Pursuing a New Order: Central European Vernaculars between Theology and Politics (14th – 15th ct.)

(working title)

The volume offers a comparative perspective at the formation of vernacular literatures from the beginning of the 14th century to the 16th century as a window into the fundamental social transformation of literary communication linked to the rise of vernaculars as literary languages. Focusing on these processes in the enormously productive and creative regions corresponding to the contemporary Czech and Slovak Republic, Poland, Hungary, Austria and Germany in the later Middle Ages, the volume fills a gap of contemporary scholarship on the role of the vernaculars and vernacular literatures in European medieval societies and will break new ground for questions that have so far only been explored in Europe’s “West”.

The inquiry departs from the thesis that the social elites in medieval Europe developed exclusive codes of communication that were defined by their Latin philosophical and theological education. This eventually determined the modes of social negotiation, perceptions of the individual and collective identities as well as overall concepts of the social order. The central question of the study is thus whether, and if so, why and how distinctive new communicative, literary and political cultures developed after the vernacular languages had acquired ever higher levels of literacy and education. The intensification of ambitions to transcend the social boundaries of the language from what might be called everyday communication to a medium of “high” culture and discourses that had previously been exclusively defined by the use of Latin were strongly connected with the ambitions of non-elite or lower elite groups for social ascent.

The process of vernacularisation of social communication is by no means linear or simple: ambitious social groupings could only define their demands and negotiate old and new definitions of their social position when they were able to control the media and communicative tools of these negotiations on a high intellectual level. But this also means that control of the vernacular as a new medium to negotiate social prestige and power did not only become increasingly important for ambitious groups or individuals to establish new social positions; it also became increasingly important for maintaining the old. We see members of established elites just like members of the groups who wanted to rise to higher social prestige alike actively participating in the process of vernacularisation, or even competing in their efforts to define it, to give the first impulses to translate texts, a set of texts or themes in order to define the new modes and codes of communication about power and social status.

These processes of translation thus did not only involve linguistic expertise but the ability to work in the Middle Grounds between different social languages, their networks, and concepts of social order and power of different languages and times. In taking stock of models developed by modern anthropology we might explore many of the agents who stand out in this process through their linguistic and social skills as “cultural brokers”; that is social and cultural intermediaries, who ‘stand guard over the crucial junctures of synapses of relationships’, which connect different social groups or systems to a larger whole. As simultaneous members of two or more interacting networks (kin groups, political factions, communities, or other formal or informal coalitions), brokers provide nodes of communication.

The volume will concentrate on (cultural) brokerage and translation in the early stages of the process of vernacularisation which creates a new sociolinguistic field for the negotiation of social order through the choice of texts and topics and translations and reconfigurations of older concepts into a new language.

Since the dominant languages for these negotiations are the languages of Christian philosophy and theology the individual case studies mainly address theological and pastoral texts which a) translate and interpret the higher levels of philosophical and theological knowledge into vernaculars and therefore open these levels of education to the non-elite social strata, b) introduce new topics into the religious and/or political debate on the threshold between Latin and the vernaculars, c) re-formulate existing ideas concerning the social order in general in the vernaculars, d) interpret controversial philosophical and theological topics in vernacular languages and therefore have an impact on the new understandings of the role of power in society. Texts with complex reception histories are of eminent interest - for example a Latin tract translated into a particular vernacular language with distinct social (political) impact, than translated back into Latin and re-interpreted in a new social and/or political situation. The contributions also focus on persons and social groups linked with such texts, with their social and educational backgrounds, their social positions, networks and personal histories. The volume thus provides a fresh reconsideration of the complex process of vernacularisation both in its textual and in its social aspects. The methodological tools of historiography, philology, literary and cultural studies operate on equal level to secure a creative diversity of individual approaches to the respective material.

The Translations of John of Rupescissa’s Vade mecum in tribulatione (1356) into Seven European Vernaculars

Robert Lerner

John of Rupescissa OFM was a highly influential late-medieval Latin author in terms of his role in Spiritual Franciscan propaganda, eschatological prophecy, and political discourse. Rupescissa’s incendiary Vade mecum in tribulatione, written in imprisonment in Avignon in 1356, was by far his most widely circulated work. As of today it is known to survive in some forty-one copies, aside from six others which have either been destroyed or are presently unlocatable. And that is only counting the Latin, for quite remarkably the work was translated into seven vernacular languages before roughly the year 1500. In alphabetical order these are, Castilian, Catalan, Czech, English, French, and German. Moreover, several of these languages were vehicles for more than one translation. For example, three independent French translations are known to exist. In some cases the vernacular versions do not encompass the entire work but are abbreviations or sets of selections: it is still too early to know the specifics. No more than two or three of the numerous texts here mentioned have been published. Accordingly, the numerous vernacular versions of the Vade mecum in tribulatione offer an extraordinarily rich data base for studying and comparing the choices and strategies, linguistic and ideological, that inhered in the translation of a Latin work, as well of course for studying comparative reception. It should be mentioned that while the data base is large, the original Latin work itself is of a manageable length—by a rough estimate it would come to about twenty octavo sized printed pages, divided into numbered units rather than extended prose. A critical edition of the Latin, obviously a prerequisite for studying the vernacular versions, will soon be completed and ready for use.

Evidently only an international consortium of linguistic experts and religious historians would be capable of doing the job of surveying the material outlined above. Thus a workshop comprised of scholars from many different countries is being scheduled for June 2012 to map out the work. The aim is a.) to take an inventory of all the transmissions, including multiple manuscripts (where the case arises) of any individual version, b.) to discuss methodical and theoretical possibilities of comparison of the transmitted versions, and c.) to probe the milieux of reception. The ultimate goal is a series of studies as well as the publication of editions of the various texts.

Prophetic and Apocalyptic Thinking in Late Medieval Bohemia (1300-1500)

The project focuses on various types of prophetic texts that originated in late medieval Bohemia and on the development of apocalyptic thinking. Both played an important role in the self-understanding and self-description of the ruling strata of society as well as in the learned discourses within the Prague university environment. The planned monograph will contribute to a better knowledge of the European context of the transmitted texts which represent a very specific reception of the writings of Joachim of Fiore, and of Franciscan Spirituals such as Petrus Olivi or John Rupescissa. This 'prophetic' literature usually considered to be marginal in historical research appears as an important means to understand the ways in which contemporaries interpreted their world.

The Chosen people and the End of Time: the Hussite Theologian Jacobell of Mies and his Vernacular Commentary on Apocalypse

The project focuses on a detailed examination of the extensive text of the Exposition on Apocalypse written in Czech by the leading Hussite theologian Jacobell of Mies in the early 1420s. The work has almost compületely been ignored in historical research despite its enormous importance (it serves mainly as a reservoir of exemplificative quotations). In the centre of attention are all the sources and models the author used, the intellectual discourse in which he stood, the influence of the vernacular language on the theological argumentation and the reception of the work. Especially the examination of the relationship between Jacobell's Exposition and the Latin Exposition on Apocalypse written slightly later by the Taborite theologian Nicolaus of Pelhrimov can bring observations crucial for the understanding of the dynamic of radicalisation of the Hussite movement in the 1420s and 1430s.

The Pseudo-Aristotelian Secretum secretorum
in Eastern Central Europe

In the collaborative study (together with Gabor Farkas Kis) the textual tradition and literary and social context of the Secretum secretorum in late medieval Bohemia, Hungary and Poland will be explored. The transmitted manuscript copies witness a growing interest in the pseudo-Aristotelian admonitions to Alexander the Great from the first half of the 14th century onwards in this area. They were received at the courts, as part of the genre speculum principum, in monasteries and among the clergy. Manuscripts from the university environment show a special preoccupation with the physiognomical doctrines contained in the work. The vernacular translations of the work are also under scrutiny.

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.

The Library of the Augustinian Canons of Roudnice

The Augustinian canonry in Roudnice was founded in 1333 by the Prague bishop John IV. of Dražice and was subsequently well provided for also by his successors Ernst of Pardubice and John of Jenstein. It is generally considered to have served as a power base of the archbishops of Prague and thus to have been very influential for the formation and development of intellectual life in late medieval Bohemia. At the same time, neither the holdings of the library nor the writings of the canons of Roudnice have been thoroughly researched yet. The project aims to survey and analyse the manuscripts and texts written by the Augustinians in Roudnice, acquired by them, as well as those written by them during their exile (the canonry was destroyed in 1421 by the Hussites). Special emphasis will be placed on a detailed analysis of miscellaneous codices. Through establishing connections between the texts transmitted in these concrete codices, their models, as well as their vernacular translations, the project aims to contribute to the understanding of the exact role of this particular intellectual centre in the process of vernacularisation of elite Latin discourses, as well as its role in shaping the cultural and intellectual environment of late medieval Bohemia in general.

Medieval Manuscript Miscellanies at the Corpus Christi College Library in Cambridge

The project focuses on a group of manuscripts currently held at the Corpus Christi College in Cambridge (nos. 499-538, with some exceptions), which originated within the Prague University environment in late 14th century and then (in a so far unexplained way) moved to the Brigittine convent in Elbing (now Elbląg in Poland). The collection is a unique and so far almost completely neglected source on the character of intellectual discourse in the time of social and religious transformation before the outburst of the Hussite revolt in the first decades of the 15th century. The corpus will be examined and contextualized within the frame of late medieval scholastic and pastoral thinking in Bohemia and Central Europe.

The Libraries of the Augustinian Canons in the Czech Lands

The order of Augustinian canons was brought to Bohemia in 1333 when the Prague bishop John IV of Dražice founded the first canonry in Roudnice nad Labem (Raudnitz). During few decades that followed, several other canonries were founded: in Bohemia there were Karlov, Kladsko, Jaroměř, Borovany, Rokycany, Sadská, Třeboň and Lanškroun; in Moravia Šternberk, Fulnek and Prostějov. The order soon acquired an extraordinary status and it is considered to be very influential for the formation and development of intellectual life in late medieval Bohemia. It was favored by the highest church officials: in addition to John IV of Dražice, also the first archbishop of Prague, Arnošt of Pardubice, as well as one of his followers, John of Jenštejn, were in close contacts with Roudnice. Thus, it is usually assumed in secondary literature that Augustinian canonries were centers of education and culture of the time. The most frequently repeated scholarly statement connected to the houses is that the order, and especially the canonry of Roudnice, played a crucial role in the spread of devotio moderna in the Czech lands. Yet, most of the Czech canonries were destroyed during the Hussite wars in the early 15th century (Roudnice was burnt in 1421). Some of the canons went to exile and they sometimes managed to save some books from their libraries with them and thus to save them. However, no consistent attempts at reconstructing these libraries were made, and thus discussing the intellectual life of the Augustinian canons in the Czech lands has been based only on assumption till now.

This project aims to survey and analyze the contents of the medieval libraries of Augustinian canons. We can suppose that there survived few hundred manuscripts from these monastic libraries (over 300 manuscripts from Třeboň, ca. 160 manuscripts from Roudnice and Sadská, ca. 50 manuscripts from the monastery in Borovany, ca. 50 manuscripts from Rokycany and ca. 20 manuscripts from the monastery in Karlov.) First of all it is necessary to put together the lists of the surviving manuscripts. In the next step the manuscripts will be analyzed from different points of view. Special emphasis will be placed on the transmission of the text of statutes of Augustinian canons, one of the crucial texts for the history of the order. Through establishing the lists of the surviving manuscripts and analysis of their contents, this project aims to contribute to the knowledge of the history of the order of Augustinian canons, as well as its role in the spiritual, cultural and intellectual life of the Czech lands in late Middle Ages.

Latin translations of the Czech Sunday Postilla of Jan Hus
(main project)

The aim of this project is to analyse Latin translations of the Czech Sunday Postilla, the famous late work of Jan Hus, in which he explains more than 50 Sunday's readings in the vernacular language. There are two known manuscripts (mss. MK 56 and MK 91), which are kept in the Moravian Library in Brno, containing different translations of this work into Latin. Not only these translations are quite different and could provide a lot of interesting observations about translators' strategies and techniques, but they could also help us to understand changing relationship between Latin, the original language of intellectuals and elites, and Czech, which was more and more often used in the place of Latin.
However, Jan Hus didn't write his Czech Sunday Postilla without any preparation. It is known that he used his earlier Latin sermons. This feature give us the particularly interesting opportunity to see, how some notions were translated firstly from Latin into Czech and then back again. Whether this could be also a basis for further conclusions about changing mind in the culture, it will be also a part of research.

Late medieval manuals for successful studying

The project focuses on an analysis of late medieval Bohemical treatise, entitled De modulo studendi, which is located in ms. M I 357, kept in the Research Library in Olomouc, formerly from the Carthusian monastery in Olomouc. The treatise, which I first studied in my master's thesis in 2012, seems to be quite interesting. In comparison with other medieval study guides, like De disciplina scolarium from Pseudo-Boethius or Didascalicon from Hugh of St. Victor, it provides much more detail on how to work with specific schoolbooks, like Summulae logicales or Doctrinale, how to organize the learning process and what an eager student should avoid. These detailed descriptions also arouse questions about the author's intentions and his aims. Considering some hints within the text, it seems possible that the treatise was written not just for university students, but also for autodidacts who wouldn't had have any contact with university teachers. Also the question of the author's name and his background is still to be investigated. Excluding the analysis of this treatise, its critical edition will be the main output of the project.

Legendarium Austriacum Minus (LAM)

Also known as the Pronuntiamentum de sanctis, this Latin legendary made its appearance in the first half of the fourteenth century and circulated primarily in Austria and southern Germany. It has not, so far, received much scholarly attention. It survives in sixteen manuscripts primarily in Austrian monastic libraries, which suggests that it was compiled in Austria. This legendary consists of abbreviated saints’ Lives and subsequently in the fifteenth century served as an important source for a vernacular German language legendary known as the Kreuzensteiner Legendar. The project will examine the surviving manuscripts, establish the list of saints that were included, and try to establish the sources of the abbreviated Lives. Did the compiler select saints from the pre-existing abbreviated legendaries such as the Abbreviatio in Gestis et Miraculis Sanctorum of Jean de Mailly or the Liber Epilogorum of Bartholomew of Trent or the Legenda Aurea of Jacobus of Varazze? Or did he have recourse to older legendaries such as the Passional of Zwettl or the Magnum Legendarium Austriacum? The analysis of the sources, the principles of selection, and the manner of abbreviation will help clarify the audience for this legendary and place it in the hagiographical and pastoral landscape of late medieval Austria.

Domenico Cavalca and the Liber Vitaspatrum: Vernacular Hagiography in Late Medieval Italy

The monograph examines the development of the new form of “pastoral translation” by D. Cavalca by examining the Vita Marinae from Book IV of Cavalca’s Vita dei santi padri (VSP) (ch. 2), Cavalca’s translation of Vita Pauli and Vita Malchi are analysed and compared to the 15c translations of the Lat. text into Florentine and into Castilian.The Life of Copres will be compared to a 14c translation into French and the Middle Dutch Vaderboec. Here the glossing of monastic terms unfamiliar to laity will be stressed. The final analysis will concentrate on Cavalca’s translation of the Verba seniorum and in particular the role of rubrics and paratext in making potentially slippery texts safe for lay readers.

The Latin Hagiographical Dossier of the Vita Onuphrii and its vernacular translations

Although scholars believe that the cult of this hermit was brought to the Latin west at the time of the Crusades, manuscript evidence shows that there were two 11c translations into Latin of two different Greek texts i.e. the entire Peregrinatio Paphnutii in Italy and a shorter version concentrating only on Onuphrius in S.W. Germany. The latter appeared in incunable and 16c editions but there is no edition of the former. This article will provide editions of both versions and show how these appeared in Italian, French, Middle English, Spanish, and Portuguese.

Concepts of Holiness in Late Medieval Bohemia

The project focuses on Latin and vernacular hagiographic texts produced in Bohemia during the 14th-15th centuries and their contextualisation in the contemporary hagiographic production in Central and Western Europe. Luxembourg rulers, especially the Roman emperor Charles IV. (1346-1378), exploited existing hagiographic narratives and initiated their re-writing in the course of their own political representation and legitimisation. Not only the narratives concerning concrete saints were reinterpreted but also new concepts of Holiness were created, which influenced discourses of power beyond of the borders of the Luxembourg territory. These concepts were again reconfigured during the transfer of these narratives from Latin to the vernaculars (Czech and German). Ways and outcomes of this complex transformation of hagiographic narratives will be analysed in a planned monograph.

Vernacular Theology and Politics in Late Medieval Central Europe

The project focuses on catechetic and theological literature written in Czech and German in late medieval Bohemia, c. 1350-1450. These efforts in religious and spiritual education of the lay strata of society at the end of the 14th century are considered to be one of the reasons for the rapid formation of Hussite religious movements. Although this hypothesis is an important part of the dominant explanation for the armed Hussite revolt in the 1420s, a detailed study of the transmitted texts is almost lacking. In the centre of attention are therefore, firstly, the translations of basic theological and catechetic works (such as the writings of Bernhard of Clairvaux, Richard a Sancto Victore, Bridget of Sweden, Henry Seuse), and then the extensive vernacular oeuvre (partly translations of Latin models, mainly of the tracts of John Wyclif) of the leading figure of the Hussite movement, Jan Hus. The goal of the project is a careful analysis of the transformation of religious and political discourses in late Medieval Bohemia.

Biblical Apocrypha in Vernacular Reception of Bible in Late Medieval Central Europe (PhD. Thesis)

The project focuses on the late medieval Czech translation of the so-called ‚Life of Joseph', translated and adapted from the Latin tract of Alphons Bonihominis (d. 1353) declared by the author as a translation from Arabic. The Czech translation is the only known vernacular version of the text. It plays a very important role in the context of medieval Czech biblical translations – parts of the texts probably represent an autonomous version of the Czech translation of the Bible (the text contains an extensive extract from the Book Genesis). The aim of the project is a critical edition of the text which is transmitted in six manuscripts and one early printed book, and the analysis of the literary context of the origins of respective versions of the translation. The re-writing and re-interpretation of the biblical narrative will by analysed with regard to its reception.

Modern Czech Philology Between Theory and Practice: The Work of Jiří Daňhelka (1919 – 1993)

The project focuses on the work of the leading Czech philologists Jiří Daňhelka who during the second half of the 20h century determined the ways and means of the perception and examination of medieval Czech texts. Especially his innovative access to the specific problematic of critical editions of medieval vernacular texts leads the way in contemporary philology and literary studies. An edition of his theoretical and methodological works largely based on the hithero unpublished material preserved in his personal archive will allow new insights into his thinking about medieval vernacular literatures and about the purposes and goals of modern Czech philology.

The Holy Land Lists of Indulgences and their Bohemian Context

The pilgrimage to the Holy Land is a sort of constant in the history of medieval travelling. First European pilgrims began visiting the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem and other holy sites as early as in the 4th century. Gradually, the frequency of these visits as well as the number of written accounts of these visits increased, in particular in the period spanning from the close of the 11th century to the middle of the 13th century when the area was part of the crusader states that temporarily emerged here. However, the intensity of pilgrimages did not decrease even after the fall of Acre and under Mamluk rule over the region; quite contrary, pilgrimages to the Holy Land gained new momentum at that time: the period between the middle of the 14th century and the beginning of the 16th century saw the highest number of pilgrims travelling to Jerusalem as well as the highest number of written accounts of such travels. It is in this period that indulgences for visiting the holy sites in Jerusalem and in the Holy Land in the broader sense, including Syria and Egypt, became an incentive for pious travellers to visit the holy sites. Although the beginnings of the indulgences at those sites are unclear, they are undoubtedly related to the activities of the Franciscan Custody of the Holy Land (Custodia Terrae sanctae), which was in charge of organizing the pilgrimages.

Formally harmonised lists of holy sites with relevant data concerning the granting of indulgences for visiting these sites began to appear in many travelogues in this period. Stylistically, these lists of the sites featured in the Biblical memory are very minimalistic: they include quotations from the Bible and are characterized by a unified structure in which the grant of an indulgence is frequently marked with a graphic symbol. Certain texts even contain very similar prefaces. Yet, these texts originated in various parts of Europe, both in Latin and in the vernacular languages, and became a (more or less integral) part of travelogues written by travellers from different geographic and social backgrounds. Such texts, collectively referred to as “lists of indulgences”, are at the centre of our interest. The basic question put forward by the project is how these lists were supposed to be drawn up (and then disseminated) and what purpose they were supposed to serve in medieval society. The second important direction of research concerns the presence or impact of these documents in the Bohemical context, including both certain travelogues of domestic provenance and translations of foreign travelogues as well as general descriptions of the Holy Land preserved in the Bohemian lands.

Uses of the past at the courts of French and Bohemian Kings 1350-1400 (PhD. Thesis)

Concepts of the past are most important parts in the formation of individual and collective identity. Medieval authors deliberately used the historical narratives as a means of enhancing the cohesion of respective social groups, usually the ruling strata of society. The project focuses on re-interpretations and exploitations of the past in France and Bohemia during the 14th century, on the role of historical narratives in the self-representation of the ruling dynasties Luxembourg and Valois, and on the perception of their own role in the history. Main question of the project is the social and literary context of the shaping of an imagination of the past: detailed comparison between the Latin and vernacular historiographical production at the royal courts in France and Bohemia will also bring crucial observations as to the ways and means of cultural transfer between the respective centres of power.

Central European Mirrors of Princes Between Latin and the Vernaculars

The goal of the project is to analyze the transition of the traditional literary genre of speculum principum from Latin to vernacular discourse with an emphasis on the production written in Central Europe, especially in Bohemia during the second half of the 14th and in the 15th centuries. The corpus of texts relevant for the study includes works written in Bohemia, Austria and Germany as well as Latin and Vernacular works from France and England. The main attention is paid to the spread and reception of the thought of Aristotle in Central Europe (Engelbert of Admont, De regimine principum, ca. 1300; comments of Aristotle's Politica written at the University of Prague in the second half of the 14th century). The time horizon of the project is the reign of the three Luxembourg kings (Charles IV., Wenceslaus IV and Sigismund in 1346-1437). This epoch is marked by the rise of vernacular literacy which began in the enviroment of the royal court, the archbishop's see and the University of Prague and quickly spread further into religious institutions, towns and aristocratic courts. The fundamental change of perspective that occured during the transfer of concepts of ideal rulership from Latin culture into the vernaculars is the main topic of analysis.

Štěpán of Palecz’s (d. 1423) Opera logicalia and the Reception of English Logic in Late Medieval Bohemia

Since 1348 the University of Prague was one of the most prominent intellectual centres of the Holy Roman Empire, deeply soaked in the tradition of Parisian nominalism and, since the 1380s, also a significant locus of John Wyclif’s reformed heritage in Central Europe. Roots of both traditions are only partially studied, some of their interactions remain largely unexplored. This research, at the convergence of several disciplines (medieval philosophy, logic, late medieval palaeography and medieval history or history of universities) will undertake the first systematic investigation of the five unique extant logical treatises compiled by the Czech reformed intellectual Štěpán of Palecz (d. 1423) sometimes early in nineties of the 14th Century. It aims to change the paradigm and perception of the problem of how treatises of John Wyclif (d. 1384) were transmitted into the Central European region i.e. draw attention to a wider transmission process of the English sources such as the logical tracts of Richard Billingham, Richard Brinkley and Richard Ferrybridge.

Pastoral Care in the Vernacular: Jan Hus’s Treatise Dcerka (The Daughter), O poznání cesty pravé k spasení (On the knowledge of the true way to salvation) – Analysis and Contextual Interpretation

The aim of the research is a detailed analysis and contextualisation of Jan Hus’s treatise Dcerka (The Daughter) into late medieval discussions on pastoral care, held especially within the intellectual tradition of Prague University, in texts such as Thomas of Chobham’s Summa confessorum, Bartholomeus of Pisa’s Summa de casibus conscientiae, Conrad of Ebrach’s Compendium confessionis, Matthew of Cracow’s Opuscula theologica and Stephen of Colonia’s Libellus de poenitentia. The goal of the project is to provide material comparison with determination of sources, intertextuality, resemblances and differences between selected texts, further detailed interpretation and a new contextual analysis of Jan Hus’s concept of the pastoral care of the laity.

The Idea of Reform and Formation of Community: John Wyclif and Bohemia in 15th Century

The purpose of the project is to examine selected vernacular translations of Wyclif’s works in concrete a study of the Wyclif’s tract Dialogus and its Old-Bohemian “conversion” carried out by the Czech Reformed Theologian Jacobellus de Missa (d. 1429). The goal of the research is a precise re-examination of the Bohemian manuscript tradition of the treatise Dialogus (twenty codices so far listed in Central European libraries, such as Prague and Vienna). Further examination (especially paleographical and content) will consider the two manuscripts where the Old-Bohemian translation is preserved (the National Library in Prague and the Library of National Museum in Prague), divergences between Wyclif’s Latin original text and its Old-Bohemian conversion, the question of audience, purpose and influence of the vernacular translation in Bohemia during the 15th Century.

The scriptorium of Dominican nuns on the Insula Leporum: textual exercises on vernacular theology and piety in the late medieval Hungary (1510-1530)

The project aims at the analysis of the transmission of pious and scholastic knowledge by the scriptors of the royal nunnery named on the Insula Leporum (Island of Rabbits, now Margitsziget) in Buda. At present, the knowledge about the beginnings of vernacular literacy in late medieval Hungary is deeply connected to the scriptorium of this monastery: there are around 48-50 mss. produced in vernacular from before 1526, and 8-10 of these belonged to the named monastery (The numbers vary because of the changing integrity of the codices - binding/rebinding, and also because of the presence of two manuscripts of a secular aristocratic donator in the library of the Dominican nuns at Insula Leporum). It is the only place to which a relatively great number of existing vernacular manuscripts can be safely retraced in medieval Hungary, and where the work of an independent scriptorium can be reconstructed. At least four female scribes (three of them known by name: Lea Ráskay, Márta Sövényházi, Kató Legéndy) can be individuated in the given period, all of whom show a personal scribal style (eg. in rubrication) and a distinct predilection for certain types of texts. Examined will be the role of the literacy and the scribal activity of the nuns at three levels:

  • selection of texts: what are the texts translated? / whether they were copied from a source intended for a male audience, or the translation was produced directly for the nuns?
  • vernacular devotion and theology: the presence of current devotional themes (blood of Christ; virgin Mary; methodical meditation; fragments of visionary literature; death dance; prayers specific to Dominicans, eg. St Mechtilde) and theological subject (transsubstantiation, immaculate conception)
  • comparative aspect: lessons drawn from parallels: female scribes, and libraries of (preferably Dominican) nuns in the East Central European area

Latin and Vernacular Versions of the Tabule veteris et novi coloris of Nicholas of Dresden and Their Political Impact

When Nicholas of Dresden, an active supporter of the Hussite party in Prague, composed a text entitled Tabule veteris et novi coloris seu Cortina de anticristo in 1412, he could by no means forsee the effect this text would have upon wider masses in the future. Besides its immediate popularity among the Hussite reformers, this sharp and propagandistic work, based on the contrasts between the Primitive Church and the modern Roman Church, continued stiring emotions long after the death of its author. At the turn of the 15th and 16th centuries, an Old Czech adaptation of the Latin original was included in the richly illuminated Jena Codex, a unique treasure of late medieval Bohemian culture and one of the most popular medieval manuscripts of Bohemian provenance.

The Old Czech adaptation of the Tabule, which contains numerous pictorial antitheses that supplanted the text and played the main role in transmitting the message, has received much attention from modern scholars. At present it is commonly accepted that the pictorial antitheses in the Jena codex were not modelled directly on the Latin text of Nicholas’s Tabule but they served a different purpose. At the same time, the opinion that certain pictorial antitheses (possibly in the form of wall-paintings) were well-known among the Hussites is also widespread. The hypothesis that the Latin text of the Tabule could have been meant as a model for these wall-paintings presented a breakthrough in the debate.

The contrasts presented in the Tabule are very much grounded in contemporary ideology, especially in the works of John Wyclif, Matthew of Janov and others. Yet the Tabule expresses in an explicit manner what is only implicitly contained in these well-known works: the Roman Church is presented here as the mystical body of Antichrist while its opposite, the Primitive Church, stands for a real system of new social order that can be restored among people. The new element in Nicholas’s criticism, moreover, is that it is postulated from the point of view of a person standing outside the criticized institution.

The paper aims at investigating the connection between the Latin Tabule and its Czech adaptation in the Jena codex from the point of view of communication and the way they adopted different textual and/or pictorial strategies in order to achive their desired effect. I will explore how the collection of lenghty Latin quotations from Bible, the Canon Law and various authorities, embodied in the Tabule, were later transformed into the sharply spectacular pictorial and vernacular adaptation in the Jena Codex.

The "Puncta" of Jan Hus: Latin Transmission of Vernacular Preaching

Jan Hus's earliest sermon collection, the "Puncta", represents a typical example of how sermons were transmitted in late medieval Central Europe: preaching, originally a vernacular oral event, was recorded in the context of Latin learned culture, reworked by the preacher himself and/or by readers who used it for their own reference. The "Puncta" survive in seven manuscripts. They contain sermons for whole Church year arranged either in two parts (de tempore and de sanctis), or in one piece (per circulum anni). This suggests that the collection was subject to some re-arrangements made by scribes or users. The original popular-theological content, supposedly adapted to the needs of illiterate public at the point of vernacular delivery, remain concealed under the layer deposed by manuscript users. The remaining traces of live vernacular preaching can be discerned only if the intricacies of textual transmission and reception are taken into account.

Given the very limited scholarly attention the collection has gained so far, this project departs from an elementary examination of surviving manuscript versions. The question of sources is be addressed and the dating of the collection as well as its relation to the oral delivery re-examined. Special focus is on narrative or explanatory inserts and on Czech glosses. One distinctive feature of the "Puncta" is the tension between the learned apparatus (such as the explicit references to Aristotle's writings) on the one hand and the numerous distinctiones, exempla and figurae on the other hand. Furthermore, some germinal motives of Hussite agitation for Church reform can be found in this collection. The case study of the "Puncta" thus provides clues to the means by which preachers intended to get theological matters in general, and the reform agenda in particular, over to the laity.

Polish Vitae Christi and Passiones from the Late Middle Ages (15th-first half of the 16th Century)

Some Latin and vernacular versions of apocrypha of The Old and New Testaments were very well known and often read in Poland during the 15th and 16th c. There are testimonies of their popularity in manuscripts surviving especially in the libraries of churches and monasteries. Apocryphal motifs, particularly from New Testament, can be found in sermons, religious songs and exempla. Polish translations appeared probably at the turn of the 14th and 15th c. However, most of the surviving copies are dated to the turn of the 15th and 16th c. Some parts of Acta Pilati have been translated by anonymous Polish author. Apart from this text, also Wyrok Piłata or Epistola manu Dei scripta have been translated and popularized among people. The Epistola was copied and published yet in 17th and even in the 19th century were gladly read by priests and people. The apocryphal apocalypses were copied in 14th and 15th c., however only the small fragment of translation of Visio S. Pauli survived until today. Some apocrypha of the Old Testament were also read and translated.

The study focuses on the Polish versions of the Life of Christ and Passions: Rozmyślanie o żywocie Pana Jezusa (so-called Rozmyśalnie przemyskie) and Żywot Pana Jezu Krysta by Baltazar Opec. Particularly Żywot Pana Jezu Krysta by Baltazar Opec is one of the most important Polish texts of the late medieval period in Poland. It is an apocrypha which was based on medieval sources, and had a large influence on the Old-Polish spirituality, art and literature. Żywot was a very popular book in Poland through the ages. Around 40 editions of this text are known up to nineteenth century. My aim is to investigate the relationships between these texts, to show how they relate to the Latin sources, and to discuss in which ways the Polish versions are exceptional and specific for this region and cultural and religious conditions of the age, like anti-iudaic motifes contained in the passions, caused by strong influences of St. John Capistran and Polish Franciscan Observants on the spiritual and literary environments at the turn of the 15th and 16th c.