The New International Encyclopædia/Berlichingen, Götz von

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The New International Encyclopædia
Berlichingen, Götz von
Edition of 1905. See also Götz von Berlichingen on Wikipedia, and the disclaimer.

BERLICHINGEN, bĕr'lĭK-ĭng'en, Götz or Gottfried von (1480-1562). A German feudal knight and soldier of fortune. He was born at Jagsthausen, Württemberg, and was initiated into feudal warfare at an early age. He first served the Elector Frederick of Brandenburg, but soon took up the cause of Albert of Bavaria, In 1504, at the siege of Landshut, he lost his right hand, and having had it replaced by an iron one, he was thenceforth known as Götz of the Iron Hand. He lived in constant feuds with his neighbors and waylaid passing merchants, varying these pastimes with deeds of chivalry. His disregard for the edict against private warfare caused Götz to be twice put under the ban of the Empire, first in 1512 and again in 1518. He was a stanch supporter of Luther. In 1525 the revolted peasants, according to his story, came to the castle of Berlichingen and insisted forcibly on his assuming command over them. The revolt was soon put down and Götz taken prisoner, and only released after two years' captivity, and on promise of abstaining from further warfare. After a long period of inactivity he reappeared on the scene in 1542, and took part in the campaign in Hungary against the Turks, and in 1544 fought for Charles V. against Francis I. Götz died at his castle, July 23, 1562. While living in retirement he wrote his famous autobiography, which first appeared in 1731 and has since been edited by Schönhuth (Heilbronn, 1859), and by Müller (Leipzig, 1882), Goethe chose the famous knight as the hero of one of his best-known dramas, Götz von Berlichingen, which Sir Walter Scott translated, and in the eyes of historians generally Götz represents the typical feudal knight. The best biographies of him are: Götz, Graf van Berlichingen-Rossach, Geschichte des Ritters Götz von Berlichingen mit der eisernen Hand (Leipzig, 1861); Buesching, Leben des Götz von Berlichingen (Berlin, 1810). The family of Berlichingen-Rossach are descendants of the famous knight.