Andreas Rehberg (Chair of the panel)

Linguistic and ethnic conflicts in monasteries north and south of the Alps in the late Middle Ages and the Early Modern Period

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Monasticism and the vita regularis were by no means always peaceful. As is known, there has often been a lot of controversy over rule conformity and observance. Less studied, however, are problems of linguistic communication and “national” tensions or prejudices in monastic communities. The three contributions aim to investigate and compare these conflicts in case studies from two large areas, namely from the Old (Habsburg) Imperium (Vienna, Bohemian border area) and from Italy. The time frame is struck consciously from the late Middle Ages to the early modern period. A priori it could be assumed that in monasticism the language and ethnic descent per se would not have an divising effect. The fact that during the period under investigation conflicts nevertheless occurred, is certainly related to increased monastic migratory movements and to special political and cultural circumstances. Not least the mood heated by the humanists and the anti-Roman effect during the fifteenth century may have stressed the inner peace of multi-ethnic communities. Also, some irritations in the course of the spread of Hussitism and the Reformation and the onset of Counter-Reformation should be included. The presenters from three European countries, under the moderation of Gabriela Signori (Konstanz), will consider three different forms of the vita regularis, each responding to the virulent internal problems in their own way. The panel seeks to open up a new cultural-historical perspective on monasticism and the vita regularis, in which aspects such as alterity, cultural transfer and acculturation are examined for their validity. Possible links to modern conflict research should be included. Some of the conflicts to be named got critical after a longer period of good living together or could be contained at least temporarily. It has to be examined, if in these latter cases we can find some clue for resolving even modern conflicts.

Gabriela Signori (Konstanz)
Einführung und Diskussionsleitung
Petr Hlaváček (Prag)
A language conflict in the late medieval Franciscan Province "Bohemia"?
This paper examines the language conflict in the Franciscan Province "Bohemia", which was reformed by the Italian Giovanni Capestrano (1452). The Franciscan observance movement in Central Europe was characterized by the great differences of its members in terms of their regional, national and linguistic diversity. Originally it included not only the Bohemian lands, but also Austria, Styria and the Polish-Lithuanian lands. This Franciscan Province was composed of Italians as well as German-speaking, Czech, Polish and Hungarian brothers. Soon there were first conflicts caused ostensibly "racione ydeomatis" or by "nacionum diversitas". The lecture analyzes (for a religious community) the role for "nation building" in the late medieval Central Europe played by the vernacular languages (Czechs - Germans) and by the "national patriotism" (in Silesia).
Maximilian Alexander Trofaier (Wien)
Constructed foreignness. The relations of the Irish monks of the „Schottenkloster” in Vienna to their environment
The relationship between the Irish monks of the Schottenkloster in Vienna and their urban environment is examined here. For two and a half centuries the abbey, founded in 1155, belonged to the union of Irish „Schottenklöster” („Scots monasteries”), which was characterized by its ethnic unity. Given the choice of either accepting native Benedictine monks or renouncing the abbey, the Irish left Vienna in 1418. The ensuing historiography accused the Irish monks of inability, misconduct and character deficits – an assessment that lingers until day. The lecture explores to what extent the Viennese Irish actually constituted a foreign body which had failed because of its unwillingness to integrate and live together with others, while assessing the role of these “Scottish” monks in the religious, economic and political life of the city and the country as well as their relations with the court, the urban population and other religious institutions.
Andreas Rehberg (Rom)
A fight for Subiaco and Farfa. The repression of German monks from two monasteries in the hinterland of Rome after 1500
This contribution analyses the displacement of Benedictine monks descending from the northern countries (mainly from the Empire and France) from the monasteries in Subiaco and Farfa near Rome after 1500. In the two monasteries of Subiaco and – since 1477/79 – of Farfa remarkably many monks came from beyond the Alps thanks to reformatory efforts by the corresponding commendatory abbots born from the first families of Rome. The study analizes the geographic composition of the monastic community, the influence on its economic and cultural surroundings and the growing confrontation with the commendatory abbots, which led to the appeal to the Pope, the Emperor and the Imperial Diet and, as a final last consequence, to the expulsion of the German monks in 1567. Under the accusations against the German monks we find a nationalistic, biased reproach for their excessive way of life (alcoholism!) and for the dissipation of the goods of the monastery too. The abbey was annexed to the Congregation of Monte Cassino, which was dominated by Italians.