Friday, January 27, 2012


Although Johannes de Rupescissa was one of the most influential prophetic figures and transmitters of Joachite ideas during the later Middle Ages, I barely mention him in Printing and Prophecy because his prophetic works were not printed. I've recently discovered, however, that Rupescissa's 1356 Vademecum in tribulatione is the principle source for the End Time narrative in the first version of "Wilhelm Friess."

It would be nice to know what the German reception of Rupescissa looked like in the sixteenth cetury, but Hubert Herkommer points out in his Verfasserlexikon article that this is still an unexplored area, and I don't know of any publications since Herkommer's article to change that. Apart from the few German manuscripts of the Vademecum listed by Herkommer, there are at a minimum excerpts from Matthias Flacius and Wolfgang Lazius.

And for the Vademecum, the text itself is difficult to find. The only printed edition of the Vademecum, and the edition still used for citation, was printed over 300 years ago in Edward Brown's second volume of the Fasciculus rerum expetendarum et fugiendarum. There is, fortunately, a digital facsimile from the Bayerische Staatsbibliothek, but in some ways it makes the lack of a reliable critical edition all the more apparent. In the margins of Brown's volume, the editor adds several marginal comments about the poor state of the manuscript and the inadequacy of the assistant who transcribed it. For example (my rough translations):
Something is missing, or badly written.
All of these things are confused, partly because of the scribe's flaws, and partly because of the author's faulty discernment and coarse ignorance.

We are torn between the variants(?) and the scribe's ineptitude.

Here again, Crashaw's copyist went badly astray in transcribing, as the sense of the transcription is not consistent.

The text is miserably corrupted here because of the egregious copyist or the ignorant transcriber: If anyone can make sense of these mangled words, well and good. Reader, take note of how much damage authors suffer when foolish copyists who don't know how to read old manuscripts agree to transcribe their works. The sweetest music of the ass upon the lyre!
If you have access to Early English Books Online, a different facsimile in similar quality is available here.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Matthias Flacius Illyricus (updated)

UPDATE: Link fixed, and Clemens Radl provides links to another digital facsimile of the 1556 edition from the Uni Mannheim's CAMENA project, and to a facsimile of the 1562 edition from the Bayerische Staatsbibliothek. Thanks!

* * *

Recently I've been reading Martina Hartmann's Humanismus und Kirchenkritik: Matthias Flacius Illyricus als Erforscher des Mittelalters (Stuttgart: Thorbecke, 2001). It's an excellent overview of the life of a fascinating Reformation figure and one of his principle works, the Catalogus testium veritatis of 1556. Hartmann convincingly argues that Flacius was not just a tireless Lutheran combatant in sixteenth-century confessional battles, but also one of the founders of scholarly engagement with medieval ecclesiastic history. The model of history that Flacius helped found, in which the Middle Ages were characterized by papal oppression, while persecuted heretics and fifteenth-century developments were precursors to the Reformation, influenced historians well into the twentieth century.

Hartmann shows that Flacius, as the first editor of Otfrid von Weißenburg's Evangelienharmonie and the Latin preface to the Heliand, also made important contributions to the prehistory of German Studies. Usually the foundations of the discipline are seen no earlier than the late eighteenth century, a good two hundred years later than Flacius.

I had been aware that the Catalogus testium veritatis contained references to medieval and early modern prophecies, but I had never been able to consult a copy, and when I last checked, no digital edition was available. But now the Herzog August Bibliothek in Wolfenbüttel has digitized a copy, and its contents are quite interesting. Flacius provided short descriptions of Joachim of Fiore, Birgitta of Sweden, Savonarola, Hildegard of Bingen, Johannes de Rupescissa, Johann Hilten, Johannes Wunschelberg (and, in the second edition of 1562, the prophecy of Gamaleon), Mechthild, pseudo-Methodius and Wolfgang Aytinger, Andreas Osiander's edition of the Vaticinia de summis pontificibus, sybilline prophecies, Joseph Grünpeck (as the "Speculum visionis"), Vincent Ferrer, and Dietrich von Zengg/Theodericus Croata, among others. Now I wish that I could consult a copy of the expanded second edition of 1562 (VD16 F 1294) and the German translation of 1573 (VD16 F 1295).

Friday, January 13, 2012

MLA 2012 for medievalists

The annual convention of the Modern Language Association is the central meeting for North American scholars in all fields of literary studies each year, and sometimes a frustrating event for medievalists in German studies. Both SGRABL and the MLA division on German literature to 1700 sponsor relevant sessions, but the result is often three interesting sessions scheduled at the same time, as often as not just when you have another conflicting event, followed by hours with nothing that really appeals to you. Which is just as well - at some point, you have to find time to look through the book exhibit.

But it's always interesting to see what your colleagues are working on, and there were several great papers this year. Since I couldn't make it to all the sessions I wanted to see, I'll only mention one paper that I particularly enjoyed:
  • "Difficulties in Paratext, Relief in Translation: History and Fiction in Early Modern (German) Novels," Jan Hon, Ludwig Maximilian Univ.
Jan's paper examined the historical development of paratexts in Melusine in Czech translation. Gérard Gennete's concept of paratext has become critical for the study of early printing, but Genette's discussion of historical development is not very useful, so we need more work like Jan Hon's. His dissertation sounds like a very interesting project. Now I wish I had gotten to the conference early enough to catch the first session where he spoke, which had several papers I would have liked to see, but the semester has started and classes needed to be taught.