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Ulrich von Zatzikhoven (late 12th century). Encyclopedia of Medieval Literature

Ulrich von Zatzikhoven composed his Middle
High German version of the LANCELOT romance,
the Lanzelet, after 1194 or 1195. He seems to have
been closely connected with the imperial court of
the Hohenstaufen. According to linguistic evidence,
Ulrich originated in southwest Germany
and based his German translation, as he states, on
Huc of Morville’s Lanzelete, which does not exist
today and which is not identical with CHRÉTIEN DE
TROYES’s LANCELOT. Ulrich claims that he did not
alter his source at all when he translated it into
Middle High German, but there are clear signs of
influence from Chrétiens’s and HARTMANN VON
AUE’s Erec and Yvain (Iwein) and WOLFRAM VON
ESCHENBACH’s PARZIVAL.
Although the Lanzelet has survived in only five
manuscripts (ms. S. burnt in 1870), Ulrich’s posterity
remembered him with great respect. In the
Manessische Liederhandschrift (ms. C), the fictionalized
portrait of Waltram von Gresten shows the
latter and his lady reading Ulrich’s Lanzelet. The
romance deals with a young prince whom a mermaid
kidnaps and raises in her fairyland.When he
is 15, he wants to become a knight and learn his
name. This will be revealed to him, however, only
once he has defeated Iweret von Belforet.Many of
the subsequent events bear great similarity to those
experienced by Parzival in Wolfram’s romance, except
that Lanzelet participates in a grand tournament
and wins the prize.He rejects King ARTHUR’s
invitation to his court, however, because he does
not know his own name. Only once he has learned
his identity does he travel to Arthur, but many battles
and serious conflicts erupt, which Lanzelet
overcomes all the time. At one point he is made
prisoner, but can escape with the help ofWalwein,
Tristant, Erec, and Karjet. Subsequently a mighty
sorcerer has to be defeated, and finally the triumphant
protagonist can assume the government
of his inherited kingdom.
Bibliography
McLelland, Nicola. Ulrich von Zatzikhoven’s Lanzelet:
Narrative Style and Entertainment. Cambridge:
Brewer, 2000.
Ulrich von Zatzikhoven. Lanzelet. Translated by Kenneth
G. T.Webster.With an introduction by Roger
Sherman Loomis.New York: Columbia University
Press, 1951.
———. Lanzelet: Eine Erzählung. Edited by K. A.
Hahn. Frankfurt am Main, Germany: Brönner,
1854. Reprinted with afterword and bibliography
by Frederick Norman. Berlin: de Gruyter, 1965.
Albrecht Classen

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