Post-classical history

Hartmann von Aue

A German poet active in the period 1180-1200, known as the first adapter of Arthurian romance in Middle High German (Erec and Iwein). Hartmann also wrote religious narratives (Der Arme Heinrich and Gregorius), love songs, and three crusading songs, either for the Third Crusade (1189-1192) or the crusade of Emperor Henry VI (1197-1198). In two of these, Hartmann laments the death of his lord, possibly Berthold IV, duke of Zahringen (d. 1186), or Emperor Frederick I Barbarossa (d. 1190), or even Emperor Henry VI (d. 1197), giving a rare glimpse into personal motivations for taking the cross.

The song Swelch vrowe sendet ir lieben man (VI) argues, like works by the poet Albrecht von Johansdorf, that the woman who sends her lover on crusade will earn half his spiritual reward—if she keeps faith with him and prays for them both, while he fights for them both. Argued with powerful emotion, Dem kriuze zimet wol reiner muot (V, “Purity and chastity befit the crusader”) requires radical renunciation of the world and the devil, insists that the crusader bring both faith and works to the service of God, and rejoices at the promised entry to the tenth choir of heaven. Hartmann mourns the death of his unnamed lord, praying that half the crusader’s reward should accrue to his lord’s salvation. For all its austerity, the song promises “praise in this world” as well as “the soul’s salvation” [Des Min- nesangs Frühling, V, 2].

In Ich var mit iuweren hulden (XVII), the poet seeks leave of lords and kinsmen. Love has taken him captive and demands he fight in her cause—but not that love the Minnesinger praise, all words not works, vain hope that is not reciprocated. It is love of God and sorrow at the death of his lord that together make him go out to fight “Saladin and all his army”(XVII, 1)—though without this personal bereavement, as the ambiguous manuscript text appears to say, the crusade would not have drawn him abroad.

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