“How to Raise Young Princes and Gentlemen”

While pursuing my MA in Augsburg, Germany, I had the opportunity to participate in a political science seminar in which we examined a variety of texts known as “mirrors for princes,” texts that taught one how to lead or rule, or how to raise a future leader among men, a future ruler.

The occasion for the topic was the university’s acquisition of a wonderful old library, the Oettingen-Wallersteinsche Bibliothek. Each seminar participant was able to work with an original in this library. After the seminar, we wrote biographical texts to contextualize our mirrors for princes, and we selected excerpts from these sources to go with our analysis. The result was Fürstenspiegel der Frühen Neuzeit, edited by Hans-Otto Mühleisen, Theo Stammen, and Michael Philipp (Frankfurt a.M.: Insel Verlag, 1997).

My specific contribution to that collection was “Christof Vischer: Wie man junge Fürsten und Herren aufferzihen solle, 1573,” pp. 219–27 (biography and interpretation) and 228–51 (excerpts).

Nowadays it is possible to view a high-quality scan of Vischer’s book online at the Bayerische Staatsbibliothek in Munich, which is where I obtained the screenshot below.

Detail from title page showing the full long title: ‘Bericht aus Gottes Wort und verstendiger Leut Büchern / Wie man junge Fürsten und Herren dermasssen aufferzihen solle / das sie hie nützliche Gefes und heilsame Regenten / und dort in jenem leben Himelsfürsten werden mögen.'