The amazing tales of the knight Theuerdank and his companion Ehrenhold constitute the last great epic verse of the late Middle Ages. The courageous knight’s journey to woo his future wife, Mary of Burgundy, and his triumph in battles and other perilous acts of bravery are the focus of this highly embellished "real-life” story of Emperor Maximilian I (1459–1519).
A king of Germany before becoming Holy Roman Emperor in 1508, Maximilian was a great patron of the arts, but also the first modern-age ruler to recognize its potential for propaganda. He commissioned a trilogy of luxurious illustrated books to immortalize his existence, among them Theuerdank—the only volume to be published during his lifetime, composed by Melchior Pfinzing, based on Maximilian’s rather fanciful draft.
The 118 ornate, gold-adorned woodcuts—one for each chapter—were made by Hans Burgkmair the Elder, Hans Schäufelein, and Leonhard Beck, while the typeface (known as the Theuerdank typeface and marked by striking "elephant trunks”) was especially designed for the book by the printing workshop of Hans Schönsperger the Elder.