Christine McWebb

title.none: Tremp, ed., Quellen zur Geschichte der Waldenser von Freiburg im Uchtland (1399-1439) (Christine McWebb)

identifier.other: baj9928.0207.003 02.07.03

identifier.issn: 1096-746X

description.statementofresponsibility: Christine McWebb , University of Alberta,

publisher.none: .

date.issued: 2002

identifier.citation: Tremp, Kathrin Utz, ed. Quellen zur Geschichte der Waldenser von Freiburg im Uchtland (1399-1439). Quellen zur Geschichte des Mittelalters, Band 18. Hannover: Hahnsche Buchhandlung, 2000. Pp. v, 834. ISBN: 3-77521018-0.

type.none: Review

relation.ispartof: The Medieval Review

The Medieval Review 02.07.03

Tremp, Kathrin Utz, ed. Quellen zur Geschichte der Waldenser von Freiburg im Uchtland (1399-1439). Quellen zur Geschichte des Mittelalters, Band 18. Hannover: Hahnsche Buchhandlung, 2000. Pp. v, 834. ISBN: 3-77521018-0.

Reviewed by:

Christine McWebb
University of Alberta

The title of this book is perhaps a bit modest, pointing, as it does, to the edition of trial records of the Waldensians in Southern Germany dating from 1399 to 1439. Yet, Kathrin Utz Tremp's work contains, in addition to the actual sources, an introduction outlining in minute detail the identity and importance of the persons involved. This introductory material takes up almost as much space as the edition itself. Let us begin with the contents of the primary material which is grouped into two parts. Tremp chose to reverse the chronological order of the two trials which are the subject of this work in order to better situate the factual circumstances of the persecutions of this heretical sect. She thus precedes the edition of the trial records dating from 1399 with the ones of 1430. As she herself claims, the earlier trial can only be fully understood in the context of the 1430 trial. Further, in an appendix she includes several treasurers' invoices (Seckelmeisterrechnungen) dating from 1429 to 1439 as well as three legal records referring to Richard of Maggenberg who was a feudal lord and owner of Burg Ober Maggenburg and thus an influential person in the political history of the city of Freiburg. Though these last records do not show any evidence of heretical material, they are nonetheless pertinent to the trial records as they shed light on the denunciation of Richard of Maggenberg during the initial interrogations of the 1430 trial. The contribution of this work to studies pertaining to the history of the Waldensians in Germany is, as Utz Tremp claims herself, the completeness of her sources, as she looked at every available archival evidence linked to these two trials. (1)

There is no doubt that the edition of these two trials and the annexed documents carries a lot of weight in documenting the history of the Waldensian movement in the Freiburg area. As the author rightfully points out (2), the trial of 1399 is one of the last, if not the last, in a long series of trials and persecutions which the German Waldensians had to endure at the end of the fourteenth century, notably between 1389 and 1401. Prefaced, as it is, by a list of all the individual documents in chronological order and complete with exhaustive explanatory notes as well as name and word indexes and a table logging the presences and absences of the accused and the accusers (judges and lawyers) involved in the 1430 trial, the author has created a very user-friendly tool of research. This said, the author makes clear in turn that there is still a great deal of speculation with regards to the beginnings of the persecutions of the Waldensians in Germany since we can only rely on personal accounts and legal documents. Her own argument is that the Waldensians started spreading their beliefs well before 1430. (8-9)

I will now turn to the lengthy introductory material, which merits close attention. In Chapter I, Tremp introduces the reader to the corpus of the sources to follow, i.e. she explains the trial records of 1399, the time period spanning the two trials focusing on the persecution of Jews and Hussites and, last but not least, the records of the 1430 trial. She then moves on to outline the exact daily chronology of the two trials, describing in detail the identity of the notaries involved. Before explaining the codicological findings in Chapter IV, again in minute detail, she pauses to describe the composition of the court during these trials. She concludes the introduction with a chapter on the historic reception of the trial records starting with Chancellor Wilhelm Techtermann who, in the sixteenth century, included a summary in German of the two trials in his Collection diplomatique. Tremp traces the reception of the trials of 1399 and 1430 up to the beginning of the twentieth century. The last notable person who investigated the history of these trials was the Freiburgian priest Gottlieb Friedrich Ochsenbein who, more or less coincidentally, came across Techtermann's edition at the end of the nineteenth century. The author also mentions Charles Aloyse Fontaine and Jean Nicolas Elisabeth Berchtold, the latter being the first editor of the trial records of 1399. Tremp situates herself in this long line of researchers preoccupied with the archival findings of the persecutions of the German Waldensians. Before turning to the edition itself, the author offers an appendix where she takes up again the trial of 1399, complete with information identifying the accused, the reception of the trial, a description of the physical state and the content of the treasurers' invoices as well as the documents referring to Richard of Maggenberg. This is followed by a very complete bibliography of secondary sources.

Though undeniably an extremely rich source of historical information, the book seems to be tailored to a very limited readership of specialists not only in Waldensian heresy, but more precisely in the history of the Waldensians of Freiburg and surrounding area. Unfortunately, Tremp's work is lacking an attempt to familiarize the reader with this movement in general and to contextualize the belief system and the resistance it encountered within the political and theological climate of the European late Middle Ages. Given the completeness and richness of this work this is disappointing, as a much broader group of readers such as non-specialists and graduate students in medieval literary and historic studies could have benefited from it. The only place where we come across an effort to discuss the larger implications these persecutions might have had is the short section covering the hostile environment for Jews and Hussites in fourteenth century Germany (16-23) and the brief comparison of the two trials which follows. The author then resumes her recounting of the data pertaining to the individuals accused in those trials. The introduction therefore reads as a long statistical account listing names, professions, relationships, age etc. of the accused and the accusers. This makes for a very tedious task, accessible only to those who are already familiar with the trials and the Waldensian movement at large. With this in mind, I would like to mention Shulamith Shahar's recent book titled Women in a Medieval Heretical Sect. Agnes and Huguette the Waldensians (Woodbridge, Suffolk: Boydell and Brewer, 2001) which addresses such issues as gender equality in the heretical sects of the late Middle Ages. I think Tremp's book could have benefited from such an approach in her introduction, that is to say, a cultural analysis of the events which are subject of her edition would have made the book more useful for the reader and less restrictive. Thus, perhaps as a future project, a translation of the most pertinent documents into German or English prefaced by an interpretative essay would be helpful to further the understanding of the impact the trials of 1399 and 1430 had on the development of the Waldensian movement in Germany and beyond.