Hans Hundt von Wenkheim
- Date of Brass:
- Lutherstadt - Wittenberg
- Sachsen - Anhalt
Prince – Elector Friedrich der Weise (Friedrich 111) von Sachsen from the Ernestine line of the House of Wettin was responsible for the reconstruction of Wittenberg Castle and its Church. The latter was consecrated as All Saints in 1503. By that time Friedrich had already founded the University of Wittenberg in 1502 which was to establish a formidable academic reputation. From 1507 All Saints church was put at the disposal of the University, for lectures and services. In 1508 Martin Luther, a monk from the Augustinian Friary in Erfurt, arrived for the first time to teach moral philosophy and by 1512 had settled in the town on receipt of his Doctorate of Theology. Wittenberg is considered the birthplace of Reformation in 1517. All Saints church became a mausoleum for the Prince- Electors Friedrich and his brother Johann der Beständige (The Steadfast) who were great supporters of the Reformation, as well as the Reformers themselves especially Martin Luther and the Humanist Philipp Melanchthon. In addition it became the burial place for several Professors from the University.
There are numerous monumental brasses in All Saints church, none of which are recorded in the United Kingdom, including four large plates from the Vischer workshop in Nűrnberg relating to both the Prince - Electors (Friedrich †1523 & Johann † 1532 ) 1 , and two inscriptions now mounted on stone plinths above the graves to Martin Luther † 1546 and Philipp Melanchthon † 1560. The north wall of the Nave has six epitaph/ inscriptions to Professors of the University from 1593- 1774. These were all on the Nave floor prior to the late 19th c. restoration of the church,following the devastation caused by the Seven Years War of 1756-63 and the War of Liberation from Napoleonic rule in 1813.2
On the south wall of the Nave, adjacent to a full size cast bronze plate in low relief to Luther, 3 is an inscription in raised BL to Hans Hundt † 1504. This comprises a 5-line German inscription 275 x 268 mm, in Gothic Textualis, originally on the floor of the Nave;
Anno d(omi)ni 1504 am Tage
Margarete, starb d(er) g(e)stre(n)g(e)
er(e)nfeste Gr(af) ha(n)s hunt ritter
la(n)tvogt zu Sachsen di Zeit
dem Gott gnade. Amen
“In the year of Our Lord 1504 on St Margaret’s Day died the morally strict and unflinchingly honourable Count Hans Hunt, Knight, Sheriff of Saxony in his time. God be merciful to him”
Hundt was no doubt accorded the privilege of burial in All Saints church partly on account of his role in Prince-Elector Friedrich’s pilgrimage to Jerusalem. This took place between 19th March and the end of September 1493 with a Court contingent of c. 100 rising eventually to 189 pilgrims. Friedrich appointed Hundt as Rentmeister ( Financial Advisor / Accountant) for the pilgrimage, and remarkably a record of the income & expenditure survives in his Rechnungsbuch for 1493-94.4
Hundt’s Will of 9th July 1504 requests burial in All Saints church Wittenberg and asks to be commemorated with an inscription with his coat of arms and helmet. There is no specific request for a brass and no evidence of anything other than the inscription as his memorial. An old photo taken immediately prior to the 19th c. restoration of the church shows a jumble of gravestones ripped up from the Nave floor and clearly shows just a plain stone slab with Hundt’s inscription on it. In his Will he also donated 100 guilders to the All Saints Foundation and 9 guilders to the friars of the local Franciscan Monastery to say prayers for a month for his departed soul.5
Wittenberg’s compact old centre survives and includes the Town church of St Mary which also contains unrecorded brasses, including an inscription in Early Humanist Capitalis to Martin Pollich von Mellerstadt † 1513.6 Pollich was the founding Rector of the University and Personal Physician to Prince-Elector Friedrich who accompanied the latter on his pilgrimage. Luther preached many sermons here and the church includes various paintings by Lucas Cranach the Younger advocating the Reformation and depicting the Reformers.7 The Cranach family workshop is located nearby. Lucas Cranach the Elder was court painter to both the Albertine & Ernestine Line of the House of Wettin with known portraits of Friedrich 111. Cranach is alleged to have accompanied Friedrich on his pilgrimage with paintings recording the trip.
Wittenberg contains four UNESCO World Heritage Sites – All Saints & St Mary’s churches, the Lutherhaus (now a museum) and the Melanchthonhaus. The University was merged with Halle and relocated in 1817, now known as the Martin- Luther- Universität Halle- Wittenberg.
All the Inscriptions in Wittenberg are recorded in Deutsches Inschriften Online (DI 107) but this has yet to be digitalised.
A comprehensive List of the brasses in the two churches has been compiled by the author, and it is hoped to feature this in the context of an Article for consideration for inclusion in the MBS Bulletin.
Herring, Kevin “Friedrich the Wise” MBS Website Portfolio of Brasses Nov. 2020. Also Hauschke, Sven “Die Grabdenkmaler der Nűrnberger Vischer Werkstatt 1453-1544” (2006) Michael Imhof. pp. 325-332 & 332-335.
Gruhl, Bernhard “The Castle Church Reformation Memorial Church Wittenberg” Schnell & Steiner (2016) pp. 12-16. Also Naumann, Gottfried “Bene Valeas Quisquis Es - Lateinische Inschriften in der Lutherstadt Wittenberg” (2011).
Luther’s cast bronze memorial is an 1892 copy of the original 1548 memorial found in Jena City Church.
Röhricht, Reinhold & Meisner, Heinrich “ Hans Hundt Rechnungbuch 1493-94” in Sachsische Geschichte und Alterthumskunde (1883) pp. 37-100.
Neugebauer, Anke “Mors ultima linea rerum est – Die akademische Grablege in der Wittenberger Schlosskirche” in Wittenberg – Forschungen Band 5 ”Das Ernestinische Wittenberg. Residenz und Stadt” (2020) pp. 302-303 which includes a floorplan from of the original location of all the graves in the Nave. Hundt’s grave is no. 23. Also pp. 309-310 which concerns Hundt’s Will, as found in the Universität Archiv Halle- Wittenberg (UAHW Rep.1 tit. 2. 81a Nr.105)
Naumann op. cit. pp. 38-39.
Steinwachs, Albrecht & Block, Johannes “The Evangelical City & Parish Church St Mary of Lutherstadt Wittenberg” Akanthus - 3rd ed. 2015. pp. 12-30.
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