Friday, December 28, 2012

If you find an intriguing title

If you find a seventeenth-century Dutch pamphlet with a title that seems too similar to "Wilhelm Friess" to be a coincidence, you will want to find a facsimile.

If you find the item in the special collections catalog of the university library that owns it, you will probably ask yourself what else might be in this collection. Your keyword search for "proph*" may turn up 393 hits.

As you search through the results, you will find dozens of pamphlets you wish you could see.

Before you contact the library to order facsimiles, you will ask yourself if some of these pamphlets are already available online. You will type the titles into Google.

If you type the titles into Google, you will find a half-dozen digitized pamphlets available through Google Books.

You may even find among them a seventeenth-century Dutch pamphlet with a title that seems too similar to "Wilhelm Friess" to be a coincidence...

That - with apologies to Laura Numeroff and Felicia Bond - is more or less the process that led to the discovery of two new editions of "Wilhelm Friess II." I'm still waiting to see the "Night Vision of 24 April 1601" attributed to Paul Grebner, which I suspect is "Friess II" in disguise, but the search through the Leiden UB catalog turned up another night vision, this one ostensibly translated from German and attributed to the otherwise unknown "Jerrassemus van Eydenborch" (see the Grebner bibliography). Facsimiles of two Ghent copies are available on Google Books (here and here), and it turns out that the text has combined "Friess II" with Grebner's "Second Marvelous Prophecy" and some other material. The Friess text is thoroughly reworked, with the appearance of the armies reordered to create a final conflict between two sides (as in Grebner) rather than an invasion from all sides from which a small band of survivors escapes. The printer of the first of two editions, "Frans de Vlamingh" of Emden, appears to be a pseudonym that only appears in connection with this work.

I've suspected that Friess and Grebner are connected in some way, but now there is some firm evidence for it.

Friday, November 30, 2012

Research links you need to know agout: ZVDD - DDB Grünpeck shootout

Via Der Spiegel comes the announcement of the Deutsche Digitale Bibliothek, which looks like it aims to provide a comprehensive index of digitalized objects from German archives, museums, and libraries. But don't we already have something like that, at least for printed books, in the Zentrales Verzeichnis Digitalisierter Drucke? I have no idea if the DDB is already including ZVDD data. Let's see how the two compare on a search for "Grünpeck." There are several digital editions of some of Josef Grünpeck's works available, so he provides a reasonable test case of what we might expect from the DDB.

First, the raw numbers:
ZVDD: 47
DDB: 20

That isn't reassuring at first glance, but the ZVDB looks like it contains a lot of duplicates. Let's dig into the numbers a bit more.
Year Title ZVDD DDB Total known
1496 Cicero, Paradoxa stoicorum  (dedication) 1 1 1
1496 Tractatus de scorra 28 6 7
1503 Mentulagra 1 1 1
1507 Zeichenauslegung 2 2 2
1508 Speculum 8 4 4
1515 Ad principes 1 1 1
1522 Dialogus 1 1 1
1524 Endlicher Beschluss 1524 0 0 1
1532 Prognosticum 2 2 3
1721 Friedrich und Maximilian 1 1 1


1550 Egenolff compilation 1 0
1620 Egenolff compilation 1 1
47 20 22

There are actually only a few cases where ZVDD and DDB differ. The ZVDD knows about a 1787 edition of the Tractatus de scorra that the DDB doesn't list, and the ZVDD also includes a short work attributed to Grünpeck in one of Egenolff's prophetic compilations that the DDB doesn't include. That's not a huge improvement, however, as there are several additional facsimiles of other Egenolff editions beyond the ones known to ZVDD and DDB. On the other hand, the ZVDD has 4 redundant records for one edition of Grünpeck's Speculum, and 21 redundant records for various editions of the Tractatus de scorra, so that's one advantage that the DDB has. Finally, there are two missing facsimiles, one of the Prognosticum of 1532, and another of Grünpeck's Endlicher Beschluss concerning the conjunctions of 1524. For those, you'll need to refer to the Hungarian Electronic Library.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Digital manuscript of the week: Düsseldorf Ms. B 5, Johannes de Rupescissa, Vademecum in tribulatione

New this week from the Universitäts- und Landesbibliothek Düsseldorf - appearing via their RSS feed just this morning, in fact - is a complete digital facsimile of Ms. B 5. The brief contents list Pierre d'Ailly as one author represented in this theological miscellany, but what then caught my attention was another author: Johannes de Rupescissa. The digital facsimile doesn't identify the text, but it's located almost at the end of the manuscript (359v-362r), always a promising place to find prophetic texts. A quick scan confirms that the text is a shortened version of the Vademecum in twenty 'intentions,' with the completion of tribulation redated from 1370 to 1470. The Düsseldorf manuscript catalog identifies this as a copy of the Vademecum not mentioned by Bignami-Odier or other secondary literature on Rupescissa, so this is an important document on the reception of Rupescissa in Germany in the fifteenth century.

But the real significance of this digital edition is that it is, to my knowledge, the only digital facsimile of any Vademecum manuscript. It's bad enough that the only printed edition of the complete Vademecum is Edmund Brown's from 1690, but there isn't even easy access to any of the most important manuscripts. Hopefully one of the libraries that owns one of the manuscripts from the 1350s or 1360s will provide a digital facsimile before long.

Friday, November 2, 2012

Sixteenth Century Society Conference 2012 notes

The nice thing about SCSC, which I attended for the first time last week, is that the degree of separation between the many presentation topics and what I'm working on right now tends to be very low. At MLA and GSA and often at Kalamazoo, most papers are, for me, introductions to new topics or treatments of familiar ones that I'd never looked at in quite the same way before. At SCSC, in contrast, there were some papers where I already knew both the primary and the secondary literature, and it made possible a different kind of scholarly conversation.

There were several strong sessions and excellent papers. Here are a few personal favorites:

  • Brendan Cook, Carthage College: "Thomas Heywood’s Sallust Translation and the Commentary of Lorenzo Valla." Humanist translations of the classics as a political and intellectual battlefield - who knew? An excellent demonstration of how exciting something like translation studies can be.
  • Amy Burnett, University of Nebraska-Lincoln: "Print, Polemics and the Lord’s Supper in Ulm." I enjoyed this paper both for tracking down the actual author of a pamphlet falsely printed under the name of Konrad Sam, and for examining how rejection of Luther's sacramental theology was not a uniform "Zwinglianism," but instead a variety of dissenting positions.
  • Michael Bruening, Missouri University of Science and Technology: "Martin Bucer's Eucharistic Debates with the Swiss." This paper, focusing on the Strasbourg reformer Martin Bucer, was a very interesting application of psychological insights to the practice of history, what might be called an "affective turn."
  • Andrew Thomas, Salem College: "Imperial Cities: Sacred Space and Imperial Power in Nuremberg and Constantinople/Istanbul ca. 1493." Hartmann Schedel and the Nuremberg Chronicle? Yes, I've written about it. End Time prophecies of a Last World Emperor like pseudo-Methodius? Yes, I've written about that, too. Combining both topics in order to compare the free imperial city of Nuremberg and Constantinople under the Ottoman Turks, and showing how there are many surprising parallels between them? No, I would never have thought of doing that. It's a fascinating project that I look forward to seeing in print.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Paul Grebner

As I've been working on "Wilhelm Friess," I've come across several references to the prophecies of Paul Grebner, who would appear to be something of a contemporary of the Friess prophecies and also ideologically compatible with them, at least to a degree. But Friess and Grebner seem to follow much different paths. Friess, for one, is a pseudonym attached to two or more texts; Grebner is real enough to merit a biography in ADB. Almost all editions of the (supposedly Dutch) Friess prophecies were printed in Germany in the sixteenth century, while almost all of the prophecies attributed to the German Grebner are published posthumously in the seventeenth century, and outside Germany, first in the Netherlands and then very broadly in Britain. Friess eventually faded into obscurity, while excerpts of Grebner were still being printed at least as late as 1793.

Grebner remains a bibliographic and historical puzzle. Apart from the ADB biography, one finds many brief references to Grebner, but few treatments of any extent. The one exception appears to be:

Åkerman, Susanna. “The Myth of the Lion of the North and its Origins in Paul Grebner’s Visions.” In Cultura Baltica: Literary Culture around the Baltic 1600-1700, edited by Bo Andersson and Richard Erich Schade, 23–43. Uppsala: Uppsala University, 1996.

Even tracking down Grebner's works is tricky, as his name is recorded in numerous forms, including Grebner, Gribner, or simply "Paulus Secundus" or "Paulus Iunior" (not to mention "Ezekiel Grebner, Son of Obadiah Grebner, Son of Paul Grebner"). There's a need for more work connecting Grebner's earliest published works in the 1560s to the manuscripts of the 1580s to the earliest pamphlets of the 1590s and early 1600s to their diffusion across Europe during the rest of the seventeenth century.

But it won't happen today. I still need to finish work on my SCSC conference paper, and posting may be sporadic for the next several weeks.

Friday, October 12, 2012

Sibyls in print

The Sibyllenweissagung was just one of several different siblline texts that were significant for early printing. Since the 1480s, there were also compilations of prophecies from the twelve sibyls, mostly consisting of devotional considerations of the life of Christ from the imagined perspective of pre-Christian sibyls. The earliest in print was Philippus de Barberiis's Sibyllarum et prophetarum de Christo vaticinia, first printed in 1481 (ISTC ib00118000). German printers produced editions beginning in 1516 and 1517, eventually replacing the text with a German adaptation, but the original image cycle was remarkably stable.

The stability of the images is underscored by a work recently digitalized by the SLUB Dresden: Ernst Freymund, Der Klugen Sibyllen verbessert astrologischer Weissagungs-Calender auf das Jahr 1741 (Nürnberg, 1741; VD18 90148967). The title page depicts four sibyls; below is the Tiburtine Sibyl.

Among the many printed depictions of the Tiburtine Sibyl from preceding centuries, here is one from one of the sibylline compilations printed by Christian Egenolff in the 1530s.

Finally, here is the Tiburtine Sibyl as she appears in the collection of Philippus de Barbareriis, printed in the early 1480s.

That's 260 years of iconographic stability, which could very likely be extended even earlier by looking at manuscript material. To judge by a quick scan of the pages, Freymund's calendar for 1741 doesn't appear to contain any of the sibylline texts, but the final section does consist of an astrological prognostication whose format wouldn't have been at all unusual for 1581.

Friday, October 5, 2012

Opening the IISTC

“Opening the IISTC: An End-User’s Approach to an Essential Database.” Digital Medievalist 1 (2005),

(Continuing an occasional series, this would be "The Third Article I Ever Published," in case anyone ever wonders where it came from.)

A decade ago, in early 2002, as I was working on my dissertation on the Nuremberg Chronicle of Hartmann Schedel, a very helpful librarian at the University of Illinois pointed me towards the ISTC, at that time available as the Illustrated Incunable Short Title Catalog on CD-ROM. It was fantastic - I could look up every known fifteenth-century printed book, and have all its bibliographic information instantly available. Even more important, it offered a list of all known locations where a copy could be found. I had the impression that there were a lot of copies of the Nuremberg Chronicle around, but the IISTC confirmed it, although there wasn't an easy way to compare the number of copies with other incunables.

The same librarian who had pointed me towards the IISTC also referred me to Paul Needham's extensive review article: "Counting Incunables: The IISTC CD-ROM," Huntington Library Quarterly 61 (1999): 457-529. The article not only compared the IISTC to its predecessors since Hain, but also pointed out a number of serious problems with the IISTC and limitations due to its implementation.

I had an idea. I knew that the IISTC made it possible to export records. What if you exported all the records as plain text? For my dissertation research, I had created an Access database to keep track of all the annotations in various copies of the Nuremberg Chronicle that I had examined. Shouldn't there be a way to turn the IISTC into an Access database and get around the limitations of its interface?

There was, but it involved some heavy data manipulation. I learned some rudimentary Perl so I could write scripts to turn the ISTC records into tab-delimited text files for easy import into Access. I also wrote scripts to add up the number of copies, as the ISTC didn't provide copy counts. It took a few months, but I've been making use of the results ever since.

I wrote to Paul Needham to let him know what I had done. He was interested. We exchanged e-mails. We discussed article ideas. And then - it turned out we weren't ready to put anything together yet. I had a method for turning the ISTC into a data source, but I didn't know what to do with it. Eventually I saw a CFP from a new journal, Digital Medievalist. I didn't know of anywhere else that would be interested in Perl scripts written by medievalists, so I submitted the paper in order to establish the method and suggest some ways it might have some significant uses, and it was accepted for publication. It's the one article I have in an open-access online journal, and the only one that lists source code in the appendix.

I imagined that would be the end of my foray into digital methods until 2008, when Paul Needham pointed out some recent work on early book survival rates. The methods of that one-off article I had published in 2005 turned out to be one of the three essential elements, along with understanding of fifteenth-century printing and statistical acumen, in what would become the article I published with Paul Needham and Frank McIntyre in 2010 on incunable survival rates. You never know when research dead ends will lead in new directions.

Friday, September 28, 2012

Abstract: "Johann Fischart alias Wilhelm Friess? Notes on the Authorship of a Horrible and Shocking Prophecy"

This is the abstract I submitted for the paper I'll be giving in October at the Sixteenth Century Society Conference, in which I'm going to argue that the second prophecy of Wilhelm Friess should be attributed to Johann Fischart. Attributing anonymous works to Fischart was quite popular in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, but scholars have become much more hesitant about it in recent decades, and recent attempts to attribute anonymous works to Fischart haven't met with much acceptance. So I'm almost embarrassed to claim that Fischart wrote "Friess II," but in this case I think there's some good evidence for it. In any case I'll try to make the argument as forthrightly and convincingly as possible in twenty minutes or less.

Abstract: "Johann Fischart alias Wilhelm Friess? Notes on the Authorship of a Horrible and Shocking Prophecy"

The two prophecies of Wilhelm Friess, first appearing around 1558, were the most popular German prophetic pamphlets of the second half of the sixteenth century, with some fifty total editions. The second prophecy using the same pseudonym is known from booklets printed in Basel beginning in 1577. Despite their popularity, almost no scholarship has addressed these pamphlets, and the connection between the two prophecies has remained obscure.

The first prophecy is a reworking of Johannes de Rupescissa’s 1356 Vademecum, while the second presents a nightmare vision of demonic armies invading Germany from all sides. I argue that this second pamphlet addresses a specific historical, political, and religious context. The text points to an origin not in Basel in 1577, but in Strasbourg in 1574, just as Conrad Dasypodius was completing the Strasbourg cathedral’s astronomical clock. The prophecy’s climactic scene of a cannibalistic perversion of the Eucharist critiques both Catholic and Lutheran sacramental theology from a Calvinist perspective. The prophecy further reflects the particular fears of embattled Strasbourg Calvinists in 1574, who saw enemies on all sides, especially with the coronation of Henry III as king of France. The combination of astrological symbolism and Calvinist outlook in Strasbourg in 1574 is circumstantial evidence for considering as author Johann Fischart, one of the most important German satirists and Reformed propagandists of the time, who understood the at times obscure astrological symbolism found in the prophecy, and who in 1574 wrote an encomium for the new astronomical clock before leaving Strasbourg for Basel.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Digital edition of the week: Sibyllenweissagung (Basel: Martin Flach, 1472-74)

For the history of printing, the fourteenth-century Sibyl's Prophecy is a tremendously important text. It's the earliest vernacular edition from the press of Gutenberg and his associates in Mainz, and some scholars have identified it as earlier than any other edition, Latin or German, still known today. Gutenberg's types were not yet adapted to reproducing vernacular texts, so his edition of the Sibyl's Prophecy represents a fascinating and important early attempt to adapt print technology to different texts and audiences.

I have more to say about the Sibyl's Prophecy - a lot more, otherwise known as chapter one of Printing and Prophecy. I'd better stop here.

The essential scholarly work on the Sibyl's Prophecy is Frieder Schanze, "Wieder einmal das 'Fragment vom Weltgericht' - Bermerkungen und Materialien zur 'Sybillenweissagung,'" Gutenberg-Jahrbuch 75 (2000): 42–63. Schanze's article provides a list of all known manuscripts and printed editions, discusses some of the improbable things that have been asserted about the history and meaning of the text, and points out several important things that remain unknown. We still don't have a critical edition or a complete understanding of how all the printed editions and manuscripts are related.

Schanze's article provides the best accessible facsimile of Gutenberg's edition I know of. I don't know of any digital edition available online. After Gutenberg's edition, the next edition of the Sibyllenweissagung didn't appear until 1472-74 (following Schanze's dating), and then five editions appeared in 1491-93. One of these later incunable editions (ISTC is00492620, GW M41985) is available in facsimile from the Bayerische Staatsbibliothek. So the release this week of a facsimile from of Flach's edition (ISTC is00492550, GW M41983) fills a notable digital hole in the history of an important text.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Digital edition of the week: Caspar Brunmüller, Geistliche immerwärende Practic auff das M.D. LX. jar (probably) released a new digital edition this week of a calendar for 1560. Usually I don't find calendars interesting, or at least I haven't yet figured out how to read calendars in order to discover what's interesting about them, but sometimes calendars hold a few surprises. Like this one.

The title page isn't promising. It offers only the barest of calendrical information, not even hinting that the basic calendar is followed by an extensive, sixty-leaf religious contrapractica. A quick glance at the usual places doesn't turn up an author, and the entry for VD16 ZV 26458 doesn't list one, either.

Running the title through WorldCat, however, turns up the note that this is listed as an alternate title for Caspar Brunmüller's Geistliche immerwärende Practic auff das M.D. LX. jar (VD16 B 8606). WorldCat entries for sixteenth-century books have to be read with some care, but the identification of the two editions as the same work by Brunmüller might just have something going for it, as they're both 85 printed folios. Silvia Pfister's Parodien astrologisch-prophetischen Schrifttums doesn't mention Brunmüller, so someone should check a copy of Brunmüller's Geistliche immerwärende Practic against the online edition. With any luck a digital copy will come online soon.

Friday, September 7, 2012

Kurtze Propheceyung oder Practika (1587)

One of the challenges of working with pamphlets and other short texts is that the same text can circulate under different titles and be cataloged under different authors' names. One example is the Kurtze Propheceyung oder Practika of 1586-87 with various sections ascribed to the "Pilger Ruth" and "Johannes Doleta" among others. The first name refers to extracts from Lichtenberger's Prognosticatio, while the second, as I've mentioned previously, goes along with a version of the "Toledo Letter." The only literature on these pamphlets I find is a brief mention in Dietrich Kurze's book on Johannes Lichtenberger (69). The pamphlets include additional texts besides the extracts from Lichtenberger and the "Toledo Letter," but precisely what they are, and where they're from, isn't yet known.

With the recent release of a digital edition from, I thought it was time to see exactly how many editions are known, and how many are available online. The answer in both cases is "more than you'd think." VD16 doesn't include two of the German editions, or links to any of the online facsimiles.

Of the two editions dated to 1586, facsimiles are available for both, although one is unknown to VD16. A quick scan finds that there are some significant differences between the two texts.

Kurtze Propheceyung oder Practita... Erfurt: Johann Beck, 1586. Not in VD16. Utrecht UB facsimile
Kurtze Propheceyung oder Practika... Cologne: Heinrich Nettessem, [1586]. VD16 ZV 9651. facsimle (Trier StB)
Kurtze Propheceyung oder Practica... Cologne: Heinrich Nettessem, 1587. VD16 ZV 9654

Kurtze / gewisse und warhaffte Propheceyung oder Practica... Lübeck: Johann Balhorn the Younger, 1587 ("Aus einem Cöllenschen Exemplar nach Gedruckt / durch Johann Balhorn / wonhafftig bey der Rostocker Herberg"). Not in VD16. Göttingen SUB facsimile
[NB: After a quick inspection, it looks like the text of this edition closely follows that of Beck's edition rather than the edition of Heinrich Nettessem. Perhaps the text changed significantly between Nettessem's first and second editions.]
Kurtze / Gewisse / vnd Warhaffte Propheceyung oder Practica... [n.p., n.p.], 1587. A reprint of a Nettessem edition. VD16 ZV 22756
Kurtze / gewisse / vnd Warhaffte Propheceyung oder Practica... [n.p., n.p.], 1587. A reprint of a Nettessem edition. VD16 ZV 4633

Another edition added the second prophecy of Wilhelm Friess:
Kurtze Propheceyung oder Practica...Sampt einer Ander Prophetzeyung / ist gefunden worden / in Mastrich... Cologne: Nikolaus Schreiber, [1587]. VD16 ZV 28130

This was then translated into Dutch as:
Corte prophetie / van tgene  int iaer M.D.LXXXVIII... Amsterdam: Cornelius Claesz, 1588. TB 4427/NB 27073

Friday, August 31, 2012

Virtual reality versus the real world (early modern practica edition)

One of the many fantastic features of online digital facsimiles is that you can inspect primary sources at length without being tied to the opening hours of a research library that is inconveniently located on another continent. It's important not to let ease of access lead to overstating the significance of online editions, though. What's online right now is not the same as what was printed five hundred years ago.

I've been keeping track of practica facsimiles for some time. I've undoubtedly missed some, while a few I've recorded are not actually available online. Still, the following graph gives a pretty decent overview of the progress that digitalization projects have made, at least for one kind of early modern pamphlet. The red columns show the counts of practica editions per decade (primarily from ISTC and VD16/17), while the blue columns show how many of these have been digitized. The years on the x-axis mark the end of a decade.

As you can see, there's robust growth in the number of editions from 1521 to 1550 that is not reflected by the digital editions. In fact, coverage is pretty meager from 1501 to 1590, but excellent for the decade of 1591-1600. The situation after that is truly mixed: very few are available as complete facsimiles, but VD17 provides Schlüsselseiten for nearly all of them, so you can at least see the title page and incipits.

The average percentage of editions digitized for all 150 years is 17.5%, but coverage is highly variable by decade:

The German incunable digitalization projects have done pretty well. After that, coverage is much lower except for the 1590s. The reason, I suspect, is that the historical transmission of practicas frequently took the form of compilations of dozens or scores of pamphlets that were bound together as a single large volume, and often the pamphlets are mostly drawn from a few years or decades. Half or more of the facsimiles in each decade are from the collection of the Bayerische Staatsbibliothek, with the exception of the 1470s and 1550s, where none of the facsimiles are from the BSB. I suspect that the excellent coverage from the 1590s, with some 80% of the facsimiles from München,  is the result of the BSB digitizing one or two compilation volumes at some point. The Stadtbibliothek Trier has recently released several more practica facsimiles from the 1590s via, so the imbalance is only growing at the moment.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Ehrismann online

One of the first sessions of my first graduate-level course in medieval German literature at the University of Illinois involved a trip to the library, where Rick Wright showed us the most important research tools for medieval topics. There was an online catalog, but it didn't include everything in the old card catalog, so that had to be searched separately. Upstairs in the Modern Languages Library there was the new Verfasserlexikon, but it was not yet complete, while the old Verfasserlexikon, we were told, still had value as an independent if older summary of research on medieval German authors.

Another one of those older but still important reference works was Gustav Ehrismann's Geschichte der deutschen Literatur bis zum Ausgang des Mittelalters, which was the best source for accessing older scholarship. For some topics, older scholarship was the only scholarship, and even if it wasn't, older scholarship shouldn't be ignored.

But Ehrismann is only held by around 100 libraries in the U.S. Many American universities, including my own, don't have a copy. Fortunately, the Universitäts- und Landesbibliothek Düsseldorf just digitized the whole set, so everyone can consult it without having to drive some distance to consult it (in my case, it would be over 100 km). The first place to look for digital editions like this is the Zentrales Verzeichnis Digitalisierter Drucke, but it doesn't list this one yet.

* * *

Uni Augsburg is alive! It released a new digital edition this week, a fourteenth-century fragment of the Roman de la Rose. Still nothing new from Uni München.

Friday, August 17, 2012

RSS feeds for early modern German studies: quality and quantity

After a few weeks away, I returned to my office and started up Thunderbird, which I use to keep track of RSS feeds. This is what I found:

Bayerischer Multimediaserver. This includes two feeds and appears to be quite active. Most of the digitalized works are from the eighteenth to twentieth centuries, however. As with many of these RSS feeds, it would be nice if the libraries would provide feeds for specific centuries.

Berlin. August is a slow month. Over twice as many titles will sometimes appear on a single day. Again, most of the items are from the eighteenth to twentieth centuries, but some of the World War One-era items are fascinating and unique, and I've used them in teaching, so a little variety can be useful.

BSB München. One of the largest and most active projects, with a large fraction of the digitalized items from the sixteenth century.

Darmstadt Inkunabeln. This came as  a surprise. I had expected this project to be already completed, or to produce only a few items, but it turns out to be quite active. And every single one is from the fifteenth century.

dilibri Rheinland-Pfalz. This is my new favorite project, with nearly all of its digitalizations from the sixteenth century. Like several other RSS feeds, it appears to have a limit of the fifty most recent items. I wish this were set higher. Most of the works here fall within the broad discipline of the history of science, with perhaps a majority from the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. RSS limit of fifty.

Halle. What I like about the Uni Halle RSS feed is that it only includes works from the sixteenth century. They provide feeds for later centuries and specific types of material as well. RSS limit of fifty.

Heidelberg - Druckschriften. I've given this one a misleading name, as I also include their RSS feed for manuscripts. The Heidelberg manuscripts are quite interesting, but at the moment the printed works are dominated by auction catalogs and nineteenth-century art historical journals. I assume the focus changes as the digitalization proceeds. I like the high RSS limit.

SLUB Dresden. Like, it also appears to be strong in history of science, and perhaps with an emphasis on the eighteenth century. RSS limit of fifty. One issue with the Dresden RSS feed is that I only get OAI locators through Thunderbird, which doesn't know how to turn them into URLs. A different RSS reader might not have the same problem, but with Thunderbird, I have to check the SLUB Dresden website if I come across a promising title.

ULB Düsseldorf. RSS limit of fifty. At the moment, most of the digitalized works are nineteenth-century Gymnasium programs, which often contain scholarly articles in the humanities. Another recent digitalized item is Bartholomäus Ghotan's 1492 Lübeck edition of Birgitta's Revelationes.

Uni Augsburg, Uni München. Nothing. Either they have both paused work in August, or their digitalization projects are complete, or no longer active.

Wolfenbüttel. It appears to have a low RSS limit of twenty. Wolfebüttel focuses on digitalization of seventeenth-century editions, but works from earlier centuries turn up periodically as well.

Several of these libraries do provide more specific thematic RSS feeds, but I subscribed to the ones that best match my own research interests. People with different interests are going to be more enthusiastic about some RSS feeds and less enthusiastic about others. Compared to the way things were a few years ago, however, every day is Christmas. I can browse as many titles in a few minutes in my office as I could on one of those rare occasions when I had physical access to the card catalog of a major German research library.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Pamphilus Gengenbach: Der Nollhart (Updated)

The Universität Halle just released a digital edition of Gengenbach's other edition of Der Nollhart, so I've updated the post below with a link. A quick comparison suggests that there are minimal differences between the two editions. Hopefully the BSB will digitalize one of the later Augsburg editions before too long.

* * *

One reason to keep track of smaller digitialization projects is that they will occasionally provide access to editions that are otherwise unavailable, such as the digital facsimile of Der alt und neu Bruder Nollhart made available by the Universität München.

Pamphilus Gengenbach wrote his Shrovetide play Der Nollhart in 1515 and published two editions of it in 1517, with three more editions from other presses by 1525. The essential study of Gengenbach's play is
Violanta Werren-Uffer, Der Nollhart von Pamphilus Gengenbach (1983). As Gengenbach's primary sources were Lichtenberger's Prognosticatio of 1488 and Wolfgang Aytinger's tract on pseudo-Methodius first printed in 1496, Der Nollhart is significant for transferring late fifteenth-century prophetic texts onto the stage and into the sixteenth century. In 1544 and 1545, Jakob Cammerlander published two editions of a revised version of the play, Der alt und neu Bruder Nollhar. Gengenbach's original play reappears in 1700, so it might be interesting to see if Der Nollhart appeared anywhere between 1550 and 1700, or what the context of the 1700 edition was.

Pamphilus Gengenbach: Der Nollhart
[Basel: Pamphilus Gengenbach, 1517]. VD16 G 1205. Facsimiles: BSB München,, HAB Wolfenbüttel
[Basel: Pamphilus Gengenbach, 1517]. VD16 ZV 6498. Facsimile: Universität Halle
[Augsburg: Johann Schönsperger the Younger, 1520]. VD16 G 1206
[Augsburg: Johann Schönsperger the Younger], 1522. VD16 G 1207
[Erfurt: Johann Loersfeld], 1525. VD16 G 1208
[n.p., n.p., ca. 1700]. VD17 12:638169C. Facsimile: Google Books (Peter Marteau confirms that this is the BSB copy with the shelf mark P.o.germ. 108. The BSB OPAC links to the Google Books scan.)

Der alt und neu Bruder Nolhard
[Strasbourg: Jakob Cammerlander], 1544. VD16 G 1209. Facsimile: LMU München
[Strasbourg: Jakob Cammerlander, 1545]. VD16 G 1210

Friday, July 20, 2012

UB Heidelberg Cod. Sal. VIII,71

One of the Codices Salemitani digitized by the UB Heidelberg, Cod. Sal. VIII,71, is described as a collection of prophecies from the second half of the sixteenth century. A quick search doesn't turn up any additional information on it, so I don't know if the manuscript has been extensively described anywhere. A quick look at the contents suggests that it consists of two parts: First, excerpts of prophecies attributed to Hildegard, Joachim, and Johannes Tauler; and second, the Zwölf Sibyllen Weissagungen, a collection that accreted around the prophecies of the twelve sibyls in the first half of the sixteenth century, principally issued from the press of Christian Egenolff in Frankfurt. By the 1530s it contained a thirteenth sibyl, extracts from the Extracts of Various Prophecies and Josephus, an Antichrist text, and the 36 signs of the last day. Eventually Egenolff would add the Prognostication for 24 Years of Paracelsus and the Prognosticatio of Johannes Lichtenberger.

The second part of the Heidelberg manuscript follows the selection of texts found in an edition of the Zwölf Sibyllen Weissagung printed in 1575 in Nuremberg by Valentin Furhmann (VD16 Z 949). However, Cod. Sal. VIII,71 includes the colophon of a different edition on its last leaf verso: Getruckt zu Rottenburg ob der Tauber, bey Hieronymo Körnlein. Hieronymus Körnlein appears as the printer of 59 editions in VD 17, mostly between 1615 and 1632. An edition of the Zwölf Sibyllen Weissagung or a similar prophetic collection doesn't appear among them, however, so this might be a manuscript witness to an otherwise unknown edition of the work from ca. 1615-30 from the press of Hieronymus Körnlein.

At first glance, it appears that the manuscript copyist rather than Körnlein was the one who expanded the collection by adding the prophecies of Joachim and Hildegard at the beginning. The first leaf recto includes the note: Durch ein Güethertzige vnd wohlmeinende Ordens Persohn aus Vnderschidlichen alten approbierten Büchern summarische weiß zusamen getragen.

Friday, July 6, 2012

RSS feeds for early modern German printing

While digitalization projects are wonderful things, you also need a way to keep up with the items that are digitized after you search through the collection. The most convenient way I know to do this is through RSS feeds. I use Thunderbird as an RSS reader, so I can see what's been digitized when I check my e-mail each morning. It's especially useful if the RSS feeds are limited to specific collections or centuries, rather than including everything that a library has digitized.

After looking at all the German libraries in Klaus Graf's master list, my newly expanded list of RSS feeds includes the following:

SBPK Berlin, historische Drucke:
BSB München:
Herzog August Bibliothek Wolfenbüttel:
Universität Augsburg:
Universität Darmstadt, Inkunabeln:

Universitäts- und Landesbibliothek Düsseldorf:
Universität Halle, Drucke des 16. Jahrhunderts:
Universität Heidelberg, Druckschriften:
Universität Heidelberg, Handschriften:
Universität München:

UPDATE: A welcome addition, thanks to Stefan Heßbrüggen:
SLUB Dresden:

Friday, June 29, 2012

Only in Augsburg

A recent e-mail discussion reminded me that if I could choose only one new library to start digitizing its holdings, my first choice without question would be the Staats- und Stadtbibliothek Augsburg. It not only has a large collection of fifteenth- and sixteenth-century printed books, but a relatively large percentage are also unique items unavailable anywhere else, at least to judge by what I found while working on Printing and Prophecy. The great thing about it is that you can go to Augsburg and find editions no one else has looked at in decades or centuries, if ever, and discover fresh material that no one else has written about. The frustrating thing is that it's only in Augsburg, and if you don't have money for airfare, you're out of luck.

To give just one example, following the multi-generational, long-distance dispute between Johannes Virdung, Georg Tannstetter, Aegidius Camillus,  Johann Carion, and Andreas Perlach that played out between 1520 and the early 1530s requires a visit to Augsburg because it is the only library with copies of some of the prognostications and invectives in which it was carried out.

Unique Augsburg items include:

VD16 ZV 13593. Georg Tannstetter, Practica for 1519.
VD16 T 171. Georg Tannstetter, Practica for1524.
VD16 ZV 24183.  Georg Tannstetter, Practica for1525.
VD16 ZV 24181. Johann Carion, Practica for 1519.
VD16 ZV 25789. Johann Carion, Bedeutnüs und Offenbarung, 1531.
Not in VD16: Johann Carion, Bedeutnüs und Offenbarung, 1534.
Not in VD16: Aegidius Camillus, Practica for 1531(Vienna: Hieronymus Vietor; cf. VD16 ZV 24784)

For any major research project, I just assume I'll need to visit Augsburg at some point.

Friday, June 22, 2012

The price of a pamphlet

Early modern book prices are an interesting topic, as the price says a lot about which segments of society could have purchased and read a book. This post is not about early modern book prices, however, but rather a more practical problem: How much will you have to pay for a facsimile of one of those books?

One of the great things about working on early modern topics is that many facsimiles are already free and online, thanks to the digitalization projects linked in the sidebar and many others. But if there's a primary source that's absolutely necessary for your work and not available in another form, you have to contact the library and order a facsimile. The great thing about working with pamphlets is that facsimiles are much cheaper than they would be if you were working on, say, novels, where obtaining a facsimile might require the support of a sizable research grant.

Still, it can be surprising how much prices and processing times differ. My latest facsimile spending spree is drawing to a close. Based on the total price, including both per-scan charges and processing fees, these are the prices I paid per scan.

Library Price/scan Wait (days)
Anonymous UB[1] 0.00 € 2
Dresden SLUB 0.35 € 35
Leipzig UB 0.50 € 14
Wolfenbüttel HAB[2] 0.56 € 68
München BSB 0.71 € 16
Stuttgart WLB 1.00 € 8
Berlin SBPK 1.46 € 36
Anonymous StB[3] 4.38 € 10
Anonymous Benelux SB[4] 17.50 € 21
Anonymous Benelux StB 31.50 € 27

In other words, all the major German libraries are fairly similar. The average price would be different if I had ordered color scans, high-quality TIFs, delivery on CD, or a different number of images. For facsimiles from smaller libraries or outside of Germany, prices can vary considerably.

[1] Yes, one university library just snapped the pictures, sent them to me the next day, and didn't charge me a thing "wegen Geringfügigkeit." I am forever in your debt and will thank you profusely in the acknowledgments.
[2] Estimated waiting time. The invoice came last week, and I'm hoping to receive the images within a week or so. I will still thank you profusely in the acknowledgments.
[3] To be fair, they weren't set up for digitalizations and had to refer me to a local photographer. Their policy on reproduction rights is quite generous, on the other hand, for which I will thank them profusely in the acknowledgments.
[4] Fortunately, I only needed broadsides from these two libraries. The first time I tried to order a pamphlet, the price would have come to nearly 200 €, but the librarian kindly mentioned that the edition I was interested in would be digitalized and freely available online within the week. For that kind assistance, I will thank them profusely in the acknowledgments.

Friday, June 15, 2012

Graphs you didn't get to see 4: Timeline of German practica authors

While I was working on Printing and Prophecy, I spent some time trying to visualize the publication history of the prophetic and prognostic texts I was working with. It turns out that timelines are not easy to create as Excel graphs, but after hunting around for a while I found a workable approach.

The preservation of practicas and other early modern ephemeral printed texts is pretty spotty. We have to assume a large number of missing editions. It's not too much of a stretch to assume that authors published one practica annually (although some surely skipped years), and that the career of a practica author spanned the years between the first and last known edition (although there were undoubtedly earlier and later editions that are unknown today). With those assumptions and caveats in mind, we can place the careers of German astrologers who published practicas in order from earliest to latest up to 1550. We get the following picture (which ends up being totally unworkable as an illustration for a printed book, unfortunately).

View the image above by itself for a slightly larger and clearer version.

What I like about this graph is that it illustrates quite clearly the significance of Johannes Virdung. His career overlapped with every earlier German practica author and with younger colleagues who continued publishing into the 1560s. Only with Simon Heuring, Joachim Heller, and Christoph Statmion do we get a generation of astrologers who knew not Virdung. Not coincidentally, I think, the German practica format remains exceedingly stable until after 1550, when the calendrical material gets moved again to the beginning chapters in many practicas. Virdung ensured his lasting influence by outlasting all his contemporaries and most of the next generation.