Perhaps not everyone knows Götz von Berlichingen a brave and controversial medieval German knight. His fame is due to having survived decades of war, for inventing picturesque and vulgar ways of speaking and for having fought with an iron prosthesis on his right arm. His deeds not always so heroic and valiant were also told by great writers such as Johann Wolfgang von Goethe: Götz fought primarily for himself as a knight and also a thief.
Götz von Berlichingen was born in 1480 in the Berlichingen family as a tenth son. At the age of 17 he abandoned his work in court at the margrave of Ansbach and set off for his first military campaign. The knight thus began to follow the Holy Roman Emperor's Emperor throughout Europe, but soon this life began to tire him.
In search of personal glory and above all wealth, together with his brother he became a knight-thief, making himself the protagonist of acts of brigandage such as robberies and kidnappings of nobles. These his "deeds" did not go unnoticed and for this he was arrested in Sweden from where he managed to escape and then find shelter near the margrave of Brandenburg where he served military service. Not feeling satisfied yet, he went to the services of the Duke of Abrecht of Bavaria where I took part in the siege of Landshut, a battle where he became a legend.
During the battle a cannon ball hit his right arm causing the consequent amputation that forced him to bed sick for several weeks. During this time, Götz had an iron prosthesis made by the village blacksmith who is said to have been able to fight even in subsequent battles, receiving the nickname "Iron Hand Knight".
So he retired to his castle where he became the leader of the peasant armies against the noble landowners near Berlichingen, until this life too tired him and set off for raids and fights. Also this time the man was captured and forced to make another oath, that is, he would never leave his castle and the surrounding lands. This time the pact was maintained a little longer until at the age of 50 and father of 10 children, he left again in 1542 in the expedition of Charles V in Hungary against the Turks and in the campaign of France in 1544.
Years later he had a second prosthesis made with articulations for his fingers that allowed him to hold the sword more firmly, which, unlike the previous one, really allowed him to fight. It is a truly brilliant and cutting-edge manufacture for the time and is still exhibited today at the Jagsthausen museum. In the following years he continued his life as a knight and thief: he participated in several battles, was imprisoned and then released, took other nobles hostage until he was finally arrested and forced to swear that he would never again commit acts of brigandage.
Götz von Berlichingen died in 1562 at the age of 82 after a life lived in the name of war, fighting and brigandage. After his death his deeds were forgotten until Goethe gave the right honor to this iconic, though controversial, character of medieval European history.