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Hartmann von Aue

Hartmann von AueBorn: c. 1170
Died: c. 1210
Cause of death: unspecified

Gender: Male
Race or Ethnicity: White
Occupation: Poet

Nationality: Germany
Executive summary: Der arme Heinrich

One of the chief Middle High German poets. He belonged to the lower nobility of Swabia, where he was born about 1170. After receiving a monastic education, he became retainer (dienstman) of a nobleman whose domain, Aue, has been identified with Obernau on the Neckar. He also took part in the Crusade of 1196-97. The date of his death is as uncertain as that of his birth; he is mentioned by Gottfried von Strassburg (c. 1210) as still alive, and in the Krone of Heinrich von dem Türlin, written about 1220, he is mourned for as dead. Hartmann was the author of four narrative poems which are of importance for the evolution of the Middle High German court epic. The oldest of these, Erec, which may have been written as early as 1191 or 1192, and the latest and ripest, Iwein, belong to the Arthurian cycle and are based on epics by Chértien de Troyes; between them lie the romance, Gregorius, also an adaptation of a French epic, and Der arme Heinrich, one of the most charming specimens of medieval German poetry. The theme of the latter -- the cure of the leper, Heinrich, by a young girl who is willing to sacrifice her life for him -- Hartmann had evidently found in the annals of the family in whose service he stood. Hartmann's most conspicuous merit as a poet lies in his style; his language is carefully chosen, his narrative lucid, flowing and characterized by a sense of balance and proportion which is rarely to be found in German medieval poetry. Gregorius, Der arme Heinrich and his lyrics, which are all fervidly religious in tone, imply a tendency towards asceticism, but, on the whole, Hartmann's striving seems rather to have been to reconcile the extremes of life; to establish a middle way of human conduct between the worldly pursuits of knighthood and the ascetic ideals of medieval religion.

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