MoSho’s Badass of the Week- The ‘Iron Hand Götz’ von Berlichingen
Our badass of the week is a man who was a knight, a mercenary who had a partial iron arm. He also came up with the saying "kiss my ass." Baddass.
We're taking a look at Ben Thompson's book "Badass" and finding some of our favorite badasses in history. A few months ago, we discovered an amazing website Badass of the Week. The creator, Ben Thompson, founded the site so others could learn about various badass men and women in history. The site has been around since 2004 and Thompson has written several books on the subject of Badasses through history, as well as the Guts and Glory series of books. Both series look at various types of heroes and villains throughout history. While reading these books, we've found interesting facts, stories and people that we believe should be highlighted so you know more about them.
From Game of Thrones, we’ve all heard of the Iron Throne, and the Hand of the King, but how about the Iron Hand? For this week’s installment for Badass of the Week, we’re talking about Gotz von Berlichingen, one of the middle ages toughest knights who came up with a phrase we still say to this day. Berlichingen had a shockingly long military career, a whopping 47 years and was known as Germany’s Robin Hood. He was born into a wealthy family and enlisted into the army when he was 17 years old and fought in various battles before leaving at 20 years old to start his own mercenary army. Berlichingen was hired by the Duke of Bavaria and at the Battle of Landshut he uttered a saying we all have heard. While defending the castle, the besieging army demanded their surrendered to which he said in German “leck mich am arsch,” which translates to “lick my a**.” The exact wording got lost in translation and now the more well known version is “kiss my a**.”
He also lost his right arm from below the elbow when he was hit by a cannonball. Most knights would have thrown in the towel and retired from fighting but not Berlichingen. He hired various blacksmiths and engineers to create a prosthetic arm made out of iron that he could use. There were two versions of his prosthetic arm but most know his second version which had levers and springs. That arm allowed the knight to do everything from wielding a sword, ride a horse, play cards and even sign his name.
Gotz spent the next decade fighting for various nobles in at least 15 feuds and even upset Emperor Maximilian I after he raided a group of merchants during one of these feuds. The emperor stripped awake his rank of nobility for a few years until Gotz paid a hefty fine. After that, he upset the emperor again but this time for kidnapping a nobleman for ransom. By this time he had a reputation of upsetting the nobility (obviously) and decided to take it even farther by participating in the Peasant’s War, a rebellion by commoners against the nobility. The rebellion was easily snuffed out but because of Gotz’s noble blood, the emperor allowed him to plead his case. He told the emperor he only led the rebels to try to restrain the fighters and help suppress the casualties of the war. When he realized he wouldn’t be able to control them, he abandoned his role in the Peasant’s War. The emperor believed him and after paying a hefty fine was allowed to go back to his castle to live in peace.
A peaceful life wasn’t something Gotz was used to and quickly found himself heading back out in search of adventure and war. He joined Emperor Charles V to fight the Turks in Hungary then headed off with the Holy Roman Empire, according to Military History Now. But after that, his age started getting to him and he was forced to retire for real this time. He lived the next 16 years in peace until his death in 1560.