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FRANCISCANA NOTES FRANCISCAN PRINTING HOUSES IN PRE-REFORMATION TIMES From 1468 to 1520 no less than forty-eight monasteries and Friaries and one nunnery established printing presses in their houses. The Benedictines lead with thirteen establishments, followed by nine Carthusian, five Augustinian and twenty others of twelve different Orders. In about twenty of these printing firms the inmates did all the work and in the rest outside printers were hired. One of these monastic printing establishments was the one set up in the Beretin Convent of the Conventual Franciscans in Venice in 1474 (See Franciscan Studies, June 1945, p. 205). The Fathers hired a printer, paid all the expenses and had their imprint placed on the last page. Evidently the books were placed on the market. The Beretin Monastery was a regular publishing house like the other monastic printing establishments; it remained the only one in the Franciscan Order prior to the Reformation. There are two other Franciscan monasteries in which books were printed in the fifteenth century, yet they were no publishing houses, but only printing houses assigning rooms to printers to do their work. The printers were the publishers defraying the incidental expenses receiving from the monasteries only board and lodging besides a working room. In 1498 was printed at Schiedam, Holland, the Latin life of St. Lidwina which originally was written by the Friar Minor Observant John Brugmann (died 1473) and revised by Friar Minor Observant Arnold of Ostend in 1457. The name of the printer was not given but we know now that he was Otgier Nachtegael, a secular priest, who was active at Schiedam till 1505. Some bibliographers believe that this book was printed in the Franciscan monastery of that place. The book is made up of 248 pages and adorned with 25 woodcuts. Copies are preserved in the Morgan Library of New York and the Congressional Library at Washington. (Reichhart, Gottfried, O.S.B. Beitraege zur Inkunabelnkunde, Leipzig, 1895, p. 364). The itinerant printer Bartholomaeus Ghotan, a native of Magdeburg, printed in i486 and 1487 two books in the Franciscan monastery at Stockholm in Sweden (Haebler, Konrad. Die deutschen Buchdrucker des XV. Jahrhunderts im Auslande. Muenchen, 1924, pp. 285 sq.). The Franciscan monastery in Stockholm was a centre of culture in the fifteenth century and it was quite natural that the German printer was patronized by the Friars, when he arrived with the intention of setting up a press. Ghotan had been working at Magdeburg from 1480 to 1484, then at Luebeck from 1484 to i486, and on his return from Stockholm again at Luebeck till 1492. Called to Russia to set up a press in Moscow, he is said to have been drowned by the Russians for alleged sorcery. SIXTUS IV, O.F.M. AND THE GERMAN PRINTERS On March 20, 1472, Bishop Russi addressed an appeal to Sixtus IV on behalf of the German printers of Rome. Since nothing definite was known about the result of this appeal, historians would charge the pope with indifference to the request. "The pope was somewhat avaricious", 91 92FRANCISCANA NOTES writes George Haven Putnam (Books and their makers during the Middle Ages, vol. I, New York, 1897, p. 406), "and preferred to use his money to provide for a large circle of relatives rather than to support a publishing press. The printers were, therefore, unable to secure any aid from the papal treasury, and in 1472, brought their business to a close." At the same time when these charges were printed in New York, a German scholar Joseph Schlecht published in Freiburg in Brisgovia the text of the petition of the two printers Schweinheim and Pannartz to Sixtus IV. He had found in 1893 the original supplication in the Vatican archives bearing the pope's endorsement: Fiat ut petitur de expectativis pro ambobus (Sixtus und die deutschen Drucker in Rom, in Ehses, Festschrift zum 1100 jaehrigen Jubilaeum des deutschen Campo santo in Rom, Freiburg, 1897, pp. 307-311). The two printers were not quite moderate in their requests; they petitioned for a major benefice. This postulation proves, what had been unknown before, that the two printers were priests capable of being promoted to major benefices. The...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1945-9718
Print ISSN
0080-5459
Pages
pp. 91-97
Launched on MUSE
2015-07-01
Open Access
No
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