1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Freidank

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FREIDANK (Vrîdank), the name by which a Middle High German didactic poet of the early 13th century is known. It has been disputed whether the word, which is equivalent to “free-thought,” is to be regarded as the poet's real name or only as a pseudonym; the latter is probably the case. Little is known of Freidank's life. He accompanied Frederick II. on his crusade to the Holy Land, where, in the years 1228-1229, a portion at least of his work was composed; and it is said that on his tomb (if indeed it was not the tomb of another Freidank) at Treviso there was inscribed, with allusion to the character of his style, “he always spoke and never sang.” Wilhelm Grimm originated the hypothesis that Freidank was to be identified with Walther von der Vogelweide; but this is no longer tenable. Freidank's work bears the name of Bescheidenheit, i.e. “practical wisdom,” “correct judgment,” and consists of a collection of proverbs, pithy sayings, and moral and satirical reflections, arranged under general heads. Its popularity till the end of the 16th century is shown by the great number of MSS. extant.

Sebastian Brant published the Bescheidenheit in a modified form in 1508. Wilhelm Grimm's edition appeared in 1834 (2nd ed. 1860), H. F. Bezzenberger's in 1872. A later edition is by F. Sandvoss (1877). The old Latin translation, Fridangi Discretio, was printed by C. Lemcke in 1868; and there are two translations into modern German, A. Bacmeister's (1861) and K. Simrock's (1867). See also F. Pfeiffer, Über Freidank (Zur deutschen Literaturgeschichte, 1855), and H. Paul, Über die ursprüngliche Anordnung von Freidanks Bescheidenheit (1870).