- Sachs, Hans
- (1494-1576)Nuremberg shoemaker, poet, and play-wright, who devoted much of his literary output to making propa-ganda for the Lutheran Reformation. Born the son of a tailor, he at-tended Latin school for eight years and at age 15 was apprenticed to a shoemaker. He travelled through much of Germany during his five years (1511-1516) as a journeyman, then returned home, married, and became a master of his trade in 1520. Aside from occasional at-tendance at trade fairs at Frankfurt-am-Main, he spent the rest of his life in Nuremberg.From the early 1520s, Sachs became an outspoken supporter of Martin Luther, and his most famous poem, the lengthy allegory Die Wittenbergisch Nachtigall / The Wittenberg Nightingale (1523), at-tacks the corruption of the church and provides versified explanations of Luther's doctrines. It was reprinted many times and made its au-thor famous. His four prose dialogues on Reformation themes, such as Disputation Between a Canon and a Shoemaker (1524), were part of the campaign to convert Nuremberg itself to the Lutheran cause.For many years, Sachs was the leader of the guild of Meistersinger in the city, a group of artisans who presented public solo perform-ances of their own musical compositions. His 4,000 songs, many of which are still unpublished, drew on biblical, classical, and medieval themes. Better known as literary works today, however, are his 80 carnival plays (Fastnachtspiele), short plays which present incidents and characters from daily life. His other dramas, some 130 tragedies and comedies, attract little attention from German readers today. In the late 18th century, the German author Goethe revived interest in Sachs and other Meistersinger from Nuremberg and other south Ger-man cities, and a century later, the composer Richard Wagner pre-sented a highly romanticized picture of Sachs and his peers in the opera Die Meistersinger.
Historical Dictionary of Renaissance. Charles G. Nauert. 2004.