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Ulrich Ensingen

Architect, participated in the construction of the most important Gothic buildings of the fifteenth century

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Ensingen (ENSINGER), ULRICH, belonged to a family of architects who came from Einsingen near Ulm, Würtemberg, and who shared as master-builders in the construction of the most important Gothic buildings of the fifteenth century in Southern Germany. Ulrich, the founder of the family, is known from the year 1391; d. at Strasburg, February 10, 1419. Apparently he learned his craft in the stonemason’s guild of Ulm, and was also, perhaps, a pupil of Master Heinrich the Younger of Ulm. In 1391 he was asked to take charge of the work on the Milan cathedral, but he seems at that time to have stayed in Ulm, where he was architect of the cathedral until his death. At first his engagement at Ulm was for five years only, but in 1397 he was appointed master architect for life. Ulrich completed the choir, began the nave, and made the ground-plan of the tower. In 1394-95 he worked on the cathedral of Milan, but, disagreeing with the Duke of Milan as to questions of artistic detail, he went back to Ulm. His connection with the work on the Strasburg cathedral, however, lasted longer; at Strasburg he was master-builder during 1399-1419 and built the north tower from the platform to the great window. At the same time he completed the nave and the lower part of the tower of the church of Our Lady at Esslingen. Besides two daughters Ulrich had three sons; his sons all followed the calling of their father. At first they used Ulrich’s official title Kirchenmeister as a family name, but later adopted that of Ensingen (Ensinger).

(2) CASPAR ENSINGEN was the oldest son; very little is known of him.

(3) MATTHIAS ENSINGEN, another son, d. 1438. There is evidence that he was employed on the Ulm cathedral from 1427 and at Esslingen during 1436-38.

(4) MATTHÄUS ENSINGEN, the youngest and most gifted son, can be traced during the years 1420-1463. In 1420 he worked at Strasburg; in the same year he was appointed master-builder for the work on the minster at Berne. The cornerstone of this was laid in 1421, and Mattähus conducted the work until 1449. In addition he had his father’s position as architect at Esslingen (1419-1463). It can be proved that he was engaged on the cathedral of Ulm from 1446, but it was not until 1451 that he had charge of its construction as master-builder; before this last appointment he worked (1449-51) on the cathedral at Strasburg without occupying any well-defined position. On the Ulm cathedral he completed the vaulting of the choir and built the tower as high as the nave. During his last years he was for a short time again at Berne.

(5) VINCENZ ENSINGEN, son of Matthäus, employed at Berne from 1448; during 1462-85 he worked at Constance, and in 1472 he built the small cloister at Basle.



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