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Theuerdank. The Epic of the Last Knight

Discover the last great epic verse of the Middle Ages. Theuerdank follows the highly embellished “real-life” story of Emperor Maximilian I, the first modern-age ruler to employ print media as propaganda. This edition reproduces an extremely rare original, gathering all 118 gold-adorned woodcuts, revelatory essays, fascimiles, and a chapter-by-chapter retelling of the tales in modern vernacular.
Clothbound6.7 x 9.4 in.3.09 lb398 pages
Theuerdank. The Epic of the Last Knight

Theuerdank. The Epic of the Last Knight


The Last Knight

The legendary tales of Emperor Maximilian, the first ruler to employ the new possibilities of book-printing

The amazing tales of the knight Theuerdank and his companion Ehrenhold constitute the last great epic verse of the late Middle Ages. The courageous knight’s journey to woo his future wife, Mary of Burgundy, and his triumph in battles and other perilous acts of bravery are the focus of this highly embellished “real-life” story of Emperor Maximilian I (1459–1519).

A king of Germany before becoming Holy Roman Emperor in 1508, Maximilian was a great patron of the arts, but also the first modern-age ruler to recognize its potential for propaganda. He commissioned a trilogy of luxurious illustrated books to immortalize his existence, among them Theuerdank—the only volume to be published during his lifetime, composed by Melchior Pfinzing, based on Maximilian’s rather fanciful draft.

The 118 ornate, gold-adorned woodcuts—one for each chapter—were made by Hans Burgkmair the Elder, Hans Schäufelein, and Leonhard Beck, while the typeface (known as the Theuerdank typeface and marked by striking “elephant trunks”) was especially designed for the book by the printing workshop of Hans Schönsperger the Elder.

This edition, inspired by an extremely rare hand-colored original from the Bayerische Staatsbibliothek, Munich, comes with an essay by Stephan Füssel (covering Maximilian’s life and work, as well as his role in the art of printing and use of printed materials) and selections from Melchior Pfinzing’s clavis, or “key,” which was included in the original to kindly point out to Maximilian’s contemporaries exactly what part of the tales were more fiction than fact.

The collection also showcases the famed “elephant trunks” typeface in double-spread fascimiles—true to the original down to every stain and smudge. A chapter-by-chapter retelling of the tales in modern vernacular sheds light on the narrative strategy and real events behind the allegories.
The editor

Stephan Füssel is director of the Institute for Book Studies at the Johannes Gutenberg University in Mainz, and holder of the Gutenberg Chair at the same university. He has published prolifically on the early days of printing, the sale and publication of books between the 18th and 20th centuries, and the future of communications.

Theuerdank. The Epic of the Last Knight
Clothbound17 x 24 cm1.40 kg398 pages
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5 Ratings


Domas,October 29, 2021
A small format book but it made me surprised by its good quality in everything: cover, paper, reproductions. I think that in its category the book gives everything whats needed. I will keep on watching and waiting for new editions in this series too.

Last Knight first storytelling

E.P.,October 27, 2021
Storytelling was not born yesterday but the day before. Beautiful images tell epic after epic. Sometimes the collective memory is just a beautiful fairy tale.

Zeitreise ins Reich der Ritter

Sebastian,December 10, 2021
Schön gebundenes Buch mit vielen prächtigen Abbildungen aus einer abenteuerlichen, alten und faszinierenden Zeit.


Philippe,November 3, 2021
Eintauchen in die Gedankenwelt eines spätmittelalterlichen Herrschers. Für Historiker und Liebhaber mittelalterlicher Literatur sehr empfehlenswert.

Sehr interessantes Buch

Maximilian,October 27, 2021
Wie alle Bücher des Taschen Verlags ist auch dieses Buch sehr interessant und empfehlenswert.