Why did gentry, nobles and princes, not only from Germany and the Netherlands, but also from Scotland, England, France, Spain and Italy go ever so often on long rides or by ship to Prussia in order to fight with the Teutonic Order against the heathen Lithuanians, and all that on their own cost? A thorough examination of the European vernacular literatures of the later middle ages shows, how the armigerous aristocracy, quite often on the road as mercenaries, was thought to live. “Ehrenreden” and armorials are a most rewarding source in this respect. The result is, that there was an autonomous noble culture, which accepted ecclesiastical prescriptions only as long as they corresponded to secular conditions. Extensive biographical catalogues and reconstructed single lives show that and how literary models and effective livestyles corresponded and Königsberg was able to become for one century the hotspot of international chivalry.
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