Albrecht Classen

title.none: Deutinger, Rahewin von Freising (Classen)

identifier.other: baj9928.0007.002 00.07.02

identifier.issn: 1096-746X

description.statementofresponsibility: Albrecht Classen, University of Arizona,

publisher.none: .

date.issued: 2000

identifier.citation: Deutinger, Roman. Rahewin von Freising: Ein Gelehrter des 12. Jahrhunderts. Monumenta Germaniae Historica, Scriptores rerum Germanicarum in usam scholarum separatim editi, Band 68. Hannover: Monumenta Germaniae Historica, 1999. Pp. iv, 331. DM 80. ISBN: 3-775-25447-1.

type.none: Review

relation.ispartof: The Medieval Review

The Medieval Review 00.07.02

Deutinger, Roman. Rahewin von Freising: Ein Gelehrter des 12. Jahrhunderts. Monumenta Germaniae Historica, Scriptores rerum Germanicarum in usam scholarum separatim editi, Band 68. Hannover: Monumenta Germaniae Historica, 1999. Pp. iv, 331. DM 80. ISBN: 3-775-25447-1.

Reviewed by:

Albrecht Classen
University of Arizona

Historians have often payed close attention to the significant contributions by the twelfth-century chronicler Otto von Freising. In 1157 he sent a copy of his world chronicle to Emperor Frederick Barbarossa and promised him, to make up for the rather negative outlook on the future, a biographical poem, the Gesta Friderici I. Otto died, however, on September 22, 1158, and his work was then continued by his student Rahewin. The Gesta represent the most important source of information about Frederick I, but very little research has been done on Rahewin, a significant scholar, as Roman Deutinger argues in his Tuebingen doctoral dissertation from 1998.

In light of C. Stephen Jaeger's voluminous and ponderous study on medieval scholasticism and the cathedral schools (The Envy of Angels, 1994), Deutinger's book provides a welcome addition to this field insofar as he profiles a largely ignored yet important Freising scholar who deserves recognition not only for writing the second part of this influential chronicle, but also for a number of respectable didactic poems, such as his remarkable "Flosculus".

In his first chapter, Deutinger attempts to identify Rahewin's historical background: he belonged to one of the few aristocratic families in the Freising area. Rahewin is first documented as a testator in 1144 and at that time already served under Bishop Otto in his chancellery. He became a canon of the Freising cathedral in the late 1150s, and in 1158 he accompanied Otto to the imperial diet in Regensburg, followed by several other travels far and wide until Otto died. Rahewin was commissioned to continue with the Gesta, but his duties as notary and chaplain for the new Bishop Albert kept him more than busy, preventing the conclusion of his work until June 1160. After 1165/66, Rahewin is titled 'magister', hence must have assumed teaching duties at the cathedral school; later one of his students turned out to be the renowned Prior Altmann of St. Florian who dedicated to him a rhymed version of the St. Afra legend, Conversio et Passio Sancte Afre. He also achieved the rank of 'prepositus', and died sometime in the mid-1170s.

Deutinger's intentions are to reassess Rahewin's contributions to the Gesta Fridericiand to examine their literary quality. In the second chapter he begins with his investigation by identifying all surviving manuscripts and discussing those which seem to be lost today. Obviously, the Gesta were more popular than heretofore known and were copied and printed even far into the sixteenth century. Deutinger is able to establish a convincing stemma and to identify three major branches in the manuscript tradition which can be traced back to authentic texts by Otto and Rahewin. The latter had, however, considerably less direct knowledge of the emperor than the former, and he relied much more on a literary concept in the composition of his part of the Gesta. Rahewin heavily utilized classical authors such as Sallust and Josephus, directly borrowing from their texts to cast certain events in classical terms and imageries. Rahewin also seems to have enjoyed Jordanes' Getica and a letter by Apollinaris Sidonius, but there are many passages in his text which contain quotes and proverbs from minor classical sources, be it a comedy by Terence, be it the Institutio oratoria by Quintilian. Deutinger calls Rahewin's style of composition "Mosaiktechnik" (117) which was aimed at developing a literary typology which allowed the author to cast present events and persons in the images of the past. It seems unlikely that Rahewin intended to challenge his readers to identify his sources, as many of the borrowings would not have been known to the audience. Instead, as Deutinger points out, Rahewin conceived history as a sequence of characteristic events which were repeated throughout time, hence could be described in the same terms over and over again.

Although the Gesta were ultimately commissioned by the emperor, Rahewin refrained from adulating him and simply presented the various opinions regarding specific events and decisions without taking sides. Whereas Otto had clearly intended to address the young Frederick and to appeal to his generosity, Rahewin saw himself more as a historian who wanted to preserve the memory of past events for posterity. Deutinger points out, however, that Rahewin did not view the political events without any personal compassion, as he bitterly complained about the cruelty of war which brings about such suffering. (141 f.) In other words, the Gesta do not represent propaganda literature, but belong to the category of traditional chronicles.

Otto's and Rahewin's work apparently appealed to posterity, as we can tell not only from the rich manuscript tradition, but also in light of the many direct responses to the Gesta by a large number of historians from the twelfth through the fifteenth centuries, whom Deutinger discusses one by one. Particularly because Rahewin refrained from a very detailed discussion of Frederick's life, instead emphasizing the typological approach, later writers happily responded to these parts of his text in order to learn more about the long-term process of history (177).

In the third chapter the author examines Rahewin's lyric poetry, such as his "Flosculus" and the "Vesus de vita Theophili". In "Flosculus" the poet heavily made use of Peter Lombard's Sententiae, which he transformed into rhymed verses, without being able, however, to do full justice to the philosophical concepts and ideas. Rahewin also relied on Bernard Sylvester's Cosmographia, the third Vatican Mythographer, and Hyginus' Fabulae. Deutinger gives Rahewin more credit for his poetic accomplishment than for the content of his poem as he mostly reiterated his sources and did not develop new ideas. Nevertheless, Rahewin deserves our respect because his work reflects one the earliest responses to and reception of new contemporary approaches in theology and philosophy as practiced in France, and thus made these available to scholars and students in twelfth-century Bavaria.

Deutinger does not want to elevate Rahewin into the first echelon of medieval scholasticism, but he confirms his important contribution to clerical education and higher learning. His authorship of the so-called appendix to the Gesta is here seriously questioned; instead, Deutinger suggests the Moosburg canon Engelbert who seems to be the most likely candidate for these additional texts.

At the end we find an edition of the "Flosculus", which Deutinger accompanies with a rich commentary in which he identifies the many sources used by Rahewin. This monograph concludes with an index of all manuscripts discussed here, and an index for places and people.

Deutinger has made a solid case for Rahewin as a significant author and teacher who did not necessarily shine as an intellectual, but certainly stands out as a good writer and thinker who was, even though located in the provinces, well aware of the most recent trends in philosophical and theological discourse. Rahewin serves well as a representative of a wide group of cathedral schoolteachers, as his life and work which Deutinger has presented here illustrate the common situation at these institutions in the twelfth and probably still also in the thirteenth centuries.