Friday 18 September 2020

Gotz von Berlichingen (Germany, 1980)

First, let’s note that Gotz lived to be 82 years old back in the 16th century, which is a feat worthy of applause if not a postage stamp. Also that he had a natty line in gold shoulder pads… So who was he?

Are you ready?

Gotz was a German Imperial Knight, mercenary and poet, at a time when those things were not incompatible. He was also known as Gotz Of The Iron Hand, which suggests he focused more on the military stuff than on the versifying. His military career lasted 47 years and included assorted national and regional conflicts and – by his own account – 15 feuds. At the age of 24, he lost a hand in battle and had it replaced by a prosthesis (aah, hence the Iron Hand), and the Iron Hand or Iron Fist became a regular symbol for assorted German military and naval units even until the Second World War.

Gotz married twice, had ten children, had a play written about him by Goethe some centuries later and may have originated the phrase “lick [or kiss] my ass”. He wrote a memoir which I am absolutely going to seek out because he sounds like an utter badass.

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