Germany (Nuremberg), c. 1490s.
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Manuscript letter, in Latin, from the Abbot of St. Aegidius, Nuremberg, complaining about the actions of the bishop of Bamberg; a single paper leaf written in a cursive script with much abbreviation, 55 lines; sometime folded, some light spotting, but in very good condition. (326 x 217 mm)
St. Aegidius fell under the ecclesiastical jurisdiction of the archbishopric of Bamberg, and the letter is a somewhat exasperated account of the archbishop’s efforts to extract taxation from the monastery (on account of its imperial ‘regalia’) and the abbot’s refusal to allow any such thing. Heinrich Groß von Trockau, Prince-Archbishop of Bamberg (1487–1501), ‘an energetic organizer [who] issued a number of laws’ (Catholic Encyclopedia), is the most likely candidate for the archbishop. The bishop’s magister curie, one ‘Dytz von Taugen’ is mentioned in the letter, as is one ‘Wolfgang Krel’.
In his defence of the monastery’s position, the abbot appeals to the intended recipient, the identity of whom is not entirely certain. Evidently he was above the abbot in the ecclesiastical hierarchy and must have been a man of considerable influence. Possibly he was the archbishop of Mainz; a reference to the latter in the third person (‘dominum moguntinensem’, the sense being that nothing should be undertaken without his reply) occurs towards the end of the letter. The Archbishop-Elector of Mainz at the end of the fifteenth century was Berthold von Henneberg-Römhild (1484–1504). Berthold ‘encouraged and urged the reformation of the clergy and the religious orders, which was already in progress, and was especially solicitous for a better education of the clergy . . . . [He] had long been dissatisfied with the many pecuniary demands of Rome upon Germany and the improprieties that often accompanied the preaching of indulgences, and shortly before his death he respectfully submitted these grievances of the German nation to Pope Pius III, who had just succeeded Alexander VI’ (Catholic Encyclopedia).
Accompanied by a complete transcription by Professor Tilo Brandis of Berlin.
From the collection of Bernard Rosenthal.
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