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Nov 26, 2012

Medieval Mondays: The Iron Arm of Götz von Berlich

"I will crush you."
The German knight Götz von Berlich (c.1480-1562) had a nasty reputation. The veteran of numerous battles, he estimated that he had fought 15 feuds in his own name and many others for friends. In 1525 joined the German Peasant's revolt and led the peasants against the Holy Roman Empire.
"The peasants are revolting, and I'm revolting too!"
Perhaps he got his bad attitude when he lost his right hand and forearm during the siege of Landshuf in 1504. A cannonball hit his sword, making it swipe down to cut off his own limb! That's enough to put anyone in a permanently bad mood.
Luckily, craftsmen in this period were skilled at making prosthetics for just such occasions. They made him an iron limb that could open and close it fingers, so it could still be used in battle. He became known at Götz of the Iron Hand. His hand was so well made it could even hold a pen. Perhaps he used it when he wrote his memoirs.
Just goes to show that the late Medieval/early Renaissance period was more sophisticated than we generally believe.

Images courtesy Wikipedia.


  1. That's rather impressive for the time!