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the poet uttered one song of triumph and rejoicing. The year 1204 saw at its close the submission of the Landgraf Hermann of Thüringen to Philip. On Christmas-day “a Cæsar's brother and a Cæsar's son,” with his young queen, the Grecian Irene, “the rose without a thorn, the gall-less dove," went in solemn procession to the church of Magdeburg, accompanied by Hermann, as well as by the Duke Bernard of Saxony, and followed by a glittering retinue of Thuringian and Saxon lords. Walther was present on the occasion. He has described the pageant; we might say he has painted it, like pictures in the old manuscripts, on a background of bright gold. A sad fate was in store for the royal pair whose praise the poet celebrated with all the fervour of his patriotism. Less than four years after this triumphal procession in Magdeburg, Philip fell by the hand of the assassin, and Irene, the thornless rose, withered away in sorrow over his early grave.
The Magdeburg festival marks the beginning of another epoch in Walther's career. It is the last trace of his connection with Philip, and it inaugurates at the same time his friendly relations with the Landgraf of Thüringen. Landgraf Hermann was one of the most liberal and munificent patrons of the gay science. It was he who had enabled Heinrich von Veldecke to complete his translation, or rather his imitation, of the Æneid. It was for him that Wolfran von Eschenbach composed his Wilhelm von Oranse, and that Albrecht von Halberstadt translated Ovid's Metamorphoses. Brought into contact with the open-handed prince, at the Magdeburg solemnity, Walther availed himself of the opportunity thus afforded him to better his worldly position. Hermann, on his side, was, doubtless, not unwilling to number amongst the courtly minstrels who gathered about him at the Wartburg, the acknowledged prince of Minnesingers. And thus, though without rupture with his former patron,. Walther transferred his poetical allegiance from Philip to Hermann, and he next appeared at Eisenach, describing the gay doings of the court. To judge from the lively account which he gives us, there assuredly were few places in Germany where politics were, outwardly at least, less cared for, and where the misery which weighed on the nation at large was so little felt as at the Wartburg. The poet warns all whose ears are sensitive, or whose head is weak, to keep away from the Court of Thüringen if they would not be driven quite out of their wits.
Amongst the valiant knights who feasted with Hermann in the halls of the Wartburg, there was one whose name has, very characteristically, been handed down to us in Walther's verse. It is
William, Count of Katzenellenbogen, the ruins of whose stronghold are still reflected in the waters of the Rhine. He presented the poet a costly diamond, and for this act of generosity is celebrated as “the handsomest of knights." The praise is somewhat marred by the explanation that good looks are not to be judged by outward show. In contrast to the picture of the generous count, Walther gives us that of Gerhardt Atze, who, in spite of his knightly rank, seems to have been a butt for the wit and sarcasm of the merry company. Gerhardt having clumsily shot the poet's horse, meanly refused to pay the three marks at which the owner valued it. For this he is likened to a scarecrow, and described as rolling his eyes like a monkey. In those early days the spirit of our adage, “Handsome is that handsome does," was well understood by one class at least-by the wandering minstrels. And, indeed, its very words might pass for a translation of the line in which Walther embodies his and their professional creed :
Milder Mann ist schön und wohlgezogen. It is easily intelligible that the continual feasting and indiscriminate hospitality of the Landgraf brought others besides "noble heroes" to Eisenach, and that Walther was not always well pleased with the guests with whom he had to associate, and before whom he had to sing. Nor did he hesitate to give utterance to the objection he felt to the mixed society amongst which he at times found himself. But there is good reason to believe that the riot and revelry at the Wartburg, the “schmählich Gedrang” to which Wolfran also bears witness, were not the only cause of the poet's growing discontent. Unscrupulous rivals arose, and found partisans amongst the revellers, for whose excesses they doubtless showed more indulgence than the high-minded and noble minstrel. Gradually, for this was the work of several years, he began to feel that, under the circumstances, his position at court was becoming more and more precarious. His complaints prepare us for another change in his career. Soon we behold him departing, not without sorrow, from the pleasant Thuringian castle, and passing through Eisenach lying so pleasantly at its foot, on his way to distant Vienna.
But the same poem which announces his presence at the court of Leopold also tells us of the disappointment which has come to him there. That the “old offence” had been forgotten, that he had been well received, and that, for a time at least, his position was all that he had anticipated, is sufficiently clear from the passage in which he calls Leopold “his comforter." But there soon came over the ducal court a change in no way to the liking of those who, like Walther, were dependent on the generosity of a patron. Leopold resolved to undertake a Crusade; but the heavy expense of keeping up the magnificent state for which his court was famous had drained his coffers. It was necessary as a preliminary measure to retrench expenses. The example of the sovereign was followed by his nobles, and Vienna thus lost its attractions for the minstrels, who soon began to desert it for more generous courts at the approach of the winter of economy. With a heavy and disappointed heart, Walther was again obliged to leave the court which, but a short time before, it had been the height of his ambition to be allowed to approach.
It was probably after leaving Vienna for the second time that Walther betook himself to the Court of Bernard, Duke of Carinthia. Neither the precise date nor the length of his stay can be ascertained from the two poems which bear reference to his connection with the duke. All that can be gathered is, that after having been kindly treated by Bernard, and receiving many gifts from him, the false representations of rivals and enemies caused him to lose his favour as well as the gift of a suit of clothes which had been promised him—a suit of new clothes—for Walther declares that he had never condescended to accept any other.
Twice disappointed in his hope of finding permanent patronage, Walther again turned towards Eisenach. He had so recently left it in discontent at his position, that he may have felt some misgivings as he again presented himself and, humbled by adversity, implored the protection which he had somewhat independently thrown up. But Hermann again received him with generous hospitality, and showed himself as liberal and as kind as in former years. Unfortunately, the poet's joy was but brief, and here, too, in Eisenach, his stay was destined to be of short duration. Not more than a year after his arrival, Landgraf Hermann, with many of the first princes of the empire, threw off his allegiance to Otto IV.-he had been recognised emperor by both parties at the death of Philip-and declared for Frederick, who, supported by the Pope, now laid claim to the imperial crown. But Walther still remained true to the national cause, and to his hatred of papal interference. Loyalty to him whom he considered the legitimate emperor of Germany drove him forth from Hermann's hospitable court to take his part in the stirring events of which his fatherland was again to become the scene.
On leaving the Wartburg, Walther, who had doubtless many opportunities afforded him of discovering the political tendencies of the German princes, proceeded to the Court of Ludwig of Bavaria, suspected, not without cause, of being in communication with the heads of the conjuration against Otto. From Bavaria he was sent by the Duke as envoy to Markgraf Dietrich of Meissen. It was probably owing to the poet's influence that both these princes were amongst the eighty who met Otto at Frankfort on his hasty return from Italy, where he was at the time when Frederick set up his rival claims to the throne. Walther remained in Meissen, but the share which he had had in the negotiations was not forgotten. A wax taper-a recognition on the part of feudal lords of valuable aid rendered to them by those in their service, an equivalent of the modern "order"—was sent him by Ludwig through the Markgraf. Less than a year later, however, Dietrich followed the stream of defection, and joined the ranks of Frederick, his example being soon after followed by Ludwig of Bavaria.
It was doubtless these repeated disappointments that induced Walther no longer to look for patronage from any but the Emperor himself, to follow his fortunes in the field, possibly fighting for him with his knightly sword as courageously as he hurled his indignant invectives against the one great enemy of Germany's freedom-Pope Innocent.
The first in order of the poems written at this time—that by which, as it were, he opened hostilities against Rome, represents the angels as uttering a three-fold woe at Constantine's fatal gifts to the Pope, and prophesying the evils which must accrue to the world in consequence of them. In another poem, all the misery which oppresses the world is laid to the charge of the Pope, who is branded a new Judas, a sorcerer “skilled in devil's lore.”
In 1213 Innocent issued an appeal to Christendom to send succour to the Christians in the Holy Land, and directed that boxes should be placed in every church to receive contributions towards the expenses
of a Crusade. That the Pope was moved to this by no mean, grasping desire for money is proved by the fact that he devoted one-tenth of his own income, as well as of that of his cardinals, and one-fortieth of the income of the remaining clergy, to the same purpose. Walther, blinded by party hate, saw in these "boxes” only a new device for filling the papal coffers, and inveighed against them in unmeasured terms. His denunciations exercised so much influence on men's minds that, according to the testimony of Thomasin von Zerclaere, a clerical writer, he prevented thousands from hearkening to the commands of God and of the Pope.
Wand er hất tûsent man betoeret,
The loyal fidelity with which Walther clung to the imperial cause and shared its declining fortunes, long after it was deserted by the most powerful of the German princes, undoubtedly deserved the gratitude and the recognition of Otto. That the poet should have felt this, and even urged his claim, can scarcely be accounted boldness or presumption. He was wearied of the aimless, wandering existence he had hitherto been forced to lead; he longed to make for himself a home, to feel that there was a roof for his head and a seat by his own hearth to which he might retire and spend the closing years of his life. He appealed to Otto for the fulfilment of his modest wish. His request was not altogether unheeded. It produced ample promises of future wealth ; but promises which Otto neglected whilst he still possessed the power of fulfilling them, and which repeated reverses before long rendered him wholly incapable of keeping.
From what is historically known of Otto's character and conduct, it may well be supposed that Walther's stay at his court was essentially the result of loyalty to the cause which Otto represented, and not of any respect or affection for Otto himself. The chronicler describes the gigantic Guelph, of whom he hints that he had been chosen rather for his immense stature than for any moral worth, as a proud fool, “superbus et stultus." His intemperance, both in eating and drinking, was a by-word. He was surrounded by favourites and flatterers more vicious than himself, who entertained him with coarse practical jokes at the expense of the highest and most influential of the nobles that still remained about him, who pandered to his passions and helped him in his low-lived intrigues, and a condition of whose existence it was to destroy all the good influences which might redeem him. It was but natural that the fortunes of such a monarch should steadily wane, and that his followers should gradually abandon the cause which his conduct was wrecking. We cannot blame Walther if he, too, wearied and disgusted with the riot and debauchery of the Guelph, and, moreover, disappointed in his own personal expectations, should also turn to the Hohenstaufen.
It was probably about the middle of the year 1214, shortly before the decisive battle of Bouvines, that Walther left northern Germany, shaking the dust from his feet, and turned towards the genial south where he had spent so many happy days. The first announcement which we have of his new political connection is in a poem in which he petitions “the protector of Rome and king of Apulia" to pity his loneliness and his poverty, and to grant him that which Otto had