Scene I.—Forest; a poor hut in the background. Goetz
Goetz: Where can my men be? Up and down I have
to walk, lest sleep should overcome me. Five days and
nights already in ambush. But when I get thee, Weislingen,
I shall make up for it! You priests may send
round your obliging Weislingen to decry me—I am
awake. You escaped me, bishop! So your dear Weislingen
may pay the piper. George! George! (Enter
George.) Tell Hans to get ready. My scouts may be
back any moment. And give me some more wine!
George: Hark! I hear some horses galloping—two
—it must be your men!
Goetz: My horse, quick! Tell Hans to arm!
[Enter Faud, who reports to Goetz that Weislingen is
approaching. Exit Goetz and his men.
George: Oh, St. George! Make me strong and
brave! And give me spear, armour, and horse!
Scene II.—Hall at Jaxthausen. Elizabeth and Marie.
Marie: If I had a husband who always exposed himself
to danger, I should die the first year.
Elizabeth: Thank God, I am made of harder stuff!
God grant that my boy may take after his father, and
not become a treacherous hypocrite, like Weislingen.
Marie: You are very bitter against him. Yet report
speaks well of him. Your own husband loved him, when
they were pages together to the margrave.
[The gay tune of a wind-instrument is heard.
Elizabeth: There he returns with his spoil! I must
get the meal ready. Here, take the cellar keys and let
them have of the best wine! They have deserved it.
[Exeunt. Enter Goetz, Weislingen, and men-at-arms.
Goetz (taking off his helmet and sword): Unstrap
my cuirass and give me my doublet! Weislingen, you've
given us hard work! Be of good cheer. Where are
your clothes? I could lend you some of mine—a neat,
clean suit, which I wore at the wedding of my gracious
lord the Count Palatine, when your bishop got so vexed
with me, because I made him shake hands with me, unknown,
after having taken two of his ships a fortnight
before on the Main.
Weislingen: I beg you to leave me alone.
Goetz: Why? Pray, be cheerful. You are in my
power, and I shall not abuse it. You know my knight's
duty is sacred to me. And now I must go to see my
Weislingen: Oh, that it were all a dream! In Berlichingen's
power—and he, the old true-hearted Goetz!
Back again in the hall, where we played as boys, where
I loved him with all my heart! How strangely past and
present seem to intermingle here.
[Enter Goetz, and a man with jug and goblet.
Goetz: Let us drink, until the meal is ready. Come,
you are at home. It is a long time since we last shared
a bottle. (Raising his goblet) A gay heart!
Weislingen: Those times are past.
Goetz: Heaven forbid! Though merrier days we
may not find. If you had only followed me to Brabant,
instead of taking to that miserable life at court! Are
you not as free and nobly born as anyone in Germany?
Independent, subject only to the emperor? And you
submit to vassals, who poison the emperor's ear against
me! They want to get rid of me. And you, Weislingen,
are their tool!
Goetz: No more of it! I hate explanations. They
only lead to deceiving one or the other, or both.
[They stand apart, their backs turned to each other.
Marie (to Weislingen): I come to greet and to invite
you in my sister's name. What is it? Why are you
silent both? You are host and guest. Be guided by a
Goetz: You remind me of my duty.
Weislingen: Who could resist so heavenly a hint?
Marie: Draw near each other, be reconciled! (The
men shake hands.) The union of brave men is the most
ardent wish of all good women.
Scene I.—A room at `. Marie and Weislingen.
Marie: You say you love me. I willingly believe it,
and hope to be happy with you and to make you happy.
Weislingen: Blessed be your brother and the day he
rode out to capture me!
Goetz: Your page is back. Whatever his news,
Adelbert, you are free! All I ask is your word that you
will not aid and abet my enemies.
Weislingen: I take your hand. And may I at the
same time take the hand of this noblest of all women?
Goetz: May I say "yes" for you, Marie? You need
not blush—your eyes have answered clearly. Well, then,
Weislingen, take her hand, and I say Amen, friend and
brother! I must call my wife. Elizabeth! (Enter
Elizabeth.) Join your hand in theirs and say "God
bless you!" They are a pair. Adelbert is going back
to Bamberg to detach himself openly from the bishop,
and then to his estates to settle his affairs. And now
we'll leave him undisturbed to hear his boy's report.
[Exit with Marie and Elizabeth.
Weislingen: Such bliss for one so unworthy!
Franz: God save you, noble sir! I bring you greetings
from everybody in Bamberg—from the bishop down
to the jester. How they are distressed at your mishap!
I am to tell you to be patient—they will think the more
impatiently of your deliverance; for they cannot spare
Weislingen: They will have to. I'll return, but not
to stay long.
Franz: Not to stay? My lord, if you but knew what
I know! If you had but seen her—the angel in the shape
of woman, who makes Bamberg a forecourt of heaven—
Adelheid von Walldorf!
Weislingen: I have heard much of her beauty. Is
her husband at court?
Franz: She has been widowed for four months, and
is at Bamberg for amusement. If she looks upon you,
it is as though you were basking in spring sunshine.
Weislingen: Her charms would be lost on me. I
am betrothed. Marie will be the happiness of my life.
And now pack up. First to Bamberg, and then to my
Scene II.—A forest. Some Nuremberg merchants,
who, attacked on their way to the Frankfurt Fair
by Goetz and his men, have escaped, leaving their
goods in the hands of the knights. The page
George has, however, recaptured two of the merchants
as Goetz and his men enter.
Goetz: Search the forest! Let none escape!
George (stepping forward): I've done some preparatory
work. Here they are.
Goetz: Welcome, good lad! Keep them well guarded!
(Exit his men with the merchants.) And now, what
news of Weislingen?
George: Bad news! He looked confused when I
said to him, "A few words from your Berlichingen."
He tried to put me off with empty words, but when I
pressed him he said he was under no obligation to you,
and would have nothing to do with you.
Goetz: Enough! I shall not forget this infamous
treachery. Whoever gets into my power shall feel it.
(Exit George.) I'll revel in their agony, deride their
fear. And how, Goetz, are you thus changed? Should
other people's faults and vices make you renounce your
chivalry, and abandon yourself to vulgar cruelty? I'll
drag him back in chains, if I can't get him any other way.
And there's an end of it, Goetz; think of your duty!
[Enter George with a casket.
George: Now let your joke be ended, they are frightened
enough. One of them, a handsome young man,
gave me this casket, and said, "Take this as ransom!
The jewels I meant to take to my betrothed. Take them,
and let me escape."
Goetz (examining the jewels): This time, Marie, I
shall not be tempted to bring it to you as a birthday gift.
Even in your misfortune you would rejoice in the happiness
of others. Take it, George. Give it back to the
lad. Let him take it to his bride, with greeting from
Goetz! And let all the prisoners free at sunset.
Scene I.—Pleasure-garden at Augsburg. The Emperor,
the Bishop of Bamberg, Weislingen, the Lady
Emperor: I am tired of these merchants with their
eternal complaints! Every shopkeeper wants help, and
no one will stir against the common enemy of the empire
and of Christianity.
Weislingen: Who would be active abroad while he
is threatened at home?
Bishop: If we could only remove that proud Sickingen
and Berlichingen, the others would soon fall asunder.
Emperor: Brave, noble men at heart, who must be
spared and used against the Turks.
Weislingen: The consequences may be dangerous.
Better to capture them and leave them quietly upon their
knightly parole in their castles.
Emperor: If they then abide by the law, they might
again be honourably and usefully employed. I shall open
the session of the Diet to-morrow with this proposal.
Weislingen: A clamour of joyful assent will spare
your majesty the end of the speech.
[Exit Emperor, Bishop, and Courtiers.
Weislingen: And so you mean to go—to leave the
festive scenes for which you longed with all your heart,
to leave a friend to whom you are indispensable, to delay
Adelheid: The gayer, the freer shall I return to you.
Weislingen: Will you be content if we proceed
Adelheid: You deserve a kiss! My uncle, Von
Wanzenau, must be captain!
Weislingen: Impossible! An incompetent old
Adelheid: Let the fiery Werdenhagen, his sister's
stepson, go with him.
Weislingen: He is thoughtless and foolhardy, and
will not improve matters.
Adelheid: We have to think of our relatives. For
love of me, you must do it! And I want some exemptions
for the convent of St. Emmeraru; you can work
the chancellor. Then the cup-bearer's post is vacant at
the Hessian Court, and the high stewardship of the
Palatinate. I want them for our friends Braimau and
Weislingen: How shall I remember it all?
Adelheid: I shall train a starling to repeat the names
to you, and to add, "Please, please." (Exit Weislingen.
To Franz, whom she stops as he crosses to follow
his master): Franz, could you get me a starling, or
would you yourself be my starling? You would learn
Franz: If you would teach me. Try. Take me with
Adelheid: No, you must serve me here. Have you
a good memory?
Franz: For your words. I remember every syllable
you spoke to me that first day at Bamberg.
Adelheid: Now, listen, Franz. I shall tell you the
names which I want you to repeat to your master, always
adding, "Please, please."
Franz (seizing her hand passionately): Please, please!
Adelheid (stepping back): Hands are not wanted.
You must lose such bad manners. But you must not be
so upset at a little rebuke. One punishes the children
Franz: You love me, then?
Adelheid: I might love you as a child, but you are
getting too tall and violent.
Scene II.—Hall at Jaxthausen. Sickingen and Goetz.
Goetz: So you want to marry a jilted woman?
Sickingen: To be deceived by him is an honour for
you both. I want a mistress for my castles and gardens.
In the field, at court, I want to stand alone.
Selbitz: Bad news! The emperor has put you under
the ban, and has sent troops to seize you.
Goetz: Sickingen, you hear. Take back your offer,
and leave me!
Sickingen: I shall not turn from you in trouble. No
better wooing than in time of war and danger.
Goetz: On one condition. You must publicly detach
yourself from me. The emperor loves and esteems you,
and your intercession may save me in the hour of need.
Sickingen: But I can secretly send you twenty horsemen.
Goetz: That offer I accept.
Scene III.—A hill with a view over a fertile country.
George and Goetz's men cross the stage, chasing
the imperial troops. Then Selbitz is carried on,
wounded, accompanied by Faud.
Selbitz: Let me rest here!—and back to your master;
back to Goetz!
Faud: Let me stay with you. I am no good below;
they have hammered my old bones till I can scarcely
move. (Exit soldiers.) Here from the wall I can
watch the fight.
Selbitz: What do you see?
Faud: Your horsemen are turning tail. I can see
Goetz's three black feathers in the midst of the turmoil.
Woe, he has fallen! And George's blue plume has disappeared!
Sickingen's horsemen in flight! Ha! I see
Goetz again! And George! Victory! Victory! They
are routed! Goetz is after them—he has seized their
flag! The fugitives are coming here! Oh! what will
they do with you?
Selbitz: Come down and draw! My sword is ready.
I'll make it hot for them, even sitting or lying down!
[Enter imperial troops. Selbitz and Faud defend themselves
until Lerse comes to their rescue, attacking
the soldiers furiously, killing some and putting
the rest to flight. Enter Goetz, George, a troop of
Selbitz: Good luck, Goetz! Victory! Victory!
How did you fare?
Goetz: To George and Lerse I owe my life; I was off
my horse when they came to the rescue. I have their
flag and a few prisoners.
Selbitz: Lerse saved me, too. See what work he has
Goetz: Good luck, Lerse! And God bless my
George's first brave deed! Now back to the castle, and
let us gather our scattered men.
Scene I.—Jaxthausen. A small room. Marie and
Sickingen: You may smile, but I felt the desire to
possess you when you first looked upon me with your
blue eyes, when you were with your mother at the Diet
of Speier. I have long been separated from you; but
that wish remained, with the memory of that glance.
Sickingen: Good luck!
Marie: Welcome, a thousand times!
Goetz: Now quickly to the chapel! I've thought it
all out, and time presses.
Scene II.—Large hall; in the background a door, leading
to the chapel. Lerse and men-at-arms. Enter
Goetz from chapel.
Goetz: How now, Lerse? The men had better be
distributed over the walls. Let them take any breastplates,
helmets, and arms they may want. Are the gates
Lerse: Yes, sir.
Goetz: Sickingen will leave us at once. You will
lead him through the lower gate, along the water, and
across the ford. Then look around you, and come back.
[Enter Sickingen, Marie, Elizabeth, from chapel.
Drums in distance announce the enemy's approach.
Goetz: May God bless you and send you merry, happy
Elizabeth: And may He let your children be like
Sickingen: I thank you, and I thank you, Marie, who
will lead me to happiness.
Goetz: A pleasant journey! Lerse will show you the
Marie: That is not what we meant. We shall not
Goetz: You must, sister! (To Sickingen) You
understand? Talk to Marie; she is your wife. Take
her to safety, and then think of me.
[Exeunt Lerse, Sickingen and Marie. Enter George.
George: They approach from all sides. I saw their
pikes glitter from the tower.
Goetz: Have the gate barricaded with beams and
[Exit George. A trumpeter is dimly heard from the
distance, requesting Goetz to surrender unconditionally.
Goetz refuses angrily, and slams the
window. Enter Lerse.
Lerse: There is plenty of powder, but bullets are
Goetz: Look round for lead! Meanwhile, we must
make the crossbows do.
[Distant shooting is heard at
intervals. Exit Goetz with crossbow.
Lerse (breaking a window and detaching the lead
from the glass): This lead has rested long enough; now
it may fly for a change.
Goetz: They have ceased firing, and offer a truce with
all sorts of signs and white rags. They will probably
ask me to surrender on knightly parole.
Lerse: I'll go and see. 'Tis best to know their mind.
[Goes out and returns shortly.
Lerse: Liberty! Liberty! Here are the conditions.
You may withdraw with arms, horses, and armour, leaving
all provisions behind. Your property will be carefully
guarded. I am to remain.
Goetz: Come, take the best arms with you, and leave
the others here! Come, Elizabeth! Through this very
gate I led you as a young bride. Who knows when we
[Exeunt Goetz and Elizabeth, followed by George.
While the men are choosing arms and preparing,
Lerse, who has heard shouting and firing without,
looks through the window.
Lerse: God! They are murdering our master! He
is off his horse! Help him!
Faud: George is still fighting. Let's go! If they die,
I don't want to live!
Scene III.—Night; anteroom in Adelheid's castle.
Weislingen, Franz, Adelheid, with a retinue of
masked and costumed revellers.
Weislingen: May I, in these moments of lightheartedness,
speak to you of serious matters? Goetz is
probably by this time in our hands. The peasants' revolt
is growing in violence; and the League has given me the
command against them. We shall start before long. I
shall take you to my castle in Franconia, where you will
be safe, and not too far from me.
Adelheid: We shall consider that. I may be useful
to you here.
Weislingen: We have not much time, for we break
Adelheid (after a pause): Very well, then; carnival
to-night, and war to-morrow!
Weislingen: You are fond of change. A pleasant
night to you!
Adelheid: I understand. You would remove me
from the court, where Charles, our emperor's great successor,
is the object of all hope? You will not change
my plans. Franz!
Franz (entering): Gracious lady!
Adelheid: Watch all the masks, and find out for me
the archduke's disguise! You look sad?
Franz: It is your will that I should languish unto
Adelheid (apart): I pity him. (To Franz) You
are true and loving; I shall not forget you!
Scene IV.—Heilbronn Town Hall. Imperial Councillor
and Magistrates, UsherS, Goetz.
Councillor: You know how you fell into our hands,
and are a prisoner at discretion?
Goetz: What will you give me to forget it?
Councillor: You gave your knightly parole to appear
and humbly to await his majesty's pleasure?
Goetz: Well, here I am, and await it!
Councillor: His majesty's mercy releases you from
the ban and all punishment, provided you subscribe to all
the articles which shall be read unto you.
Goetz: I am his majesty's faithful servant. But, before
you proceed, where are my men; what is their fate?
Councillor: That is no business of yours. Secretary,
read the articles! (Reads): I, Goetz von Berlichingen,
having lately risen in rebellion against the emperor———
Goetz: 'Tis false! I am no rebel! I refuse to listen
Councillor: And yet we have strict orders to persuade
you by fair means, or to throw you into prison.
Goetz: To prison? Me? That cannot be the emperor's
order! To promise me permission to ward myself
on parole, and then again to break your treaty.
Councillor: We owe no faith to robbers.
Goetz: If you were not the representative of my
respected sovereign, you should swallow that word, or
choke upon it!
[Councillor makes a sign, and a bell is rung. Enter
citizens with halberds and swords.
Councillor: You will not listen—seize him!
[They rush upon him. He strikes one down, and snatches
a sword from another. They stand aloof.
Goetz: Come on! I should like to become acquainted
with the bravest among you.
[A trumpet is heard without. Enter Usher.
Usher: Franz von Sickingen is without and sends
word that having heard how faith has been broken with
his brother-in-law, he insists upon justice, or within an
hour he will fire the four quarters of the town, and abandon
it to be sacked by his men.
Goetz: Brave friend!
Councillor: YOU had best dissuade your brother-in-law
from his rebellious intention. He will only become
the companion of your fall! Meanwhile, we will consider
how we can best uphold the emperor's authority.
[Exeunt all but Goetz. Enter Sickingen.
Goetz: That was help from heaven. I asked nothing
but knightly ward upon my parole.
Sickingen: They have shamefully abused the imperial
authority. I know the emperor, and have some influence
with him. I shall want your fist in an enterprise I am
preparing. Meanwhile, they will let you and your men
return to your castle upon the promise not to move beyond
its confines. And the emperor will soon call you.
Now back to the wigs! They have had time enough to
talk; let's save them the trouble!
Scene I.—Forest. Goetz and George.
Goetz: No further! Another step and I should have
broken my oath. What is that dust beyond? And that
wild mob moving towards us?
Lerse (entering): The rebel peasants. Back to the
castle! They have dealt horribly with the noblest men!
Goetz: On my own soil I shall not try to evade the
[Enter Stumpf, Kohl, Sievers, and armed peasants.
Stumpf: We come to ask you, brave Goetz, to be our
Goetz: What! Me? To break my oath? Stumpf,
I thought you were a friend! Even if I were free, and
you wanted to carry on as you did at Weinsberg, raving
and burning, and murdering, I'd rather be killed than be
Stumpf: If we had a leader of authority, such things
would not happen. The princes and all Germany would
Sievers: You must be our captain, or you will have
to defend your own skin. We give you two hours to
Goetz: Why consider? I can decide now as well as
later. Will you desist from your misdeeds, and act like
decent folk who know what they want? Then I shall
help you with your claims, and be your captain for four
weeks. Now, come!
Scene II.—Landscape, with village and castle in distance.
Goetz and George.
George: I beseech you, leave this infamous mob of
robbers and incendiaries.
Goetz: We have done some good and saved many a
convent, many a life.
George: Oh, sir, I beg you to leave them at once, before
they drag you away with them as prisoner, instead
of following you as captain! (Flames are seen rising
from the distant village.) See there! A new crime!
Goetz: That is Miltenberg. Quick, George! Prevent
the burning of the castle. I'll have nothing further to
do with the scoundrels.
George: I shall save Miltenberg, or you will not see
Goetz: Everybody blames me for the mischief, and
nobody gives me credit for having prevented so much
evil. Would I were thousands of miles away!
[Enter Sievers, Link, Metzler, peasants.
Link: Rouse yourself, captain; the enemy is near and
in great force!
Goetz: Who burnt Miltenberg?
Metzler: If you want to make a fuss, we'll soon teach
Goetz: You threaten? Scoundrel! [He knocks him
down with a blow of his fist.
Kohl: You are mad! The enemy is coming, and you
[Tumult, battle, and rout of the peasants. Then the
stage gradually fills with gypsies. Goetz returns
wounded, is recognised by the gypsies, who bandage
him, help him on to his horse, and ask him to lead
them. Soldiers enter and level their halberds at
Scene III.—Adelheid's room. Night. Adelheid.
Franz: Oh, let me stay yet a little while—here, where
I live. Without is death!
Adelheid: Already you hesitate? Then give me back
the phial. You played the hero, but you are only a boy;
A man who wooes a noble woman stakes his life, honour,
virtue, happiness! Boy, leave me!
Franz: No, you are mine. And if I get your freedom
I get my own. With a firm hand I shall pour the poison
into my master's cup. Farewell.
[He embraces her and hurries away.
Scene IV.—Rustic garden. Marie sleeping in an arbour.
Lerse: Gracious lady, awake! We must away.
Goetz captured as a rebel and thrown into a dungeon!
His age! His wounds!
Marie: We must hurry to Weislingen. Only dire
necessity can drive me to this step. Saving my brother's
life I go to death. I shall kneel to him, weep before him.
Scene V.—Weislingen's hall.
Weislingen: A wretched fever has dried my very
marrow. No rest for me, day or night! Goetz haunts
my very dreams. He is a prisoner, and yet I tremble
before him. (Enter Marie.) Oh, heaven! Marie's
spirit, to tell me of her death!
Marie: Weislingen, I am no spirit. I have come to
beg of you my brother's life.
Weislingen: Marie! You, angel of heaven, bring
with you the tortures of hell. The breath of death is
upon me, and you come to throw me into despair!
Marie: My brother is ill in prison. His wounds—his
Weislingen: Enough. Franz! (Enter Franz in
great excitement.) The papers there! (Franz hands
him a sealed packet.) Here is your brother's death-warrant;
and thus I tear it. He lives. Do not weep,
Franz; there's hope for the living.
Franz: You cannot, you must die! Poison from your
wife. [Rushes to the window, and throws himself out
into the river.
Weislingen: Woe to me! Poison from my wife!
Franz seduced by the infamous woman! I am dying;
and in my agony throb the tortures of hell.
Marie (kneeling): Merciful God, have pity on him!
Scene VI.—A small garden outside the prison, Goetz,
Elizabeth, Lerse, and prison-keeper.
Goetz: Almighty God! How lovely is it beneath
Thy heaven! Farewell, my children! My roots are cut
away, my strength totters to the grave. Let me see
George once more, and sun myself in his look. You turn
away and weep? He is dead! Then die, Goetz! How
did he die? Alas! they took him among the incendiaries,
and he has been executed?
Elizabeth: No, he was slain at Miltenberg, fighting
like a lion.
Goetz: God be praised! Now release my soul! My
poor wife! I leave you in a wicked world. Lerse, forsake
her not! Blessings upon Marie and her husband.
Selbitz is dead, and the good emperor, and my George.
Give me some water! Heavenly air! Freedom!
Elizabeth: Freedom is only above—with thee; the
world is a prison.
Lerse: Noble man! Woe to this age that rejected
thee! Woe to the future that shall misjudge thee!