Hans Sachs was a German meistersinger ("mastersinger"), poet, playwright and shoemaker.


Hans Sachs was born in Nuremberg (German: Nürnberg).As a child he attended a singing school that was held in the church of Nuremberg. This helped to awaken in him a taste for poetry and music. His father was a tailor. He attended Latin school (German: Lateinschule) in Nuremberg. When he was 14 he took up an apprenticeship as a shoemaker.

After the apprenticeship, at age 17, he was a journeyman and set out on his Wanderjahre (or Walz), that is, wandering about and working here and there, travelling with companions, and students, for five years. He worked at his craft in many towns, including Regensburg, Passau, Salzburg, Munich, Osnabrück, Lübeck, and Leipzig.

1513 he ended in a small town of Wels in Austria, where he lived in retirement, devoting himself to the cultivation of the fine arts. The Emperor Maximilian I chanced to pass through this town with a brilliant retinue, and the young poet allowed himself to be carried away by the splendor of the court. The prince placed him in the halls of the palace of Insbruck. Later Hans Sachs quit the court and went to Schatz and Munich.

In the same year, he took up a kind of apprenticeship to become a mastersinger at Munich. Lienhard Nunnenbeck (a linen weaver) was his master. In 1516 he settled in Nuremberg and stayed for the rest of his life. On 1 September 1519 he married Kunigunde Creutzer (1502-1560), who died in 1560. He married again on 2 September 1561, this time to the young widow Barbara Harscher. He had no known offspring.

The great event of his intellectual life was the coming of the Reformation; he became an ardent adherent of Luther, and in 1523 wrote in Luther's honour the poem beginning “The nightingale of Wittenberg, which is heard everywhere” (German: Die wittenbergisch Nachtigall, Die man jetzt höret überall), and four remarkable dialogues in prose, in which his warm sympathy with the reformer were tempered by counsels of moderation. In spite of this, his advocacy of the new faith brought upon him a reproof from the town council of Nuremberg; and he was forbidden to publish any more “pamphlets or rhymes” (German: Büchlein oder Reimen). It was not long, however, before the council itself openly threw in its lot with the Reformation.

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