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Ulrich Hofer Von Sterzing

Ulrich Hofer Von Sterzing

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Published by H. P. G.
Biographical details of Ulrich Hofer Von Sterzing (1497-1579), The infamous Tyrolean Executioner and Commander (Hauptmann) of the Grey Hand Landsknecht Company.
Biographical details of Ulrich Hofer Von Sterzing (1497-1579), The infamous Tyrolean Executioner and Commander (Hauptmann) of the Grey Hand Landsknecht Company.

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Published by: H. P. G. on Oct 21, 2013
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1
U
LRICH
M
AXIMILIAN
[J
OSEFS
]
 
H
OFER VON
S
TERZING
 
(1497 – 1579)
– also called: “
THE
T
YROLEAN
E
XECUTIONER
” (
le Bourreau Tyrolien 
), “U
LRICH THE
B
LOODY
” (
Ulric le Sanglant 
,
Ulrich der Blutige 
) and “
DER
S
TERZINGER
S
CHARFRICHTER
”. A famous RenaissanceGerman Knight, executioner/torturer, swordsman/martial artist, mercenary/leader of acompany of mercenaries, physician/surgeon, humanist and writer.Ulrich Maximilian is the eldest of one brother (Moritz Hennig/Heinrich
[1501]
) and 5sisters (Frieda, Elsbeth, Berta, Hedwig, Agnes).His father, Josef Adalbert [Franziskuß] H
OFER VON
S
TERZING
 
(1466 – 1545)
(son ofFranz/Franziskus Wolfgang [Karls]
 
H
OFER VON
S
TERZING
), was a Tyrolean petty
Uradel 
noble (Imperial Knight – 
Reichsritter 
) who was a talented swordsman/fencerof the Brotherhood of Saint-Mark, and an accomplished fighter/warrior who fought inmany wars. After retiring, Josef Adalbert taught fencing & martial arts at the familymansion in Sterzing, and was somehow involved in commercial/investment activitiesand in the Reformation defense/organization in his last years.His mother, Perla/Perlina P
ALLAVICINO
 
(1480 – 1557)
(daughter of GiacomoBartolomeo P
ALLAVICINO
[an Italian
Cavaliere 
– swordsman,
condottiere 
& jurist] and ofValentina
DI
S
ALUZZO
), married Josef Adalbert when she was 16 in 1496.Sterzing seigniory was an inalienable allodial domain, and its knights owedallegiance to the Emperor only and directly (
Freiherrschaft/Reichsritterschaft 
).Ulrich’s childhood & teenage years at the family mansion in Sterzing, where he istaught a strict martial (horse-riding, sword-fencing, wrestling & boxing, bow/crossbow-shooting, game-hunting, etc.) and literary education (reading & writing, Latin, Greek,calculating/geometry, grammar, philosophy, theology, music, rhetoric/oratory, etc.).He studied fencing and martial arts in Augsburg
(3 years, 16 to 18 y.o., 1512 to 1514)
 and in Bologna
(1 year, 1515)
. Although an exceptional martial artist/swordsman,Ulrich always refused to be a member of the Marx Brotherhood like his father was.He studied medicine in Italy
(4 years, 19 to 22 y.o., 1516 to 1520)
, in Padua with anotorious Jewish physician Isaac G
ALLO
 /S
ARFATI
 
(†1528)
(brother of SamuelS
ARFATI
 /G
ALLO
, the Pontifical Archiater of Pope Julius II in Rome).Ulrich Maximilian was a tall man for his time: 1.90m (6’ 3’’), he possessed greatstrength and lightening reflexes (was very fast, physically & mentally). He had astrong voice and could sing beautifully. His features were virile & symmetrical, hishair was light-brown and his eyes green. They say that few women could resist hischarm.Beside German dialects, Ulrich learned to speak many languages (Italian [Veneto,Lombardo, Toscano, Emiliano-Romagnolo, Ligure, etc.], French [d’oïl & d’oc], Dutch,Frisian, Spanish [Castilian, Catalan], Bohemian) like most of the Landsknechtmercenaries of his epoch.Ulrich was renowned to wear only black (and a little dark grey) in his costumes,matching his family’s arms colors. He usually wore a red-coral earring (the standardexecutioners’ color) and high, tight black leather boots. His figure, as soon asrecognized, inspired respect and fear.His religious beliefs were outwardly Christian – he believed in the “Divine Architect”of the philosophers, in His Providence, in the necessity of social order, in one’s freewill, and in assuming one’s responsibility for one’s acts. He didn’t believe that Truthresided only & exclusively in Christianity, but considered every religion as mostly “a jumble of crappy superstitions” – as it is explicit in what remains of his writings.
 
2
Active [mercenary/campaigning] years: 1520 – 1560.Ulrich joined a company of Landsknechts in 1520 as a field-doctor/surgeon(pay/ 
Sold 
of 40 florins/guilders/ 
Gulden 
[the basic foot soldier’s was 4]) – but foughtlike a warrior with courage and skills (couldn’t stand aside and only watch).Following some unknown circumstances, in 1521 Ulrich became the Commander(
Hauptmann 
) of the Grey Hand Company (
Die Graue Hand 
) – a mercenary band ofLandsknechts consisting in 300 fighting men, all veteran
Doppelsöldner 
. His pay/ 
Sold 
 was of 80 florins/guilders/ 
Gulden 
(40 as a
Hauptmann 
and 40 as a field-doctor).The Grey Hand was the most efficient Landsknecht company of their timeaccording to most of the historical sources. They were the best trained & drilled – wellequipped in armors – they fought as a team, in elements of 2, 3 and 4 fighters. Theycould take on adversaries 10 times more numerous, which they did in manyoccasions. They were individually more expensive, but since they were equivalent toa much larger band – so it compensated for.Composition: 100 pikemen – 80 Bihänders – 80 halberds/partisans – 40harquebusiers.As a recognition sign, they wore two grey items in their costume (hat, feather, hose,scarf, doublet…).The Grey Hand fought in most of the conflicts in Western Europe (Germany, Austria,France, Italy, Spain, Low Countries, Bohemia) and against the Turks in CentralEurope (Balkans, Hungary, Carpathians…).As soon as 1521, because of his knowledge of medicine, Ulrich was called topractice judiciary ‘questioning’ (i.e. torture) on prisoners. They say about him that hewas so skilled he could skin someone completely and keep him alive for a few daysafterwards. All his years as a torturer, he was strictly and coldly professional andnever shown signs of sadism.His first public execution as an executioner was in 1522 in Oberstdorf. Ulrichperformed executions all over the Holy Roman Empire up to 1565.Ulrich Maximilian was a rival and a friend of Götz “Iron Hand”
VON
B
ERLICHINGEN
(1480 – 1562)
, the infamous
Reichsritter 
leader of a company of mercenaries. Ulrich &his company served under Georg
VON
F
RUNDSBERG
 
(1473 – 1528)
(for some battles upto 1523), the illustrious Landsknecht leader. The Grey Hand fought against Franz
VON
S
ICKINGEN
 
(1481 – 1523)
in 1523 at the siege of Burg Nanstein.Ulrich’s lieutenants were: Ernst “Hot Blood” (
Heißblut 
) K
ÖSSENER
– Tyrolean – up to1542, when he died in battle – and Jörg “Little Fox” (
Kleinfuchs 
) W
ÜRZBURGER
 –Bavarian – from 1542 to 1560, when he took over the Company from Ulrich.His four trusted bodyguards/lieutenants were:- Tudgwal
Tête Dure 
” (Hard Head,
Penn Kalet 
) – a Celt from French Brittany.- Otto
Ohnefurcht 
” (
Sans Peur 
, Fearless) – Tyrolean.- Götz “Black Mustache” (
Schwarzschnauzer 
) – Tyrolean.- Walther “Big Hands” (
Grosses Mains 
) – Swabian.They fought alongside Ulrich – often on the front-line – protecting his back. Thoseamong the four who were alive in 1560 followed him into his retirement.Ulrich Maximilian had some illegitimate children, most of whom without hisknowledge. One of his illegitimate sons, Günther H
OFER
(1538 – 1610)
, established aninn (the
Sandhof 
Inn) after retiring from serving for 30 years as a henchman for theDukes of Bavaria William IV (Wilhelm IV,
Guillaume le Constant 
) and Albert V(Albrecht V,
Albert le Magnifique 
). Günther is the ancestor of the famous Andreas
 
3
H
OFER
(1767 – 1810)
, leader of the Tyrolean rebellion against Napoleon's forces in1809/10.Ulrich married in 1550 Fortuna
DA
V
EIGA
(1533 – 1619)
 
(daughter of David
DA
V
EIGA
[aphysician & rabbi] and of Rosa T
OLEDANO
), who was 17 years old at the time. Shewas a Jewish-born woman from Holland of Sephardic/Spanish origins, with blond hair& brown eyes, considered very beautiful by contemporary witnesses. Some say shenever converted to Christianity before wedding Ulrich.He had 5 children with Fortuna: 3 boys (Matthäus Answald
[1551]
, Dieterich Franz
[1558]
, Sebald Josef
[1562]
) & 2 girls (Leonora
[1555]
, Agatha
[1565]
). His eldest sonMatthäus Answald became a rabbi in Prague (under the name of
Mattityahu 
H
OFER
,
 
renouncing his title – as a rejection of the “Christian falsehood”), his second sonDieterich Franz became a field-doctor/physician/surgeon and a skilled swordsman,and his youngest Sebald Josef became a founder/gunsmith (smithing/casting fire-arms, canons, bells, statues…) in the city of Essen (famous later for the Krupp family).Ulrich amassed a vast fortune during his campaigning years, becoming one of thewealthiest men in Tyrol. It was estimated at more than half a millionflorins/guilders/ 
Gulden 
.Ulrich Maximilian saved the life of Emperor Ferdinand I under unknown/unclearcircumstances in 1560, and as a reward (and because of his immense riches, somesarcastically say) Ulrich was promoted Archknight (
Erzritter 
– equivalent of a Baron) – title specially coined for (and attributed to) three persons only in the Holy RomanEmpire history.After retiring (1560) to the Hofer-von-Sterzing’s family Mansion, Ulrich managed afencing academy in his mansion like his father did before, teaching high-qualitymartial arts – his students holder of his certified
Meister 
diploma were highly soughtafter by noble houses all over Europe. His nephew Klaus Ferdinand H
OFER VON
S
TERZING
 
(1545 – 1626)
(his brother Moritz Hennig’s son) was one of his mainstudents/disciples.During his retirement, Ulrich Maximilian wrote some books:-
Martial Art Handbook [Sterzinger Fechtbuch] 
(in Latin & German – illustrated) – 4 copies were made – all disappeared in various fires during the 18
th
and19
th
centuries.-
Biography/Memoirs 
(in German) – printed in 1577 in Augsburg – only onecopy (complete) remains in a private collection.-
Reflections on Good & Evil [Life & Death] 
(in Latin) – 7 copies existed at onetime – all disappeared in various fires during the 17
th
and 19
th
centuries – only12 folios remain in the
Bayerische Staatsbibliothek 
.-
The Art of Torture 
(in Latin & German – illustrated) – 2 copies were made – the original & 1 copy remain in different private collections.- Other unknown works, supposedly about medicine/anatomy…Most of what remains of his writings consists in some quotes scattered mainly in 16
th
 & 17
th
centuries authors.Ulrich Maximilian died by natural causes at the age of 82.One can admire Ulrich’s Bihänder/Zweihänder (
Necifera 
) and Katzbalger (
Letifera 
)in Dr Hagaï P. G
ABRIELI
’s collection of swords in Paris.* * * * * * *

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