts of cities and princes to regulate these monstrosities prove to
us that the portraits of the satirists and the preachers are not

In order to illuminate a cultural epoch in the history of any nation it
is, however, always safest to recur to the sources themselves, for they
spring, knowingly or unknowingly, from the social soil upon which they

One of the most characteristic, though not edifying, "human documents"
is the collection of contemporary poetry by a female author, Klara
Hatzlerin, who was, according to her editor, Karl Haltaus, undoubtedly a
nun from Augsburg, and who filled her leisure hours as was customary in
the nunneries of her time in copying songs and poems. Evidently, though
a cultured woman, she was not a pietist. This is apparent from the
erotic and obscene matter found in her work, which even recalls Roswitha
of Gandersheim's plays written more than five hundred years earlier. The
work is undoubtedly genuine. It is signed: "_A. 0.1471. Augsburg. Clara
Hatzlerin._" The manuscript contains two hundred and nineteen poems,
besides ditties and sententious sayings. It marks the transition from
the Middle Ages to modern times, and is therefore of very great cultural
value. The poems do not yet bear the scholastic, not to say pedantic,
character of the best mastersingers; their type is, on the contrary,
strictly popular, and frequently vulgar. The subjects of Klara
Hatzlerin's collection of lyric poetry coincide with those of the minne:
there are night songs and watch songs, songs of the love of the fair
one, songs describing her virtues and her beauty, songs telling of fears
of the light and the spies, rhythmical entreaties for slight favors of
love, a glance, an embrace to appease the lover's sorrow or to give him
strength to be constant.

Very characteristic of the time, especially as selections by a nun,
betraying her interests and occupations, are the rustic caricatures and
exaggerations of the coarseness of the peasant classes.

It must not be forgotten that as to material wealth the burghers and the
peasant classes were never better off in Germany than during the two
centuries preceding the Thirty Years' War, while the nobility had sunk
into poverty, ruffianism, brigandage. What shall be said of a time when
a prince of the highest rank, Duke Ernst of Bavaria, A. D. 1436,
brutally murdered fair Agnes Bernauerin, the lawful wife of his son. To
this very day the martyred woman is sung in German romance and poetry.
She was the daughter of a barber and surgeon of Augsburg, where prince
Albert, son of Duke Ernst, learned to know and to love her because of
her almost unearthly beauty and charm. He made her in due form his
lawful wife; but the old duke would not recognize the marriage. In the
absence of her husband, Agnes was seized in the castle of Straubing,
dragged upon the bridge of the Danube, and hurled into the stream. She
drifted toward the bank, where one of the hangmen seized her with his
hooked pole by her gold-colored hair, plunged her into deep water, and
held her beneath its surface until she was drowned.

But let us return to Klara Hatzlerin, the nun, who so frequently chooses
scenes from the most licentious poets. _The Song of the Seven Greatest
Pleasures_ is original, but extremely coarse. Eating, drinking, minne
play of the most bestial kind, the natural functions of stomach and
kidneys, sleeping, bathing (as described by Poggio), are the ideals of
fifteenth century materialism.

The most loathsome poem, however, in the collection so foul with obscene
pictures, is the one in which a mother teaches her daughter in
undisguised terms the arduous, though lucrative, art of prostitution. It
is scarcely possible that any other literature should contain a poem so

Again, a poem by Hans Rosenpliit is given entirely in the manner of
Boccaccio. The servant of a rich man seeks the favor of his mistress and
finds acceptance. She takes him to her chamber and hides him under the
bed. When the husband retires to his couch, she tells him that the
servant sought her love and that she had invited him for the night to
the garden to have him chastised. She advises her husband to put on her
clothing, to go into the garden, and to chastise the scoundrel with a
heavy club. The husband does as he is bidden. Meanwhile, the wife
bestows her favors upon the man-servant. Thereupon she gives him a stick
with which he belabors his master unmercifully, saying he only wished to
test the fidelity of his mistress toward his beloved master. The latter
barely escapes from the heavy volley of blows, tells his wife the
adventure, and finally thanks God for such a faithful servant. The poet,
Hans Rosenpliit, composed many carnival plays which are filled with
obscene jests, and deal mostly with the lowest peasant elements.

In the same collection, Klara Hatzlerin presents rather barren encomiums
on Saint Mary, all of which were composed by Muscatblüt. Feebly, the
Maria-cult arose once more with a narrow and superstitious treatment,
painfully different from the beautiful conceptions of the older periods.
Here everything is Philistine. The statutes of the Rosenkrantz order and
the brotherhood of Saint Ursula decree eleven thousand prayers in honor
of the eleven thousand virgins who are still adored as saints, with
their seat at Cologne. Spiritual songs exalt Saint Mary as equal in
strength to Christ, nay, in the estimation of the lowly masses, superior
to Him. There is a bombastic praise of all her material and spiritual
perfections. The songs are scholastic in their exaggeration, artificial
in form, and barbarous in language; in pompous terms church
controversies are treated there: the Trinity, original sin, the last
judgment, and other orthodox and mystic broodings, similes, allegories,
etc. A type of the treatment is the description Muscatblüt gives of the
Blessed Virgin when he calls her "a chest in which God himself dwells,
the rod of Aaron, a well illuminated torch, a chaste Arc of Noah, a deep
pond, a cask of myrrh, a reed of grace in God's field, her body a coffin
or a castle the decadence is marked everywhere. We look back with
longing eyes to the pure, the beautiful, the lofty, all-merciful Mother
of God of the rich, uncontaminated past, the Holy Virgin who has
enriched, ennobled, purified the German nation, German literature,
German music, and, above all, the German arts of painting, sculpture,
and architecture."

Next to those bombastic, pseudo-pious songs we find hideous drinking
songs, poems of gluttony and licentiousness, all of which are,
nevertheless, highly valuable to the historian of culture. There are
authentic documents revealing the tremendous downfall of national ideals
from the pedestal of the glorious past, and the immense recuperative
power of the nation in struggling upward again after two centuries and a
half to the Second Period of Bloom, crowned by Lessing, Schiller,

A poem in the compilation of Klara Hatzlerin, _On the Nature of the
Child_, is intensely interesting, first, as regards the popular
physiological knowledge of the time on the mystery of gestation;
secondly, as a cultural document on the character of Klara, the nun's,
occupation during her leisure hours. She appeals first to her patroness:
"Virgin Mary, I call to thee at all times for thy grace. May thy help
point out to me thy way that I may walk on thy path, and may also begin
anon to consider how the nature of man's strength mingles in the female
womb," etc., and then by an extraordinary medley of truth, error, and
fiction she describes the entire process of gestation.

There are stories of shrews and of scolding, nagging women, concluding
with: "Whoever has a nagging wife, shall rid himself of her as soon as
possible, buy a good rope, hang her on a bough, take three big wolves
and hang them beside her. Whoever saw gallows with worse skins? There
the song has an end, God evil women to Hades send!"

We cheerfully leave the foul atmosphere of a poetry which could not have
sunk lower in form and spirit, and which, nevertheless, could not have
existed but for its direct connection with the social sphere of which it
treated and in which its roots were imbedded. And indeed we know also
from incontestable historical evidence that while the privileges of the
other three estates grew, a heavy slavery lay upon the fourth, the
peasantry. When oppression lays its leaden hand too heavily upon a race
or a class, it crushes out, gradually but surely, the divine instincts
of the human soul. Munster, in his _Kosmography_, which appeared in
1545, speaks of "the low and wretched life of the peasants." Their
houses are miserable hovels of dirt and wood, placed directly on the
ground, and thatched with straw. Their food is black rye bread, oats or
boiled lentils and peas. A coarse upper coat, two wooden shoes, and a
cheap felt hat are their only clothing. These people have never peace or
rest. Their masters they must serve through the whole year; there is
nothing that the poor people must not do. The picture is completed by
another author, who says: "The toilsome people of the peasantry are
everybody's footrag, heavily laden and burdened with tasks of slavery,
hard labor, interests, taxes, duties, etc." We will not unroll here the
endless lists of personal and property dues which were imposed upon the
unfortunate peasants of that period. The saddest aspect of that physical
oppression is that the unfortunate people were not even conscious of
their frightful moral subjugation. We have already mentioned that even
the marriage of the serfs of both sexes depended upon the consent of
their masters, the landed proprietor or, in most cases, of his steward,
that the marital tax (_maritagium_) had to be paid for this consent, and
that the body of the unfortunate peasant girl belonged to her oppressor,
at least for the first night (_jus primce noctis_). The existence of
this infamous right has been contested by German historians, but as
proofs Scherr adduces two authentic documents of the years 1538 and
1543. All these facts are sufficient proof that the above literary
remnants do not greatly exaggerate the moral and intellectual condition
of that class, which is the basic element of every civilization.

We now proceed with more satisfaction to an estimate of the bourgeoisie.
They became more and more cultured, and took upon themselves the task of
raising the standards of education and morality, of upholding the sacred
flame of German spiritual and intellectual life. They began to spin
again the thread of poetry that had broken in the brutalized hands of a
degraded nobility. This thread was now the "_Mastersong_." Mastersong,
though of a prosaic, mechanical style, was nevertheless an ennobling,
purifying element of culture in the frivolous and impure life of late
mediæval German cities. Mastersong formed the bridge between the world
of everyday realism and the world of ideals. Mastersong alone prevented
an entire break of the continuity of German civilization between the two
great periods of bloom, the thirteenth and the eighteenth centuries. As
the bourgeoisie acquired a social position and a personal worth of their
own, as the German peasantry, in the extreme North at the mouth of the
Elbe between marshes and sea, the Ditmarschen and Stedingers, and again
in the South between the Alpine passes, the Swiss, heroically defended
their manhood and liberties, there began among those lowly born, but
high-minded, vigorous, and comparatively pure classes an intellectual
and a moral life of a higher order. The folk song of love, of warlike
honor, of victory over the brutal squirearchy, of invigorating
patriotism, of a national union embracing all classes, begins to ring
through the German "poetic forest," as Uhland calls it. The loving maid
speaks of the falcen, and means the lover; the rose garden signifies
love's favor; flowers are maidens, like the rose on the heath that is
plucked by the boy in spite of its thorns; the forget-me-not designates
modesty, humility, chastity. There are little love songs describing the
sorrow of parting, the joy of the dance, the dream of love under the
tree from which a rain of blossoms bedews the sleeping beauty.

Emperor Maximilian (1493-1519), "the last knight," the best-beloved son
of the house of Habsburg, reigns now in Germany. It is a time of
transition, of universal change. The world has doubled its size by the
discovery of America, and the horizon has been enlarged accordingly. The
printing press has revolutionized the arts. Yet poetry is dry,
allegorical, wooden. Maximilian, aided by his secretaries, relates in a
rimed allegorical romance, Teuerdank, his wooing of Mary of Burgundy,
or, as he calls her in his poem, the beautiful and illustrious virgin
Ehrenreich, only daughter of the powerful king "Glorious" (_Ruhmreich_).
He recounts the mighty deeds which he must accomplish before he can
possess her.

The barrenness of the time, in spite of a great and varied literary
activity which, however, bears the stamp of mediocrity, appears also in
the translations made by several highborn ladies: Elizabeth of Lorraine,
and Eleanor of Scotland, consort of Duke Sigmund of Austria. Princess
Mathilda, of the illustrious Wittelsbach-Palatine house, the "Lady of
Austria," as she is called in the folk song, fostered the first advent
of humanism into Suabia and Bavaria, and entertained sympathetic
relations with all those who worked in the direction of humanism and
literary reform. Niclas von Wyle, an early Humanist, had already in
1474, in opposition to the popular farces which contained offensive,
coarse, and frequently obscene treatment of woman, composed an encomium
or eulogy in her honor, in which he enumerated the manifold blessings
which woman had brought to the world. Yet the ribald farces still
abound, and are even stimulated by the incipient religious reform.
_Joseph in Egypt_ is the typical subject for poems expressing the
criminal and passionate love of woman; the monologue of Potiphar's wife
expressing her sinful feelings for Joseph is nothing less than edifying.
The play of _Fair Susanna_ presented wicked passion in aged men, and
innocence persecuted, but finally saved; _Judith and Holofernes_
characterized the clash between conflicting religions.

In South Germany, Nürnberg, Luther's "eye and ear of Germany," is the
centre of the culture of the transition period, and is the mirror in
which the life of the time is reflected. The aesthetic culture and the
lack of it, the status of woman in society, appear nowhere more plainly
than in the plays of Hans Sachs, the greatest exponent of the life of
his time. He is not stimulated by the passions of a Hutten, of a Luther,
or of the latter's bitter foe, Thomas Murner. His soul overflows with
peace and equanimity even where he censures and chides. His censure is
always amiable and gentle. He even describes passions meekly. He
touchingly represents the driving from Paradise of Adam and Eve, who
become more closely attached to each other in misfortune; he delicately
depicts Eve's naive anxiety concerning God, whose visit she apparently
fears. He writes decorously of the priest and his fair housekeeper who
has not yet attained the canonic age of safety: of the old hag who acts
as a procuress and panderer, who is quarrelsome and hideous, and of whom
even the devil is afraid; the faithless, cunning, amorous wife who makes
sport of her deceived, foolish husband; the jealous and the credulous
husband, etc.

In formulating a theory of love, Hans Sachs, who, in his own long life,
had felt love's grief and unrest, decided to employ the examples which
he gathered from his own experience as well as from history and poetry,
especially the Italians Petrarca, Boccaccio, and others. In his carnival
plays, however, he avoids, from the very first, the coarseness and
obscenity of Rosenplut and Hans Folz; but though he no doubt considered
that he had excluded all indecency from his works, they still are, here
and there, grievous to our modern ears.

In his carnival play Vom Venusberg, the goddess speaks: "I am Venus,
protectress of love, many a realm was destroyed through me; I have great
power on earth over rich, poor, young, and old; whom I wound with the
arrow mine, he must forever my servant be. I now draw my bow; he who
will flee shall flee at once." Too late: the knight is struck, so are
all the others, maids and gentlewomen.

In 1518 Sachs wrote the _Complaint of the Exiled Lady Chastity_, a very
bold allegory: Virgin Chastity, daughter of Lady Honor, dwelt with many
virgins in the realm of Virginitas. In the neighborhood lived the
frivolous Queen Venus, who frequently invaded the former's kingdom and
tried to conquer it. In the repeated wars, Queen Venus succeeded in
capturing almost all the virgins, and took them over to the kingdom of
Lady Shame. Only Chastity herself, with her royal retinue, the
allegorized twelve womanly virtues, had been saved from capture; they
fled and wandered long from one country to the other without finding a
hospitable reception. At last they arrived at a distant wilderness,
where Chastity was again suddenly attacked by Queen Venus and her allied
princesses: Pride, Frivolity, Intemperance, Idleness, Faithlessness,
etc. The poet then warns maidens of the dangers threatening them on the
part of Venus and her suite. After explaining the twelve virtues which
aid Chastity, he concludes: "Beware of love, be steady, spare your love
until you come to marriage." Sachs himself had at an early age married,
in 1519, Kunigunde Kreuzer, an orphan of good family.

The biographer of Hans Sachs described the marriage of Dr. Christoph
Scheuerl, a famous jurist of Nürnberg, "the oracle of the Republic." The
description of this marriage is interesting as a picture of the life of
the high patrician families and their ceremonies and festivities. All
the families (Geschlechter) of the city were present. The festivities
lasted a whole week, and the ceremonies were elaborate and splendid.
Marriage feasts of the city aristocracy took place either in the house
of the parents of the bridal couple, or in the city hall, or even in the
cloister. This last practice was, however, forbidden in Nürnberg in
1485, "because the carousals and dances had become unbefitting the holy
place." The patrician bridegroom gave the bride a ring with precious
stones, the latter presented the bridegroom with an embroidered silken
kerchief. There was a great display of precious garments and silk
damask. The servants wore the colors of the family to which they
belonged. The headgear of the patrician lady was a high diadem, while
the bridegroom wore a silver wreath adorned with artificial flowers. The
bride's maids and the table maidens wore the same kind of wreath and
their hair was arranged in loose waves. The first marriage day was
followed by an "early morning dance at the city-hall, a night-dance, and
a wedding-assembly only for the ladies."

The artisan marriages are recorded to have been similar in character,
only the jests of the official "speaker" (_Sprucksprecher_) were
probably somewhat rude, and the display was not so elaborate as that
used in patrician weddings.

Hans Sachs's married life was very happy. His manifold jests regarding
quarrelsome women and their qualities, and regarding the hardships of
married life were merely products of his humor. "My wife is my Paradise
dear, and also my daily hellfire sheer;" and the climax:

        "She is my virtue, and my vice;
        She is my wound, and yet my balm.
        She is my heart's constant abode,
        Yet makes me gray and makes me old."

While happily married himself, he knew enough of bad wives. Albrecht
Durer's unhappy married life could furnish him sufficient material for
his _Ninefold Skin of a Scold_, and _The Twelve Properties of a Bad
Woman_, against which all the arts employed in the "_taming of the
shrew_" came to naught.

In 1560 his beloved wife died, and one year later he married Barbara
Harscher, a charming girl of seventeen years, whose beauty he sang in
his _Artistic Woman's Praise_, and with whom he lived happily till 1576.
He was buried in Saint John's Cemetery at Nürnberg. The grateful city
erected in 1874 a beautiful monument in his honor. But the highest
monument, "more abiding than steel," the prince of poets, Goethe,
erected to him in his _Hans Sachs's Poetic Mission:_

        "An oak wreath hovers yonder in the clouds,
        With ever green fair foliage adorned;
        With this the grateful nation crowns his brow."

Hans Sachs is the typical, the universal, the noblest, and the purest
Mastersinger; but he is only the first among hundreds of others who
helped to preserve in Germany the sacred fire of poetry.

The bourgeoisie womanhood of the school of humanism, of the circle where
virtue was the ideal of life, ably seconded the efforts of men like
Sachs. But no one lofty specimen of superior womanhood arose from the
atmosphere of feud, brigandage, and drunken intemperance among the
so-called higher classes. Banqueting, hunting, fighting, gambling,
carousing, and sexual excesses are recorded in plenty. _The diary of the
Silesian knight Hans Von Schweinichen_ introduces us, in the middle of
the sixteenth century, into a "noble" society full of poverty,
brutality, and ignorance. He relates the slight acquirements of his
education, interrupted by the occupation of tending the geese, his
service as a page at the court of the Duke of Liegnitz, his early
interest in women, his presence at weddings, "where he ate and drank his
fill for day and night just as they wanted to have it." Of his friendly
expedition with the Duke of Liegnitz to Mecklenburg, he says: "I have
made for myself a great reputation with drinking, as I could never get
enough to drink myself full." Anna of Saxony, daughter of Elector
Moritz, wife of William of Orange, who died of _delirium tremens_,
proves, by the way, that drunkenness was by no means uncommon with
princely ladies. Scherr also adduces many other such princely examples.
A festival at the Mecklenburg court is thus described in naïve fashion
by Schweinichen in his diary: "The native squires as well as the noble
young ladies lost themselves little by little, until finally there
remained with me but two ladies and one knight, who began a dance. I
followed with the other lady. It did not last long; my good friend
slipped with his dancer to the next chamber; I followed him. As we came
to the chamber, two squires and ladies rested in a bed; the one who
danced before me fell also with his lady in one bed. I asked my lady
what we should do. She said in her Mecklenburg language: I should lie by
her. I did not have her ask me a long time, but lay down with mantle and
garments, so did the lady, and thus we chatted till the dawn of morning;
however, in all honor. This they call there 'to lie by a maiden on truth
and faith,' but I do not trust such a 'lying by' for such truth and
faith might easily become roguish." Evidently, so far as the nobility
were concerned, delicacy and propriety were quite unknown in sixteenth
century society.



Woman, it has been said, always needs a background. She has one in early
sixteenth century Germany a splendid background of material prosperity.

The great free cities were at the zenith of their power. Organized labor
had triumphed. The guilds and the merchant corporations had done their
work well. From the sturdy, self-respecting German handworker, modestly
offering his own wares for sale, had been evolved the governing
patrician. Prince, pope, emperor, even foreign potentates, bowed before
the German patrician, for he held the purse strings of the world. Not a
sovereign in all Europe dared enter into a campaign without permission
of the Fuggers, the great merchant-bankers of Augsburg.

In their magnificent free cities the patricians of Germany lived in far
more than royal splendor. The chronicler, Wimpheling, writes: "It was
not an uncommon thing to eat from gold and silver plates at merchants'
tables as I, myself, did in company with eleven other guests at

Æneas Sylvius exclaims to Martin Mayer, Chancellor of Mainz: "How is it
that even in your inns you always serve drinks in silver vessels? What
shall I say of the knights and of the bits of their horses which are of
pure gold, of their rings, girdles, and helmets blazing in gold, of the
spears and sheaths studded thickly with diamonds? What riches are
displayed in your altar decorations! How beautiful are the reliquaries
set in pearls and gold! How magnificent your priests' vestments! What
riches in your sacristies!"

Dress received much attention. Women revelled in embroideries of gold
and silver, plaited skirts with expensive galloon borders, mantles of
ermine, sable and marten; crowns of gold and precious stones; pearl
embroidered smocks and the daintiest, finest linen ever woven. Even the
burghers' wives and daughters braided gold and silver into their back
hair and curls and wore gems of rare value.

At frequent intervals, sumptuary laws designed to lessen feminine
extravagance were passed, but, like all such laws since the days of
Eve's figleaf, they failed. The women invariably got the better of the
city fathers. In Mainz one of the most beautiful young dames of the
town, acting as the representative of a large number of society women,
appealed, personally, to Prince Albert, Archbishop of Brandenburg,
against a decree of the Council concerning feminine attire. That
handsome, Lothario-priest, Prince Albert, was not the man to resist the
pleading of a pretty woman. Dismissing his fair petitioner with a kiss
and the gift of a beautiful jewelled bracelet, he at once ordered the
repeal of the hateful law.

But the great sociological preacher, Geiler von Kaisersberg, was no
debonair voluptuary. The fairest woman's face could never persuade him
to look leniently upon feminine vanity. He shouts:

"The authorities ought to forbid the abominably short skirts that are
worn! Look at the belts which encircle their waists, sometimes they are
of silk, sometimes of gold, sometimes so costly that the jeweller
charges from forty to fifty florins for making them. They drag long
trains through the dirt without thinking of the nakedness of Christ
among his poor. Some have so many dresses that, during the week, they
have two dresses for each day, morning and afternoon. They have many
others for dancing, and they would rather see them eaten by moths than
give their cost to the poor. We see women letting their hair hang down
their backs in cues like men, and wearing cock's feathers in the
astoundingly ugly bonnets on their heads. What a shame and a sin! Do you
not see there is no one without donkey ears on her head? It is a shame
that women wear hats with ears. Some paint themselves many times a day
and have false teeth and hair. O Woman! are you not fearful, with the
hair of strangers on your heads? It may be the hair of some dead woman
to the injury of your souls!"

The Renaissance was a period of transition a liberation of mental force
which, from Italy, spread itself, invigoratingly, over the rest of
Europe. The modern world was rolling into light. With a gun in his
hands, the peasant soldier was the equal, physically at least, of his
former master. The art of printing and the invention of cheap paper had
given wings to thought and knowledge. Trade had penetrated strange
lands. Every returning sailor and adventurer brought back tales more
fascinating than fairy lore of mysterious golden islands newly
discovered in the west. Wonder and imagination were awakened. Money was
plentiful. In the German cities a leisure class existed. Conditions were
ripe for culture, and Humanism came.

The "New Learning," as Humanism was generally called, rapidly
overwhelmed the old, barren scholasticism and ecclesiasticism. Every
monastery and university became a battleground where Humanism fought
Scholasticism to the death.

Under the quickening influence of the "New Learning," free Latin schools
for boys were established over all Germany. The poorest boy might attend
any or all of the schools. Thus arose the specifically German
educational system of "wandering students," with its good and evil

At first little was done, educationally, for the girls. There were a
very few small, poorly equipped public schools where daughters of
artisans and laborers received religious teaching and slight rudimentary
instruction in reading, spelling, and writing. Girls belonging to noble
and patrician families were usually taught in convents. Music, dancing,
embroidery, deportment, and, above all, the supervision of a large
household were the studies upon which wealthy parents insisted for their
daughters. But the brighter girls soon became curious about the "New
Learning" of which their fathers and brothers spoke so frequently.
Sastrow, in his biography, writes:

"One of my five younger sisters, Catherine, was an excellent, amiable,
lovely, pious maiden. When my brother, Johannes, came home from
Wittenberg, where he was a student, she bade him tell her how one could
say in Latin, 'This is, truly, a beautiful maiden.' He replied,
'Profecto formosa puella.' She asked farther how one could say, 'Rather
so.' He replied, 'Sic satis.' Some time after, three students, sons of
gentlemen, came from Wittenberg to see our town. They had been
recommended to the hospitality of the burgomaster, Herr Nicholas
Smiterlow, who was desirous to entertain them well and have good society
for them. As he had three grown-up daughters, my sister Catherine was
invited among other guests. The students exchanged all kinds of jokes
with the maidens, and as young fellows are wont to do also said things
to one another in Latin that it would not have been seemly to say before
maidens in German. At last one said to the other, 'Profecto formosa
puella,' whereupon, my sister answered, 'Sic satis,' Then the students
were much afraid, fancying she had also understood their former amatory

Enthusiasm for the "New Learning" quickly spread among German women of
the higher class. Among the princesses, Matilda of the Palatinate was
especially famed for her love of learning. She was a generous patron of
the fine arts, and, a rarer trait among humanistic scholars, she was
also an admirer of the literature of her fatherland. She made a
collection of ninety-four works on the old court poetry, and delighted
in the national folk songs orally preserved. Matilda encouraged the
poets of her court to write poetry after the ancient methods. She
ordered many valuable works translated into German. Through her
influence the university of Tubingen, in Wurtemberg was established.

The "New Learning" stole into the convents and made many proselytes
among the nuns. Aleydis Raiskop, of Goch, to whom Butzbach dedicated a
book, was renowned for her classical scholarship. She composed seven
homilies on Saint Paul and translated a work on the mass from Latin into
German. In the same convent with Aleydis lived an artist nun, Gertrude
von Buchel, to whom Butzbach also dedicated a book, Celebrated Painters.
Richmondis von der Horst, abbess of the convent of Seebach, corresponded
in Latin with Trithemius who highly praises her various writings. Of the
nun Ursula Canton, one of her admirers exclaims: "Her equal in knowledge
of theological matters, of the fine arts and in eloquence and belles
lettres, has not been seen for centuries."

Among German Humanists, Charitas Pirkheimer, of Nürnberg, stands
preeminent. Through her brother, Willibald Pirkheimer, the friend and
generous patron of Albrecht Durer, Erasmus, and a host of lesser
Humanists, Charitas corresponded with many renowned men. Christopher
Scheurl, "The Cicero of Nürnberg," said that in all his life he had
known only two women, the pious Cassandra of Venice and Charitas of
Nürnberg, who, "for their gifts of mind and fortune, their knowledge and
high station, their beauty and their prudence could be compared with
Cornelia, the mother of Laelius and Hortensius." In a letter to
Charitas, Scheurl praises her for "preferring the book to the wool and
the pen to the spindle."

These literary preferences, however, did not spoil Charitas Pirkheimer
for practical life. As abbess of Saint Clare's she showed great
administrative ability. Her annual reports of receipts and expenditures
are models of clearness and accuracy. To manage, without serious
friction, a large nunnery composed wholly of aristocrats (only the
daughters of Nürnberg patricians and nobles were eligible as members)
was no easy task. But Charitas seems to have made herself beloved and
respected by every sister. She kept her nuns busy with such good result
that Saint Clare tapestries became famous throughout Europe, and orders
from private and civic patrons poured in faster than they could be

No more splendid fight was ever made by any woman for conscience' sake
than that of Charitas Pirkheimer to preserve the integrity of her
convent after the storm of the Reformation broke over Germany. And in
the fight she conquered. The Lutherans succeeded in closing the houses
of every other conventual order, both male and female, in Nürnberg; but
Saint Clare's, through the valor of its abbess, remained intact until
the last nun died late in the century. But it was a long, a bitter, and,
often, a humiliating fight that Mother Charitas waged. Persecution was
continued for years. The abbess and her nuns were denied the sacraments
and confession. Three Lutheran preachers in turn, one of them a coarse,
vile man, were installed at Saint Clare's. Spies were placed in the
convent to see that the nuns "did not put cotton into their ears to shut
out the preaching." The convent school was broken up and all revenues
ceased. Poverty sorely pinched the women of the convent. Insulting
rhymes and obscene pictures were flung over the walls of the garden. The
maids sent out to buy bread were hooted and even roughly handled by
brutal men and fanatical women. A letter which Charitas wrote to Jerôme
Emser, thanking him for his Defence of the Faith, was printed with
scurrilous marginal notes. The day had not yet dawned when a woman
could, "with seemliness," said Willibald Pirkheimer, "enter the field of
public disputation." Pirkheimer told his sister, in somewhat brutal
language, that she had "better have held her woman's tongue."

Just when the future looked most dark for Saint Clare's, Philip
Melanchthon sweetest, calmest, sanest spirit of the Reformation came to
Nürnberg. He visited his old friend, Charitas Pirkheimer, in her
convent. "Would to God," Charitas writes afterward, "that every one were
as discreet as Master Philip. We might then hope to be rid of many
things that are vexatious." Melanchthon quietly put a stop to the
persecutions of the convent. From the date of his visit Saint Clare's
remained comparatively undisturbed.

It is easy to understand how the "Evangelist of Art," Albrecht Durer,
and Charitas Pirkheimer could be, as they were, the closest of friends.
But Conrad Celtes, the Heine of the Renaissance, and the stately, pious
abbess of Saint Clare's would seem, at first sight, to have little in
common. Nevertheless, a warm and long-continued friendship existed
between these two.

The ethical note of the Renaissance was first struck in Germany. Even
Conrad Celtes (the one Humanist in the Italian the Lorenzo de' Medici
sense of the term that Germany has ever produced) could not quite deaden
the Teutonic conscience. Celtes's writings are full of questionings that
are almost startlingly modern. "Is there, really, a God?" "Will the soul
live after death?" "What is the nature of the force that produces
lightning?" Then, in the very next line perhaps, the poet lapses again
into sensuality. "There is nothing sweeter under the sun than a pretty
maid in a man's arms to banish care." "This," says Bezold, "was Celtes's
heart-confession, and he lived up to it." Bezold adds: "In spite of his
voluminous correspondence with them, Celtes did not appreciate good
women. He really knew only alehouse wenches." In the light of Celtes's
letters to Charitas Pirkheimer, it is hard to accept this harsh judgment

The Renaissance and the Reformation in Germany are so closely allied
that it is difficult to separate one energy from the other. Mental and
spiritual forces are not easily anchored to dates. For convenience,
however, we may say that the German Renaissance lasted from 1450 to 1519
as a distinct movement, while the Reformation largely an outgrowth of
the Renaissance fell between the years 1519 and 1560. With the beginning
of the Reformation the brotherhood of humanistic scholarship was
disrupted. To German women the national unrest brought heartache and
soul bewilderment.

Charitas Pirkheimer was not the only woman to "forget her sex and mix in
an unseemly manner in disputes about which only men are properly
qualified to express an opinion." Argula von Grumbach, friend of
Spalatin and wife of an officer at the Bavarian court, also brought much
sorrow upon herself by writing a spirited letter, which was printed by
her friends and rejoiced in by her enemies.

Seehofer, a young Lutheran master at the university of Ingolstadt, was
accused of proselyting the students. He presented to his classes
seventeen propositions which he had deduced from the writings of
Melanchthon. The rector of the university, by imprisonment and by
threats of the Inquisition, compelled the too zealous young Lutheran to
recant. At this point, Argula an emotional, warmhearted, and talented
woman took a hand in the affair. She wrote the rector an impertinent
letter, in which she spoke of Seehofer as a "mere child of eighteen,"
and, with refreshing confidence in her own powers of oratory, offered to
come to Ingolstadt to defend, publicly, both the young master and his
theses. The university authorities ignored this offer, but the Catholic
cartoonists of the time made the most of it. From every quarter of
Germany Argula was assailed in mocking rhymes, to which she replied in
counter rhymes. The verses on both sides are rather bad, though the
plucky little baroness holds her own fairly well. For her
"indiscreetness" Argula was banished from court; and her husband, "for
not controlling his wife properly," was dismissed from his lucrative
position at the palace.

The real strength of Protestant women, however, lay not with its
excitable Argulas, but with firm, steady, sensible women like Catharine
von Bora, who became Luther's wife. It seems almost unjust that a girl
possessed of sufficient spirit and courage to propose to the man she
loved should, for posterity, be forever submerged under the appended
title, "his wife." Catharine von Bora's individuality was marked. Her
wise management, as wife and mother, seems phenomenal when we remember
how suddenly she was transplanted from conventual to secular life, but
no healthy young tree ever better stood removal from shade to sunlight.

Catharine von Bora was descended from a noble but impoverished family.
At the age of ten she was placed in the convent of Nimtsch, near Grimma.
At sixteen she became a nun. In 1523, under the influence of Luther's
preaching, she, with eight of her sister nuns, left the convent secretly
by night and fled to Wittenberg. For her apostasy, Catharine's family
cast her off. Luther found her a comfortable home and did his best to
provide her with a husband. But Catharine, who, says Erasmus, was "a
wonderfully pretty girl," would not accept either of the two suitors
Luther recommended. Amsdorf, Luther's envoy, argued with her upon her
stubbornness. Whereupon, Catharine replied, calmly, "I will not marry
Glatz, but I will marry either you or Luther, if you want me." She meant
that she would marry Martin Luther, for she well knew that Amsdorf's
affections were already placed elsewhere. Luther, though somewhat
surprised at the turn things had taken, accepted Catharine's proposal
and the nuptials were duly celebrated amid the remonstrances of the
Reformer's friends and the derisive howls of his enemies.

"Antichrist only can be born from this unholy union of priest and nun,"
was the scandalized cry of the Catholics. To which Erasmus made
sarcastic reply: "Then there must have been a good many Antichrists born
before now."

An indisputable testimony to Catharine's kindly nature is the affection
which old John Luther and his wife felt for their son's wife. Catharine
bore good, as evil fortune, with dignity. Her head was never in the
least turned by the popularity of her husband. When princes visited the
humble home at Wittenberg, she received them with simple, well-bred
courtesy. When beggars came she welcomed them with equal cordiality. She
had much to contend against. They were poor and her husband was over
generous, not only in hospitality, but in constantly giving away
household effects which his family could ill afford to spare. Martin
Luther, too, was a man of storms. A woman less firm and tactful than his
beloved "Kathie" could hardly have lived peaceably with him.

In the evil days that fell after Luther's death, his widow did not lose
her courage. She struggled nobly to support herself and children. She
followed the usual heart-breaking course of poor widows in trying to
make a living. She sewed; she kept boarders; she turned her hand,
patiently, to any honest labor that offered itself. War, flight from
pestilence, and then sudden death so runs the record of the last bitter
years of Catharine von Bora's active, helpful, noble life.

While a handful of earnest women were studying, thinking, praying,
fashionable women in Germany were doing just what fashionable women
always have done everywhere in all ages, just what they were doing long
ago in Athens when Aristophanes made clever sketches of them, they were
eating and drinking sumptuously; riding, visiting, backbiting, getting
their daughters married, and trying to outdo each other in giving costly
entertainments. It was this mode of life that necessitated the pretty
dresses, "as many as two a day" against which Geiler of Kaisersberg

Every little German principality had its court, and in nearly all these
courts corruption reigned. The Italian or the Frenchman may be
gracefully, even captivatingly wicked. But in a German sensuality is
invariably coarse, pronounced, and revolting. There is something
fiercely Titanic in a German's embrace of evil. The student, who,
leaving the doings of kings and queens, untangles thread by thread the
biography of lesser men and women connected with these old German
courts, has before him entertainment for a lifetime. In each of these
small court circles he will find stories of sin, passion, and remorse,
beside which the tales of a D'Annunzio, a Balzac, or a Zola seem mere
inchoate records of childish bravado.

The enormous effect of vice upon the women of the Renaissance and
Reformation periods cannot be ignored in any true picture of the time.
Man's lust was an accepted factor of everyday life. Very early, as we
have noted in a preceding chapter, houses of prostitution were
established and regulated by law. The woman superintendent put in charge
of such a house was required to swear formally that she would "serve the
best interests of the city" loyally; _i. e._, she must increase the
revenues. She swore to "induce to come in as many girls as possible."
The inmates of a house of prostitution continued to wear a distinctive
dress whenever they appeared on the streets. This uniform served a
double purpose. It was a convenience to the men, and it prevented the
girls from escaping easily. When a distinguished visitor came to town,
he was, even during the Reformation period, sometimes taken, soon after
his arrival, to one of these houses by the chief magistrate, and the
prettiest girls sometimes richly dressed, sometimes naked were brought
before him for choice. Even in some private houses a similar form of
hospitality was shown to male visitors, the prettiest maids of the house
being detailed to "attend" such visitors.

The lot of a German workingwoman in the fifteenth and sixteenth
centuries was very hard. Her hours of work were from sunrise to sunset.
If she lived in the country, she did all the ordinary housework for a
large family; she planted and harvested, she attended to the cattle, she
sheared the sheep, gathered the flax, spun and wove the linen and wool,
bleached or dyed the finished cloth, and with her needle fashioned it
into garments for her husband, her children, and herself. In the
country, grand ladies often had workrooms where as many as three hundred
girls were employed. A city workingwoman was shut out by the guilds from
any remunerative labor. She could seldom earn more than her board, no
matter how hard she might work. Women's wages, except for sin, were
pitifully meagre. That the majority of German workingwomen did remain
chaste in spite of the ever present temptations toward vice speaks
volumes in praise of the German feminine character.

In both city and country, spinning was looked upon as woman's natural
occupation. "She was pious and spun" is a common epitaph upon sixteenth
century tombstones in Germany. "Let men fight and women spin," preached
Berthold von Regensberg. Almost as soon as a girl baby could walk she
was taught to spin. Little Gertrude Sastrow, at the age of five, asked
one day what the princes at the Diet did. Her brother replied: "They
determine what shall be done in the empire." "Then," her brother
relates, "the little maiden at her distaff gave a deep sigh and said
dolefully, 'Oh, good God, if they would only decree that little girls
should not spin!"

Luther bitterly resented the accusation that his teachings were
responsible for the Peasant's War. He declared, truly enough, that the
peasants, long ground between the upper and nether millstones of an
oppressive nobility and a greedy merchant monopoly, had again and again
revolted long before he was born. Nevertheless, it cannot be denied that
Protestantism, as representing individualism, had much to do with the
social upheavals of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. Both the
Renaissance and the Reformation, or rather, the underlying force which
produced both, made tremendously for Democracy.

The peasant woman's lot was doubly hard. The horrible outrages committed
upon her during war make one's blood run cold even now, after centuries
have passed. In time of peace, too often, she was considered little
better than a beast of burden. Men of the peasant class gathered hazy
notions of the world and its doings at the alehouses. But the cat or dog
upon the hearth was not more dumb, intellectually, than the average
peasant woman. One searches the records of history in vain to find,
during the Renaissance and Reformation periods, a single peasant woman
anywhere in Germany who rose notably above her class.

The influence of Marguerite of Austria, aunt, guardian, and closest
adviser of Charles V. upon the destiny of Germany was incalculably
great. That Charles, instead of his rival, Francis I. of France, was
chosen emperor was mainly due to Marguerite's persistent efforts in
behalf of her nephew, whom she idolized. Marguerite kept the Fuggers
constantly on Charles's side a stroke of wisdom that carried the
election. The life story of Marguerite of Austria, daughter of
Maximilian and granddaughter of Charles the Bold, is almost unknown to
English readers. It is worth telling at some length for it illustrates
an important phase in the history of German womanhood the way in which
royal girls were disposed of in marriage.

Storms in the life of Marguerite began long before the Reformation. At
the age of two years she lost her mother, beautiful Mary of Burgundy,
daughter of Charles the Bold. The young queen's last words were spoken
to her "Daisy." "Farewell, farewell, my sweetest little daughter," she
murmured. "Thou art too soon left motherless." At the age of four,
Marguerite, for political reasons, was married to the Dauphin of France,
afterward known as Charles VIII., who was ten years her senior. The
marriage was solemnized with great pomp at Amboise. After the ceremony
the tired, bewildered baby was returned to her good governess, Madame

Marguerite, up to her twelfth year, was educated wholly with a view to
her future position as Queen of France. But the pride of Charles the
Bold ran in the little maid's veins. She never forgot that she was the
"daughter of Cæsar." Cæsar himself "Our Max," "Beggar Max," "Spendthrift
Max," "Mayor of Augsburg," "Hunter Max," as he was variously called by
his people, but always with a "God bless him!" added could, and a
hundred times a day did, easily throw off the imperial dignity; but
stately little Marguerite never laid hers aside, even in her childish
games with the French royal children. She is described as possessing
"set will, affectionate nature, and unusual zeal for study."

At the age of twelve, a crushing blow fell upon this proud little
daughter of Cæsar. To gain a province, her husband divorced her and
married Anne of Brittany. The latter maid was kidnapped during a journey
through France and held prisoner in a castle until she agreed to the
marriage, which was then speedily effected. Marguerite haughtily refused
to resign the title, "Queen of France," which she had borne for eight
years. For seventeen months there were, therefore, two Queens of France
Anne at Paris, and Marguerite holding her court at Amboise. Even the
annals of royalty have never shown a more complicated situation. Anne of
Brittany was, legally, for she had been married by proxy to Maximilian
Marguerite's stepmother. Now, by her enforced marriage to Charles, Anne
found herself the rival of her nominal stepdaughter.

Maximilian, doubly furious against France, demanded that Marguerite's
dowry be returned and that she be sent back to him with regal honors. It
was a hard journey for a high-spirited girl. Every town along the route
held fetes and was brightly illuminated as she passed through it. These
municipal displays, either from stupidity or malice, were mostly in
execrable taste. On every hand, blazoned in fire, Marguerite saw her own
name sometimes even her own portrait coupled with that of the king who
had cast her off. But she exhibited few outward signs of inward shame.
Once at Cambrai, when the crowd shouted "Noel, Noel;" she called in a
clear, far-reaching tone "Say not 'Noel,' but cry, 'Long live
Burgundy!'" Once, at dinner in a French town through which she passed,
lament was made that the vintage had been blighted; and she said: "Small
wonder that the grapes wither in a country where oaths are broken!"

But Marguerite or, rather, her wealth was not long without suitors. Don
Juan of Austria, son of Ferdinand and Isabella, offered himself and was
accepted by Maximilian. There was a brief delay in the negotiations and
Don Juan, exasperated thereby, impudently reminded the emperor that a
divorced princess ought to come cheaper than either a widow or a maid.
At about the same time Marguerite's brother, Philip the Handsome, was
betrothed to Don Juan's sister, Juana. The two girls travelled together
from Brussels as far as Liege, where Philip was to be married. There was
a great contrast between the two Marguerite calm, stately, fair, was
ruled always by reason; and Juana dark, intense, was governed by
emotion. Upon this journey, however, youth and common interests must
have made the two girls companionable to each other. No prophetic sign
warned either of sorrows which the future held in store. The following
letter, lately printed in _Secret Memoirs of the House of Austria_,
gives the story of Juana's tragedy. Another letter, to which we shall
refer later, proves that Marguerite's love passion, though free from
crime, unlike Juana's, was no less deep and real than that of her
hot-blooded southern sister. The letter was written by one of Philip's
generals. An extract from it says: "The good King Philip was suspected
by his Queen of an amour, and that without reason, as was afterward
discovered, but she took it so much and so grievously to heart that she
at last resolved to kill her lord and husband in revenge for it. As
women are so easily moved and impelled, according to the old adage 'they
have long robes but short counsels,' she got so utterly beside herself
as to poison her good husband, although it was to her own loss. Shortly
after, she found out that she had been wrong, and that she had allowed
her quick temper to get the better of her. Then she began to rue what
she had done, and found no rest, tormented as she was by the furies of
remorse; and as she had her husband no more and could not get him back,
she began to love him twice as well as before, and grieved and fretted
so violently that at last she went out of her mind altogether and became
quite childish."

For months Juana kept Philip's embalmed body in her room, frequently
embracing it in an agony of grief. When, at last, it was buried she
could not rest until it was exhumed. Then she travelled with it at night
by the light of torches all through Spain. Curiously enough, a
soothsayer had once told Philip that he would make longer journeys
through his kingdom after his death than he had ever taken while living.

Philip the Handsome had one strong trait in his otherwise weak nature.
He was devotedly attached to his sister Marguerite. He loved her better
than anything else on earth except himself. She loved him, and his
children after him for his sake, with no thought of self. When
Marguerite left the Netherlands for Spain where her marriage with Don
Juan was to take place, Philip went with her to the seacoast. The ship
in which Marguerite and her suite sailed was threatened with
destruction. Marguerite calmly dressed herself in her richest robes and
jewels in order that her body, if washed ashore, might be easily
identified. Then under one of her splendid bracelets she slipped a band
of oiled silk containing an epitaph written by herself:

        "Cy gise Margot, la gente damoysella,
        Qui eust deux maris, et si morut pucelle."

This has been roughly translated thus:

        "Beneath this tomb the highborn Margaret's laid,
        Who had two husbands and yet died a maid."

In this epitaph we get one of the few hints of the fact that Marguerite
had inherited her father's whimsical sense of humor. Her letters and her
papers generally seem written under the shadow of court etiquette. Her
acts, however, and many of her recorded conversations, show a quick
appreciation of ludicrous or grotesque situations.

But the young poetess's epitaph was premature. The ship made the coast
of England in safety. The princess was invited to visit Henry VII. of
England; which invitation she accepted with the result that she was,
says the old historian, "much caressyed by the whole Court." Whether
Marguerite at this time met Charles Brandon (afterward the Duke of
Suffolk) who was destined secretly to play an important part in her love
affairs, is unknown, but it is probable that she did. Shortly after, her
marriage a magnificent ceremony took place at Madrid.

Once more a crown glittered before the ambitious girl's eyes, and again
it was dashed from her. Six months after their marriage, Don Juan
suddenly died. Marguerite returned to Germany. Again she married, this
time Philibert of Savoy, who seems to have loved her deeply; he, too,
soon died. Twice a widow and once divorced, Marguerite at the age of
twenty-five returned to her father's court, declaring that no political
exigencies should again force her into matrimony. About this time, she
adopted her strange, sad motto: _Spoliat mors munera nostra_ (Death ever
destroys what is granted to us). A pathetic little poem it loses much in
translation written by Marguerite at this time is still preserved:

        "Must I thus ever languish on?
        Must I, alas, thus die alone?
        Shall none my tears and anguish know?
        From childhood, I have suffered so!
        Too long it lasts this weary woe."

As Thackeray said long afterward of the work of another poet-princess:
"These plaintive lines are more touching than better poetry."

Still another sorrow was in store for Marguerite. Her beloved brother,
Philip the Handsome, died. The manner of his death we know. It was his
dying request that his sister Marguerite, then regent of the
Netherlands, should have the guardianship of his five children, Charles,
Leonora, Isabel, Marie, and Catalina. The maternal instinct never beat
more strongly in any woman's heart than in that of the royal Marguerite.
Faithfully, wisely, lovingly, she fulfilled her brother's trust.

Another crown was offered Marguerite: Henry VII. of England sought her
in marriage. Her father wished her to accept this suitor, but Marguerite
persistently refused. Much correspondence passed between Maximilian and
his daughter at this time. From it we learn little of Marguerite's inner
life, but the glimpses of Maximilian are charming. Had he not been sure
that his daughter would appreciate his humorous allusions and his
nonsensical fancies, he would never have written as he did. In regard to
his plan for settling the difficulties between Church and State by the
startling expedient of making himself Pope, he writes:


"We send the Bishop of Greece to-morrow to Rome, to the Pope, to find
some means of agreeing with him to take us for a coadjutor, so that
after his death we may be sure of having his papacy, and of becoming a
priest, and you will be obliged after my death to worship me, of which I
shall be extremely proud. I have also begun to sound the cardinals, with
whom two or three thousand ducats will do me great service, considering
the partiality which they already exhibit.

"P. S. The Pope has intermittent fever. Cannot live long."

No better business woman ever lived than royal Marguerite. Her first act
as regent was the abrogation of several of her father's unwise,
self-cheating treaties. She encouraged trade, secured financial
stability in her realm, always kept on good terms with the Fuggers, the
money kings of the world, and increased the revenue from all sources. A
marriage was planned between her nephew, Charles, and Mary Tudor, the
youngest daughter of Henry VII.

When Henry VIII., in the war between France and England, led an army to
the battle of Guinegatte, Marguerite invited him to visit her at Lille.
Did Marguerite know when she sent her letter of invitation that with
Henry was one whom she had met at the English court and had never
forgotten? The following letter, written her from Henry's camp by her
confidential messenger, would indicate that she did know. "The Grand
Equerry, the second king," mentioned in the letter was Charles Brandon,
then Viscount Lisle and later ennobled by Henry for Marguerite's sake,
gossip said Lord Suffolk. The messenger, Philippe de Brigilles, writes:


"The Grand Equerry, my Lord Lisle, has been to me to beg of me that I
would convey to you his most humble respects and the hearty desire which
he had to do you service. I think you know sufficiently well that he is
the second king and it is only proper that you should write him a
gracious letter, for he it is who does and undoes all. This knoweth God,
who give you, Madame, what ever you most desire. From the camp before
Therouanne, this Wednesday last.

"Your most humble and most obedient slave,


Marguerite was now thirty-three. A portrait of her at Hampton Court
shows that she was a fine-looking, if not, strictly speaking, a
beautiful woman. The face is oval, the hair, showing from underneath the
rather picturesque widow's headdress of the sixteenth century, is brown,
the eyes are dark and expressive, the nose Grecian, the lips somewhat
full. The hands, resting upon a balcony, are beautiful, with long,
tapering fingers.

Brandon is described as "a large man, tall and elegantly proportioned,
with dark brown eyes and hair: he was handsome in his countenance,
courtly in his manners, and extremely prepossessing in his address."

For the next few months, the soul of Marguerite of Austria was
struggling in deep waters. The facts, as clearly as they can be made out
through the misty perspective of centuries, seem to be these: Marguerite
loved Charles Brandon, then Viscount Lisle and afterward the Duke of
Suffolk. He asked her hand in marriage, wooing her passionately. The
young and powerful king, Henry VIII., favored Suffolk's suit, even to
the point of making several personal appeals to Marguerite, whose pride
and her fear of causing a political catastrophe made her hesitate to
accept Suffolk. Gossiping rumors concerning the love affair were spread
broadcast, and Maximilian, hearing them, became enraged. Marguerite drew
back. Henry VIII. pretended to the emperor that he knew nothing about
the matter except by hearsay. Brandon accepted the situation and later
consoled himself by marrying the youngest sister of the king, the bride
first selected for Charles, Mary Tudor.

To give reality and color to the above bare outline of a story that once
throbbed with life, a few descriptions and quotations may be permitted.

Henry VIII., with his suite, including Brandon, visited Marguerite at
Lille. She in return "accompanied by her young nephew Charles and divers
other nobles," visited Henry in his camp at Tournay. Henry met them
outside the gates and "brought them in with greate triumphe." The
chronicler adds: "The noys went that the Lord Lysle made request of
marriage to the Ladye Margurite, Duchess of Savoy, and daughter to the
Emperor Maximilian. But whether he proffered marriage or not, she
favored him highly."

An evening banquet following, a day of tournaments is thus described:

"This night the King made a sumptuous banket of a. c. dishes to the
Prince of Castell and the Lady Margarete, and to all other Lords and
ladies and after the banket the ladies daunsed; and then came in the
king and a XI in a maske, all richly appareled with bonnettes of gold,
and when they had passed the time at their pleasure, the garments of the
maske were cast off amongst the ladies, take who could take."

That handsome Charles Brandon and stately Marguerite of Austria "took"
each other is proved by the following extracts, made from two letters
signed "M" among the Cottonian manuscripts now in the British Museum.
The epistles are evidently translations from French originals. They are
addressed to "Sir Richard Wingfield, Ambassadour," and are labelled on
the outside, in Sir Richard Wingfield's handwriting: _Secrete Matters of
the Duke of Suffolk_. The letters were delivered to Wingfield by
Marotin, a confidential servant, whom it is known Marguerite dismissed
for having "evile kept" her secrets. As Marotin was at once taken into
Maximilian's service it is probable that he was the emperor's informant
concerning the Suffolk love affair. For nearly a year afterward,
intercourse between the emperor and his daughter was confined to the
coldest formalities.

In the case of a few words, liberties have here been taken with Sir
Richard Wingfield's spelling in order to make the letter intelligible to
modern readers:

"The Archduchess Marguerite to Sir Richard Wingfield.

"My Ladye began this wryting before the koming of Marrotin, who came to
Lavoyne on Sundaye last."


"Sythe that I see that I may not have tydynges from the Emperor so soon,
it seemeth me that I shulde do welle no longer to tarry to depeche this
gentleman. And for that my lettres addressyed to the King and the Duke
of that I dare not aventure me to wryte on to them so at lengthe of thys
bisyness I fear me to be evile kept, I me determine to wrythe to you at
lengthe that you may the better advertise them of myne intent."

She then explains that her intent is to put a stop to the whole matter.
Fear of endangering the prospects of her idolized nephew, Charles,
should she make a mesalliance, was probably Marguerite's main reason for
disobeying the dictates of her heart. Marguerite was a politician,
clear-headed, keen, cool, calculating; but she was also a very human
woman. She wished Sir Richard to think well of her she desired the king
to know that she did not blame him in the matter. Above all, she wished
Suffolk to understand that while she rejected him she still remained
true to him. She told Wingfield how "at severall occaysions" the king
pleaded for his friend and favorite courtier:

"He sayde that I was yet too young for to abide thus, and that the
ladyes of hys contree dyd remarye at fifty and three score yeeres." But
Marguerite was firm. She says: "Whereupon I answered hym that I hadde
never hadde wylle so to do and that I was too muche unhappy in
hosbondes, but he wolde nott beleve me."

Throughout the letters, Suffolk (Brandon) is referred to by Marguerite
as the "Personnage." Again the king told her that his friend was most
unhappy, fearing she would marry someone else.

"Wyche I promised to hym," says Marguerite, "I schulde not do." But the
"Personnage," who appears to have been present at this interview, was
not satisfied. Marguerite says: "He mayde me promyse in his hands that
how soever I shulde be pressed by my father, or otherwyse, I should not
make alyance of maryage with Prynce off the worlde."

The king was sometimes discreetly absent when the two met.

"At the head of a koppboorde," a few days later, Suffolk made Marguerite
renew her promise to him. Marguerite refers also to certain "gracyewse
letters" that passed between herself and her English suitor. The report
had got abroad in the court that Suffolk had in his possession a diamond
ring known to belong to the archduchess. She confesses the truth of the

"One night at Tournaye, being at the bankett, after the bankett, he put
hymself upon hys knees before me, and hym playing, he drew from my
finger the rynge, and put it on hys finger, and sythe shewed it me. And
I took to Lawe, and to hym sayde that he was a theefe, and that I thowte
not the King hadde wyth hym ledde theeves out of hys contree." Somehow,
one feels glad of that half-hour "after the bankett" in Marguerite's
hard life.

Brandon behaved well in the matter when he found that Marguerite had
fully made up her mind to end their friendship. His daughter by his
first wife and an adopted daughter were both under Marguerite's care at
her court, and Suffolk offered to remove them if the archduchess wished
him to do so. Another young English girl also was under Marguerite's
charge, Anne Bullen, better known to history as Anne Boleyn. Suffolk,
about this time, adopted for his shield the singular motto: "Who can
hold that will away?"

The affair with the Duke of Suffolk being over, Marguerite plunged into
politics, straining every nerve to secure the imperial succession for
Charles against the new claimant who had arisen, Francis I. of France.
When her help was no longer needed by the young emperor, Marguerite
retired to her favorite spot, Malines. There she held a quiet court,
devoting herself to study. When remonstrated with upon the score of
health for confining herself too closely to books, she replied: "When
the mind has congenial employment, the body will always take care of
itself." At the Field of the Cloth of Gold, and also at Cambrai, where
the "Ladies' Peace" treaty was arranged by herself and Louise of Savoy,
Marguerite again met her old lover, the Duke of Suffolk. If history
holds any records of that meeting, they are still hidden in her secret

The Renaissance and the Reformation both touched Marguerite of Austria
closely. Toward the Renaissance she was kindly and even gratefully
inclined. For Protestantism, however, she had only scorn and hatred. Her
natural benevolence kept her from the cruel persecutions which darkened
the reign of another Marguerite--Marguerite of Parma--in the
Netherlands. But Marguerite of Austria, nevertheless, was openly
committed to "the extermination of the Lutherans." That her niece Isabel
died in the new and hated faith was a source of great sorrow to her.
Isabel, with her last breath, committed her children to her aunt
Marguerite's care; and Marguerite, whose life had been largely spent in
rearing other women's children, took these little orphans also to her

When the Reformation came, even the gay, profligate courts of the German
principalities were sobered. At first, in certain cases, the sudden
seriousness caused by Luther's ringing call took the form of attempted
evasion of the consequences of sin. Philip of Hesse, a big, handsome
prince into whose material nature a bit of the new leaven had fallen,
asked "Pope Luther" to let him marry a second wife while his first was
living. He did not propose to put the first away; he would provide for
both. In extenuation of this suggested bigamy he pleaded truly enough
that Christine, his spouse, was addicted to over-indulgence in strong
drink, and, also, was personally repulsive. He wished to marry Katharine
von Saal, one of the court ladies. It was a crucial moment for
Protestantism. Philip's powerful aid would perhaps save the new faith.
Long ago, Luther had twice given it as his opinion that the Scriptures
sanctioned plural marriages. The dispensation was granted. The second
marriage took place, Christine agreeing placidly. Katharine von Saal
made Philip a good wife, and the three Christine being left in
undisturbed enjoyment of her daily dram lived, it seems, harmoniously

A very different story is that of another court. Joachim, Elector of
Brandenburg, bitterly opposed the new faith, but his wife became a
convert. The latter partook of the sacrament in both kinds, and then
fearing vengeance from her angry lord and master fled from his court to
a refuge near Lotha. Her husband refused to take her back, but he
allowed her children to visit her. Carlyle, in his Frederick the Great,
tells the story.

The vexed question, Which has done more to advance the world, the
Renaissance or the Reformation? will probably never be satisfactorily
settled. At the best, 'tis rather a shallow question, born of provincial
intelligence. Without the Renaissance there could have been no
Reformation. Without the Reformation, the Renaissance, contenting itself
with past culture, would never have become the active force it is in the
world to-day. To both, the twentieth century woman owes much.



War! War! War! From that pregnant day in 1521 when Luther, at Worms,
cried: "Here I stand, I cannot do otherwise, God help me!" Germany, for
nearly three centuries, was never, long at a time, free from bloody
strife. In some districts of the empire men and women were conceived in
time of war, born in time of war, lived to the Scripturally allotted age
of threescore years and ten in time of war, died, and were buried,
leaving war to rage for years to come above their unquiet, desecrated

In these disintegrating centuries, women of all classes suffered to the
uttermost. The lowest became beasts, like the men who debauched them. By
thousands, and tens of thousands, women followed the armies. Every
soldier, from the private to the highest officer, was allowed to take
with him into the field his wife or mistress frequently both and as many
other female relatives as he pleased. Even grandmothers were frequently
seen in camp. Schiller's picture of the old marketwoman in Wallenstein's
Camp is not overdrawn.

Women in the army cooked, washed, mended, and, more or less skilfully,
nursed the sick and wounded. They were not taken to the field, however,
as ministering angels. The bald truth is that women were kept in the
army for the sole purpose of gratifying man's lust. With every newly
recruited regiment that started for the front went hundreds of
respectable young girls torn unwillingly from their humble homes. After
every decisive battle, women formed a large part of the spoils of war
borne off by the victors. Children, mostly born out of wedlock, swarmed.
Gustavus Adolphus made a vain attempt to keep women out of the army. He
established tent schools for the children. Women in the field were under
martial law. Frequently, for minor offences they were stripped, flogged,
and drummed out of camp. The discipline of the field schools was very
severe. Once, it is related, a cannon ball crashed through a school
tent, killing half a dozen children. But the survivors, more afraid of
their schoolmaster than of death, kept on with their tasks as if nothing
had happened.

For woman there could be, there was, but one outcome of this army life,
moral degradation. Grimmelshausen, in his _Simplicius Simplicissimus_,
one of the greatest satires ever written, gives a horribly revolting
picture of women in camp during the Thirty Years' War. There is no doubt
that the picture is a true one, for Grimmelshausen, a nobleman and a
powerful writer, was an eyewitness of the horrors which he describes in
this life story of a vagabond adventurer in the long and terrible war.

Neither wealth nor high birth could screen women from the anxieties, the
sorrows, and the miseries of war. Philippine Welser, of Augsburg, was
probably the last patrician woman in Germany to receive Renaissance
training. The Welser family of burgher-merchant origin, ennobled by
royal favor was famous for its upright men and its pious, scholarly
women no less than for its enormous wealth. The story of Philippine
Welser and her lover--husband,--Prince Ferdinand, son of Emperor
Ferdinand I. and favorite nephew of Charles V., contrasts pleasantly
with the cruel, coldly selfish treatment of most princely lovers in that
war-brutalized age.

According to legend, Philippine Welser first saw "Prince Ferdinand of
the Golden Locks" as he rode past her father's house in old Haymarket
Square, at the head of a glittering procession. Philippine, a vision of
pink and white girlish beauty, stood at a long, open window, looking
down on the gorgeous pageant. The prince saluted her. Their eyes met,
and straightway, after the old fashion which never quite goes out of
date anywhere in the world, either in war or in peace, they fell in

At the public ball that evening, in Augsburg's new hall of gold, the
prince showed the merchant-banker's fair daughter marked attention,
dancing with her often. In the weeks that followed, Prince Ferdinand's
intimate friend, Count Ladislaw von Sternberg, was seen almost daily
going back and forth between the old Welser house and the archducal
palace near the Cathedral.

At last the prince left Augsburg. A few days later Philippine Welser
also disappeared down the street which now bears her name. Henceforth
her native city knew her no more. She was in Bohemia, with her aunt
Katharine, wife of the knight George von Loxan. An imperial castle
crowned a neighboring height. Prince Ferdinand suddenly discovered that
affairs in his Bohemian inheritance needed his immediate personal
attention. He resided at the castle for several weeks, making frequent
visits to the Loxan estate. A formal betrothal took place in the
presence of a priest, Philippine's aunt, and other witnesses. Through
nine years of betrothal and twenty-three of married life, the archduke
was true to Philippine. War separated them for years at a time, but
their love suffered no diminution. The archduke Ferdinand was a genuine
scion of an impetuously loyal race. From Maximilian I., whose heart, by
his own command, was placed in the tomb of fair Mary of Burgundy, down
to Don John and to unfortunate Rudolph in the nineteenth century,
Habsburg princes have ever been ready to cast aside rank, wealth, and
power for love.

Sometimes, hiding under the soiled robe of politics, love actually slips
into a state marriage, as in the union of Elizabeth Stuart of England
with Frederick, Prince of the Palatinate, better known to history as the
"Winter King" of Bohemia.

Though not German by birth, Elizabeth, through good and through evil
report, so thoroughly identified herself with her husband's interests
and people, and became the ancestress of so many famous rulers, among
whom are Frederick the Great, Queen Victoria, and Emperor William I.,
that her story properly deserves a place in any history of German

Elizabeth possessed the grace, beauty, and charm of manner common to the
Stuarts. To these gifts were added wit, a kindly sense of humor, and an
honest loyalty of spirit peculiarly her own. The title she won in
Germany, "the Queen of Hearts," seems to have been a spontaneous and
well-deserved tribute. Between Elizabeth Stuart and her elder brother
Henry, the beloved and manly Prince of Wales, who died at the age of
eighteen, the closest love and sympathy existed. Out of many suitors for
his sister's hand, Frederick, Prince of the Palatine, was Prince Henry's
choice. The two young men loved and respected each other. Together they
had ridden, hunted, played tennis and other athletic games, Elizabeth
often being an interested spectator of their friendly contests. The
dying prince's last words were half-delirious ramblings concerning his
sister's marriage to Prince Frederick.

Political exigencies were pressing. As usual, war loomed. Prince Henry's
death, therefore, delayed the marriage but a few days. Frederick
possessed a sweet and lovable nature. His letters, to this day,
strangely win the reader's heart. To the stricken sister, mourning the
loss of her idolized brother, the tenderness of Prince Frederick was
balm. Her bridegroom had been her dead brother's friend. To
loyal-hearted Elizabeth Stuart that memory was far more precious than
the diamond rose-wreath crown which her lover brought her from the
Palatinate. Yet the glittering coronet it may be seen to-day in Munich
was very beautiful. Clear, sparkling, as if made of ice shot through by
sunlight, it seems a fit ornament for a young "Winter Queen."

The bridal journey to the Palatine was a triumphal progress. Elizabeth
and Frederick were like two children newly escaped from school. They
cast convention to the winds. The court chamberlain was in despair. But
the two happy lovers only laughed at him and his "precedents." They said
they would make new precedents, and they did. In Nörnberg they invited
themselves to a burgher wedding. The bride was a Welser, a distant
cousin of Philippine Welser. Both Elizabeth and her husband danced at
this wedding until after midnight. Prince Frederick, indeed, danced so
heartily, says an old chronicler, "that he did twirl some of the maidens
with him clean out into the street."

About this time died the Emperor Matthias, successor of Ferdinand I. The
Protestant Union earnestly wished to prevent the election of the
Catholic Ferdinand, King of Bohemia, as emperor. An opportune uprising
of Protestants in Bohemia served as a pretext for placing Frederick of
the Palatinate, head of the Protestant Union, upon the throne of
Bohemia. The whole world knows the story of that brief, brilliant,
winter reign of Frederick and Elizabeth in Bohemia.

The Stuart "Queen of Hearts" was more popular in Bohemia than her
Calvinistic husband. Rich presents of money and plate were made to her.
A delegation of the wives of the most prominent citizens waited upon her
in Prague. Behind them slowly moved nine large wagons loaded with gifts.
Among other presents was a baby's entire outfit, including a stately
cradle made of ebony and ornamented with gold and precious jewels. The
cradle was needed, for Elizabeth bore thirteen children.

The king and queen were too unconventional to please the stiff Bohemian
nobility. The young royal couple gave mortal offence once to the entire
court by coasting down hill with a lot of school children. The
conspicuous costume worn by his majesty on that unfortunate day seems to
have been an added injury to court etiquette. He wore, we are told, "a
satin fur-trimmed pelisse and a large white hat with long, floating
yellow plumes."

But days of childish gayety were well-nigh passed for Frederick and
Elizabeth. Sorrow, humiliation, poverty awaited them. Ferdinand II. was
triumphantly elected. One of the new emperor's first acts was to
confiscate Frederick's principality of the Rhine Palatinate and make it
over to a Bavarian Prince. His next act was to send a force under Tilly
to regain the Bohemian throne. Frederick made no resistance worthy of
the name. Instead, he fled with his family.

Never was royal fall more humiliating. Landless, penniless, almost
friendless, Frederick and Elizabeth suddenly found themselves the
laughing-stock of Europe. It was a brutal age, a vulgarly coarse age.
Minor incidents often show most clearly the progress of civilization.
To-day a woman dragged down by her husband's fall is screened.

Not so in Elizabeth Stuart's time. The press of that day lampooned her
more unmercifully than it did her unfortunate consort. Cruel cartoons,
picturing her in a beggar's dress were scattered broadcast. King James
I. offered his daughter an asylum in England, but she answered proudly:
"My place while I live is by my husband's side. I shall never forsake

So intense was Elizabeth's love for her husband that it practically
crowded out all other love except the love for her dead brother. Even of
her children she said: "I love them more because they are his than for
themselves or for my own comfort." For three days after Frederick's
death Elizabeth neither spoke nor ate nor wept. To the day of her own
death, her room, sometimes a pitifully poor room for a king's daughter
and a king's wife, was draped in black in memory of her husband.

The eldest daughter of Elizabeth and Frederick also an Elizabeth was a
diligent student of philosophy. Descartes honored her with his
friendship. For many years she corresponded with the great philosopher.
In youth, this Elizabeth was very pretty a vivacious, black-haired,
brown-eyed beauty, with a slender aquiline nose which tried her sorely
by turning unbecomingly red at times. The poverty-stricken Palatine
princesses, living as poor relations, first at this court, then at that,
kept up courage by sharpening their wits on one another. One day when
the annoying nose was blushing, Elizabeth's next younger sister, Louise,
said: "Come, it is time to attend the audience of our cousin, the
Queen," and Elizabeth answered aggrievedly: "Do you expect me to go with
this nose?" To which quick-witted Louise replied: "Do you expect me to
wait until you grow another one?"

Elizabeth, perhaps to gain leisure to study her beloved subject,
philosophy, entered the Lutheran convent at Herfort, becoming later its
abbess. Louise became abbess of a Catholic convent at Naubisson, and a
very lively and comfortable, if not exactly moral, abbess she made. A
third sister, Henrietta, took to preserves instead of either philosophy
or religion. She married, and lived happily ever after among her sticky
pots and kettles. Not the least blessed of the three, to judge from her
letters, was the lot of practical Henrietta.

At the end of the Thirty Years' War, Germany lay prostrate, bleeding at
a thousand wounds. The condition of the peasant women was not greatly
improved. They had more cows to milk, it is true; but, on the other
hand, they were furnished with fewer books from which to draw mental
nourishment. The public schools had gone to ruin. Even the boys were not
properly taught. "Our wenches learn nothing," an exceptionally
interested father complains.

The old manufacturing interests, like weaving by hand, in which women
formerly aided, had declined. Workingwomen in the cities found it hard
to earn a living. By losses resulting from the war, many of the genteel
poor, ladies born and bred, had been forced into the ranks of the
workers. These timid unfortunates became nursery governesses in families
of the impoverished nobility, day teachers, court ladies without salary,
and the like. The personal secrets of the children of labor are kept
only in the archives of solitary human hearts; else, many a story of
tragedy, love, and brave self-denial might be written from the bitter
experiences of these pioneer women workers. In considering the condition
of workingwomen during this unhappy period, the word "Vice," written
large, must be constantly kept in mind. It was not a question of
temptation to vice; the problem, instead, was how a respectable
workingwoman could possibly escape being driven into sin by man's
physical force.

The counter reformation, set in motion by the wonderful intellect of
Ignatius Loyola, had a mighty influence upon women in certain parts of
the empire. "In the year 1551," says Steinmetz, "the Jesuits had no
fixed position in Germany. In 1556 they had overspread Franconia,
Swabia, Rhineland, Austria, Hungary, Bohemia, and Bavaria." This rapid
but quiet growth of the Society of Jesus was due largely to the
influence of a comparatively few rich, intelligent Catholic women, like
Maria of Bavaria.

The relation between women and early Jesuitism bears out the old
assertion that kicks and beatings increase both canine and feminine
affection. Ignatius Loyola himself compared woman to the devil. He
writes: "Our enemy imitates the nature and manner of a woman as to her
weakness and frowardness. For, as a woman, quarrelling with her husband,
if she sees him with erect, firm aspect, ready to resist her, instantly
loses courage and turns on her heel, but if she perceive he is timid and
inclined to slink off, her audacity knows no bounds, and she pounces
upon him, ferociously. Thus the devil," etc.

Ignatius Loyola was magnificently in earnest. He remembered the Medician
Papal courts and their scandal. He would have his order endangered by no
looseness of priestly morals. His rules were of iron strictness.
Moreover, and this greatly to his official advantage, he knew women.
Especially well he knew, too, the sentimental, introspective,
hero-worshipping woman. The spiritual direction of three such women for
a short time gave him more trouble, he afterward declared, than the
government of his whole world-spread order. Accordingly, he decreed:

"No woman shall come twice to confession in one day."

"If the female penitents pretend to scruples of conscience, the
confessors are to tell them 'not to relate tales and repeat trifles.'
Sometimes they must be silenced at once, for if they are truly disturbed
by conscience there will be no need of prolixity."

"Consolation and advice to women are to be given in an open part of the

Visits to women were also severely restricted. They must be confined to
women of rank and consequence. The women visited must be those who have
rendered signally important service to the order. Visits must be
agreeable to the husband or other ruling male relative of the woman
visited. Confession by a woman was always to be witnessed by another
priest, stationed near the confessor.

A Jesuit of advanced age and ancient probity once infringed this last
order and listened to a woman penitent without witnesses. Loyola called
eight priests together and made the old Jesuit scourge himself on his
naked back till each of the priests had repeated one of the penitential

To do all things vehemently has always been a German trait. According to
Hasenmuller, a German Jesuit turned Lutheran, many of Loyola's disciples
in Germany exceeded their chief in their expressed contempt for women.
Some Jesuit priests, he says, expectorated whenever a woman's name was
mentioned. Others would eat no dish prepared by a woman. One cried:
"When I think of a woman my stomach rises and my blood is up." Another
exclaimed: "It grieves me and I am ashamed that a woman brought me into
the world."

The emotional element in Jesuitism appealed strongly to women. The
general contempt for their sex expressed by Jesuit priests made special
notice all the more valuable. No modern woman of fashion who has secured
for her drawing room the first appearance of a social lion is more
elated thereby than were the few queens, princesses, and women of wealth
who, in the early days of the order, were honored by the notice of
Jesuit priests. Add to this the fact that the Jesuits were, in general,
a picked body of young, strong, handsome men of gracious manners and
fascinating address, and we have the secret of their power over women.
Small wonder that women worked indefatigably to advance the interests of
the new order.

Allied to the Jesuits only by the smarting, chafing tie of persecution
were the Jewish women. After the Thirty Years' War there were many of
these in Germany. Their descendants, even when Christians, were debarred
from entering the Society of Jesus. The babes of Jewish mothers were
often forcibly baptized. Freytag quotes a pathetic story told in an old
pamphlet written by two Jesuit fathers, Eder and Christel.

One Samuel Metzel was converted to Christianity. His wife refused to
forsake her ancestral faith. Her four children were taken away from her
and placed in Christian families. She was about to bring a fifth child
into the world. In terror lest she should lose this one too, she hid
herself in a retired spot. Her oldest little girl unconsciously betrayed
the mother's hiding place. When the babe was born the father and the two
priests sent a Christian midwife to baptize and kidnap it. Three "pious
ladies" accompanied the midwife.

When the Jewish mother saw that the midwife baptized her newborn babe,
she "sprang frantically from her bed and with vehement cries tore the
infant from the woman's arms." The "pious ladies" sent for masculine
help. The city judge, with armed men, entered the room and "tried to
separate the now little Christian son from his mother. But as she, like
a frantic one, held the child so tightly clasped in her arms, they
desisted, fearing to stifle the babe, and the judicious judge contented
himself with strictly forbidding the Jews in the house to try to make a
Jew of the child." The Lord Count of the empire, when appealed to,
decided that the child must be delivered to its father. The priestly
historians add, with evident pride and satisfaction: "Not long after,
the mother who had so stubbornly adhered to Judaism gave in and was

When the plague swept Germany, the Jesuits and their women coadjutors
were magnificent in their self-forgetfulness and unremitting work of
succor. Splendidly, too, as a rule, did they stand by one unfortunate
class of women the so-called witches of the seventeenth century. It was
a Jesuit priest, the noble Frederick von Spee, who, when asked by the
Elector of Mainz why his hair had turned white at the early age of
forty, replied: "Sire, it is because I have accompanied to the stake so
many women accused of witchcraft not one of whom was guilty."

The persecution of so-called witches grew to fearful proportions in the
seventeenth century. No ugly old woman who had village enemies was safe
from arrest and execution on a charge of witchcraft. The following
statistics from the small district of Drachenfels are typical, as in
every other town of the empire similar conditions prevailed.

Between July, 1630, and December, 1631, and between November, 1643, and
May, 1645, ninety-two out of the eight hundred inhabitants of the
district were executed for witchcraft. Every second house furnished at
least one victim. Sometimes four or five out of a single family were
accused. The youngest woman burned was twenty-nine years of age. The
others were between fifty-five and eighty. Confessions were secured by
the use of the rack and other horrible tortures. The confessions were
always similar, a mere echo of the stories told around every village
hearth on winter evenings. The alleged witch had sickened cattle. She
had sought at midnight the woodland dancing place of evil spirits or had
ridden through the air on a broomstick. She had made a compact with the
devil, etc., etc.

But confession was not considered evidence enough. Accomplices must be
declared. Just here, sometimes, splendid heroism came in, as in the case
of Frau Merl of Drachenfels. Neither the rack, the thumbscrew, nor
ice-cold water poured over her could induce her to name as co-witch any
but dead women. Through three courts they dragged her case. There was
even a chance of saving her own life if she would implicate certain
other suspected persons. Instead, however, she went alone to the stake.
One wishes that Von Spee might have walked beside her, whispering words
of consolation.

A minor cause of woman's degradation in this unhappy age of her history
was the prevalence of drunkenness. An official map was once issued that
showed drinking districts, places being marked as "ever drunk," "mostly
drunk," "half drunk," etc. "No drunk" did not exist even as an imaginary
geographical line.

From the lowest strata of society to the highest women were made
miserable by this evil of intemperance. The intoxicated peasant knocked
his wife down and kicked her. The cultured prince, inflamed by wine and
anger, slapped my lady's face at the royal dinner table before the whole

Riehl, in his _History of the Physical Development of the German
People_, devotes one chapter to the gradual "Divergence of the Sexes."
He makes the interesting suggestion, which reflection and observation
seem to confirm, that three hundred years ago woman was far more
masculine in her personal appearance, even in her anatomy and physical
strength, than now. He calls attention to the almost manly expression
and cast of features shown in the portraits of bygone famous beauties
like Marie Stuart and others.

Louisa of Orange-Nassau, wife of the great elector, Frederick William
(1640-1688), was a remarkable woman. She was self-poised, loving,
earnest, virtuous, pious in a helpful, practical fashion, founding
girls' schools, hospitals, and similar institutions of ethical and civic
value, and interested in every department of her husband's manifold
activity. When he travelled, she journeyed with him, carefully watching
to keep away from him both draughts and bores. On a long military march
of four hundred miles from Berlin to the relief of Konigsberg she
accompanied him, sharing all his hardships without a complaint.

Frederick William built for his wife a pretty country place north of
Berlin, which they called _Oranienburg_ (Orange Burg). Louisa made this
place a genuine Dutch homestead. Much of Frederick William's youth was
spent in Holland, where he wooed and won his bride. Theirs was a true
love marriage. Louisa bore him two sons; the elder died young, the
younger, Frederick, became the first king of Prussia.

Frederick William was often in a state of ebullition, and many women
would have found life with him a hell upon earth. But Louisa of Orange
had love, patience, and great good sense. She was happy in his love, and
he in hers. "At the moment of her death," says Carlyle, "when speech had
fled, he felt from her hand, which lay in his, three slight, slight
pressures. 'Farewell!' thrice mutely spoken in that manner, not easy to
forget in this world."

Reasons of state compelled the elector to contract another marriage. His
second wife, Dorothea of Holstein, was a most practical housewife and
gardener. Under her energetic direction the palace shone like a new pin.
She took a great interest in the planting of trees. Unter den Linden,
the now fashionable avenue of Berlin, was, primarily, a project of
Dorothea's. Her dairy was wonderfully remunerative, and it was even
rumored that she held a controlling interest in a brewery. Thrifty
Dorothea certainly was; comfortable to live with, either as wife or
stepmother, she evidently was not. She never filled the vacant place in
Frederick William's heart. "Ah! my poor Louisa," the great elector, now
growing to be the old elector, often exclaimed; "I have not my dear
Louisa now. To whom shall I turn for help and comfort?"

Between Dorothea and her stepson, the crown prince Frederick, a constant
state of warfare existed. Political enemies even accused Dorothea,
without a shadow of truth, of attempting to poison him. At last
Frederick withdrew entirely from his father's court, leaving his
stepmother and his four stepbrothers in possession of the field. This
wearing domestic friction, combined with much political opposition,
embittered the last years of the elector's life. He died in 1688; but he
had not lived in vain. His private life was honorable; his morals were
above reproach. In his conjugal fidelity, he stands a solitary figure
upon the threshold of a new and still more debased age.

War was not the sole cause of woman's degradation in this unhappy
period. French influence, proceeding from the brilliant, evil court of
Louis XIV. (1643-1715), debased her incalculably. Like a moral miasma,
this influence permeated every stratum of German society. Upon the
innocent and the guilty woman alike its effect was deadly. This
destructive conquest over the brain and soul of Germany was not made in
a single generation, for, in the beginning, men of the stamp of the
great elector and women like his beloved Louisa fought against the
subtle, poisonous influence.

For half a century a German princess lived at the very fountain head of
corruption, the court of Louis XIV., and remained pure. Elizabeth
Charlotte of the Palatinate was a granddaughter of Elizabeth Stuart. Her
father was Carl Ludwig, Prince of the Palatinate, to whom had been
restored a part of his paternal inheritance the Rhine Palatinate. She
was educated by her father's sister, Sophia, Electress of Hanover, whom
she loved devotedly. To this aunt, through fifty years of life in a
corrupt and foreign atmosphere, which to the end she hated, the exiled
German princess poured out her heart in letters that, to the historian,
have proved of priceless value. Ranke says: "Nowhere else is the
uncleanness of French and German national spirit during this epoch so
perfectly photographed as in the correspondence of Elizabeth of Orleans
with her aunt, the Electress of Hanover."

At the age of nineteen, in the year 1671, Elizabeth Charlotte was
married to Philip, Duke of Orleans, only brother of Louis XIV. It was a
loveless marriage. Louis XIV. brought about the union for the sake of
securing the neutrality of the Prince of the Palatinate in an
approaching war between France and Holland. At the time of her marriage
Elizabeth was a bright, wholesome, companionable girl. Her husband, a
widower of thirty-two, was commonly suspected of being at least
accessory to the poisoning of his first wife, Henrietta, a sister of
Charles II. of England. In the correspondence of Elizabeth and her aunt,
the Duke of Orleans is always referred to as "Monsieur."

Elizabeth's ideal of manhood was the older German ideal, an honest,
fearless man, an enthusiastic hunter, a skilful horseman, a sturdy
drinker, and, withal, a stout-handed Christian, ready at a moment's
notice to knock down an old church and build a new one on its site, or,
if his faith lay the other way, to fight to the last ditch for the old
church against the new. Therefore, there must have been bitterness at
the young wife's heart when she penned the following very accurate
description of her bridegroom:

"Monsieur has extremely ladylike manners. He cares for nothing so rude
as horses and hunting. He cares for nothing, in fact, except the Court
receptions, for dainty eating, dancing, and fine toilettes. In short,
his tastes are all effeminate."

She gives an equally merciless picture of herself: "I must be very ugly.
I have little eyes, a short, thick nose, and a flat, broad face. I am
little and thickset. Naturally, I hate mirrors and never injure my
self-esteem by looking into one if I can help it." Though Elizabeth was
not beautiful, she must have possessed the charm of a thoroughly honest,
humorous, and impulsively kind nature. Her boy-cousins and young friends
in Germany called her "Comrade" and "Bub." Louis XIV. was very fond of
his German sister-in-law. She walked, rode, and hunted with him
frequently. Except when he persecuted Germany, she liked the king
extremely well.

Although no love existed at any time between the Duke of Orleans and his
wife, one point, remarkable in that universally loose age, must be
noted. They were true to each other. She writes in later years: "I never
had any reason to complain of Monsieur in respect to his behavior so far
as other women were concerned." She had no "love affair" in all the
years she lived with him. A cabal, seeking to fasten scandal upon her in
connection with the Chevalier Sincsanct, utterly failed to produce proof
against her, or even to cast public suspicion upon her. She had three
children, two boys and a girl. The oldest boy died at the age of three
years. The struggle of Elizabeth's life was to preserve her two
remaining children from the impure influences around them, and it was a
long and bitter fight. Her daughter she saved. Her son, afterward Regent
of France during the long minority of Louis XV., owed all that was good
in him and that was much, in spite of his excesses to the prayers, the
love, the admonitions of his mother. In her efforts to train the
children rightly Elizabeth was constantly thwarted by her husband.
Philip was entirely controlled by two bad men, the Chevalier de Lorraine
and the Marquis d'Essiat. Both hated Elizabeth because of her moral
influence over the king. By her efforts, many of their iniquitous plots
against women were frustrated. The only way they could punish her was
through her children. Madame de Maintenon, whom Elizabeth treated
disdainfully, was believed by the duchess to have been an accomplice in
the plan to remove her children from her influence.

Madame de Maintenon loved the children of the king's former mistress,
Montespan, as if they were her own. Two of these children, Mademoiselle
de Blois and the Duke of Maine, were still unmarried. It was now
proposed, ostensibly by the king, that Elizabeth's son, the Duke of
Chartres, should marry Mademoiselle de Blois. Also, it was planned, that
her daughter Charlotte should at the same time become the wife of the
young Duke of Maine. Elizabeth was furious. She refused her consent.
Saint-Simon, in his Memoirs, says of her at this time:

"She belongs to a nation which abhors bastards and mesalliances.
Moreover, she has a determined character which forbids all hope that she
may ever consent."

The Duke of Chartres a boy of eighteen promised his mother to refuse to
contract the alliance. Then, the Abbé Dubois, who had great influence
over him, secured a contrary promise. When the king himself urged the
duke to marry Mademoiselle de Blois, the youth became confused and said
he would leave the decision to his parents. Whereupon, his father,
without more ado, had the engagement announced that evening at the court
dinner. Elizabeth wept throughout the meal. Louis XIV., it is said, made
awkward attempts at consolation by passing her the choicest dishes. At
the circle which followed, her son came up to kiss her hand. The memory
of his broken promise was fresh in her mind. To the astonishment of the
polished French court, she boxed the boy's ears soundly. An awful
silence followed this impulsive piece of maternal discipline. The young
duke, scarlet with mortification, stood abashed. His poor little pale
bride-elect grew whiter than ever; Elizabeth, hardly making a reverence
to the king, left the room. The people of Paris sided with the duchess.
They threatened the life of Madame de Maintenon if the other proposed
marriage, between Elizabeth's daughter and the Duke of Maine, was
insisted upon. "I am very grateful to my friends, the Parisian mob,"
Elizabeth writes to her aunt.

From this time the breach between Elizabeth and her husband was
complete. She was also estranged from her son. Her daughter was kept at
a long distance from her amidst the most corrupt surroundings. Elizabeth
became very lonely. The king, because of her opposition to the seizure
of the Palatinate, now ignored her. Her husband seldom spoke to her. Her
daughter was away but had been happily married. Her son, at this time,
was very dissolute and avoided meeting her. She writes:

"Here in this great court I live, a hermit. Day after day I spend alone
in my library. If visitors come I see them a few minutes, speak of the
weather or the newspaper, then back again to my solitude."

In 1701 her husband died. By her aunt Sophie's sensible advice,
reconciliation followed with the king and also with good-natured Madame
de Maintenon. Her son, after one or two successful campaigns in Spain,
returned to France loaded with honors. He turned again to his mother
with the old affection of his boyhood. Much may be forgiven the Duke of
Chartres because of his sincere, even if tardy, goodness to his mother.
Her old age was made happy by him. To others he might seem a heartless,
dissipated roué, to her he was the eighth wonder of the world the
strong, tender, manly son on whom she leaned. Her daughter, too, by
frequent, loving letters brought her comfort.

The Duchess of Orleans died December 8, 1722. Beside her coffin her son,
then Regent of France, clasped his sister in his arms and the two wept
bitterly for their German mother.

Few women have been more loyal to their native country than Elizabeth of
Orleans. A day or two before her death she said: "In everything I am
now, what I have been all my life, wholly German. I despise those
Germans who, from choice, speak and write habitually in a foreign
tongue. Such sycophants are not worth a hair."

More fully than any other woman of her day, Elizabeth of Orleans
represents the nobler side of German womanhood in a period of national



Vice was the keynote of the first half of the eighteenth century in
Europe. The moral miasma rising from that sink of iniquity, the late
court of Louis XIV., and, infinitely more, that of Louis XV., enveloped
Germany. Every little German court imagined itself a Versailles. Each
German princeling esteemed himself a "Sun god." Mistresses were
considered as necessary furnishings to every palace as tables or chairs.
Augustus the Strong, of Saxony, is said to have been the father of three
hundred and fifty-four illegitimate children. Vice spread through all
ranks, often blighting the innocent no less than the guilty woman.
Everywhere woman was man's toy. Faded, broken, ruined, she might be cast
aside at his caprice. Without semblance of law, he might hold her
captive, as in the case of the beautiful Baroness Cosel, a discarded
mistress of Frederick Augustus of Saxony, who was kept in prison for
fifty years by his majesty's command. Later, as we shall see, the wife
of Prince George Louis of Hanover afterward George I. of England
suffered a similar fate.

War continued. There were no long intervals of peace. Drunkenness, if
possible, increased; certainly it did not decrease. Obscene practical
jokes were constantly played. Ordinary conversation was interlarded with
indecent words and the most vulgar phrases. Society was rotten to the

In a dumb, sub-conscious sort of way, the coarse eighteenth century felt
that its balance wheel was badly out of gear, and it attempted, though
futilely, to remedy the lawlessness born of vice and war by hedging in
each class, almost each individual, of the social order by a thousand
petty ceremonials. The eighteenth century was the age of etiquette. Rank
was cringingly worshipped. Titles became of paramount importance in the
eyes of the middle classes. Borne satirizes this title worship:

"I divide the Germans into two classes those who are Aulic Councillors,
and those who would be so if they could. Were I a German prince, it
would be quite otherwise. I would make all my subjects happy. I would
make them all Aulic Councillors, without discrimination of rank, title,
property, family, sex, or age. Then we should read in the Frankfort
Weekly Advertiser, 'On the 13th inst. died Mr. Aulic Councillor
Schinderhannis, after a few struggles, by hanging, in the thirty-sixth
year of his active life. How powerfully this would inflame our
patriotism.'" Women received the full benefit of their husband's titles.
Borne says:

"At a dinner we sat in this order. Myself, Mrs. Upper Criminal
Councilloress, Mr. Finance Councillor, Mrs. Upper Paymistress, Mr.
Court-theatre Director, Mrs. Privy-Legations Councilloress, Mr. State
Councillor, Mrs. Salt-mines Inspectoress. I was placed, happily, between
two lovely women. Mrs. Upper Criminal Councilloress was one of the
mildest, sweetest creatures in the world and Mrs. Tax-Gatheress was very
captivating. I fell in love with them both. As for my host and hostess,
I could hardly look at them without bursting into tears when I
recollected that two such amiable persons were the only individuals
present without titles."

In the general corruption of early eighteenth century society the single
resource for a woman of fine feeling was to turn to God. Small wonder
that, when Mysticism revived under the name of Quietism, it found
thousands of followers among German women. During that shameful, or,
rather, shameless, half century it would seem that the only pure men,
the only happy families, left in Germany must be sought for in the ranks
of the despised Quietists. Certainly, from no other class did woman, as
woman, receive the slightest consideration or respect. Of the Quietists'
attitude toward women, Freytag says:

"For the first time since the ancient days of Germany, with the
exception of a short period of chivalrous devotion to the female sex,
were German women elevated above the mere circle of family and household
duties. For the first time did they take an active share, as members of
a great society, in the highest interests of humankind. Gladly was it
acknowledged by the theologians of the Pietists that there were more
women than men in their congregations, and how anxiously and zealously
they performed all the devotional exercises, like the women who remained
by the cross when all the apostles had fled. Their inward life, their
striving after the love of Christ and light from above, were watched
with hearty sympathy, and they found trusty advisers and loving friends
among refined and honorable men. The new conception of faith, which laid
less stress on book-learning than on a pure heart, worked on women like
a charm."

Jacob Spener was the great apostle of Quietism in Germany. He introduced
and practised a refined mysticism that won him hosts of followers among
women. Personal holiness was the constant theme of Spener's teaching.

Just as the marvellous subjective songs of Keats and Shelly were born of
emotional Methodism in England, so, also, lyric poetry in Germany sprang
from Quietism. The soul struggles of individual seekers after God
ripened into a rich literary harvest by which the world will long
continue to be nourished.

Two autobiographies of Quietists, by Johann Peterssen and his wife
Johanna (born Von Merlau), are of extreme interest.

As in the case of all children in that militant age, Johanna's earliest
recollections are of war. One day her mother was alone in the house
except for her three little children a girl of seven, a babe, and
Johanna, aged four. Suddenly a regiment was heard marching down the
road. The mother knew, only too well, what horror that might mean for
herself and her little girls. Very hastily she knelt and prayed that
they might be saved. Then she led her little ones to a tall field of
corn near the house, bidding them lie down between the rows and to keep
quite still. Suckling the babe, she, too, lay down in the corn. They
were not discovered. When the last military straggler had passed, mother
and children hurried to the nearest town for safety. As soon as they
were well within the gates, Frau Merlau bade the children kneel down and
thank God for their deliverance. The oldest girl objected to the delay.
She wanted her supper. "What is the use of praying now?" she asked. "We
are safe here." At that moment Johanna's religious experience began. She
writes: "Then was I grieved to the heart at this ungrateful speech of my
sister, that she would not thank God. I rebuked her for it."

From that day the little maid thought and dreamed almost wholly of
spiritual mysteries. Soon after, believing that the midwife brought
babies from heaven, she sent by that functionary a greeting to Jesus. At
the age of nine Johanna lost her good mother. Her father, a stern,
saturnine man, hired a housekeeper, a captain's wife.

"But she was an unchristian woman and did not forget her soldier
tricks," writes Johanna. For once when she saw some strange turkeys on
the road she seized the best of them. To cook this stolen roast the
housekeeper sent Johanna up into a high tower to throw down some loose
dry boards. The child fell and lay stunned for a long time. When she
regained consciousness and returned to the house she was well scolded
for her clumsiness. Johanna refused to go to the table. "I sat apart,"
she writes, "because I would not eat any of the stolen fowl. It appeared
to me truly disgraceful, though I was too timid to say so." It makes a
pathetic little picture this baby's martyrdom for conscience' sake.

At the age of twelve, soon after her confirmation, Johanna was sent as
maid of waiting to the court of the Countess of Solms Roedelheim. The
countess was partially insane. "She imagined I was a little dog and
often beat me," Johanna writes. "Whenever we rode over the flooded
meadows, she would push me out of the carriage, bidding me swim." Prayer
was the lonely, unhappy child's only solace. The countess grew so
violent that, at last, Johanna was transferred to the court of the
Duchess of Holstein. She accompanied the stepdaughter of the duchess on
her bridal journey to Austria, and, in spite of her ever nagging
conscience, had an agreeable time.

"The drums and trumpets sounded beautiful on the water," says she; "only
I could not help being worried to think I was going to a popish country.
Whenever we stopped at an inn I sought a solitary place, fell on my
knees and prayed God to prevent my good fortune from working injury to
my salvation."

The Duchess of Holstein loved Johanna like a daughter. Johanna laments
her own fancied worldliness in girlhood: "I practised myself in all
kinds of accomplishments, so that I excelled in these vanities. They
were dear and pleasing to me. I had also a real liking for splendid
dress because it became me well. People considered me Godly because I
liked to read and pray and went to church and could always give a good
account of the sermon. I even knew what had been preached upon the same
text the preceding year. I was looked upon as a Godly maiden, but I was
not really a true follower of Christ."

Nevertheless, Johanna was not worldly enough to suit the bridegroom a
gay young lieutenant-colonel to whom her friends had affianced her. He
broke the engagement because he complained, "though pretty and
well-born, she is altogether too pious."

Johanna was glad to be free. She writes: "I always felt that among the
nobility there were many evil habits that were quite contrary to
Christ's teaching lust, drinking, and many idle words for which an
account must be given to God."

Upon a journey by a slow boat to the baths at Emser, a great thing
happened in Johanna's life. Among the passengers, she noticed a studious
looking man with a pleasant voice and refined manners. She writes:

"By God's special providence, he seated himself by me, and we fell into
a spiritual discourse which lasted some hours, so that the four miles
from Frankfort to Mainz seemed to me only a quarter of an hour's
journey. We talked without ceasing, and it seemed just as if he read my
heart. Then I gave vent to all concerning which I had hitherto lived in
doubt. Indeed, I found in this new friend what I had despaired of ever
finding in any man in the world. Long had I looked around me to discover
whether there really were in the world any true doers of God's word, and
it had been a great stumbling block to me that I had found none. But
when I perceived in this stranger such great penetration that he could
see into the very recesses of my heart, also such humility, gentleness,
holy love and earnestness to point the way of truth, I felt that I
desired, above all things, to give myself wholly up to God." The man
whom Johanna met on the boat was Jacob Spener. Johanna's conversion was
complete. She withdrew from court gayeties, dressed simply, lived
plainly. At first she was remonstrated with, then ridiculed
unmercifully, and, finally, let alone.

Johanna's marriage with Johann Peterssen was most happy. Together they
worked for God and for what they believed to be his cause Quietism.
Persecution, poverty, sorrows were theirs. But these crosses, though
hard to bear, they believed to be God's revelation of Himself. An
apocalyptic vision, too, they declared, had been vouchsafed them.
Sustained by the unseen bread of faith, they lived to a great age, true
to one another, to their fellowmen, and to God.

Very different is our next picture, taken from the court of Hanover.
From the moment of her arrival, Elizabeth Stuart, Queen of Bohemia and
Princess of the Palatinate, had felt herself at home in Germany. But her
youngest daughter, though born in Germany, was never at home there.
Sophie, Electress of Hanover, was thoroughly English. Mistress of five
languages, she loved only English, and, from choice, would have spoken
that alone. She knew more English history than the English ambassadors
accredited to her husband's court. To gain, through her remote claim,
the English throne either for herself or her descendants, Sophie of
Hanover all her life saved, and gathered, and schemed, and relentlessly
crushed human obstacles. At the age of eighty, her old eyes gleaming,
she said: "I could sink into the grave perfectly happy if I knew that
the words 'Queen of Great Britain and Ireland' would be inscribed upon
my tombstone." She died within sight of the promised land, only a few
weeks before Anne Stuart.

An intellectual woman, an energetic woman, a virtuous woman, using the
word "virtue" in its narrower sense of chastity, a wonderfully able
woman, was Sophie of Hanover. An amiable woman, a lovable woman, a
generous woman, except occasionally for policy's sake, she most
certainly was not. But the hardness of her life should in some measure
extenuate the hardness of her heart.

Sophie possessed a keen analytical intellect that saw, without the
slightest tinge of emotion, clear down to the bottom of things. She
passed an almost loveless childhood in a royal nursery far away from her
mother, whom she never understood or cared for, and a sunless girlhood
as governess in the household of her brother Carl Ludwig, to whom the
Rhine Palatinate had been finally restored. Prince Carl and his wife
lived a cat and dog life. Disgraceful scenes were continually occurring
between them, sometimes even at the court table. The only member of the
Palatine household in the least congenial to Sophie was her quick-witted
niece Elizabeth Charlotte, afterward Duchess of Orleans.

Even bridal joys unalloyed were not to be poor, plain Sophie's. Duke
George William of Hanover, to whom she had been affianced, refused her
after seeing her, and, as if she were no more than a horse, foisted her
upon his younger brother Ernest Augustus, at that time Bishop of
Osnabrueck, but later, through Sophie's clever scheming, Electoral
Prince of Hanover.

Delving into the records of the court of Hanover, during the reign of
Ernest Augustus and Sophie, is like working in a sewer; the worker is
sickened by filth. A part of the time the electress escaped from the
court's noxious atmosphere into the purer, higher, colder regions of
philosophy. There was no courtier's flattery in the praise Leibnitz gave
to Princess Sophie's intellectual ability.

But Sophie of Hanover by no means dwelt continuously on Alma's heights.
Much of the time she was down among the sewer filth, contemptuous of it
always, but using it, for lack of more durable material, as a temporary
foundation for the steps which she meant should lead her and hers up to
the English throne. If Sophie of Hanover had been a different kind of
person, a gentle, timid, pious woman, or a gay, pleasure-loving,
lust-responding woman, the two characteristic types of her age, Edward
VII. would not be ruling in Great Britain to-day. Neither, for that
matter, would the present German emperor, descended from the electress's
daughter, the gifted Sophie Charlotte, be seated upon the throne of the

The attitude of the Electress of Hanover to her unhappy daughter-in-law
Sophie Dorothea was unfortunate for both women. Poor little Sophie
Dorothea! In passing judgment upon her, the historians all seem to
forget her extreme youth at the time of her marriage. Of this petted,
spoiled, beautiful child of sixteen, even Thackeray says: "She was a bad
wife;" and he sneers at her even while he is relating facts that should
go far to justify her in any missteps she may have made in trying to
escape from a boorish husband whom she found odiously cruel and selfish.
The girl lived in hell; and she sought, through passionate,
disinterested love, to gain what to her seemed heaven.

Sophie Dorothea was half French. Her mother, Eleanor d'Olbreuze, one of
the very few pure women connected with the court of Hanover in the
eighteenth century, was a Frenchwoman of good family. Eleanor d'Olbreuze
was legally married to Duke George William of Celle, elder brother of
Ernest Augustus of Hanover, although the Electress Sophie did all in her
power to prevent the marriage of her former fiance with the beautiful
Frenchwoman. Sophie Dorothea was a brunette of the most perfect type,
with vivid color and a charming rosebud mouth. Her neck, bust, and arms
were beautiful. By nature she was happy, lively, witty, and

On the morning of her sixteenth birthday, Sophie Dorothea awoke in her
pretty yellow and white chamber with the pleasant consciousness of a
happy day before her. Her betrothal to a neighboring young noble of the
house of Wolfenbuttel was to be celebrated. The girl was not wildly in
love with the youth accepted by her parents. But she was satisfied. She
had known him all her life, and she liked him well enough, in
neighborly, frank, girlish fashion.

It was somewhat late, for Sophie Dorothea was rather an indolent little
princess. As she lay there dreaming, with her beautiful dark eyes wide
open, her mother, pale and agitated, entered the chamber. The Duchess of
Celle hurriedly informed her daughter that there had been a complete
change of plans. Early that morning, after travelling all night in her
haste, the Electress Sophie had arrived at the castle. It was the wish
of the reigning house, the electress said, that Sophie Dorothea should
marry her cousin, George Louis of Hanover, son of the Elector Ernest
Augustus and his wife, Sophie. The proposed marriage with the Prince of
Wolfenbuttel had therefore been hurriedly abandoned.

Now Sophie Dorothea knew her cousin George well. She hated and despised
him. Fastidious to a degree, she called her cousin a lout, and declared
amid a storm of tears and sobs that she would never marry him. Duke
George William was called in to persuade or command his daughter. He
came, bringing with him as a gift from the Duchess of Hanover a picture
of George Louis set in diamonds. Sophie Dorothea did not receive this
love token prettily. She threw it against the opposite wall with such
force that the miniature was hopelessly smashed, and the precious stones
were scattered on the floor.

But Sophie of Hanover gained her point, as she did always. The marriage
was consummated, and the immense fortune of Sophie Dorothea was tightly
secured to the reigning electoral house of Hanover. Sophie of Hanover
never made a pecuniary mistake. In the present instance the wily
electress figured so closely that little Sophie Dorothea was practically
left without a penny.

The pretty, lively young bride found the court life of Hanover, with its
interminable rules of etiquette, stupid and tiresome. Of her bridegroom
even his mother said:

"Sophie Dorothea will find her match in him. A more obstinate, pigheaded
boy than my son George never lived. If he has any brains at all they are
surrounded by such a thick crust that nobody has ever been able to
discover what is in them." He did not want to marry this girl, but was
tempted by her ten thousand pounds a year.

Two children, a boy and a girl, were born to George Louis and Sophie
Dorothea. The electress superintended the babies and interfered at every
turn to thwart her daughter-in-law's wishes concerning them. The prince
was harsh, cold, and sullen toward his young wife. The elector was
always kind, but Sophie Dorothea found his conversation wearisome and
his gallantry distasteful.

The beautiful little princess was very homesick. Nobody cared. She was
unutterably lonely. Nobody cared. She was very dull. Nobody tried to
entertain her. Then Koenigsmark came. Koenigsmark, the dashing,
Koenigsmark, the handsome, with whom she had played in childhood when he
was a page in her father's palace. Koenigsmark cared. Koenigsmark loved
her. In some respects, Koenigsmark may have been the villain some
historians have painted him, but he was genuinely in love with his old
playmate, now the neglected, unhappy wife of Prince George Louis of

Into this, her first real love experience, Sophie Dorothea threw
herself, body and soul. She writes to Koenigsmark:

"I belong so truly to you that death alone can part us. No one ever
loved so strongly as I love you. Why am I so far from you? What joy to
be with you, to prove by my caresses how I love and worship you! If my
blood were needed to ransom you from danger I would give it gladly. I
cannot exist without seeing you. I lead a lingering life. I think of our
joy when we were together and then of my weariness to-day. Ah, my
darling, why am I not with you in battle? I would gladly die by your
side. Once more, good-bye. I belong to you a thousand times more than to
myself." The woman who wrote these passionate words was a mother. In
name, at least, though less well treated than her husband's mistresses,
she was a wife. But she was also a starving woman, hungering and
thirsting for expressed affection.

Koenigsmark and Sophie Dorothea planned an elopement. Discovery
followed. Koenigsmark was secretly murdered by agents of old Countess
Platen, one of the Elector Augustus's mistresses. Sophie Dorothea was
consigned to the dreary castle of Ahlden a prisoner for life, and there
she lived almost half a century. There, while her husband sat on the
English throne, she ate her heart out, slowly. Her son grew up and
became, after her death, George II. of England. Her daughter married the
Crown Prince of Prussia and became the mother of Frederick the Great and
of Wilhelmine, Princess of Baireuth.

Sophie Dorothea was constantly making plans to escape. But all such
plans proved futile, for she was surrounded by spies. Her one true
friend through life, her mother, died. Soon after, an official in whom
she had placed implicit confidence betrayed her almost accomplished plan
to escape and live quietly in a distant country. This last blow
shattered her mind. She wrote one last, madly cursing letter to King
George challenging him to meet her before a twelvemonth and a day at the
judgment bar of God. A few days later she died of brain fever. A
soothsayer had once told King George that he would not outlive his
divorced wife a year. Therefore, the superstitious king did his utmost
to keep the captive in good health. Physicians were ordered to visit her
frequently, and she was permitted daily exercise, both riding and
walking, in the open air.

Soon after Sophie Dorothea's death, King George's health began to fail.
He started for his beloved Hanover. Just outside Osnabriick a folded
paper was thrown into the royal carriage. It was Sophie Dorothea's last
maledictory letter. After reading it the king fell down in a fit from
the effects of which he died.

As every human emotion of love in princely marriage was crushed out by
reasons of state policy, so religion was subjected entirely to
expediency. When the Electress of Hanover was asked concerning her
daughter, Sophie Charlotte: "Of what religion is the princess?" she
replied: "The princess is of no religion, as yet. We are waiting to see
what faith the man whom she marries may prefer her to profess." When it
was decided that the Prince of Brandenburg should marry her it was found
by the politicians that the princess "of no religion at all" suited him
exactly. Sophie Charlotte remained true to her early training, or rather
to her lack of training. She was a vigorous freethinker to the end of
her days. She was much more worthy the name of philosopher than her
mother. "She insists, always," wrote Leibnitz, her lifelong friend and
admirer, "in knowing the Why of the Why." At Berlin, Sophie Charlotte
held a genuinely intellectual court. She gathered around her the
foremost scholars of the day. Where scholarship was concerned, the first
Queen of Prussia ignored race, creed, and even social station. She
cordially welcomed to the circle of her friendship any man or woman with
brains. The queen had inherited the grace and tact of her grandmother,
Elizabeth Stuart. She was immensely popular. Sophie Charlotte possessed
an ever ready sense of humor. She dearly loved to set an infidel and a
court chaplain arguing against each other. She delighted in doing things
incongruous to the occasion. At her husband's magnificent coronation,
during the most solemn and impressive moment, she calmly took a pinch of
snuff, thereby drawing down on her careless head the displeasure of her
royal consort. Up to the hour of her death, Sophie Charlotte jested.
When dying she is said to have declined religious consolation on the
very true ground that she knew exactly what the parson would say, and it
was, therefore, not worth while to trouble him. "My funeral will give
the king a grand opportunity to enjoy a magnificent display," she
whispered. It did. Splendor-loving Frederick buried his wife with the
utmost pomp.

Sophie Charlotte left a son, afterward Frederick William I. of Prussia,
who married unfortunate Sophie Dorothea's daughter, also named, for her
mother; Sophie Dorothea. The world knows well through Carlyle and, also,
though one-sidedly, through the memoirs of Wilhelmine, sister of
Frederick the Great, the story of this union.

This second Sophie Dorothea was not a happy woman. The fate of her
imprisoned mother weighed heavily upon her. Secretly, she corresponded
with her mother, and did her best to set her free. Again, as in the case
of the Electress of Hanover, England furnished the life ambition of a
German princess. Sophie Dorothea ardently wished to effect a double
marriage between her two children, Frederick and Wilhelmine, and the son
and daughter of George II., then crown prince of England. Disappointment
at the failure of this project, embittered and shortened her life.

The tall grenadiers, the royal cane and the parsimony of Frederick
William and their effect upon his thoroughly subjugated family are
well-known. The intense brotherly and sisterly love that existed between
Frederick and Wilhelmine was cemented, verily, by a bond of affliction.
Hunger and blows were often the portion of these sensitive royal
children. Wilhelmine writes of their "summer vacation":

"We had a most sad life then. We were awakened at seven every morning by
the King's regiment, which exercised in front of the windows of our
rooms on the ground floor. The firing went on incessantly, piff, puff,
and lasted the whole morning. At ten we went to see our mother and
accompanied her into the room next the King's, where we sat and sighed
all the forenoon. Then came dinner time. The dinner consisted of six
small, badly cooked dishes, which had to suffice for twenty-four
persons, so that some had to be satisfied with the mere smell. At table
nothing else was talked of but economy and soldiers. The Queen and
ourselves, too unworthy to open our mouths, listened in humble silence
to the oracles which were pronounced. After dinner the King slept in his
armchair for two hours, and we had to keep as still as mice until he
awoke. Then we read with the Queen. When, at last, the King went to his
tobacco parliament we were free for a little while."

That Frederick and his sister grew up, under this repressive system,
into nothing worse than a pair of neurasthenics seems almost a miracle.

During the eighteenth century there were two distinct types of
history-making men in Germany the Frenchified-German, fond of pageants
and rich raiment, and the rugged, harsh, yet true-hearted, fighting men
of the Dessauer stamp.

The Prince of Anhalt-Dessau was the field-marshal of Frederick William
I. To Dessau the science of warfare owes an enormous debt. When a young
man, this impetuous prince fell in love with the daughter of an
apothecary named Fos. In spite of all obstacles of birth and wealth, he
determined to marry the girl of his choice; and because he was, says
Carlyle, "perhaps the biggest mass of inarticulate human vitality",
certainly, one of the biggest then going about in the world, marry her
he did. In spite of Dessauer's being, to quote Carlyle again, "a very
whirlwind of a man," the marriage was most happy.

During the first half of the eighteenth century French practically
superseded German as the language of polite society. The virile German
language largely owes its rehabilitation to a woman, Luise Gottsched,
wife of Johann Christopher Gottsched, the famous scholar. As usual, fame
has been unjust: the husband has received all the credit, while the wife
did all, or nearly all, of the work. Luise Gottsched was one of the
brightest women of the eighteenth century. She wrote, exceedingly well.
But after her husband began his Dictionary of the German Language and
his Model Grammar, Luise was obliged to do what a clever woman whose
husband writes a dictionary is always obliged to do, drop all her own
literary work to assist him. Morning, noon, and night, year in and year
out, Luise Gottsched toiled at this verbal drudgery; and when she was
sick, worn out at the age of forty-seven, her husband whined, publicly,
because she did not always "answer pleasantly" when he called her from
her invalid's couch to copy his interminable manuscripts. She died at
the age of fifty-nine. One happy time, though, Luise Gottsched had
before she died. She saw Maria Theresa at Vienna. If the following
extracts seem somewhat servile, it must be remembered that the letter
was written in an age in which royalty worship was a part of life. In
fact, Luise Gottsched's delighted description is mainly valuable as a
true reflection of the popular feeling about royalty in the eighteenth
century. The glimpse it gives of that noble woman, Maria Theresa
(1740-1780), is also interesting. The good empress's simple, friendly
reception of the husband and wife, her divination of what this visit to
Vienna meant in their narrow lives, her kindly desire that they should
see all there was to see of interest these things are charmingly
illuminative. They make one understand the enthusiastic shout of her
Hungarian subjects: "We will die for our King, Maria Theresa." This is
what Luise Gottsched wrote:

"To Fraulein Thomasius, of Troschenreuth and Widersberg, at Nürnberg.

"VIENNA, September 28, 1749.


"First, embrace me. I believe all good things should be shared with
one's friends. Hence must I tell you that never, in all my life, have I
had such cause to be joyfully proud as on this day. You will guess at
once, I know, that I have seen the Empress. Yes, I have seen her, the
greatest among women. She who, in herself, is higher than her throne. I
have not only seen her, but I have spoken with her. Not merely seen her,
but talked with her three quarters of an hour in her family circle.
Forgive me if this letter is chaotic and my handwriting uneven. Both
faults spring from the overwhelming joy I feel in the two delights of
this day the privilege of meeting the Empress and the pleasure of
telling your Highness of the honor.

"This morning at ten we went to the palace. We took our places where
Baron Esterhazy, who procured us admission, told us to stand. He
supposed, as we did, that we, with the hundreds of others who were
waiting, might be permitted to see her Majesty as she passed through the
apartment on her way to the Royal chapel. After half an hour we had the
happiness of seeing the three Princesses go by. They asked the
Court-mistress who we were. Then, on being told our names, they turned
and extended their hands for us to kiss. The eldest Princess is about
ten years old. As I kissed her hand, she paid me a compliment. She said
she had often heard me highly spoken of. I was pleased, of course, and
very grateful for her remarkable condescension. Forgive me if this
sounds proud. Worse is to follow. I cannot tell of the incredible favor
of these exalted personages without seeming to be vain. But you well
know that I am not vain.

"About eleven o'clock, a man-servant, dressed in gorgeous livery, came
and told us to follow him. He led us through a great many frescoed
corridors and splendid rooms into a small apartment which was made even
smaller by a Spanish screen placed across it. We were told to wait
there. In a few moments, the Mistress of Ceremonies came. She was very
gracious to us. In a little while, her Majesty entered followed by the
three Princesses. My husband and myself each sank upon the left knee and
kissed the noblest, the most beautiful hand that has ever wielded a
sceptre. The Empress gently bade us rise. Her face and her gracious
manner banished all the timidity and embarrassment we naturally felt in
the presence of so exalted and beautiful a figure as hers. Our fear was
changed to love and confidence. Her Majesty told my husband that she was
afraid to speak German before the Master of that language. 'Our Austrian
dialect is very bad, they say' she added.

"To which my man answered that, fourteen years before, when he listened
to her address at the opening of the Landtag, he had been struck by the
beauty and purity of her German. She spoke, on that occasion, he said,
like a goddess.

"Then the Empress laughed merrily, saying, ''Tis lucky I was not aware
of your presence or I should have been so frightened that I should have
stopped short in my speech.' She asked me how it happened that I became
so learned a woman. I replied, 'I wished to become worthy of the honor
that has this day befallen me in meeting your Majesty. This will forever
be a red-letter day in my life.'

"Her Majesty said, 'You are too modest. I well know that the most
learned woman in Germany stands before me.' My answer to that was,
'According to my opinion, the most learned woman, not of Germany only,
but of all Europe, stands before me as Empress.'

"Her Majesty shook her head. 'Ah, no,' she said, 'my familiar
acquaintance with that woman forces me to say you are mistaken.'"

Maria Theresa's husband joined the group and chatted most affably. Some
of the younger children were called in and properly reverenced. Then the
empress asked the visitors if they would like to see her remaining
babies, upstairs. Of course, the Gottscheds were enchanted at the
thought. Following the mistress of ceremonies, they went upstairs "to
the three little angels there," whom they found in the not exactly
celestial act of "eating their breakfast under the care of the Countess

After kissing "the little, highborn hands," the happy visitors were
conducted through the private rooms of the palace, "an honor," Frau
Gottsched writes, ecstatically, "not vouchsafed to one stranger out of a
thousand." Not the least pleasant part of the whole visit naturally was
the return to the waiting room, now full, where all "congratulated them
upon the unusual honor shown them."

Luise begs her friend, a bit insincerely perhaps, to "burn this letter
and tell no one of its contents lest people may accuse us, hereafter, of
being proud."

In the eighteenth century the peasants of Germany were fairly well off.
Some of the most cruel political disabilities of the peasant class had
been removed. Agriculture, in consequence, had made great strides. In
the towns the condition of the workingwomen was about the same as in the
seventeenth century. To escape man's lust was still the main problem of
any virtuous working girl who was unfortunate enough to possess a pretty

The chief diversion of rich and poor, alike, was the theatre. Acting was
the first profession, except teaching, opened to German women. Dramatic
art in Germany, when about to expire from sheer vulgarity, was saved by
a woman. She died a martyr to the cause of purity in art.

Frederica Caroline Weissenborn was born in Reichenbach. Her father, a
physician, was a man of Calvinistic sternness. Caroline had a lover,
Johann Neuber, an actor. Her father, learning of his daughter's
infatuation, determined to "whip it out of her." In those days all
fathers whipped their grown-up daughters, and their wives too, if they
felt like it. But Caroline did not propose to be whipped. She jumped
from a two-story window and, with no bones broken, landed in a hedge.
Young Neuber, the actor, seems to have been strolling near the hedge
that day, for he appeared promptly upon the scene and took Caroline to a
neighboring town, where they were speedily married. Fate led the couple
to Leipzig. Both Neuber and his wife played there. They became friends
with the Gottscheds. Gottsched was deeply interested in the restoration
of the German drama. Caroline Neuber was the one woman in the world to
carry out, to improve and broaden, the pedant's plans. Upon Luise
Gottsched, of course, fell the immense labor of translation and
arrangement. The three worked enthusiastically. Neuber kept the accounts
and did the marketing.

But the heart and soul of the new movement to improve the German stage
was Caroline Neuber, keen-sighted, energetic, sympathetic. Caroline
Neuber organized a theatrical troupe upon moral lines hitherto unknown
in the history of the stage. All unmarried actresses of the troupe lived
with her. She watched their conduct closely and insisted upon decorum.
The unmarried actors of the company were obliged to dine at her table.
No tavern temptations were to be put in their way. Madame Neuber began
by presenting only classic tragedies, but public demand forced her to
alternate tragedy with farce. From Hamburg she wrote: "Our tragedies and
comedies are fairly well attended. The trouble we have taken to improve
taste has not been thrown away. I find here various converted hearts.
Persons whom I have least expected to do so have become lovers of
poetry, and there are many who appreciate our orderly, artistic plays."

Of Caroline Neuber, Lessing says: "One must be very prejudiced not to
allow to this famous actress a thorough knowledge of her art. She had
masculine penetration, and in one point only did she betray her sex. She
delighted in stage trifles. All plays of her arrangement are full of
disguises and pageants, wondrous and glittering. But, after all, Neuber
may have known the hearts of the Leipzig burghers, and put these
settings in to please them, as flies are caught with treacle."

For a while, Madame Neuber scored a brilliant success in Saxony. Then
the public, following a corrupt court, grew tired of classical poetry
and virtue on the stage, and clamored for its old diet of buffoonery and
immorality. Neuber refused to lower the standard of her plays. In 1733
her contract with the court theatre expired, and the king refused to
renew it. He placed a Merry Andrew at the head of the court theatre. In
Hamburg and Saint Petersburg, Madame Neuber received similar treatment.
But this true artist would not give up her fight for a pure stage. She

"We could earn a great deal of money if we would play only the
tasteless, the obscene, the cheap blood-curdling or the silly,
fashionable plays. But we have undertaken what is good. We will not
forsake the path as long as we have a penny. Good must continue good."

Caroline Neuber and her husband were growing old. They were bitterly
poor. They played subordinate, but never immoral, parts now in any
troupe that would take them. They had broken with Gottsched, whose wife
was dead. One good friend, Dr. Loeber, remained, however. Dr. Loeber
gave the old couple a room, rent free, in Dresden. In the war of 1756,
Prussian soldiers, quartered in Dresden, slept in the same room with the
Neubers. But the soldiers treated the aged actress with the greatest
respect. Not an indecent word was ever uttered by them in her presence.
Not a pipe was ever laid upon her poor little writing table. When her
husband died in that over-crowded attic, Prussian soldiers bore him,
tenderly and reverently, to his grave.

In 1760 the city was bombarded. A shell crashed through the roof of the
room where old Madame Neuber lay ill. Dr. Loeber carried her for safety
to a suburban village. But the owner of the house to which she was
taken, when he found out who she was, refused to let an actress die
under his roof; so she was moved again, this time to a room in a cottage
nearby. From her bed she could see the vine-covered slopes of Pillnitz.
Dying, she folded her withered hands, and murmured: "I will lift up mine
eyes to the hills, from whence cometh my help."

Her final exit from the troubled stage of earth was accomplished with
difficulty. The village pastor, determined that no actress should be
buried in the consecrated ground over which he held sway, locked the
churchyard gates and refused to yield up the key. Madame Neuber's coffin
was therefore hoisted over the wall and lowered into the grave by two or
three old friends. No prayer was spoken; no hymn was sung. But Caroline
Neuber's influence for good lives. She performed two great services: she
purified the German drama, and she introduced Lessing to the world.

In every time and clime, belles have danced and flirted and laughed and
chatted and been happy. Madame Johanna Schopenhauer, the famous mother
of her more famous philosopher son, Arthur, has left a pleasing
description of fashion's whimseys in the eighteenth century:

"We had no thin ball dresses, for the simple reason that thin varieties
of woven material had not then been invented. And yet we danced in our
cumbrous company gowns made of heavy silk we were passionately fond of
dancing. We were courted, admired, nay, even as much admired as our
granddaughters are now in their cloudlike, treacherously diaphanous
garments. How it happened, in our hideous disguises, I cannot, at this
distance of time, pretend to explain. How well I remember my first ball!

"At least an ell was added to my stature by a monstrous tower of hair
which was built up on a wire and horsehair frame, and which was crowned
with flowers, feathers, and ribbons. The high heels of my white ball
slippers, which were adorned with golden ties, contributed to
counterbalance the disproportion in my little person at the other
extremity. Though my shoes fell far short of the preposterous height of
my hair, they raised my heels so far from the ground as to pitch me on
the tips of my toes. A pair of stays with whalebones close together, of
a thickness sufficient to turn a musket ball, forced back the arms and
shoulders and threw the chest forward. Down toward the hips the corset
was laced so tightly as to make one's figure resemble that of a wasp.
These stays restricted all freedom of motion. They had only one sensible
thing about them, and that was a rather stout iron which kept them from
pressing on the breast.

"And now, the hooped petticoat over which was worn a silk skirt with
flounces and all kinds of indescribable trimmings up to the knees. Over
this was worn a robe of the same material, with a long train. In front
this robe was open, sloping on each side from the waist. The sides of
the robe were ornamented with the same kind of trimming as adorned the
skirt. The neck and bosom were considerably exposed. The whole was
completed with an immense bouquet of artificial flowers. The sleeves
reached only to the elbows, and were richly trimmed with blond lace and
ribbons to the shoulders.

"This, however, was the dress of young ladies only. Our mothers were
splendid in stiff brocades and ruffles of blond or point lace. Long
sleeves were not worn at all, even for everyday dresses, summer or
winter. Hardened by habit, we did not suffer more than we do now. Our
mothers dressed much more richly than we did. They were heavily loaded
with jewels.

"The fashions were obtained from Paris, but only when they had become
rather obsolete there. Though disfigured by exaggeration, they were
eagerly sought after. One exception only was made, in our part of the
country at least: the French habit of using rouge was not adopted. The
few ladies who dared be so heterodox as to paint themselves did it with
fear and trembling and with the greatest secrecy, for they ran the risk
of being publicly reprimanded from the pulpit. Our Lutheran shepherd was
very strict with his flock.

"Another fashion, however, found universal favor with our elegant
ladies. A fashion so senseless that I should, certainly, have doubted
its existence if I had not, as a child, often played with my mother's
mother-of-pearl box of patches. All ladies wore patches, and my mother
always kept her box handy, its lid being provided with a small
looking-glass, so that if a patch fell off she might at once replace it
with another. These little ornaments, made of English court-plaster,
were cut in the shape of full, half and crescent moons, stars, hearts,
etc., and were stuck on the face with much forethought and ingenuity to
heighten the charms of the wearer, and to add a graceful expression to
the countenance. A row of tiny moons, gradually increasing in size from
the crescent to the full, at the outer corner of the eye, was supposed
to make that organ look larger, and to heighten its brightness. A couple
of small stars at the corner of the mouth was thought to impart an
enchantingly roguish expression to it. A patch on the cheek was thought
to bring out a dimple to advantage. There were, besides, patches of
larger size doves, cupids, suns, and others known by the general name of
'assassins,' probably because of their killing effect on masculine

In the last analysis, the position of woman in any given period depends
upon the currently accepted philosophy underlying that period. The
philosophy of the seventeenth century that of Descartes and Leibnitz
maybe condensed in one word mechanism. Woman, with her emotional nature,
her wayward, irregular fancies, her insistence upon personal love
instead of rigid law, her lack of logic, and her perplexing, often
keenly puncturing intuitions, had no place in the well-arranged system
of Descartes and Leibnitz. It was even questioned, satirically in
France, but seriously in Germany, whether or not woman was a human
being. If not, said the learned divines who argued the question in their
pulpits, she could not be eligible to salvation. The conclusion, not
unanimous, however, finally reached was that women ought to be looked
upon as human beings, lower, of course, than man, but a grade or two
higher than the beasts of the field.

Of seventeenth century philosophers, Spinoza, "the God-intoxicated man,"
alone met any of the conscious higher needs of woman. Hence, women, by
thousands, accepted the philosophy of Spinoza under the name of

Seventeenth century philosophy made woman nothing. Eighteenth century
philosophy, springing from the English utilitarians, Hobbes, Locke, and
Hume, made woman a mere adjunct, a tool of man. Above all things else,
an Englishman loves his home. A good wife makes a man more comfortable
in his home than a bad one. "Therefore," said eighteenth century
philosophy, "'tis the part of worldly prudence to train women toward
virtue." This thought is the substance of Locke's Treatise on Education,
so far as it concerns women. "A husband of high social standing may be
the reward of persistent virtue," added Samuel Richardson, the man
through whom Locke's philosophy became potent over women of all ranks in
all civilized countries.

For more than half a century Locke's philosophy, filtered through
Richardson's novels, colored feminine ideals almost as deeply on the
continent as in the author's own country. Rousseau was a third link in
the chain a very strong, a mighty link.

Richardson's first novel was Pamela, or Virtue Rewarded. Clarissa
Harlowe and Sir Charles Grandison soon followed. Each of these books,
translated into German, passed through many editions. French renderings
of Richardson's novels also flooded German book stores. This author's
books struck both new and old chords in the heart of German womanhood.
They dealt with heroines who moved in the humbler walks of life. Before
Richardson and Rousseau wrote, the memoirs of highborn dames may be
searched in vain for a single expression of sisterly feeling toward
women in a lower rank of society than their own. Compassion and
almsgiving were not lacking, but the "put yourself in her place" feeling
seems never previously to have been awakened. Richardson emphasized
chastity a virtue which the early eighteenth century world most sadly
lacked. He made the hearthstone once more an altar.

Out of the sentimentalism of the Locke-Richardson-Rousseau school was
evolved a type of womanhood which, during the second half of the
eighteenth century, made the world purer and better.



About the middle of the eighteenth century, after long and weary years
of unfruitful struggle, disappointment and desolation, there begins
faintly to glimmer, and then rapidly to shine in broad illumination, a
stupendous cultural movement the impelling force of which was the
humanizing thought which sprang from the fertile brains of great
literary and philosophical thinkers; preeminent among whom were Lessing,
the greatest critical genius of the German nation, and Kant, Germany's
greatest philosopher. Enlightenment mental liberation from the shackles
of tradition and orthodoxy became the watch-word of the time. Through
the dominating personality of Frederick the Great (1740-1786), even
despotism was made to feel this influence, the scope of which was still
further extended, though less successfully, by the reforms of Joseph II.
(1765-1790), Maria Theresa's son. The message sounded from beyond the
seas in the American Declaration of Independence, and the Constitution
spread through the hearts of the nations of Europe, proclaiming the
gospel of human rights and equality before God and the law. The French
Revolution was its most direct fruit. In Germany, the liberation of
thought, of science and art, the emancipation of man and woman alike,
had to precede political freedom which, in its full development, could
be evolved only by blood and iron.

It is true, however, that, though the idea of humanism then became the
ideal of the present, there remained enough of the social and political
vices and errors of the past to make this epoch perhaps the most complex
and complicated in German history. Divine thought and
mystic-sentimental-pseudo-science, the grossest lust and the highest
idealism, the most abject servility and the most liberal political
views, cynical scepticism and childlike faith, true patriotism and
nationalism on the one hand, national treason and anti-national
cosmopolitanism on the other, meet and conflict at every step.

But whatever were the conditions of the time, woman was the _causa
movens_, the underlying force of the cultural life of the nation and of
all its leaders. Women contributed to the progress of the storm and
stress evolution toward classicism and emancipation; women inspired the
bloom of literature; women gave Germany a stage and adorned it with
their genius as actresses; women fostered the arts; women on the throne
ruled Germany; a German woman, withal the greatest and vilest, Katharine
the Great, raised Russia to the rank of a world power; women dominated
the nobility and the courts; women elevated the bourgeoisie to higher
standards of living and thinking; women strove to emancipate themselves
and their peasant husbands from servitude.

The movements of the women of the burgher classes were much more
restricted than are those of the women of to-day. They might not walk
abroad, or visit theatres, concerts, or public places, without their
natural male companions; their chambermaids accompanied them even to
church and to stores. Their natural field of activity, their world, was
the house. The reading of novels was held in low esteem. Book learning
was of a rather elementary kind, but there was plenty of good sense and
home happiness, and sensible rearing of large families. It is a painful
fact that from Bavaria, a country which was under the fullest sway of
the Church, quite different testimony comes to us. We may realize,
however, from the base tone of characteristic sermons, communicated to
us in Nicolai's works, how low must have been the standard of the clergy
of that time. The author and traveller Risbeck describes the degradation
of the burgher classes in Bavaria, "where all vie in drinking and
immorality, where next to every church stands a tavern and a base house.
There a priest touches a fair maiden's bosom, which is half-covered with
a 'scapulier.' There one inquires whether you are of her religion, for
she will have nothing to do with a heretic. Another discusses during her
debauch her spiritual sodalities, her pilgrimages and absolutions, etc.,

Owing to their gradual enfranchisement by Frederick the Great and Joseph
II., the peasantry had mightily progressed from the brutal feudal
oppression. The French Revolution also had some beneficent results for
the German peasantry. After the terrible downfall of Prussia and Austria
because of Napoleon's onslaughts, a great step forward was taken through
the reforms of the statesman Stein, and the Revolution of 1848
accomplished the rest. Therewith the elevation of the women of the
peasantry went hand in hand. The many and varied popular festivals of
the German peasantry, with their peculiar customs and gaieties, reveal
the fact that there was no lack of those harmless social pleasures which
are the delight of woman, inasmuch as they give scope to characteristics
peculiarly feminine. The festivals of singers, riflemen, and gymnasts,
which were then and are to-day observed in nearly every little German
town and village, also contributed to the enrichment of the life of the
lower classes.

The chapter of wealth and poverty, of overwork and enforced idleness,
belongs but incidentally to our theme, in so far as it affects the life
and morality of German womanhood. While the record is, on the whole,
favorable for the time, yet we cannot conceal the fact that with the
pauperism of certain sections of Germany, due to wars, drought, princely
maladministration, and unjust taxation, the female vices and crimes
which are instigated by poverty attained terrible proportions. The great
romantic authoress Bettina von Arnim has given us painful insight into
the lives of the poor women in the "family-houses" of Berlin, a sad
anticipation of our tenement houses. The female youth of the
God-forsaken proletariat then, as to-day, fell almost irretrievable
victims to the blasting, soul-consuming vice of prostitution. The
numberless examples of the brave, courageous, noble self-sacrifice of
hundreds of thousands of pure women of the poorest classes, who through
overwork staggered into an early grave, are not statistically reported;
but the statistics of prostitution of German cities, which are
conscientiously recorded, reveal a terrible state of affairs, not worse
than that of other great civilized nations, yet painful enough for the
historian of culture.

But let us return to the shadow of the thrones of the second half of the
eighteenth century. Under Maria Theresa's father, Charles VI.
(1711-1740), the last Habsburger, French morals had been domesticated in
Vienna. The monarch officially kept a mistress, maitresse en Hire. Lady
Montague, a distinguished British peeress, reported that "every lady of
rank in Vienna had two men, one who gave her his name, the other, who
fulfilled the duties of the husband." These alliances were so general
that it would have been a grievous offence not to invite the two men
with the lady to a feast. It is true that with Maria Theresa's ascent to
the throne a different morality was forced upon the unwilling court
circles. The empress was virtuous and religious in the extreme, an
admirable wife and mother, and maintained toward vice an unrelenting

The political greatness of Empress Maria Theresa does not belong to our
theme. To characterize her, however, in a nutshell, we cannot forgo
quoting her famous note to Prime Minister Kaunitz, with which she
accompanied the treaty of the first partition of Poland in 1772: "When
all my States were assailed and I did not know where to bear my child, I
insisted upon my right and the help of God. But in this affair, in which
not only manifest justice cries to heaven against us, but also right and
common reason is against us, I must confess that I have never in my life
felt such an anguish and such a shame to allow myself to be seen.
Consider, Prince, what an example we give to all the world when, for a
miserable piece of Poland or of Moldavia and Wallachia, we throw to the
dogs our honor and reputation! I notice well that I stand alone and am
no Longer _en vigueur_, therefore I let things take their course, though
not without my greatest grief."

The moral example of Maria Theresa did not, however, in any great degree
affect her gallant husband, Francis of Lorraine. His mistress, Princess
Auersperg-Neipperg, had all the noble vices of her exalted position. The
prime minister, Kaunitz, was utterly immoral, and even dared to take
with him in his equipage his mistresses, who waited till his audience
with the empress was over. When the latter once ventured to remonstrate
with him, he replied: "Madam, I have come here to speak with you about
your affairs, not about my own." The so-called chastity commission
established by the empress to supervise the morals of Vienna succeeded
in compelling those who persistently indulged in vices at least to
exercise more caution and discretion; for she remained inexorable
against scandalous debauch and inflicted ignominious chastisement upon
the offenders, according to the Draconic code of the time. The result
was that Vienna had its "Messalinas in toned down colors," as the
British traveller Wraxall says, and that "the superstition of Austrian
women, though it be traditional and immense, is by no means an obstacle
to excesses; they sin, pray, confess, and begin anew."

The brilliant court at Vienna found its counterpart in the frugal,
economical bourgeois court of Berlin, while that of Dresden, as
mentioned in the foregoing chapters, was sunk in a mire of moral
corruption. The memoirs of Marquise Sophie Wilhelmine of Baireuth,
sister of Frederick the Great, describe, with humor and sometimes with
ingenuous malice, the condition of the court at Dresden. The wife and
children of the coarse soldier-king were treated with great harshness
and almost deprived of the necessities of life. The marquise tells of a
visit to Dresden in 1738, where Frederick fell in love with Countess
Orzelska, a natural daughter and mistress of August the Strong. The pen
refuses to record the history of the incest practised at that court with
and among the three hundred and fifty-four "natural" children of August.
August was jealous of the Crown Prince of Prussia, and therefore
substituted for Countess Orzelska the beautiful Italian Formera, who
became Frederick's first mistress. Later, however, at the return visit
of the Saxon court to Berlin, as Scherr reports, Frederick again met the
Countess Orzelska, a meeting which did not remain without consequences.
Other details of the court life of the time cannot be put on paper: we
must refer the reader to Scherr's discussion of Eighteenth Century Court
Society, to Lessing's Emilia Galotti, in which in Italian disguise the
great classicist chastises German princely rape, and to Schiller's
drama, Cabal and Love, which proves that, unfortunately, the victims of
princely lust were not always the willing courtesans; but frequently
victims chosen from the people.

The court of Berlin is said by some to have assumed a higher standard of
morality when Frederick ascended the throne. His consort, Princess
Elizabeth of Brunswick, though a noble and pure woman, had never won his
love, for he had been forced into the marriage by his father; she did
not reside with her royal husband, whose life was now filled with his
world-stirring military and political deeds and, for recreation, with
music, history, and philosophy. On the other hand, from the report of
the British ambassador, Lord Malmesbury (1772), it seems that the great
king had not succeeded in raising the standard of morality among the
inhabitants of his residence, as the ambassador, perhaps owing to
splenetic exaggeration, writes that "there is in that capital neither an
honest man nor a chaste woman. An absolute moral corruption prevails
among both sexes of all classes, to which must be added a general
impoverishment due to the fiscal oppressions of the actual king,
Frederick the Great, and their love of luxury since the times of the
king's grandfather. The men are constantly occupied with limited means
in leading an immoral life. The women are harpies who have sunk so low
more from want of modesty than anything else. They sell themselves to
him who pays best, and delicacy or true love are to them unknown
things." The great traveller and naturalist George Foster confirms that
statement at least as regards women, whom he describes as "generally

Though Frederick of Prussia and Joseph II. of Austria lived purely, at
least after their respective accessions, and were, politically, epoch
makers in history, they were both succeeded by rulers who were morally
and politically decadent. Leopold of Austria (1790-1792) died after a
reign of but two years, his death being caused by sexual excesses and
debauchery with his German and Italian concubines. His private cabinet
was, after his death, found to be a true "arsenal of lust."

Still more disastrous to Prussia proved the sovereignty of Frederick
William II., nephew of the great Frederick; for during his calamitous
reign of eleven years (1786-1797) this monarch disorganized the solid
forces of the realm to such an extent that, a few years later, at the
battle of Jena (1806), Napoleon succeeded, as it were with one blow, in
overturning the proud structure of Frederick's state.

His court was the abode of an indescribable dissoluteness. As crown
prince, he had been married to Princess Elizabeth of Brunswick, who,
though not of good moral repute herself, nevertheless declined
intercourse with her dissolute consort. We must waive the responsibility
for the following report given by Scherr upon the authority of
Dampmartin, the well-informed courtier. "Frederick the Great, desiring
the succession to the throne to be ensured before his death, ordered an
old chamberlain to communicate to the princess that he, the king, wished
she should admit to intimate intercourse the lieutenant of the royal
guard N. N. (Von Schmettau), who had impressed the king by the beauty of
his form, his conduct, and his bravery. But no eloquence prevailed upon
the princess to yield to the shameless demand, whereupon the king
resolved upon the divorce of his nephew." Frederick William II. later
married Princess Louise of Hesse-Darmstadt, who bore him an heir to the
throne, the pure and honest Frederick William III. (1797-1840).

It must be said, however, that lawful marriage was but an episode in the
life of the immoral king Frederick William II., while favorite after
favorite divided his affections. Wilhelmina Encke, nominal wife of the
chamberlain Rietz, later raised to the rank of Countess of Lichtenau,
maintained her position with the king during his whole life, not only
through the influence of her own charms, but by means of immoral
services in connection with other beautiful women. Other ladies of noble
birth, Julie von Voss and Countess Sophie von Donhoff, exacted almost a
formal marriage from the king while the queen was actually alive, and
the Evangelical Consistory was compelled submissively to sanction the
royal bigamy. Rich payments to the families of the royal pseudo-wives
are on record, and prove the accumulation of a debt of forty-nine
million thalers at the death of the king, who had had at his disposal
the treasure of Frederick the Great.

It is with relief that we leave the pages stained with the depravity and
moral bankruptcy of the era of Countess Lichtenau.

One royal woman, shining in the lustre of purity, genuine nobility, and
self-sacrificing patriotism, dispels the moral darkness around her as
the sun purifies and warms the atmosphere of the world. Princess Louise
of Mecklenburg-Strelitz, consort of Frederick William III., mother of
Emperor William I., great-grandmother of the actual German emperor,
William II., is one of the purest and noblest of women of all times, and
is rightly sanctified in the hearts, not only of all Germans, but of
all, whether friend or foe, who have ever contemplated her life, her
motherhood, her martyrdom, and her early death. From her pure bosom
sprang, to a large extent, the present greatness of Germany.

Truly, were not the age too far advanced, Queen Louise deserved to be
canonized. As if fate dared no relapse, no unworthy woman has succeeded
her in the house of Hohenzollern. To offset the instances of the
degradation of womanhood related for the sake of historical truth, let
us twine a wreath of the laurel of fame, the myrtle of chastity, and the
lilies of purity for her noble and beautiful brow.

A biographer well says of Louisa Augusta Wilhelmina Amelia, the fair,
blue-eyed princess who was born on March 10, 1776, and baptized in the
Church of the Holy Ghost, that the child was as sweet and fair as a lily
unfolding in the genial sunshine of early spring. When the summer season
of her life had run its course, when autumn's winds began to whisper
that all bright things on earth must die to be renewed, the lily was
gathered and taken away to bloom on in the Paradise above. Many eulogies
were written in honor of Queen Louisa; one of the most pleasing is Jean
Paul Richter's poetical allegory: "Before she was born, her Genius stood
and questioned Fate. 'I have many wreaths for the child,' he said; 'the
flower garland of beauty, the myrtle-wreath of marriage, the oak and
laurel wreath of the love for the German Fatherland, and a crown of
thorns; which of all may I give the child?' 'Give her all thy wreaths
and crowns,' said Fate; 'but there still remains one which is worth all
the others.' On the day when the death-wreath was placed on that noble
forehead the Genius again appeared, but he questioned only by his tears.
Then answered a voice 'Look up!' and the God of Christians appeared."

As a maiden of fourteen, Princess Louisa, through a providential
circumstance, became with her sister Friederika the guest of Frau Rath
Goethe in Frankfort on the occasion of the coronation of Emperor
Leopold. Goethe's famous mother considered herself highly honored in
being chosen as hostess to entertain the princesses. The occasion
furnishes some very interesting glimpses of the character of both those
famous women. Frau Goethe found the highborn sisters so simple-minded,
so unaffected in their manners, that she was delighted with them. Frau
Goethe, young with the young to the end of her days, entered into their
enjoyment of scenes and circumstances invested with the charm of novelty
for the light-hearted princesses. She never forgot the meeting with the
future Queen of Prussia, and often used to tell a story about the pump
in the rear of Goethe's house. When Louisa once espied the pump from the
back room, she exclaimed roguishly: "I wonder if we could make the water
rush out; how I should like to try." Upon a consenting wink, they rushed
to the back yard and pumped to their hearts' content. The highborn
lady-in-waiting was shocked and objected to their plebeian occupation,
but Goethe's mother threatened to turn the door key rather than permit
interference with the sport of her princely guests.

Bettina von Arnim, who was on terms of great intimacy with Goethe's
mother, amusingly described in a letter to Goethe a meeting with the
brother of the princesses, who had invited himself to eat bacon, salad,
and pancake at Frau Goethe's house.

After the unfortunate campaign of the allies, Prussia and Austria
against France in 1792, while the princes of Mecklenburg were with the
army, Louisa and her three sisters were with their grandmother at
Hildburghausen, comforting and cheering one another in those days of
political desolation. Jean Paul Friedrich Richter, the poet, enjoyed the
distinction of the friendship of the princesses of Mecklenburg. Louisa,
at the age of sixteen, is thus described. She was like her sister
Charlotte, had "the same loving blue eyes," but their expression changed
more quickly with the feeling or thought of the moment. Her soft brown
hair still retained a gleam of the golden tints of childhood; her fair
transparent complexion was in the bloom of its exquisite beauty, painted
by nature as softly as were the roses she gathered and enjoyed. The
princess was tall and slight, and graceful in all her movements. This
grace was not merely external; it rose from the inner depths of a pure
and noble mind, and therefore was full of soul.

On their return to Darmstadt, the capital of Princess George of Hesse,
Louisa's grandmother, the princesses met the King of Prussia and his
sons at Frankfort. It was an eventful day. The crown prince, later
Frederick William III., whose "age was in sorrow, whose hope in God," as
his motto runs, was captivated by the loveliness of Louisa. Long years
after her death he revealed his feelings at that momentous hour to
Bishop Eylert, his spiritual friend and comforter in sorrow, referring
to Schiller's words in The Bride of Messina:

        "So strangely, mysteriously, wonderfully
        Her presence seized upon my inner life;
        'Twas not the magic of that lovely smile,
        'Twas not the charm which hover'd o'er her cheek,
        Not yet the radiance of her sylph-like form;
        It was the pure deep secret of her being
        Which held and fettered me with holy might.
        Like magic powers that blend mysteriously,
        Our twin souls seemed without one spoken word
        To spring together, spirit stirred to blend
        As we together breathed the air of heaven.
        Stranger to me, yet inwardly akin,
        Beloved at once I felt graved on my heart
        'Tis she, or none on earth."

On April 24, 1793, the double betrothals between the two royal sons of
Prussia and the two Mecklenburg princesses were celebrated at Darmstadt.
At the encampment of Mainz, Goethe saw the royal brothers and their
fiancées walking through the canvas streets. Hidden in his own tent he
was entranced by their charms: "Amid all the terrible and tumultuous
memories of the war, the recollection of those two young ladies rises up
before me like a heavenly vision, which having been once seen can never
be forgotten." Princess Louisa may not even have known of Goethe's
presence in the camp, but she knew his works well and admired especially
his shorter poems. She certainly cherished the recollection of her stay
in the great poet's house at Frankfort, in recognition of which Prince
Charles Frederick of Mecklenburg had presented to Frau Goethe, as a
token of thanks, a beautiful snuffbox which was to her almost a sacred

On December 21st, Prince Charles Frederick, with his daughters and their
grandmother, arrived at Potsdam, where they were awaited by the
impatient bridegrooms. It was a day of universal joy, and every window
of the city was illuminated when the royal visitors passed under the
triumphal arch. Two days later there was a solemn entrance into Berlin.
Universal was the admiration excited by the uncommon beauty and
unaffected grace of the princesses. The foundation of Queen Louisa's
popularity was laid. On Christmas eve, 1793, all the members of the
royal family assembled in the apartments of the queen, where the diamond
crown of the Hohenzollerns was placed upon Louisa's head. The entire
court then betook themselves to the apartments of Elizabeth Christine,
the unfortunate widow of Frederick the Great. What a contrast between
this happy union of love, and that of the poor Princess of Brunswick who
had been forced upon the unwilling Frederick! We learn from the court
records that Louisa's bridal dress was entirely of silver lace, simply
made, but that her corsage glittered with diamonds corresponding to
those of the crown on her head.

This is not the place to dwell upon the home life of the royal couple,
their happiness, their seclusion from the atmosphere of that corrupted
court, Louisa's studies, especially of Shakespeare and the German
classics, and the unconscious influence of purity that emanated from her
presence. A sad time was approaching, and forebodings of political evil
were not wanting. The king, whose private life had undermined his
health, was slowly dying; but before the crown prince ascended the
throne Louisa bore him two sons, both of whom were to be kings of
Prussia, the second son was to be even Emperor of Germany and the
restorer of the ancient glories of the empire. Louisa's husband,
however, gentle, honest, upright, and his noble queen, the best beloved
that ever ruled over Prussia, paid politically the penalty for their
private happiness. The great statesman Von Stein rightly deemed him
inadequate for the gigantic mission of reforming the decadence that had
been going on steadily since the death of Frederick the Great: "I love
him," he said, "for his kind, benevolent nature, his well meaning
character; but I pity him for living in this iron age, in which to
enable him to maintain his position, but one thing is necessary:
commanding military talent, united with that reckless selfishness which
can crush and trample everything under foot, and is ready to enthrone
itself on corpses."

Nevertheless, the queen loyally aided her consort in his effort to
improve the condition of the realm. Their travels through the provinces
and the newly acquired Polish territories had a good effect. The
domestic life of the royal family was a model one and made for morality
in the lives of their subjects. The royal couple were patrons of arts
and letters, and Queen Louisa was particularly enthusiastic in support
of culture. But soon the wheel of fortune turned; the king, pacific in
the extreme, did not recognize in time that, unless he would join in the
coalition against the overweening pride and power of France, Prussia
would, single handed, be compelled sooner or later to meet that power.
The battle of Austerlitz prostrated Austria completely, and the doom of
Prussia approached.

In the years of threat and war Queen Louisa lost a beloved son, Prince
Ferdinand, and the sorrow alarmingly aggravated her previous
indisposition. The waters of Pyrmont restored her somewhat, and as for a
time painful political events were kept from her, the change of scene
and the affections of her relatives and dearest friends brought to her
once more a glimpse of happiness, the last that was to come into her
brief life. Yet her constitution had been shaken by the harassing
anxieties of the situation, and added sorrow was soon to fall upon
unhappy Prussia. The army was repeatedly defeated, and blow after blow
fell upon the unhappy country. The queen and her children fled to the
confines of the realm, to Konigsberg, the coronation city of the
Prussian kings. There her third son, Frederick Charles, fell ill with
typhoid fever. The child recovered, but his mother contracted the
disease and again went down to the brink of death. The famous physician
Hufeland describes the anxieties of the crisis: "The queen was in the
utmost danger, and all night long the wind howled terrifically. . . .
The wind was so strong, it blew down a gable of the old castle. By the
blessing of God the queen passed over the crisis of the fever, and was
beginning to rally, when suddenly came the news that the French were
approaching. It was feared that the queen was not strong enough to bear
removal, and it was therefore put off as long as possible, but she
begged to be taken away, quoting the words of King David:

'I am in great straits: let us now fall into the hand of the Lord, for
his mercies are great: and let us not fall into the hands of men.' In a
blinding snowstorm and a heavy wind the queen and the delicate prince
travelled for three days along the strand of the Baltic to Memel on the
Russian frontier on their tedious, painful journey to exile, knowing not
whether they would ever return. Hufeland reports in his diary: "The
queen spent the first night in a miserable room with a broken window,
and we found the melting snow was dropping on her bed. We were very much
alarmed on her majesty's account, but she was full of trust and courage,
and the fortitude with which she suffered, gave us strength to act. I
cannot say how thankful we felt when we came within sight of Memel, and
just at that moment the sun burst gloriously through the clouds for the
first time since we had been on this journey, and we hailed it as a
happy augury." In Memel the queen recovered, though living under the
most distressing circumstances.

After the retreat of the French from the frontier the Prussian court
repaired again to Konigsberg; the queen and Madame de Kriidener, the
wife of the Russian ambassador, the religious friend of Czar Alexander,
formed a lasting friendship. They attended frequently to the sick and
wounded in the hospitals, and strengthened their faith in a bright
future, at least for the unhappy country. After their separation, Louisa
wrote to Madame de Krüdener: "I owe a confession to you, my good friend,
which I know you will receive with tears of joy. You have made me better
than I was before. Your truthful words, our conversations on
Christianity, have left an impression on my mind. I have thought with
deeper earnestness upon these things, the existence and value of which I
had indeed felt before, but I had thought lightly of them, rather
guessed at them than felt assured of them. These contemplations brought
me nearer to God, my faith became stronger, so that in the midst of
misfortune I have never been without comfort, never quite unhappy. You
will understand that I can never be perfectly miserable while this
source of purest joy is open to me...." And in spite of the loss of
one-half of her realm, and in spite of all humiliations, joy was indeed
vouchsafed her in the development of her noble children, whom she thus
describes to her father: "Our children are our most precious treasures,
and we look on them with happiness and hope.... Now you have my whole
gallery of family portraits before you, my dear father. You will say
they are painted by a foolish mother who sees nothing but good in her
children, and is quite blind to their faults or failings. But really, I
am watchful, and I do not notice in the children any dispositions or
evil propensities which need make us painfully anxious.... Circumstances
educate people, and it may be well that they learn to know the serious
side of life in their youth. Had they been brought up in luxury they
might think it was the natural course of things, that it must be so...."

When we consider that Louisa speaks of the future king and the future
Emperor of Germany, many things in the after history of Germany become
clear to us! She truly estimated the unfolding dispositions of the
future rulers of Germany. Posterity does not agree with her first modest
words: "Posterity will not place my name among those of celebrated
women, but when people think of the troubles of these times they may
say: 'She suffered much and endured with patience,' and I only wish they
may be able to add 'She gave birth to children who were worthy of better
times, and who by their strenuous endeavors have succeeded in attaining
them.'" Queen Louisa is the most famous and the best beloved woman who
ever sat on a Hohenzollern throne. Even to-day her portrait adorns
nearly every Prussian home, and her beautiful form in Grecian attire, as
a symbol of pure and noble womanhood, is found in thousands of American
homes where the prototype may not even be known by name.

She died as she had lived. In the agonies of a painful death she
preserved her patience and loveliness. When free from pain she lay very
tranquil, looking like an angel, and now and then repeating to herself a
few words of a very simple hymn which she had learned in her childhood.
The unhappy king said at her death: "Oh, if she were not mine, she might
recover." The king gazed on her dead form for a moment with a look of
anguish which wrung the hearts of all who witnessed it; then he left the
room, but soon returned with his sons. Her countenance was beautiful in
death, particularly the brow; and the calm expression of the mouth told
that struggle was forever past.

Sixty years later, in July, 1870, on the day of her death, William I.
(1861-1888) visited her Mausoleum, and prayed before the recumbent
statue of his great mother, as he did frequently, this time with a heart
burdened with hopes and fears, for again a war of tremendous
proportions, the national question of "_to be or not to be_," was
pending with the same country under an emperor of the same ominous name
"Napoleon." Before Louisa's statue the aged monarch received the
inspiration and the strength which nerved him for the last gigantic

Leaving the saintly Louisa, an entirely different type of royal
womanhood demands our consideration, a type rendered noteworthy by sheer
intellectual force. Catherine II., the Great, was the greatest woman,
politically speaking, ever produced by the German nation; but her genius
benefited, or rather raised to world power, a foreign and rival state,
namely, the Russian empire (1762-1796). Born at Stettin in 1729, and the
daughter of the petty Prince of Anhalt-Zerbst, Catherine was married to
Peter of Holstein-Gottorp, heir to the Russian throne, whose blind
admiration for the great Frederick of Prussia alienated from him the
affections of the Russian people; while Catherine identified herself
with the Russians, whose future she was destined or determined to rule.
Even as crown princess she led a notorious life, at first with Count
Soltikof, and later with Count Poniatowski, afterward the ill-fated king
of dying Poland; but she never forgot to strengthen herself, all the
while, politically, and to secure all the instruments of power against
her hated and despised husband. Peter was deposed, imprisoned, and
strangled by Gregory Orloff, Catherine's paramour, certainly not without
her knowledge (July, 1762). As empress, she forcibly obtained for Russia
a controlling influence in the councils of Europe, while civilizing her
people and mightily fostering the arts and sciences. Her literary and
epistolary works and correspondence with the greatest men of her time
prove her to have been a woman of extraordinary genius and literary
capacity. As all her talents seemed to be out of proportion to womanly
limitations, so were her immorality and passion. She ruled with an iron
hand, through a succession of favorites or recognized lovers who, it
must be confessed, had nothing to recommend them but the physical
advantages of form and animal strength. The brutal Orloff, whom she
raised from a low station, maintained himself longest in her favor,
until his aspiration for the hand of his imperial mistress worked his
undoing. Other men, selected partly from the ranks of the common
soldiers, followed in rapid succession; finally, Gregory Potemkin became
the most powerful of all of them, until he was banished from the court
for trying to win Catherine in lawful marriage. Potemkin endeavored,
though with barbarous methods, to build up southern Russia, and remained
Catherine's favorite, at a distance, till his death. Meanwhile, she
chose her later lovers merely for personal gratification, so as not to
endanger her autocracy by the presumption of powerful men. She had
brought about the election of her favorite Poniatowski as King of
Poland, but she tore the kingdom to pieces when she recognized that the
conquest of Poland alone could make her beloved Russia a civilized
European or Western power. The domestic reforms which she instituted
along all the lines of political, economic, and sociological endeavor
are stupendous, and, compared with them, the deeds of Elizabeth of
England appear insignificant. Only the Titanic success of pushing
forward the boundaries of the empire in all directions, adding to it the
Crimea, the country as far as to the Dniester, with Courland and Poland,
as well as the beneficence of her rule in the reform of justice,
administration, and sanitation, the establishment of schools and
hospitals, the building of canals and fortresses, and the improvement of
the conditions of the peasants and of the lower bureaucracy, can
compensate, in the minds of historians and publicists, for her private
moral corruption and the gigantic immorality which she carried on
without restraint and in open defiance of civilized moral order. She
died of an attack of apoplexy in November, 1796. History remains
doubtful which was greater, her boundless energy, ambition, and genius,
or her superhuman immorality.

Returning to Prussia, we find weakness to contrast with Russia's
strength. Fifteen years after the death of Frederick the Great, we have
seen that Prussia was politically in a state of decadence. As of
politics, so of morals; and even the good example of the royal family
was unable to redeem society from the demoralization that had seized
upon the higher classes, and especially upon a great number of the
officers of the army. Regarding them a credible report of a contemporary
states: "The ranks of officers, already for a long time given over to
idleness and estranged from science, are farthest sunk in debauch. They
those privileged disturbers trample under foot everything which was
formerly called sacred: religion, marital faith, all the virtues of
domesticity. Among them their wives have become common property, whom
they sell and exchange and seduce mutually. The women are so corrupted
that even ladies of noble birth degrade themselves by becoming
procuresses and panderers, to attract young women of rank in order to
procure their seduction. One finds in the public houses true Vestal
virgins as compared with many distinguished ladies who are the leaders
in society. There are women of high rank who are not ashamed to sit in
the theatre on the benches of public women, to procure for themselves
lovers to go home with them. Many dissolute women of rank even unite and
hire furnished quarters in company, whither they invite their lovers,
and celebrate without restraint bacchanalia and orgies which would have
been unknown even to the regent of France. Since Berlin is the central
point of the monarchy from which all good and evil spreads over the
provinces, the corruption has gradually expanded even thither."
Forsooth, the ignominious defeat of Jena was indeed quietly preparing
many years before it took place.

Prince Louis Ferdinand, a cousin of the king, a chameleon-like
character, composed of some good and many evil qualities, who is still
sung in German folklore, owing to his heroic death on the battlefield
against Napoleon, was an exponent of that frivolous life. Like his
prototype, the Athenian Alcibiades, he was a devotee now to wine, woman,
song, now to the strenuous life of a brave soldier and heroic patriot.
One woman of wonderful beauty and of the temper of a Messalina, to use
Scherr's words, Pauline Wiesel, held him under her demoniacal sway of
never satisfied passion. But a woman of an entirely different type, the
extraordinary Jewish authoress, and ingenious, spirited
conversationalist and epistolographer, Rahel Levin, served him as a true
Egeria in pure friendship and intellectual affinity. Rahel Levin is a
great factor in the later time of restoration and one of its foremost
personalities. Rahel, as the wife of Varnhagen von Ense, and Bettina von
Arnim are the leaders of those women who exercised such a tremendous
influence in the evolution of German womanhood during the first half of
the eighteenth century. Their influence is enduring and makes even
to-day for good.

It is incumbent upon us to retrace our steps to give a more orderly
account of the literary, intellectual, and artistic woman. The
initiators of that class, the Gottschedin and the Neuberin have been
mentioned. Since the day of Frau Caroline Neuber, the status of the
German stage had risen considerably. The theatrical companies of
Schonemann, of Koch, of Ackermann had attained fame through their
liberation from French types. Simplicity and naturalness became the
ideal of playwrights. Friederike Hensel won the reputation of being the
greatest German actress of her time, as Konrad Eckhof became foremost
among the actors. These two, and Ackermann, with his daughter, Frau
Lowen, and others, became so to speak the charter members of the newly
founded National Theatre of Hamburg, for which Lessing was appointed
dramaturgiste. After two years the enterprise failed, but nevertheless
the ideal of what a German national theatre ought to be, was created and
expressed. Gifted women and Lessing an extraordinary combination indeed!
had founded it!

Female literary work began more modestly. While a great poet like
Lessing celebrated the great era of Frederick, while Ewald von Kleist
sang his king and the Prussian army and of death for the fatherland
which glory fell to his share at the battle of Kunersdorf, there arose
also a female poet, Anna Louisa Karsch, of the newly won province of
Silesia, who, in spite of her mediocrity, was celebrated as a Prussian
Sappho. The experiences of her life, springing from abject poverty, or
rather misery, her service as a stable maid, her marriage to a brutal
old husband, and yet her constant endeavors to improve her mind under
the most trying circumstances of menial labor and want, her divorce and
remarriage with a drunken, lazy tailor, Karsch, who sold even the
clothing of her children to indulge in his vice of drunkenness, read
almost like a terrible nightmare. But the hour of salvation came. When
her good-for-nothing husband was obliged to go to the Seven Years' War,
the Silesian Baron von Kottwitz noticed her talent and took her to
Berlin. In Berlin she soon became the fashion; she was received in
literary circles, and her poetry was encouraged. The "German Horace, the
thought-singing Ramler," informed her that Gleim, the poet of Prussian
war songs, desired to know "his sister in Apollo." She hastened to write
to the "Apollinian brother." Her friends secured her even an interview
with Frederick the Great, who promised to take care of her, a promise
which he forgot, however, in spite of her repeated rhymed exhortations.
Later, he sent her a royal present of two Prussian thalers, which she
promptly returned by mail. Frederick's successor directed "that a house
should be built for her adorned with all the allegories of the Muses."
In this she lived until 1791.

The estimate of her poetic gifts cannot be very high. She was a ready
rhymester of a rather mechanical sort, but she was the first of the line
of Germanic poetesses of the modern time, and as such her work deserves
study and, it may be, praise.

Woman's love is the mainspring of action in poetry. But the sensuous and
sensual side of woman's life not alone influenced the character and
nature of I may boldly say all the German poets of the storm and stress
period as well as of the great classical era. Their religious and
ethical being was also powerfully moved by intellectual women. Goethe
had become alienated from dogmatic religion, especially at the
University of Leipzig, and when he returned sick and despondent to his
native city, a friend of his mother, Fraulein von Klettenberg, by her
"presence soothed his stormy, divergent passions at least for moments,"
and even won him over for a time to pietism. The mystic notions of the
German Quakers, the Herrenhut brotherhood, besides studies in cabalistic
alchemy, took, at least for a time, deep root in his soul. In his prayer
he betrays an almost irrational longing for the union with God and
separation from earthly things: "O that I could for once be filled with
thee, Eternal One," and again: "Alas, this anxious deep torture of the
soul, how long does it last on this earth!" Although after his recovery
he was saved by his strong healthy nature from sentimental religious
weakness, he always preserved a genuine toleration for the religious
beliefs and errors of others, and his portrait of Fraulein von
Klettenberg in his Confessions of a Beautiful Soul, will always remain a
psychological masterpiece.

It was an intellectual woman, too, who succeeded in winning the poet
Fritz Stolberg over to the Roman Catholic Church. Princess Amalia
Galitzin, called the Christian Aspasia, in Miinster, the centre of
Westphalian Catholicism, gathered the North German Catholics as well as
the Orthodox Protestants around her, and exercised for a time a powerful

As women at all times affected the hearts and souls of the great poets,
there is not one who was not moulded by womanly affections, so they in
turn were remoulded by the respective lovers. This is proved by the
entire literature of the period. The great ballad poet Burger, scorning
the tenets of morality, leads a dissolute life; and this life is
reflected even in his best work. He marries Dorette Leonhardt, while he
already loves her younger sister Molly, and his passion for the latter
grows more impetuous during his married life. As Molly returns his
criminal love, the lawful wife resigns herself to a relation which
destroys the lives of all three. After having lost both his wives in
rapid succession, he commits the error of marrying a third wife, Elise
Hahn, who, carried away by his poetry, offers herself to Burger, whom
she has never seen, and who romantically accepts her hand. But "the
delusion was short, repentance was long." Elise's fickleness, frivolity,
and manifest infidelity soon brought about a divorce. Broken in heart
and spirit, the great poet, whose life had been wrecked by "the eternal
feminine," which, instead of uplifting him, dragged him into the mire,
died, solitary, wretched, and reduced to poverty and self-contempt. His
poetry bears the traces of his ruined life.

On the other hand, the simple, virtuous and idyllic, pastoral life in
Germany is charmingly portrayed in Voss's _Luise_, and is illuminated by
Goethe's poetic genius in _Hermann and Dorothea_. Goethe, however, not
only depicted idyllic life in poetry, but actually lived it in his
student days in Strassburg with Friederike Brion, the pastor's daughter,
of Sessenheim. The art of painting has immortalized in numberless
pictures the charming idyllic forms of the lovely shepherdesses, the
Luises, the Mariannes. Miller's Siegwart, a _Cloister Story_, is one of
the many picture books of the feminine soul of that complex period of
simplicity and enlightenment. Chodowiecki, the great painter, is perhaps
the best delineator of those typical figures of German womanhood.

Sophie La Roche, who had in her youth revolutionized the mind of the
great poet Christoph Martin Wieland, was one of the most remarkable
women of her time. Wieland, in his youth, conceived a passionate love
for Sophie, whom he introduced into the treasure house of poetry, but
his enthusiastic love for her did not terminate in marriage. She
remained, however, during all her life his intimate friend, though
Goethe's overwhelming genius made Wieland's star pale in her later
estimate. As the wife of Maximilian La Roche, councillor of the Elector
of Mainz, she turned to French literature, especially to Voltaire and
Rousseau, and made her home "the place of spiritual pilgrimage on the
Rhine for German authors. Young Goethe was received there, and according
to his disposition, against which he was quite helpless revered the
mother for the sake of her two beautiful daughters, who were just
approaching womanhood. When her husband lost favor with the prince,
Sophie supported her family by her writings as "the teacher of Germany's
daughters." Her novels, written in the spirit of Richardson, are
valuable records of the many-colored court life and of the activities of
the social personages of her time. A modern author, Ludmilla Assing, has
described the life of this extraordinary woman, who is to be remembered
not only for her own merit, but as the grandmother of Clemens and
Bettina Brentano; because of whom Sophie La Roche may be called the
grandmother of German "Romanticism."

It is impossible to give even the most cursory account of the remarkable
German women of this later period, for at every step we meet with such
an _embarras de richesse_ of extraordinary women, of whom voluminous
biographical accounts have been written, that we can only select typical

Besides Caroline Neuberin, the pioneer and founder of a respectable
German stage, only one important woman played a role in the life of the
grand Lessing. A great love awoke in his heart for Eva Konig, "the only
woman with whom he would venture to live." To realize his desire, he
accepted a poorly paid position as librarian at Wolfenbiittel. He was
forty years old when the betrothal took place, but six years later his
circumstances for the first time permitted him to marry. His happiness
lasted but a short time. On Christmas eve, in 1777, a son was born to
him, who died at birth; and two weeks later, to his inconsolable grief,
he lost his beloved wife. His literary references to this great sorrow
belong to the most pathetic passages in literature, just as his
correspondence with Eva Konig, edited by Alfred Schone, furnishes the
most charming portrait of a great man.

Lessing's correspondence with Eva Konig is but an additional proof that
among the most valuable documents adduced for the characterization of
German womanhood are love letters to and from German women. Such letters
are accessible to us from the thirteenth century. During the fourteenth
century they become more numerous: a nun corresponds, perchance, with
her father confessor; presents are exchanged, and sentiments, not always
of a purely religious nature. Now and then the tender phrase is wanting,
but is replaced by a crude picture of a heart pierced with an arrow.
Later on we find an address like "lovable, subtle, beneficent,
well-formed, overloved woman." Luther greets his "friendly, dear 'lord,'
Frau Catherine von Bora, Doctor Lutherin in Wittenberg" with teasing
endearments, as he complains of the fare at the court of Saxony and
expresses his longing for home: "What a good wine and beer have I at
home, besides a charming wife, or should I say 'lord!'" An attractive
originality shines forth from the letters of Duchess Elizabeth Charlotte
of Orleans, and from those of Goethe's mother. Naturalness was the ideal
in letter writing of the late eighteenth century, as artificiality had
been that of the preceding era. Frau Gottsched, in her letters, reveals
a roguish grace that contrasts with the stilted style of her tyrant
husband. Goethe's letters of love and longing in Werther will stand as a
model as long as literature shall be esteemed in the world, although
there is a realistic and totally indefensible sentimentality in
Werther's love of Lotte, the wife of another man.

Werther, beautiful of form, spiritual, and highly gifted, had,
naturally, frequently aroused love without returning it; now Nemesis
seizes him; he loves, loves to madness the wife of another man. The
loveliness of Lotte (by the way, she is a real person, Charlotte Buff;
while the lover is a composite of Goethe himself and young Jerusalem,
who had actually shot himself at Wetzlar for the love of another man's
wife), as we see her in pictures of German artists, feeding her numerous
brothers and sisters, who cling to her, fans Werther's love, which is
stronger than all the other forces of his heart. Unable to resist his
passion, he chooses death as an inevitable necessity. The romance
presented in the letters of the hero only concentrates the sequence of
events forcibly upon the tragic climax. Lotte is the passive instrument
in bringing about Werther's suicide. As to Werther he is Goethe himself,
the novel is simply a fragment of a great confession.

Goethe's numberless works, touching upon universal interests, are among
the most profound and most exhaustive treatises on womanly nature ever
written. Women accompany him through his long life and influence him at
every step of his career as poet, philosopher, and statesman. His
extraordinary mother, of a patrician Frankfort family, spirited,
natural, poetic, with a melodious, beautiful soul, instilled into him
the sense of the beautiful and perchance gave him creative force.

Cornelia, Goethe's only sister, also powerfully influenced and inspired
him. She was to Goethe what Frederick the Great's favorite sister,
Wilhelmine, was to her brother. Goethe delineated the characteristics of
his charming mother in the character of Elizabeth, wife of Goetz von
Berlichingen. Poor abandoned Maria is, according to Goethe's allusions,
the martyred Friederike. Sister Cornelia inspired the play.

The abiding effect of woman's love upon Goethe becomes manifest when we
realize that an unhappily ending early love affair with Gretchen, a
young girl of Frankfort, remained imprinted upon his soul for more than
forty years, and served him as a prototype for his greatest, most
complex, and most pathetic heroine, Gretchen in _Faust_. It is true that
after the unfortunate ending of that romance at Frankfort he found
sufficient compensation in his love for Käthe Schonkopf, the daughter of
a wine dealer in Leipzig, at whose restaurant he boarded when a student
of seventeen at the university. According to the portrait taken from the
gallery of Goethean women, Käthe was a fascinating, round-faced girl.
She gave up her ardent lover when he tortured her too much with his
jealous whims, and the pain of that separation was dramatized by Goethe
in his earliest play, _The Caprice of the Lover_.

We have briefly mentioned Goethe's return, broken in health and spirit,
from Leipzig to Frankfort, the influence exerted upon him by Katherine
von Klettenberg, his transfer to the University of Strassburg, and his
idyl with Friederike of Sessenheim, which the most eminent
German-American literary critic Julius Goebel calls, however, more
fittingly "a tragedy." His famous poem, _The Rose on the Heath_, in
which the rose is passionately broken by the wanton boy in spite of her
protest, sums up in charming symbolism the sad story of Goethe's love
for the unfortunate Friederike. What this charming flower of the
parsonage had been to his youth, how he left her, the pangs of
conscience which tormented him for a long time, his unfailing memory of
her who never forgot him, and who died unmarried in 1813, all this
Goethe's genius characterized with psychological delicacy in his
autobiography: "Fiction and Truth".

Perhaps even more profound was the storm aroused in Goethe's soul
somewhat later by his love for Lili Schönemann, who inspired many of his
most beautiful songs and reminiscences. The daughter of a rich Frankfort
banker, highly educated by her French mother, young and very beautiful,
blond and graceful, in the enjoyment of all the social advantages of her
position, she keenly aroused Goethe's emotions, while she also was
deeply stirred to see that extraordinary man at her feet. She succeeded
absolutely: Goethe became hers with life and soul, while, at the same
time, he enjoyed with young Countess Auguste von Stolberg, sister of the
two poets, a deep romantic friendship which survived all the storms of
his eventful life. He never saw the countess, whom he nevertheless
addresses familiarly as "Gustchen" and "thou." His correspondence with
her sheds a wondrous light on his soul, especially with reference to his
love for Lili. Lili tried to win him, now paining him by jealousy, now
soothing him by love. At last a formal betrothal was arranged, which was
but the beginning of the end. He tried "whether he could live without
Lili," and went on a journey to Switzerland with Count Stolberg. But he
never forgot her. In a letter to Gustchen he calls her "the maiden who
makes me unhappy without any fault of hers, she with the soul of an
angel whose serene days I sadden!"

Lili Schonemann became later the wife of the Alsatian Baron von
Turckheim, with whom she lived in happy marriage till her death in 1817.
She confessed to her daughter as the true reason of her broken betrothal
to Goethe the revelation made to her by her mother of Goethe's former
relation to Friederike Brion and of his conduct toward her. Lili, though
pure and true to her husband, never forgot Goethe; while the latter, in
his age, confessed to Eckermann that "he had loved her deeply as no one
before or afterward." Lili's biography, _Lili's Portrait_, written by
her grandson, Count Turckheim, is an important chapter in the history of
a cultured, high-minded, energetic, and exquisite womanly character,
loved and lost by the poet-prince of Germany. It is not accidental that
Goethe, distracted by the loss and not knowing where to turn, plunged
into and translated just at that time Solomon's Song of Songs, which he
described in a letter to his friend Merck as "the most glorious
collection of songs of love God ever created." It is also almost
providential that he received, even at that period of regret and
despair, the renewed invitation of Duke Karl August of Saxe-Weimar, who
had recently ascended the throne of his fathers, and who was destined to
become the greatest Mæcenas of the century and, as it were, the sponsor
of Germany's greatest intellectual bloom, to establish himself at
Weimar. There he arrived on November 7, 1775, at the age of twenty-six,
received with universal rejoicing and enthusiasm. "New love, new life,"
arises for him in Weimar, and with his new love and new life a new era
for Germany the era of Goethe, or Classicism proper.



We have shown at length how the cultural, literary, and artistic
grandeur of Germany during the Minnesong period was a direct consequence
of the high elevation of woman, and due to the worship accorded to her
on account of her lofty station. Just so woman was one of the strongest
impelling factors in bringing about well-nigh all that was great and
good in the second period of Classicism. The world-famed Court of the
Muses at Weimar, presided over by Duchess Amalia, "as unique in her way
as Frederick the Great was in his," and her circle of noble women,
aroused all the poetic power of the genius of Goethe, and later that of
Schiller. All the courtliness and elegance of their art, which had been
evolved in storm and stress, sprang from their intercourse with noble
women, a fact which Goethe again and again frankly confessed, and from
which Schiller derived the loftiest inspiration. The ancient
Minnesingers' glorification of ennobling love was renewed by Goethe,
whose highest ideal of feminine perfection was one illustrious woman, in
whom he discovered "all the lofty happiness that man in his earthly
limitations calls with divine names," Frau Charlotte von Stein alas! the
wife of another man at the same court. She and Shakespeare a strange
combination gave Goethe the incentive and stimulus by which were
produced his immortal works. This is proved by his statement: "Lida,
happiness ever present, William, star of loftiest height, to you I owe
all that I am." Goethe's relations with this extraordinary woman, says
Scherer, developed in his nature all the tenderness of which he was
capable. She was frank and true, not passionate, not enthusiastic, but
full of spiritual warmth; a gentle earnestness gave her majesty; a pure,
correct feeling, combined with a thirst for knowledge, enabled her to
share all the poetic, scientific, and human interests of Goethe. In his
numberless letters and fleeting notes to her we find strewn broadcast a
thousand germs of the grandest poetry. Her spirit hovers around him
everywhere; she possesses him entirely, body and soul; his feelings are
expressed constantly in inexhaustible lyrical, frank, and caressing
terms, more concise and natural than those in Werther. But the impetuous
lover in Werther's Sorrows is here a brother and true friend. He becomes
helpful, noble, and good, his own words, eager to cherish his friend, to
smooth her pathway through life; his extraordinary and extravagant
genius is calm and tempered. Frau von Stein brings forth the pure and
religious forces of his nature. His hot blood becomes chastened; he
himself calls the higher inner life that grows and strengthens itself
within him "Purity," and his poesy, too, becomes Purity realized. The
ethereal, ethical world in which his love for Charlotte forces him to
live is reflected in his lofty creations of immortal beauty, in his
superhuman contemplation of the universe, which is subject to change, it
is true, but a change according to firm, logical, and eternal laws. Such
is the influence of Frau von Stein upon Goethe, such her influence upon
the loftiest expression of German thought and feeling, or, briefly, upon
supreme German Classicism. Thus the dramas of the soul arise: _Iphigenie
and Tasso_. In the former, a pure priestess, though of an accursed
house, brings liberation, purification, happiness, not only to her
family, her race, but also to the barbarians, to the world at large. In
the latter, women are again the guardians of culture and morality: in
the character of the princess Leonore d'Este, who had learned toleration
in the hard school of sorrow, who saves the poet Tasso from false and
impure instincts, "as the enchanted man is easily and gladly saved from
intoxication and delusion by the presence of the divinity," Goethe has
united the traits of his guardian angels, Charlotte von Stein and
Louise, Duchess of Saxe-Weimar, daughter of the Landgravine Caroline of
Hesse, a great woman, of whom Wieland said, she would be queen of Europe
if he once were ruler of the Fates.

But such exaltation, such freedom from passion could not last forever.
That soul which Goethe knew so well, which "with tenacious organs holds
in love and clinging lust the world in its embraces," in the course of
time began to assert itself. And his intense need of sensual love was at
last satisfied by Christiane Vulpius, a woman strangely inferior to the
other women who had possessed his love, yet handsome, good-hearted,
cheerful, natural, physically desirable, and devoted to him body and
soul. Since the summer of 1788 she was really his wife, though the
Church was not called upon to consecrate their union until October 19,
1806. In the high circles in which he moved, a storm of indignation was
aroused by this union, which also lost for him the friendship of Frau
von Stein, a loss which he deeply regretted. However, Christiane Vulpius
gave him a calm and ordinary happiness that compensated him somewhat for
his ideal losses; she was sufficiently dear to him to move him to the
characteristic simile: "On the bank of the sea I wandered and looked for
shells: in one I found a pearl, it remains well guarded in my heart;"
and again the beautiful allegory of the sweet flower, brilliant as the
stars, which he dug out with all the roots and carried home, where it
continues to blossom.

Women's love bore, from the first, quite a different character in the
case of Schiller. He also had a good mother who believed in his genius
and his future greatness, but born and raised in needy circumstances,
and struggling with poverty all her life, she stood at an immense
distance from the patrician and associate of princes, Frau Aja, the
mother of Goethe.

Three widely differing women especially affected Schiller's life and
works. The influence upon his youth of Charlotte von Kalb, an
extraordinary, demoniacal woman, was, according to his own confession,
not beneficent. In later years, this highly gifted and unhappy woman had
the misfortune of affecting the lives of two other great poets: Jean
Paul and Holderlin. The former escaped from the grasp of the "Titanide"
whom he immortalized, nevertheless, in his "_Titan_"; the latter, the
God-gifted poet of "Hyperion," the singer of the passionate,
soul-stirring lyric poems in honor of another love, Diotima, died early
in the darkness of insanity. Schiller's love for Caroline and Charlotte
von Lengefeld, the former of whom was married to Wilhelm von Wolzogen,
presaged a terrible danger, similar to that to which Burger succumbed,
but which was averted by Caroline, who saved Schiller by smoothing the
path to a lawful and happy marriage with her young sister. The
correspondence between the three, Schiller and the Lengefeld sisters,
published by Schiller's daughter Emilie, Baroness von Gleichen-Russwurm,
sheds much light upon the thought and life of Germany's greatest
dramatist and of two noble women. Caroline's biography of Schiller,
which appeared in 1830, collected from reminiscences of the family, his
own letters, and information furnished by his friends, still breathes
her love and admiring affection for her immortal friend. The greatest
record, however, of the powerful influence women exerted upon Schiller
is to be found in his works, not only in the dramas, but especially in
the lyric poems, wherein a wonderful galaxy of noble women appear, and
in which there is not one chord untouched that ever vibrated through
man's heart.

Romanticism, the reaction against Classicism which had become icy and
petrified in the "epigons," or weak successors of the great classical
poets, entered upon its victorious course at the beginning of the
nineteenth century. The group of women-authors, who stand, as it were,
in the second zone from classicism, Amalie von Hellwig, Elisa von der
Recke, Louise Brachmann, Agnes Franz, Helmina von Chezy, Johanna
Schopenhauer, all authors of considerable talent and grace, are
nevertheless far surpassed by the versatility and poetic impressiveness
of the literary women of Romanticism. They are the inspirers and
coworkers of the founders of the movement, the brothers Schlegel, Tieck,
Novalis, Brentano, Arnim, Kleist, and others. It is true that the "blue
flower of Romanticism" was not conducive to virtue in love. Romanticists
respected marriage the least of all sacred things, and a marriage _à
trois_, says Theobald Ziegler, was quite a common thing, and the
question only remained whether a marriage _à quatre_ was not even a
pleasanter thing. In this, however, Romanticism was but a reaction
against the Philistinism and prudery of the opposite pole of
civilization at that period, where woman was oppressed, and a different
standard of morality, and even of religion, was demanded from her than
from man. Frederick Schlegel is not far wrong when he says that in the
ordinary wedded life of the time both parties "live on, side by side, in
a relation of mutual contempt." As, at the time of Pericles the great
and superior hetaira, Aspasia, raised the social status of woman in
general, and succeeded in elevating her in culture to the standard of
the most intellectual men, so, during the first decades of the
nineteenth century woman was raised to a higher plane through a long
series of moral aberrations. Emancipation was frequently misunderstood,
and liberty degenerated into the license of the will of the flesh. It
would be impossible to absolve Romanticism from the reproach of license
in thought and life. We owe it to Caroline Schlegel and to Dorothea
Schlegel not to unveil their antecedents, and the way in which they
became the wives of the two romanticists. Their share in the movement of
liberation and in the work of their respective husbands is very
considerable, and, mayhap, is meritorious enough to cover their sins.
Tieck's sister Sophie wrote perhaps the finest novel of the
romanticists, Evremont (published in 1836 in Breslau), and his daughter
Dorothea was a classical translator of Shakespeare.

Bettina von Arnim (died 1859), Brentano's sister, is one of the most
ingenuous of poets. She possessed a rich imagination, but upon her was
the common curse of womanly genius, eccentricity, and inconstancy. These
frustrated her intense desire to attain a lasting fame. Her daughter,
Gisela von Arnim, wife of Hermann Grimm, is a notable writer of fairy
tales, and a dramatist of considerable merit. Another romanticist,
Caroline von Gunderode, who evinces much talent in her Poems and
Fancies, had no time for the development of her genius. An unhappy love
caused her to commit suicide at an early age. Such was also the end of
Heinrich von Kleist, the greatest romanticist, who died with Henriette
Vogel, the wife of another man, whom he killed at her own desire, in
1811. Theodor Korner, the patriot and soldier-poet of _Lyre and Sword_,
died young, on the battlefield, with a pure and noble love in his heart
for Toni Adamberger, a charming actress in Vienna, who was worthy of him
in every respect. Körner's letter of 1812 to his father, Schiller's
friend, characterizes this noble type of German womanhood: "I may
confess without blushing, that without her I should indeed have perished
in the whirlpool beside me (_i.e._, in Vienna). You know me, my warm
blood, my strong constitution, my wild imagination; imagine this
impetuous soul of mine in this garden of delight and intoxicating joy,
and you will understand that only the love for this angel helped me to
be able to step forth boldly from the crowd and to say: Here is one who
has preserved a pure heart."

In spite of the many eminent women who arose during the first third of
the nineteenth century, there is nowhere in Germany anything like the
salon which has made French society so brilliant, the literary circles
and centres so compact, and the great French authoresses and
epistolographers so world-famed.

Schleiermacher, the philosopher-theologian of that transition period,
said once that society on a grand scale could at that time be found only
in the houses of the Jews. Though still disfranchised in many respects,
their admission to all the rights of citizenship being accorded first in
1812 on account of Stein's reforms, some eminent Jewish families
possessed sufficient wealth and aspirations for culture to form such
social and intellectual circles. Marianne Meyer became the wife of
Prince Reuss, and as such assembled an aristocratic literary society in
her house at Berlin. But the climax of a German salon was realized by
two brilliant women of Jewish origin, Henriette Herz and Rahel Levin.
The former, wife of the famous physician and philosopher Marcus Herz,
formed the first Goethe community in Berlin and scattered his fame
broadcast through Berlin society. Without original talent, she
exercised, nevertheless, great influence by her beauty, her social
skill, and her ability in presenting the intellectual treasures of
others. She was attractive to all. Jean Paul and Schiller came to her
salon when in Berlin; famous foreigners, like Mirabeau, Madame de Staël,
etc., visited her; the celebrities of Berlin were her constant guests,
e.g., the brothers Humboldt, the poet Arndt, Prince Louis Ferdinand of
Prussia, the Duchess of Courland; foremost among all, Schleiermacher,
who had a fantastic devotion and friendship for her; and Borne, who for
a time loved her passionately.

The same personages and many others, especially foreign diplomats,
artists, and noblemen, enlivened also the house of Rahel Levin, who in
1814 became the wife of the author Varnhagen von Ense. Rahel was not
beautiful, or especially scholarly, but she was noble, helpful, and
good; she was original, attractive, had the charm of "Attic salt" in her
conversation, and understood how to listen as well as how to talk. As
she had in her youth studied the poet Novalis and the
patriot-philosopher Fichte, so later she studied Hegel's philosophy. She
won the friendship of such men as Ranke and Prince Puckler. Her
attractiveness did not depend upon her youth, for, according to the word
of a lady of highest nobility, Jenny von Gustedt, "she touched with her
philosophy life itself, her thought became deed, as she aroused with her
spirit the spark of soul-life in others, as she tried to destroy
pettiness in all hearts, as she awakened great things in the hearts of
men without abandoning the delicacy of womanliness, thus she stood with
full practical knowledge in the midst of practical life, helping,
counselling, comforting, careless of thanks or ingratitude, the genuine,
pure, German woman."

Such was the origin of the modern German salon, and its origin explains
its complex character. The German salon became a permanency; and even
though it never attained the brilliancy of the French salon, yet it was
more intellectual and had greater literary effect. The house of Amalie
von Hellwig was a centre for courtiers, scholars, and artists, one of
whom, A. B. Marx, wrote an interesting account of social life in Berlin.
Other distinguished circles are reported, in which music, a never
failing charm in Berlin, was the principal attraction. The opera passed
through a period of bloom. Spontini's and Weber's masterpieces were
performed by excellent singers, like Anna Milder-Hauptmann, who, in
Berlin, created the rôle Of _Fidelio_. The theatre brought into popular
prominence the works of the great German dramatists; great actresses
arose, like Sophie Muller, who played in a masterful way Emilia Galotti
and roles from the works of Calderon and Shakespeare; Amalie Wolff,
trained in Goethe's school, a masterly exponent of Iphigenie; Louise
Rogee, later Holtei's wife, the incomparable performer of Kleist's
Katchen von Heilbronn; Charlotte von Hagen (1809-1891), a beautiful
woman and true artist, who celebrated immense triumphs, and was adored
by the great and beloved by the women. The greatest of all, however, was
Auguste During (1795-1865), who for fifty years ruled the German stage,
"in the world of boards that signify life." Henriette Sonntag
(1803-1854) was considered the most beautiful and most gifted singer. By
the charm of her voice and the perfection of her acting she conquered
all hearts. In no other fields has Germany produced so many and so great
women as she has in those of the stage, of music, and of song.

To appreciate, however, the ethical character of German woman we must
return once more to the years of Germany's greatest political

At no time did the character of German womanhood shine in a more
glorious light than in the sorrowful years of political upheaval and the
trials of the years of humiliation at the beginning of the nineteenth
century. When Germany lay prostrate under the heel of Napoleon, the
standard of national honor was upheld by princely women, like the never
forgotten Louisa of Prussia, and the other Louisa of Saxe-Weimar,
Goethe's friend, who changed Napoleon's plan of crushing out the
existence of her duchy, and concerning whom Napoleon himself confessed
to his suite: "This is a woman whom our two hundred cannons could not
frighten!" The years of trial, distress, and again the rising of the
nation, the struggle for liberation, saw genuine heroism, superhuman
sacrifices by German women of all estates and of all classes. Nothing
but the enthusiasm and the patriotism of the women at that epoch could
have inspired the men to their heroism, self-abnegation, and suffering.
Niebuhr, the great historian, calls the conduct of the German women
admirable. All pleasures were given up, tender and distinguished women
exposed their lives to the lazaretto, washed, cooked, mended, laid down
their money, their jewels, nay, even their beautiful hair on the altar
of the fatherland. Mothers sent their sons, sisters their brothers,
brides their bridegrooms, to the holy war. Many, forgetting their sex,
seized rifle and sword, and fought against the oppressor. Scherr gives
many names: Johanna Stegen, Johanna Luring, Lotte Krüger, Dorothea
Sawosch, Karoline Petersen, and the heroine Prohaska, who, in male
attire, bravely fought in Lutzow's famous corps of volunteers. Lutzow
and the heroic Prohaska were severely wounded in the victorious battle
of the Gorde (September 16, 1813). When she was to be bandaged on the
battlefield, she for the first time revealed her sex so that her modesty
might be spared. She died three days later, and was buried amid a
concourse of citizens and maidens in the town of Danneberg, where a
monument was erected at the church in her honor.

That deeds of heroism were done by German women outside of the
battlefield, appears from many sources and particularly from Goethe's
song of praise for the glory of Johanna Sebus, a maiden of seventeen
years, who, during the flooding of the Rhine, January 13, 1809, saved
first her mother, then returned to save a neighbor and her children, and
then was herself swept away by the flood.

In the face of such proofs of heroism, we count but lightly against
German womanhood a number of degraded women of noble, even princely
birth, who helped to make such courts as that of Jerôme of Westphalia
abodes of licentiousness. In German cities, especially in Berlin, where
the conquerors were quartered, German ladies conducted themselves "with
much dignity, and such reserve as was becoming them toward the enemies
of their fathers, husbands, and brothers." Only the dregs of society
were at the disposal of the invaders. Voss reports that "the
frequentation of the temples of lust was so great that the number of
Venus's priestesses was found to be too small." The shamelessness of
vile women became intolerable. Unnatural vices arose, and continued
despite the severity of the law, which the police strove to enforce

During the years of reconstruction, however, which carried with them the
social liberation of the peasant-serfs and the Jews, the autonomy of the
communes unavoidably produced a mighty advance in the emancipation of
women. The frivolity and immorality of Romanticism, which appeared
barefaced in Schlegel's Lucinde and in the lives of almost all the
romanticists in their intercourse with women, was indignantly rejected
in those troubled times, and a return to simple virtue, chastity, and
housewifely qualities was preached and inaugurated. German youths began
to yearn for pure and pious women, such as had fought in male attire for
the fatherland, or healed the wounded patriots in the hospitals, or
worked, suffered, and sacrificed fortune, comfort, and personal
interests for the holy cause.

In the thirties of the nineteenth century, however, there was again, in
the so-called Young-German movement, a retrogression to the lax morality
of the first romanticists. The moral code of abstinence was represented
as an antiquated conventionality, and the emancipation of the flesh was
preached. Naturally the emancipation of woman became a principle of the
new doctrine. Again Rahel Levin, the spirited Jewess, and Bettina
Brentano (wife of Arnim), the free patrician, led the campaign, and
added to arts and letters the fields hitherto alone accessible to women
politics and religion. Freedom from the bonds of convention, liberation
from social limitations, was the aim of the advanced women. They
preached the extreme cultivation of their own individuality. They
recognized only the perfection of love and beauty. The most earnest
exponent of that exaggerated doctrine was Charlotte Stieglitz, who, to
arouse her weakling husband from his indifference, committed suicide. By
her voluntary death she wished to elevate him to activity, to heroism;
desiring greatness for him, she thought she must inflict upon him a
profound pain. Such exaltation and unnaturalness proves what an abyss
threatens even the noblest woman when she once leaves the path of the
normal. But to the Young Germans Charlotte Stieglitz became the heroine
of the movement in which she had part. Theodor Mundt (died 1861) became
the principal exponent of that unsound movement in Berlin. He was an
author of repute, but is to us more important as the husband of the
celebrated authoress Luise Muhlbach, a serene, active, inspiring
hostess, whose house became in the forties a centre of literary
sociability in Berlin. She was also the writer of many historical
novels, all of which are of great interest, though some are of doubtful

How confused the moral code of that time was appears, for instance, from
Gutzkow's recommendation of a reform. He says: "Be not ashamed of
passion, and do not take morality as an institution of the State!... The
sole priest who shall bind the hearts, shall be a moment of rapture, not
the Church with its ceremonies and well-groomed servants...."

Saint-Simonism carried those licentious maxims to the extreme. Thus, the
legitimate aspirations of woman to be freed from the fetters of the
Middle Ages were, from the beginning, severely injured by lack of
moderation. Instead of a claim for a systematic raising of the standards
of education, impossible demands were made: immediate admission of women
to the universities (without preparatory training), political equality
with men, participation in the administration of the state, and even
abolition of the fetters of marriage. Of course, opposition arose
everywhere, and has neutralized or delayed even rightful claims to this
day. The aspirations for material independence on the basis of free work
succeeded to a certain extent: women entered many walks of life hitherto
closed to them.

The most thoughtful and impressive champion of a reasonable emancipation
of woman was Fanny Lewald. High moral earnestness and a clear
intelligence pervade her writings, which are, however, lacking in poetic
feeling. But she is a truly patriotic German woman who sees the need of
a practical evolution of woman's education and activity in the interest
of the entire nation. Her doctrine is the assurance that the spread of
culture will wipe out all artificial differences of caste, religion, and
sex, and thus solve all the questions of a genuine, legitimate

Countess Ida Hahn-Hahn illustrates an opposite tendency in the
emancipation of woman. Born in a high sphere and miseducated by a
perverse father in the prejudices of her station, she has a perverted
view of her sisters of the people, of their struggles and desires and
possibilities. Only the "noblesse," which is free from the cares of
physical needs, is to her worthy of higher endeavors. The world of
highborn womanhood alone attracts her attention. Her study of this world
culminates in her opposition to marriage, which is to her an oppressive
fetter, handicaps the enjoyment of life, and, therefore, is in almost
all her novels the object of ridicule, and its abolition is recommended.
Her heroines are, therefore, sensuous egotists who according to her own
words seek nothing, wish for nothing, desire nothing but their own
satisfaction, without regard to others. Thus, her novels, with their
gospel of barefaced selfishness, are frequently offensive, but the
atmosphere of "high society" has never been depicted with such masterly
and many-colored vivacity as by Ida Hahn-Hahn.

The revolutionary year of 1848, which shattered many cherished idols
which she had formerly deemed eternal, made a profound impression upon
her. Under the influence of the eloquent Baron von Kettler, later Bishop
of Mainz, who explained to her the great social questions of that
stirring time, she became converted to Catholicism. The haughty spoiled
child of the world became an expiating Magdalena; her work From Babylon
to Jerusalem (Mainz, 1851) presents a wonderfully interesting revelation
of a forceful and original heart. Instead of liberating woman from the
yoke of man, she now endeavors, through the influence of the Catholic
Church, to liberate sinful, passionate mankind from earthly shackles.
When she died, in 1880, she left an immense amount of literature, more
or less valuable, but always intensely interesting to the searcher of
woman's soul and achievements.

Ida von Duringsfeld was a poet and novelist of considerable force. Her
novels present strong characters and fine descriptions of landscape and
architecture; her translations of Czech and Italian popular songs are
excellent; her work on _Proverbs of the Germanic and Romance Peoples_,
published by her in collaboration with her husband (Leipzig, 1875), is
very meritorious. What type of woman she must have been appears from the
fact that when she died suddenly on a journey, her husband, unable to
live without her, killed himself the next day, to be buried beside her.

The poisonous plant of the exaggerated emancipation movement appears in
the works and life of Luise Aston, who impetuously demanded that all the
barriers which custom, tradition, and artificial social contracts had
erected should be broken down, for woman could fulfil her mission only
in free love. When she tried to turn her theories into practice, she was
successively exiled from seven German cities, and finally emigrated to
Russia in 1855.

Besides this academic propaganda for woman's emancipation, a practical
agitation of the question was carried on by a great number of
pure-hearted and clear-headed women. They strove only for the possible.
They began to teach that woman cannot emancipate herself by opposing
natural laws, by becoming a _Mann-weib_ (man-wife), as it is adequately
expressed in German; but that she must retain all the peculiarly womanly
traits, charms, and qualities, adding to them some art or science, trade
or profession, by which she can support herself independently without
being absolutely forced into marriage, good or bad, with or without her
will. The leaders of this movement are consequently no fantastic
dreamers or theorists, but energetic, earnest women. The novels of Julie
Burow, Louise Otto, and others of their school, greatly influenced and
aided the movement. Since their day the agitation has become universal:
thousands and thousands of strong and earnest champions have arisen; we
stand in the midst of the movement, in the smoke of the battlefield;
yet, great things have been achieved; able women, like Luise Büchner,
Lina Morgenstern, Hedwig Dohm, have not striven in vain. Breaches have
been made in the walls of the sanctuaries heretofore reserved for men.
Incited especially by American and Russian women, the women of Germany
knock, and knock successfully, at the doors of the universities and
academies. Even though they do not yet occupy academic chairs in German
universities, as they do in America, they will do so in time. A Swedish
university was the first to appoint a woman, Sonya Kovalevski, the great
Russian mathematician, to a full professorship of this manliest of all

Thus far the outcome of the entire movement, however successful it has
been, is yet undecided, especially owing to the modest reserve and
conservatism of millions of women. This conservatism seems to be deeply
rooted in the hearts of the vast majority of German women. They are,
after all, happy in the old, primeval, original royalty of wifehood and
motherhood, in the sweet leaning upon their complement, the beloved
husband. Do they fear, perchance, lest their warlike sisters might drag
them to the front, to unnatural battle, deprive them of their sweet,
foreordained inheritance of man's love, protection, and fostering care?
Has not their quiet, calm, and holy circle of activity, upon which all
that is eternal in creation rests, which has been sanctified by custom,
tradition, morality, and experience for thousands of years, blessed
thousands, nay, millions of women, generation after generation? Had
Saint Mary any other mission on earth or in heaven but love, infinite
love, for the Christ, her Son? Has art ever been able to produce
anything more beautiful, more divine, more touching, more powerful, than
the Mother of God and the Christ-child, the symbol of every mother and
every child? Do not the heavens in glorious constellations perpetuate
the memory of great women? Is not the galaxy of women saints rich
enough, and can it not be enriched still further for generation after
generation to the end of the world? Is not well-nigh all the poetry that
flows directly from the heart founded upon love, and indeed upon that
love which is spontaneous, original, eternal? Forsooth, if there must be
a change, it is a sorrowful change, due to the unnatural, complicated
conditions of modern social life, but by no means due to the unanimous
will of German women. The demon "physical hunger," the fear that there
are not enough good men to go around, are the true motives of the
emancipation movement with the masses of German women. The motives of
the Ida Hahn-Hahns and the like are potent only with a few of the vast
number of the women of Germany.

Thus it is but natural that the dangers of premature and ill-conceived
emancipation soon aroused great and good German women who loved the best
in the glorious past of Germany, the many models of German virtue,
sacred simplicity, and blissful womanhood and motherhood, from Thusnelda
to Queen Louisa of Prussia, and who were not eager for untried
innovations. The very sight of the habits and nature of the new
prophetesses, all of whom were abnormal in some respect, gave food for
reflection. The strongest opposition to the movement was formed among
women. It was women who warned against the modern gospel, who tried to
divert attention from the loud and boisterous street, rostrum, and salon
to the innermost recesses of the heart where woman's happiness secretly
dwells, and to the bosom of family life where the children enliven the
little world which is, after all, the great world in nucleo.

Foremost among the intellectual guardians of the noble traditions of old
German life was Annette von Droste-Hiilshoff. Simplicity and an ardent
religious feeling permeate her poetry, which she produced in abundance
in spite of many obstacles put in the way of her intellectual pursuits
by a prejudiced, bigoted, aristocratic family. Her poetry is rooted in
the desire to induce the new "stormers" to cling to the old and tried
German traditions of morality, faith, and patriarchal institutions.
"Cling to thy friend, cling to thy word, cling to thy faith, cling to
thyself," is her creed. "Who would exchange his blood for strange ichor
(even though it were the blood of the gods)! Do not reject the Cherub of
thy cradle; his wing will rustle to thee from every leaf! Do not suck
dry the blood of thy heart, to animate therewith a bastard of thy soul."

Next important in her noble mission is Betty Paoli (Elizabeth Glück).
Her thesis was: Church and society, fame and honor are the proper domain
of man; woman can find her supreme happiness only in true, faithful,
pure love for one man, and only once in life. Betty Paoli writes: "God
has not sent me out, and has not given me the strength to aspire
gloriously with a consecrated hand for the palm of victory. Let him be
immortalized in marble and in brass who won them: I am nothing but a
heart that has loved much and suffered much; and all my poetry is but an
audible revelation of all the quiet pains of which a woman's soul is
capable." According to her it is woman's destiny to subject her life to
the magic charm of love, to sacrifice all her desires and inclinations
to love: "My proud head defied boldly the lightning of the storm; but
when thou saidst: 'I love thee!', I sank quiet and weeping at thy feet
How weak am I!" In reality her happiness in love was short; the beloved
one betrayed and deserted her; the deep sorrows of her heart find
eloquent expression in touching and passionate melodies.

Luise Hensel's poems are simple and melodious, and are filled with a
childlike humility. God and heaven are the motives of her song. There is
a long series of women poets and novelists, who are defenders of the old
faith, and whose works, though frequently insignificant, are yet noble
monuments for German women of our own time who have offered a bold front
to emancipation gone mad.

The impossibility of mentioning even the most eminent names of the
German authors and poets is manifest when we consider the vast array of
German women writers of the first quarter of the nineteenth century,
catalogued by Schindel in a biographical work, published in Leipzig in
1823-1825; and in the two volumes of a Lexicon of German Women of the
Pen by Sophie Pataky, which was issued in Berlin in 1898. A. Ungherini's
Biography of Famous Women (Turin and Paris, 1892), also furnishes
thousands of names of famous German women.

The inexhaustibleness of our theme leads us thus to abandon, even in the
most general manner, the attempt at defining the impulses given by women
to the poetry of the pure Suabian school of poets, to Uhland's
veneration for woman, to Justinus Kerner's idealization of his wife
Rickele, a model type of German hostess in whose vine-covered cottage
many a weary poet's soul rested, as the deeply gifted, but profoundly
unhappy Nicolaus Lenau. We forego to discuss the return of Mysticism
which appears in Friederike Hauffe, the Seer of Prevorst; in the lives
and loves of Heine, who was tossed on the storm waves of life by woman's
love and hate, of Platen, of Immermann, whose passionate love for Elisa
von Lutzow was finally converted to an almost ideal and platonic
friendship; in the philosophy of Schopenhauer, who, though an atheist
himself, was led by his argumentation well-nigh to Saint Augustine's
doctrine of woman being the vessel of sin.

We have to descend to the lower grades of society, and observe woman in
poverty and degradation, to learn of the need of the endeavors to
elevate her, to free her, and to put her on her own feet intellectually,
socially, and morally. When the Revolution of 1848 knocked at the gates
of absolutism in Germany, German women began to assert their inalienable
rights. The struggles of men in higher domains were shared by many
women, among them Frau Struve and Frau Herwegh, the wife of the
passionate poet of the revolution. Johanna Kinkel, wife of the excellent
poet and university professor Gottfried Kinkel, who was incarcerated as
a revolutionist and clad in the striped clothing of a criminal, until
rescued by his faithful student Karl Schurz, now a great American
statesman, endured with her husband the martyrdom of want and exile.
Johanna Scherr, wife of the historian of culture Johannes Scherr, is
also one of the noblest types of able and modest women and heroines, who
are strong in endurance and even in encouragement of their husbands.

The changes in industrialism which began in the middle of the nineteenth
century began to produce the mass misery of machinery with which the
state was unable to cope. Crises were inevitable. The workingmen,
grouped in industrial circles, deprived of the right of association for
common protection, were often abused by employers, who had them entirely
at their mercy. Wages were entirely insufficient; Hungerlohne became a
technical term; women and children were forced to work in the factories
to supply the deficit in the amount needed for the support of the
family. Acute misery led to outbreaks like that of the Silesian weavers,
whose misery inspired the modern social drama of Hauptmann; typhoid
fever and diseases of starvation raged among the sufferers.

For the first time women entered the arena of the political movement.
Societies of women were formed in many German cities. Names of gifted
women sprang up everywhere. The social and political struggles of the
time are reflected in the memoirs of an idealistic woman, Malwida von
Meysenbug. Though reared in narrow aristocratic prejudices, she
struggled through them to a democratic association with her suffering
sisters of a lower social status. She bore the painful breach with her
family which, owing to her liberalism, became inevitable. She demanded
economic independence for woman, not only because labor ennobles, but
because only the economically independent woman is free to live
according to her convictions, "liberated from the threefold tyranny of
dogmatism, convention, and the ignoble bonds of forced marriage." Woman
is to cooperate in the great work of the regeneration of the nation.
"How could," says she, "a nation regenerate itself and become free, if
one-half of it is excluded from the careful, all-around preparation
which true liberty demands for a nation as well as for individuals." An
institution was already founded which was to accomplish this ideal. A
university for females, at Hamburg, was to give to young women the
necessary preparation for a higher mission than had been theirs.
Energetic Emilie Wustenfeld was the soul of the foundation, Professor
Karl Froebel its head. Its aim was to embrace "all the sciences which
practical, social, and intellectual life in its highest spheres may
require on the part of cultured women." It is a matter of regret that,
owing to the lack of material support, the enterprise failed. Fraulein
Meysenbug was, after the dissolution of the university, exiled from
Berlin, whither she had turned, and went to England. Yet all traces of
her influence are not lost in Germany. Small, slow, and painful
attempts, an advance measured by steps, interposition of legitimate and
illegitimate obstacles, appear everywhere in the movement.

Another eminent woman, Luise Otto, of Meissen, Saxony, a strong and able
champion in prose and poetry for woman's rights, developed a definite
programme for the movement: she demanded a profounder, a more national
education, a closer connection of the German maiden with the affairs of
the fatherland, through instruction in history, her education in schools
of a high order, if possible leading up to the university standard, a
training giving "solid moral strength, a religious mind, German depth of
feeling." And these qualities must be instilled in the maidens of the
people, of the proletariat as well as in those of the middle and upper
classes. Luise Otto demanded that education to the very highest point be
given to those able to receive it; that woman be raised to economic
independence, that she may escape the necessity of a degrading marriage
"for material caretaking only," or downright shame, to which so many
daughters of the people have fallen. In a similar way did Luise Btichner
attempt the solution of the all-important question of woman's
independence. The active Central Union for the Welfare of the Working
Classes, under Lette's presidency, was founded to extend the field of
female activity, but it excluded explicitly the aims of political
emancipation and equality of woman with man. The Universal German
Woman's Association, founded in Leipzig, proposed to itself a broader
scope, namely, the raising of the moral status of the sex. Admission to
the universities and participation in communal or municipal service were
first mooted upon the initiative of Frau Henriette Goldschmidt, Marie
Calm, Auguste Schmidt. Hundreds of other collective societies followed,
and entered upon the discussion of the entire range of sex problems with
marked results.

To protect the poor, especially the women and children, whose supporters
went to the wars, the so-called "popular kitchens" (Volkskucheri) were
founded. This great service was rendered to Berlin by Frau Lina
Morgenstern, aided by noble men like Virchow, Lette, and Holtzendorff.

Intellectual needs came to be supplied by excellent schools of a high
grade: the Victoria School for higher studies, presided over by Frau
Ulrike Henschke; the Victoria Lyceum, founded by a Scotch lady, Miss
Georgina Archer, in 1868, to give courses parallel to those of the
university. These institutions derive their names from the late empress,
then Crown Princess of Prussia, who was their protector.

It was a matter of course that the woman's movement, which was rooted in
liberalism, and which combined the aspects of psychological,
physiological, ethical, and sociological problems, aroused many and
varied opponents, especially in the conservative camp. The greatest
names appear in opposition, even that of one important woman, Mathilde
Reichardt-Stromberg. The discussions of the medical faculties of Germany
for and against (mostly against) the admission of women to the study of
medicine, which would be "an insult and sin against nature," would
"destroy delicacy, modesty, shame" in woman, are to-day, now that women
have attained their desire, of high value to the student of cultural
history. On the basis of "the right to work, the right to free
personality," the privilege was demanded, especially by Hedwig Dohm, who
says: "Woman shall study, because she wants to study, because the
unlimited choice of a vocation is the main factor of individual liberty,
of individual happiness."

The contest for the intellectual and economic advancement of women went
on, almost side by side, with the contest for the moral regeneration of
society. The fight against the cancer of prostitution, the darkest and
sorest spot in the movement, was most arduous and discouraging. The
demand of an equal morality for man with that incumbent upon woman was
tacitly resisted. The puritanical regulations, issued by the German
Culture Alliance, against alleged immorality in art, literature, and
fashion conflicted frequently with the legitimate rights of artistic
presentation. Frau Gertrude Guillaume, née Countess Schack, was the soul
of the movement for social purity, and she boldly attacked the true
cause of prostitution; she accused the authorities not only of
indifference to the social evil, but of direct connivance with it. She
came into conflict with the police, who considered her activity
pernicious and accused her of socialistic tendencies, into which she was
forced in 1885 by the chicaneries of the police. The fact of the matter
is that her mission is diametrically opposed to that of socialism,
which, according to Bebel's Woman and Socialism, considers "prostitution
a necessary institution for civic society, as police, army, and church."
It is the misery which wrecks so many families of the lower classes that
drives thousands of hungry girls into the arms of prostitution. The
statistics of the Berlin police authorities of a few years ago prove
that of 2,224 registered prostitutes, 1,015 (47.9 per cent) came from
petty artisan families, 467 (22 per cent) from factories, 305 (14.4 per
cent) from poor clerks. In the Union for the Interests of Working Girls,
founded in 1885, the alpha and omega of the discussion of the girls was
again and again "the correlation between hunger-wages and prostitution,
and the necessity of raising the economic condition of the working girls
as a _conditio sine qua non_ for the elevation of morality." Efforts to
abolish prostitution, then as now, were the objects of bitter opposition
on the part of the civil authorities. Frau Guillaume-Schack, unable to
continue her work unhampered by constant police interference, emigrated
to England.

The reactionary spirit which in 1851 prohibited by ministerial decree
Frobel's kindergartens of Prussia as socialistic and atheistic exists
even to-day in the German parliament, especially through the
conservative and clerical parties. These stigmatize many of the most
legitimate aspirations of women as "unwomanly." The word of Saint Paul,
"woman shall be silent in church matters," is applied to her most
appropriate activities. Yet, superior women, foremost among them Frau
Henriette Schrader, Frau Marie Loeper-Housselle, and the eminent
sociological writer Helene Lange, against great odds, forced the
government to make provision for the higher education of girls. Not that
the Ministry of Public Instruction was favorable to the demand, but that
the extensive discussion by the daily press, the interest taken by the
Crown Princess Victoria in the movement, and the formation of the
Universal Women Teachers' Association, which has more than sixteen
thousand members, compelled the powers that be to consider the movement
as elemental and irrepressible. The first public "gymnasium" (Latin
school) for girls was founded in Carlsruhe, Baden, in 1893; later
another was established in Leipzig, and the higher courses for girls
that had been established in Berlin by Helene Lange, were also
consolidated into a gymnasium.

On the other hand, the Bavarian ministry refused its consent for such a
school in Munich, and Dr. Bosse, former Minister of Public Instruction
in Prussia, rejected a similar petition from the Breslau magistrate.
Upon an interpellation in the Prussian Diet (Landtag) he declared
himself "against any step in the direction of the modern woman's
movement; the aspirations of women to appear as rivals of men are wrong;
this was the opinion of the entire Prussian Ministry of State."
Elsewhere the movement was branded as a mere "matter of fashion." But
the aspirations of women are too genuine and deep-rooted to be disposed
of by ridicule and abuse. New fields of labor open before women, the
domains of letters and sciences lie before them, even though the honor
of state recognition is withheld from the treasures of knowledge and
thought which they have acquired. Reformers of both sexes, who have the
influence and the will to bring the issue to a successful conclusion,
are not wanting. All the divisions and sections of the movement for
morality, temperance, legal protection, right of coalition, girls'
homes, march separately, but fight with a united front in the campaign.
The Society for Ethical Culture, led by the late Professor von Gizycki
and his wife Lily, of Berlin, realized within the society the idea of
absolute equality of the sexes. Excellent women, as Jeanette Schwerin,
Minna Cauer, and many others worked for woman's economic improvement as
a basis for their enfranchisement; others, like Frau Hanna Bieber-Bohm,
for the protection of young homeless girls by the foundation of homes,
and by assistance in cases of need. Several periodicals edited by women
for women also carry on a lively and successful propaganda for
enlightenment and progress. That the various religious denominations
participate in the movement more or less successfully, according to
their various dogmatic or liberal standards, goes without saying. That
there is frequently a painful exaggeration on the part of the women who
stand in the midst of the struggle is but natural. Revolution is
preached instead of evolution. Passionate cries too often are heard
against men in general, as if the war were raging between brutal and
oppressive men and oppressed and abused women. The ridiculous Utopia of
emancipation from men, the foundation of a "manless" Amazon empire is
being preached by some radical women crazed by their mad prejudices.
Womanliness is lost all too often; manly garb imitated, the customs of
male students, which are not always aesthetic, and which are downright
disgusting in woman, are aped. Some women try to force their way by
elbow power, by loud screaming for their alleged rights; some "literary"
women without tact, training, or moderation, create prejudices against
their judicious sisters who try to win their way by the peculiarly
womanly, refined and aesthetic qualities in literature. No wonder that
thousands of the very best women instinctively shrink back from the
movement, and thus withdraw their support from what is legitimate and
needful and desirable to woman.

In similar circles, with equal difficulties and drawbacks, moved the
progress of women in Holland and the Scandinavian countries. Multatuli
(pseudonym for E. Douwes Dekker, 1820-1887), through his genius and
originality, attained in Holland well-nigh the importance of a Goethe
for his nation. He considered the prevailing opinion regarding the
inferiority of woman as the result of her long oppression, and preached
her self-determination to the point of free love. He is the father of
the movement for the liberation of woman in conservative Holland, and
Mina Kruseman and her friend Betsy Perk, the first champions of the
woman's movement, are his direct disciples. Frau Storm van der Chijs
(1814-1895) attempted to introduce educational reforms and higher
scientific culture into Holland. Fraulein W. Drucker sought and obtained
the support of the Dutch women in the agitation against the abuse of
woman, and child labor in the factories, as hod-carriers; for the
protection of illegitimate children, and for a higher training of women
for skilled labor. Frau Klerck, née Countess Hogendofp, profoundly
touched by the social misery of fallen women, founded with the aid of a
number of noble women, the Woman's League for the Elevation of Morality.
About five hundred societies are scattered through the kingdom and exert
their beneficent influence in all the domains of female activity. The
Netherlandish universities opened their doors wide to female students
after the graduation of the first woman, Alletta Jacobs, as "M. D." in
1879. Many Dutch women are active and successful in arts and letters;
Minka Bosch Reitz is favorably known as a sculptor, Theresa Schwarze as
a painter, Fraulein Oosterzee as the composer of an oratorio, and
Catharina van Rennes as a composer of children's songs.

An exposition of the works of Dutch women at The Hague in 1898, planned
by Frau Pekelharing-Doijer, presided over by Frau Goekoop, gave an
admirable survey of the entire domain of the activity of Dutch women.
The exposition aroused the feeling of solidarity among women, which
resulted in the formation of associations composed wholly of women; the
nation, the government, and the queen took a lively interest in the
achievements of the Dutch women, whose enfranchisement, though just
begun, is moving rapidly to completeness.

The same progress is visible everywhere in the other Teutonic countries,
Denmark, Sweden, Norway. Excellent abstracts of that progress are given
by Kirstine Frederiksen, Maria Cederschioeld, and Gina Krog,
respectively, and in Helene Lange and Gertrude Baumer's admirable
_Handbook of the Woman's Movement_ (two volumes, Berlin, 1901). We must,
however, regretfully forego the pleasure of enumerating even the
foremost of the thousands of women with their varied talents, many of
the highest order, who belong to the knighthood of the spirit, and who
labor bravely in the realm of advancement of the human race in general,
and of the Teutonic family in particular.

This chapter would, however, be incomplete and unsatisfactory were we to
conclude it without mentioning a few German women who, preeminent and
royal, have wielded an immense influence, and in whom, as it were, are
crystallized German virtues, German qualities, and German intellect.

The first German empress, Augusta, the daughter of Carl Frederick of
Saxe-Weimar and of a Russian princess, was reared in the atmosphere of
the Court of the Muses at Weimar; so that the image of Goethe hovered
around her throughout her life, and influenced her artistic, literary,
and humanistic tastes. At the age of eighteen, in 1829, she was married
to Prince William of Prussia, little dreaming at that time of the great
future in store for Germany and for herself. By her intellectual
qualities, her humanity, and her charity, she soon acquired a highly
privileged position at the Prussian court. It was she who inculcated
into the soul of her only son, later Emperor Frederick III., those
qualities which secured for him the historic title "Frederick the
Noble." After her consort ascended the throne in 1861, and especially
after the great wars, she became the soul of the great charitable
movements of Germany. She took an active part in bringing about the
establishment of the Geneva Convention, a most beneficial event in its
effects upon the humanization of war and its consequences. She was an
angel of mercy to the wounded soldiers of both friend and foe, and to
their widows and orphans, and was active in the Society of the Red
Cross, founded in 1864, and the Patriotic League of Women, founded after
the Austrian war in 1866. The Augusta Hospital, the Langenbeck House in
Berlin, named after the great surgeon of that name, and the Augusta
Foundation in Charlottenburg, were created by her. She was deeply
religious and broadly tolerant; so that the so-called Kulturkampf, _i.
e._, the struggle between the Prussian state and the Roman Catholic
Church, was profoundly distasteful to her, a fact which precipitated a
silent, but bitter, feud between the empress and her party, on the one
hand, and Prince Bismarck, on the other. While her political influence
cannot at all times be considered to have been beneficent, her
cultivation of the arts certainly enriched the national life of Berlin,
and indeed of Germany. She was a cultured musician, and composed several
marches, an overture and the music to a ballet _The Masquerade_. She
died in January, 1890, in Berlin, and was buried beside her great
consort in the Mausoleum of Charlottenburg. Beautiful monuments have
been erected in her honor at Baden-Baden, at Berlin, and at Coblenz, her
favorite resort. The memory of the noble empress is engraved upon the
hearts of her people.

Victoria, princess royal of England, born November 21, 1840, daughter of
Queen Victoria and the Prince Consort Albert, became eighteen years
later the wife of the Crown Prince of Prussia, finally, for ninety-nine
days, Emperor Frederick III. (1888). She came to Prussia when the dawn
of its future greatness was scarcely visible. The king, Frederick
William IV., was hopelessly ill, his mind affected; her father-in-law,
Prince William of Prussia and in 1861 king, was regent for him. The
times were gloomy: constitutional conflict, political struggles
threatening the monarchy itself, then a seven years' war as it were with
Denmark, Austria, and France until 1871, agitated the country and tried
the soul of its rulers. This was the time when Victoria appeared
greatest and dearest to the German people. From the royal palace to the
poorest cottage, there was no household then that had not sent its best
and bravest to defend hearth and home and fatherland. The heir to the
throne, following the traditions of his race, had gone forth ready to
yield up his life, if need were, for the safety and honor of his
country. The princess, waiting wearily in her home, shared the anguish
of every German woman during that autumn and winter. With her clear
insight into political complications, she could realize more vividly
than those who were less well informed the frightful contingencies that
might arise. She felt deeply her obligations toward the support of her
countrywomen. The crown princess as such, in her own name, addressed an
appeal to Germans all over the world, in behalf of the families that
sacrificed their supporting fathers, brothers, sons:

"Once more has Germany called her sons to take arms for her most sacred
possessions, her honor, and her independence. A foe, whom we have not
molested, begrudges us the fruits of our victories, the development of
our national industries by our peaceful labor. Insulted and injured in
all that is most dear to them, our German people for they it is who are
our army have grasped their well-tried arms, and have gone forth to
protect hearth, and home, and family. For months past, thousands of
women and children have been deprived of their bread-winners. We cannot
cure the sickness of their hearts, but at least we can try to preserve
them from bodily want. During the last war, which was brought to so
speedy, and so fortunate a conclusion, Germans in every quarter of the
globe responded nobly when called upon to prove their love of the
Fatherland by helping to relieve the suffering. Let us join hands once
more, and prove that we are able and willing to succor the families of
those brave men who are ready to sacrifice life and limb for us! Let us
give freely, promptly, that the men who are fighting for our sacred
rights may go into battle with the comforting assurance that at least
the destinies of those who are dearest to them are confided to faithful

"VICTORIA, Crown Princess."

A truly German woman and princess indeed! She was worthy to be the
consort of Frederick the Noble, and the mother of William II., who has
imbibed her genius, her versatility of mind, her fine artistic feeling.
Politically she was broad-minded and strictly constitutional; in her
home, a true German housewife and mother. She loved the arts, sciences,
and letters, and was herself no mean painter. Charity was her chosen
domain; the education of the lowly her passion. The Pestalozzi-Froebel
House is her monument; the Museum of Industrial Arts in the Koniggratzer
Strasse is perhaps more representative of her artistic efforts than any
other institution in Berlin. It is said that the princess chose, if she
did not design, each of its sculptured groups, its metal castings, its
fine mosaics and ornaments. Hans Holbein the Younger and Peter Visher,
the famous brass founder, stand at its portal; life-sized figures round
the building represent the mechanical arts: the loom, the printing
press, the potter's wheel, the student's desk; the frieze above
represents the great epochs of art and sculpture. The Victoria Lyceum,
which we have mentioned above, testifies to her great interest in the
higher culture of women. Space forbids us to follow the years of peace,
of achievements, of joys and griefs in the princely household, the loss
of the beloved young Prince Waldemar; the political controversies which
followed the princess's disapproval of many measures, in the inner
policy of Prussia, taken by Bismarck; and at last the long and hopeless
illness of her consort, her touching sympathy and devoted care of him
until his death on June 15, 1888, and certain medical altercations that
disturbed her years of sorrow and mourning.

It would hardly be proper to speak at length of Augusta Victoria, the
present Empress of Germany, who stands now in the prime of her life and
activity for her nation and her own family. She is a princess of
Schleswig-Holstein-Sonderburg-Augustenburg, who became the consort of
the ruler of the German Empire instead of becoming a ruling princess of
a petty grand duchy, the rightful inheritance of her house, which became
part and parcel of the empire by two great wars. Married in February,
1881, to the present emperor, she is the mother of six sons and one
daughter, all of whom are worthy scions of the Hohenzollern race, which
has furnished the world with more great rulers than perhaps any other
dynasty that ever ruled over the fate of a great nation. The empress is
the crystallized type of a noble German wife and mother on the throne.
She is profoundly religious and especially active in the duties of a
devout Christian; she has built many churches; she is the protectress of
the Elizabeth Children's Hospital, of several great Evangelical
missions, and of the Patriotic Women's League. It is difficult to
emphasize sufficiently the great influence upon the morality of the
entire nation of an empress so womanly and pure in her simple greatness,
just as we cannot estimate the influence for evil by bad examples on the
throne on every woman in the land during the eras of the Catherines of
Russia, the Pompadours and the Dubarrys in France, the Lichtenaus in

In contrast to the happiness of the present Empress of Germany stands
the fate of the late martyred Empress of Austria (1837-1898). A daughter
of Duke Maximilian Joseph of Bavaria, she became the consort of the
present Emperor of Austria under the happiest auspices. Exceedingly
beautiful and intelligent, a Greek scholar of a high order, a lover of
nature and of all that is beautiful, fond of horseback riding and of
every sport tending to produce that symmetry of intellectual and
physical beauty called by the Greeks _kalokagathia_; the happy mother of
daughters and of one son, the ill-fated crown prince, Rudolf, she
adorned the Habsburg throne with beauty and brilliancy instead of the
ancient formal etiquette and Spanish grandest. But sorrow came to her in
its most terrible form: the tragic and mysterious death, while on a
hunting expedition, of her son Rudolf and Countess Vetsera, whom he
loved, though he was married to Stephanie of Belgium, broke her heart.
Her entire life changed, she hid herself in her Greek palace on the
Island of Corfu, or travelled restlessly through Europe. On a visit to
Geneva, while walking from her hotel to the ship, she was assassinated
by a miscreant Luccheni, an Italian anarchist (September 10, 1898). One
of the vilest deeds in the history of criminology ended the brilliant
life of the greatest woman martyr on a throne since the Austrian
archduchess Marie Antoinette who shed her royal blood on the guillotine,
as Queen of France in 1793, for the crimes of preceding royal

Among the German women authors of the last quarter of the nineteenth
century who are really gifted with great poetic talent we meet with a
poetess, a German princess on a foreign throne: Princess Elizabeth of
Wied, Queen of Rumania, famous under the name of Carmen Sylva. She
belongs to a family which for many generations has produced remarkable
men. Her great-grandmother, Louise von Wied, was a poetess of
considerable talent; other members of her family had excelled as
naturalists, poets, and painters; three of her granduncles fell during
the Napoleonic wars. The genius of her family seems, however, to have
been concentrated in Carmen Sylva. She was exceedingly beautiful in her
youth, and is charming to-day at the age of sixty. As a child of seven
in Bonn, she frequently sat on the lap of the aged patriot-poet Ernst
Moritz Arndt, who inspired the little princess with his patriotic tales.
Her youthful sorrows, the loss of a beloved brother and of her father,
and the protracted illness of her mother had a deep and melancholy
influence upon her. Extended journeys to the south, to Sweden, and to
Russia widened her poetic horizon. In 1869, Prince Carol of Rumania
wooed the "Forest Rose," as she was called poetically; in 1870, all the
wondrous feelings of a happy mother and a great poet were opened to her
by the birth of a daughter; four years later she lost her child, and
then she sings the words of despair: "For what purpose the great royal
castle, we are but two!" She translated into German verses the Rumanian
songs that had pleased her child, and later she translated many of the
great Rumanian poems. There is in them the wild melancholy and
simplicity of true popular ballads; there is the ring of a poetic
sympathy with nature. They come straight from the heart of the people,
and the translation is full of the same poetic feeling. Her _Thoughts of
a Queen_ (Paris, 1888) are worthy of a Pascal in their depth and
earnestness and wide range, covering life, humanity, love, happiness,
sorrow, pain, spirit, and art. She is of a wonderful intellectual and
spiritual fertility. She wrote _Pilgrim Sorrow_, which has reached its
fifth edition, and has been translated into English by Helen Zimmern.
_Sappho, Hammerstein, Storms, Some One Knocks_ (translated into French,
prefaced by Pierre Loti), _From Two Worlds_, and _Astra_ are universally

It is indeed a strange phenomenon that the two most gifted German poets
are a queen and a peasant woman: Johanna Ambrosius. It is true that the
refinement, the melody and sweetness of Carmen Sylva contrast with the
painful plaints of poor Johanna, who suffered physical want many times
during her life. Yet both have been in their way chastened in the school
of pain and sorrow, only it was in one case the sorrow of the hut, in
the other the sorrow of the royal palace.

Of the other women who have excelled in letters in recent times, the
great majority exerted their influence through novelistic literature:
Wilhelmine von Hillern, spirited, though somewhat too sensational;
Louise von Francois, who skilfully characterizes higher sodety; Adelheid
von Auer (pseudonym for Charlotte von Cosel), who depicts the social
sins of the higher classes; Emmy von Dincklage, the painter of the life
and nature of the low-lands on the Ems; E. Vely, Helene von Hiilsen,
Fanny Arndt, Eudemia von Ballestrem, and scores of others whom in the
evolutionary process of the present time we must not attempt to describe

Indeed, life wells forth with ever increasing strength from the
inexhaustible fountains of women's hearts, leaving the problem in the
mind of the observer where all this activity is to end, and reminding us
of the _Earth-spirit's chant_ in _Faust_ with reference to the "Creative
Power" which eternally works and weaves:

        "In the tides of Life, in Action's storm,
                A fluctuant wave,
                A shuttle free,
                Birth and the Grave,
                An eternal sea,
                A weaving, flowing
                Life, all-glowing.
        Thus at time's humming loom 't is my hand prepares
        The garment of life which the Deity wears."



In the dawn of recorded history woman on the great plains of eastern
Europe shared the lot of her western sisters. She was purchased into her
husband's family or carried away, she was sometimes only one of his many
wives, she took care of the household and helped him in the field,
participated in his manly sports, accompanied him in his military
expeditions, enjoyed full social freedom, was treated with respect,
ruled the state, and was sometimes burned on the funeral pyre with her
husband's body.

Russian annals have preserved for us a picture of one of the most
wholesome women of early, heathen Russia Princess Olga Igor. The Prince
of Kief, Olga's husband, lost his life while collecting tribute on the
upper Dnieper and left her a widow with a child in her arms. She avenged
her husband's death on his slayers in true heathen fashion. She
destroyed their ambassadors by burying alive some of them and burning
others. She besieged their capital, took it, and laid a heavy tribute on
them. Having thus performed her last duty toward her husband, Olga, as
princess regent, travelled over all her country and made every effort to
introduce a good system of government.

She defined the amount of taxes to be paid by the different provinces,
left her fiscal agents behind her, and established courts of justice.
Before her death Olga visited Constantinople and returned home a

To the deep respect for Olga's wisdom a Russian annalist ascribes a
preponderating influence in the introduction of Christianity into Russia
from the Byzantine Empire rather than from Rome. The Christian clergy
immediately began a struggle against polygamy, deeply rooted in the
early Russian society, and endeavored to prevent the excess of parental
authority in the arrangement of marriages against their children's
wishes. Valuable civil rights were secured for women, such as the right
to inherit property and to bequeath it to their children at pleasure.
But together with the praiseworthy efforts of the clergy in regard to
women, there came, too, an undesirable influence. The Greek priests,
full of holy zeal, considered it their sacred duty to combat idolatry in
all its forms, and proscribed all ancient religious and semi-religious
observances as unholy and coming from the evil one, who deluded the
simple-minded and the uncautious into sinful practices and thus led them
to eternal damnation. The clergy put an end to many games and pastimes,
which formerly brought together persons of both sexes, and little by
little the church removed woman from male society. To eastern as well as
to western monks of ascetic aspirations woman was a source of evil, and
therefore had to be kept out of man's way.

[Illustration 5:
After the painting by V. G. Peroff._
_The disorderly and unruly standing army of the Russian tsars, the
Strelets, sided with Sophia. Having secured the regency of Russia during
the minority of her brothers, Ivan and Peter, she soon acquired almost
absolute power. Slighting custom and tradition, she lost no opportunity
to appear in public. In the matter of religion, her advanced ideas led
her to support the orthodox or reform party. The conservatives or "old
believers," having challenged to a discussion the orthodox prelates,
Sophia convened a meeting, to be held in the Palace of Facets, on which
occasion she presided. The discussion was of such a stormy character
that violence was used, and the leader of the "old believers," Nikita
was afterward executed by order of the empress._]

During the epoch of troubles and confusion which followed the years
marked by the introduction of Christianity, the woman of the higher
class of Russians became more and more isolated from her former
surroundings. The Tartar invasion and domination only contributed to the
separatist tendencies in Russian society. Formally, woman retained her
old right of being her husband's friend, companion, and adviser; she
owned property in her own name, disposed of her dower at will, and was
entitled to a share of her husband's property on his death. But as a
matter of fact, the Russian woman was her husband's slave. She was
excluded from that part of the house where her husband received his men

Domostroi, the Russian domestic code, compiled in the sixteenth century
confines woman to the kitchen and to purely domestic occupations.
Woman's virtues are said to lie in silence and humility. She was to
speak only when spoken to. She was to ask questions and advice with
utmost deference. She was to have no secrets from her husband. Her
husband's will was her law and her guide in life. Her aim in life was to
save her soul, to please God and her husband. Her husband could even
apply the rod to her in case of a serious transgression on her part. In
her harem-like seclusion, Russian woman acquired a taste for luxury in
apparel and house decoration and developed many varieties of fine

This seclusion of woman and her separation from her husband's company
had as their result a general coarsening of social tastes. Men amused
themselves with bear hunting, pugilism, and other rough sports. When
engagements were arranged between persons totally unacquainted with each
other, when a wife was purchased, when another girl was substituted in
the place of the one bargained for, and when the engaged parties could
not see each other until the very wedding ceremony, marriages were often
a failure, and led to a mutual deceit, secret immorality, and not
infrequently to crime. Even one of the most enlightened Russian writers
and educators of the seventeenth century, Simen Polotski, advised that
woman should be kept like a slave or a wild beast. We read of many cases
where men chastised their wives with heavy whips.

One Russian woman is reported to have frequently cried over the fact
that her husband, a German by birth, would not whip her, which to her
was a sign of indifference. Men got rid of their wives by sending them
to a convent, or by poison. The code of Alexis Mikhailovich does not
even punish a husband for disposing of his wife in a criminal way. But
if a woman destroyed her husband, she was buried in the ground up to her
neck, and everybody had a right to abuse her until she died.

There was no education to be had for woman, and she grew up, lived, and
died in ignorance and superstition. The Russian Middle Ages have left to
posterity the memory of only one woman who took an active part in
history Martha Boretskaia, the wealthy _posadnitsa_ (mayoress) of
Novgorod the Great. The steady growth of the power of the Moscow princes
in the fifteenth century began to be dangerous to the independence of
the ancient northern republic. The intelligent, energetic, and
freedom-loving Martha became on her husband's death an active leader of
a powerful political party advocating union with Poland, a union which
was to save Novgorod from being subjugated by Moscow. Conscious of her
power, Martha often offended the Moscow representative in Novgorod, and
was slow to give satisfaction to Ivan III., whose life work it was to
unite all Russia under the sovereignty of Moscow and to throw off the
Tartar yoke.

In 1471 there was a stormy town meeting in Novgorod in connection with
the election of a Moscow partisan to the office of the Archbishop of
Novgorod. The adherents of Martha found themselves in a majority. An
embassy was immediately sent to the King of Poland, offering him the
supreme power over Novgorod if he consented to rule according to the
ancient liberties of the republic. Ivan III. tried to conciliate the
city by entreaties, but these failing with the proud posadnitsa, he
moved his army toward Novgorod, defeated the troops of the republic in
several engagements, laid a tribute on the conquered, exacted a promise
to discontinue all relations with Poland and Lithuania, and extorted an
oath from the Novgorodians by which they recognized him as their supreme
judge. Ivan did not dare as yet to meddle with Novgorod's local
self-government and political freedom. But Martha could not be subdued,
and soon the parties renewed their struggle. The sympathizers of Moscow
were persecuted and complained to Ivan. Under a flimsy pretext Ivan
again led his army to Novgorod, was admitted into the city without
resistance, and joined it to his domain. Martha was arrested and exiled
to a convent in Nizhni-Novgorod. Her spirited though unsuccessful
resistance to the growing power of Moscow gave her a lasting name in
Russian history. With the accession of the Romanoffs to the throne a new
and more promising era began for the Russian woman. Matveyeff, the
favorite _boyar_ of Alexis Mikhailovich, was an admirer of the culture
of western Europe and treated the women of his family with marked
consideration, freely admitting them into the society of his friends.
His clever ward, Natalia Kirillovna Naryshkina, attracted the widowed
tsar's attention and became tsarina and mother of Peter the Great.

In the palace of Alexis women enjoyed almost modern freedom. They were
allowed to go out of the palace, and to go to the theatre. A daughter of
Alexis by his first wife, Sophia Alexeyevna, received as complete an
education as could be had at that time in Russia. She grew up to be a
woman of unusual intelligence, energy, and ambition, and on her father's
death began a struggle with her stepmother, Natalia Kirillovna, for
political predominance. The disorderly and unruly standing army of the
Russian tsars, the Strelets, sided with Sophia. Having secured the
regency of Russia during the minority of her brothers, Ivan and Peter,
she soon acquired almost absolute power. Slighting custom and tradition,
she lost no opportunity to appear in public. In the matter of religion,
her advanced ideas led her to support the orthodox, or reform, party.
The conservatives, or "old believers," having challenged to a discussion
the orthodox prelates, Sophia convened a meeting, to be held in the
Palace of Facets, on which occasion she presided. The discussion was of
such a stormy character that violence was used, and the leader of the
"old believers," Nikita, was afterward executed by order of the empress.
She made peace with Poland and China. In 1689 Peter decided to rule
independently. The chief of the Strelets, being unable to raise his
troops in defence of Sophia's interests, decided to assassinate Peter.
The plot did not succeed: its instigators lost their lives, and Sophia
was immured in a convent. She caused a revolt of the Strelets during
Peter's travels abroad, but they were again subdued; many of them were
hanged under the very windows of Sophia's retreat. Sophia died in 1704,
leaving the memory of a rare intelligence and an indomitable energy,
overmatched only by that of her great brother.

Peter the Great found the Russian woman a painted doll, hung over with
pretty ornaments and trinkets, eating fattening foods and sleeping all
day long in order to get stout, for stoutness at that time passed for
beauty. Peter forbade the clergy to marry persons against their will,
and required a formal engagement six weeks previous to the wedding, so
as to give persons a chance to become acquainted before they were bound
to each other for life. He introduced public theatres, and compelled
persons of both sexes to attend them. Social intercourse of the sexes,
under modern and civilized restrictions, was forced not only upon the
Russian nobility, but upon the merchant class. Receptions were
compulsory functions; these were attended by both men and women. At
these receptions, and generally in public, Russians, particularly women,
were required to wear western European dress in public. This movement
toward the social emancipation of the Russian woman inaugurated by Peter
found a powerful support and development during the reigns of Peter's
female successors. During the eighteenth century, Russian women were
taking part in all the court revolutions. During that time, too, social
morality was at a low ebb, owing to a lack of moral restraint.

Peter died in 1725. After the weak reign of Anna Ivanovna (1730-1740)
and the unpopular one of her foreign successor, the supreme authority
passed into the hands of Peter's daughter, Elizabeth Petrovna
(1741-1762). She was skilfully kept in the background by the family of
her predecessor, spent all her time in amusements, and apparently took
no interest in state affairs and politics. As Peter's daughter, she was
adored by the people and by Peter's Old Guard, whom she attached to
herself by constant kindness and attentions. She was an embodiment of
unaffected simplicity, warmth, and sunshine, and her apparent
light-heartedness and gayeties put to sleep all suspicion of seeking to
gather the reins of power in her own hands. But on the night of November
25, 1741, after a prayer and a solemn oath never to sign a death
sentence, Elizabeth put on a cuirass, went to the barracks, led the
grenadiers to the palace, had the reigning family and their supporters
arrested, and was proclaimed empress in the morning, amid general

Though not inheriting all her father's gifts, Elizabeth possessed a high
degree of intelligence and showed much wisdom and insight in the
selection of her assistants in the work of governing Russia. She was
deeply interested in state affairs, and established a special council
whose sessions she often attended. The people called her their "little
mother," and in her soul Elizabeth remained a thorough Russian, though
into her court a splendor equalling that of the French king was
introduced with her accession to the throne. She faithfully adhered to
her father's rule in life to do everything for Russia and through
Russians. The leading positions in all departments of government were
given to Russians, and Elizabeth consented to the appointment of
foreigners even to places of secondary importance only when no Russian
could be found with the necessary qualifications for the office. Peter's
reforms and the work of civilizing Russia by the introduction of western
culture and education were continued by Elizabeth. A new Russian
literature and a higher learning had their birth during Elizabeth's
reign. It is true that her wars weakened Russia, but they gave training
to Russian generals, and prepared the ground for Elizabeth's successors.
The favorites and assistants of the empress were mostly men of ability
and broad aims. They encouraged popular education and native literature,
fought indolence and corruption, which were deeply rooted in the
government, endeavored to do away with the abuses of the provincial
authorities, and to increase the government revenue, not by fresh
taxation, but by developing the natural resources of the country. A
better system of taxation was introduced, and Peter's idea of taking a
census of population from time to time was revived. The burden of the
compulsory service in the army was made lighter. A higher value was set
on the workingman, and capital punishment was entirely dispensed with.
Pioneer settlements were encouraged in the eastern part of European
Russia, beyond the lower Volga. Mines were opened and worked.

Russian commercial caravans began to reach Tashkent. Government banks
were established which lent money to merchants and landowners on easy
terms. A special "commerce commission" was created to look after the
welfare of the trading class. A general government survey put an end to
many territorial disputes among landowners. The internal custom duties
were abolished. A new system of public instruction was being gradually
built up. The first Russian university was founded in Moscow in 1755,
and the Academy of Fine Arts in Saint Petersburg two years later. Two
high schools were established in connection with the university, and
public schools were opened even in Orenburg and in far southern Russia.
Young men were encouraged to enter foreign universities. Efforts were
made to raise the intellectual attainments of the Russian clergy and to
make use of it toward the enlightenment of the people. The national
consciousness awakened. A new literary language took form and shape,
Russian satire began to deride the foibles and the shortcomings of
society. Lomonosoff acquired reputation as a scientist and a man of
letters even in western Europe. A national historian appeared in the
person of Tatishcheff. The first Russian daily paper, the _Moskavskiia
Vedomosti_, was published in 1756, and the first Russian monthly
appeared in the same year.

Elizabeth did not succeed in all her efforts to raise Russia to the
level of her western neighbors. There was much conservatism to overcome.
There were wars to pay for wars which exhausted Russia's resources. But
Elizabeth was preparing the way for her energetic successor, Catharine
II., who always held Peter the Great as an example before her eyes and
who continued his work of reform. During Catharine's reign a woman,
Princess Katerina Romanovna Dashkova, was put at the head of the Russian
Academy of Science. The princess was a phenomenal woman. She was an
accomplished linguist, an enthusiastic reader, an admirer of Bayle,
Montesquieu, Boileau, and Voltaire. She travelled abroad, made the
acquaintance of many great writers and philosophers, and became one of
the most enlightened women of her time. She early manifested a taste for
politics, and Catharine owed her a debt of gratitude in connection with
the revolution which overthrew the unpopular rule of Peter III. (1762).
The most important service, however, was rendered by Princess Dashkova
to her country not in the field of politics, but through her connection
with the academy. It was her aim that arts and science should not be the
monopoly of the academy, but "should be adopted by the whole country,
take root and flourish there." The public lectures established by her in
connection with the academy became very popular and drew large
audiences. She increased the number of fellowships given by the
institution and sent Russian students to Gottingen. A "Translator's
Department" was established which enabled the Russian society to read in
their own tongue the best productions of foreign literature. Several
periodical publications were started under the impulse given by the
princess, and the best Russian writers, even the empress herself, sent
literary contributions to them. One of the most important undertakings
of the academy was the publication of a dictionary of the Russian
language to which the princess copiously contributed. She wrote for
magazines, and translated from foreign languages. Among her works we
have poems in Russian and French, a number of speeches made before the
academy, one comedy, one drama, and interesting memoirs.

The great drawback to the social and intellectual progress of woman in
the Russia of Dashkova's time was the general lack of educational
facilities. In the early Russia only daughters of princes and of the
higher nobility could obtain instruction even in reading and writing,
though the importance of educating women was always appreciated. At the
end of the eleventh century a princess-nun founded a girls' school in
Kief. A Russian metropolitan bishop of the sixteenth century spoke in
his sermons of the value of the education of women. Beginning with the
first tsar of the house of Romanoff, the tsarevas were instructed in
reading, writing, and church music. The six daughters of Alexis
Mikhailovich received a good education. Peter the Great fully
appreciated the importance of schools for women, but did not establish
them. During his reign, however, as during that of Elizabeth, there
began to appear private schools, to which girls were admitted. A ukase
of Catharine II. laid the foundation of an Educational Society for noble
young women, and in connection with it a high school for the daughters
of town residents. The chief aim of Catharine's institution was the
formation of character, the development of good habits, good social
manners, and self-reliance in the pupils. Many other schools were opened
in Catharine's time, not a few of which were under her patronage, to
which children of both sexes and of all social classes were admitted,
though it was considered improper for girls to attend public schools.
Catharine sought to create a "new race" of men, as well as of women, by
offering the latter all possible advantages of education. The policy of
Catharine was dominated by her desire for the aggrandizement of Russia
and the extension of the central rule. One of the most striking results
of her active government is the extraordinary exodus of Kalmuck tribes
in 1771. These people are of Central Asian origin. Their incursions led
them early in the seventeenth century into Russian territory, where they
secured a foothold in the region east of the Volga. Other immigration
followed till the Kalmuck population and power became considerable.
Generally nomadic in their habits, they dwelt in circular felt tents,
and were impatient of government, but about the middle of the eighteenth
century they came into voluntary subjection to Russia. Their splendid
horsemanship and hardy character made the Kalmucks a most valuable
auxiliary force to the Russian army. But Catharine's measures proved
irksome to the independent spirit of some of the tribes, and an immense
number escaped from Russian despotism and resumed subjection to the less
active tyranny of the Chinese ruler.

After Catharine's death, the Empress Maria Teodorovna, wife of Paul I.
(1796-1801), continued her educational work, though abandoning the "new
race" idea, confining herself to more practical problems, and
recognizing the different needs of different classes of children. A
large number of schools was founded by the empress, the management of
which was after her time given in charge to a special department of
government bearing her name. The schools rapidly increased in number,
variety, and character, and gradually the ground was prepared for the
present system of public and high schools for girls, which, under the
auspices of the Department of Education and of the ecclesiastical
educational establishments, are to be found throughout the vast Russian

Long before public schools existed, and long after they were in
operation, there was another educational agent to which Russian woman
owed most of her accomplishments and to which Russia is indebted for
many of her most accomplished women. This is the private instruction in
the home, which was conducted by French, German, and English governesses
and tutors, when a family could afford them. This method has brought and
is still bringing the culture and the polish of western Europe to
Russia. It has made accomplished linguists of so many Russians, and has
opened to them the treasures of the world's literature.

The field of letters was the first in which Russian women distinguished
themselves. One of the brilliant women of the first half of the
nineteenth century was Princess Zenaide Alexandrovna Volkonskaya, who
devoted herself to literature. Having received a fine education at home,
she spent many years abroad, in Paris, Vienna, and Verona, during the
time of the famous congresses which met there to settle the fate of
kingdoms and empires. Returning home, the princess devoted herself to
the study of Russian antiquities. At one time her studies were treated
with such scorn among her circle in Saint Petersburg that she retired to
the more appreciative atmosphere of Moscow. She was much admired by the
leading men of letters of her time. To the life of the primitive Slavs
she devoted two of her most important works. A poet and a musician, she
wrote cantatas and composed music for them. She spent about one-half of
her life in Rome, where she died, a devout Catholic.

Beginning with the year 1860, women began to appear in the lecture rooms
of Russian universities. The attitude of universities to the presence of
women within their walls was not always the same, but their attendance
was generally discouraged. Finally, a lack of social and political
discretion and tact on the part of some women legally closed the
university doors to all, and Russian women were forced to seek higher
education abroad. A movement was started at home in favor of
establishing schools of higher learning for women, and resulted in the
so-called "higher courses for women" in Saint Petersburg, Moscow, Kasan,
Kief, and Odessa, which were conducted by the university professors of
those cities. The "courses" were not uniformly successful. Those of
Saint Petersburg have shown the greatest strength and vitality, having
been conducted with skill and having met with strong moral and financial
support on the part of Russian society. Professional schools for women,
medical schools, normal schools, and the like, have had a more uniformly
successful career. The status of education for woman is not so advanced
in Russia as it is in some countries, but the future is promising.

About the time of the emancipation of Russian peasants by Alexander II.
(1855-1881), Marko-Vovchok (Maria Alexandrovna Markovich) attracted much
attention by her stories picturing Russian life and advocating the
liberation of the serfs. Among the large number of Russian women who
have acquired reputation in Russian literature, special mention should
be made of Khvoshchinskaya. She received a fine preparatory training at
home; then in 1867 she began to study law in German universities, and
took her doctor's diploma in Leipzig. She spent several years studying
the Common Law of the Southern Slavs, and made several original
contributions to legal literature. In 1885 she began to publish a
magazine, _Severnyi Vestnih_ (The Northern Messenger), which had many
women among its contributors. It remained five years under her editorial

During the nineteenth century many Russian women distinguished
themselves in the field of arts and science. Madame Kochetova may be
mentioned as one of the many gifted actresses. Madame Esipova has
acquired a world-wide reputation as a pianist. Marie Bashkirtseva found
her way to the French Salon, and left to the public a diary vividly
picturing her striking individuality. Born in Southern Russia,
Mademoiselle Bashkirtseva, when ten years old, settled with her family
in Nice. She began at an early age to show her gifted nature, her love
of knowledge and her lofty ambition. When only thirteen, she made out a
programme of her studies, in which were included mathematics, physics,
chemistry, Greek, and Latin. She spoke English, German, and Italian from
her childhood days. French was the language in which she did her
thinking and writing. She, too, was an enthusiastic student of music. In
1877, Mademoiselle Bashkirtseva settled in Paris and began to study
painting. After eleven months' work she received, at a general
competition in her school, a gold medal awarded by Robert-Fleury,
Bouguereau, Lefevre, and others. In 1880, when twenty years of age, her
first picture, _A Young Woman Reading 'La Question du Divorce'_ by
Alexandre Dumas, was admitted to the Salon. Her next picture in the
Salon, _Julian's Studies_, was spoken of by the Parisian press as a work
full of life, with firm touch and warm coloring. Two years later her
_Jean et Jacques_, representing two little schoolboys from the poorer
class of the Parisian population, attracted general attention and was
very highly praised by the press: the picture showed the artist's power,
boldness, and fine insight into the realities of life. In 1884 the
Meeting of Mademoiselle Bashkirtseva occupied the leading place in the
Salon, owing to its excellent delineation of figures, fine presentation
of types, and correctness of detail. That same year the young artist
died of consumption. An exhibition of her pictures made by the society
of French woman artists exhibited the great variety and productiveness
of her talent. Mademoiselle Bashkirtseva left about one hundred and
fifty pictures, sketches, and drawings. Some unfinished studies in
sculpture showed her great talent in that direction also. Her numerous
sketches manifest her warm love of humanity and the great depth of her
powerful talent. The French government purchased the best of
Mademoiselle Bashkirtseva's pictures for a national collection, while
the public throughout the civilized world have read in an abridgment of
the artist's diary the story of her life and of her struggle with
worldly temptations and vanities.

The end of the nineteenth century witnessed the death of a prominent
Russian mathematician, Sofia Vasilievna Kovalevskaya. She, too, received
her preparatory training at home, from foreign governesses and private
tutors, and early showed a taste for mathematics. Her conservative
parents would not allow her to continue her studies away from home, and
in order to obtain her freedom, she married early and went abroad to
study her favorite subject. For two years she attended lectures on
mathematical subjects in Heidelberg, studied in Berlin under
Weierstrass, and, in 1874, at twenty-four years of age, took her
doctor's degree at Gottingen. Seven years later, Madame Kovalevskaya was
elected a member of the Moscow mathematical society. In 1884, after her
husband's death, she received the chair of mathematics at the University
of Stockholm. She soon mastered the Swedish language, and began to
publish her mathematical works and contributions to literature in that
language. In 1888, the Paris Academy of Science awarded to Madame
Kovalevskaya a prize of five thousand francs for her work on the
rotation of a solid body around a stationary point. In the following
year she won fifteen hundred crowns from the Academy of Stockholm by a
similar work. In 1889, two years before her death, she was elected
corresponding member of the Academy of Saint Petersburg.

But mathematics was not the only accomplishment of Madame Kovalevskaya.
She was a woman of great depth of feeling and of keen observation, and
possessed, in a high degree, the ability to picture her inner life in
literary and artistic form. Her personal life did not give her all she
expected from it, and in her _Struggle for Happiness: Two Parallel
Dramas_, she tried to present the fate of a person from two opposite
points of view, how it was and how it might have been. She was a strong
believer in predestination, but at the same time she admitted in human
life the existence of moments when alternatives are presented, the
choice of which will shape human life in accordance with the path taken:
she saw a parallel to her theory in Poincare's work on differential
equations. Madame Kovalevskaya's literary career had just begun to
develop and her contributions to magazines to be universally admired
when pneumonia put an end to her work and to her abundant promise.

The field of the Russian woman's activity is as wide as it is in western
Europe or in America. In some respects there is in Russia less prejudice
against woman's adopting a professional career than is found in more
civilized countries. Women compose the ranks of the teachers in the
public schools throughout Russia. There are many women physicians and
registered minor medical practitioners and trained nurses whose services
are particularly valuable to the Mohammedan female population. Many a
Russian woman wears the uniform of the government telegraph operator.
She has legal right to practise law. She takes part in local government
on the same level as men when there is no one to represent her
interests. She has won her position by her energy and talents as well as
by her moderation, tact, deep earnestness, unselfishness, and readiness
to sacrifice herself for the welfare of her fellow men and women.

In Russia there are several business firms conducted wholly by women.
They once startled the former famous minister of finance, Witte, by
sending him a petition requesting him to allow them to do business on
their own account in the stock exchange instead of employing brokers.
The minister asked for time to consider the petition.

The change which has taken place in the condition of the woman of the
well-to-do classes during the last two hundred years has not affected
the most numerous class of the Russian population, the peasant woman.
For years, while special schools were being founded for the daughters of
the noble, the merchant, and the burgher families, she bore with her
husband and family the yoke of servitude, at times degrading and
intolerable, was the lord's property, body and soul, was worked like a
domestic animal, sometimes sold away from her family and otherwise
abused. When the emancipation came with the imperial decree of February
19, 1861, she began to breathe more freely. Now the elementary
education, at least, is accessible to her, and when means allow there is
nothing to keep her from obtaining the highest education to be had in
the country. Even in her modest station throughout the centuries the
peasant woman has not remained intellectually inactive. When students of
Russian literature became interested in the national folklore and began
to collect it, they found a large number of peasant women in the
northern provinces of Russia who possessed astonishing memories and who
dictated one long epic poem after another to the collectors. These
female Homers took pride in their accomplishment and were highly
respected for it in their neighborhoods. While the chief merit of these
poem singers lies in their highly retentive memory, women singers of
another type, the professional mourners at funerals, display creative
genius in composing and improvising songs. The names of peasant women
who composed some of the most popular Russian songs are known, and in
the latter part of the nineteenth century one of them was living in a
western province of Russia. In vocalization Russian women have few
equals among their class, both in civilized and uncivilized countries,
this owing to the richness and vigor of their voices, to the
characteristic fondness for music, and to the beauty of the national
music. Women sing their babies to sleep, sing at social gatherings in
and out of doors, sing while spinning and weaving, going to work and
returning from it.

[Illustration 6:
After Racinet
The policy of Catharine was dominated by her desire for the
aggrandizement of Russia and the extension of the central rule. One of
the most striking results of her active government is the extraordinary
exodus of Kalmuck tribes in 1771. These people are of Central Asian
origin. Their incursions led them early in the seventeenth century into
Russian territory, where they secured a foothold in the region east of
the Volga. Other immigration followed till the Kalmuck population and
power became considerable. Generally nomadic in their habits, they dwelt
in circular felt tents, and were impatient of government, but about the
middle of the eighteenth century they came into voluntary subjection to

Russian woman has shown much artistic skill and taste in domestic
manufactures. Her crochet work, laces, and embroidery deserve high
praise and will doubtless be appreciated when they become better known
outside of the comparatively narrow circle to which they are now
confined. Russian peasant women have studied medical botany from time
immemorial. For centuries they were the only physicians within the reach
of the people. Even at present, when doctors with university training
are accessible to almost everyone, peasants frequently prefer the
ministrations of female herbalists.

In her home the Russian woman is a hard and steady worker. She gets up
at daybreak and tends her cows, cooks and serves the family breakfast
and the rest of the meals, keeps her house tidy, does the family sewing
and washing, is her family dressmaker and tailor. She transforms the
main room of the house into a factory in spring, and on her looms turns
into crashes and homespuns the result of a winter's work at the spinning
wheel. When the harvest time comes she does a good share of work in the
fields. A woman parasite is unknown to the peasant family and can have
no place in it. The Russian peasant woman earns her position in life
through honest, wholesome toil by her husband's side. Her reward is the
respect and consideration paid her. She is treated in the family as her
husband's equal. Under special conditions she has a voice in the village
folkmote, and has a right to a share in the village landed property on
equal footing with men. She is not debarred even from holding offices in
the village administration. Peasant women of ability have acted as
preachers and spiritual advisers among the Russian dissenters who do not
recognize the clergy of the established church. Through the woman school
teacher the Russian village girl now begins to learn in a wholesome way
of the wide world outside, and with ambition and means she will evolve
for herself a career full of interest and success. The future of the
Slavic race is the present world problem. It is a problem that becomes
more prominent with each decade. In the solution, whatever it may be, of
that problem the women of Russia will be a factor of tremendous



In the great family of the Slavic races the Poles are preeminent by
their ancient civilization, their genius, and their literary and
artistic activity. Their ancient history, like that of most other
nations, is lost in a confused mass of legends, but the rich treasures
of their ancient popular songs reveal to us, largely, their old cultural
status. Especially do many love and marriage songs of ancient origin and
others preserved in Latin versions in old chronicles prove the
conservatism of the mind of the Polish people and their conceptions of
life. The maiden, now as in the olden days, sings before the
all-important act of marriage: "Wreath, delicately bound of roses and
white lilies intertwined, thou shalt for the last time adorn my anxious
brow. Thou art the last of all garlands that I wound in the spring of
maidenhood! By the side of the husband do I wander far away. Farewell to
the mother's heart that bore me through bliss and pain. Might I repay
all her toils with rich treasures...." Adorned with the gaily colored
bridal treasures or tinsel, she kneels to-day as of yore before her
parents to receive their blessing. All the symbolic ceremonies betray an
ancient origin.

Though legendary and mythical, Princess Wanda, daughter of Cracus
(founder of the ancient capital Cracow), symbolizes the virtues of
Polish patriotism, chastity, and grace. She is the noblest type of
Polish womanhood, and her memory lives on and on, in the soul of her
race, as it were the personification of her sex Polonized. She had vowed
eternal chastity, but a German war lord, Ritiger, inflamed by her
beauty, waged war against her people to win her by force. Though the
Poles were victorious, Wanda threw herself from the bridge of the castle
on the Wawel mountain into the Vistula to save her country and her
people from similar wars. Lyric and dramatic poetry, as well as the fine
arts, music, painting, and sculpture, have glorified the self-sacrifice
of the noble Polish princess at the legendary entrance of her race into
history. Only the other great race of the western Slavic family, the
Czechs, begins its history in like fashion with the beautiful and
semi-divine form of Libussa.

With the reign of Mieczyslaw I. (962) Polish history begins. In 965,
this prince adopted Christianity in order to win the hand of Dombrowka,
daughter of king Boleslaw of Bohemia, and thus to consolidate the two
great western Slavic races against the ever-increasing encroachments of
the Germans. Roman Catholicism stands at the cradle of the Poles, thus
placing them from the start in opposition to the eastern Slavs, foremost
among whom are the Russians. After Dombrowka's death in 977, a German
markgravine, Oda, shared the Polish throne.

Polish literature begins with a hymn to the Holy Virgin (_Bogarodzica_,
Mother of God), the national protectress of the Poles, whose worship
pervades their entire life, and whose sacred picture is the essential
part of their national coat of arms of the white eagle and their
national banner. This hymn is the Polish catechism; it accompanies the
schoolboy and the warrior and, in fact, all classes and ages throughout
life. This feminine romantic song and the _Psalter of Queen Margaret_
are the oldest monuments of Polish literature.

The later princes and kings of Poland, a dignity bestowed upon them by
Otto II., Emperor of Germany, married, for dynastic reasons, Czech,
Kief, and German princesses, who, it is true, did not further Polish
national life, but broadened Polish culture by contact with other
nations. Wladislaw Lokietek (the Short), who about 1312 made Cracow the
centre of Poland, being the first monarch crowned there, married
Jadwiga, daughter of Boleslaw, Prince of Kalisz. She was an eminent
woman, and was buried in the magnificent cathedral at Cracow, where her
granite monument still stands.

The early kings favored the common people, who, unfortunately, in later
centuries were reduced to servitude, against the _szlachta_
(_Geschlechi_, nobility), so that in early days the women of the people
(_naród_) attained a high social standard. Especially Casimir the Great,
"the king of the peasants," and of the oppressed generally, greatly
increased the happiness and prosperity of the nation. He even admitted
to his realm the persecuted Jews by virtue of the statute of 1357
(privilegia judaeorum), a favor which, according to an unauthenticated
tradition, was due to his love for a beautiful Jewess _Esterka_
(Esther). This great king was legally married three times. He was
unhappy in his marriage with Anna Aldona, a Lithuanian princess, a union
which remained, however, without political consequences. Anna never felt
at home in Poland; she clung to Lithuanian customs, music, and dance.
She loved the manly sports of horseback riding and hunting, and during
her indulgence in them she was accompanied by Lithuanian flute players.
Her Christianity appeared at all times rather doubtful in the eyes of
the Polish clergy, and the Church pomp and ceremony were to her very

Her husband, to whom she was married almost in his boyhood, led a very
licentious life. Theodor Schiemann, the historian of the Slavs, relates
how Casimir at the court of Budapest fell in love with Clara von Zach,
daughter of a court official. Casimir's sister, Queen Elizabeth of
Hungary, aided him in seducing the innocent maiden. The father of the
latter, maddened by the disgrace, broke into the royal hall to avenge
himself upon the betrayers of his child, and wounded the royal couple,
but he was finally slain. A terrible judgment was passed upon all the
members of the family of Zach: Clara herself was mutilated and chased,
as a beast might be, to death, but her royal seducer did not interpose a
barrier to her punishment. This event throws a lurid light on the
mediæval court life in Hungary and Poland.

After the death of Lithuanian Anna, Casimir betrothed himself to
Margareth of Bavaria, who is said to have died of grief at the
approaching marriage to the hated Polish king. His next wife, Adelheid
of Hesse, was neglected and ill treated, and when the king married
another woman, Christina Rokiczan, she left Poland forever. Christina
shared the fate of her predecessor, and the king married in 1365 Hedwig,
Duchess of Sagan, during the lifetime of his undivorced wife Adelheid.
The Pope, however, who had at first called that marriage "a public
disgrace," granted him a divorce from his former wife to legitimatize
the new union. We may draw interesting comparisons between that
otherwise great and tolerant but morally depraved Polish king and Henry
VIII. of England.

The first great Polish woman in the glowing light of history is Jadwiga,
daughter of King Louis of Hungary and Poland, the legitimate queen of
Poland in default of a male heir, crowned on October 15, 1384, in the
Cathedral of Cracow. Betrothed in her childhood to an Austrian prince,
who now came to Cracow and quickly won her heart and actually
consummated the marriage, she was nevertheless compelled by the Polish
nobles, who hated the German and forced him to flee for his life, to
accept Jagiello, the supreme duke of the Lithuanians, a still barbarous,
pagan people, but whose power extended down to Kief. This union was a
political stroke of the first magnitude. Jagiello and the Lithuanians
became Christianized in the Latin form, the united countries became the
greatest power in eastern Europe, and therewith the overwhelming might
of the Teutonic Order was broken forever. The dynasty of the Jagiellos
was founded and reigned supreme in Poland for two hundred years
(1386-1572). When Jadwiga, a great queen and woman, died in 1399, the
Poles, otherwise unruly, retained as their ruler King Wladislaw
Jagiello, who from a great but savage pagan had become a good Christian
and a strong statesman. The destruction of the Teutonic Order in the
battle of Tannenberg, 1410, one of the greatest and most decisive
battles in history, insured for centuries the hegemony of Poland in
eastern Europe. Of this battle we have an interesting letter from
Jagiello to Anna, his second wife, whom he addressed from the camp on
the battlefield as "noble princess, illustrious and dear consort": "We
slew numberless enemies, not through the strength of Our arm, or the
multitude of Our warriors, but solely with the aid of Our Lord, who may
further us in power and virtue!" This document not only shows Jagiello's
adherence to Christianity, but also proves the respect paid to a Polish
queen, even though she was inferior to Jadwiga, who was the reorganizer
and refounder not only of a mighty realm, but also of the famous old
University of Cracow, which before her time had sunk into complete
insignificance. She had obtained in 1397 a papal bull for the foundation
of a theological faculty, and insured the existence of the university
for the future by rich legacies bequeathed on her deathbed.

One century and a half later a royal romance with a tragic ending was
enacted in Poland. King Sigismund (Augustus) II. (1547-1572), on the
death of his first wife Elizabeth, daughter of Emperor Ferdinand I.,
married secretly Barbara Radziwil, of the most illustrious Lithuanian
family. On his accession to the throne he avowed his marriage, and the
princess accompanied him to Cracow to attend the funeral of his father.
The diet of Piotrkow believing a union with a foreign princess more
profitable to Poland, demanded the annulment of his marriage with
Barbara, but the king resisted, and saw her crowned as his queen in
1550. Six months after her coronation, however, she died suddenly,
probably poisoned by her mother-in-law, the hated Italian, Bona Sforza,
who as queen had exercised a baneful influence upon Polish life. The
unfortunate Queen Barbara is idealized in Polish lays, and the portraits
preserved of her show beauty of form and features.

It may be interesting to note the relation of the great Polish king Jan
Sobieski (1674-1696), the liberator of Vienna, and in truth of Europe,
from the Turkish conquerors, to his wife, who exercised an almost
complete dominion over him. We have an admirable description of the
Polish court at the time of Sobieski; of his extraordinary wife and
daughter, and of social affairs there, in a report by a contemporary, an
anonymous French abbé, whose manuscript was found in the Bibliothèque
Mazarin, in Paris, and was published for the first time in 1858. He
describes the Polish nobility as turbulent in the Diet and at home,
tells of their luxury and their habits, the high esteem in which ladies
of high birth were held, and the scandalous treatment of peasant women,
as well as the absolute power of the _szlachta_ over the life and honor
of the serfs and their women.

Sobieski's wife was a French woman, but she became completely Polonized:
Marie Casimire d'Arquien, originally maid of honor of Marie Louise, wife
of Wladislaw and of his brother Casimir successively, had been married
first to the Polish magnate Zamoiski, and after his death to Sobieski.
She is said to have induced her royal consort to assist Austria against
the Turks, very much against the wishes of Louis XIV. of France, who
desired the power of Austria to be broken forever. The King of France
had incurred her ill will by refusing to elevate her father to the rank
of a duke. The queen had the strongest Polish interests and sympathies;
the letters of Sobieski to her are all in Polish; they are of the
greatest historical value, as the king informs her constantly of his
progress; also the personal element in them is highly interesting; they
abound in words of endearment: "My charming and incomparable Mariette."
"Only joy of my soul." The queen, though beautiful and passionately
loved by Sobieski, was an avaricious, despotic, jealous, revengeful
woman. After the death of the great king she lived in Italy and France,
and died in 1716 in the castle of Blois which Louis XIV. had given to
her. Her remains rest with those of Sobieski in the Cathedral of Cracow.

The description of the decline of Poland under the Saxon kings, of the
political and moral decay of the country under foreign rulers, does not
belong to our theme, since the national element in the social life of
the unfortunate country is wanting.

If so much attention has heretofore been given to royal women, it was
done in the conviction that, since, after all, the history of culture is
a comparatively modern branch of scholarship, national life in periods
not too clearly defined in history is best depicted in the highest
circles, which, for good or for evil, will ever serve as a model or a
type to be imitated by the classes below. We need only to glance at the
life of fashion, so essential to women in all stages of society, to
realize the truth of this conclusion.

In spite of all class distinctions, which were stronger in Poland than
in any other country of western civilization, the Polish type of
womanhood was nevertheless more recognizable throughout all the classes
than anywhere else. In spite of all their modesty and womanly beauty,
Polish women were at all times political enthusiasts; at all epochs we
find among them commanding natures, resolute and manly patriots.
Patriotic motives governed their loves, their marriages, their
motherhood, and at no time more than since the partition of their
beloved country. They excel in hospitality, which is their particular
métier, and upon which they lavish, almost frivolously, their earthly
goods. Courage, bravery, even heroism, are common traits, and are
presupposed in their men as prerequisites to winning female affections.
Ideals prevailed at all times; and for ideals, often very empty and
unstatesmanlike, they sacrificed themselves, and also the life blood of
their men, nay, their commonwealth, in fatal contrast to the
self-interested, cool-headed, and cold-hearted statesmanship of their
well-disciplined German neighbors. Upon this noble, but unpractical,
national characteristic is to be based also their lack of an economic
sense; work as such for material reward was always, it may be said,
despised by Polish women; money was, and is, considered a sordid means
for a purpose; and the same training, inculcated into the souls of the
sons of Polish women, was one of the chief reasons for the political
downfall of the nation. A too highly developed sense of individual
liberty, the pursuit of ideals, impracticable even for their own people,
and a contempt for everyday work and commonplace activity, have
destroyed Poland. The eminent Danish literary historian Georg Brandes,
in his Poland, reports characteristically this significant remark by a
distinguished Polish lady: "What company they invited me to meet! It was
made up of workmen, advocates whom we pay, manufacturers who sell goods,
doctors into whose hands three rubles are slipped for a visit."

It is true that it was not always thus with Polish women, and certainly
not with those of the poorer classes. In early times the education of
woman consisted in prayer and work. Learning was not a womanly
requisite; the domestic and agricultural work in the fields belonged to
women, while the tavern was too frequently the abode of the man
(_chlop_). Piety is a most genuine reality with Polish women; they were
at all times a rock of the Catholic Church. Chastity was the most common
virtue, and was strictly enforced. Nitschmann, the German historian of
Polish literature, mentions the fact that as late as A. D. 1645, a young
gentlewoman at the Polish court, who had entertained improper relations
with several courtiers, was condemned to death, together with her
lovers. Strict discipline went so far that, according to old Polish
custom, maidens were chastised with rods every Friday to remind them of
Christ's sufferings and to bring them nearer to God. The prayer of
innocent children was reputed more effective, which was a strong
incentive for young women to keep themselves pure as long as possible.
No wonder that such women attained, in the course of time, a moral
supremacy over their men, and that nowhere in Europe such a genuine
deference was offered to women as in Poland. The almost supreme rule of
the Polish mother over her sons is proverbial. With all her tenderness
for her children, it is the Polish mother who drove the youth of the
land to an almost hopeless struggle against the foreign conqueror, and
to death on the altar of the fatherland. Nowhere has the Spartan
mother's "Either with the shield or upon the shield" become such an
often repeated reality as in the Polish insurrections against Russia.

Until the entrance of French fashions, which, however, especially
influenced the higher classes, the costume of Polish women of all
classes was national, beautiful, and many-colored. A cap of fine linen
and a diadem were worn; the neck was left uncovered, as with the Polish
men, and was adorned with strings of beads or jewels; rich furs
ornamented the edges of their garments. The unmarried women wore fine
silken or linen aprons, which are even to-day an indispensable part of
the costume of Polish peasant girls at their social functions, for
example, dances and spinning parties. A gaily colored cloth,
artistically wound around the head, was always worn by the Polish girl
of the lower classes; a white veil, which, however, must not cover the
face, as with Mohammedan women, covered the heads of the maidens of the
higher classes. Since the partition of Poland the gay national costume
of the Poles is prohibited in Russia, but it is still worn, especially
on festal occasions in Austria and Prussia.

The charm and beauty of Polish women is the constant theme of the
national poets. A lyric poet of the seventeenth century, Morsztyn, sings
of the Polish virgin:

        "Thou model mine, divine in all thy beauty,
        Compared with whom spring's roses even languish,
        O brightest star, produced on earthly meadows,
        Yet unsurpassed by heaven's luminaries!

        "Pure spirit, encompassed in crystal,
        From which thou shinest in lofty light of virtue;
        Perfected creature by the hand of God,
        My spirit's comfort and my heart's delight!"
                                                    (H. S.)

If during the more ancient epochs there are recorded no Polish women who
have made a mark in literary pursuits, this is not due to any
intellectual deficit in those otherwise brilliant and gifted
representatives of the fair sex, but to prevailing conditions, which did
not permit them to turn from the maidenly or housewifely occupations,

        "Woman's virtue never gets along
        With novel-reading, sport, and song."

According to the Polish idea, man belongs on the horse, woman to the
hearth; in which respect the otherwise antagonistic Germans and Poles do
not differ essentially, if we may accept Emperor William's formulated
four K's: _Kirche_ (church), _Kuche_ (kitchen), _Kinder_ (children),
_Kleider_ (clothing), as typical of German ideals.

Nevertheless, there were not wanting intellectual women who contributed
to the brilliancy of the Polish genius during the golden era of their
nation's literature. It touches us strangely when the great Polish poet
Kochanowski sings in the elegies upon the death of his little daughter
Ursula, in 1580:

        "Thou, Slavie Sappho, singer young and sweet,
        The heiress of my poetry shouldst thou be;
        This was my hope in cheerful mood,
        When lovely songs welled from thy angel lips,
        Unconscious to thyself, yet sweet to me....
        Alas! too early silent, didst thou part,
        Snatched forth by death, beloved poetess!...
        Not even death sealed thy poetic lips,
        That, full of woe, spoke with heart-breaking kiss:
        'No longer can I, mother, serve thee now;
        My place near by thy side will be no more;
        The honor of the keyboard will not fall to me;
        O Loved ones, far from you must I depart.
        Thus didst thou speak, and more, angel of death,
        Which I forgot in bitter parting's woe."

The first great Polish poetess who created her title of nobility by her
own talent in the dreariest time of Polish literature was Elizabeth
Druzbacka, née Kowalska. Born in 1687, in Great Poland, she passed her
youth under the care of the cultured Panna Sieniawska, Chatelaine of
Cracow, married the treasurer Druzbacki, and, as a widow, retired to the
cloister of Tarnow, where she died in 1760. Though unacquainted with
foreign languages, and therefore with foreign literatures, she drew her
inspiration from her own poetic soul and rose high above the level of
her poetic contemporaries prophesying a renascence of Polish literature.
Her poetic works, published by Joseph Zaluski, the famous historian and
bibliographer, and later Bishop of Kief, and republished several times
since, show much poetic beauty and graceful originality of composition,
though the material itself betrays sometimes the undeveloped taste of
the time: she apostrophizes the elemental forces in her poem _Water,
Fire, and Air_; she describes in inspired words the life of King David;
the four seasons; she writes allegorically of the fortress built by God,
locked with five gates (the soul of man, with its five senses); she
sings praises of the forests, so dear to the Pole and to the Germans:

        "The dense and shady forests glow in richest colors:
        White is the birch tree, tender green its branches:
        The beech tree proud shines in its youthful fulness;
        The noble fir spreads green its lofty branches;
        Centuries' strength sleeps in the iron oak tree."
                                                        (H. S.)

Toward the end of the eighteenth century occurred the great and terrible
events which, culminating in the tripartitionment of Poland,
accomplished its political destruction as an independent commonwealth.
This important event revolutionized the life, thought and aspirations of
Polish women, suddenly expanded the horizon of their political ideas,
and stirred them up to an understanding of the earnestness of national
existence or national annihilation. These influences are constant, and
ceaselessly interfere with the life of Polish womanhood, either
encouraging them to great efforts or driving them to despair or
denationalization. That great calamity, according to J. Moszczenska in
Helene Lange's Handbook of the Woman's Movement, forced the Polish woman
to take a deeper interest in the condition of her country and her own
position, and impelled her to stand by the Polish man as companion of
his misfortune, his exile, his solitude in foreign lands.

When speaking of the unfortunate political situation of Polish women, we
must, however, in justice exclude their sisters in Austrian Poland, to
whom perfect freedom and national self-development are permitted; for a
free and untrammelled national existence is in every respect vouchsafed
to that part of Poland which fell to Austria, namely, Galicia and
Lodomeria, with the capitals of Cracow and Lemberg.

When Poland had actually fallen, the leading patriots began to realize
the sins and follies which had eaten so much of the marrow of the great
nation with the glorious past, and which had allowed their country to
fall an easy prey to the disciplined and superior power of three mighty
neighbors. Superior Polish women began to aid strongly the patriots in
revivifying the slumbering forces of the masses of the lowly people who
had so long been kept in servitude, prevented from participating in the
national progress, and deprived of education and incentives to
patriotism, the lack of which latter in the common people had been so
bitterly avenged on the entire nation. Princess Czartoryska, of the
illustrious house of Polish magnates, undertook to diffuse a universal
culture and national consciousness among the people. By far superior to
her, however, was Klementyna Tariska, born in 1798 in Warsaw, who, in
her Gallicized country, did not at first even learn her national
language, but had to make herself familiar with it through study. In
1824 she began her literary activity, and strongly influenced ethically
and nationally the society of her time, especially the women and the
newly rising generation. This activity was intensified when, in 1827,
she became superintendent of all the girls' schools in Warsaw. Married
at the age of thirty to the historian Hoffmann, she left Poland and died
in France in 1845. Her writings are of classical purity; and her
services to the Polish language, which in its present literary worth and
linguistic form is equal to any in existence, cannot be overestimated.
Her historical portraits of the glorious past of her nation and of its
great literary luminaries exercised a powerful influence upon the
education of the young Poles, inasmuch as she vivified old Polish
tradition and history. Her Jan Kochanowski at Czarnolas reveals the
golden era of Polish literature: its environment, its great
personalities of both sexes, the old Polish virtues and qualities which
made the nation powerful, the commonwealth strong and prosperous. In
short, this great Polish woman strove to raise her sisters to a higher
plane of responsibility, of wifehood and of motherhood, in order to
produce a new and better generation of men of Polish men withal. She was
an opponent to the virago type of advocates of the emancipation of women
who desired to arrogate to themselves what is by natural laws the domain
of man. But realizing that the political conditions might make fearful
gaps in the ranks of Polish men, and that there might be hundreds of
thousands of widows and orphans, she desired to open to women all
possible avenues of independent life and work, and to set before them
the ideal of toil toil with the hands and toil with the head as the one
worthy purpose of life. The works of this remarkable Polish author were
edited in 1877, in twelve volumes, with an introduction, by another
important Polish writer and extraordinary woman, Gabriele Narzyssa
Zmichowska, who herself wrote admirable tales and a collection of
charming lyric poems which reveal a lofty soul and a melancholy

Klementyna Tanska's fears of a depopulation of her beloved country
became a reality by the revolution of 1831. Deaths on the battlefield,
wholesale exiles to Siberia, political flight and emigration en masse,
deprived Poland of numbers of her noblest sons. Those who remained
behind were cowed, and reduced to servile obedience: no wonder that
Poland's women lost much of their former admiration for, and dependence
upon, the strong sex. They began to realize that they must become
independent, and wage the campaign of nationalism for themselves, if the
Polish language, literature, and genius were to be saved, or a
regeneration of the aftergrowth was to be possible. The right of a
higher, or rather of the highest education for woman was demanded, to
enable her to participate effectively in the political problems of the
nation, in the social questions and the welfare of the race, to free her
from the shackles of conventionalism which had reduced woman well-nigh
to the standard of a social toy or an adornment of the "salon."

Women were trained to work, to live up to the higher ideals of life and
nationality, to subordinate the common petty interests to a higher, more
universally human existence. A circle of superior women, the so-called
enthusiasts, gathered around Gabriele Zmichowska, who worked for the
rights of man, for the abolition of servitude, for the free development
of the natural forces of their great race. The result was that Gabriele
languished for two years in the fortress of Lublin and the other
prominent members of her circle were scattered by persecution. But
Polish women thus attained their revolutionary citizenship, and,
confessedly or not, they belong to the irreconcilables in the political
systems of Prussia and Russia, biding their time, knowing well that an
open resistance, instead of the policy of passive and latent opposition,
would be both unwise and untimely.

Sociological questions have become prominent in denationalized Poland,
and Polish women have been drawn into their discussion. The tariff
barrier between Poland and Russia having been abolished, commerce and
industry were turned into wider channels. The revolution of 1863, ill
prepared and ill executed, failed utterly, and the only hope left for
the nation was progress along economic lines. The great work of the
czar-liberator, Alexander II., who released the Russian peasantry from
servitude, also revolutionized the problems of economic sustenance in
Poland: the struggle for existence under the changed conditions. Poland,
placed as she is between Russia and her powerful western neighbors,
quickly became an industrial centre. Polish women came forward with
their legitimate claims to participate in this material movement. They
had no easy victory. The Russian government, as such, excluded Polish
women _ipso facto_, even more rigidly than Polish men. But the breadless
women forced their way into the factories, the offices, and the
workshops, _i. e._, into commerce and industry. Finally, even the state
recognized their punctuality, conscientiousness, and frugality, and all
this with consequent cheaper wages, and received them in the postal, the
telegraph, and even in the railway service, and as clerks in the courts.

The teaching profession is still most sought by women, though
instruction, in all the schools, is almost entirely in Russian, or other
modern languages, Polish being excluded. The demand for university
education, though granted to women in theory, is not so in practice. It
is very much restricted, as the University of Warsaw does not admit
women, though the stirring events after the Japanese war, the
constitutional conflict throughout Russia, and the struggle for autonomy
in Poland may change all this in the near future. The Austro-Polish
universities of Cracow and Lemberg have recently opened their doors to
them, a fact which drew the many earnest and studious Russian-Polish
women to those centres of learning, as they had previously been
attracted by the liberality of the Swiss universities and the University
of Paris. As Cracow and Lemberg admit only women who have obtained the
certificate testifying to proficiency for university studies, thus
placing them on a level with the male students, gymnasia for women have
been established in Cracow, Lemberg, and Przemysl. This academic
movement is powerfully seconded by the literary, social, and political
clubs of Polish women. These contribute much to the intellectual
activity of the nation, if such the Polish people can to-day be called,
and they produce able and earnest women teachers, correspondents,
editors of reviews, and authors.

Bismarck, the greatest German statesman that ever lived, and as such,
naturally, the most unmitigated political enemy of the Polish race,
which, in his mind, constituted a constant danger to the empire,
expelled from Germany, in 1886, fifty thousand Poles of both sexes, not
only foreign Poles, but even Germans who had married unnaturalized
Polish women; for experience taught, he said, that such wives invariably
make their husbands, and especially their children, Polish patriots. A
higher testimony to their pride and worth, though unconsciously given,
could hardly be cited, for if any man ever understood what was needful
to Germany, it was Bismarck, the gigantic German statesman, who
subordinated everything to German interests.

Polish women of the aristocracy are born to rule; their pride and
self-esteem never forsake them, even in misery; and the women of the
lower classes are ever faithful to the Roman Catholic Church, which with
the downfall of Poland has lost one of its most precious domains. Polish
women, then, carry the spark of a dangerous patriotism and the torch of
a Church foreign to Prussia and Russia from generation to generation.
_Virgo Maria, Regina Polonice_, is still protectress of the land. And
the woman worship of the "_Sarmats_ ruled by women," as Pliny has it,
still remains; gallantry to their women is a trait ingrained in Polish
men; the word "for a lady" has still a magic charm. Their beauty, the
proverbial perfection of their hands, and the smallness of their feet,
do the rest in the subjection of men.

Georg Brandes, the aforementioned sharp observer, rightly calls Polish
women of rank patriarchal and active only on their country estates,
while at Warsaw they appear immersed in social duties; but this is only
a guise under which they promote the cause of their country in every
enterprise, be it the founding of a library, a hospital, or a sewing
school. Every member of a social, charitable, or economic institute is
also a member of the great army for the future redemption of their
beloved country. The Polish language being forbidden in the schools,
every noble Polish woman becomes a schoolmistress of her language at
home, not only for her children, but also for her servants and those who
are drawn under her sway. Polish women of the higher class once had the
reputation of being frivolous; if so, they have become chastened by the
one absorbing idea of patriotism and the restoration of Poland. They are
elegant _grandes dames_ in a higher degree than German ladies of their
class with their substantial virtues, and more self-controlled and
faithful than their French sisters, though their hearts and heads are
surely not colder. Of course, woman's nature is as complex and as
unclassifiable in Poland as elsewhere, and generalization will therefore
always remain onesided; but the Polish type of womanhood is
unmistakable; so is the preponderance of the feminine element over the
masculine. Brandes is quite right when he quotes the opinion of an
Italian author: "Among Germanic races the men are more gifted than the
women; among the Latin races they stand on the same level; among the
Poles, the most characteristic Slavic race, woman is decidedly superior
to man as to intellectual qualities, passion, courage, wit, patriotism.
Polish history is pervaded as with a red thread with heroic deeds of
women. They have aroused whole districts to rebellion against foreign
oppressors, fought in battles, endured the hardships of camp and march,
and died on the battlefield." We need only read Henryk Sienkiewicz's
novels to find such real types of Polish women-heroes in all the domains
of warlike and political activity. The rebellions of 1830-1831 and 1863
found female warriors, as real combatants, in every Polish detachment.
The Polish noblewoman Emilia Plater, sung in Mickiewicz's brilliant
pasan, _The Colonel's Death_, raised a detachment of patriots, fought in
many battles, tried to break with the sword the iron girdle of the
enemies surrounding her corps, and finally died in a forest cabin, in
December, 1831, of her wounds and from fatigue and hunger. The female
martyrs who have followed voluntarily their exiled husbands or fathers
to Siberia may be counted by thousands. No wonder that the Poles love
their women with extraordinary tenderness and gladly concede to them the
palm of superiority!

It must be confessed, however, that conditions are quite the reverse in
many places among the lower and lowest classes. The police system, and
the exceedingly faulty and incomplete system of education, which seems
consciously to be bent upon stupefying the lower strata of Polish
society, has destroyed the force of Polish religion, language, and
national characteristics, and has reduced thousands of Poles to the
lowest social level. Much drunkenness prevails among the men, and
consequently much brutal treatment of the women. Coarse vulgarity is
heard in the karczmas (taverns) at dances and carousals. It is an
ancient experience in history that an attempt at a violent
denationalization of a race always produces a deterioration of the
masses, while, on the other hand, the highest elements are steeled and
tested as by fire.

Several eminent women shine as luminaries on the Polish Parnassus. Maria
Ilnicka, born in 1830, excels as an admirable translator of the songs of
Ossian and of Walter Scott, and as a creator of profoundly thoughtful
poems. Deotyma-Jadwiga Luszczewska, the talented Polish improviser and
poetess, published in 1854 and 1858 two volumes of exquisite poetry, and
later an epic, _Tomyra, the rhapsody Stanislaw Lubomirski_, and a
brilliant _Symphony of Life_ for the Beethoven festival in the great
theatre at Warsaw in 1870. Her fine creation, _Poland in Song_,
published in 1887, treats of the Wanda legend in dramatic form.

Omitting a large galaxy of lesser lights two women authors reign supreme
in Poland: Elise Orzeszko and Marja Konopnicka. The former, born in
1842, though too passionate in her plea for her ideals, especially for
the absolute emancipation of woman, whom she believes is superior to the
deceiver and cynic man, is a deeply poetic nature. Her novels and
social-philosophical works have been, in later years, realistic and true
to nature, and are permeated with a humanitarian sympathy for the
oppressed, be they Poles or Jews or women. Her novels _Eli Makower_
(1874) and _Meir Esofowicz_ (1878) treat of the relation of the Jews to
the Polish nobility, and again of the contrast and warfare between the
Talmudic fanatics and the tolerant, cosmopolitan, cultured Jews of the
world. She prophesies to the homeless race a better future. Her
brilliant literary works and her endeavors to inculcate on her people
Polish ideals did not always find friendly appreciation on the part of
the Russian government, which confined her for several years to Grodno.
Her plea for the emancipation of woman found a strong antagonist in
Eleonore Ziemiecka (1869), who declared that the unlimited emancipation
of women is but a dream of unhappy and oppressed women, which, if
realized, would lead society to destruction. Ziemiecka insists that in
any sound society the natural mission of woman is that of a wife and
mother, and as the counsellor of man.

Marja Konopnicka is a lyric or rather elegiac poet of great power and
genius. Her poetry is not soothing and comforting, but painful,
pessimistic, and despairing. Freedom of thought, sometimes verging on
atheism, is the inspiration which she drew from the condition of her
country and of her people. She is the singer of despair; according to
her conception of the world, God has lost his fatherly feeling for the
world, or perhaps for Poland only:

        "The thundercloud is thy crown, lightning thy garment,
        The sun the stool of thy mighty feet.
        What are human tears to thee? Dewdrops!
        And yet omniscient, none is shed without thy will!
        Indeed I And yet thou hast never dried them?" (H. S.)

Not to end with a misconception of this poet's nature, let it be
mentioned that love is not strange to her; but it is the love for her
native land, and for all those who in some way glorify her native land.
Such love she breathes in her ode to the great Polish painter Matejko,
when she writes of his great pictorial apostrophe to the glory of
Poland, _The Battle of Grunwald_, as _Zaleski_, also, eulogizes Matejko,
"who with the magic staff of the brush resuscitates Poland."

Though dramatic art is not the forte of the Polish race, the theatre has
produced some great actresses, chief among whom are Helen Marcello and
Wisnoska, who found such a tragic death at the hands of a jealous
Russian officer; Madame Popiel Svienska; and, greatest of all, Madame
Modrzejewska (Modjeska), whom Brandes calls a wonder of the nation.
Unfortunately, the range of Polish dramatic poetry and the despotically
ruled theatre at Warsaw could not satisfy Modjeska's genius. Her
repertoire is drawn mostly from the creations of Shakespeare and
Schiller; and with her art she has fascinated until her old age--she is
now about sixty-three--vast audiences in the capitals of almost all the
European states and in the United States, and vivified the noblest
creations of the greatest thinkers and poets.

We are forced to treat superficially so great a theme, for the women of
Poland crowd the history of their country, especially since its fall. We
cannot give the gallery of eminent Polish women, for this task belongs
to the painter and to the historian of Polish literature and culture.
But whenever a great man came under a Polish woman's spell, he succumbed
to it: Napoleon the Great for once became a romantic lover under the
influence of the beautiful Countess Walewska; the first German emperor
felt his heart bleed when dynastic reasons forced him to give up a union
with Countess Radziwil; Goethe grows enthusiastic, at the age of eighty,
when in August, 1829, the great Adam Mickiewicz and his friend Odyniec
presented themselves at Weimar, introduced by Madam Szymanowska, a great
court pianist at Saint Petersburg; he exclaims spontaneously: "How
charming she is, how beautiful and graceful!" The Polish poet's loves,
adduced by Brandes, are different from all the others: they are ardent
and wild, but never sensual; they are repressed or chastened by the
constant emotions of sorrow for their country, their own condition, the
desperate future. So are also their poetic creations: Polish women are
either heroic amazons struggling for the holy cause of the fatherland
(ojczyzna), or they are angelic beings belonging to another world. Nor
is the motherhood of a Polish woman sweet or idyllic; the same pain
prevails in bearing a Polish son whose future fate is the sorrow of "the
man who lost his fatherland." Mickiewicz strikes the real chord of this
sentiment in the celebrated ode To the Polish Mother: "Take thy son in
time into a solitary cave, teach him to sleep on rushes, to breathe the
damp and vitiated air, and to share his couch with poisonous vermin.
There he will learn to make his wrath subterranean, his thought
unfathomable, and quietly to poison his words, and give his being the
humble aspect of the serpent. Our Redeemer, as a child, played in
Nazareth with the cross on which He saved the world. O Polish mother! In
thy place, I would give to thy son the toys of his future to play with.
Give him early chains on his hands, accustom him to push the convict's
dirty wheelbarrow, so that he shall not grow pale before the
executioner's axe, nor blush at the sight of the halter. For he will not
go on a crusade to Jerusalem, like the olden knights, and plant his
banner in the conquered city, nor will he, like the soldier of the
tricolor, be able to plough the field of freedom and water it with his
blood! No! an unknown spy will accuse him; he must defend himself before
a perjured court; his battlefield will be a dungeon underground, and an
all-powerful enemy his judge. The blasted wood of the gallows will be
the monument of his grave; a few woman's tears, soon dried, and the long
talks of his countrymen in the night-time will be his sole honor and
memorial after death." (Transl. Brandes, Poland.)

Such is the character of Polish womanhood, in reality and in poetic
fiction. Inexhaustible riches dwell in its type. The sins of past
centuries have been avenged bitterly upon them and their children; but
they live on, true to their Polish nature. The variety of the human
races, created by Divine Providence, with all their manifold
peculiarities, their virtues and faults, would suffer greatly, and the
human family would be seriously impoverished, should the species "Polish
Woman" ever be merged in the conquering nations and vanish with them,
however great and nobly endowed the latter may be. If the realization of
this wish be the hope of statesmen, the historian of culture can only
desire that the race remain according to a Tacitean word regarding the
Teuton "similar only to itself."





List of Illustrations

Emma carrying her lover,                   G. L. P. Saint-Ange.
Capture of Thusnelda,                                 H. Konig.
A Teutonic alliance,                           Ferdinand Leeke.
Fredegond watching the marriage of
 Chilperic and Galswintha,                      L. Alma-Tadema.
Princess Sophia and the old and new school
 religionists,                                    V. G. Peroff.
Kalmuck interior,                                      Racinet.

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