Frühmittelalterliche Studien

Band 44

Zusammenfassungen der Beiträge in englischer Sprache (abstracts)

Sigmund Oehrl, Ornithomorphe Psychopompoi im Bildprogramm der gotländischen Bildsteine, S. 1-37

The focus of the study is a unique motif on a relatively unknown and hardly noticed Gotlandic picture stone. It shows a woman with a drinking horn, welcoming a man on foot who is accompanied by a long-legged, long-necked bird that appears to push him from behind. Based on this depiction, the role of birds in the iconography of the Gotlandic picture stones is analyzed. It is argued that long-necked birds (a swan or maybe a stork or crane) repeatedly appear on the picture stones. They stand in close connection with the figure of the valkyrie and thus seem to fulfil an important function during the death journey and the afterworld adventus. These insights cast new light on the question about age and character of the valkyrie's bird-affinity, which finds its expressions only in a few - in particular young - written sources. A number of Nordic picture monuments - for instance the water bird composition on early Gotlandic picture stones and depictions of the Roman-Germanic military god Mars Thingsus - as well as the Christian tradition are included in the discussion. In three cases, the scene with the bird-shaped psychopomp is connected with a group of three men carrying tools or weapons on their shoulders. Their meaning is unclear but against the background of the death journey they can probably be interpreted as part of some kind of funeral rite.

Christoph Dartmann, Die Sakralisierung König Wambas. Zur Debatte um frühmittelalterliche Sakralherrschaft, S. 39-57

The article discusses the concepts needed to appropriately interpret the religious dimension of medieval kingship. Is the kings' sacral character best understood as a broadly shared belief in medieval culture that was inclined to trust in God's choice of the right person on the throne and in the king's responsibility before God, as it is conceived by Franz-Reiner Erkens? Or should the strategic use of religious legitimization of power be highlighted, that tried to safeguard the king from criticism by his contemporaries? Inspired by a concept of Christoph Auffarth this essay tries to follow a third way in between the alternatives of popular belief in the sacral character of kings or the reduction to a merely functional understanding of legitimatizing strategies by pointing out the procedural nature of ascribing sacral dimensions to political actors. These topics are discussed by the example of the Visigothic king Wamba, who during his reign from 672 to 680 was the object of the first attested unction of a medieval king as well as of an intrigue that ended his regime by making him a powerless penitent. In the course of both events, the religious legitimization of kings was as well staged as well as contested; it became a disputed resource of power. Analogous observations can be made by analyzing the sources for Wamba's reign, especially the famous 'Historia Wambae regis', written by Julian of Toledo. The analysis of the appropriation of religious discourses and believes in order to strengthen the position of political actors makes the processes of reinterpretation of legitimatizing arguments understandable. In the case of king Wamba Julian of Toledo plays a key-role through his efforts to reshape existing practices and discourses to fit to the specific needs of kings or other actors of late 7th century Spain.

Konstantin Olbrich, Die Britannienprophezeiung des Gildas im Lichte römischer Säkularvorstellungen: Spuren einer politischen Fälschung des 8. Jahrhunderts?, S. 59-82

Gildas' De Excidio Britanniae is, in all likelihood, an early 8th century forgery, as its initial prophecy on the duration of Anglo-Saxon domination in Britain was a prophecy ex eventu. Primarily designed by Anglo-Saxon clerics to support ideologically the final military blow against Romano-British Dumnonia, its chronological framework cannot have been designed before the 670/80s. It was the time when the reforms of archbishop Theodor of Tarsos in Britain took lasting shape and the mission of St Augustine in about 596 began to be understood as being a providential milestone long since past. In the context of De Excidio Britanniae and Bede's work, the monastic movement among English and continental kings before 750 as well as numismatic evidence mirror imminent eschatological expectations within the Anglo-Saxon society. These, ultimately rooting in Late Roman models, appear to have predicted the end of the world for 748/49. Based on a tradition derived from Livy and the Latin Church fathers, according to which Rome's 'fatal year' would have been 448/49, the Anglo-Saxons believed that their 'own' Eucharistic/imperial era of 300 (=150 + 150) years were granted to them before the Day of Doom and the return of Christ.

Wolfgang Giese, Non felicitatem set miseriam. Untersuchungen zur 'Historia Langobardorum Beneventanorum' des Erchempert, S. 83-135

First, the essay shall attempt to point out the individual characteristics of the historiographer Erchempert as expressed in his numerous first-person statements and in the conception of his work. Then, in a step-by-step analysis, the contents of Erchempert's account will be traced. It depicts the decline of the principality of Benevento as a territory in its own right and ends at a certain turning-point. Its decline had been caused by incessant power struggles in the principality itself and also around it. During these, the divinely ordained secular ordering principles of peace and respect for power hierarchies had been disregarded. Erchempert's account was intended to serve as an instruction to posterity and to warn against a destructive relapse into renewed selfish power aspirations. Additionally, a statement will be made on the question of xenophobia in Erchempert's writings.

Giovanni Isabella, Das Sakralkönigtum in Quellen aus ottonischer Zeit: unmittelbarer Bezug zu Gott oder Vermittlung durch die Bischöfe?, S. 137-152

For a long time historians have analyzed the medieval sacred kingship in the light of the numinous, a concept developed by Rudolf Otto. In contrast to this monolithic and static concept, the essay highlights the functional nature of sacred kingship in medieval power emphasizing its character as a construction aimed at political and ideological legitimacy of a particular king in a specific context. In the age of Otto I the sacralisation of the king was one of the elements used by authors associated with the Ottonian court to legitimize the power of the emperor and his family. But the ordo coronationis of Mainz and the Antapodosis of Liutprand of Cremona show how this construction has been used in different ways and with opposing goals: on the one hand, as the bishops' claim to rule the kingdom that had been entrusted by God on the king's side. On the other hand, it has been used as an attempt to put the king in a predominant position in relation to his political partners, namely the powerful ecclesiastical and lay aristocracy.

Hagen Keller, Über die Rolle des Königs bei der Einsetzung der Bischöfe im Reich der Ottonen und Salier, S. 153-174

With the elevation of a bishop, the Ottonian and Salian monarchs invested the chosen candidate with the crosier and in a public ritual entrusted to him the bishopric and episcopal church. This highly symbolic ritual evoked the image of Christ's calling of the apostles, in whose succession the bishops stood. In the earthly realm the king exercised limited power, in Christ's stead, as bestowed by God. This concept of the sacrality of kingship is directly related to the investiture of bishops. The following article will endeavour to establish, in more precise detail, the elements of this relationship. Initial discussion will focus on phenomena, which in accordance with generally accepted scholarly opinion, demonstrate the sacral nature of the Ottonian and Salian kingdoms. Subsequently some examples of the appointment of bishops to bishoprics under Henry II (1002 - 1024) will be analysed to demonstrate concrete cases in which the elevation of bishops can be shown to have been the result of a process of negotiation. This process should be interpreted within the context of a consensus orientated exercise of authority, even in those cases in which the king in the face of conflicting interests held the strongest and ultimately decisive role. The sacral nature of the king's office, which was embedded in a specific understanding of the church and of the right order of the world, bestowed on the king a pre-eminent position amongst his peers; however, it gave him no right to dominance in terms of political power. As a consequence of this, the fight for such rights in the late phase of the investiture contest led to a new definition of relationship between the king and the imperial churches; a relationship, that was no longer - as was the case up until that time - based on an ecclesiological centre.

Jenny Oesterle, Die Erscheinung des sakralen Imam-Kalifen von Kairo. Inszenierte Sichtbarkeit und Verborgenheit im fatimidischen Hofzeremoniell und in der ismailitischen Herrschaftstheologie, S. 175-186

How can sacral rulership be visualized in a multireligious context? Medieval rulers in the Islamic world (and in Byzantium) made use of the interlinkages of concealment and epiphany to emphasize and visualize their incommensurability especially during religious high feasts. The essay is focussing on the political functions of invisibility in relation to the staged creation of visibility in rituals at the court of the Fatimid Caliphs in Egypt (10th century). The Ismaily Fatimids ruled as a Shiite Muslim minority over a majority of Sunni Muslims, Christians and Jews. If a ruler of multireligious and multiethnic subjects, such as the Fatimid caliph, made use of sacral aspects in his exercise of power, the visualization of his rule obviously required a comprehensive range of ceremony and ritual. It extended from the demonstration of overwhelming power, strength, and effectiveness without concurrent religious messages, aimed at admiration and appreciation by Jews and Christians, over intrareligious offers of partial agreement and inclusion into the Muslim rule on the basis of shared religious symbols, signs and rites, up to the supernatural, exclusive, religious performance and the sacral events, based in the Ismaily theology of power, in view of the ruler.

Hartmut Beyer, Autorschaft bei Petrus Damiani. Eremitische Inspiration und ihre Vermittlung im Brief, S. 187-226

The essay deals with the legitimation of theological authorship in the works of Peter Damian. His harsh invectives against the learning of the schools and his resignation from the office of bishop and cardinal (expressed in two programmatic letters) show that neither of them could, in his eyes, serve this purpose. The report of an anonymous pupil about his mission to Cluny reveals Damian as generating authority by ascesis and public penitence, according to his position as hermit and head of a whole congregation of hermitages. Because of the diffusion of hermits in 11th century Italy and the influence of the lives of the Desert Fathers, hermitism was a reliable source of charisma, which Damian endeavoured to adapt to the needs of Church reform, using patterns provided by Saint Benedict and Gregory the Great. How Damian imagines the authorisation of theological teaching can be observed in his accounts of Saint Romuald, Saint Severus of Ravenna and of his own confrères at Fonte Avellana. It consists in a descent of the Holy Spirit upon a perfectly penitent person, evidenced by prophecy and incessant weeping. Its theoretical basis can be found in Gregory's 'Homiliae in Hiezechihelem'. The essay further investigates how Damian implicitly ascribes to himself a similar prophetic authority. As 12th century theologians do, Damian legitimizes his teaching by a model of conversio, but unlike them he radically performs this model in his own life.

Romedio Schmitz-Esser, Bestrafung des Leichnams zur Purifizierung der Christenheit? Der Ursprung der Verbrennungsstrafe an Häretikern und Hexen im Früh- und Hochmittelalter und sein Verhältnis zum Reliquienkult, S. 227-263

It is well known that heretics and witches were punished by burning in the premodern world. But who chose this kind of sanction, and why? Although much research has been done on the phenomenon itself, its roots have not been discussed that broadly. The intention of this article is to focus on these origins in the Early and High Middle Ages. It argues that neither legal traditions nor biblical references made up the mind of medieval authorities, but that on the contrary the intellectual elite had actually only little to do with the introduction of this specific punishment. When the first heresies of the 11th century were dealt with, burning was only chosen in cases where ordinary people were involved. First, secular and ecclesiastical authorities opposed these cases of lynching, and it was only in a very slow process during the 12th century that burning was adopted in legal procedures of the time. Therefore, it seems reasonable to assume that a certain fear of the heretic's body, whose soul was thought to suffer in hell, led to this kind of punishment. Body parts of heretics were feared to work miracles like the relics of saints, although these ones, worked by the devil's companions, must have been harmful to the society and had to be avoided through an extinction of their bodies.

Claudia Garnier, Der doppelte König. Zur Visualisierung einer neuen Herrschaftskonzeption im 14. Jahrhundert, S. 265-290

In the scholarly discourse on medieval theory of the state it has mostly been unitas which was considered the basis of successful governance. However, political everyday life was only seldom according to this idealtypical postulate. Many rulers in the Roman-German Empire of the second half of the 13th century as well as of the early 14th century could not claim that they were the sole rulers. That several kings were acting as dual or antikings was an experience made in contradiction to political theory. In political practice, the 'dual king' was thus not only interpreted as an undesirable development but dual leadership was even considered an alternative to the traditional political structures of monarchy. This concept, which was developed at the time of the dual kingship of Frederick the Fair and Ludwig the Bavarian (1314-1330), will be discussed by the contribution. After bitter fights for the crown, the two opponents made peace in the year 1325 and reached an understanding which established a dual kingship, granting equal rights to both of them. This was a previously unknown concept, and indeed it was never again considered. The contribution will pursue the question of how this new type of rule could be visualized by way of ritual. How a form of government could be transferred on a state ceremonial which up to then had been determined by a contradicting conception and had thus not developed any appropriate ways of expression? This is followed by the question of in how far government rituals in the late Middle Ages were able to react flexibly to changes of the political order, if they were able to change well known patterns or if there were limits to the possibilities of change.

Bernd Roling, Von der weinenden Madonna zum Androiden: Der Leipziger Gelehrte Christian Flemig und die wundertätigen Bilder des Mittelalters, S. 291-329

Bleeding icons and crosses gifted with eloquence formed an important part of Christian popular culture in the Middle Ages and were collected by authors like Caesarius of Heisterbach as examples of medieval piety. In the early 18th century a theologian of the university of Leipzig, the Lutheran Christian Flemig, made an extensive attempt to unmask the vast array of talking crucifixes and crying statues of the Blessed Virgin as a collective beguilement and a result of a wide-ranging conspiracy of the catholic establishment. As both a conservative theologian and a follower of modern mechanical philosophies, Flemig developed a twofold strategy to reveal the true character of those medieval miracles in his three disputations dealing with the matter. Although in the beginning, according to Flemig, demons may have taken advance of the talking icons, in the Middle Ages the majority of the miraculous objects, as described in medieval sources, consisted of automats and diligently constructed machines. The achievements of modern engineering, present e.g. in the works of Caspar Schott or Athanasius Kircher, could help to reconstruct the technical knowledge, that once enabled the medieval monks to baffle their audience.

Michael Becker, Ironia. Mittelalterliche Ironietheorie von der Antike bis zur Renaissance, S. 357-393

The notion of irony and its development from the beginnings in ancient Athens up to the humanists in the sixteenth century is sketched by the second introductory paper. It mainly focuses on the rhetorical discourse on irony and the transformations the notion of irony underwent within this period of time. With regard to the papers presented in this volume, this essay especially concentrates on the different aspects of irony in the Middle Ages and the early modern period. In addition to the rhetorical sources it also draws on examples of medieval biblical exegesis and scholastic ethics in order to reconstruct the continuities as well as the new developments within the discourse on irony. Finally, the concept of 'Socratic irony' and its re-discovery in the Renaissance is discussed.

Mona Alina Kirsch, Das er in spottes wise hette entpfangen - Einblicke in die literarische Darstellung von Spott und Ironie im Mittelalter, S. 395-418

The paper discusses the complex relation between irony and mockery and addresses the different forms and functions of mockery. Kirsch analyses how irony and mockery are used in medieval epics and gains new insights into medieval 'mocking culture' by focusing on the characters' speech (Figurenrede) and the different contexts of communication. Particular attention is paid to the use of mockery and derision in combats and the interdependences between physical and verbal strength. Stressing the ambivalent role derision can have in these situations, Kirsch points on the one hand at its provocative as well as its exacerbating/aggravating function. On the other hand, 'mild' mockery can also be used to de-escalate a conflict and prevent or prolong an open fight. Furthermore, in a few cases the part of the mocking protagonist is played by women who then tend to adopt male patterns of derisive speech.

Simon Maria Hassemer, Ironische Automaten.Trompette und Bretstelmann im spätmittelalterlichen Straßburger Münster, S. 419-435

Is it possible to transfer the concept of irony from its 'origins' in literature to objects of visual art? This question is discussed using the example of a group of medieval automata in the Strasbourg cathedral which were notorious for their noisy disturbances of Mass and are mentioned throughout several late medieval sources. After a detailed description of the automata and their history, they are located within the social context of late medieval Strasbourg and the sacred space of the cathedral itself. By carefully re-reading the sources which mostly derive from an automata-critical point of view, their 'mockery' can be linked to contemporary social constraints between the Strasbourg citizens and the rural population of the neighbouring villages. As criticism of the automata and their goings-on was above all voiced by protagonists of Church Reform the automata must also be placed in the process of change which the relation between the 'comical' and the 'sacred' underwent in late medieval and early modern times. Finally, Hassemer discusses the ironic potential of the automata with special emphasis on medieval 'mockery culture'.

Christina Brauner, Ironische Stiche, sarkastische Schnitte. Überlegungen zu einem Konzept der Bildironie am Beispiel der reformationszeitlichen Bildsatire, S. 437-459

This paper raises the question whether irony is transferable to visual art or, to cut it short, if pictures can be ironic. After briefly summarising different approaches to 'visual irony' that were discussed so far, a sketch of a typology of visual irony is suggested. This typology is further elaborated on and put to the test by analysing several examples of visual satire and propaganda from the Reformation era. Besides its methodological question the paper focuses on the specific importance of irony in the Reformation era and its relations with the themes of reversal and 'sheen and been' which are much discussed in this period.

Michael Becker, Den Spötter verspotten. Ironie und inversiver Spott in der 'Epistula Magistri Benedicti Passavantii' Théodore de Bèzes (1553), S. 461-486

The Genevan Reformation was characterised by its particular attitude to and handling of irony and satire. Taking the lately edited satire 'Epistula Magistri Benedicti Passavantii' (written by the reformer Theodore de Bèze) as an example, the function of irony within this satire is explained. It is further contextualized by an analysis of the reformed-Calvinist theory of irony, as to be found in the works of Bèze himself, Jean Calvin and Pierre Viret. The Genevan Reformation thus appears by no means as a hostile opponent to any kinds of humour, but as well aware of the potential which irony and satire can provide for the propagation and dissemination of the gospel and the exposure of 'Papist' abuses. Based on these findings, Becker suggests a concept of inversion of mockery which is typical of Reformation satires attacking the confessional antagonist and voicing their critique in an ironic disguise.

Wieland Schwanebeck, Der Ironiker verstummt: Friedrich Torbergs Mittelalter-Roman 'Süßkind von Trimberg', S. 487-507

Friedrich Torberg, an author of the 20th century, well-known for his subtle and elaborate uses of irony, dedicated many years of his life to 'Süßkind von Trimberg', a novel set in medieval times. It recounts the life of the only known Jewish Minnesinger in Germany. Doomed as a failure by many critics, 'Süßkind von Trimberg' was viciously attacked as a failed attempt to depict the Middle Ages from a 20th century point of view. Most critics took issue with Torberg's explicit comparisons between anti-Semitism in the medieval period and 20th century genocide. In addition, the readers of Torberg's novel complained that the distinctive ironic touch usually characteristic of both his own writing and his work as a translator was missing from the novel, as the book opts for a predominantly bleak outlook on its protagonist's fate, rendering the events in biblical prose. Rereading the novel today and particularly with regard to irony, it becomes clear that most interpretations so far did not pay careful attention to those situations in the book where irony is rendered problematic and, admittedly, rejected. Thus, 'Süßkind von Trimberg' is not so much a failed novel but an account of poetological failure when it comes to the appropriateness of irony. This also evokes the problematic and more general question of whether or not irony is considered a suitable trope in contemporary narrative approaches to the Middle Ages.