The Mystery of Götz von Stettenberg alias Schätzlein

Coat of arms featuring an incense container

There are numerous documents from the Helmstadt area that mention a knight called Götz von Stettenberg. He had various possessions in the area, and served as arbiter and judge in disputes and legal cases. What is striking about him is that in the surviving documents, he is often referred to as “Götz von Stettenberg, genannt Schätzlein” (= “Götz von Stettenberg, alias Schätzlein”). The question is – where did this alias come from if he was not a Schätzlein himself?

It is not exactly easy to answer this question, as “Götz” was a dynastical first name, which means that there are plenty of Götzes von Stettenberg throughout history, making research of a particular person from that family difficult. In the following text, I will outline a few mentionings of them. What we do know is that our Götz von Stettenberg was born into the family von Stettenberg, which had its seat on the Stettenburg (Stetten castle) near Volkach (today a ruin) and later on on the Gamburg (Gam castle).

The first mentioning of a Götz von Stettenberg is in 1353, when his and Friedrich von Stettenberg’s seals appear on a document by Götz von Rieneck.

In 1382, a Götz von Stettenberg joined the Teutonic Order in the town of Bad Mergentheim, which centuries later would become the seat of the Order. He rose in their ranks, and in 1402, he is mentioned as the Komtur (Knight Commander) of the Teutonic Order’s commandry in Schlochau, today’s Człuchów in Poland.

[…] Bruder Götze Stettberger Huskompthur tzu Slochaw […] ([…] brother Götze Stettberger, Lord Commander of the commandry in Człuchów […])
Seal of Götz von Stettenberg alias Schätzlein, featuring the coat of arms

In fact, upon their initiation to the Teutonic Order, knights used to submit family trees to the Order, many of which can be found in the central archive of the Teutonic Order in Vienna today. Evidence that Götz submitted his tree in 1382 exists – however, when I inquired with the archive, they told me that only the envelope remains, and that the document itself has been lost or stolen. After 1402, he vanishes from the records, either dying from old age or various diseases or as a result of the Battle of Grunwald in 1410, which effectively broke the back of the Teutonic Order.

“Our” Götz von Stettenberg alias Schätzlein was mentioned in 1458 and 1471 in the function of a judge, as evidenced by various documents. The question of how he came to that alias remains unsolved. The only detail about his family we have is that he had a daughter named Else, who also took on the name of Schetzlein/Schetzler. She ended up marrying Hans Fuchs von Kannenberg. By 1476, she was already a widow, as evidenced by this document.

Thus, this question remains a mystery.