Hieronymus Münzer

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Hieronymus Münzer or Monetarius (Feldkirch, 1437/1447 – Nuremberg, 27 August 1508) was a Renaissance humanist, physician and geographer who made a famous grand tour of the Iberian peninsula in 1494–5. He was co-author of the Nuremberg Chronicle.


His parents were Heinrich († 1463?) and Elisabeth Münzer. Hieronymus Münzer studied from 1464 on at the University of Leipzig and in 1470 was appointed Magister there and held private lectures. In addition, he also studied medicine, and after a short spell teaching at the Latin school in Feldkirch in 1476, he continued studying in Pavia, becoming doctor of medicine there in 1477. He settled that year as a doctor in Nuremberg. Here in 1479 he wrote his work Libellus de natura vini (booklet on the nature of wine) and various medical reports. He was one of the main figures in the humanist circle of the city and worked intensively in cosmography and astronomy.

As a participant in the trading company of his brother Ludwig († 1518) he was a rich man, using his money to establish amongst other things a comprehensive library. In 1480 he acquired Nuremberg citizenship and 3 July married Dorothea Kieffhaber († 1505). Their daughter Dorothea married Dr. Hieronymus Holzschuher, whose son of the same name was painted by Albrecht Dürer. They also had at least two sons. In 1483 Münzer fled from the plague to Italy, bought numerous books in Rome, Naples and Milan, and returned home the following year. In 1484 he also travelled to the Netherlands. In 1494/95 he undertook a longer journey around Western Europe. Münzer died on 27 August 1508 in Nuremberg, and was buried there in the church of St. Sebald. He left behind an enormous fortune, much of which came from his partnership in the trading business of his brother Ludwig (owner of Gwiggen Castle in 1507).


Münzer was a friend of Hartmann Schedel (1440–1514) and contributed geographical sections to the latter's Nuremberg Chronicle of 1493, including the first printed map of Germany, which appeared in two-sided form. In 1493, his close contacts with the Nuremberg merchant Martin Behaim led Münzer to suggest to the King of Portugal on behalf of Emperor Maximilian a journey across the Atlantic in search of the route to India, recommending Behaim for the task.

In 1494/95 he undertook a journey of approximately 7,000 miles, from Nuremberg, through Switzerland, France (Marseilles, Arles, Perpignan) to Spain. He was one of the first Christian travellers to visit Granada after its capture in 1492 by the Catholic rulers Ferdinand and Isabella. His group (himself, two people from Nuremberg and one from Augsburg) travelled mostly on horseback through Malaga and Seville to Portugal, where he dined with John II in Évora. Other stops on the tour included Santiago, the monastery of Guadalupe, Madrid (where he met the royal couple), Zaragoza, Toulouse, Poitiers, Tours, Paris (where he spent several days), Abbeville, Bruges, Ghent, Cologne, Mainz, and from there taking a detour to the Diet of Worms, Frankfurt, Würzburg and thence to Nuremberg. Münzer's report of this trip is written in Latin, with the title Itinerarium siue peregrinatio excellentissimi viri artium ac vtriusque medicine doctoris Hieronimi Monetarii de Feltkirchen ciuis Nurembergensis. The report exists today only as a copy and is preserved in a codex of Hartmann Schedel (Munich, Bayerische Staatsbibliothek, Clm 431, fol. 96-274v.). From the title it is clear that his journey also involved a pilgrimage. The report has been widely used by historians in the countries he visited, and individual parts are available in translation. An annotated new edition of the Latin text exists, as does a German translation of the entire report in the context of a project at the University of Erlangen-Nuremberg.

Selected works[edit]

  • Itinerarium siue peregrinatio excellentissimi viri artium ac vtriusque medicine doctoris Hieronimi Monetarii de Feltkirchen ciuis Nurembergensis (journey 1494/95; date of publication unclear).
  • De inventione Africae maritimae et occidentalis videlicet Geneae per Infantem Heinricum Portugalliae, ed. v. Friedrich Kunstmann, in: Abhandlungen der historischen Classe der königlich bayerischen Akademie der Wissenschaften, Bd. 7, München 1855, S. 291–362 (Einleitung 291–347).


  • Ernst Philip Goldschmidt, Hieronymus Münzer und seine Bibliothek (London, 1938)
  • Albrecht Classen, Die iberische Halbinsel aus der Sicht eines humanistischen Nürnberger Gelehrten. Hieronymus Münzer, Itinerarium Hispanicum (1494–1495) in: Mitteilungen des Instituts für Österreichische Geschichtsforschung 111 (2003), pp. 317–340.