The Strange and Terrible Visions of Wilhelm Friess
The Paths of Prophecy in Reformation Europe
Publication Year: 2014
Published by: University of Michigan Press
Title Page, Series Page, Copyright Page
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As anyone who has gone through the process can attest, the latter stages of publishing a book involve periodic bursts of intense effort under tight deadlines, interspersed with lengthy periods of waiting on all the things that are not under the author’s control. During one of those waiting...
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As I write this, several devout students of holy scripture have just seen their careful calculations for the date of the Rapture come to naught, while budget and debt projections for the next seventy-five years continue to dominate the headlines. No matter how unpredictable the future...
Chapter 1. A Strange Prognostication
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The prophecies of Wilhelm Friess, the most popular German prophetic pamphlets of the later sixteenth century, were the writings of a dead man: the title pages of these booklets insist that the prophecies were found with their ostensible author after his death. Their story begins...
Chapter 2. A Seditious Prophecy
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On 4 January 1558, the printer Frans Fraet was executed in Antwerp for publishing seditious books. Until quite recently, Fraet’s martyrdom was the only thing anyone knew about him as a printer, as there were no known copies of any book from his press.1 Instead, Fraet was known as...
Chapter 3. From Avignon to Antwerp and from Antwerp to Nuremberg
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The ways in which the text attributed to Wilhelm Friess changed from edition to edition run parallel to changes in who was reading it and where it was being printed. Those who published and redacted the prophecy left their marks on the text. By piecing together the history of the text...
Chapter 4. From Protest to Propaganda
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Establishing the relationship of one edition of “William Friess” to another is a slow and wearisome process in which slight and seemingly inconsequential variations are identified, compared, and categorized. I have reserved most of the details for the appendixes. Even for the brief summary...
Chapter 5. A Horrible and Shocking Prophecy
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With a better understanding of when the L version of “Wilhelm Friess” was printed and how the text took shape, we have come full circle, returning once again to Antwerp and the Low Countries. In Dutch history, 1566 is the wonderjaar, the “year of miracles,” which saw the outbreak...
Chapter 6. "Wilhelm Friess" in Strasbourg
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Despair at the sight of enemies on all sides and from all nations, which is so vividly depicted in “Friess II,” had also been the experience of the embattled Calvinists of Antwerp in March 1567, whose defeat would have been made more humiliating by the stridently Lutheran prophecy...
Chapter 7. The Last Emperor and the Beginning of Prophecy
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The previous chapters have allowed us to connect the numerous editions of “Friess I” printed in Nuremberg in 1558 with the appearance of “Friess II” in Basel beginning in 1577 by establishing a chain of textual and historical connections through Antwerp in the 1560s and Strasbourg in...
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Appendix 1. The First Prophecy of Wilhelm Friess
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The following editions of “Friess I” and “Friess II” attempt to capture on paper the complex relationships between the various versions and editions of each text and its sources. As with the transcriptions of early modern printed texts in the notes, the editions presented here use...
Appendix 2. The Second Prophecy of Wilhelm Friess
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For the edition of “Friess II” supplied here, I do not use F1, the 1639 edition that appears to be a descendant of the earliest version of the prophecy, as its language was significantly updated and altered in the seventeenth century. Similar reasons preclude use of F2, a seventeenth-century...
Appendix 3. Editions Attributed to Wilhelm Friess
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Title transcriptions follow the same conventions used in appendixes 1 and 2: umlauted vowels are given modern orthography, u/v and i/j have their modern values, and abbreviations are resolved silently. Punctuation and spelling are otherwise unchanged. Titles that do not differ substantially...
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Page Count: 168
Publication Year: 2014
Series Title: Cultures of Knowledge in the Early Moder