his best work for him. He loved history, and was a great reader of romances. He regretted that the Germans were not in the habit of writing chronicles, and interested himself in the printing and composition of works illustrating the history of Germany and especially that of his own House. His vanity, perhaps the most constant feature in his character, led him to project a long series of literary and artistic undertakings; but, as was usual with him, his designs were far too comprehensive to be ever carried out. One only of his literary enterprises saw the light during his lifetime. This was The Dangers and Adventures of the famous Hero and Knight, Sir Teuerdank, which Melchior Pfintzing published in 1517 at Nürnberg, and which sets forth in dull and halting German verse, illustrated by Schaufelein's spirited woodcuts, an allegorical account of Maximilian's own exploits during the wooing of Mary of Burgundy. What part of the composition belongs to Maximilian himself and what the final redaction owed to the earlier designs of his secretary, Max Treitzsaurwein, and of his faithful counsellor Sigismund von Dietrichstein, is not clear, but at least the general scheme and many of the incidents are due to the Emperor. At his death, he left behind him masses of manuscripts, fragments of proofs, and great collections of drawings and wood-blocks to represent the other compositions which he had contemplated. In comparatively recent times the piety of his descendants has given these works to the world in sumptuous form. WeissTcunig, drawn up by Treitzsaurwein and illustrated by Burgkmaier, describes in German prose the education and the chief exploits of Maximilian. In the Triumph of Maximilian the vast resources of Albert Dürer's art nobly commemorate the Emperor in one of the most grandiose compositions that the wood-engraver has ever produced. In Freydal Maximilian's joustings and mummeries are depicted with the help of Burgkmaier's pencil. Other literary projects, such as the lives of the so-called "Saints of the House of Habsburg," were only very partially carried out. In the last years of his life Maximilian planned the erection of a splendid tomb for himself at Wiener Neustadt, and called upon the best craftsmen of Tyrol to adorn it with a series of bronze statues. The Austrian lands were not able to supply his wants, and before long he was ransacking Germany for artists capable of carrying out his ideas. To this extension of his plan we owe the magnificent statues of Theodoric and Arthur, which Peter Vischer of Nürnberg cast by his orders. But this scheme too remained incomplete at his death. His last wishes were carried out as imperfectly as he had himself carried out his designs during his life. His request to be buried at Wiener Neustadt, the town of his birth, was forgotten. But, among the ornaments of the sumptuous tomb erected over his remains by his grandsons in the palace chapel at Innsbruck, room was found for the works of art which he himself had collected to adorn his last resting-place. In the heart of his favourite Tyrol, under the shadow of the
Page:Cambridge Modern History Volume 1.djvu/362
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