The Medieval Review 17.04.12

Claudia Alraum, Andreas Holndonner, Hans-Christian Lehner, Cornelia Scherer, Thorsten Schlauwitz, and Veronika Unger, eds. Zwischen Rom und Santiago: Festschrift für Klaus Herbers zu seinem 65. Geburtstag . Bochum: Verlag Dr. Dieter Winkler, 2016. pp. xiv, 474. €71.10 (hardback). ISBN: 978-3-89911-239-9 (hardback).

Reviewed by:

Hannes Obermair
University of Innsbruck

Generally one knows what one is getting with Festschriften like this: some smaller contributions and perfunctory surveys written just for the occasion and more or less relating to the honoree’s works or interests, some slightly boring historical case studies, and often a theoretical perspective so obsolete as to be impervious to criticism. Many of these issues are present and correct here. The honoree himself, Klaus Herbers, can certainly be counted among the great medieval church historians of today and may be considered one of the forerunners in his field. Indeed, there are only few areas in the ecclesiastical history of the medieval West which have not attracted his interest. He has therefore left a strong mark on current scholarship, and the many (mostly young) editors of his Festschrift also testify, as it were, to this network of knowledge and commitment (as does the impressive Tabula gratulatoria, comprising no fewer than six pages). Still holding his position as Full Professor for Medieval History and Auxiliary Sciences of History at the University of Erlangen-Nuremberg, Herbers is also Secretary of the Pius-Stiftung für Papsturkundenforschung, Director of the German branch of the Regesta imperii, and editor of the Archiv für Kulturgeschichte, one of Europe's oldest and still very influential reviews of cultural studies. Herbers' various monographs have been milestones in contemporary church-history research, and the same can be said about his many magisterial contributions to issues such as medieval pilgrimage, the cult of St James (and notably, the road to Santiago), and the Hispanic-German relations of the early medieval period, as well as his seminal editorial work on the papal documents from the Carolingian period. So the title of the Festschrift takes stock of these two dimensions: Herbers' research efforts are literally laid out between Rome and Santiago, at the merger of the historic Via imperii, leading from Rome to the Baltic Sea, and the Via Regia, connecting central Europe to Santiago.

Largely reflecting this thematic orientation, the contributions of the volume are arranged not chronologically, but according to topic.The first subgroup of the Festschrift collects essays relating to the Iberian peninsula in the Middle Ages. Articles by Walther L. Bernecker, Thomas Deswarte, Rudolf Schieffer, Alexander Fidora, Ludwig Vones, and Nikolas Jaspert focus on religious conflict, on historic geography, and on the Visigothic kingdom (on which Herbers has extensively published). The second section is dedicated to pilgrimage and prophecy, in particular to travel accounts, mobilities, and maps (Felicitas Schmieder), and specific interpretations of the millenarist Joachim of Fiore (Gian Luca Potestà) and of Chinese divination and mantic arts (Michael Lackner). Other authors in this fine section are Volker Honemann, Hartmut Kugler, Robert Plötz, and Peter Rückert. The latter sheds light on an issue very much explored by Herbers himself: the St James pilgrimage in the German-speaking regions and its decay immediately at the eve of the Reformation. So in Constance (located at the eponymous lake in the south of Germany), time after time false pilgrims tried to profit economically from the saint’s prestige around the year 1500. While there is nothing new under the sun, one may guess, the "politics of law and order" policy hence promoted by the town's council foreboded further regulation of the social disorder that would erupt with the Peasants' Revolt of 1524-25.

The third section consists of articles on sanctity and saints offered by Patrick Henriet, Martin Heinzelmann, Carola Jäggi, and Hedwig Röckelein. They obviously cover not only St James, but inter alia deal with relics and their use as instruments of apotropaic magic for travelers and for the dying. Among the best articles in the volume ranks Andreas Nehring’s attempt at addressing religion as one of the core forces in medieval societies, pointing at religious mysticism in its emotional implications of awe, wonder and magic. The next section contains articles on the papacy and the Roman church (Maria Pia Alberzoni, Hanns Christof Brennecke, Irmgard Fees, Karl Augustin Frech, Agostino Paravicini Bagliani, and Paul-Joachim Heinig). They offer some requisite historical overviews, but also colorful insights into the apparatus of the Roman Curia. Matthias Thumser comments on a undated letter by Pope Clement IV which he convincingly dates back to the end of 1265 and which sheds light on the last stages of the conflict between the Holy See and Manfred of Sicily, the heir of Frederick II of Hohenstaufen.

The fifth section of the book, probably its most perplexing, has the binary title of "Biography and Science." Johannes Fried offers a fine insight into Charlemagne’s life, and Helmut Neuhaus reveals to readers G.F.W. Hegel’s son Karl Hegel, a highly-reputed nineteenth-century urban historian. Whereas these two articles combine familiar narratives, though providing very useful sketches, the section and with it the Festschrift ends bizarrely with an abortive exercise, very lacking in nuance--basically a failed portrayal of one of the leading Austrian ecclesiastical historians of the twentieth century, Leo Santifaller. Rather embarrassingly, the author Werner Maleczek doesn’t keep up with the fascinating theme, giving way to some fragmentary Viennese bits of gossip instead of delineating Santifaller’s tangled loyalties to Fascism, Nazism, and post-war democracy. But such is the price of admission to this sort of publication, and this one contains a great number of more useful essays.

To briefly sum up, those with some interest in the medieval church history of central, southern and western Europe will find rich insights here, and research libraries will want the volume, if only to provide researchers with access to the wide range of today’s historical issues in the field. Concluded by a serviceable list of Herbers' many publications, a general index to the Festschrift and a collection of fine images (not least those referring to St James, as the leading character of the whole book, and also to his traditional emblem, the scallop shell), the volume is to be recommended as a generally worthwhile and fine reader of the current state-of-the-art in ecclesiastical history, with all its opportunities and shortcomings.

Copyright (c) 2017 Hannes Obermair

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