They invited him to the house of one of the party, and emptied many a measure of wine. When they had all drunk their fill, they went to walk in the garden, just as the stars were beginning to come out.
Joss now approached the painter with his project. He told him that there was a stranger in the village who wanted a small banner painted and had asked him Joss to demand the cost. Theodosius showed himself amenable as regards this point, but wanted to know what was to be the device on the banner. Directly Joss mentioned the word Bundschuh , the worthy painter gave a start, and swore that not for the wealth [Pg 68] of the Holy Roman Empire itself would he undertake such a business.
They all saw that it was no use pressing him any further, and so contented themselves with threatening him with dire consequences should he divulge the conversation that he had had with them. The painter, fearful of not receiving his pay for the church work, if nothing worse, prudently kept silent. Joss was at his wits' end. The silk of the flag was already bought, and even sewn; blue, with a white cross in the middle, were the colours; but to begin operations before the sign of the Bundschuh was painted, entered into the head of no one.
In accordance with the current belief in magic, the symbol itself was supposed to possess a virtue, without the aid of which it was impossible to hope for success. There was nothing left for it but for Joss to start on a journey to the free city of Heilbronn in Swabia, where he knew [Pg 69] there lived a painter of some ability. Arrived there, Joss dissembled his real object, pretending that he was a Swiss, who, when fighting in a great battle, had made a vow that if he came out safe and sound, he would undertake a pilgrimage to Aachen Aix-la-Chapelle , and there dedicate a banner to the mother of God.
He begged the painter to make a suitable design for him, with a crucifix, the Virgin and St.
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John the Baptist, and underneath a Bundschuh. The Heilbronn artist was staggered at the latter suggestion, and asked what he meant. Joss appeared quite innocent, and said that he was a shoemaker's son from Stein-am-Rhein, that his father had a Bundschuh as his trade-sign, and in order that it might be known that the gift was from him, he wished his family emblem to appear upon it.
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Round the flag were to be the words: "Lord, defend Thy Divine justice". These representations overcame the painter's scruples, and in a few days the banner was finished. Hiding it under his doublet, Joss hurried back to Lehen. At last all was ready for the great coup. The Kirchweihe or village festival, held every year on the name-day of the patron saint of a village [Pg 70] church was being held at a neighbouring village on the 19th of October. This was the date fixed for a final general meeting of the conspirators to determine the plan of attack and to decide whether Freiburg should be its object, or some smaller town in the neighbourhood.slaterridon.gq
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The confederates in Elsass were ordered, as soon as the standard of revolt was raised in Breisgau Baden , to move across the Rhine to Burkheim, where the banner of the league would be flying. Special instructions were given to the beggars to spy round the towns and in all inns and alehouses, and to bring reports to Lehen. Arrangements were also made for securing at least one or two adherents in each of the guilds in Freiburg.
All these orders were carried out in accordance with the directions made by Joss before his departure. But whilst he was away the members lost their heads.
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When too late they bethought themselves to win over an old experienced warrior who lived in Freiburg, a cousin of one of the chief conspirators at Lehen. Had they done so earlier it is likely enough that he would have been able to secure them possession of the city. As it happened, things were managed too [Pg 71] hurriedly. Before matters were ripe the chief men grew careless of all precautions, so confident were they of success. One of the conspirators within the city set fire to a stable with a view to creating a panic, in the course of which the keys of the city gates might be stolen and the leaguers admitted.
The attempt, however, was discovered before the fire gained any hold, and merely put the authorities on the alert. Again, three members of the league seized upon a peasant a short distance from the city, dragged him into a neighbouring wood, and made him swear allegiance.
After he had done this under compulsion they exposed to him their intentions as to Freiburg. The peasant proving recalcitrant, even to the extent of expressing horror at the proposal, the three drew their knives upon him, and would have murdered him when the sound of horses was heard on the high road close by, and, struck with panic, they let him go and hid themselves in the recesses of the wood. The peasant, of course, revealed all to his confessor the same evening, and wanted to know whether the oath he had taken under compulsion was binding on him.
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The priest put himself at once in communication [Pg 72] with the Imperial Commissary of Freiburg, who made the City Corporation acquainted with the facts. Two other traitors a few days after came to the assistance of the authorities, and revealed many important secrets. Count Philip of Baden, their over-lord, to whom these disclosures were made, was not long in placing them at the disposal of the Corporation of Freiburg and of the Austrian Government at Ensisheim.
Late the following night, October 4, messengers were sent in all directions to warn the authorities of the neighbouring villages and towns to prepare themselves for the outbreak of the conspiracy. Double watches were placed at the gates of Freiburg and on all the towers of the walls. The guilds were called together, and their members instructed to wake each other up immediately on the sound of the storm-bell, when they were all to meet in the cathedral close. The moment that these preparations were known at Lehen, a meeting was called together on the Hardmatte at vespers; but in the absence of Joss Fritz, and, as ill-luck would have it, in that also of one or two of the best organisers who were away on business of the [Pg 73] league, divided counsels prevailed.
In the very midst of all this, two hundred citizens of Freiburg armed to the teeth appeared in Lehen, seized Hans Enderlin and his son, as also Elsa, the woman with whom Joss had been living, besides other leading men of the movement. Panic now reigned amongst all concerned. Well nigh every one took to flight, most of them succeeding in crossing the frontier to Switzerland.
The news of the collapse of the movement apparently reached Joss before he arrived in Lehen, as there is no evidence of his having returned there. Many of the conspirators met together in Basel, amongst them being Joss Fritz with his banner. But they were fallen upon on the way, and two were made prisoners, the rest, among them Joss, escaping.
Those of the conspirators who were taken prisoners behaved heroically; not the most severe tortures could induce them to reveal anything of importance. As a consequence, comparatively few of those compromised fell victims to the vengeance of their noble and clerical enemies.
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In Elsass they were not so fortunate as in Baden, many persons being executed on suspicion. Joss's mistress was liberated after three weeks, and she was suspected of having harboured him at different times afterwards. The last distinct traces of him are to be found in the Black Forest ten years later, during the great rising; but they are slight, and merely indicate his having taken a part in this movement.
Thus this interesting personality disappears from human ken. Did the energetic and enthusiastic peasant leader fall a victim to noble vengeance in , or did he withdraw from public life to a tranquil old age in some obscure village of Southern Germany? These are questions which we shall now, it is probable, never be able to answer. At the same time that the foregoing events were taking place there was a considerable ferment in Switzerland.
Increase of luxury was beginning to tell there also. The simple cloth or sheepskin of the old Eidgenosse was now frequently replaced, in the towns especially, by French and Italian dresses, by doublets of scarlet silk, by ostrich feathers, and even by [Pg 75] cloth of gold. In the cities domestic architecture began to take on the sumptuousness of the Renaissance style. The coquettish alliance with Louis XI. Gambling for high stakes became the fashionable amusement in town and country alike. The story of Hans Waldmann, although belonging to a period some years earlier than that of this history, illustrates a decline from the primitive simplicity of the ancient Switzer, a decline which had become infinitely more accentuated and general at the time of which we treat.
All this led, of course, to harder conditions for the peasants, which, in the summer of , issued in several minor revolts. In some cases, notably in that of the peasants of Canton Bern, the issue was favourable to the insurgents. It is supposed to have had some connection with the Bundschuh movement at Lehen; but it took the name of "The Poor Conrad".
He had already made debts to the extent of a million gulden. The towns, no less than the peasantry, were indignant at the rapacity and insolence of the minions of this potentate. First, an income-tax was imposed without the concurrence of the estates, which should have been consulted. Next, an impost was laid on the daily consumption of meal and wine.