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This module, which builds on the skills taught in the previous Middle High German Modules, looks at another representative of the Medieval German so-called Spielmannsdichtung (pseudo-minstrel tales). It tells the story of the Duke Ernest, who after unsuccessfully waging an assassination attempt and civil war against his misled step-father (and Holy Roman Emperor) flees to the Far East as a crusader, encountering mythical creatures and far-off places reminiscent to anyone who has read the Old English Wonders of the East.

We will follow the methods used in other Middle High German modules and look at the Herzog Ernst poem both as literature and as a chance for interested students to continue perfecting their Middle High German reading skills. We will read selections of the text in the original language and translate them into English. Since it’s not entirely feasible to assume that everyone has access to a modern English translation, we will primarily discuss the translated sections, although a summary of the poem in general will be given.

Questions discussed in the module will include questions of genre (as always) and the connection between the frame story and the second narrative, monsters and the bridal-quest, the medieval political philosophy and the HRE (Holy Roman Empire), crusade poetry, and more.

The language of Herzog Ernst is roughly equivalent to the language of the Nibelungenlied, so completion of the Middle High German 1 and 2 modules are strongly encouraged. If you have any questions or need help, please feel free to contact Dr. Schendel.

Required Texts

Two Dual-language Middle High German/Modern German editions are widely available: the translation by Bernhard Sowinski (978-3150083529) and by Matthias Herweg (ISBN: 978-3150196069). We will primarily rely on those editions for our Middle High German readings.

Herzog Ernst has been translated into English as The Legend of Duke Ernest by J.W. Thomas and Carolyn Dussére (ISBN 9780803244061 / 9780783789002). It is rare but can be found. It is optional.
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