Friday, December 30, 2011

Cyriacus Schlichtenberger

Recently I've been interested in the succession of best-selling prophetic pamphlets in the sixteenth century. A good example of what I mean is Josef Grünpeck's Prognosticum, a brief work of a few leaves that went through nine editions in at least six different cities in the space of one year. For the first half of the sixteenth century, I'm familiar with all the authors whose works experience a similarly sudden popularity from my research for Printing and Prophecy: Lichtenberger, Carion, Virdung, Paracelsus, Pürstinger, and Grünpeck. In the second half of the century, however, the best sellers are from an entirely different set of authors: Wilhelm Friess, Paul Severus, Nikolaus Weise, Georg Ursinus, Johann Hilten, Gregor Jordan, and Cyriacus Schlichtenberger.

I had been able to at least look at the texts from all of these except Cyriacus Schlichtenberger, for which no facsimile was available - until earlier this week. The Bayerische Staatsbibliothek just digitized a copy of VD16 S 2999.

At first glance, I'm not quite sure I get this one. The text is precisely what the title promises: The report of a simple farmer's daughter who awakens at her own burial and tells about her post-death experiences before she dies again five days later. The signed editions are all from northern Germany rather than the usual major printing cities in southern Germany, so I may be missing something obvious.

Volker Leppin's Antichrist und jüngster Tag mentions Schlichtenberger several times, but notes that the alleged location in "Melwing" is not easily locatable on any map. One possibility that a quick search of Google Books suggests is that this is Elbing, now the Polish town of Elbląg.

* * *

The winter semester starts next week, and I'll be at MLA for a few days, so posting may be light for a bit.

Friday, December 23, 2011

1570, 1580, 1590, and counting

Earlier I mentioned a prophetic list of events for the years 1570-80 that turns up in various forms all over Europe as late as the nineteenth century. All the attestations I found at first were modern editions, mostly of manuscript sources. I still don't know what the prophecy is called, or remember where I first saw it, but I have now come across some printed sources.
  • It shows up as part of the prophecy of Gregor Jordan (itself an unresolved puzzle) in 1591, with predictions for 1591-1600. The BSB has a facsimile (of VD16 ZV 6626) here.
  • It also appears as Eine merckwürdige Prophezeyung / Welche zu Neapolis in eines Benedictiner-Münchs-Grabe in einer bleyern Capsel gefunden worden, published in 1697, with predictions for 1646-1990 in Latin with German translation. A facsimile of this edition, VD17 3:609742P, is available here.
  • A note in a nineteenth-century auction catalog suggests that the prophecy was included in Georg Ursinus's 1576 work on eclipses, VD16 ZV 21550, but I haven't seen a copy.

Friday, December 9, 2011

I am fairly certain that Nikolaus Wyse does not exist

Recently I've needed to untangle the works of Nikolaus Weise, who published several astrological prognostications for various periods. Some of these are clearly the same work, although later editions might drop the prognostications for years that had already passed, while some are clearly different texts, even though they may offer a prognostication for the same year.

Weise's most popular work is the Prognosticon astrologicum von dem 1572. bis auf das 1588. Jahr (VD16 W 1568-1575, ZV 18184, 18185, 18260, and W 4700), with ten editions of 1571-72. There are also an eleventh edition of 1573 with prognostications for 1573-88, and a twelfth of 1578 with prognostications for 1578-88. These later editions omit the earlier years, but they include the same dedicatory epistle "An den Christlichen Leser" and the same prognostications for each year, including the quatrain on 1588.

Between 1579 and 1582, Weise's Prognosticon astrologicum was reprinted nine more times in combination with a similar work by Georg Ursinus as Zwo Practiken vom 1580. Jahr bis man schreiben wird 1600. Jahr (VD16 U 267-271, U 273 [and I'd really like to see a copy of U 272, which is supposedly only the prognostication of Ursinus], ZV 18165, 21551, 23699 [VD16 omits Weise's authorship from ZV 21551 and 23699, but based on the titles I think it's almost certain that it contains the same texts as the others]). So altogether 21 editions, which makes it one of the most popular astrological works of the later sixteenth century.

Weise's other prognostications are different works. These include a comet tract of 1575 (VD16 W 1563), but also prognostications for 1574-78 and 1575-80, which are not extracts from the Prognosticon astrologicum or related to each other. There are two editions of a Judicium astrologicum, one for 1574-78 and a later edition for 1577-78 (VD16 W 1565 and 1564, respectively), which begin with a dedicatory epistle to the mayor and city council of Dresden. (I'm not as certain of the identity of these two, and I'd want to check the copy of W 1564 in Wolfenbüttel to be sure.) There are also two editions of a Prognosticon for 1575-80 (VD16 W 1566, 1567), whose dedicatory epistle begins with an appellation to the "Gunstiger lieber Leser." A quick look at the overlapping years in the three prognostic works finds that Weise is considering the same astronomical facts and drawing similar conclusions, but writing three entirely different texts.

I'm counting one edition of the Prognosticon astrologicum (VD16 4700) that VD16 does not attribute to Nikolaus Weise, but instead to Nikolaus Wyse. Wyse's only known work has the following title:
PROGNOSTICON Astrologicum. Van dem 1572. Jare beth vp dat 1588. Jaer warende / darinne gründtlyken vnde gewiß angetöget werdt / wat sick yn bauen gemelden Jaren / thokamende / begeuen vnde thodragen verde ... beschreuen / Dörch Nicolaum VVysen, Mathematicum.
According to VD16, this edition bears the following note:
Erstlyken tho Dreßden Gerücket [I assume Getrücket] / Vnde nu yn vnse Sassesche Sprake gebröcht
There are two Dresden editions of Weise's work. The full title of one (VD16 W 1570) is
PROGNOSTICON || ASTROLOGICVM. Von dem 1572. bis auff das 1588. Jahr wehrende / Darinnen gründtlichen vnd gewis angezeiget wird / was sich in obgemelten Jaren künfftig begeben vnd zutragen werde / alles mit hohem fleis zu trewer warnung gerechnet vnd beschrieben. Durch Nicolaum Weysen / Mathematicum.
So I see two possibilities. Either Nikolaus Weise and Nikolaus Wyse are the same person, or by an amazing coincidence an otherwise unknown author, whose name is the Low German equivalent of Weise's, also published a work in Dresden whose title was the same as Weise's, and then in Lübeck with a title that is the Low German equivalent of Weise's original title.

I haven't been to the Lüneburg Ratsbücherei to see this edition for myself, so perhaps I'm mistaken about this, but I'm pretty sure that Nikolaus Wyse and Nikolaus Weise are the same person.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Research links I need to know about: Forschungsdokumentation Handschriften

Clemens Radl sent me a link to the Forschungsdokumentation Handschriften of the Bayerische Staatsbibliothek, a database that records scholarly books and articles that discuss manuscripts and early printed books in the BSB's collection. I had heard about this database while I was doing research in Munich in 2008, but my first few tries to find the link to it on the BSB website ended in failure. Now that I know where to find it, I agree with Clemens: "A very valuable, but probably not well known database." I recommend reading through the concise Hinweise zur Recherch, which explains what information each field indexes.

Friday, December 2, 2011

By way of comparison

When discussing an early modern pamphlet, I'll often refer to the work's "popularity," but the question always has to be: Popular compared to what? In Printing and Prophecy, I usually focused on the most popular prophetic pamphlets - that is, compared to other prophecies. But how popular were prophecies, relatively speaking?

It might be useful to compare a few quick searches in VD16 for works of acknowledged cultural significance. (These are quick searches, so I'm undoubtedly missing some editions, particularly later editions that compile shorter works.)
Martin Luther, Ein Sendbrief vom Dolmetschen: 6 editions (1530)
Martin Luther, Von der Freiheit eines Christenmenschen: 8 editions (1520-64)
Martin Luther, De captivitate Babylonica ecclesiae praeludium: 12 editions (1520-24)
This is not at all to say that Johann Carion (30 editions of the Bedeutnus und Offenbarung between 1526 and 1548) or Johannes Lichtenberger (31 editions of the Prognosticatio in Germany from 1521 to 1587) were as influential as Luther. Far from it - there are hundreds of editions of Luther's catechisms, for example. But some prophetic tracts were reprinted in enough editions that one has to consider more than just their relative popularity.