Donation and Devotion, Art and Music
as Heard and Seen Through the Writings of a Birgittine Nun
Margarete Imhoff Tucher, Katerina’s Sister
Alleged Sexual Impropriety / Slander Against Margarete Tucher
In 2008, using the new new electronic index of the Nuremberg Stadtarchiv, we found a hand-written narrative on “the daughters of Paulus Imhoff,” which had been set down by the Nuremberg archivist Georg Wolfgang Karl Lochner (1798–1882) and deposited in the archive. It appears that Lochner had prepared this five-page manuscript for publication. It contains two appended documents, but no notes or references to archival sources. Of particular interest for social and family history is the story about the alleged affair of Katerina’s sister Margarete prior to her marriage with Martin Tucher and the associated scandal which broke two years after their wedding. We were able to find some of the sources for the story about Margarete Imhoff Tucher in fifteenth-century archival records.
Hans Lauginger, a leading textile merchant of Augsburg, asserted that he had heard from Katharina the daughter of Niklas Glockengießer that Margarete had “lain naked more than twenty nights with Georg von Thill” [Hack von Suhl] and that she had not been a virgin when she married. Although it is known that Hack von Suhl, who was known as von Thill, celebrated a lavish wedding when he married Magdalena Herdegen in 1485, the date of the alleged improprieties is unknown. On the issue of Margarete’s nakedness, it may be remembered that according to the testimony of Katerina’s mother, Barbara Loeffelholz had been fully clothed when she spent nights in bed with Sigmund Stromer, an observation used in court to weaken his claim that they had actually entered into a marriage with each other and thus helped to free her to marry Johannes Pirckheimer (Katerina’s Windows, p. 2-3).
The inner city council of Nuremberg was quick to preserve the integrity of the governing patrician families. Council records show that, for his slander against the Tuchers, Hans Lauginger was sentenced to two months incarceration in one of the towers in the city wall. The sources also show leniency: Lauginger was allowed to take walks outside. Moreover, soon after the initial court ruling the length of the sentence was reduced to half. What was surely a far greater punishment for the merchant, however, was his banishment from Nuremberg—within three days of his release. At the request of Emperor Maximilian I, however, Lauginger was allowed back into the city after two years. The story gives a glimpse of how gender colored views of sexual propriety, virtue, and honor, and the incident also demonstrates the city council's strict control not only in public matters but also in realms today considered private.
Sources: Nuremberg, Staatsarchiv, Rep. 60b, Ratsbücher, no. 5, fol. 67; Nuremberg, Staatsarchiv, Rep. 60a, Ratsverlässe, no. 235, fols 11v and 19; Nuremberg, Stadtarchiv, E57, no. 2; Johann Gottfried Biedermann, Geschlechtsregister des Hochadelichen Patriciats zu Nürnberg (Bayreuth, 1748), 593; Hermann Knapp, “Das alte Nürnberger Kriminalverfahren bis zur Einführung der Karolina,” Zeitschrift für die gesamte Strafrechts-wissenschaft 12 (1892): 475, note 10; Hermann Knapp, Das alte Nürnberger Kriminalrecht. Nach Ratsurkunden erläutert (Berlin, 1896), 203; Albert Gümbel, Dürers Bildnisse des Ehepaars Thurzo (Straßburg, 1928), 23-24, note 15.
Transportation for the Infirm and Margarete’s Death
Through a project undertaken 2007–2008 by the Nuremberg Stadtarchiv, focusing on the Tucher family, a series of informative letters have come to light, written by Martin Tucher while he was in Regensburg and sent to his cousin, Anton Tucher, who held the position of first Losunger, the highest office in Nuremberg government. On January 3, 1521 the plague was raging in Regensburg and Martin wrote in great distress in an attempt to procure a suitable means of transportation in order to bring back to Nuremberg his brother Hans, who had fallen ill. Anton’s support is sought so that Martin’s son Lorenz may obtain the litter that was owned by the city council and kept at the municipal construction depot known as the Peunt and bring it to Regensburg; otherwise Martin fears that Hans must be brought home by sleigh. When the next letter is written in Regensburg ten days later the situation has changed dramatically for the worse. Caspar Pusch, a merchant who had married into the Tucher family, writes to Anton that both Margarete Tucher and her daughter-in-law Katharina Tucher (wife of Lorenz) have fallen ill, and Margarete has died. Apparently she did not die of the plague, since Pusch reports that the doctors could not determine her illness.
Sources: Nuremberg, Stadtarchiv, E 29/IV, 457 (1519, 9 June), 458 (1520, 15 August), 259 (1520, 27 September), 460 (1520, 15 October), 461 (1520, 21 October), 462 (1520, 2 November), 463 (1520, 19 November), 464 (1520, 6 December), 465 (1520, 16 December), 466 (1521, 3 January) and 861 (1521, 13 January).