Introduction


spacer1. This is the third of F. H. Flayderʼs four plays to be posted here on The Philological Museum. For a discussion of Flayder’’s career and his place in the history of German Neo-Latin literature, see the Introduction to his play Argenis. For some comments on the importance of school and university Latin drama for language training, see § 2 - § 5 of the Introduction to Imma Portatrix. This introduction will describe the plot of Ludovicus Bigamus (“Ludwig the Bigamist”), the sources of the underlying legend, and some stylistic features of the play
spacer2. Flayderʼs second printed play, Ludovicus Bigamus (hereafter simply Ludovicus) retells the story of the Count of Gleichen (Latin Comes Gleichensis, German, der Graf von Gleichen). According to the legend, in 1227 the count (whose name in the tradition is either Ernst, Ludwig, or Eberwein), along with the Landgrave Ludwig of Thuringia and many other knights, leaves his home in Thuringia to join the Emperor Frederick Barbarossa on a crusade against the Saracens. (This is a historical error. Frederick I Barbarossa died in 1190. The author means Frederick II, King of Sicily, who led the Sixth Crusade. Note that this Ludwig, the Landgrave of Thuringia, is not our Ludwig the Bigamist.) He reaches Palestine, but is captured by the Saracens and becomes a slave working in the gardens of the sultan. Because of the nobility of his character and appearance, the sultanʼs daughter falls in love with him, engineers his escape, and marries him. Both then return via Rome to Germany as husband and wife. Learning in Rome that his first wife, the countess, is still alive in Gleichen, the count appeals to the pope for a dispensation, which is granted, permitting this bigamous second marriage. Upon reaching Gleichen, the countess welcomes him, but realizes that her husband is troubled by something. He tells her that he owes his life and liberty to the sultanʼs daughter, that he can not in all conscience leave her behind, and that she is now in Gleichen. The countess reconciles herself to this second wife, and the three live long in marital bliss. On the south wall of the cathedral in Erfurt is a grave monument of uncertain date on which the count may be pictured flanked by his two wives, one holding a book, the other a crown (there is a good illustration here). . However, we cannot assume that this grave monument does in fact illustrate the later legend; indeed it may have prompted the legend. Images of a man flanked by two women are not rare. Classical scholars are familiar with the mosaic of Vergil with the Muses of History and Tragedy (as in this example, from the Bardo Museum, Tunis). Another is the treatment of the choice of Hercules (a later example can be seen here). Alternatively the image may represent the count and his successive wives.
spacer 3. This tale of a knight with two wives is first found in France in the 14th century and was attached to the family Trazegnies in Hainaut (near Mons in Belgium; the family still exists). In the 15th century it was put in prose in an anonymous novel Histoire de Gillion de Trasignyes et de dame Marie, sa femme (modern edition in Vincent 2010). The plot is as follows. Gillion de Trazegnies and his wife Marie dʼOstrevant are not blessed with children. To ask God to grant him descendants, Gillion leaves on a pilgrimage to Jerusalem, where he is captured by the Saracens. Saved from death by Gratienne, the daughter of the sultan of Cairo, he becomes the sultanʼs slave and his most noted warrior. He renders great services to the sultan, who in recompense offers Gillion the hand of his daughter. Believing himself to be a widower, he marries the princess who converts to Christianity. Meanwhile in Hainaut Marie is delivered of twins, Jean and Gerard. Fourteen years pass, and the twins travel to the Orient to find their father. Succeeding in this, they inform Gillion that his first wife is still living. He returns to Hainaut with his sons and Gratienne. Marie recognizes the help which her rival has rendered to her husband and not wanting to stand in the way, takes the veil and retires to a convent. Gracienne, with equal devotion, takes the same resolution and both retire to the nearby monastery of lʼOlive. The husband can do no less and retires to the abbey of Cambron. However, summoned back to Egypt by the sultan, who needs his help, Gillion dies of wounds suffered in combat. His heart is transported to the monastery of lʼOlive and deposited in a tomb built for him and his two wives.
spacer4. In some undetermined way this story became associated with the Count of Gleichen in Thuringia. The first written sources appear ca. 1550, and at least eight versions were printed between 1560 and 1614 (Bebermeyer pp. 183f.). The story has continued to be a lively inspiration in German literature ever since. One reason for its 16thcentury popularity is due to the (genuine) bigamous marriage of the Landgrave of Hesse, Philip I the Magnanimous [1504 - 1567], a strong supporter of Luther and the Protestant Reformation. Disliking his first wife, Christine of Saxony [1505 - 1549] — although they eventually had ten children — he wanted to marry one of his sisterʼs ladies-in-waiting, Margarete von der Saale. His wife Christine surprisingly agreed, and he requested approval from Luther and other Protestant leaders, citing as precedents the biblical patriarchs and the old Count of Gleichen, whose bigamous marriage had been approved by the Pope. (Where he had learned of this legend can only be conjectured.) Luther reluctantly agreed, perhaps thinking bigamy was a lesser evil than the fornication to which Philip was addicted, and Philip did marry Margarete in 1540, but the whole episode created a huge scandal which made the legend even more popular (Weisert p. 465 ).
spacer5. The motif of the man with two wives — in a society, of course, which forbids bigamy — is found in later literature. In German perhaps the best known later version is Goetheʼs Stella (two versions, 1776 and 1806), in which Fernando has married first Cäcilie and has a child by her, and later Stella, who also had a child, now deceased. Fernando had abandoned both women, but now returns and all is revealed. In the 1776 play all three are reconciled into a ménage à trois. In the 1806 revision Fernando shoots himself and Stella dies of grief. More recently Gerhart Hauptmannʼs 1939 novella, Der Schuß im Park (“The Shot in the Park”) recasts the story in Africa. Baron Degenhart has first married a woman, Bibi, in Africa, then the wealthy Baroness Weilern in Germany. He tries to conceal the first marriage, even attempting to kill his first wife, who has had a son by him. When his double marriage can no longer remain hidden, he takes refuge in flight. The German wife takes the wounded Bibi into her house and tenderly cares for both mother and son. She does not denounce her husband. Needless to say, the same motif occurs in movies, including The Remarkable Mr. Pennypacker (1959, two families, but not bigamous, since the first wife has died) and A Tale of Two Wives (2003, one in New York, the other in London).
spacer6. Flayder apparently used the narrative composed by Matthaeus Dresser (given here in an Appendix) as his source, judging by the inclusion of Elizabeth of Hungary in his narrative (see the commentary note on line 450). He improves the legendʼs dramatic effect by adding an element from the story of Gillion (the two sons) and condensing the action into a period of two days: the arrival in Gleichen of the count and Sultana, his new wife (Act II); the countessʼ discovery of the second wife and her despair (Acts III and IV); and the arrival of a papal envoy with the Popeʼs dispensation, which brings the action to a happy conclusion (Act V). In the original legend the count had already obtained his dispensation in Rome before arriving home. Flayder increases the suspense by having the dispensation arrive just as the plot has reached its point of maximum disturbance and distress. He thus preserves as far as possible the three unities. The previous events (crusade, capture, slavery, and return) are told in the Prologue and in various speeches throughout the play. The action takes place outdoors, in front of the palace, with a building to one side from which the character Buoncompagno appears in I.ii.
spacer 7. In addition to the original cast of the legend (the count, the countess, and Sultana), Flayder added other characters to the primary plot: Hermann and Rosina, the countessʼ servants, and Falerna and Carloman, those of Sultana. Hermann, Rosina, and Falerna are in fact the most fully developed characters in the primary plot. Hermann has been gone for five years searching for the count and now returns loudly proclaiming his success (I.vi). He moves the plot along by his conversations with the chaplain (III.i - ii), his shepherding of Sultana, and his expulsion of Buoncompagno (IV.v - vi). Dialogues with Rosina and Falerna are the vehicles by which the countess and Sultana respectively reveal their thoughts and emotions. The Countess is mainly a walking bundle of misery, first lamenting her husbandʼs long absence, then (after the brief happiness of II.ii) fearing that she and her children will be displaced by the interloping Sultana (V.vi). For her part, Sultana is at first happy at arriving in Thuringia (II.i), but later despairs of her position in the palace and begs to become the countʼs maidservant, rather than his wife (V.iii - iv). After his initial rejoicing on his return (II.i), the Count is full of uncertainty: he wonders how he can tell the countess about his second marriage (end of II.i) and apparently decides to postpone the evil day by deceiving the Countess and calling Sultana a captive, not a wife (III.vi). At different times he expresses undying love for each of them. He becomes a comic figure by V.vii, where he laments that he escaped Saracens and storms, had hoped to have two wives, but now doesnʼt have even one. What is he to do? The arrival of the papal envoy solves everyoneʼs problem.
spacer 8. As in Imma Portatrix and Roman comedy in general, the primary plot outlined above is varied by a subplot comprising comic characters. Here there are only two: Buoncompagno, a poverty-stricken soldier of fortune (a miles gloriosus in Roman terms, although an unconventional miles whose central speech satirizes student life, not the military) ) who intends to sue for the hand of the supposedly widowed Countess, and his servant, simply called Boy, Puer. In Latin the soldier is Boncompagnus, the Latin form of an Italian name still in use. I have taken the liberty of giving him, a boastful condottiero, an even more obviously Italian name in the translation. He and the boy actually open the play (Act I.i - iii), scenes in which Buoncompagno exposes his beggarly and lazy, yet boastful, arrogance, and makes sure that the audience understands that this is a comedy. Buoncompagno makes only one further appearance in the play. The long scene (IV.iv) in which he gives an account of his early life, with emphasis on his checkered career in academia, is the high point of the entire play, certainly the scene which would have most entertained an academic audience. Satires of student life were popular; see De Smet pp, 491 - 522 for general discussion and Riley pp. 237 - 250 for an example. In IV.v Buoncompagno reveals himself as a miles gloriosus when he describes to Hermann in detail how his men destroyed an army of enemies who could fly. In V.vi he is finally driven from the palace and disappears. His role is by no means necessary to the primary plot, but simply acts as comic relief for a play which otherwise has little inherent humor. The part was played by Johannes Wilhelm von Menlishoven, who is not listed as an actor in Flayder's other plays, but who must have had sufficiently impressive comic talents to fill this role.
spacer9. When this play was presented in 1625, the Thirty Yearsʼ War, certainly at its inception a religious conflict, was well underway. (It is usually considered to have begun with the defenestration of Prague in 1618.) Tübingen was a Protestant university, and one can easily imagine that this playʼs plot could be fashioned to excite anti-Catholic ridicule: "The Pope now approves of bigamy!" "He supports Saracen interlopers!" But in fact no trace of this occurs in Ludovicus. The countʼs dilemma is presented sympathetically, so much so that the conventionally shocking message brought by the papal envoy seems to be a reasonable solution under the circumstances. Of course the fact that the same solution had been granted Philip the Magnanimous might have influenced Flayderʼs portrayal. Nevertheless, the portrayal of Pape Gregory IX as a benign deux ex machina intervening to resolve the central characters’ dilemma is rather remarkable.
spacer10. A question whether there was an earlier play about the Count of Gleichen has been prompted by a few lines at the beginning of our prologue:

Festivam illius edimus Comoediam,
Quam vos vidistis, qui estis in senioribus,
Cum Frischlinus eandem ageret stylo Germanico...
(Prologue 7 - 9)

These lines seem to imply that Nicodemus Frischlin, the greatest of the German Latin playwrights, had written the same (eandem) or at least a similar play within the lifetime of the older spectators. The previous editor, Bebermeyer, assumed this was the case, and that Frischlinʼs play has been lost. However there is no trace of such a lost play in D. F. Straußʼs standard biography of Frischlin (Frankfurt, 1856), in Frischlinʼs surviving letters, or the secondary literature about Frischlin, as Prof. Lothar Mundt, the editor and German translator (with Christoph Jungck) of Frischinʼs Priscianus Vapulans and Iulius Redivivus (Stuttgart 2003), informs me in a private communication. Mundt considers Bebermeyer’s statement to be due to a misunderstanding. In fact, Flayder was referring to Frischlinʼs German language play Frau Wendelgard (1579, forty-six years before Ludovicus), in which Count Ulrich (10th century) campaigns against the Hungarians, is believed dead, and returns four years later to his wife, Wendelgard, who as a widow has retired to a cloister. The pair receives permission from the bishop to retake their marriage vows. Bigamy has no part of the action. The subplot consists of comic scenes with beggars. While Frau Wendelgard is not “the same” play, the plot is similar.
spacer spacer11. The value of these Latin plays for developing the studentsʼ language skills has been discussed at some length in the Introduction to Imma Portatrix. Ludovicus also illustrates Flayderʼs enthusiasm for enlarging his studentsʼ vocabulary. He extracted rare words from Aulus Gellius (rupex, “boor” l. 1138), Pliny (muscerda, “mouse dung,” l. 1087), Apuleius (dissitus, “distant” l. 697, and Paulus-Festus (bulga, “pack” l. 1038; mugino for muginor, l. 199), among others. An extreme example of vocabulary exuberance can be seen in Buoncompagnoʼs speech at ll. 1144 - 56, his list of the forty-seven tradesmen from Academia who were suing him for past-due debts. Some of these titles are common enough (lanius, coquus, caupo), but others are not attested elsewhere, such as bibliopega “ʼbookbinder,” pileo “hatmaker..” cerevisarius ʼbrewer,” and netrix “spinner.” These may have been in use around Tübingen or may be Flayderʼs coinages. This same speech contains some legal and financial terms: consisto “make their claims in court”ʼ (1157), prorogo “postpone” (1159), scheda “bill” and syngrapha “check” or “receipt” (both at 1156). The boyʼs speech celebrating his freedom from Buoncompagno (all of IV.iii) contains many words relating to stablework and horses.
spacer12. As is obvious from the text, Flayder pillaged Plautus — less often Terence — for phrases, lines, and occasionally entire scenes, but he usually alters the Plautine text to more closely meet the requirements of his play. An example may be illustrative. The first passage is from Plautus Curculio II.iii. Phaedromus has sent his parasite (“hanger-on”) Curculio to Asia Minor to borrow money from a friend, so that he may purchase his beloved Planesium, the property of the procurer Cappadox. In the following passage Curculio is just returning with news of his success (280ff., ed. Lindsey, 1904):.

Date viam mihi, noti atque ignoti, dum ego hic officium meum
facio: fugite omnes, abite et de via,
Ssecedit e
ne quem in cursu capite aut cubito aut pectore offendam aut genu.

Ita nunc subito, propere et celere obiectumst mihi negotium,

Nec homo quisquamst tam opulentus, qui mi obsistat in via,

Nec strategus nec tyrannus quisquam, nec agoranomus,
Nnec demarchus nec comarchus, nec cum tanta gloria,

Quin cadat, quin capite sistat in via de semita.

Tum isti Graeci palliati, capite operto qui ambulant,

Qui incedunt suffarcinati cum libris, cum sportulis,

Constant, conferunt sermones inter sese drapetae, 

Obstant, obsistunt, incedunt cum suis sententiis,

Quos semper videas bibentes esse in thermipolio,

Ubi quid subripuere: operto capitulo calidum bibunt,

Tristes atque ebrioli incedunt: eos ego si offendero,

Ex unoquoque eorum exciam crepitum polentarium.
Tum isti qui ludunt datatim servi scurrarum in via,
Et datores et factores omnis subdam sub solum.
Proin se domi contineant, vitent infortunio.

spacer 13. Compare Ludovicus 477ff., in which Hermann, the speaker, is returning after a successful five-year search for his master, the count. I have underlined significant differences.

Date viam mihi noti atque ignoti, dum ego officium meum
Facio. Fugite omnes, abite et de via secedite,
Ne quem in cursu capite aut cubito aut pectore offendam aut genu.
Ita nunc subito propere et celere obiectum est mihi negotium.
Nec quisquam sit tam opulentus, qui mihi obsistat in via,
Nec strategus nec tyrannus quisquam nec monasticus,
Nec causidicus, nec iurista, nec cum tanta gloria,
Quin cadat, quin capite sistat in via de semita.
Tum isti monachi palliati, capite raso qui ambulant,
Qui incedunt suffarcinati cum crucibus, cum imaginibus,
Constant, conferunt sermones inter sese cernui,
Obstant, obsistunt, incedunt cum suis oratiunculis,
Quos semper videas bibentes esse in claustris pinguibus.
Ubi quid surripuere aut ubi quam forsan virginem aucupant,
Sese e claustris proruunt, quos forte ego, si offendero,
Ex uno quoque eorum excutiam crepitum piscatorium.
Tum istos quoque magistellos et doctores umbraticos,
Et studiosulos novitios, omnes subdam sub solum.
Proinde si domi contineant, vitent infortunia
.

spacer14. Both passages are trochaic septenarii. Since the underlying action is the same — a servant hurrying to bring news — Flayder could use Plautusʼ first five lines unaltered. Changes begin at line 482, where. Curculio tells the following to get out of his way: generals, tyrants, market officers, tribunes, and mayors; then, after a few lines, Greeks in long robes carrying books, i.e. philosophers. Finally he mentions lazy slaves who are playing catch in the street — all of these will be knocked down by Curculioʼs rapid progress through the streets. Flayder keeps generals and tyrants as sufficiently generic for his purposes, but replaces all the rest with culturally appropriate persons. The agoranomus, demarchus, and comarchus are replaced by friars, lawyers, and advocates; the philosophers by hooded monks with shaven heads, who are loaded down with crosses and icons. Instead of walking around spouting doctrines, the monks walk while praying. These monks drink in their cloisters and run after young girls. Instead of the meaningless (in a 1625 German university) ball-players, Flayder brings in the more appropriate tutors, egghead professors, and freshmen students. One odd change is polentarium to piscatorium. The hurrying Curculio will squeeze a barley fart from his victim, Hermann a fishy fart. Perhaps piscatorium was more familiar? But Flayder does not avoid obscure words. Possibly piscatorium is a contemporary gustatory joke, like our "beans, beans, the musical fruit"? Or perhaps, unlike the Romans, the Germans simply did not eat barley. In any case, Flayderʼs changes in this passage seem appropriate for the audience.
spacer 15. On the other hand, a few of Flayderʼs adaptations seem less appropriate, even strained. One example in Ludovicus is a passage at the end of the Prologue (123 -139) taken directly from the second Prologue to Terenceʼs Hecyra, in which the playwright asks the audience to defend him from the malice of the few. Flayder borrowed these lines, among others, from Terence:

Nolite sinere per vos artem musicam
Recidere ad paucos; facite ut vestra auctoritas
Meae auctoritati fautrix adiutrixque sit.
(Hecyra, Prologue II, 38-ff/)

He changed only auctoritati to tenuitati, "...let your authority prove a seconder and assistant to my feeble skills." Later in the Prologue Flayder asks the audience not to allow him to be mocked by the wicked. These statements assume that Flayder, like Terence, is making his living with these plays, which was certainly not the case. One should interpret such exaggerations as Flayderʼs response to the suspicion directed at dramatic performances, which arose in Germany as in England. For example, in 1588 the production at Tübingen of a Faust play by some students was severely censured and the (unknown) author was threatened with punishment. On the other hand, in 1591 a comedy was produced in the theological faculty. Certainly Flayder seems to have worked unhindered (Bebermeyer 198). He further attempted to forestall any opposition by citing these playsʼ entertainment value (130), their usefulness in imparting Latin skills (131), and their reinforcement of good morals (132f.). The prefaces to all his plays repeat the same arguments.
spacer16. The meters of Ludovicus are Flayderʼs usual iambic senarius, iambic octonarius, and trochaic septenarius. (For descriptions of these meters and how they are used in Flayderʼs plays, see §13 - §18 of the Introduction to Imma Portatrix.) In Ludovicus Flayder adds one more, which he calls Hipponactean iambics (II.i). Based on the invective Greek poetry of Hipponax (6th cent. B. C. , known for abusive and obscene poetry) this verse form is called choliambic ("limping iambic") or scazon today, and is usually an iambic trimeter line, with an iamb in the fifth foot but a trochee or spondee in the sixth, thus yielding a verse with a long penultimate syllable instead of the expected short. Thus the line ends with a metrical conflict, the "limp". This is the meter of Catullus viii: Mĭsēr Cătūllĕ, dēsĭnās ĭnēptīrĕ (viii.1). A similar effect in English may be heard at Paradise Lost II. 617f.:

Through many a dark and dreary vale
They passed, and many a region dolorous.

Flayder adapted the choliambic to the iambic senarius in lines like these, spoken by Sultana. Note that in a senarius the spondee is in the seventh foot, replacing the expected iamb (although it must be admitted that the underlying meter is uncertain, just as in the lines from Pl. Captivi 232 -6 from which these are borrowed):

Nēc me ūn|quam hūiūs| pōst fă|vōrīs| pōenĭ|tēbīt,| dūm vī|văm.
Sēd fĕ|rē mā|xĭmă pārs| pērvērs|um hūnc hŏmĭ|nēs hă|bēnt mō|rĕm:
Quōd sĭbĭ| vŏlūnt| dŭm īm|pētrānt,| bŏnī| sūnt, sēd| si īd dē|mŭm
... (Lud. 614 - 6)

The macrons indicate a long syllable, not necessarily a long vowel, since the limitations of this word processing program forbids a macron over a vowel plus consonant combination. In line 616, dum is not elided. Why Flayder used choliambic for this speech is not clear.
spacer17. According to the title page of the 1625 printing, this play was presented on August 25, 1625. Noteworthy in the copy available online in Google Books are the interlinear notes on the title page and in the personae dramatis. On the title page the original date is crossed out and Anno 1627, Die 10. November is written, prompting the suspicion that there was a second production, but perhaps this was not in Tübingen, since the same hand has written Christophorus Sigism. Ratisbonensis, and the book itself is marked as belonging to the Staatliche Bibliothek Regensburg, where it is now catalogued as 999/Lat.rec.131. (Ratisbona is the Latin name for Regensburg.) In the personae dramatis the same hand has crossed out the original cast of characters and written in a set of new names. The few other copies of this book in German libraries do not display these handwritten changes. In consequence, we might conjecture that the play was presented in Regensburg in 1627, but there appears to be no corroborative evidence for this.
spacer18. The text is taken from the first and only printed edition, Theodoricus Werlin: Tübingen 1625. Minor typos have been silently corrected: pullalat for pullulat (l. 442), Apostoticus for Apostolicus (heading to V.viii), and the like. As usual in the printed text of Flayderʼs plays (as for much Latin literature of the period), the question mark and the exclamation point are confused (this confusion is also a feature of contemporary handwritings, so, confronted with a manuscript written in such a hand, the poor printer could only guess what the author had in mind, and, understandably, printers often got it wrong). Contrary to modern practice, indirect questions usually end with ?, and any sentence starting with Quam, Qualis, or Quot tends to acquire a ?, even if it is clearly an exclamation (good example at 350f., marked as a question in the original). I have silently corrected all these. Punctuation is modernized. Flayderʼs usual Humanist spellings (e. g. caetera, autoritas, charus) are retained.
spacer19. There are any number of conceptual difficulties involved in translating Neo-Latin plays. The original Roman comedies can certainly be rendered in colloquial English, since we presume their Latin was colloquial. The same cannot be said for Neo-Latin plays, which were presented before academic audiences, who may well have been fluent in Latin, but who spoke a quite different tongue in their everyday lives. There is nothing colloquial about these plays. Nevertheless, seeing no alternative ready at hand, I have translated Ludovicus as if it were by Plautus, that is, into colloquial American English.

Bibliography

Bebermeyer, Gustav, Hermann Flayders Ausgewählte Werke (Leipzig: Verlag Karl W. Hiersemann, 1925)

De Smet, Ingrid A. R., "Town and Gown in the Dutch Golden Age: the Menippean Satires of Jan Bodecher Benningh (1631) and ʼAmatus Fornaciusʼ (1633),” in Dirk Sacré and Gilbert Tournoy (edd.), Myricae: Essays on Neo-Latin Literature in Memory of Jozef Ijsewijn (Louvain: Leuven Univ. Press, 2000) 491 - 522

Dresser, Matthaeus (1536-1607), Rhetorica Inventionis et Dispositionis, Illustrata et Locupletata quam Plurimis xemplis, Sacris et Philosophicis (Leipzig, 1580), available here

Flayder Friedrich Hermann, Ludovicus Bigamus, Comoedia Nova et Festiva (Tübingen: Theodorici Werlini, 1625), available here

Riley, Mark, The Neo-Latin Reader (Sophron Editor, 2016)

Vincent, Stéphanie, Le Roman de Gillion de Trazegnies (Turnhout, Belgium: Brepols, 2010)

Weisert, John J., "Graf von Gleichen ʼRedivivusʼ", Monatshefte Vol 40, nr.. 8 (Dec. 1948) 465 - 470


Appendix
from Dresser, pp. 85 - 88

spacerNarratio historiae de bigamo comite a Gleichen, cuius monumentum Erphordiae in templo divi Petri extat.
Cum circiter annum Christi millesimum ducentesimum vigesimum septimum Fridericus primus, cognomento Barbarossa, expeditionem in Asiam suscepisset, assecutus est eum Turingiae Landgravius Ludovicus, cui diva Elisabetha, Ungariae regina, uxor erat, et in Sicilia copias suas comitibus, baronibus, nobilibus, et aliis lectissimis viris praestantes, cum illius exercitu coniunxit. Hinc digressus cum eo Brudisium, morbo repentino correptus est: cumque aliquandiu valetudinis causa illic commoraretur, abeunte Imperatore cum exercitu, secutus est comes Turingiae a Gleichen, relicto Landgravio, qui non multo post in die natali Mariae Brundisii expiravit. Fuit autem in hoc comite Turingo animi quaedam celsitas, et ardor pugnandi contra communis nominis Christiani hostes, laude dignissimus. Quocirca cum in recuperatione terrae sanctae quodam die longius e Caesaris castris progressus esset, nimia scilicet pugnae aviditate incensus, hostium multitudine circumfusus est, et a Sarracenico quodam barone captus. Inde crudeliter ab hostibus tractatus, vel in carcere detentus est, vel ad serviles durosque agri colendi labores detrusus. Evenit autem divino quodam beneficio, ut in eum favor cuiusdam mulieris Sarracenicae inclinarit, quae et sua liberalitate eum nonnihil iuvit, et triste servitutis iugum suo colloquio lenivit, mota haud dubie insigni viri virtute. Cumque nobilitatem eius a parentibus acceptam cognovisset, maritum eum sibi expetere coepit. Quanquam vero, ita ut erat, diceret comes, se domo exeuntem legitimam reliquisse coniugem: tantum tamen valuit honesti amoris vis in ista muliere erga comitem, et recuperandae libertatis cupiditas in comite, ut matrimonium cum ea pacisceretur, praesertim cum alia expediendae salutis ratio nulla videretur. Quis autem non miretur tantam in muliere animi magnitudinem, ut quamvis pericula multa et difficultates plurimas sibi propositas sciret, maluerit tamen comitem in terram prorsus ignotam sequi itinere longinquo et molestiis pleno, quam in patria tuto in parentum cognatorumque complexu vivere? Ingressi igitur sunt iter, Deo occasionem praebente et cum in Christianorum terram venissent, re omni, ut gesta erat, indicata, a Pontifice Romano veniam bigamiae comes est consecutus. Inde in Turingiam patriam tandem veniens, solus primum ingressus est domum, et ab uxore agnitus et exceptus ardentissime, coepit narrare quomodo fortuna secum, dum abfuisset, egerit: et tandem etiam uxorem aliam Sarracenicam se adducere dixit, quae vitae suae unica assertrix, et reditus in patriam causa extiterit: rogans modis omnibus, ut si se salvum et incolumem ex tanta tamque immani servitute, qua in terra hostili oppressus fuisset, libenter ferat, etiam Sarracenicae coniugis societatem benigne admittat. Quod cum futurum promisisset uxor facilis, et in gratiam mariti, quo multo tempore caruerat, quidvis facere parata, in domum introducta est mulier Sarracenica, et accepta honorifice. Neque compertum est, quod mirum non immerito videtur, ullo unquam tempore dissensionem aut rixam acerbam inter has coniuges extitisse: sed concordia suavi marito uni, in unis aedibus et lecto uno cohabitarunt. Cumque forma antecelleret Sarracenica, admirabili bonitate Dei factum est, ut altera prolis foecunditate praestaret, quo id quod deesset formae, dono liberorum pensaretur. Monumentum extat Erphordiae in aede divi Petri, ubi comes bigamus cum utrinque collocatis uxoribus in lapide magno excisus est. Visus est etiam a multis lectus horum trium coniugum apud comites de Gleichen, qui testes huius narrationis esse possunt
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[“ A narrative of the history of the bigamous Count of Gleichen, whose grave monument is found in the Church of St. Peter in Erfurt.

spacerWhen Frederick I, called Barbarossa, undertook his crusade to Asia around the year 1227 AD, Ludwig, the Landgrave of Thuringia — whose wife was Elisabeth, Queen of Hungary — followed him, and in Sicily Ludwig joined his own forces, which were notable for the attending counts, barons, nobles, and other chosen men, to Frederickʼs army. After setting out with him for Brundisium, the Landgrave was taken with a sudden illness. Because of his illness he stayed in Brundisium for some time, and when the Emperor left with his army, the Count of Gleichen in Thuringia followed, leaving behind the Landgrave, who died not long afterwards in Brundisium on the birthday of the Virgin Mary. Now in this Count of Thuringia was a certain loftiness of spirit and a most laudable zeal for fighting against the enemy of all who call themselves Christians. As a result, during the recovery of the Holy Land, one day he advance too far from Caesarʼs camp—obviously inflamed by an excessive desire for battle—and was surrounded by many enemies and captured by some Saracen chieftain. Treated cruelly by the enemy, he was either held in prison or was forced into the servile, harsh toil of agricultural work. However, by divine kindness it happened that the favor of one Saracen women fell on him. She gave him some help from her own generosity and lightened the sad yoke of his slavery by her conversation, undoubtedly moved by the obvious merits of the man. When she learned of the noble status inherited from his ancestors, she began to look for a husband in him. Although the count told her the truth — that he had left a lawful wife behind when he departed Germany — nevertheless the force of this womanʼs honorable love for the count, and the countʼs desire to regain his freedom, were so strong that he contracted a marriage with her, especially since he saw no other way of getting to safety. Who cannot but wonder at the greatness of soul in this woman, who well knew the many dangers and myriad difficulties facing her, yet still preferred to follow the count on a long journey full of toils and troubles into a totally unknown land, rather than to live securely in her native land in the bosom of her parents and relatives? When God offered an opportunity, they began their journey, and when they came into Christian territory, after telling his story just as it had happened, the count gained a dispensation for this bigamy from the Pope at Rome. From there they finally came to his homeland Thuringia. He entered his house alone and was recognized and welcomed most ardently by his wife. He began to tell her how fortune had treated him while he was away, and finally he said that he was bringing another wife, a Saracen, who alone had saved his life and was the reason that he was returning to his homeland. He asked in all possible ways that, if she was happy he had returned safe and unharmed from the monstrous slavery that he had suffered in an enemy land, she should also graciously accept her association with this Saracen wife. His wife readily promised that she would do this, since she was prepared to do anything for the benefit of her husband, who had been absent for so long, and so the Saracen woman was brought into the house and received honorably. There was never a sign at any time—a thing which rightly seems miraculous — of dissension or bitter quarreling between these two wives, but in sweet harmony they lived with one husband in one palace and in one bed. Although the Saracen wife was of exceeding beauty, by the wondrous goodness of God the other excelled her in the production of offspring, to such an extent that her deficiency in beauty was compensated by the gift of children. A monument stands in the Church of St. Peter at Erfurt; on this large stone are carved the bigamous count and both his wives pictured together. In addition many have seen the bed of these three spouses at the palace of the counts of Gleichen, and can give testimony to the truth of this story.