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  • Erfurter Juristen im Spätmittelalter: Die Karrieremuster und Tätigkeitsfelder einer gelehrten Elite des 14. und 15. Jahrhunderts
  • Thomas M. Izbicki
Erfurter Juristen im Spätmittelalter: Die Karrieremuster und Tätigkeitsfelder einer gelehrten Elite des 14. und 15. Jahrhunderts. By Robert Gramsch. [Education and Society in the Middle Ages and Renaissance, Vol. 17.] (Leiden: E. J. Brill. 2003. Pp. xvi, 717. CD-ROM enclosed. €149; $183.00.)

In this book Robert Gramsch focuses on the University of Erfurt as a nexus in professional careers. This does not occur in a vacuum. Gramsch looks at the larger university scene, especially the University of Cologne, to give the book a comparative dimension. Moreover, he looks at the connections of these jurists to other places of study, including Italian universities. The approach is prosopographical, and it casts light on the reception of the learned law into Germany in the fifteenth century. What the author does not attempt to do is to deal in depth with the intellectual aspects of the university milieu: study, teaching, learned opinion, and even book ownership, except when it casts light on careers. (The reviewer easily traced two manuscripts owned by Lambert Voss von Soest, one of the some 700 jurists mentioned in the book and profiled in the enclosed CD-ROM.) Each jurist is included in detailed statistical reports on place of origin, degrees achieved, and later careers. Most of these men are not well known, having served Church or secular government in their professional capacities, but a few achieved prominence in the period of the Basel Schism (1439-1449). Among these are Johannes Tolner, a friend of Aeneas Sylvius Piccolomini (Pius II), and Johannes Lysura, a prominent adviser to the German princes in that crisis.

The book begins with an overview that includes detailed discussions of the available sources. The university itself is treated next. This includes a detailed listing of all known teachers of law in the period examined. The student body is studied in terms of their general profile, with a glance at students whose careers were anomalous. The remainder of the book focuses on career choices and attainments. An entire chapter is devoted to the benefices held by Erfurt jurists. Another focuses on positions held in ecclesiastical or princely bureaucracies. Due attention is given to differences between students of noble, burger, or "poor" backgrounds. Multiple tables show the differences of career expectancy that were linked to social origins. These do not, however, tell the entire story. For the individual lives led one must consult the enclosed CD-ROM.

The Personenkatalog on the CD-ROM requires Windows 95 or higher to run and Adobe Reader 5 software (on the CD-ROM). It also requires 65 Mb of hard disk space on the desk top. The disk will load to the desk top. The instructions on [End Page 535] pages 715-717 should be read carefully. Even then the CD-ROM requires that the researcher be made a Power User or Administrator. This seriously hampers the utility of the database for most researchers. Once these problems are overcome, however, there is a veritable treasure trove of information on such jurists as Lysura and Tolner. This includes all relevant literature and scholarly notes necessary for an adequate understanding of the surviving records. Student careers, benefices held, and other professional activities are outlined. Much of this material is abbreviated, but Gramsch had been at pains to guide users of his exhaustive compilation. Were the CD-ROM more user-friendly, there would be no doubt that students of canon law, ecclesiastical careers, and the intellectual life of late medieval Germany have been well served by Gramsch's hard work on Erfurt and its jurists.

Thomas M. Izbicki
Johns Hopkins University


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