Presenter Information

Daniel Jütte, Harvard University

Description

This presentation examines two excerpts from the little known early seventeenth-century German memoirs of the non-Jewish Swabian merchant Hans Ulrich Krafft (1550–1621).1 Krafft was born into one of the most respected families in the city of Ulm, in southern Germany. In the 1570s, he served as a factor for the Augsburg-based Manlich trade company in the Levant. 2 In the summer of 1574, however, the Manlich Trade Company went bankrupt, and Krafft, who did not have the means to pay off the debts he had guaranteed on behalf of his employers, was arrested and imprisoned in Tripoli (now in Lebanon). This dismal situation was to last for three years, and Krafft faced moments of real crisis. For example, he was kept for forty days in a cell without a ray of sunlight, and the hygienic situation in the tiny cells was abominable. I would like to present two excerpts from Krafft’s nearly 500-page long memoirs. The first excerpt describes an episode from his imprisonment when he was visited by a German Jew named Mayer Winterbach, who came from the same region of Swabia. Despite Krafft’s initial reluctance, the two men eventually formed a friendship. More than a decade after Krafft’s release, they met again in Germany and continued their amicable relationship (excerpt 2). Krafft’s detailed and personal account provides us with insight into the nature of this uncommon, or perhaps not so uncommon, cross-cultural connection.

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Start Date

27-2-2012 10:00 AM

End Date

27-2-2012 11:00 AM

Location

Brown University, Providence, RI

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Feb 27th, 10:00 AM Feb 27th, 11:00 AM

Jailhouse Encounter: A Sixteenth-Century Jewish-Christian Tale and its Historiographical Ramifications

Brown University, Providence, RI

This presentation examines two excerpts from the little known early seventeenth-century German memoirs of the non-Jewish Swabian merchant Hans Ulrich Krafft (1550–1621).1 Krafft was born into one of the most respected families in the city of Ulm, in southern Germany. In the 1570s, he served as a factor for the Augsburg-based Manlich trade company in the Levant. 2 In the summer of 1574, however, the Manlich Trade Company went bankrupt, and Krafft, who did not have the means to pay off the debts he had guaranteed on behalf of his employers, was arrested and imprisoned in Tripoli (now in Lebanon). This dismal situation was to last for three years, and Krafft faced moments of real crisis. For example, he was kept for forty days in a cell without a ray of sunlight, and the hygienic situation in the tiny cells was abominable. I would like to present two excerpts from Krafft’s nearly 500-page long memoirs. The first excerpt describes an episode from his imprisonment when he was visited by a German Jew named Mayer Winterbach, who came from the same region of Swabia. Despite Krafft’s initial reluctance, the two men eventually formed a friendship. More than a decade after Krafft’s release, they met again in Germany and continued their amicable relationship (excerpt 2). Krafft’s detailed and personal account provides us with insight into the nature of this uncommon, or perhaps not so uncommon, cross-cultural connection.