EXC 2060 A3-18 - Sacrality and the culture of piety in architectural and pictorial works of the early Habsburgs

in Process
Funding Source
DFG - Cluster of Excellence
Project Number
EXC 2060/1
  • Description

    The project is investigating how architectural and pictorial works of the late Middle Ages made the sacrality of the ruler and piety (in their tense relationship both to each other and to their political-cultural context) the subject of specific media processes of meaning-making. Following F.-R. Erkens, the project understands sacrality or the process of the sacralization of rulers (or ruling dynasties) as a “special relationship of closeness” between the ruler (or his family) and God; and, following B. Hamm, it understands piety as the totality of those concepts and practices that deal with the “enforcement of religion through a formative shaping of life” with the goal of attaining eternal salvation.

    This evokes two categories and subject areas that have been studied many times, especially in medieval history. It is expected that the relationship of tension between sacrality and the culture of piety, or how this relationship is modelled in architectural and pictorial media, can be used to examine the entanglement and disentanglement of religious and political culture. Particular attention will be paid here to how far the changing practices of piety in the late Middle Ages, with their considerable potential for innovation, could also have led to a change in the forms of representation of ruling sacrality. How do the architectural and pictorial media of the late Middle Ages address this? What differences can be observed from earlier figurations, and what role does the new culture of piety play in this? In what contexts and with what intentions is this resource chosen at all, and when not? Can specific dynastic cultures of dealing with sovereign sacrality and a renewed culture of piety be identified in architectural and pictorial works?

    The area of investigation comprises works of art donated by or addressed to the Habsburgs between the first king of the dynasty, Rudolf I (1273-91), and its first emperor, Frederick III (1452-93, Roman-German king from 1440); these include in particular works of sacred architecture, sculpture, and wall and glass painting. Other dynasties within and outside the empire (above all the Wittelsbach, Luxembourg, and Anjou dynasties) will be compared so that a better understanding can be gained of the special features and dynamics, as well as the scope for action and decision-making, that they had.

  • Persons