Above the village are the ruins of the castle of Rheingrafenstein (12th century), formerly a seat of the count palatine of the Rhine, which was destroyed by the French in 1689, and those of the castle of Ebernburg, the ancestral seat of the lords of Sickingen, and the birthplace of Franz von Sickingen, the famous landsknecht captain and protector of Ulrich von Hutten, to whom a monument was erected on the slope near the ruins in 1889.
Among the most famous were the expedition undertaken by Diego de Ordaz, whose lieutenant Martinez claimed to have been rescued from shipwreck, conveyed inland, and entertained at Omoa by "El Dorado" himself (1531); and the journeys of Orellana (1540-1541), who passed down the Rio Napo to the valley of the Amazon; that of Philip von Hutten (1541-1545), who led an exploring party from Coro on the coast of Caracas; and of Gonzalo Ximenes de Quesada (1569), who started from Santa Fe de Bogota.
The De Ecclesia was published by Ulrich von Hutten in 1520; other controversial writings by Otto Brumfels in 1524; and Luther wrote an interesting preface to Epistolae Quaedam, which were published in 1537.
If Luther, who above all others had the religious issue ever before him, attacks the Church as a source of worldly disorder, it is not surprising that his contemporary Ulrich von Hutten should take a purely secular view of the issues involved.
The common man, to whom the diet of Augsburg alludes, had, long been raising his voice against the " parsons " (Pfaffen); the men of letters, Brand, Erasmus, Reuchlin, and above all Ulrich von Hutten, contributed, each in their way, to discredit the Roman Curia; and lastly, a new type of theology, represented chiefly by Martin Luther, threatened to sweep away the very foundations of the papal monarchy.
Johann Reuchlin, a well-known scholar, who had been charged by the Dominicans with heresy, not only received the support of the newer type of scholars, who wrote him encouraging letters which he published under the title Epistolae clarorum virorum, but this collection suggested to Crotus Rubianus and Ulrich von Hutten one of the most successful satires of the ages, the Epistolae obscurorum virorum.
At the same time that the Neo-Platonists, like Ficino and Pico de la Mirandola, and the pantheists, whose God was little more than a reverential conception of the universe at large, and the purely worldly humanists, like Celtes and Bebel, were widely diverging each by his own particular path from the ecclesiastical Weltanschauung of the middle ages, Ulrich von Hutten was busy attacking the Curia in his witty Dialogues, in the name of German patriotism.
It had all been said before in the various protests of which we have spoken, and very recently by Ulrich von Hutten in his Dialogues, but no one had put the case so strongly, or so clearly, before.
Among Luthers friends was one, Ulrich von Hutten, at once penetrated with the spirit of the Renaissance and emphatically a man of action.
The class to which Hutten and his friend, Franz von Sickingen, a daring and ambitious Rhenish baron, belonged, was that of the small feudal tenants in chief, the Ritterschaft or knights of the Empire.
They were intensely jealous of the princes, and it occurred to Hutten and Sickingen that the Reformation might be used to improve the condition of the knights and to effect a total change in the constitution of the Empire.
A few weeks later Hutten died on an island in the lake of Zurich.
Reuchlin was no less learned than Pico; Melanchthon no less humane than Ficino; Erasmus no less witty, and far more trenchant, than Petrarch; Ulrich von Hutten no less humorous than Folengo; Paracelsus no less fantastically learned than Cardano.
He forgot his political disappointments in the production of a series of biographical works, which secured for him a permanent place in German literature (Schubarts Leben, 2 vols., 1849; Christian Meirklin, 1851; Nikodemus Frischlin, 1855; Ulrich von Hutten, 3 vols., 1858-1860, 6th ed.