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book Reviews111 Gisela Drossbach. Die "Yconomica" des Konrad von Megenberg. Das "Haus" als Norm für politische und soziale Strukturen. (Norm und Struktur. Studien zum sozialen Wandel im Mittelalter und Früher Neuzeit 6.) Köln, Bohlau Verlag, 1997. xii + 303 pp. G. Drossbach has made Conrad of Megenberg's Yconomica (in three volumes) an open book. She has done this by reading carefully for us all three volumes of Yconomica. Conrad of Megenberg (1309-1374) wrote his extensive treatise in the years 1348-1352, in Regensburg, where he was a cathedral canon. Engaging in descriptive and normative sociology, Conrad detailed the order which should reign first in the household of a simple if very well appointed family. From there he went on to the household of the ruler's family, with the German king in mind. He continued with a description of the household over which the pater sanctissimus rules, the house of God. There, understandably, he got into the relation between empire and papacy. (Originally he had intended to follow the económica with a política, which he did not do.) Less understandably and more interesting, he included the university in the house of God. Conrad proceeded from Aristotle's lessons on order in the household, whence his title. As a word, Yconomica covers the management of a house. The great historical interest of Yconomica lies less in the proper norms Conrad lays down in the book than in the informative descriptions he offers, as becomes evident when we acquaint ourselves, thanks to Drossbach, with its contents. There are good reasons for laying out the many parts of Yconomica. First of all, though known in part and often referred to, both in the Middle Ages and in modern research, only recently has the whole text become known. Taken as lost, it resurfaced in a Spanish manuscript, as made known in 1950. It soon found an editor in S. Kruger, who published it in 1973-1984. Though written in the middle of the fourteenth century, it is new to our knowledge of those years. Furthermore, historians have been using Kruger's edition of the Yconomica, given its survey of society at that time and its rich detail; but historians have been mining it for their particular purposes. In a brief report (2-9), Gisela Drossbach passes through Konrad's appearance in a variety of studies. She easily concludes that they do not give an idea of all that can be found in the Yconomica, 228Book Reviews and that consequently the text needs attention in its own right, so that historians understand all that can be found there and can get into its many themes without ado. Drossbach fits Conrad's Yconomica into the learning of the day. She explains whence he took his Aristotelian ideas and then she follows, book for book, how he used the tradition. Into his outline Conrad took so much of the learning of his day and spoke so clearly to the interests of his day that he got far beyond what an económica had looked like till then. He laid out the norms of various groups within his different houses in such detail that it involved extensive social description. In his treatment of servants in a simple household, a simple household with a bewildering array of servants, he describes, for example, the notary. Here, by family and career, Conrad has inside knowledge to share. He speaks about chancery officials, and the chancery of Louis the Bavarian comes to mind, in order to explain the duties of a notary. In the process he supplies us with the vocabulary and the functions of notarial duties. Whether his lessons were taken to heart or not, we certainly end up with a good idea of what went on within a chancery, as well as with good insights for reading chancery documents. The same is true for what Conrad has to say about schools. He studied in Paris and he was instrumental in organizing the university in Vienna. Conrad does not offer new insights into the origins and knowledge of the Middle Ages' universities, as Drossbach points out (138). He does help us, though, understand many of...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1945-9718
Print ISSN
0080-5459
Pages
pp. 227-229
Launched on MUSE
2013-07-03
Open Access
No
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