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  • Giovanni of Capestrano and Jan Brugman in a Manuscript of The Brothers of The Common lifeThe Hague, Koninklijke Bibliotheek, MS 78 H 541
  • Pietro Delcorno (bio)

This article explores the presence and function of texts by two spokesmen of the Franciscan Observance sub vicaris, namely Giovanni of Capestrano (d. 1456) and Jan Brugman (d. 1473), within a religious miscellany most probably used – if not composed – by the Brothers of the Common Life in the house of Lüchtenhof (literally, 'the court of light'), founded in 1440 in the neighbourhood of Hildesheim, Lower Saxony. The miscellany attests to the influence of these two prominent preachers beyond their religious order and beyond the geographic areas in which they had been active, thus showing the exchange and interconnection between different branches of the so-called Observant movement.

The article first describes the miscellany by highlighting its probable connection with the Lüchtenhof community as well as the differentiated provenance of its texts. Next, it briefly discusses the section that includes Jan Brugman's works. Finally, it focuses on two sermons of Giovanni of Capestrano, analysing in particular his sermon on spiritual armour and siege engines. Both texts stem from his 1452 preaching campaign in Leipzig. Their presence in this miscellany sheds light not only on the transnational fame of Giovanni of Capestrano, but also on his reputation as master of spiritual life among the Brethren of the Common Life.

A miscellany and the Brothers of Lüchtenhof

The Hague, Koninklijke Bibliotheek, MS 78 H 54 is a miscellany of small dimensions (204 x 137 mm) composed of printed and handwritten [End Page 89] religious texts, which were bound together at the end of the fifteenth century (surely after 1490), most probably for the use of the Brothers of the Common Life of Lüchtenhof, in Brühl, outside the city walls of Hildesheim.2 The link with this community is suggested by a local ghost story and a note of ownership.

On the last folio of one of the incunabula included in the miscellany, namely a Sequentiarius et hymnarius printed in Cologne by Heinrich Quentell around 1485, a handwritten addition attests that in 1494 the book was in Hildesheim, if not already in Lüchtenhof. The writing copies a request of prayers from the monastery of Saint Gotthard in Hildesheim, with which the Brethren of Lüchtenhof had strong connections. In this request, which dates 'ex monasterio sancti Godehardi, anno 1494o', the monks asked the 'patres et fratres' of another community (Lüchtenhof?) to pray for the soul of Bartramn, who had been their prior, since recently the life of their monastery had been shaken by the repeated apparitions of what seemed like a ghost (fantasma).3 [End Page 90]

The Brethren of Lüchtenhof are mentioned on the title page of the third incunabulum of the miscellany. Above the printed title Quattuor novissima, it is written: 'Liber domus presbiterorum et clericorum vulgariter tom (!) luchtehove unser leven frowen prope Hildesheim in Brulone in comuni viventium'. This ownership note was not deleted or updated when the miscellany was compiled in the last years of the fifteenth century, suggesting that it was still valid. The statutes of the community of Lüchtenhof instructed its librarian to 'take care to write the name of the house at the beginning and the end of each book', so to avoid thefts.4 The central place occupied by books in the life of this community is witnessed by the presence of distinct chapters in its rule for the scripturarius, librarius, rubricator, and the ligator librorum. According to the statutes, the binder received the texts to bind from the scripturarius and had to follow docilely his instruction.5 The latter was responsable for a key aspect of the life of a community that, as its own specific form of manual work, elected 'laborem sacros libros conscribendi aut etiam extraneorum codices ligandi'.6 If the miscellany was composed in Lüchtenhof, as it seems probable, it would have been the task of the scripturarius to organize the volume, whose content fits well with the spirituality of the Brothers of the Common Life.7 [End Page 91]

Structure of...


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