Theuerdank (Noble Thought)


Written by courtiers of Emperor Maximilian I, the Theuerdank (Noble Thought) tells the allegorical story of a knight, understood to be a thinly disguised stand-in for the emperor. Along with the text, printed in an early Fraktur typeface, the book incorporates 118 woodcuts—all by pupils or followers of Albrecht Dürer. Here, the protagonist rides an unruly horse given to him by his nemesis in the hope of killing him. The hero barely manages to bring the steed under control before it plunges into the castle’s moat, shown as a river. An instrument of imperial propaganda, the book also serves as a gallery of the period’s leading graphic artists.

Melchior Pfintzing (1481–1535) and Marx Treitzsaurwein (ca. 1450–1527) Woodcuts by Leonhard Beck (1480–1542), Hans Schäufelein (ca. 1480–1540), and Hans Burgkmair (1473–1531)
Theuerdank (Noble Thought), in German
Augsburg: Hans Schönsperger, 1517
The Morgan Library & Museum, PML 20623