Contact: Dr. Heinrich C. Kuhn
Document created: 2010-08-26
Last update: 2010-08-27
Mundhenk, Christine (ed.)
Dall'Asta, Matthias (coed.)
Hein, Heidi (coed.)
Kurz, Simone (coed.)
Texte 2866-3126 (1542)
Stuttgart-Bad Cannstatt [frommann-holzboog] 2010
Price: EUR 279
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This title was reviewed by: Manuela Kahle of "Seminar für Geistesgeschichte und Philosophie der Renaissance"
Item arrived at GGREN on: 2010-07-06
Review was finished on: 2010-08-25
The Melanchthon commemorative year 2010 provides an abundance of publications on the life and work of the "Praeceptor Germaniae". Among this colourful bouquet of publications we also find an additional volume of the critical edition of the correspondence of Philipp Melanchthon. Since 1977, when the project started under the guidance of Heinz Scheible, twenty-three volumes of letters and documents by Melanchthon and his correspondents as well as regesta, registers etc. were brought to light. This critical edition is an impressive work and a most useful and delightful publication — a tradition independent of jubilee years.
As a contribution to the commemorative year of Melanchthon the Heidelberger Akademie der Wissenschaften, the Kompetenzzentrum für elektronische Erschließungs- und Publikationsverfahren in den Geisteswissenschaften in Trier, and the publisher Frommann-Holzboog together provide a database of all published regests of the "Melanchthons Briefwechsel". One can find the database on the homepage of the Heidelberger Akademie der Wissenschaften (HAW) via the search mask e.g. "Melanchthons Briefwechsel". It is possible to search for regesta via number, date, and addresser, location of the sender or receiver and location of receiver. Furthermore, it is possible to restrict the search to the type of text, for example letter, expert opinion, and preface or optionally to search the full text.
The "Regesten online" are linked and provide all the details of the paper-published documents as reprimands to other letters, places of discovery, volume of the text etc.
The new volume of the edition "Band T11" contains letters and documents from 1542, a year without significant religious disputations (Religionsgespräche) that started at the end of 1540 and culminated in 1541 in Hagenau, Worms and Regensburg. For a reader looking for the great movements and activities during the development and establishment of the Protestant Reformation, 1542 would seem a rather steady and quiet year. Nonetheless, going by Melanchthon’s correspondence, the year 1542 is a most turbulent and disturbing year for the scholar Melanchthon. Alternate information about the Turkish threat throughout Europe, and, as Melanchthon criticises, the incapability of the rulers to unite and organise remedial action against them, kept Melanchthon and his fellow campaigners tense. This is aggravated by the fact that the Duke Moritz of Saxony and Johann Friedrich, Elector of Saxony were in conflict with each other about the taxes from the abbey Wurzen at the bishopric Meißen and contributions from the abbey as support towards the Ottoman wars. The conflict culminated in the occupation of Wurzen the so called feud of Wurzen (Wurzener Fehde).
Melanchthon followed the Imperial Diets (Reichstage) of Speyer and Nurnberg from a distance, exchanging information about outcomes of the discussions.
Apart from the usual current religious conflicts dominating the work of Melanchthon during the years prior, the reader of Volume T11 gets an interesting focus on the business beside his efforts in this controversy.
The letters and documents of this volume give interesting insights in the everyday work and daily business of this versatile scholar.
To begin with, the correspondence between Melanchthon and the nobility of different districts, as are for example, Albrecht Duke of Prussia, Joachim II Elector of Brandenburg, Johann Friedrich Elector of Saxony, Moritz Duke of Saxony or Philipp Landgrave of Hesse — appreciated Melanchthon during this year first and foremost as a school reformer and analyst of schools, universities and congregations. Melanchthon is the person to develop a new founded university or school, to fill the posts of professors or headmasters, to reveal grievances at schools or congregations, to find solutions and have ideas. Another task is the impartation, recommendation and care of students throughout the districts. The writing of the numerous letters of recommendation took him, as Melanchthon communicated in a letter to Joachim Camerarius (# 3048), a lot of his time.
Melanchthon’s active correspondence with the city counsels of different cities in Saxony or Thuringia and also towns in more distant regions (for example Basel, Memmingen, Augsburg, Hamburg), demonstrates similar duties.
But Melanchthon is furthermore the reference person to communicate with Luther, to review books or to write expert opinions in religious or public problems.
To mention just two examples of the correspondence: (1) Philipp Landgrave of Hesse contacted Melanchthon concerning a work of Luther, regarding a dialogue about bigamy (Doppelehe) written by Johannes Lening. He wanted to have a copy of it or, if the work should be not published yet, wanted Melanchthon to prevent its publication (# 2923). The bigamy of Philipp as a theme can be found as well in the correspondence of previous years. In 1540 Philipp married the Saxonian court lady Margaret despite his former marriage with Christine of Saxony in 1524. Melanchthon attended the ceremony. This marriage caused a lot of difficulties for Philipp and so he obviously wasn’t interested in a further debate caused by the work of Luther. Luther at last refrained from the publication and in return the Landgrave promised Melanchthon to mediate between Moritz and Johann Friedrich during the feud at Wurzen ( # 2934, and # 2939).
(2) Johann II Elector of Brandenburg directed himself toward Melanchthon (and Luther) asking for an intercession during the war against the Turks. In May 1542 Johann set off with an army to fight the Turks off Vienna (# 2960). Melanchthon answered a few days later. He sent Johann an intercession for him and his army and commented that the war is willed by god and even he himself is ready to fight (# 2966)
The more or less private correspondence of Melanchthon is very rich and gives an outline of several networks of scholars he was connected to. The correspondence with Joachim Camerarius (1500-1574) for example is the most comprehensive of this volume and very important for the study of Melanchthon as a whole. It is the most extensive and substantial exchange of letters, more than 900 letters from Melanchthon to his close friend Camerarius during the years 1522-1560 are known to us and rank among the most eminent testimonials of the world literature as Scheible mentioned.
The 36 letters of this volume are dominated by the armed conflicts, first and foremost the danger of the Turks in Hungary and Vienna and the uniting against them (e.g. # 2907, #2916, # 3009, # 3017, # 3029, # 3066, # 3076). Melanchthon speaks in high terms of Camerarius’s Oratio senatoria de bello Turcico which is an imaginative ciceronian-like oration to the nobility. Hoping to have the oration printed soon, he criticises the inability of the rulers to act against the danger (# 2896). But also the conflict at Wurzen and the war against Duke Heinrich of Brunswick-Wolfenbüttel led by the Elector of Saxony, the Landgrave of Hesse and the cities Brunswick and Goslar are discussed and commented by the scholars (e.g. # 2932, # 3007, # 3009, # 3010, # 3015, # 3017, # 3026).
Also very interesting indeed are the letters and documents touching the issues of women’s rights during this period. For example, the will of Martin Luther to provide for his wife Katharina of Bora (# 2871) as witnessed by Melanchthon and others. An article about the relation between Melanchthon and the wife of Luther was published in 2001, also by Heinz Scheible on the basis of the correspondence. Another important point is the mentioned bigamy of the Landgrave Philipp of Hesse, the conflict, solutions and discussions associated with it (e.g. # 2923, # 2931, # 2939, # 3088). Furthermore, the discussion about secret engagements, divorces and on how to provide for a widow with children (e.g. # 3052, # 2974). The letters give insights in the conditions women lived in and the position and development of status during the Protestant Reformation, a period for which sources of Women’s studies are rare to find.
Altogether, the correspondence of the year 1542 is, despite or precisely because of the lack of big events like religious disputations and the sectarian conflict, a very interesting focus on life, work and thought of Melanchthon and his correspondents, the networking of the time and the atmosphere under the danger of the Ottoman wars. It shows Melanchthon on the height of his profession. He is in active exchange with the princes and most important scholars of his time, beyond the boundaries of his territory, working intensively on religious topics as well as the development and reformation of universities and schools. He is responsible for restaffing vacant positions, for promoting and supervising students in their activities and is a most interested observer and critic of political developments and situations of conflict throughout Europe. Despite his weak physical state he is one of the most important supporters of his time north of the Alps.
It is necessary to point toward the close connection between the volumes of Regesten (Vol. 1 to 8) and the volumes of the Texts (Vol. T1 to now T11, Vol. T12 is in preparation). Explanations to the connection and to the concept of the whole edition can be found at the beginning of the first volume of the edition: Vol. 1. A further detailed introduction, especially to the critical edition of the texts can be found in the first volume of the text editions: Vol. T1. Volumes with registers of persons and places as well as concordances supplement the edition (Vol. 9 to 12; Vol. 13 and 14 are in preparation). A survey about all published volumes is also available on the homepage of the Heidelberger Akademie der Wissenschaften.
Some notes on the present volume T11: It contains 271 documents from Melanchthon or of close connection to Melanchthon: letters, expert opinions, reports or prefaces to several books, a testament.
Vol. T11 provides the following structure:
The edition of the documents provide for each of them:
The indices involve the following registers:
This volume is very carefully, accurately and thoughtfully worked out and a delightful step further towards the completion of this imposing edition.
Every scholar working on Melanchthon and his background has the pleasure to have recourse to this edition but also has to revert back to it and will be measured on the use of it as well, as the publications of this commemorative year of Melanchthon will reveal to us.
The electronic version of the regesta as a supplement to this critical edition is a splendid working tool that opens new perspectives to work with the sources and that hopefully will be completed with the electronic version of the texts in the foreseeable future.
 Melanchthons Briefwechsel. Kritische und kommentierte Gesamtausgabe, im Auftrag der Heidelberger Akademie der Wissenschaften herausgegeben von Heinz Scheible, seit Band T 11 von Christine Mundhenk. Stuttgart-Bad Cannstatt, Verlag Frommann-Holzboog.1977-2010.
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 Melanchthons Briefwechsel. Bd. 3, Regesten 2336–3420 (1540–1543). Bearbeitet von Heinz Scheible. 1979, 271.
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 Vgl. Scheible, Heinz, Aus der Arbeit der Heidelberger Akademie der Wissenschaften. Überlieferung und Editionen der Briefe Melanchthons. In: Heinz Scheible, Melanchthon und die Reformation. Forschungsbeiträge, hrg. v. Gerhard May und Rolf Decot (= Veröffentlichungen des Instituts für Europäische Geschichte Mainz, 41), Mainz 1996, 1-27, 6.
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 Scheible, Heinz, Melanchthon und Frau Luther. In: Lutherjahrbuch 68 (2001), 20-213.
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Author1: Melanchthon, Philipp Author2: Mundhenk, Christine (ed.) Author3: Dall'Asta, Matthias (coed.) Author4: Hein, Heidi (coed.) Author5: Kurz, Simone (coed.) Author5: main Title: Band T11 subtitle: Texte 2866-3126 (1542) edition: series: place of publ.: Stuttgart-Bad Cannstatt publisher: frommann-holzboog year: 2010 no of pages etc.: 414 pp. ISBN: 978-3-7728-2534-7 currency: EUR aprox. price in EUR: 279