German Traditional songs 1500-1600

As a bard in the sca I love finding cool period pieces. My area of study for both sewing and song is Germany 1470’s through the reformation. Because of the rich traditional culture in current Germany many of these songs have been both past down generationaly and still sung. Thus preserving a rich culture of the past. The following songs are examples of this. Two I am still working on learning. The other I have both learned and documented.

Wee Zogen in das Feld

Written some time around 1509. Most sources indicate this song is of the German Landsknechte. However German speaking Swiss mercenaries are also said to have had a hand in its creation. The Swiss mercenaries like the Lansknechte were hired as feared warriors they won many battles until improved artillery ended their invincibility in 1515 at Marignano. The word “strampelen” ( “to march in the Swiss-German dialect) becomes “ Stempede mi” in the corrupted Italian chorus which translates to “ We’re marching. We’re at your service sires.” In the corrupted chorus.

According to Lilieencron “ German Life in folksong around 1530 “ the uncorrupted Italian version of the chorus would probably read : Strom-betta mi-a-la-mi, presenti alla mostra, signori . English translation: Trumpet appear for inspection gentlemen.

Background of the song the German mercenaries known as Landsknechte were hired as fighters by various forces. They would travel from conflict to conflict based on who would pay them the most. This life style was not just traveling warriors but wives craftsmens and others who helped maintain this nomadic life this was known as a Tross.

Landsknechte were fierce warriors with their chief weapons as the long pike and halberd. In the early 16th century the Peasant Revolt broke out in many German Speaking areas of Europe between the upper and lower classes . Although it was fueled by the reformation which was starting to gain momentum the Peasant revolt had several contributing factors. There was also a conspiracy by Emperor Maximillian I to carve up a disunited Italy with Louis XII of France, Ferdinand of Spain and Pope Julius . Maximilian wished to take Friuli ( Friaul in the song) He used Landsknechte who true to form were paid to be in the middle of the fray their loyalties lying with the highest bidders.

They marched through Italy waging battles in various towns. In the end the fighting decided nothing permanent except that a devastated Italy would remain a International battle ground for years to come. 

German Folk songs compiled and edited by Arther Kevess oak publications 1968

Frische teutsche Liedlien (1539-1556 )authors: Geogre Foster Kurt Gudewell Horst Brunner: Wolfenbuttel Moser 1986


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