The volume deals with the history of endowments from the Middle Ages until present days but concentrates on the medieval period. This topic has become fashionable, particularly in the German historical research. However, no general overview of medieval endowments and foundations has been written until today. The authors of this book are aware of this situation and want to show the wide spectrum of research possibilities into the field. The collection of eleven papers intends to highlight endowments as an important phenomenon in medieval society, based as they are on the interdependence of social, religious, economic, legal, and cultural factors. The contributions concentrate on the royal and urban spheres of founders and on various aspects of the recipients' reactions towards the endowments. Michael Borgolte, the editor of this volume, is professor at the Humboldt University in Berlin and already proved his interest in the topic in the 1980s in a large number of articles.
Caspar Ehlers addresses the cathedral of Speyer as an important example of an eleventh-century foundation and shows its development until the beginning of the twentieth century. The cathedral was founded by the Salian Emperor Konrad II and served as his burial place in 1039. Thereafter, it became the burial place of other emperors of the Salian dynasty, and also of Philipp of Swabia, two Habsburgs (Rudolph I and Albrecht I), and Adolf of Nassau. Although the burials look like having developed as a family tradition of the Salians in particular (Speyer as the "Salian cathedral"), they have to be seen as individual decisions of the rulers; a kind of dynastic tradition had not emerged. For Emperor Maximilian I and his environment, however, the cathedral had already reached the fame as being the Kaiserdom (the "Emperors' cathedral"), and the burials had become a symbol for kingship itself. In 1900, the graves were opened and seen as an object of research. This led, on the one hand, to their "disenchantment," but at the same time to a new "enchantment" of the cathedral. Today, it has reached the status of being the symbol of a glorious past; it is used for state ceremonies and shown to foreign politicians and dignitaries.
Michael Borgolte's contribution uses examples of medieval endowments as objects for the research into the "history of intention" (Willensgeschichte). An endowment contained a human intention not to be touched by the death of the founder but to have a lasting effect. The author tries to show the connection between the intentions behind the foundations and their practice and "reality." In a case study, he concentrates on a ruler who was not significantly famous for his endowments: Emperor Frederick I. Borgolte is able to prove that Frederick's foundation habits may not easily be taken as normative for other rulers but have to be seen as an individual case. The emperor put his main accent on hospital foundations and the endowments towards already existing ecclesiastical institutions. He donated through foundations for public utilities, and hoped for eternal life as a gift in return, but obviously without major interest in the liturgical memoria.
Katrin Proetel studies the legacy of King Frederick the Handsome (d. 1330) as a phenomenon of disposition and execution. Frederick was mainly interested in the foundation and support of monastic institutions, particularly in Austria and Styria. The author concentrates on the analysis of the comprehensive endowments in Frederick's testament and the practical implementation of the latter. An appendix of the important sources strengthens her argument.
The urban space of the northern German city of Stralsund is touched on by the contribution of Ralf Lusiardi. The author is particularly interested in the donations pro remedio animae in the testaments of the inhabitants of Stralsund from the fourteenth to the beginning of the sixteenth century, and in their connection with notions of the afterlife. He tries to make a comparison with Jacques Chiffoleau's evidence from late medieval Avignon.
Frank Rexroth deals with the connection of endowments and the gute policey in late medieval German towns, that is the regulations of public secular utilities. He concentrates on the donations for building and renovation activities and the cleanliness of roads, bridges and wells as parts of pious Christian charity. He puts his main emphasis on the analysis of the practices of such donations in late medieval Nuremberg and London.
The art and image donation programs for fifteenth-century Florentine chapels are the topic of Volker Reinhardt's short study. The most regularly realized type of endowment was the one accomplished by influential families and their heads, which led to a clear personality and ego cult. The construction of a proper worldly image and prestige was most important. Religious iconography was put into a sociopolitical context to increase the power and the status of the leading families.
Wolfgang Eric Wagner analyses the Liber oblationum et anniversariorum (1442-c. 1480) of the Scots monastery in Vienna that contains entries naming the past and present benefactors of the house and their endowments or donations pro remedio animae. As the monastery had come into economic difficulty, one started to check the anniversaries to find out if the donated objects were still possessed by the Scots, and to what extent the services in return of the monks were still justifiable. This course of action should create a proper balance between the interests and economic possibilities of the monastery and the wishes and trust of the donators' families.
The endowment of artworks in the context of concern for the afterlife in the late medieval city of Trier is analyzed by Wolfgang Schmid. He deals in detail with five tombstone foundations of archbishops of Trier from the fourteenth to the sixteenth century. He finds out that they did not follow any patterns but were the result of thorough and extensive individual planning. The author tries to compare these episcopal endowments with art donations of members of the nobility, clerics and burghers. He is able to recognize the leading role of the nobility and of cathedral canons who themselves originated from noble families. The position of the burghers of Trier was rather unimportant. Generally, Schmid is able to find out two groups of art endowments. Tombstones mainly served the self-representation of bishops, of the nobility and high clerics. Burghers more often donated other objects of art, like altarpieces and stained glass-windows. The transition from the Gothic period to the Renaissance did not lead to a change of these habits.
The controversy in post-Reformation Memmingen that had emerged about the execution of the endowment of an eternal mass and a preacher's office at the parish church donated in 1479, is the topic of Benjamin Scheller's contribution. The conflict lasted from 1526 to 1543 and started between the Catholic preacher, the Protestant town and the influential merchant family of the donor. In a peaceful settlement, the preacher was indemnified and the endowment changed to a regular donation for the poor. First, the latter was still influenced by the donator's family to be, at last, completely assigned to the town authorities.
Christine Goettler analyzes the religious, mainly art endowments of Portuguese merchants in sixteenth-century Antwerp and asks whether they should be regarded as dissimulation. Antwerp was an international town allowing great latitude, religious ones in particular, to foreign merchants. This situation changed in 1585, when the Spaniards again took over authority. Most of the Portuguese merchants were Catholics descended from families of converted Jews. They lived in their own separate community, spoke their language and were economically successful. They had to protect themselves against the distrust of the inquisition, which was hostile to both Jews and also conversos. The author detects an abundance of Catholic rhetoric among the Portuguese merchants that should have helped them to increase their social prestige in the community as well as to protect them from the inquisition. At the same time they were able to keep their foreign identity.
Franz-Josef Jacobi describes the history and present administration of endowments in Muenster. A select general bibliography on medieval endowments completes the volume. The collection as a whole offers a sometimes rather heterogeneous image of endowments and foundation habits from the eleventh to the sixteenth century. On the one hand, the papers show a number of cases -- mainly of rulers and members of the upper classes -- wherein individual decisions played a more important role than tradition and developed patterns. On the other hand, the latter had reached considerable relevance, particularly in urban space, in which the clear differentiation of distinct social groups and their endowments seems to have been important. The volume may be seen as a useful step towards a comprehensive future "History of Medieval Endowments."