Saturday, September 19, 2015

Simon Eyssenmann: bibliography v 0.13

Simon Eyssenmann was a Leipzig professor and author of astrological prognostications following in the footsteps of Wenzel Faber and Conrad Tockler. He is all but forgotten today, but there may be some interesting things going on with his work. So here is the start of a bibliography for him, beginning with his practicas and the few relevant items of secondary literature.

Update 0.13
I've added the one non-practica found in VD16 and the two additional contributions to other works.

Update 0.11: Klaus Graf has come up with many additional links for Eyssenmann over at Archivalia. Otherwise, for now I only have time to add one work to which Eyssenmann was a contributor.

  1. Practica for 1514. Latin. N.p., n.p. VD16 E 4756.
    Title page only preserved in Zwickau, Ratschulbibliothek.
  2. Practica for 1514. German. Augsburg: Johann Schönsperger. VD16 E 4757.
    Copy in Erlangen UB
  3. Practica for 1514. Low German. Lübeck: Georg Richolff the Elder. VD16 E 4758.
    Described only in BC 551 A.
  4. Practica for 1515. Latin. Leipzig: Wolfgang Stöckel. Not in VD16.
    Wroclaw UB (facsimile)
  5. Practica for 1517. Latin. N.p., n.p. VD16 E 4759.
    Title page only preserved in Zwickau, Ratschulbibliothek.
  6. Practica for 1516. German. Leipzig: Wolfgang Stöckel. Not in VD16.
    Wroclaw UB (facsimile)
  7. Practica for 1516. German. Landshut: Johann Weißenburger. VD16 E 4760.
    If the copy in the British Library is E 4760, then this edition is [8] rather than [4] leaves.
  8. Practica for 1516. German. Nuremberg: Jobst Gutknecht. VD16 E 4761.
  9. Practica for 1517. German. Leipzig: Wolfgang Stöckel. VD16 E 4762.
    Title page only preserved in Zwickau, Ratschulbibliothek.
  10. Practica for 1518. Latin. Leipzig: Jakob Thanner. VD16 ZV 5648.
    Halle ULB (facsimile)
  11. Practica for 1518. German. N.p., n.p. VD16 E 4763. 
  12. Practica for 1519. German. Leipzig: Wolfgang Stöckel. VD16 E 4764.
    Title page only preserved in Zwickau, Ratschulbibliothek.
  13. Practica for 1520. German. Nuremberg: Jobst Gutknecht. VD16 E 4766.
    Munich BSB (facsimile)
  14. Practica for 1520. German. Augsburg: Erhard Oeglin. VD16 E 4765.
    Munich BSB (facsimile)
Others: A Latin practica for 1520 listed in WorldCat (link), with the title "Juditium Lipsense ad annum currentem vigesimum supra millesimum quingentesimum," but with no additional information about a printer or location.

Other works
  1. Euchiridion Arithmetices. Leipzig: Jakob Thanner, 1511. VD16 E 4755.
    Munich BSB (facsimile) and Leipzig UB. This brief treatise on arithmetic begins with a dedication to Conrad Tockler, another Leipzig academic who published practicas for 1504-1514, whom Eyssenmann describes as his teacher. It closes with two additional texts, addressed to Wolfgang Christophorus Udalriuch, son of Udalrich LIndacher of Leipzig, and Conrad Funck of Leipzig, son of Andreas Funck.

Contributions to additional works
  1. Dedication (to Conrad Funck of Leipzig, son of Andreas Funck) in a Latin edition of excerpts from Plutarch's De viris clarissimis liber. Leipzig: Jakob Thanner, 1509. VD16 ZV 12591.
  2. Dedication (to "Simperto Widenman de Schretzen") in an edition of Petrus Gaszowiec's Computus novus. Leipzig: Wolfgang Stöckel, 1514. VD16 P 1863.
  3. Six lines of Latin verse contributed (along with verses from eighteen other intellectuals) to Hieronymous Dungersheim's Confutatio apologetici cuiusdam sacre scripture falso inscripti ad illustrissimum principem Georgium Saxonie ducem. Leipzig: Wolfgang Stöckel, 1514. VD16 D 2947.
    The Munich BSB copy is from the library of Hartmann Schedel.

Secondary literature
  • Eis, Gerhard. "Beiträge zur Spätmittelalterlichen deutschen Prosa aus Handschriften und Frühdrucken." Journal of English and Germanic Philology 52 (1953): 76–89.
  • Zoepfl, Friedrich. "Der Mathematiker und Astrologe Simon Eyssenmann aus Dillingen." Jahrbuch des Historischen Vereins Dillingen an der Donau 61/63 (1961 1959): 86–88.

Friday, August 28, 2015

Sanctus Columbanus fecit hos caracteres

Well, that's weird.

In another Vatican manuscript (Pal. lat. 482) available in digital facsimile from the Heidelberg UB, there is a series of alphabetic signs in an otherwise empty column on f. 15v (click to see the whole leaf on the Heidelberg UB site): 

At first glance, this looks like a secret alphabet. In that case, the secondary literature probably starts with Bernhard Bischoff, "Übersicht über die nichtdiplomatischen Geheimschriften des Mittelalters," Mitteilungen des Instituts für österreichische Geschichtsforschung 62 (1954): 1-27. I don't find other examples associating Columbanus with secret writing, but Bishoff notes several attributions of secret writing to Irish clerics.

But several of the letters look quite normal. Is the series rather an initialism, with each letter standing for a word in some devotional passage? If that is the case, the secondary literature one needs is entirely different.

And one can't help but notice that there's a certain symmetry between the haloed "q" and the "p" signs at the beginning and end of the fourth line, or the "Christmas trees" on the left and right side, or the forwards uncial e in the third line and the backwards uncial e in the first line. Was there some kind of mirror-image game at the basis of these characters?

Who knows? It's weird. When you browse through manuscripts, you find weird things.

Saturday, August 22, 2015

BAV Pal. lat. 461: "Prophetia Sibille conscripta per Ioachim prophetam" = Gallorum levitas

For the last few months at least, volumes formerly held in Heidelberg and now in the Vatican library have been appearing in the digitalization project of the Heidelberg Universitätsbibliothek. I try to take at least a quick look at each miscellany as it appears, and one of them, Pal. lat. 461, included a "Prophetia Sibille conscripta per Ioachim prophetam," which sounded promising. The first few words quickly revealed this to be a garbled fifteenth-century copy of the "Gallorum levitas" prophecy:
Gallorum levitas / germanis iustificabit /
Ytalie gravitas / gallus confuse negabit /
Annis millenis tricentis novagenis /
Ter denis adiunctis / consurgit aquila grandis
Constantina cadet et equi de marmore facti
Et lapis erectus et erunt victricia signa
Gallus succumbit / vix erit urbs presule digna
Papa cito moritur / Cesar ubique regnabit
Sub quo cuncta vana / cessabit gloria cleri

This looked interesting, so I checked the secondary literature. Here's Robert Lerner (Powers of Prophecy 191 n. 11): "Unpublished MS copies of this text, which underwent numerous alterations, are so numerous as to be virtually beyond surveying."

Oh, well. But here's another one!

* * *

I've moved again. The new semester has already started, so posting will resume, but may be sporadic for a while.

Friday, April 24, 2015

A very short review: Sandra Rühr and Axel Kuhn, eds. Sinn und Unsinn des Lesens (2013)

Sandra Rühr and Axel Kuhn, eds. Sinn und Unsinn des Lesens: Gegenstände, Darstellungen und Argumente aus Geschichte und Gegenwart. Göttingen: V & R Unipress, 2013. 246 pp. 978-3847-101284.

Ceci n'est pas une Festschrift

This book is not a Festschrift. It is instead a volume of well-executed, thematically coherent essays with real scholarly merit published in honor of Ursula Rautenberg's sixtieth birthday. As the editors and authors have taken pains to avoid the defects often found in Feschschriften, the collected volume is a fitting tribute to the honoree.

The essays are arranged in order of their chronological focus, which spans the range from medieval manuscript practice to contemporary book marketing and the future of reading. These include the following:
  • Siegfried Grosse, "Versmaß, Reim  und Syntax: Überlegungen zur oralen Poesie" examines the significance of early twentieth-century recordings of story-telling during women's down-plucking circles for our understanding of medieval literature as oral performance.
  • Anro Mentzel-Reuters, "'Wer hat mich guoter uf getan?' Studien zur volkssprachlichen höfischen Lesekultur des Hochmittelalters" presents empirical evidence (based on page size, book weight, letter height, and internal lighting conditions) for the practical use of medieval manuscripts for individual or group reading. I'm already beginning to cite this chapter.
  • Nikolaus Weichselbaumer, "'Sie solllen lesen bei Tag und bei Nacht': Akzeptanz und Funktion scholastische Leseformen" treats the transition from monastic to scholastic modes of reading with exceptional concreteness and clarity.
  • Edoardo Barbierei, "A Peculiarity of the 'Glossae' by Salomon III. of Constance" suggests that a 1474 edition of the Glossae went to press before the actual extent of another included text was known.
  • Oliver Duntze, "'The sound of silence': Eine unbekannte 'Ars punctandi' als Quelle zur Geschichte des Lesens in der Frühen Neuzeit" provides a wide-ranging overview of punctuation manuals as sources for the history of reading practices.
  • Mechhild Habermann, "Lesenlernen in der Frühen Neuzeit: Zum Erkenntniswert der ersten volkssprachlichen Lehrbücher" finds in sixteenth-century didactic works on reading evidence for a new approach to reading based on meaning rather than letters, and for an increased regard for the value of reading.
  • Hans-Jörg Künast, "Lesen macht krank und kann tödlich sein: Lesesuch und Selbstmord um 1800" investigates medical treatises as a new source for the reading revolution of the late eighteenth century and official concerns about it.
  • Ute Schneider, "Anomie der Moderne: Soziale Norm und Kulturelle Praxis des Lesens" considers the formation of a literary canon and the codification of reading practices in the context of the formation of a German national identity during the nineteenth century. 
  • Heinz Bonfadelli, "Zur Konstruktion des (Buch-)Lesers: Universitäre Kommunikationswissenschaft und angewandte Medienforschung" treats a seemingly simple yet consequential question: how does academic study of media and communication differ from the study of media markets and usage within the industry, and how does the treatment of books and reading compare to approaches to other media in each sphere? A serious course about the German media should include this chapter on its reading list.
  • Lilian Streblow and Anke Schöning, "Lesemotivation: Dimensionen, Befunde, Förderung" reviews studies of reading education in Germany in the aftermath of the PISA-test debates.
  • Sven Grampp, "Kindle's Abstinence Porn: Über Sinn und Sinnlichkeit digitaler Lesegeräte in der Werbung" performs a close reading of a televised Kindle advertisement and dissects its use of gender roles.
  • Axel Kuhn, "Das Ende des Lesens? Zur Einordnung medialer Diskurse über die schwindende Bedeutung des Lesens in einer sich ausdifferenzierenden Medienlandschaft" surveys twentieth- and twenty-first century discourses in which predictions of doom for literacy, books, printed books as opposed to e-books, and reading as a primary cultural technique have been made; at the end, Kuhn remains optimistic for the future of reading and skeptical of the prophets of doom.
These are well-written, thought-provoking essays which together add up to more than the sum of their parts. Es lebe die nicht-Feschschrift!

Friday, March 27, 2015

Incunable leaf sizes

Confirmed: The earliest printed books look very much like books. Specifically, the ratio of leaf height to leaf width and the height-width ratio of the type space are precisely what you would expect.

That sounds complete uninteresting, but before making that statement in an article I'm working on, I wanted some actual data. That's the tricky part, however, as most incunable catalogs, and all of the incunable databases that I'm aware of, only record the format - as opposed to manuscript catalogs, which usually record the page dimensions, but not the format. Thanks to a tip from Oliver Duntze, I checked the British Museum incunable catalog. For 23 Mainz codex editions to 1470 recorded in BMC, the average leaf size ratio is 1: 1.44, while the type space ratio (from 25 editions) is a bit narrower, 1: 1.51. There is some variation, but most of these early printed books fall quite close to the mean, as the plot below shows. Leaf size is in red, while type space dimensions are in blue, with linear trend lines added to each.
 Fig. 1: Leaf height and width (red) and writing space height and width (blue) in Mainz codex editions to 1470.

To compare incunable leaf sizes rather than ratios, the BMC records for Mainz printing to 1470 might not be the best source, as many of those volumes are deluxe folio editions on vellum. Instead I referred to the Bodleian Library incunable catalog, which also provides leaf sizes. The graph below shows the leaf height for 15 folio editions, 26 quarto editions, and 2 octavo editions. More editions would of course be preferable, but since I don't have electronic records to work with, the data have to be entered manually. You can in any case already see the distinct formats: octavo leaf heights appear in red, quartos in gray, and folios in blue.
 Fig. 2: Leaf heights (mm) of a selection of folio (blue), quarto (gray), and octavo (red) incunables from the Bodleian Library.

Two things stand out: First, the folios clearly comprise different paper sizes, one with an average height around 290 mm, and another with an average height around 410 mm. Second, small quartos overlap with octavos. It would be interesting to look at more leaf sizes of these smaller formats.

Friday, March 13, 2015

The history of the late medieval book in one boxplot

One of the basic ways to describe the types used for fifteenth-century printed books is the method refined by Konrad Haebler that involves, among other things, measuring the height of twenty lines of type. The height of a typeface affected its legibility, or how far a reader could be from a text and still be able to read it. The height of the type was also significant in relation to the other types used in a book, as a type taller than the one used for the main text often identified titles and other structural paratexts, while a shorter type was typically used for marginal commentary. So what at first glance might sound like a number only interesting to antiquarians turns out to have some interesting implications for the history of reading as a cultural practice.

With the availability of the Typenrepertorium der Wiegendrucke as an electronic resource linked to the Gesamtkatalog der Wiegendrucke, it's now possible to survey type heights systematically, so it should be possible to look at how type heights develop during the fifty years following the invention of printing. What may not be obvious is that we can do something similar for German manuscripts as well, as the Handschriftencensus records the height of the writing space and the number of lines for manuscripts where this can be determined - so we can divide the writing space height by the number of lines, multiply by twenty, and arrive at the "Haebler height" for each manuscript.

The boxplot below summarizes the means and 25th/75th-percentile limits for German vernacular mansucripts between 1351 and 1450 (with approximate dates coerced to a single year), and printed books separated by decade (with the 1450s and 1460s combined due to the small number of editions from the 1450s). While we're measuring what I think are comparable things, they're not precisely the same: the left column is looking at the line height per manuscript, while the other four columns look at the line height per occurrence of a give type - so a type used in five editions over fifteen years will be counted five times over two different decades. This is, I think, the best way to determine what a typical book might look like, with a frequently-used type counted more times than a type that was only used once. (To be completely consistent, we would also need to look only at books printed in Germany rather than all incunables.)
The next boxplot limits the y axis to make the picture clearer.
What we see here is that the earliest printed books used types that were very similar in height, on average, to the line heights found in manuscripts over the preceding century, while the 1470s form a period of transition between the earliest printed books and the 1480s and 1490s, when noticeably smaller types were preferred. The use of smaller types allowed for the production of less expensive books, with more printed text per unit of paper, but it took a few decades before the technical possibilities of the printing press could reshape reader's expectations for what their books should look like.

Friday, March 6, 2015

One Republic of Learning: Counting Stares

Recently in the New York Times editorial pages - the most prominent platform for short-form opinion writing in the United States and equal to any in the English-speaking world - Armand Marie Leroi, a professor of developmental biology, argued that the humanities, if they are to have a future, must make the transition to a mathematically-based science.

There is much in Leroi's argument that I agree or sympathize with. The digitization projects of the last decade or more truly have changed what is possible in the humanities. We have easy access to a breadth of sources that was entirely unknown just a few decades ago. It is also true that scholars in the humanities sometimes make overly broad statements based on slim evidence, and that we sometimes make assertions with statistical implications without bothering to gather data or test the likelihood of those assertions. As Leroi states, "Digitization breeds numbers; numbers demand statistics." I've beat on this drum a few times myself. At the conceptual if not the computational level, statistical and computational methods are not out of our reach. With less work than it takes to learn Latin, we in the humanities can make these methods our own.

And yet several times while reading the essay, I found myself staring at the text and wondering what Leroi could possibly be thinking. Now that we have a decade of experience with digitization, we can recognize both its promise and its limits. Digitization does not turn "caterpillars into butterflies"; we have seen media change before, and we know that there are both gains and losses. The easy access to facsimile images obscures the difficulty of determining what other pamphlets were bound together as a single volume, for example, an important fact that would have once been obvious to anyone visiting an archive in person. And it is not only scientists who "know that impressions lie"; humanists have been studying representation and memory for a long time.

A telling episode in Leroi's essay involves a hypothetical graduate student who reacts to the argument of a traditional scholar based on textual evidence by downloading texts, running algorithms, applying statistical analysis, and visualizing the results in order to disprove the traditional scholar's point. Now, digital texts are marvelous things, but you have to understand what it is they represent. Is it an autograph? The first edition? The last authorized edition? A critical edition? A transcription of an early, fragmentary manuscript, or a late, complete one? You can postpone some of these questions, but you can't avoid them forever. Textual editing, electronic or not, is difficult, painstaking, and often thankless work. The point is that these downloadable texts don't simply exist; they have been created by people with particular outlooks and specific places and histories, and serious work in the humanities has to be aware of those aspects. And what algorithms should the graduate student run? The coin of the realm in the textual humanities remains close reading, with careful attention to context and levels of meaning. At the moment, the algorithms at our disposal enable only distant reading. It's certainly true that the graduate student and the scholar may end up talking past each other, but that won't do anyone any good (especially the graduate student, who will be fishing for recommendation letters when he or she hits the job market in a few years).

If we do in fact reach the point where the digital humanities expresses its results "not in words, but equations," where the "analog scholar won't even know how to read the results," then the digital humanities will fail. The humanities as academic disciplines have a particular set of guiding questions, and if a would-be contribution to the field does not address any of those questions, or does so in a way that is incomprehensible to practitioners, then it will be ignored. Leroi, a biologist, thinks that the new humanities disciplines will resemble evolutionary biology, with contributions from "biologists, economists, and physicists." While all of these disciplines have useful insights and methods for the humanities, what they do not have is a grasp on the questions that are of primary importance to humanists, or the language humanists use to express their findings. It is furthermore not at all clear that the tools of evolutionary biology, where reproduction is the first imperative of the most basic building blocks of life, should apply to culture, where it is not.

It is not as if we have not been down this path before. There is a history of mathematical approaches to the humanities, and it is a history littered with dead ends. While lurking in the stacks as a graduate student at the University of Illinois, I would regularly come across books published in the 70s and 80s, precursors of a sort to the Mittelhochdeutsche Begriffsdatenbank, that attempted to semantically encode various medieval texts so that one could search for not just textual but rather significant semantic collocations. I know of no useful scholarship that ever came out of these efforts. On a happier note, corpus linguistics has been a well established discipline for several decades - but it has supplemented, not supplanted, other approaches to syntax and morphology. Leroi holds up the "unforgiving terms and journals that scientists read," and yet STEM peer review has not proved to be an effective arbiter of quality in the humanities. Instead, leading STEM journals have regularly published headline-grabbing articles that apply computational and statistical methods to historical linguistics, for example, and failed to recognize in the nonsensical results a mirror image of the Sokal affair. If the basic assumptions of one field (for example, that rates of gene mutation are predictable) simply don't apply to another (linguistics really and truly reject glottochronology), then the methods will not be transferable, not because analog scholars are hidebound, but because they have a grounding in their disciplines that their neighbors across the quad simply do not have.

Friday, February 20, 2015

How atypical are the editions in Eric White's census of print runs?

In the introduction to his census of known fifteenth-century print runs, Eric White cautions against taking his results as representative for all incunables:
As the census will make immediately apparent, a large percentage of editions for which we know the print runs were produced to fulfill institutional functions.... Remunerative and relatively risk-free for printers, the original commissions for projects such as these tended to end up in surviving archives, and they tended to afford very large editions. It should be noted, therefore, that the print runs known from such institutional commissions do not represent a normative cross-section of fifteenth-century press production, but rather a selection of large scale projects carried out with institutional funding and pressure to produce. As a group they almost certainly reflect higher-than-average print runs.... Moreover, the majority of the recorded print runs reflect the output not of the ‘average’ printing shop, but rather that of a few exceptionally successful publishers who received commissions from well-funded institutions. It is worth remembering that a documented print run may not be a representative print run.
White's characterization of his sample is correct. Compared to all recorded incunables in the ISTC, folios are much more prevalent in the print run census, while quartos are underrepresented, and broadsides do not appear at all.
Comparison of format distribution 

For each format, the books are also substantially longer, with the average number of leaves 60-100% higher than for the ISTC as a whole. (NB: Averages can be a misleading way to describe the distribution of leaf counts, but they give a correct impression in this case.)

Comparison of average leaf count by format

White's suggestion that the sample of known print runs enjoyed a better survival rate than other incunables is also correct, with an average number of surviving copies 20-65% higher than what one finds for the ISTC as a whole. (NB: Averages can be even more misleading for describing survival rates.)
Comparison of average surviving copies by format

This doesn't mean that we should ignore White's census of print runs as an atypical sample, however. Rather, we can say that its sample differs from the body of known incunables in various ways, some of which have well-understood effects. For example, the size and format of editions in White's sample are larger on average than for the ISTC as a whole, and the included editions likely benefited from association with an institutional sponsor, all of which are associated with higher survival rates than other fifteenth-century printed books, so that we would expect the survival rate for White's sample to be higher than for the ISTC as a whole.

Friday, February 13, 2015

Paper and parchment manuscripts in the Handschriftencensus

The graph below shows in purple the number of parchment manuscripts recorded per half-century, while paper manuscripts are in red. The height of each bar represents the number of total manuscripts. Other people have done this graph before, and done it better.

What's interesting about this is the source of the underlying data: Its records are primarily concerned with German vernacular texts, so the graph is less interesting for general book history, but all the more interesting for German Studies. The Handschriftencensus makes no claims to completeness, but it does represent the result of many years of thorough effort by competent experts. As the Handschriftencensus records were never intended as data sources, I've needed to clean up and massage the records into a useable form. In this case, I've compelled vague or multiple datings into a single number, rather than relying only on precise dating. I've included the sixteenth century in the graph, but the small number of manuscripts there does not reflect a decline in manuscript production, but instead only a decline in the number of post-medieval manuscripts that are of interest for medieval German literature.

If nothing else, the graph nicely illustrates the extreme scarcity of manuscripts from the Old High German period, and the sudden rise of paper and decline in parchment at the turn of the fourteenth century. This is already well known, but for an initial attempt to treat a new information source as data,unsurprising results are welcome. provides electronic records for over 20,000 manuscripts, and there are undoubtedly more interesting results waiting to be found among them.

Friday, February 6, 2015

Notes on the bibliography of Johannes Rasch

The bibliography of Johannes Rasch's polemical prophetic compilations give us a view of canon formation for prophetic works in the late sixteenth century, a Catholic counterpart to the Egenolff collections of the 1540s. I know the primary sources used by Johannes Rasch for his polemical compilations fairly well, but taking a close look at them turned up a few surprises, including
  • the Onus ecclesie, ostensibly from a Catholic source, seems to have been passing into obscurity just over sixty years after its publication;
  • two editions, one of Birgitta of Sweden's revelations and another compilation of Wolfgang Lazius, that are not listed in VD16 but that can be found in Prague;
  • references to an unknown work of Joseph Grünpeck and three other unknown works; 
  • reference to a sixteenth-century edition of the Bildnuß eines nackenden Kaisers und Bapsts sixty years before the currently known editions; and
  • indications that several editions of Rasch's work currently dated to 1584 need to be re-dated to 1588.
In addition, it's interesting to see where Rasch drew his sources from. Although he was working in Vienna, his sources were most frequently printed in Nuremberg (10), Cologne (9), Strasbourg (5), and Munich (6), compared to five editions printed in Vienna. The number of international editions is low, with just one edition each from Antwerp (plus one lost edition), Bologna, Cracow, and Rome. No place of printing is known for seven editions, of which three are lost.

The dates of Rasch's sources are interesting. Only three are incunabula. One large group of his sources comprises those from recent decades, 1560-1588, with another large group around 50 years old, printed between 1520 and 1540.

Finally, it's interesting to note which editions apparently known to Rasch are lost to us today. The graph below marks the lost editions in red.
All of the editions he mentions up to 1520 can be identified today, and there are only two missing editions before 1550 (the lost work of Grünpeck, and an unknown Latin edition of Lichtenberger's Prognosticatio). The other seven lost editions are all from relatively recent years, with six printed after 1560. This is relevant to how we model the disappearance of printed editions, as it suggests that while there are processes that lead to the loss of editions over the space of several decades or centuries, the most common processes of destruction operate over the space of a few years or decades. It would be interesting to see if a close look at other sixteenth-century book lists would lead to similar results.

Friday, January 30, 2015

Johannes Rasch: A bibliography of his sources, version 0.45

[Update 6 February 2015: I have made a few small changes to the list of sources. Discussion has been moved to a separate post.]

For our knowledge of sixteenth-century prophetic works, Johannes Rasch is an interesting figure. His responses to various controversial works are not extensive, but he collects and cites from many different sources, and he takes a more critical view than Wolfgang Lazius, who was active in Vienna thirty years before Rasch. Most importantly, Rasch often includes a list of his sources, and many of them can be matched to known editions. What follows is an initial attempt to match Rasch's sources to printed works, with the hope that at the end we'll have a better idea of what was circulating in Vienna in the 1580s and what might be lost to us today.

The entries in Rasch's bibliographies are often numbered and begin with a title in German and/or Latin, the author, the format, and the place and year of publication if known. The final piece of information, taking the form of "pag. 8." for example, appears to give the number of quires in each edition, and the number is usually close if not always identical to the number of signatures found in known editions. As a bibliographer, Rasch is reasonably reliable, but not completely accurate in all cases. For the entries below, I've changed the order to give the author, title, place, and date of publication.

In one edition of Rasch's practica for 1588 (VD16 R 315), Rasch gives a list of authors he cites, and then notes that he has listed the authors of Latin printed works in his Liber vaticiniorum, while the German authors are listed in the index of his Gegenpractic. This note is significant, as it tells us to expect to find printed editions.

As for Rasch's own life and work, the situation isn't all that bad. There are a number of treatments of his biography and writings (see bibliography at the end of the post).

Sources cited by Rasch in the Gegenpractic of 1584, (VD16 R 302-303, 320)
  1. Wolfgang Lazius. Catalogus aliquot Vaticinorum... Vienna 1554.
    Not in VD16 or in most bibliographies of Lazius's work, but a copy does exist in the Czech National Library in Prague.
  2. Wolfgang Lazius. Fragmentum Vaticinii cuiusdam Methodii... Vienna 1547. VD16 ZV 9507
  3. Methodii episcopi et martyris Chronica. Von den letzen zeitten / von anfang und end der Welt / geschriben Anno Domini 250. Probably ISTC im00522000/GW M23054
    Rasch doesn't give any bibliographic information, but see the sources of the Vaticiniorum liber primus below.
  4. Julianus episcopus Tolet scripsit prognosticum futuri seculi Anno 450.
    Again, no bibliographic information, but this appears to be VD16 J 1046.
  5. (pseudo?)-Vincent Ferrer. De tribus prophetiis Danielis. Krakow 1527. USTC 240820, 240821, or 240828.
  6.  Pseudo-Vincent Ferrer. Drey erschröckliche prophecey Danielis...Item / Sanct Hipolitti Predig von dem end der Welt. Munich 1575 (octavo edition; not in VD16), 1582 (quarto edition, VD16 V 1211).
    Note that Rasch was the translator of the 1582 edition and presumably of the 1575 edition as well, but the 1575 octavo edition is otherwise unknown.
  7. Birgitta of Sweden. Bestättung der Offenbarung S. Brigitten / Burd der Welt genant. Nuremberg 1481. GW 4400, ISTC ib00676000.
  8. Birgitta of Sweden. Himlische offenbarung S. Birgitten / etc. Nuremberg 1502. VD16 B 5595.
  9. Birgitta of Sweden. Revelationes coelestes D. Birgittae, etc. Nuremberg 1517. Not in VD16.
    This appears not to be the smaller folio edition by Anton Koberger Jr. of the Revelationes in 1521, (VD16 ZV 25691), but another edition of 1517 not yet recorded in VD16. Like the 1554 edition of Lazius above, a copy is in the National Library in Prague.
  10. Joseph Grünpeck. Ein Spiegel der natürlichen / himlischen unnd prophetischen sehungen aller trübsalen / angst und not / die uber alle Ständ / Geschlecht und Gemaine der Christenheit / sonderbar so dem [Zodiac sign: Cancer] underworffen / und in dem 7. clima begriffen sein / in kurtzen tagen ergehn werden / Onus ecclesiae genant / Joseph Grunbeck Priester. Nuremberg 1508. VD16 G 3642.
    There is little doubt that Rasch is describing the first German edition of Grünpeck's work, but his addition that this work is known as the Onus ecclesiae is entirely erroneous.
  11. Welsch gattung / Windpractic. Strasbourg, 1513. VD16 W 1880.
  12. Newer außzug etlicher Prognostication unnd propheceyen... N.p. 1518. VD16 A 4439.
  13. Johannes Lichtenberger. Prognosticatio Joan. Liechtenberger...durans C. annos. Strasbourg 1526. Not in VD16? New editions of Lichtenberger's Prognosticatio are frequent in the 1520s, but none of them are from Strasbourg. In 1526, there are four editions, but the only Latin editions are by Peter Quentel in Cologne (VD16 L 1591 and L 1592). Rasch is again either describing a lost Strasbourg edition, or mixing up the place of printing.
  14. Theophrastus Paracelsus. Theophrasti Paracelsi wider Liechtenbergers weissag / etc. im buch Astronomica et Astrologica, auß dem buch der Weissager kunst. VD16 P 402.
  15. Kaiserliche Practica und Prognostication, auß allen alten Weissagungen / von 300 jaren her zusamen geschreiben / von Carolo V. Auch werden hierinn vil Wundergeschichten / in der Welt zukünfftig / durch den hochgelehrten Maister Alofresant zu Rhodis practi[ci]ret / etc. N.p., n.d. VD16 A 1934, ZV 415, or ZV 416.
  16. Johann Carion. Außlegung der verborgenen Weissagung Domini Johan. Carionis, von veränderung und zufelligem glück der höchsten Potentaten des Röm. Reichs. Nuremberg 1547. VD16 ZV 21897?
    Rasch mentions two editions, one with two quires (no format given) and a quarto edition of one quire. Neither corresponds exactly to ZV 21897, an octavo edition of 16 leaves, which is however the only known Nuremberg edition of 1547. There are numerous editions of 1546 and two more in 1548.
  17. (Pseudo-) Johannes Capistranus. Bildnuß eines nackenden Kaisers und Bapsts / gefunden in einem Felsen in Welschland 20. jar vor Christi geburt / auff den untergang des Reichs der Teutschen gedeutet / durch Capistranum. Anno 1460. und auch durch Carionem. Patenttafel / gedruckt 1556. N.p. 1556. Not in VD16, but cf. VD17 14:003063G.
    From the description, it's clear that Rasch is describing a work very similar to VD17 14:003063G, 39:148285H, and 23:258724U, although these were printed only in 1621, 1622, and 1663, respectively. So it's clear that Rasch definitely had access to a much earlier edition that is currently unknown to VD16.
  18. Cyprian Leowitz. De [conjunctionibus] magnis superiorum Planetarum... Lauingen 1565. VD16 L 1257.
  19. Matthaeus Zeise. Beschreibung und erklärung der schröcklichen / ungewöhndlichen / harechtigen / feurigen Sternen / so man Cometen nennet... Frankfurt 1578. VD16 Z 252.
  20. Wilhelm Misocacus. Prognosticon oder Practica auff das jar 1583... VD16 M 5481 or 5482; a third edition not in VD16.
    All three editions are by Jakob Rhode of Danzig.
  21. Geronimo Cardano. Ex Cardani supplemento Almanach et ex comment in quadripart. Ptolemaei: Seind hierin vil Sprüch angezogen wider die Sternkündiger / die von der Fürsten glück oder fall auß dem gestirn warsagen / dann dise zway Bücher seind bey den Astrologis in sunderm wehrt. N.p., n.d. VD16 C 940 or VD16 C 941?
    Both of these editions (published in Nuremberg by Johann Petreius in 1543 and 1547, respectively) might correspond to Rasch's description.
New sources cited by Rasch in his revised Gegenpractic
Rasch also published a thorough revision of his Gegenpractic (VD16 R 304-305) that included a new but unnumbered list of works cited. The first edition (R 304) is dated 1584 in VD16, but that cannot be correct. Rasch's dedicatory epistle is dated 1584 in R 304 (while it's dated 1588 in R 305), and his list of sources does not explicitly date any of them after 1584, so perhaps Rasch chose not to emphasize precisely when he was writing. But he does cite two editions of his own practica for 1588 (number 5 in the list below), and those two editions are dated 1587 and 1588, including a dedicatory epistle dated 18 April 1587 in both, and a signed date of 1588 in the case of R 315. So the first edition of the Gegenpractic, VD16 R 304, needs to be redated to 1588.

There is still one small mystery: Both editions are dedicated (with slightly different formulations of the royal titles) to Maximilian, archduke of Austria - who died in 1576. Why would Rasch dedicate a work of 1588 to a patron who died in the previous decade?

Unlike the list above, the numbering of the list below is my own.
  1. Johann Rasch. Gegenpractic / wider etlich ausgegangene warsagschrifften... Munich 1584. VD16 R 302-303, 320.
  2. Johann Rasch. Practica auff das jar 1588... Munich, 1587 = VD16 R 319. Graz, 1588 = VD16 R 318.
  3. Johan Nas. Concordia Alter unnd newer, guter, auch böser Glaubens strittiger lehren. Munich 1583. VD16 N 118.
  4. Joseph Grünpeck. Doctor Joseph Grunbecks Visiones auff das 29. 30 und 31. jar / und ain erklärung uber ein articl / darinn er durch etlich unverständige grobe klaffer gestrafft wierd / als sol er inn ainem büechlein / an den künig Ludwig in Ungarn unnd künigin Maria außgangen / treflich geirret und unwarhait anzait haben. 4. N. pag. 2. Not in VD16.
    This seems to be an otherwise unknown work by Joseph Grünpeck, from whom we have nothing between 1523 and his Prognosticum of 1532. It would appear to be a new prognostication and also a reply to a critique to his final judgment on the conjunctions of 1524, which was dedicated to the king and queen of Hungary (VD16 G 3629). It would of course be extremely interesting to see the critique of Grünpeck and his response.
  5. Joseph Grünpeck. Prognostication Doctor Joseph Grunbecks von dem 1532. jar an biß auff das 40. jar... Nuremberg 1532. VD16 G 3638 or G 3639.
  6. Weissagung der zwelff Sybillen / vil wunderbare zuekunfft von anfang biß zu end der weld besagende. Niachaula künigins von Saba prophecey. Merckliche künfftige ding von S. Brigitt / Cyrillo, Methodio, Ioachimo, brueder Reinhard / Johan Liechtenberger brueder Jacob aus Hispania, Doctor Joseph Grunbeck / Philippo Cataneo, beschriben auff jetzige und kunfftige zeit /etc. Frankfurt 1537. VD16 Z 945.
  7. Antonius Torquatus. Prognosticon...von änderung des gantzen Europae... Vienna 1535. VD16 ZV 25351.
  8. Antonius Torquatus. Prognosticon, Weissagung und urthail von betrübungen und grossen anfechtungen Europae..., translated by Caspar Goldwürm. Frankfurt 1558 and 1561. VD16 T 1584, VD16 T 1585.
  9. Alofresant. Ein prophecey und weissagung von den vier erben hertzogs Johansen von Burgund... N.p., n.d. VD16 A 1933 or A 1935.
  10. Johannes Trithemius. Von den siben geistern odern engeln / denen Gott die himel zu füeren von anfang der weld bevolhen hat. Ein warhafftig büechlein / darinn auß vergangnen zeiten / was kunfftig zu gewarten / erklärt und angezaigt ist / durch Joh. Trithaim und Jac. Pflaum. N.p. 1534. Quarto, ca. 20 leaves. VD16 T 2006.
    This is interesting - unique among editions of Von den Sieben Geistern, this one contains an extract from the prophecies attributed to Jakob Pflaum.
  11.  Georg Tanstetter. Tröstbüchlein. Wienna 1523. VD16 T 160.
  12. Esdra. Practica auff das 1544. jar. Strasbourg 1543. VD16 E 3966.
  13. Cyprian Leowitz and Samuel Eisenmenger. Prognosticon der fürnembsten ding so von dem 1564. biß auff das 1607. jar sich zuetragen werden / auß Cypriano und Siderocrate. N.p. 1567. Not in VD16, but cf. VD16 L 1272 and VD16 ZV 25875.
    No edition of this work from 1567 is known, but there are editions of 1564 and 1568.
  14. Cyprian Leowitz. Klärliche beschreibung und historischer bericht der fürnemsten grossen zusamen kunfft der obern planeten / etc. Lauingen, [apparently the edition of 1564]. VD16 L 1259.
  15. Johann Rasch. Cometen buech...darinn der dritte thail sagt von asgtrologen practic vom end der weld. Munich 1577. Not in VD16, but cf. VD16 R 310.
    Like Number 6 above, here is another work by Rasch published in the 1570s which is not found in VD16, but which is known from a (likely revised and expanded) edition of 1582.
  16. Paul Werner. Practic oder Prognosticon auff die zukunfftigen 1582. 83. 84. 85. jar. etc. auß den propheten Daniel / Ezechiel / und offenbarung S. Johannis. Basel 1581. Not in VD16.
    According to Rasch, a quarto edition of two gatherings or eight leaves. I can't find any reference to the title or author in the usual sources, so this looks like a true lost work.
  17. Otto Brunfels. Der Christen practic. Erfurt 1578.VD16 B 8485.
  18. Konrad Schomer. Siben bueßpredig von zuekunfftigen schrecklichen straffen... Lemgo 1584. VD16 S 3837(?).
    The edition known to VD16 is from 1583, so either Rasch is off by a year, or he had access to a later edition not recorded in VD16.
  19. Pseudo-Jakob Pflaum. Etlich weissag / zusamen getragen im jar. 1500... Wittenberg 1532. VD16 P 2400 or P 2401.
  20. Reimundus offenbarung / ist gefunden worden in ainem alten buech vor vil jaren geschriben / durch Cyrillum, Joachim / Birgitten / Francis. Reichard / und Methodium, etc... N.p. [Augsburg], 1532. VD16 ZV 11958.
  21. Wunderbarliche weissag von dem Papstumb / wie es im biß an das end der weld regehn soll / in figuren oder gmähl begriffen / gefunden zu Nürnberg im Cartheüsercloster / und ist sehr alt. N.p., 1527. VD16 W 4643-4645.
    This is interesting - Rasch, a Catholic, cites one of the more provocative uses of prophecy as Lutheran polemic from the height of the opening pamphlet wars of the Reformation. He manages this by reading the work as if it targeted Luther: "Sagt von dem vermainten Papste der Teutschen Saxen / der vol teüfels sein / und von dem rechten Papst wierd uberwunden und vertilgt werden."
  22. Dietrich von Zengg. Wunderbarliche Weissagung von vergangenen / gegenwertigen und zuckunfftigen dingen / durch brueder Dietrich Parfuesser münich / etwan Pischof zu Zug in Kracen (oder Zeng in Croatia) Anno 1410 offenbaret. N.p., 1536. VD16 T 737.
    Based on the parenthetical addition, Rasch knew at least one more printed edition of this work, either VD16 T 732 or T 734, and probably a manuscript version as well.
  23. Kurtze propheceyung oder practica was sich ungfährlich auff das 1587. und 88 jar zuetragen soll. durch Bilger Ruth im wald verborgen. item / Prophecey / gefunden in Mastrich bey Wilhe[l]m von Frieß. Cologne 1576. Probably VD16 ZV 28130 [1587].
    I would like to believe Rasch, as this would document the first appearance of "Friess II" in print, a year earlier than the earliest dated edition. Unfortunately, the editions of the Kurtze Propheceyung (combining a version of the "Toledo Letter" with extracts from Lichtenberger") that include "Friess II" are the later ones. The Kurtze Propheceyung went through several editions in 1586-87, and I have a hard time believing that one of them, focused on the years 1588, appeared a decade earlier. I suspect 1576 in Rasch's text is a mistake for 1587.
  24. Discurs, uber die groß coniunction der planeten des 1584. item / von veränderung weldlicher propheceyen / unnd ende der weld / auß H. Göttlicher Schrifft unnd Wiettenbergischen patribus, auch auß leüffen der natur / des 83. bis auff das 88 un 89. jar begriffen. Not in VD16.
    Rasch doesn't provide a place, date, format, or number of signatures. I can't find any reference to this title in the usual places.
Sources cited by Rasch in the Vaticiniorum liber primus (VD16 R 323)
According to Rasch, he reserved Latin works for the bibliography appearing here. Rasch's list of sources also includes several authors without any claim that they appeared in print, which I am omitting here. The numbering in the list below is also my own, and I am also omitting works already mentioned above.

Note that Rasch explicitly cites works printed in 1588 (see item 57 below), so it seems that the Vaticiniorum liber primus also needs to be redated from 1584 to 1588.
  1. Prophetia Abbatis de Flore Veneti (qui vixit ante annos 400.) de nostri temporis iconoclastis, miserandoque eroum exitu, insuper de reformatione et Unione ecclesiae, ante annos plures dimnitus producta et mirabiliter inventa. Iusti Iodoci Blankwald presbyteri. Antwerp tab. Col. 1567. Not in VD16.
    I'm not finding any references to Justus Jodocus Blankwald of Antwerp, or to a Cologne edition of Joachim of Fiore published in 1567. There are editions of 1570 and 1577, however,
  2. Titulus in libellum S. Methodii Martyris et episcopi Partinensis Graeciae: cum autenticis concordandtiis prophetiarum. Augsburg 1496. ISTC im00522000/GW M23054.
    This is a reference to the first edition of pseudo-Methodius to include Wolfgang Aytinger's tract, published in 1496 in Augsburg, and helps clear up the confusion surrounding number 3 on the first list above.
  3. Johannes Annius Viterbiensis. Prognostica M. Johan. Viterbien. de Imperiis, Christiano et Turcico. Nuremberg 1560. VD16 N 77.
    Rasch also lists a Nuremberg edition of 1471, but that seems to be taken not from personal knowledge but from the title forumulation of the 1560 edition.
  4. Johannes Lichtenberger. Prognosticatio. Strasbourg 1526 (not in VD16; see number 13 above), Cologne 1528 (VD16 L 1593).
  5. Cyprian Leowitz. De coniuntionibus magnis... Lauingen 1564. VD16 L 1257.
  6. Antichristus, sive Prognostica finis mundi, ex Mattaeo, Daniele, et aliis scripturae locis. Basel [ca. 1565]. VD16 A 2936-2937.
  7. Leonhard Krentzheim. Coniecturae piae et eruditae, de impendentibus in ecclesia et imperiis horum temporum mutationibus et calamitatibus... Görlitz 1580. VD16 K 2346.
  8. Antonius Torquatus. De eversione Europae... Nuremberg 1534. VD16 T 1578.
  9. Bartol Ðurđević. Prognoma sive praesagium Mehemetanorum, primum de christianorum calamitatibus, deinde de suae gentis interitu, ex Persica lingua in Latinum sermonem conversum. Antwerp 1545. NB 10557, USTC 404893.
  10. Theophrastus Paracelsus. Exposition vera imaginum olim Noribergae repertarum, ex Vaticiio magiae dedeucta... N.p. 1570. VD16 P 409.
  11. Marcus Wagner. Tres vetustissimae prophetiae de Germania, vivis coloribus tristem et miserabilem statum omnium rerum depingentes. N.p. 1579. VD16 W 133.
  12. Johann Wilhelm Stucki. Prognosticon, sive praedictio certissima, de Anno Christi. 1588. et iis quae sequentur... Zurich 1588. VD16 S 9780-9781.
  13. Philippus de Barberiis. Discordantiae sanctorum doctorum Hieronymi et Augustini; Sibyllarum et prophetarum de Christo vaticinia. Rome 1481. GW 3385-3386/ISTC ib00118000-ib00119000.
  14. Joachim de Fiore. Pauli principis de Scala, indubitata explanatio Vaticioniorum et imaginum Joachimi abbatis Florensis Calabriae... Cologne 1570. VD16 J 287.
  15. Prophetia pontificalis, cum figuris Joachimi Abbatis. Bologna 1515. USTC 763465.
  16. Joachim Camerarius. Commentatiuncula super Ovidii Versu, exitus acta probat... Leipzig 1572. VD16 C 373-374.
  17. Theodor Graminaeus. Mysticus Aquilo. declaratio vaticinii Jeremiae prophetae, Ab aquilone pandetur malum... Cologne 1576. VD16 G 2805.
  18. Joachim de Fiore. Abbatis Joachim divina in Jeremiam interpretatio, plurimis referta Vaticiniis... Cologne 1577. VD16 J 286.
  19. Aratus. Phaenomena et prognostica... Cologne 1569. VD16 A 3200.
  20. Trutina pacis, qua examen seu iudicium revolutionis annie praesentis 1579. astrologicum continetur... Cologne 1579. VD16 T 2133.
  21. Heinrich Efferhen. Homeliae 13 in caput 38 et 39 prophetae Ezechiel de Gog et Magog, seu de Turcis... Strasbourg 1571. VD16 E 565.

Secondary literature on Rasch
  • Barnes, Robin Bruce. Prophecy and Gnosis: Apocalypticism in the Wake of the Lutheran Reformation (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1988), 161, 165.
  • Hille, Martin. Providentia Dei, Reich und Kirche: Weltbild und Stimmungsprofil altgläubiger Chronisten 1517–1618 (Göttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 2010), 146-47.
  • Schöne, Renate. Afterword to Johannes Rasch, Das Weinbuch: Nachdruck der Ausgabe um 1580 (Dortmund: Harenberg, 1981), 125–27.
  • Schottenloher, Karl. “Untergang des Hauses Habsburg, von Wilhelm Misocacus aus den Gestirnen für das Jahr 1583 vorhergesagt: Eine verkappte politische Flugschrift.” Gutenberg-Jahrbuch 26 (1951): 127–33.
  • Smolinsky, Heribert. Deutungen der Zeit im Streit der Konfessionen (Heidelberg: Winter, 2000).
  • Wagner, Joseph Maria. “Oesterreichische Dichter Des XVI. Jahrhunderts,” Serapeum 25 (1864): 317–20 (on Rasch; the rest of Wagner's contribution extends across multiple issues). Nachträge, Serapeum 26 (1865): 123–24.