Herkinbald killing his nephew

ALDEGREVER, Heinrich (Padeborn 1502 - c. 1555).
Herkinbald killing his nephew.
Engraving, 1553
112x77 mm.
Signed with monogram and dated on a tablet at lower left. Lettered at upper left: 'Pater nepus suam mortem, filius de generas, male periret, eum obtruncavit'.

Bartsch VIII.388.73
New Hollstein 73

More details

  This engraving by Heinrich Aldegrever depicts the legend of Herkinbald, a righteous man who (while on his deathbed) murdered his nephew by cutting his throat because the nephew had violated a woman. This legend is significant to the Christian tradition: his bishop denied Herkinbald the last sacrament of Holy Communion after he refused to confess the murder of his nephew. However, Herkinbald miraculously then received the sacramental bread directly on his tongue before dying, signifying that the justness of his nephew’s killing was acknowledged by God. It is possible that Protestant viewers in northern Europe at this time would have seen themselves in the role of Herkinbald believing their break from the Church in Rome would likewise be deemed righteous by God.