Friday, December 20, 2013

Augsburg SuStB going digital?

Update: Whoa. Nikolaus Weichselbaumer added a comment: "Augsburg SuStB has been taken over by the Bavarian state from the city of Augsburg in late 2012. Since then they have reorganized and created a better equipped digitization department that – as far as I know – is now working its way through their rare books collection. There probably won't be a wave, but a I expect a steady buildup of digital editions from SuStB." That's about as surprising and momentous as it gets in the world of old book digitization projects.

 * * *

Here's a surprise: The BSB recently released digital editions of late medieval manuscripts from the Augsburg Staats- und Stadtbibliothek. As I observed earlier, Augsburg seems to have a collection rich in unique items, but it remains stubbornly offline. I'm not expecting a wave of digital facsimiles anytime soon, but maybe we can hope for more to follow from this initial effort.

Here are the two most recent additions:

Ulrich Schriber: Historienbibel. SuStB Augsburg 2 Cod 50 (Cim 74).
Der Heiligen Leben, Sommerteil. SuStB Augsburg 2 Cod 154.

At the moment, I find a total of nine Augsburg manuscripts listed in the BSB WebOPAC (searching for "SuStB Augsburg cod," but without quotes), and the online catalog does not link to the digital editions. It's a small but very welcome first step.

Friday, December 13, 2013

Totentanz (updated)

Update 18 March 2014: Link to a new facsimile added (VD16 T 1660)
Update 14 March 2014: One new edition added (VD16 Z 710). 

Update 13 December 2013: I've added links to newly available facsimiles and expanded the bibliography. It occurs to me that the Totentanz is another genre with a continuous transmission from the late Middle Ages into the modern period, and examples of the genre have quite a bit to say about the structure of society. It would be interesting to compare the pre- and post-Reformation Totentanz and observe how the text is treated over time.

 * * *

One of the works that I find very useful for teaching the later Middle Ages is the Dance of Death. The Totentanz in its various versions has a double payoff: it illustrates late medieval attitudes towards death, and it provides a graphic overview of the structure of late medieval society. In manuscript and print (not to mention a number of famous murals), the tradition lasts more than two centuries, so there are numerous possibilities for student papers. Best of all, several different versions of the Totentanz are now available online. The next time I teach the medieval to early modern course, we're going to spend some more time on the Totentanz, and I'll make it a required paper. Here's a first attempt at a bibliography.

Friday, December 6, 2013

Johannes Virdung online (updated)

Update  6 December 2013: Several new editions of Virdung's works have recently come online, particularly from the Österreichische Nationalbibliothek and the Landesbibliothek Coburg, so I'm updating this post. I've also added a section for Virdung's works on apocalyptic themes, including his prognostication on a false prophet for 1503, on the Antichrist for 1525, and his 1512 invective against the Persian astrologer Lucas (actually a late appearance of the "Toledo Letter"; see Gerd Mentgen, Astrologie und Öffentlichkeit im Mittelater, 114-16). The Latin and German editions of 1512 have still not been digitized, but the work was included in Goldast's Politica imperialia of 1614, which is available.

* * *

New online this week from dilibri, the digitalization portal for Rheinland-Pfalz, is Johannes Virdung's practica for 1534. My argument in Printing and Prophecy (and in expanded form in an upcoming AGB article) is that Virdung, even more than Wenzel Faber von Budweis, helped create the characteristic form of the German annual astrological prognostication that stayed quite stable for many decades. The Bayerische Staatsbibliothek has digitized quite a few of Virdung's Latin practicas of the 1490s, the crucial period for the genre's development, but few of the German practicas that are most important for driving the developement, and the later practicas are much more sparsely represented online. Only some of Virdung's numerous other works are available. At the moment, I find:

Almanacs and calendars
Almanach, 1492 [Latin]. ISTC iv00301000, GW M50705
Almanac for Heidelberg, 1498 [German]. ISTC iv00302000, GW M50711

Incunable practicas
Prognosticon 1491 [Latin].  ISTC iv00302055, GW M507162
Prognosticon 1491, for Leipzig [German]. ISTC iv00302050, GW M5072210
Prognosticon 1492, for Leipzig [Latin]. ISTC iv00302120, GW M50725
Prognosticon 1492 [Low German].  ISTC iv00302200, GW M50728
Prognosticon 1493, for Leipzig [Latin]. ISTC iv00302215, GW M50732
Prognosticon 1495 [Latin]. ISTC iv00302240, GW M50737
Prognosticon 1497 [Latin]. ISTC iv00302257, GW M50742
Prognosticon 1497 [German].  ISTC iv00302259, GW M50745
Prognosticon 1498 [Latin].  ISTC iv00302264, GW M50748
Prognosticon 1500 [German]. ISTC iv00302270, GW M50750

Postincunable practicas
Practica for 1511. VD16 ZV 15221
Practica for 1523. VD16 V 1280
Practica for 1526. VD16 V 1284

Practica for 1531. VD16 V 1290
Practica for 1534. VD16 V 1292
Practica for 1537. VD16 V 1294

Comet prognostications
Comet 1506. VD16 V 1259
Comet 1506. VD16 V 1260
Comet 1531. VD16 V 1255
Comet 1532. VD16 V 1254

Lunar signs 1514. VD16 V 1263
Lunar signs 1514VD16 V 1264
Eclipse prognostication 1513. VD16 V 1317
Eclipse prognostication 1519. VD16 V 1315
Nova medicinae methodus (1532). VD16 V 1267 
Nova medicinae methodus (1533). VD16 V 1268
De cognoscendis et medendis morbis ex corporum coelestium positione libri IV (Venice 1584).

Prognostication on the conjunctions of 1524
[Landshut: Johann Weißenburger], 1521 [Latin]. VD16 V 1303
Oppenheim: [Jakob Köbel, 1521]. VD16 V 1304
[Cracow: Vietor], 1522 [Latin].
Oppenheim: [Jakob Köbel, 1522]. VD16 V 1305
[Augsburg : Melchior Ramminger], 1523. With prognostication of Sebastian Ranßmar. VD16 V 1306/R 211
Oppenheim: [Jakob Köbel, 1523. VD16 V 1310
[Augsburg: Heinrich Steiner 1542]. VD16 V 1300
Strasbourg: Jakob Cammerlander, 1542. With "Hidden Prophecy" of Johann Carion. VD16 V 1301

as the Große Practica (with the Prognosticatio of Johannes Lichtenberger)

[N.p.: n.p.], 1543. VD16 L 1611

Apocalyptic works
Prognostication of a False Prophet on the Great Conjunction of 1504. VD16 V 1296
Invective against Lucas (VD16 V 1265), reprinted in Melchior Goldast, Politica imperialia... (VD17 1:018471V)
Prognostication on the Antichrist (1525). VD16 V 1302

Friday, November 22, 2013

Graphing Neddermeyer

The most ambitious attempt to gather into one place and analyze all known data concerning European manuscript and printed book production remains Uwe Neddermeyer's two-volume work from 1998, Von der Handschrift zum gedruckten Buch. Neddermeyer's work was criticized both for the reliability of the data and the methods used for analyzing it, but I've always thought that, whatever its shortcomings, it was a project worth undertaking, and that the author managed to accomplish a surprising amount based on data that was broadly dispersed and not yet available in any electronic format.

So to consider the question of what the distribution of known print runs in the fifteenth century looks like ("known" here including everything from firm historical records to modern scholarly hunches), there is still no better place to turn. Neddermeyer calculates arithmetic means of a few different kinds, but I wanted to see the actual distribution.

Here's the distribution for 1450-1479, which is heavily influenced by the known edition sizes from the print shop of Sweynheym and Pannartz in Subiaco and Rome (36 of 86 editions), nearly all of which are recorded as 275 copies.
 Fig. 1: Distribution of known print runs before 1480

In other words, if not for Sweynheym and Pannartz, we would see the greatest number of editions below 250 copies, followed by those betwen 250 and 500, and with another group at 750-1000. The dominance of Sweynheym and Pannartz, coupled with the small number of known edition sizes from any other source, makes the evidence difficult to interpret with much confidence.
Fig. 2: Distribution of known print runs, 1480-1500

After 1480, the data sources are somewhat more varied. Interestingly, there's still some sign of a bimodal distribution with one peak in the range of 250-500 and another in the range of 750-1000. (A few broadsides with print runs in the range of 3,000-20,000 copies are not included here, but would not amount to a bin of any notable height.) Having a sense of what the distribution possibly looked like is often more useful than establishing a precise figure for an average print run, particularly if the average print run was not actually all that common.

How representative is Neddermeyer's sample? His table of known fifteenth-century print runs (2:753-62) also includes the number of surviving copies where a specific edition could be identified, and the number of surviving copies suggests we should treat this all with some caution. For the 152 items in his sample with a known number of surviving copies, the average number of copies is 40 - or almost three times the average of 14.4 copies for all known incunables. As averages are especially in this case not nearly as useful as distributions, let's take a quick look at how the number of surviving copies in Neddermeyer's sample is distributed. The initial graph is messy:
 Fig. 3: Distribution of surviving copies from Neddermeyer

Even here, the 0- and 1-copy editions are the most frequent. We can make the data easier to visualize with a histogram with bins that are ten units wide.
Fig. 4: Distribution of surviving copies from Neddermeyer (bin size = 10)
And so the customary distribution of incunable survival emerges again. The predominant number of copies is 1-10; the green bar to the right comprises the editions with  zero known copies.

Friday, November 15, 2013

Reading and hearing prophecy in the thirteenth century

The sixth book of Wolfdietrich D contains the hero's battle with the knife-throwing heathen king Belian. The scene I've always been most fascinated by, however, is the confrontation between Wolfdietrich and the king's daughter Marpaly. The hero is an unwilling guest in Belian's castle, but has not yet revealed his name to his host - which is good, since Belian knows that the only person who can defeat him in battle is someone from Greece named Wolfdietrich. Belian has consigned Wolfdietrich to Marpaly's bedchamber, where he expects the hero to end up like all the others whom his daughter rejects; their heads line the castle wall the next morning. But things get off to a better start this time, as Wolfdietrich and Marpaly are somewhat inclined to pursue a more permanent relationship; the one catch for Wolfdietrich is that he refuses to entertain the prospect of marriage to a non-Christian. As for Marpaly, she knows exactly who she is destined for. She says to Wolfdietrich,
 "I tell you indeed, I have preserved my virginity for fifty years for the sake of a worthy prince born in Greece whose name is Wolfdietrich. I have chosen him as my lord above all others."

"Beautiful woman, how do you know his name? Please tell me; it's no shame to you to do so. Has he already been born? You can tell me that."

Then the heathen woman retrieved a book. She quickly read the page where she found the name. "Yes, the bold knight has already been born," she said. "As I find it written here, the praiseworthy prince is thirty years, twelve weeks, and two days old. I'm not deceiving you - my family has owned this book of the old Sibyl for many years. A wise man wrote it from the prophetess herself. The praiseworthy prince has long since been born. I have kept the book for fifty years now. It tells of the prince, I tell you indeed, and how he will suffer in his youth but bear a crown above all other kings in his manhood."
 Even though we're clearly in the realm of the fantastic, this is a nice example of re-oralizing a written prophecy that is in turn a transcription of an originally verbal oracle. The media shifts do not lessen its force, nor does excerpting one prediction from a longer source. Marpaly and even Wolfdietrich express no doubt about the prophecy's validity, leaving Wolfdietrich to appeal to the Virgin Mary for aid and then to make the sign of the cross against Marpaly's magic. Wolfdietrich becomes Marpaly's master in a non-marital sense only after he kills her father Belian; Marpaly blinds Wolfdietrich with a magic fog, but Wolfdietrich finds one of her father's daggers and casts it at Marpaly, killing her. Reinterpreting a prophecy is usually not such a bloody matter.

Friday, November 8, 2013

Planning for Lust, Betrayal, and Murder (spring semester 2014)

I've been asked to teach a 400-level special topics literature course next semester, and I had to turn in a textbook order. I'm already teaching the upper-level students who comprise the target audience, so I ran some of the possibilities by them. Romanticism? Tepid interest. Twentieth century? My colleagues are already teaching it. Medieval literature?

In both courses, students expressed the most interest in medieval literature, so I let them talk me into it.

I decided to focus on family relationships as a topic that my students could easily connect to their readings in modern German literature and work for other courses. The course didn't need a theme, though, so much as it needed a slogan, something that would catch students' attention and convince them we'll be doing interesting things next semester. "Parent-child relationships in medieval German literature" wouldn't do at all. It needed drama. It needed action.

Thus was born "Lust, Betrayal, Murder: Family Life in Medieval German Literature."

We'll have time for about five of the smaller Reclam editions. I would have liked to do König Röther, but the payoff was higher with the Nibelungenlied, which is also available in selections in modern German translation. In addition, we'll read Hartmann von Aue's Gregorius and Der arme Heinrich (two works that seem to be relevant to just about any topic), Wolfram von Eschenbach's Parzival (in selections again), and Werner der Gärtner's Meier Helmbrecht. This will be my first time using Helmbrecht in class, which should be interesting.

One thing I like about the topic is that I can fit in some of the early medieval material fairly easily, including the Hildebrandslied, discussion of Waltharius, and the Heliand (probably looking at a section on Mary and Joseph). I've already started a list of topics for student presentations (such as Konrad von Würzburg's Engelhard), and I can think of scenes or chapters from several late medieval and early modern works to look at along the way, like Brant's Narrenschiff and Grimmelshausen's Simplicissimus. I'll need to look through the usual sources to see what relevant specimens of medieval poetry I can find. By the time it's ready in January, the syllabus should contain a mix of new material and things I've taught several times before.

Friday, November 1, 2013

Rosenbach/Indagine cites Lichtenberger

If you want to see the context of Johannes Rosenbach/Johannes de Indagine citing Johannes Lichtenberger - the only vaguely credible claim to be an eyewitness account of Lichtenberger - the quick approach is to click here.

The long approach is to start with the footnotes in Dieter Kurze's work on Lichtenberger (11 n. 36 and 40 n. 289) and look up the cited edition (1522) of Rosenbach's Introductiones apotelesmaticae in chiromantiam. That's easy enough, and leads to VD16 R 3108. It's been digitized, so you can see the facsimile from the BSB here (if the URN resolver is working correctly - today it's not - and it doesn't require a cumbersome search to find the right link). We're looking for leaves 15v and 30v. If you turn to them, you of hands, but no mention of Lichtenberger. You can try counting the leaves from the beginning, and you might notice that the first few leaves may be misarranged in the Munich copy. Does it help to read through them carefully and try to restore their correct order? No, it does not. How does Kurze know that Rosenbach/Indagine cites Lichtenberger? Kurze cites the biography in ADB; does that offer any clues? No, not really. But the biography of Lichtenberger there mentions Rosenbach/Indagine's mention of Lichtenberger in his foreword to the Introductiones apotelesmaticae. Will reading the foreword turn up what you are looking for? No? Maybe in the 1523 German translation, or the 1534 or 1541 Latin editions? No, no, and no.

But if you spend enough time leafing through the Introductiones apotelesmaticae, you may eventually notice that the folio numbering restarts just as Rosenbach begins to discuss astrology. If you look at leaves 15v and 30v after that, you will find the discussion of Lichtenberger just as Kurze's footnotes indicated.

I recommend the quick approach.

Friday, October 25, 2013

Christian Egenolff as author

I've had an interest for quite some time in Christian Egenolff, one of the Frankfurt printers specializing in popular works and vernacular literature in the mid-16th century. He makes an appearance in Printing and Prophecy as the compiler of a popular and influential collection of prophetic works published in 1548-50, and he shows up again briefly in a new project I'm working on. This week, the Bayerische Staatsbibliothek released a digital edition of a chronicle with Egenolff as the author, so I was curious what the list of published work written by Egenolff looks like. A quick look at VD16 finds four titles, including a proverb collection, two defenses written in Latin against accusations made by others, and three editions of his chronicle. Here is the entire list:
  1. Sibenthalb hundert Sprichwörter / Wie und wo sie in Teutscher Spraach / von zier und bkürtzung wegen der rede / gebraucht werdenn (VD16 E 577). 1532.
  2. Chronic von an und abgang aller Welt wesenn. Auß den glawbwirdigsten Historien / On alle Gloß unnd Zůsatz / Nach Historischer warheyt beschriben. Künig / Keyser / unnd fürneme Personen / nach warer fürbildung Controfeit (VD16 E 573). 1533. BSB facsimile.
  3. Chronica / Von an und abgang aller Weltwesen. Auß den glaubwirdigsten Historien / beschriben (VD16 E 574). 1534.
  4. Chronica / Beschreibung und gemeyne anzeyge / Vonn aller Wellt herkommen/ Fürnämen Lannden / Stande / Eygenschafften / Historien / wesen / manier / sitten / an und abgang. Ausz den glaubwirdigsten Historien / On all Glose und Zůsatz / Nach Historischer Warheit beschriben (VD16 E 575). 1535. BSB facsimile.
  5. Adversum illiberales Leonharti Fuchsii, Medici Tubingensis, calumnias, Responsio Christiani Egenolphi, Typographi Francofortani (VD16 E 572). 1544. BSB facsmile 1, facsimile 2.
  6. Defensio Christiani Egenolphi, ad Dn. Conradi Lagi, Iurecos. Protestationem, qua in eum, ob uulgatos de doctrina Iuris Commentarios, publicè edito Scripto invectus est (VD16 E 576). 1544.
Of course, calling Egenolff the author of his chronicle may be overstating his role somewhat. A quick look finds that the text is borrowed in large sections from the chronicles of Hartmann Schedel (who borrowed his text from many others), Sebastian Franck (who borrows heavily from Schedel and others), and especially from Johannes Carion (who borrows as well).

Friday, October 18, 2013

Are VD16 and VD17 continuous?

Do seventeenth-century editions get cataloged in VD17 with the same thoroughness as sixteenth-century editions get cataloged in VD16? The VD17 database is a younger project than VD16, so one might wonder if the cataloging has not have advanced as far. If that were the case, we might expect to see a plunge in the number of editions recorded in VD16/17 between 1600 and 1601. This sudden decline would be an artifact of bibliography, however, rather than a reflection of actual conditions in the German book trade at the turn of the seventeenth century. It would be useful to know about this accident of bibliography to prevent ourselves from misinterpreting data, for example by thinking that we observe a decline in some segment of the publishing industry between 1590 and 1610 that had no actual historical basis.

So, is the transition from VD16 to VD17 smooth or continuous? The answer is: smooth.
Figure 1: Editions recorded in VD16 and VD17, 1590-1610 (total and by format)

VD17 seems to have caught up with VD16 enough that no discernible gap exists between the two. Here is the graph of total editions (orange) and a breakdown by format (folios, quartos, and octavos are blue, grey, and orange, respectively). Between 1600 and 1601, nothing interesting happens. (The jump in total editions in 1602 that isn't reflected in the individual formats is based primarily on a rise in duodecimo editions and editions without format data, by the way.)

An earlier look at the transition of incunable editions printed in Germany (as recorded in ISTC and GW) to early sixteenth-century editions in VD16 also found no gap.

Friday, October 11, 2013

Reading pseudo-Vincent Ferrer in 1529

Of the fifteen editions of pseudo-Vincent Ferrer's De fine mundi published between 1475 and 1582 (ten in Latin, five in German translation), the edition published by Peter Quentel in Cologne in 1529 (VD16 ZV 20103; Vienna facsimile here) is unusual in that it describes the circumstances of its discovery and why one contemporary reader found it worth publishing. The first two pages reprint a letter from Georg Steyn, pastor in Kirchheim by Heidelberg, to Ortwin Gratius (1475-1542). Here is a first attempt at a partial translation of Steyn's Latin:

Georg Steyn, master of arts and governor of the Christian flock in Kirchheim by Heidelberg, offers greetings to the stalwart doctor of the liberal arts and learned director of the Quentel print shop, Ortwin Gratius.

Most learned Ortwin, a few days ago I came upon a very old little book in the library of the Dominicans in Heidelberg, covered in dust and mold. On opening it, I found the renowned teacher St. Vincent’s prognostication on the end of the world, which brought me great delight. When I asked to borrow it from the prior of the Dominicans, Johannes Cronaberg, a man of the most genial character (lest I say anything that sounds too lofty about an exceedingly modest man), he generously acceded to my wishes….

We see unheard of evils growing daily and taking root so that it is no surprise that the Most High God chastens mortals with plagues also unknown before our time. Who does not see that the world lies in evil, Christian charity has grown cold (lest I say that it is entirely uprooted), and people are engulfed in the chasm of all sin?...

See how the heretics seek to besiege the walls of the faithful soul with the battering-rams of error and plunder them, and how they attempt to pollute the sacraments of the Church by their pestilential and foreign doctrines….

Therefore such filth is a portent of great confusion and uproar. From that little book, we can carefully determine that the fire and smoke are near, and the day of conflagration can hardly be far off. For the sinner (as St. Augustine said), who took no thought of God his creator while he lived, is struck by this punishment that he forgets himself. Your role therefore, O dearest Gratius, who are the most faithful cultivator of the vineyard of the Lord of Hosts, will be to consider this little book, enwreathed by various little flowers of scripture, for the common benefit of mankind. You will return with no small profit for God and man. I have left the style of this tract as I found it, considering how that holy man made manifest great and hidden mysteries in simple style. Farewell, with fond regards from your Georg. From Heidelberg, August 22 [X. Calendas Septemb.], 1529.

Friday, October 4, 2013

Wolfgang Lazius, Catalogus aliquot antiquorum Vaticiniorum (1554)

For late medieval and early modern prophecies, Wolfgang Lazius's 1547 Fragmentum vaticinii (VD16 ZV 9507) is an essential sixteenth-century source that seems to collect some passage or other from just about everything that might relate to Austria and the house of Habsburg in some way. (For the Fragmentum, the basic reading is Gerard Jaspers, “Die deutschen Textfragmente in den lateinischen Werken des Wolfgang Lazius,” in In diutscher diute: Festschrift für Anthonÿ van der Lee zum sechzigsten Geburtstag, ed. M. A. van den Broek and Gerard Jaspers, 56–73, Amsterdam: Rodopi, 1983.) It doesn't seem to be the only such work that Lazius compiled, however. In Johannes Rasch's 1584 Vaticiniorum liber primus (VD16 R 323), Rasch lists both the Fragmentum in the list of works to which he is responding, and another work:
Catalogus aliquot antiquorum Vaticiniorum quibus inclytae Austriae Domus contra mille Satanae ac eius comlicum insidias Victoria fuit praedicta. Wolfg. Lazii. 4. Viennae. 1554. (fol. a3r)
In other words, Rasch claimed to have a 1554 quarto edition printed in Vienna of a work similar but not identical to the Fragmentum vaticinii, which Rasch lists separately. No copy is listed in VD16, but Raimund Duellius included the work in his list of Lazius's works in 1730, so the work seems to have existed at some point.

So I would very much like to see a facsimile of this work, which seems to exist in one copy in Prague:
CATALOGVS ALIQVOT ANTIQVORVM VATICINIORVM, QVIBVS INCLYTAE AVSTRIAE domus contra mille Sathanae, ac eius complicum insidias victoria fuit praedicta = Ain auffmerckung ettlicher gar alter Propheteyen, so vor ettlich vnd hundert Jaren außgangen, vnnd erfunden worden sein Darin des Edln Haus Osterreych bleyblicher, vnnd wider Jedermans maynung löblicher Stand vnd Victoria geweyssagt wird. [s.l.: s.n., po r. 1550]. [31] listů ; 4° (20 cm)

Friday, September 27, 2013

A very short review: David W. Anthony, The Horse, the Wheel, and Language

Anthony, David W. The Horse, the Wheel, and Language: How Bronze-Age Riders from the Eurasian Steppes Shaped the Modern World. Princeton University Press, 2007.
When I was in elementary school, I wanted to be an archeologist. From the time I was in high school through graduating from college,  my interests shifted towards historical linguistics. If I had not sold out to the siren call of German medieval studies, I would have dreamed of writing a book like The Horse, the Wheel, and Language.

I did at least maintain older Germanic languages and Germanic linguistics as a secondary focus in graduate school, and I still like to curl up with a good book on the Indo-European languages whenever I get a chance. For that alone, David Anthony's book is richly rewarding. But more importantly, Anthony thoroughly integrates the expansion of Indo-European languages into the archeological picture of Eastern Europe and Central Asia that has emerged over the last thirty years. Most impressive of all is that doing so required Anthony not only to deal with the massive bodies of work in two widely disparate fields, but also to solve a number of hitherto unsolved problems in archeology, include where and when horseback riding began.

While largely confirming J. P. Mallory's view of Proto-Indo-European as a language of the Pontic Steppe of ca. 3000 B.C., The Horse, the Wheel, and Language adds several new and important aspects. I was surprised at the sheer number and complexity of cultural transitions in the archeological record preceding the proposed speakers of Proto-Indo-European. I found it immensely useful to have the linguistic evidence for early contacts with Finno-Ugric and Northwest Caucasian languages grounded in archeology. And several years after I had subtitled an undergraduate course on the history of the German language as "Our Heritage: Barbarian Invaders from the Steppes," I was pleased to see that the archeological record of Proto-Indo-European interaction with the cultures of Old Europe included more than plunder and pillage.

I particularly liked the author's fair treatment of alternative approaches to the Proto-Indo-European question, even while he takes a definite stand for or against one side or the other. Anthony makes a convincing argument that identifying the Indo-European expansion with the seventh-millennium B.C. spread of agricultural from Anatolia runs into intractable linguistic and archeological problems.

I would very much like to see more work of this type. The prehistory of the Germanic languages is still marked by some uncertainty and controversy; could Anthony's proposed origin for the Germanic languages in the Usatovo culture of ca. 3300-2800 B.C. be linked through similar linguistic and archeological study to the history of Germanic peoples in Europe? Anthony "hazards a guess" that has Germanic spreading "up the Dniester from the Usatovo culture through a nested series of patrons and clients," eventually reaching the "late [Trichterbecher] communities between the Dniester and the Vistual" that later "evolved into early Corded Ware communities," which in turn "provided the medium through which the Pre-Germanic dialects spread over a wider area" (360). If it hasn't been done already, I'd like to see a convincing case that connects these archeological categories to linguistic ones like "East Germanic" or even "Ingvaeonic" that are more familiar to Germanists, just as Anthony has done for Proto-Indo-European.

Monday, September 23, 2013

Catching up with the ÖNB

As I've spent the last several years scouring bibliographies of early printing and digitalization projects for facsimiles of one kind or another, I wondered several times why there was not much available from the Austrian National Library in Vienna. There seemed to be some subject-specific projects - Bibles, for example - but nothing of any scale, and nothing that I needed. I started mentally filing away works with a unique copy in Vienna as things that I would have to order individually, or never see.

No long ago, however, I started seeing fifteenth and sixteenth-century digital editions turning up on Google Books with an ÖNB ex libris. Interesting, I thought. They must be starting to digitize their early printed books.

So recently I thought I should check to see what was available from Vienna. To my pleasant surprise, I found a new (to me) search engine that made finding digital editions from the fifteenth or sixteenth centuries (or any other time period) very easy. How many editions had been digitized already?

20,565. That's twenty-thousand, five hundred and sixty-five. And counting.

So now I'll need to take some time to see if there's anything available that I'm interested in. A few trial searches each turned up digital facsimiles of things I hadn't seen before, like the 1551 Gulfferich edition of Lichtenberger's Prognosticatio. I'll have to start searching systematically.

I usually try to catch up with a digitalization project and then follow the RSS feed to follow new editions as they come in. There is an RSS button on the page, but it doesn't see to provide a feed that Thunderbird can understand.

Friday, September 13, 2013

Hildegard of Bingen’s Lingua ignota: a basic bibliography

The fourth article I ever published -  “A New Gloss on Hildegard of Bingen’s Lingua ignota,” Viator 36 (2005): 217-32 - was actually the reason I became a medievalist. I had started grad school with the firm intention of becoming a historical linguist, which had been my chosen field since I was a college sophomore. Then in the third week of grad school in my survey of medieval literature, I stumbled upon a topic that was just right for my seminar paper and, eventually, for a master's thesis: Hildegard of Bingen's Lingua ignota, a list of words from an unknown language with Latin and German glosses. For the first time in my life, I was digging into centuries' worth of scholarly research, staring at manuscript facsimiles, and reclaiming new disciplinary knowledge from the unsleeping seas of ignorance and forgetfulness. At least that's what it felt like at the time. It was pretty intoxicating stuff, and I was hooked. I worked tirelessly on my thesis throughout 1997, defended it in December...and then sat on it. I didn't get around to thinking about publication until 2004, when I was in my first post-Ph.D. position and had a better idea how publishing fit into academic careers.

In some ways, the delay was unfortunate. In other ways, everyone is better off for it. When I picked up my thesis again, I had enough distance from the topic that I could pare away the wandering tangents, insignificant observations, and the parts that didn't even convince me anymore. The 160-page thesis turned into a 16-page article, and the slimming down by 90% still seems about right to me.

Those interested in the topic will find a great deal of material about the Lingua ignota, but in some cases enthusiasm outstripped understanding. A short bibliography of indispensable works might look like this:

  • Wiesbaden Hessische Landesbibliothek Hs 2, fols. 461v-464v. (online facsimile)
  • Staatsbibliothek zu Berlin – Preußischer Kulturbesitz, Ms. lat. quart. 674, fols. 58r-62r.
Scholarly editions
  • Higley, Sarah Lynn. Hildegard of Bingen’s Unknown Language: An Edition, Translation, and Discussion. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2007.
  • Roth, F. W. E. Die Geschichtsquellen des Niederrheingaus, Theil III: Sonstige Geschichtsquellen des Niederrheingaus. Wiesbaden, 1880. 457-65.
  • Steinmeyer, Elias, and Eduard Sievers. Die althochdeutschen Glossen. Berlin: Weidmann, 1895. 3:390-404.
    [Higley's edition is the most modern, but anyone thinking of digging into the topic should become familiar with the manuscripts and the older editions as well.]
Relevant sections in larger works on Hildegard
  • Embach, Michael. Die Schriften Hildegards von Bingen: Studien zu ihrer Überlieferung und Rezeption im Mittelalter und in der Frühen Neuzeit. Berlin: Akademie, 2003. 252-86.
    [Embach's book is a thorough updating of Schrader and Führkötter. I didn't become aware of it until my article was in print, unfortunately.]
  • Schrader, Marianna, and Adelgundis Führkötter. Die Echtheit des Schrifttums der Heiligen Hildegard von Bingen: Quellenkritische Untersuchungen. Cologne: Böhlau, 1956. 51-54.
    [This was a groundbreaking work for Hildegard studies, and secured the Lingua ignota as authentically Hildegard's.]

Recent scholarly literature
  • Green, Jonathan.  “A New Gloss on Hildegard of Bingen’s Lingua ignota.” Viator 36 (2005): 217–32.
    [Yes, I would actually list my own article as required reading on the topic, but I might be biased.]
  • Schnapp, Jeffrey T. “Virgin Words: Hildegard of Bingen’s Lingua ignota and the Development of Imaginary Languages Ancient to Modern,” Exemplaria 3.2 (1991) 268-98.
    [As one of the first modern scholarly treatments of the Lingua ignota, Schnapp's article has been very influential.]
Older scholarly literature
  • Reutercrona, Hans. “De fornhögtyska Hildegardglossorna och deras ‘Lingua ignota:’ Ett språkligt kuriosum,” Uppsala Universitets Årsskrift: Filosofi, Språkvetenskap och Historiska Vetenskaper 5 (1921): 93-110.
    [Reutercrona's article is often overlooked as it was written in Swedish, but it shouldn't be forgotten. It was one of the first scholarly articles that wasn't invested in the cultural politics of Hildegard's sainthood, and it's the most thorough attempt to date to analyze the Lingua ignota etymologically. Even if I think that method is a dead end, the idea of approaching it as a linguistic problem is still basically correct.]
  • Grimm, Wilhelm. “Wiesbader Glossen,” Zeitschrift für deutsches Altertum 6 (1848): 321-40.
    [Grimm, on the other hand, was invested in the cultural politics of Hildegard's sainthood, and it shows. Since Wilhelm Grimm is Wilhelm Grimm, and he was publishing in ZfdA, people still refer to him.]

Friday, September 6, 2013

Coburg LB Mo A 12

Over the last several weeks, the Landesbibliothek Coburg has released digital facsimiles of the entire content of a volume (shelf mark Mo A 12) compiled in the sixteenth century mostly including practicas and other astrological prognostications from Grünpeck, Virdung, Carion, and many others, including eight booklets that appear to be unique copies. The appearance of more digital facsimiles is always to be welcomed, and the contribution from Coburg is particularly important. For the survival of early modern pamphlets, compiled volumes like this were essential. There are similar volumes in Erlangen, Zwickau, and several other places that I'd love to have available online, and I'd like to see more research done on how these volumes were compiled, and by whom, and why. Coburg's online catalog provides links to the facsimiles (search for "mo a 12" as the Signatur).

The appearance of these facsimiles does point to one problem that none of the digitalization projects have effectively solved, however. While the booklets were collected and bound together as a single unit, the electronic facsimiles obscure many features of the compilation, including the binding and the sequence of pamphlets. The Coburg catalog at least makes it possible to get a list of all the pamphlets in the volume when searched by shelf mark, but in other catalogs it's nearly impossible to determine what else is contained in a compiled volume, and what order any other elements occur in. There are still some things where spending time in Coburg or München can't be entirely replaced by staring at facsimiles.

Friday, August 30, 2013

Digital edition of the week: a fifteenth-century German-Latin macaronic drinking song (with transcription)

The BSB released a digital facsimile this week of the manuscript clm 29775/12, a fragment of a twelfth-century gradual on which someone in the fifteenth century recorded a drinking song, including a melody. Because the corpus of fifteenth-century German-Latin macaronic drinking songs is surely not large enough, I've attempted a quick transcription (which is undoubtedly full of errors - I tried to resolve as much as I could in the time I had, but I didn't mark every dubious reading with a question mark. Corrections are welcome.) I've expanded abbreviations silently and split the text into lines and stanzas in order to reflect what I think is the poem's structure. Punctuation is barely modernized.

Carmen vite eandorum in religionem relinquam

Gaudete nostram concionem     uns dy zeit verlegen ist
Viventes nunc in iubilo     so singe wir und springe wir
tripudio     nach frewden wel wir singen.

Restat nunc bibitio    und wer in unsn orden will /
sit ei nunc devotio /    So hebet her auff unnd folge nach
potagio     daz im die augen swiczen.

O milites religiosi    ir solt nicht nuchtern bleiben
cum tota non cum laicis    solt ir die zeit vertreiben
in gaudiis /    und mit den paurn weibern.

Et qui non bonum biberit     der sey auch in dem banne
vix salvus esse poterit     trat umb raicht uns die kanne
cum gaudio     da mit ge wir vonn dannen.

Si dolor est in cerebro     so sterck es mit weinne /
placebit tunc dormitio /    biß zu dem sonnenn scheyne
Religio     ist uns worden klaine.

Preceptum est in aprilis    nun tringc unnd est das beste
cras ibimus in bethleem    Das wesen stet nicht veste:
sit gloria     dem wirt und allem geste. amen.
The most recent secondary literature on late medieval German drinking songs I can find, by the way, is:

Haas, Norbert. Trinklieder des deutschen Spätmittelalters: philologische Studien an Hand ausgewählter Beispiele. Göppingen: Kümmerle, 1991.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Two CFPs: Lost Books and Early Modern Prophecies

CFP 1:
Revisiting Early Modern Prophecies (c.1500-c.1815)
26–28 June, 2014
Goldsmiths, London

The Reformation dramatically changed Europe’s religious and political landscapes within a few decades. The Protestant emphasis on translating the Scriptures into the vernacular and the developments of the printing press rapidly gave increased visibility to the most obscure parts of the Bible....Prophecies, whether of biblical, ancient or popular origin, as well as their interpretations gradually began reaching a wider audience, sparking controversies throughout all levels of society across Europe....How did prophecies evolve with the politico-religious conjunctions of their time? Who read them? How seriously were they taken? (Read the full CFP here.)

CFP 2: 
The St Andrews Book Conference for 2014: Lost Books
19-21 June, 2014

Questions of survival and loss bedevil the study of early printed books. Many early publications are not particularly rare, but others are very scarce, and many have disappeared altogether. We can infer this from the improbably large number of books that survive in only one copy, and it is confirmed by the many references in contemporary documents to books that cannot now be identified in surviving book collections.... (Read the full CFP here.)

Imagine that. Two conferences just a week apart, both in the UK, that focus on the two sub-sub-subfields I've been working on for the last several years. I should submit a couple abstracts.

* * *

After a month devoted to moving, I'm almost moved in. I have an office and a computer, but no keys to the office and no e-mail address yet. Hopefully all that gets taken care of soon, as the semester starts next week.

Friday, July 19, 2013

Johannes von Glogau and the Earliest German Practicas

Now in print:
Green, Jonathan, and Oliver Duntze. “Johannes von Glogau and the Earliest German Practicas: On the Dating and Authorship of Fragmentary Prognostications.” Gutenberg-Jahrbuch 88 (2013): 68–85.
When I was revising chapter five of Printing and Prophecy, "Practica teütsch," on astrological prognostic booklets, I noticed that there were a few early practica authors whose work I hadn't seen, so I ordered facsimiles. There was also an anonymous fragment in Berlin, dated no more precisely than 1474-78, possibly the earliest German practica of them all, so I ordered images of it as well. Once they arrived, I glanced at them. They didn't seem to change the chapter, so I moved on.

Last spring I took a closer look at the fragment, which consists of two unfolded sheets. If you virtually reconstructed the resulting gathering, what would it look like, and how would the text be organized? Were there any datable astronomical facts?

It turned out the fragment might be datable, and the sequence of chapters looked quite similar to the sequence used by Johannes von Glogau. As stereotyped as practicas were, individual astrologers often had their own particular style, especially in the early period before the genre conventions were fully established.

I asked Oliver what he thought. He provided some useful corrections. He also pointed out another undated fragment that followed a similar sequence of chapters. Could it be dated as well? We decided it could, and so a joint research project was born, culminating in the article that just appeared in Gutenberg-Jahrbuch.

For dating fragments like these, which turn up with some frequency, we make two methodological contributions. In combination with typographic analysis, diving into the arcana of early modern astrology often permits a precise dating. Also, familiarity with the authors' individual styles will sometimes permit attribution to a particular author.

Consequently, we were able to date the earliest German practica to 1477 with possible manuscript evidence of another for 1476, all by Johannes von Glogau. This points to the route by which printing astrological booklets came to German lands, shows how important the vernacular was even in the earliest period, and makes German practicas somewhat more like contemporaries rather than late imitators of the Italian astrologers.

Friday, June 14, 2013

Keeping a low profile: printers keeping their names out of the papers in the sixteenth century

Here's a question: what authors was your typical sixteenth-century German printer most interested in printing but least interested in taking credit for? In other words, what authors with at least ten editions of their works in VD16 are proportionally most represented by unsigned editions?

The answer is not quite what I expected. Over 50% of the editions from just seventeen authors are unsigned. Here's the list:

Friday, May 31, 2013

Practica teütsch: Reading the fine print

This week released digital facsimiles of four astrological prognostications for the year 1605 from the Stadt- und Universitätsbibliothek Bern. These four practicas are remarkable in that none of them had previously been found in VD17, and because the authorship has been misattributed in two cases.

Friday, May 24, 2013


The quatrain for 1588 that shows up all over the place in the 1580s first appears in print in 1547 1553. It's often attributed to Regiomontanus, although that seems unlikely. (See earlier posts here and here; the essential bibliography is Volker Leppin, Antichrist und Jüngster Tag, 139-49.) Wigand Spanheim's account is not untypical:

Daher hat der fürtreffliche Mathematicus Iohannes Regionmontanus, so umbs jar Christi 1457. gelebt / dieses Reymens weyß von dem jetzt künfftigen 88. jar vor 130. jaren geweyssagt:
Tausent / fünffhundert achtzig acht /
Das ist das jar das ich betracht.
Geht in dem die welt nit under /
So gschicht sonst großmercklich wunder.
While I still think the attribution to Regiomontanus is spurious, I was surprised to come across the following in the UB München manuscript catalog for 2o Cod. ms. 684 (fol. 120r), a manuscript dated to 1465:

Friday, May 3, 2013

An overlooked essential source: Melchior Ambach, Vom Ende der Welt (updated)

Update 25 May 2013: "Dietrich von Zengg" wasn't included in the manuscript that Ambach published. Instead, he borrowed its text directly from an edition published either in 1536 or 1546.

While working on Printing and Prophecy, I made a note to myself about a work that looked interesting but that I didn't have a chance to consult, Melchior Ambach's Vom Ende der Welt (VD16 A 2161). My time in München was limited, the booklet only contained six leaves, the date of printing of 1545 was near the end of the time period I was interested in, and the title formulation (Vom Ende der Welt / Und zukunfft des Endtchrists. Wie es vorm Jungsten tag in der Welt / ergehn werde. Alte und newe Propheceyen / Auff diese letzste böse zeit ... in rheumen gestelt) suggested that this was merely some pastor's versified treatment of Daniel and Revelation.

All of that turns out to be wrong.

Friday, April 26, 2013

Paul Nagel cites Paul Severus

In my list of early printed prophetic and prognostic works, I have several marked with the note "what is this?" where the title sounds promising, but I've not yet had a chance to look at the work itself. Periodically I'll go through the list and see if any new facsimiles have been released.

One of the authors I've finally been able to check is Paul Nagel. His works are similar to several other early seventeenth century German prophetic pamphlets, such as those attributed to Johannes de Capistrano. I was skimming through the SLUB Dresden's facsimile of Nagel's 1605 Himmels Zeichen when I came across a passage that reminded me of a passage in "Paul Severus," published forty years earlier. The passage from Nagel turns out to be a rather direct quotation from Severus:

Friday, April 19, 2013

The Nuremberg Chronicle/die Schedelsche Weltchronik: the essential bibliography (updated)

Update 19 April 2013: I've added two articles to the previously empty section on the illustrations of the Nuremberg Chronicle, as well as a link to Christoph Reske's online summary, and added one book to the content and context section.

At SCSC last fall, the topic of one conversation turned to the Nuremberg Chronicle (1493) and which aspects of it have been treated by scholarly literature. The coverage is uneven. For some topics, there are several essential books or articles, while for others there are none. Since then, I've been thinking about which contributions to the secondary literature anyone planning to write about the Nuremberg Chronicle should read without fail. Here is a first attempt at an essential bibliography.

Friday, April 12, 2013

Teaching materials for medieval/early modern devotional literature

This last semester, my literature/culture/civilization course returned to the Middle Ages. Last time, I taught the course as a survey of literary works and was frustrated by the lack of focus, so this semester I decided to concentrate on religious history and devotional literature, broadly understood. It actually required only a modest alteration of the readings, since many of the medieval German literary classics also have a religious aspect. For the primary texts, I used Reclam editions of Gregorius, Der arme Heinrich, Der Ackermann aus Böhmen, and Geistliche Lyrik, supplemented with several shorter works. Overall, I think the course was a success.

Friday, March 22, 2013

Practica teütsch, ca. 1505: market collapse or bibliographic accident?

One of the questions I couldn't definitively answer when Printing and Prophecy went to press was what exactly happened to the market for annual astrological prognostic booklets - the Practica teütsch - after 1500. The graph of editions per year starts to decline int the late 1490s, and then it falls dramatically at the end of the century and never reaches its previous height until the late sixteenth century. Here's what the graph looks like grouped by half-decade:

Friday, March 15, 2013

One-hit wonders of Reformation printing

Among sixteenth-century German printers, many - over 300 - are known from only a single edition. Some of these are accidents of bibliography, where the majority of their careers fall outside of the sixteenth century, or European printers with a single German edition recorded in VD16, but most of them are people whose known career in publishing comprises a single edition. In some cases, like "Degenhard Pfeffinger," printer of VD16 B 8454, one wonders if the name was actually a pseudonym. In other cases, like Andreas Reich, printer of VD16 C 6339, there is simply no more than a single edition.

Friday, March 8, 2013

Alofresant online

I was planning to post on something else that looked interesting, but I was distracted by an online facsimile I hadn't seen yet of "Alofresant," a relatively popular prophecy (18 editions between 1519 and ca. 1540) that Jacques Halbronn suspected originated as propaganda in the disputed imperial election that eventually made Charles V the new Holy Roman Emperor. Curious if there were other facsimiles I had missed, I started looking and found several: of the 18 editions, eight that I know of are now available online. The list appears below.

The thing I was originally planning to post on turned out not to be interesting after all.

Friday, March 1, 2013

Graphs you haven't seen yet: Martin Luther in print, 1516-1534

How much of German printing was devoted to the writings of Martin Luther during the early Reformation period? By some estimates, as much as 30% of all titles printed. Can we confirm that estimate?

In theory, it should be simple. We just need to count a) how many total titles are known to VD16 for the relevant years; and b) how many of these titles are Luther's works; and then divide b by a.

We do have to make a few decisions. For a time period to investigate, we'll choose 1516-1534 in order to avoid as many approximately dated works as possible at either end, which are often dated to round decades or half decades. For works, we'll count titles rather than printed volumes (and therefore count compilations as multiple works with possibly different authors).

Here's what we find:

So 30% looks like it might be too high. In the single highest year, 1523, Luther's works reach 24% of the total, which is still a gigantic percentage for one person's works. But over a slightly longer period, 1519-1525, the average is 19%.

But wait! Titles are not the only way to measure books. What about the amount of paper used? How much of the paper that left German presses during the same time period was devoted to works by Luther?

In theory, it should be simple. We just need to know a) the format of all the German books published between 1516 and 1534; and b) the number of leaves in each of these books; and then find the sum of the total leaves multiplied by the inverse of the format. That is, a 10-leaf folio would use 10 * 1/2 = 5 sheets, while a 200-leaf quarto would use 200 * 1/4 = 25 total sheets. As long as we pretend that all paper sheets were the same size (they weren't) and that all editions had the same print run (they didn't), we can come up with a rough, relative measure of the physical output of German printing presses (to be taken with a large measure of salt, but it's the best we can do for now).

Here's what we find:

In terms of paper usage, Luther's works hover around 10% of the total until 1527-28, when they jump up to 20% and 15%, respectively. What stands out here is that the dramatic leap in titles printed between 1517 and 1524 doesn't seem to correspond to a significant rise in paper usage. It looks like existing capacity was used to produce more but shorter works.

The years 1527 and 1528 are noticeably below the trend in paper consumption, while 1529 and 1530 jump significantly above it. Is this normal volatility, bad coding, or something interesting going on in German printing?

Finally, we shouldn't underestimate Luther's effect on German printing, as authors addressing the Reformation in some way comprise a large segment of print production during these years (and during the sixteenth century as a whole). For 1516-1534, here are the top ten authors and a rough count of their editons:

  1. Luther, Martin (2780)
  2. Erasmus, Desiderius (1284)
  3. Melanchthon, Philipp (484)
  4. Cicero, Marcus Tullius (247)
  5. Rhegius, Urbanus (190)
  6. Hutten, Ulrich von (161)
  7. Karlstadt, Andreas (152)
  8. Bugenhagen, Johannes (146)
  9. Zwingli, Ulrich (141)
  10. Eck, Johannes (130)

Friday, February 22, 2013

Digital facsimile of the week: Augsburg UB Hss Cod.I.3.2.3

Earlier this week, the Augsburg UB released a facsimile of Hss Cod. I. 3. 2. 3 (formerly Oettingen-Wallersteinsche Bibliothek; Karin Schneider's description in the UB Augsburg catalog here). The facsimile of the entire manuscript is a 249 MB PDF file, but pages can also be downloaded as single PDF files. What caught my attention is that this facsimile adds to the short but growing list of digitalized manuscripts of the Sibyllenweissagung, about which the fundamental bibliography includes
  • Neske, Ingeborg. Die spätmittelalterliche deutsche Sibyllenweissagung: Untersuchung und Edition. Göppingen: Kümmerle, 1985.
  • Schanze, Frieder. “Wieder einmal das ‘Fragment vom Weltgericht’ - Bermerkungen und Materialien zur‘Sybillenweissagung’.” Gutenberg-Jahrbuch 75 (2000): 42–63.

Schanze provides a list of 44 Sibyllenweissagung manuscripts ( now lists 45), of which the Augsburg manuscript is #2. Taking a quick look, it appears that the list of online facsimiles now includes the following (using Schanze's numbering):

2. Augsburg UB Cod. I. 3. 2o 3 (link)
8. Dresden SLUB M 209 (link)
21. München BSB Cgm 746 (link)
23.  München BSB Cgm 5249/41 (link)

The Handschriftencensus records don't list any additional facsimiles, and the records for 2 and 21 above haven't yet been updated to reflect the availability of online images.

Friday, February 15, 2013

Paul Grebner bibliography 0.50

Update 0.50 This update starts filling in Grebner's appearances in England,the last empty category in the bibliography, with entries drawn from the ESTC. I haven't started listing the English works that mention Grebner in passing or give short excerpts but do not mention him on the title page. A problem yet to be addressed is how the English broadsides and pamphlets are related to the excerpts that appear in compilations.

I've also reordered the categories to something that makes a bit more sense based on what I've found so far: Early printed works, manuscripts, German editions, Dutch editions, British editions, other European editions, and secondary literature.

Update 0.43. The early Dutch editions now include the hybrids of Grebner's second prophecy and "Friess II," and I've simplified the early Dutch pamphlets, now that I see that the later pamphlets use different titles for what is in most respects the same work. The relationship between the Dutch pamphlets of ca. 1590 and those of 1599-1610 needs some work. I've also added an unattested early English and French edition, and the manuscripts listed by Carlos Gilly in the footnotes of his recent article.

Update 0.40. This update adds the following:
  • Three encyclopedic entries on Grebner from the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries.
  • Six German pamphlets from the early seventeenth century indexed under "Paul Gräbner."
  • One more Dutch pamphlet from 1599.
  • The entries IV-VII have been renumbered as V-VIII.
I'm adding a break to this entry here because it's becoming rather long. Click below for more.

Friday, February 8, 2013

Abstract: "Rupescissa in the Reformation: Fluid Texts and the Boundaries of the Middle Ages"

This is the abstract I submitted for the paper I'll present in Kalamazoo in May. One of the significant things about "Wilhelm Friess" is that the first Friess prophecy was actually an abridgment of Rupescissa's Vademecum, so that Rupescissa's work turns out to have been far more accessible to a broad spectrum of readers in the sixteenth century than previously known. What I find particularly interesting, however, is the sheer variability of the text. The different versions appear in quick succession and change rapidly in a way we usually associate more with manuscript transmission than with printing.
Abstract: “Rupescissa in the Reformation: Fluid Texts and the Boundaries of the Middle Ages”
In a 1996 article (republished in English translation as “The Fluid Text” in 2005), Joachim Bumke observed that the textual histories of medieval courtly epics do not correspond to the model of classical Lachmannian textual criticism. It is the oldest manuscripts that are most variable and resistant to analysis as descendants of a single archetype. Bumke attributes the unwieldy stemmata of courtly epics to the function of the written word in the thirteenth centuries, which he contrasts with its radically different use in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries. Even in the second half of the sixteenth century, however, the same kind of convoluted, irresolvable textual history can be found in the case of the “Prophecies of Wilhelm Friess,” the most popular German prophetic pamphlet of the second half of the sixteenth century. The text of these pamphlets is in fact an abridgement of the Vademecum of Johannes de Rupescissa, and these pamphlets represented the most significant route for the distribution of Rupescissa’s apocalypticism into Reformation Germany. Knowing the Latin source and the French redaction upon which “Wilhelm Friess” was based allows us reconstruct the text’s history and to see with unusual clarity how it changed within the space of a few years. In the decade following its translation from a French exemplar in 1557, “Wilhelm Friess” exhibited all the textual fluidity that Bumke observed in the centuries-long textual histories of medieval courtly epics. Is Bumke’s appeal to the different functions of the written word between 1200 and 1500 untenable? I propose that textual fluidity is a marker for medieval modes of thought that is determined not only by time but also my such non-chronological criteria as genre.

Friday, February 1, 2013

Even more Zengg (updated)

Update 3 May 2013: I've added Melchior Amerbach's Vom Ende der Welt to the list of printed attestations of "Zengg" in print,

Update 1 February 2013: I've now seen images of one additional Zengg edition, which I have added as number 14 to the list of editions below, along with another edition of 1563 under the same title, which I haven't yet seen. On the title page of the Leiden copy of the 1562 edition, there is a manuscript note "1562," but I don't actually see any obvious reasons for dating this edition to that year. Also, Leiden UB has one of the easiest and most efficient systems for ordering facsimiles that I've seen.

 * * *

In a comment, Klaus Graf points to his compilation of manuscripts, prints, and editions of Dietrich von Zengg/Theodericus Croata, with links to digital facsimiles. His list of manuscripts includes two (Graz UB and Harvard UL) not found in Wolfram Schmitt's brief Verfasserlexikon article, now over 30 years old.

The complete list of printed editions (as of 3 May 2013) includes the following:
  1. [Augsburg: Johann Froschauer, 1503]. ISTC it00146420 (BSB facsimile)
  2. [Munich: Hans Schobser, 1512]. VD16 T 732 (BSB facsimile)
  3. [Augsburg: Erhard Oeglin, 1520]. VD16 T 735
  4. [Cologne: Hermann Bungart, 1520]. VD16 T 733
  5. [Munich: Hans Schobser, 1520]. VD16 T 734
  6. [Strasbourg: Johann Grüninger, 1520]. VD16 ZV 21002
  7. [Augsburg: Heinrich Steiner, 1530]. VD16 T 736 (BSB facsimile)
  8. [Nuremberg: Hieronymus Andreae], 1536. VD16 T 737
  9. [n.p.: n.p.], 1542. VD16 T 738
  10. [Nuremberg: Hans Guldenmund, 1546]. VD16 C 953 (with "Hidden Prophecy" of Johann Carion)
  11. Frankfurt am Main: Hermann Gülfferich, [ca. 1545; 1548 (my dating)]. VD16 A 2161. (BSB facsimile)
As Ain Practice / Oder Weyssagung ains gelerten mans mit namen Jeremias von Pariß..., with text apparently following the "Zengg" rather than the "462" version (noted in Talkenberger, Sintflut, 468).
  1. [Straßburg: Johann Knobloch d.Ä. um 1525]. VD16 J 231
As Prophecy ... funden worden in Osterreich uff einem Schloß das heißt Altenburg. Ist gemacht von einem Münich Carmeliten ordens von Prag. Da man zalt nach der geburt Christi Vierhundert Zweyundsechtzig Jare
  1. Freiburg/Breisgau: [Johann Wörlin, 1522]. VD16 D 1458 (HAB facsimile)
  2. [Speyer: Jakob Schmidt, 1523]. VD16 D 1457
  3. [N.p.: n.p., 1562]. Not in VD16. Leiden UB (Thyspf 9).
  4. [N.p.: n.p.], 1563. Not in VD16. (PDF catalog description of a microfilm here; BSB OPAC link here)

As Vaticinia postremi seculi Duo: Das ist Zwo wundersame unnd verborgene Weissagung von veränderung und zufälligen Glück der Höchsten Potentaten deß H. Römischen Reichs (with "Hidden Prophecy" of Johann Carion):
  1. Darmstadt : Balthasar Hoffmann, 1612. VD17 23:327852S
  2. Darmstadt : Balthasar Hoffmann, 1619. VD17 7:707451Q
  3. [n.p.: n.p., ca. 1621]. VD17 1:063153A
Courtney Kneupper's dissertation might help clear up the origin of Dietrich von Zengg and the relationship between the various versions, but I don't know what direction she ultimately ended up taking with Zengg.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Rearguing Transtecter

Well, this is annoying. I'd like to declare George Transtecter a fictive author unrelated to Georg Tannstetter and be done with it, but I keep running through the counter-arguments. So for the sake of fairness, here's the argument that Transtecter is really Tannstetter.

  1. It is only to be expected that Tannstetter selected different ruling planets for the year in the Latin and French practica for 1513, and predicted entirely different fortunes for those governed by Mercury, because the Latin practica was calculated for Vienna (48 degrees north), while the French one was calculated for Leuven (51 degrees north). Tannstetter was a university-trained astrologer who would have known how to take the different latitutdes into account, and the astrological elections in question are sensitive to changes in location (see J. D. North's Horoscopes and History).
  2. Although Tannstetter was in Vienna, he composed a practica for  Leuven because of an inquiry from there, as the preface to the French practica states: "Car ie suis prest tousiours deu respondre a Louuain ou ailleurs deuant tous maistres qui sentendent a cest faculte." Since he was writing for Leuven rather than Vienna, Tannstetter primarily addressed the fortunes of the Low Countries and neighboring lands, rather than Central Europe.
  3. The French edition calls itself a translation from the Latin, and it was printed in Geneva, so it's not surprising that some details (like Tannstetter's name) became deformed somewhere along the way.
  4. The French practica calls its author a "docteur en medicine et en astrologie." The Latin practica for the same year refers to Tannstetter, who had only just begun his studies of medicine, only as "astronomie professor." This may not be an error: according to Franz Stuhlhofer's essential article (“Georg Tannstetter,” Jahrbuch des Vereins für Geschichte der Stadt Wien 37 [1981]: 24), Tannstetter advanced to doctor of medicine in May 1513. Midyear is late for the publication of a practica, but if Tannstetter had answered an inquiry after May 11, he could have genuinely given his academic credentials as doctor of both astronomy and medicine. That would make the French practica the earliest printed work to reflect Tannstetter's doctorate in medicine. On the other hand, the French practica includes predictions for the weather beginning in January. There's still something odd about the timeline here.
  5. In 1523, Tannstetter expressed disdain for Arabic astrologers, preferring instead the Greeks for the foundations of his art. In 1513, however, when the French practica cites Haly and Albumasar, his attitude may not have been so one-sided. His earliest known practica, for 1505, cites as his authority the rules of "Ptholomei Pheludinai, Hali abenragel, Albumasaris, et aliorum in scientia stellarum edoctorum." His practica for 1512 cites Ptolemy, Haly Abenrodan, and Almansor.  Disqualifying the French practica based on its citation of Arabic authorities really is an untenable argument.
  6. Both the French and Latin practicas subdivide human fortunes according to the governing planet. The French practica assigns people in the typical manner according to occupational classes, so that the children of Venus, for examples, are defined as "ieunes galans damoiselles pucelles chantres menestriers danceurs et tous ceulx qui ayment musicque et plaisance." Tannstetter's practicas for 1511, 1519, and 1524 rather unusually subdivide people according to their nativity, while the Latin practicas for 1512 and 1513 do not specify the basis of their subdivision. The different approaches raises serious doubts about the authorship of the French practica, and would be more serious still if not for Tannstetter's practica for 1505, which does assign people to planets by occupational class (including the group, for example, of "Puelle, matrone, cantores, Instrumentorum musicalium pulsatores.")
  7. What we're left with is a structural argument: Tannstetter's practicas maintain a nearly constant structure from 1505 to 1525, and the French practica does not follow it. The table below compares the organization of the two practicas.

Latin 1513 French 1513
Dedication to Maximilian I
Laudatory verses
1. General configuration of the year Introduction
2. Governing planets Governing planets
3. War and peace General disposition of the year
4. Disease Winter weather
5. Agriculture Spring weather
6. Various regions and cities Summer weather
7. Human fortunes by planet Autumn weather
8. General disposition of the four seasons Dispositions of the twelve months
9. Lunar conjunctions by month Agricultural fertility and price changes


War and peace

Human fortunes according to ruling planet

Various regions and cities


Tabular almanac

In other words, the French practica places Tannstetter's customary final chapters at the beginning of the practica. It's not impossible that a printer could have done that on their own initiative to follow the local style, but it seems unlikely that Tannstetter himself would have done so.

Now that I've gone through it again, I'm somewhat more inclined to see Transtecter as Tannstetter, but with some significant distortions occurring between Vienna and Geneva, and a few other odd things going on. We still can't be sure that the French practica really is Tannstetter's, but it's moving further into the realm of possibility.

Friday, January 18, 2013

I suspect that Georg Tannstetter and George Transtecter are not the same person

But that doesn't mean that I think George Transtecter is a real person.

This week, released digital editions of several French prognostic pamphlets printed in Geneva, including translations of the Practica auf Europa of Paracelsus, the practicas for 1533 of Anton Brelochs and for 1523 of Johannes Stabius, a practica for 1508 by "Haly Nyvord," and another for 1513 by "George Transtecter."

Now I don't believe for a minute that "George Transtecter" is supposed to be anything else except the name of Georg Tannstetter, a prominent Viennese astrologer who published practicas for 1505-1525, especially since the name "George Transtecter" (or even just "Transtecter") is found nowhere else. This doesn't appear to be a case of slight variants resulting in two authorial names (see "Separated at birth" I and II), however. The problem is that Tannstetter's practica for 1513, available in facsimile, is already known, and it differs in fundamental ways from Transtecter's. Tannstetter selected Mars and Venus as the ruling planets for the year, while Transtecter chose Saturn and the Sun. Tannstetter refers to the authority of Ptolemy and Hippocrates, while Transtecter also refers to the Arabic astronomers Albumasar and Haly. The arrangement of chapters and topics are entirely different. Tannstetter predicts adverse fortune and terror for those ruled by Mercury, while Transtecter predicts good fortune and luxury for the same people. Tannstetter's prognostication for lands and cities is broadly concerned with central Europe and mentions Vienna by name - where Tannstetter lived and worked - while Transtecter's prognostication is cast for Louvain and included the fortunes of France, England, Scotland, Brabant, and Flanders, and the cities of Louvain, Brussels, Antwerp, and Ghent.

What I suspect is going on here is that someone else's prognostication was published under Tannstetter's name, or a name close enough to profit from Tannstetter's renown, and perhaps imitating his style as well. Contemporary astrologers including Lucas Gauricus, Johannes Virdung, and, a decade later, Tannstetter himself complained of their names being falsely attached to others' prognostications. That seems to be the case here as well.

I could be convinced otherwise. The two practicas are not entirely lacking in similarity. Perhaps Tannstetter was asked to write a prognostication for Louvain, and the difference in latitude between Vienna and Louvain led to different predictions for the same groups of people. But for now, I remain very suspicious of "George Transtecter."

Thursday, January 3, 2013

A short review: Allyson F. Creasman, Censorship and Civic order in Reformation Germany

Allyson F. Creasman. Censorship and Civic Order in Reformation Germany, 1517-1648: 'Printed Poison and Evil Talk.' St. Andrews Studies in Reformation History. Farnham, Surrey, England: Ashgate, 2012. xi + 282 pp. ISBN 978-1409410010.
When I read secondary literature, especially monographs, I'm almost always in search of specific facts or historical context. Usually I'll use the index to find what I need, or at most skim through to find the interesting parts. Censorship and Civic Order in Reformation Germany was one of those rare exceptions where I found myself carefully reading the whole book because it was not only highly relevant to my own research, but also full of compelling, dramatic stories. These are, moreover, stories that we haven't all heard before, as they are based on extensive archival work, principally in the Augsburg city archives. I wish now that I had been able to read Censorship and Civic Order before finishing the manuscript of "Wilhelm Friess," as I constantly found myself mentally comparing events in Augsburg to affairs in Antwerp.

What I most appreciated about Censorship and Civic Order was how it placed censorship in context - legal, historical, social, and economic. We see not just the laws passed by the Augsburg city council, but also the precarious political situation of an Imperial city during the Reformation that motivated the laws, and also the measures taken by printers and others both to resist and to accommodate censorship, and also the religious and economic concerns that motivated them, and also their revisions of those views when under threat of torture. By examining all sides of the phenomenon of censorship, the author proves her point that "censorship was as much a product of public opinion as a force acting upon it" (227).

For a publication based on archival material, I would have liked to have seen transcriptions of the original text provided in the footnotes in addition to the English translations, although that may have increased the book's length beyond the publisher's limit. I also think that a VD16 number should always be provided for sixteenth-century German printed books, as that identifies an edition unambiguously and makes it easier to find further information about a printed edition. But these are minor quibbles that do not detract from the scholarly accomplishment of Censhorship and Civic Order or from my enjoyment of reading it.