John of Neumarkt: Transmission, reception and literary and social contexts of literary works written in German

John of Neumarkt (aka Johannes von Novoforo or Jan ze Středy) was a very influential official at the imperial court of Charles IV. He was descended from a wealthy merchant family of Neumarkt, which financed his studies, most probably in Italy. He started as a scribe at the court of Charles IV in 1347 and after five years advanced to the very influential position of chancellor. As such he was elected bishop of Olomouc in 1364. John of Neumarkt was not only an important politician, church official and patron but he also left behind a considerable literary work written in Latin and German. Many of his texts were German translations of Latin models. The project will analyse the most important corpora of John of Neumarkt’s writings: a German collection of prayers, a collection of personal letters, a contemplative text, the so called “Buch der Liebkosungen”, and the translation of the letters of St. Jerome. These items are transmitted in 150-200 mss., many of which are completely unknown. The aim of the project is a detailed codicological and paleographical description of the manuscripts, an analysis of their interrelations, an identification of the context of their origin, and the analysis of the literary and social context of individual texts and their reception.
The exceptional position of John of Neumarkt at the court of Charles IV and his extensive literary activity will be analysed with regard to his probable participation in the politics of dynastic representation of the Luxemburgh rulers, chiefly of Charles IV, in which the symbolical significance of the vernaculars played an important role. The boom of translation activity between Latin and the two vernaculars (Czech and German) in the Kingdom of Bohemia just in the twenty years in which John of Neumarkt influenced imperial politics was directly supported by the emperor and the circles of intellectuals at his court. There is no in-depth study yet concerning the way in which these circles participated in the new definition of the vernaculars at Charles’s court. John of Neumarkt is probably one of the key figures of the supposed intellectual network around Charles IV, which designed his language policy. A close look at his – to this day almost unknown – literary work will allow to describe his perception of the vernaculars and to define the social impact of his writings.