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Thread: Help with Translation from 18th C. German

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    Help with Translation from 18th C. German

    This is somewhat related to my earlier thread "Teutonic Knight's Gun..." but different enough to warrant a new thread. I have just found a more extensive biography of the knight I'm researching, Ulrich von Schellenberg (1487-1558.) There are four pages of text in the wonderful old German script. Also it is presented only in images, so it would take some work even to digitize the text. Anyway, I'm sure some of you can read this as easily as you read your morning paper, and I'd be forever grateful if you could just translate it into English for me.

    This man U. v Schellenberg is a very interesting character, trained as a lawyer he decided instead to become a professional warrior, and fought for Maximilian I, then Charles V in their Italian Wars. He was knighted by both emperors for gallantry, etc. He commanded up to 15,000 Swiss mercenaries in some famous battles including Pavia (1525.)

    Please help! Here's the German text:

    http://springfieldarsenal.files.word...es-excerpt.pdf

    Thanks and Fröhliche Weihnachten!
    Last edited by cannonmn; Sunday, December 18th, 2011 at 02:45 PM. Reason: spelling correction

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    Bavarian friend says it isn't worth translating

    A Bavarian friend who has been helping me with the technical aspects of this research has just read the extract and advised me that "from a modern scholarly point of view it isn't worth translating." He say it doesn't add anything to the similar 19th C. text he already translated for me, and is only longer than that one because it is more bombastic, not more detailed.

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    Senior Member Friedrich's Avatar
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    Well, firstly it helps to know Fraktur script, as opposed to Antigua.
    http://www.library.yale.edu/catalogi...ic/fraktur.htm
    Then there are altered spellings in older German, but I can pretty much tell you what the first paragraph says.

    Firstly, comparing all my "Fraktur" to the text, the name does not begin with a "U".
    It could be Blrich von Schellenberg - Knight.
    However they probably had different conventions back then, and "Ulrich' is a far more recognizable name.
    The Fraktur is used for a fancy effect here, and may not fit the 20th Century version exactly.

    I could humbly gather this from p.1, although to translate such documents usually takes a team of specialized people:

    "From his heroic, manly visage, with his long hair and long robes; thus is the famous lord Ulrich von Schellenberg known, for he comes from the line of Charlemagne; as he was sent to study Law at the University of Padua by his father - Heinrich von Schellenberg.

    On his journey home, he found his bravery, and apart from learning Law and its limited experience, he decided to also learn the art of fighting, due to his bravery, which had so far been subdued. He came to be a warrior; a great soldier and a famed officer.

    He fought for Emperor Maximilian the First, who wanted to re-conquer "Mayland" from the Lombards for France. There he found himself, and showed great manliness and courage, and he became so famous and celebrated that he was knighted.

    He was with Maximilian when he took "Mayland" in the year one thousand five hundred and twelve.

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    Senior Member thoughtcrime's Avatar
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    "Mayland" (today: Mailand) is the german name of the italian city of Milan.
    "Lever dot as slav."

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    Senior Member Friedrich's Avatar
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    Another daunting difficulty for modern readers is that it jumps from meaning to meaning between commas. The sentences are very long.
    From p.2 it has to be heard rather than read.

    P. 1 ends where he gets a commission from the royal Majesty, who was aware of Schellenberg's wit and ability in war.
    This then leads to a siege of the city of Padua.

    It's a bit like translating Chaucer into English (ha, ha).

    However, I'll stop here for now before my brain explodes!

    People from my mom's generation can read this with ease, but the meaning is also not always clear.

    It sounds a lot like propaganda for the Schellenberg family, but it's fascinating nevertheless, and unless somebody more competent volunteers to translate, I'll gladly work on it some more soon.

    PS. From a brief overview it goes on to describe the siege, and the joining of this by a French king (whose daughter seems to have eloped with the Sfortia ruler of the town, along with many civilians).
    The battle now become three-sided.
    The politics and games here are quite tricky, but also presented as relatively trivial in one page.
    Schellenberg is presented as above such Machiavellian bickering, and his bravery is highlighted, as his horse is killed with a sword, and he continues fighting by foot without batting an eyelash.
    We read that he sustained 36 wounds, and that his body was full of scars.
    He bore his battle scars with pride, and later in life when people mocked his scars as the doing of the French, he made no bones about reminding them that their lives of comfort were due to his bravery.
    Eventually Schellenberg ends up under a pile of bodies, and once revived, to his surprise, his enemies knight him too.
    He then worked for King Henry V.
    This job was precarious, especially when a jealous Cardinal hired 14,000 Swiss soldiers to depose the king, and Schellenberg again found himself in the midst of intrigue.
    It then also mentions that he had more adventurous warrior exploits, including some against the Muslim hordes and Suleiman at the siege of Vienna.
    I won't even try and translate that all word for word.
    But all ends well for good old Schellenberg in the final short paragraph.
    He gives up the warrior life and lives to the then ripe old age of 71, and his life was praised and honored.

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    Senior Member Friedrich's Avatar
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    Well to me Schellenberg seems like the quintessential hero of the rising middle class.

    He is an educated man, who finds himself above the common mob, yet also apart from the nobility.

    He did his duty as a warrior to whosoever he served, when he could have lived a life of comfort.

    Despite the fact that the text is only 4 pages, it is indeed a complex text; richly compressed with meanings.

    Some terms here come to mind that also affect wider propaganda into our century. The term "maennlich" (manly or masculine), for example, sells a sense of identity from a range of ideologies and consumer goods, including everything from beer to patriotism and deodorant.

    Although the "knight" or warrior tropes are particularly striking in the text, is he only a warrior?
    His knighthood does not diminish or undermine his academic training as a lawyer.
    In fact, in parts of the text he wins men over simply by persuasion.

    Although Schellenberg does have noble ancestry, I'm not sure whether this makes him a part of the nobility as such, but it probably reinforces his heroic and exemplary effects. Becoming like Schellenberg is probably one superficial intention of the text, which makes him an allegory for a number of desirable masculine traits.
    So he is not a member of the nobility as such, and earns his name (however, he's certainly not a "silly" farmer, as Heinrich Wittenwiler parodied).
    He's also no revolutionary, and he does not fight the nobles.
    Instead he exposes their politics, while performing his "manly" duties.
    OK, he did fight the Muslims, but that is a rather small part of the piece (perhaps disappointingly so).

    One could also ask how much of this character is nature, and how much is culture?
    Culture would make him a lawyer - but his nature made him a warrior.
    However, he is a very crafted warrior.
    He is a kind of mercenary, or a "dog of war".
    He never opposes the system of nobility, and therefore he dies a hero, and although he lived by the sword; he doesn't die by the sword.
    He is "appropriately violent", but not bloodthirsty.

    He was a cog in a machinery of power, and those who run that system will die by the sword, which is a very subversive subtext.

    But be that as it may with academic debates.
    They kicked Suleiman's ass out of Europe, and I thank my ancestors for that every day.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Friedrich
    Firstly, comparing all my "Fraktur" to the text, the name does not begin with a "U".
    It could be Blrich von Schellenberg - Knight.
    What are you talking about? Of course this is an "U", not a "B"



    The text even has an own "B" in the line above for comparison.
    Attached Images Attached Images  
    Ein Leben ist nichts, deine Sprosse sind alles
    Aller Sturm nimmt nichts, weil dein Wurzelgriff zu stark ist
    und endet meine Frist, weiss ich dass du noch da bist
    Gefürchtet von der Zeit, mein Baum, mein Stamm in Ewigkeit

    my signature

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    Senior Member Friedrich's Avatar
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    I attached my link of Fraktur script.
    I also did clearly intimate that I believed it to be an "U" in the same post.
    I was talking about how strange it seemed to me at first, and that a strict 20th century German Fraktur and spelling standard must actually be overlooked to a degree.

    Then, I also never learnt Fraktur, however it's been very educational to see the tiny curves which distinguish letters in the most unexpected places.

    It's been quite an intense reading for myself, and I never claimed to have an ultimate truth on anything.

    Nobody else bothered for a long time to answer the fellow member, and I gave it a shot.

    But thanks, point taken.
    I'll remember that, and I wish somebody would point out all those differences!

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