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  • Wege zur Pfründe. Die Besetzung der Magdeburger Domkanonikate zwischen ordenlicher Kollatur und päpstlicher Provision 1295-1464
  • Andreas Rehberg
Wege zur Pfründe. Die Besetzung der Magdeburger Domkanonikate zwischen ordenlicher Kollatur und päpstlicher Provision 1295-1464. By Thomas Willich. [Bibliothek des Deutschen Historischen Instituts in Rom, Band 102.] (Tübingen: Max Niemeyer Verlag. 2005. Pp. xii, 683. €98.00.)

In recent decades the old interest in the personal composition of the cathedral chapters has again acquired impetus in German research. Well known are the monographs on foundations in the series Germania Sacra, which combine constitutional and social history with a catalogue of persons. Newer initiatives, on the other hand, inquire into the regional and broader personal networks and into the mechanisms of the awarding of benefices. Willich's work is based on the vitae of 262 canons in Magdeburg who can be identified between 1295 and 1464 (listed on pages 541–549); the vitae can be reconstructed only with difficulty because of the lack of central sources (such as matriculations of canons, official records of chapters, statute books, and anniversary obits). The author can build on the two volumes at Magdeburg that Gottfried Wentz and Berent Schwineköper composed for Germania Sacra. He exploited the Vatican sources beyond the Repertorium Germanicum, which extends to about 1475. He has taken into consideration the foundation elite, that is, the approximately twenty canonici capitulares and the nine domicelli pueriles with lesser prebends, who were candidates for capitular positions. The canonici electi, on the other hand, had no prebends at their disposal but moved to minor benefices in [End Page 276] a manner staggered according to the dates of their elections. The cathedral dignitaries (provost and dean) and various provostries in Magdeburg, Bibra, Engern, and other places were especially desired. The failure of canons to reside in their proper places and their unwillingness to receive the higher orders were much-lamented problems. To improve the liturgy and pastoral care at the cathedral several canonries for priests and preachers were established. Relationship with the canons who already held benefices was indispensable for those waiting to be promoted.

To illustrate the success rate of papal provisions and to show the significance of the interconnection of the canons among themselves Willich chooses the method of diachronic comparisons in three periods, viz., 1295–1361–1403–1464. In this way he demonstrates that the number of papal provisions increased sharply around 1350; a third of the holders of papal expectatives were successful. Around 1300 the members of the local higher nobility enjoyed priority in gaining admission to the chapters. When the son of the Landgrave of Hesse, Otto, became bishop of Magdeburg in 1325, clergy from the Hessian clientele entered the chapter; now princely patronage was decisive for admission. In the second half of the fourteenth century the higher nobility's share shrank in comparison with the growing share of the lower nobility and the bourgeoisie. The burghers' share rose in the third period (1403–1464) by 37% (previously it had been 6.5% and 26.5% respectively). This tendency toward mixing was conditioned by the increasing share of the canons who had been provided by the pope. Among them many jurists got a chance. The statute of exclusivity of 1458 served not so much the interests of the higher nobility as those of the lower nobility against the educated bourgeois. The importance of attending a university (prescribed from 1440 on) increased steadily from the middle of the fourteenth century; in the third period it reached 71%. Theologians with degrees, however, were the exception. As far as the clientele relationships are concerned, the meager presence of imperial protégés stands out; only Emperor Charles IV, of Bohemia, was successful in this regard. Little interconnection existed with the Saxon Wettiner; more successful were the Hohenzoller as margraves of neighboring Brandenburg. It was only from the Great Schism of 1378 on (until the beginning of the pontificate of Eugene IV) that curialists or papal collectors in the Empire got a chance in Magdeburg.

As a conclusion it can be established that in the fourteenth century the importance of relationship shifted to patronage, origin from the same...


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