Elisabeth Von Thüringen Und Die Neue Frömmigkeit in Europa

Article excerpt

Elisabeth von Thüringen und die neue Frömmigkeit in Europa. Edited by Christa Bertelsmeier-Kierst. [Kulturgeschichtliche Beiträge zum Mittelalter und der frühen Neuzeit, Band 1 .] (Frankfurt am Main: Peter Lang, 2008. Pp. ix, 349. $81.95. ISBN 978-3-631-56992-4.)

The sixteen essays in this collection originated in a 2007 conference held in Marburg to commemorate the 800th anniversary of the birth of St. Elisabeth of Thuringia (1207-31). The conference aimed to examine Elisabeth's caritative activity in the context of the "new piety" that emerged around the turn of the thirteenth century. This religious sensibility was associated with radical notions of poverty, renunciation, and possibilities for laypeople to live as religious within the world. Some contributors consider this social and religious context, although most of the chapters engage with questions concerning the development of Elisabeth's cult and the reception and reworking of her image as a spiritual model in later centuries.

The editor opens the collection with a survey of the major themes and transformations in women's religious life during the twelfth and earlythirteenth centuries, sketching the spiritual landscape and the opportunities and influences it presented to women such as Elisabeth. Harald Wolter von dem Knesebeck also examines possible spiritual influences on Elisabeth in his careful reading of the images in two luxury Psalters produced for her husband's family, seeing in these models of renunciation and affective piety that may have shaped the spiritual formation of the young Elisabeth. The next two chapters consider how certain of Elisabeth's close contemporaries in eastern-central Europe interpreted her actions as a model for their religious expression. Christian -Frederik Felskau focuses on how Elisabeth's charitable activities were emulated and adapted by her aunt, Hedwig of Silesia, as well as her Pfemyslid cousins Agnes and Anna; and Mirosíaw Mroz identifies parallels between Jutta of Sangershausen's eremitic life and her care of the poor and infirm in Poland with Elisabeth's charitable religious activity.

Several contributors explore the development of the hagiographie texts, iconography, and traditions associated with Elisabeth's cult. Two important contributions examine aspects of Elisabeth's veneration in liturgical contexts. Stefan Morent investigates the origins of the rhyming office Letare Germania, arguing for its likely source at the female Premonstratensian monastery of Altenberg, where Elisabeth's youngest daughter was a member. Annette Löffler turns to the liturgical commemoration of Elisabeth by the Teutonic Order, drawing on evidence from liturgical manuscripts to demonstrate the significance of her veneration for the spiritual identity of the order. Klaus Niehr discusses the speed with which narratives of her life and actions became established in visual models, with particular emphasis on the creation of an iconographie typology of her life in the earliest reliquaries. …