Schedelsche Weltchronik

#OTD, December 23rd, 1493 the German version of the Schedelsche Weltchronik (known as the Nuremberg Chronicle in English) was first published.

Similar to other medieval chronicles, the Weltchronik covers the entire history of the world since its creation to the then present day. Like medieval chronicles, it comprises not just political history but saint’s miracles, sensational gossip and geographic information about the cities and lands covered. The sixth book ends in 1492 and is followed by the 7th that talks about the coming of the antichrist and the final judgement.

The book was a massive tome, Each page is 325mm by 480mm, i.e., a bit larger than A3. The Latin version had 326 sheets, the German version 297. It contained 1804 illustrations, though many have been used multiple times.

The woodcuts were made by the workshops of Wilhelm Pleydenwurff and Michael Wohlgemut. For a while art historians contemplated an involvement of Albrecht Dürer in the creation of the Weltchronik, though this seems now largely debunked.

The greatest of these woodcuts is the two-page view of Nuremberg which I show here.

The project was the brainchild of two Nurnberg merchants looking to cash in on the book trade that had kicked off since Gutenberg published his first printed bible in 1455. The text was written by Hartmann Schedel a medical doctor, humanist and book collector. Schedel had studied in Padua and settled in Nuremberg.

If you have been following the History of the Germans Podcast you may have noticed that I often use the woodcuts from the Weltchronik to illustrate the location of events – because they are simply gorgeous.

If you want to leaf through a copy of the Weltchronik, the Bayerische Staatsbibliothek has digitised one for us. see here

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