Hans Stadens «Wahrhaftige Historia» (1557) als protestantische Erbauungserzählung und Beispiel lebensbezogener Lutherrezeption
Both ethnohistorians and literary theorists currently discuss Hans Staden’s ‘Wahrhaftige Historia’ (True Story and Description of a Country of Wild, Naked, Grim, Man-eating People in the New World, America), which was first published in 1557. Whereas some anthropologists claim the ‘Wahrhaftige Historia’ as a reliable source on Brazil’s indigenous population, others read Staden’s description of cannibalism as fictional construction in order to engage a wider readership. The author of this treatise will read the ‘Wahrhaftige Historia’ as a piece of Protestant devotional and edificatory literature emerging from Staden’s personal experience and his reception of the teachings of Martin Luther. From this perspective, the question of whether Staden’s narrative can be regarded as a reliable source for cultural anthropologists is one of secondary importance. Furthermore, 16th century travel accounts always allow for exaggeration of events based on new experiences. Instead, this paper outlines an approach to Staden’s ‘Wahrhaftige Historia’ as an expression of Lutheran belief, reading it as a typical narrative of conversion in which Staden, the convert, presents himself as a prime example of Lutheran belief – even though, of course, Staden’s conversion to Lutheran teachings already takes place prior to his arrival in Brazil.
For his second voyage to the Americas, Staden, an experienced gunner who had already served during the Wars of Schmalkalden, joins a Spanish crew bound for Asunción in Paraguay. But the Spanish fleet of three vessels gets shipwrecked off the South Brazilian coast and Staden finally joins the Portuguese forces at...
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