Jans der Enikel

[Jans the Grandson]

Biography of Jans der Enikel

Jans der Enikel, i.e. "Jans the Grandson" was a Viennese poet and historian of the late 13th century. He wrote a Weltchronik (history of the world) and a Fürstenbuch (history of Vienna), both in Middle High German verse. The Weltchronik tells the history of the world, starting even before the six-day creation by telling of Satan's rebellion in Heaven, and relating the Biblical stories of the Old Testament (oddly not the New), then continuing with Homer and other classical Greek and Roman material, and on down the list of Emperors through Charles the Great to Frederick II, Holy Roman Emperor. The style is anecdotal, with many fun tales inserted into what might otherwise be sober history. For example, the reign of Frederick II is interrupted to tell an entirely fictional story of a nobleman named Friedrich von Antfurt. This Friedrich subjects a duchess to what we today could only call sexual harassment, to the point where she thinks up a ruse to get rid of him. She promises to give him what he wants (the poet makes no bones about the fact that he only wants her body) provided he takes part in a joust wearing her chemise (underdress) instead of his armour. She is of course counting on him being killed. But he survives, and there has to be a reckoning. Jans is recorded in a number of Viennese documents for the years 1271-1302. He is known to have been a member of one of the highest patrician families of the city.

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