Monthly Archives: January 2015

The Briefbuch (Strasbourg, Archives départementales du Bas-Rhin, Cod. H 2185) of the Commandery of the Order of St John zum Grünen Wörth in Strasbourg

By Stephan Lauper, Universität Freiburg (Schweiz)


The so-called Briefbuch, on which I focus in my PhD thesis, occupies an important role within an ensemble of manuscripts written in the late fourteenth century in the convent of the Order of St- John in Strasbourg. This convent was founded by Rulman Merswin (1307–1382), a rich merchant and patrician of Strasbourg, who withdrew from secular life at the age of 40. From then on, he dedicated himself to a religious life, and in 1366 he leased the former Benedictine monastery on the island called Grüner Wörth. There he established a communal form of the devotional life together with a small group of laypersons. Little is known about Merswin’s life as a homo religiosus, and little is documented of the early years of the community in the convent, called zum Grünen Wörth, until its incorporation into the order of St John in 1371.

Continue reading

The founding tradition of the Cistercian cloister in Henryków in the light of medieval monastic sources

By Monika Michalska, Jagiellonian University



The Cistercian monastery in Henryków, which was founded officially in 1228 by the  rulers of Silesia, possesses a complex founding tradition which changed over the centuries. There were two traditions about the origins of the monastery, the first created by monks and the second in a lay community.

The problem of founding tradition of the Cistercian monastery in Henryków is part of my doctoral dissertation: “Foundation traditions of  Cistercian Cloisters in Silesia in the Middle Ages and in the Modern Age”, in which I concentrate on the following Silesian monasteries: Lubiąż, Henryków and Krzeszów. In the dissertation I focus on the role played by the transition from the oral transmission of traditions about the founder and about the beginnings of the foundation of the above-mentioned communities to the form of written text. The issue is whether the content of the tradition underwent the process of canonization, becoming the object of faith, or whether the creation of its written version provoked the emergence of successive variations on the foundation and the founder of the monastery. In this contribution, I will focus only on the monastic, medieval tradition up to the fifteenth century.

Continue reading

The political and religious construction of the “maternal body” in the Renaissance and the impact of the Reformation: norms, rules and literary models in the French-vernacular books for women, 1488-1589.

By Jade Sercomanens
I. Introduction


I am at the beginning of a personal research taking place within a Sinergia project of FNS (Swiss National Research Foundation), “Lactation in history: a cross-cultural research on suckling practices, representations of breastfeeding and politics of maternity in a European context”[1].

This project aims to investigate lactation as a complex historical and bio-cultural reality, engendering social and symbolic constructions. It explores how suckling developed and evolved in discourses, representations and practices, from Antiquity to the present day. The research team is organized in four subgroups, set out according to chronology and disciplinary fields and led by a team of specialists from the fields of anthropology, archaeology, literature, history, medical history, history of religion and art history.

Beyond this strong diachronic frame, each subproject concentrates on a specific theme relevant to the future collaborative work and will generate inputs to be discussed and integrated into the general design. I am a part of the subproject, “Nutrition, education and health: maternal milk between cultural norms and social practices (1500-1900)”, which includes medical historians, cultural and social historians and art historians. This group covers the early modern period and focuses on maternal milk conceived as a vehicle of both physical and moral health; as a variable affecting collective and individual identities; as a cultural image used to characterize learning or transmission or as a representation of symbolic or spiritual filiation.

II. Research interests

Since I joined this project only a few months ago, I am still at the beginning of my reflection, so my subject is in a very preliminary state of research. My personal interests are focused on the feminine body and the religious and moral constructions of it in both public and domestic spaces during Renaissance and Reformation.

Continue reading

United in Song. Creating Multilingual Religious Communities through Psalm Translations in the Sixteenth-Century Low Countries

Alisa van de Haar, University of Groningen, the Netherlands


In the second half of the sixteenth century, the Low Countries – considered as the whole of the Seventeen Provinces – were characterized by multilingualism, that is, the co-existence of multiple languages.[1] As far as the vernacular was concerned, both Dutch and French (each taken as the totality of their regional varieties) were used. From 1550 onwards, the form and role of a by many desired standard and purified Dutch language became a topic for debate. This so-called ‘language question’ was an expression of emerging attention for vernacular languages witnessed in several linguistic regions throughout Europe.[2] This phenomenon has been interpreted as the parallel rise of the individual vernaculars at the expense of the international Latin language. In a similar manner, the pursuit of a pure and standardized Dutch language has been explained as a reflection of a growing national consciousness, expressing itself in the expulsion of foreign influences.[3]

In 2013, I began a doctoral research project at the University of Groningen, titled A Tale of Two Tongues: The Interplay of Dutch and French in the Literary Culture of the Low Countries, 1550-1600. This project places the Netherlandish language question in the multilingual context in which these discussions arose in order to offer a new perspective on the increasing vernacular awareness,[4] that is, the growing sense of the particular position and form of the mother tongue in relation to other languages.[5] The research question central to the project is: To what extent and how was the striving for a single pure Dutch vernacular related to the multilingual situation in the Low Countries in the second half of the sixteenth century? The search for an answer to this question will take place within the local literary culture. In accordance with sixteenth-century practice, the project uses the term literary culture in a broad sense, comprising not just les belles lettres (poetry and drama), but also for example religious and educational texts and other fields of vernacular learning.[6]

Continue reading

Spanish-Flemish trade networks in the distribution of religious texts during the 16th century

By Germán Jiménez Montes, Universidad de Sevilla/Rijksuniversiteit Groningen


The following paper was presented during the Cost Action IS1301 – Training School “Production and Use of Religious Texts in Late Medieval and Early Modern Europe”, Antwerp 29th-31st October 2014. It represents a social and economic approach to the ‘production and use of religious texts’, the topic of the Antwerp Training School. However, the analysis will neither focus on the production nor on the use of religious texts, but rather on the process in between: the distribution.

Continue reading

Report – COST IS1301 Training school “Production and Use of Religious Texts in Late Medieval and Early Modern Europe”, Antwerp 29-31 Oct 2014

On October 29 to 31st 2014, the first Training School organized by COST Action IS1301 took place at Antwerp. Organized by August den Hollander (Univ. Antwerp/BE/VU-Univ. Amsterdam/NL) and Sita Steckel (Univ. Münster/DE), the event was designed to provide training to doctoral and advanced master students, to familiarize them with the research agenda of the COST Action and to establish connections between heritage institutions, early stage researchers and established scholars. To document the outcomes of the event, a report and, more importantly, some of the revised presentations given by the participating doctoral students, will be published on this blog over the next few days.

 Report – Antwerp, 29-31 October 2014

The programme for the three intensive days at Antwerp – mostly spent in the congenial setting of the library of the Ruusbroecgenootschap (Ruusbroec Institute of the University of Antwerp) therefore combined three elements: Local and external experts presented lectures and hands-on training for the participants in the mornings. The afternoons started with visits to three local exhibitions of high relevance for the topic of the event, and ended with sessions of short presentations given by the participating doctoral and master students.

Continue reading