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Hans Sachs

This article refers to the poet. For other people of the same name, see Hans Sachs (disambiguation).

Hans Sachs (November 5, 1494 - January 19, 1576) was a German meistersinger ("mastersinger"), poet, playwright and shoemaker.


Hans Sachs was born in Nuremberg. His father was a tailor. He attended a Lateinschule in Nuremberg. When he was 14 he took up an apprenticeship as a shoemaker. After the apprenticeship, at age 17, he went on his "Wanderjahre", that is, wandering about and working here and there, for five years. It is said that he decided to become a mastersinger in Innsbruck in 1513. In the same year, he took up a kind of apprenticeship to become a mastersinger at Munich. Lienhard Nunnenbeck (a linen weaver from Nuremberg) was his master. In 1516 he settled in Nuremberg and stayed for the rest of his life.

On September 1, 1519 he married Kunigunde Creutzer (*1502), who died in 1560. He married again September 2 1561, this time the young widow Barbara Harscher. Five daughters and two sons were born in his first marriage, but all died before their father; his second wife brought her six children with her into their household. From 1525 and onwards he had growing sympathies for Martin Luther and supported Luther's cause in some works.

Historical significance

Hans Sachs is considered the most talented and famous of the Meistersingers, and may be the only one with a lasting fame at all. Also, he is the one about whom most is known. The strict rules and the craftsmen's approach to poetry of the mastersingers produced a kind of poetry that was not really palatable for later ages. Their historical value lies in the fact that this movement encouraged the production of poetry by respectable commoners for their own pleasure and that of their kin. His carnival plays (comedies that were meant to be played during carnival) are considered his best works and are still played today. In those and in some other works he went beyond the conventions that a proper mastersong has to follow.

Works about him

Works (overview)

He wrote over 6000 pieces of various kinds; exact numbers vary widely in secondary literature, mainly because it is not always clear if a piece of writing should be considered an independent work or part of a larger context. Also it is hard to compare such sources because certain works may be put in different categories by different authors. His productivity is especially remarkable because he kept working as a shoemaker throughout his life. He had to do this because as far as is known the Mastersingers did not write/sing for profit.


External links

  • (Some Works in German)
  • (other works in German)
  • (more works in German)
  • (R. Wagners Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg)

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