Friday, October 10, 2014

Egenolff, Grünpeck, and list prophecies

The most significant contribution to the formation of a canon of fifteenth- and sixteenth-century German prophecies was probably that of the Frankfurt printer Christian Egenolff the Elder. After a brush with the law in Strasbourg in the early 1530s, Egenolff moved to Frankfurt and became one of the leading publishers of popular vernacular literature. Between 1531 and 1537, Egenolff published a collection of sibylline prophecies, Zwölff Sibyllen Weissagungen, along with some additional material (VD16 Z 941-945). A decade later, Egenolff expanded the collection significantly by adding the work of Johannes Lichtenberger, Johann Carion, and Paracelsus (VD16 P 5065-5066, P 5068). Reprints of both the smaller and the larger collections appear through the end of the sixteenth century and into the seventeenth and even eighteenth centuries.

While working on Printing and Prophecy, I wanted to consult the 1537 edition (VD16 Z 945), but by itself it didn't seem enough to justify a trip to Wolfenbüttel when obtaining a facsimile would be cheaper - but then, after I was back in the U.S., I learned the the condition of the volume was too fragile for the Herzog August Bibliothek to digitize it. Now that I've had a chance to look at it, it turns out to contain a few surprises.

The collection is the first of Egenolff's to include a work by Josef Grünpeck, but it isn't the same work that shows up in the expanded 1548-50 editions (that work, Von der Reformation der Christenheyt und der Kirchen, is known only from the latest Egenolff collections). For the 1537 sibylline collection, Egenolff instead included Grünpeck's Prognosticum of 1532 (VD16 G 3634-3640, ZV 7115, ZV 23147), making the 1537 Egenolff collection the latest edition of that work. Since the Prognosticum didn't foresee much left of the world's future after 1540, Egenolff in 1548 reached farther back to find a more timely work by Grünpeck.

The other unusual feature of the 1537 edition is that it claims to include a work by Filippo Cattaneo, identifed as being "vom Thurn auß Italia." Another prognostication attributed to Cattaneo appeared in 1535 (VD16 C 1725) - but that is not the work included by Egenolff in 1537. Instead, the work that appears in the 1537 collection is a set of terse prophecies for 1537-1550. The basic structure is a governing planet and year, the abundance of oil, wine, and grain, and then an additional brief prognostication. For example:
Mon 1537.
Ols wenig
Weins abgang
Treydt wenig
Zwitracht der Fürsten.
The interesting thing is what happens when you look only at the year and last line:
Mon 1537. Zwitracht der Fürsten
Mars 1538. Vil pestilent in allen landen
Mercurius 1539. Krieg undern Christen
Jupiter 1540. Sterben der Fürsten
Saturnus 1541. Frid in allen landen
Sonn 1542. Außbruch der verschlossen juden
Mon 1543. Juden wider die Christen
Mars 1544. Juden von Christen überwunden
Jupiter 1545. Falsche Propheten
Venus 1546. Vil laster und übels
Saturnus 1547. Kranckheyt der Pestilentz
Sonn 1548. Ein heylger man
1549. Wütten der ungleubigen
1550. Durch disen heyligen man werden alle unglaubigen zum glauben bekert / Als dann würdt werden ein Schaffstal / ein Hirt / und ein Herr / der die gantze welt under seine Herrschafft bringen und regieren würdt. Unnd als dann würdt das Gülden alter herfür kommen.
This looks to me very much like a predecessor of the list prophecy for 1570-80. Compare "Sterben der Fürsten" with "Pastor non erit," or "Ein heylger man" with "Surget maximus vir," or the culmination in "ein Schaffstal / ein Hirt / und ein Herr" with "unum ovile et unus pastor." All of these are common prophetic tropes, of course, but their combination in a list rather than a narrative suggests there may be some direct influence.

The set of people who are interested in Joseph Grünpeck, Christian Egenolff, and the list prophecy for 1570-80 may be somewhat restricted. But for those people, VD16 Z 945 is an extremely interesting edition.

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