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Summary Article: Pirckheimer, Willibald from The Hutchinson Unabridged Encyclopedia with Atlas and Weather Guide

German book-collector and humanist. His own writings included translations from Greek into Latin, and from both classical languages into German. He also wrote Bellum Helveticum/The Swiss War (not published until 1610), a vivid account of his experiences in a military campaign in 1499. A renowned figure in German humanist circles, he was a correspondent of Erasmus (they did not, however, meet) and also knew Philip Melanchthon: in the early 1520s, he tended towards support of the Lutherans but later, like Erasmus, wrote against them (De Vera Christi Carne/On Christ's True Body, 1527).

Pirckheimer was born at Eichstätt into a wealthy Nuremberg commercial family with scholarly interests. He was sent to Padua and Pavia to study law, but showed more interest in Greek, philosophy, and the sciences. From his return in 1495 until 1523 he was a Nuremberg city councillor, and he led a contingent from Nuremberg in the Swiss war of 1499.

At the request of Emperor Maximilian I, he translated the Hieroglyphica of the Egyptian Horapollo from Greek into Latin, which provided inspiration for the two monumental woodcut celebrations of the Emperor (Ehrenpforte/Triumphal Arch, 1517; Triumphzug/Triumph, 1526) for which some of the illustrations were provided by Pirckheimer's friend Albrecht Dürer. It was probably through Pirckheimer that Dürer was introduced to the Emperor. Pirckheimer himself, in recognition of this and other imperial commissions, was an imperial councillor from 1514. His wealth enabled him to build up one of the largest private libraries in Germany, to collect ancient coins, and to hold open house for other scholars.

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