Other news: Issue 9, March 2012

MeMO news

MeMO publicity

Since the appearance of the previous MMR Newsletter in September 2011 the MeMO project has attracted still wider attention through a number of publications. A notice in the September issue of the journal Kerkinformatie and two articles in the September and November issues of the monthly journal Kerkbeheer, both published by the PKN (the organisation of Protestant churches in the Netherlands), elicited enthusiastic responses from churches and individuals, including an unexpected one from a Latin teacher in Barneveld (see below). Very welcome were also emails and letters with new information on monuments and floor slabs that were previously unknown or presumed lost. A further notice about MeMO appeared in Museumberichten 10 (November 2011), the digital newsletter of the Nederlandse Museumvereniging.

In January 2012 an interview about MeMO's work on Dutch medieval tomb monuments and floor slabs with two members of the team (Dr Sophie Oosterwijk and Trudi Brink, MA) was published in the colour magazine of the RCE (Rijksdienst voor het Cultureel Erfgoed), accompanied by a specially commissioned colour photo of the still spectacular memorial floor in the Nieuwe Kerk in Delft. The MeMO project collaborates closely with the RCE and has already organised a number of sessions with the RCE to photograph medieval floor slabs in the Oude Kerk and the Nieuwe Kerk in Delft, St John's church in Gouda, St Martin's church in Zaltbommel, and the three medieval churches in Kampen. Further photo sessions are being prepared.

Also fruitful is the collaboration with the SKKN (Stichting Kerkelijk Kunstbezit in Nederland). This organisation has kindly allowed members of the MeMO team to consult its inventories of Dutch church interiors and has made its photographs of tomb monuments and floor slabs available for use in the MeMO database. One of the newly photographed monuments in Zaltbommel recently featured as the Object of the Month on the SKKN website. See: http://www.religieuserfgoed.nl/maand.aspx?ID=96.

MeMO in the classroom

A notice in the September issue of the PKN journal Kerkinformatie resulted in an unexpected email from Mrs Liesbeth Vos-van Rijn, a Latin teacher at the Johannes Fontanus College in Barneveld (province of Guelders). Two of her pupils had become interested in a Latin memorial inscription on the joint monument to brothers Johannes en Hendrik van Renselaar in the Grote Kerk in nearby Nijkerk, and this interest had already resulted in a translation as a welcome break from the usual classical texts such as Caesar's De Bello Gallico. The enthusiasm of teacher and the original two pupils proved infectious. One of them even coined a new phrase: taphographophilia, a love of describing memorials. Soon other pupils developed an interest and a new translation task was sought that would also benefit MeMO.

As the Van Renselaar monument in Nijkerk dates from 1602 it does not fit chronologically within the MeMO project. However, a suitable alternative was found in the lengthy Latin inscription on the mural monument of Jan van Crimpen (d. 1524) in the Cool family chapel at St John's church in Gouda. Although Jan van Crimpen's epitaph had already been transcribed and translated, closer inspection in situ by Mrs Vos by revealed several transcription errors. A fresh and accurate translation was also badly needed. The inscription proved a real challenge for the pupils, as well as an occasional source of frustration because many of the words did not appear in their Latin dictionary or turned out to have a different meaning. Twelve pupils in pairs or groups of three worked on parts of the translation, four pupils were responsible for finding background information, and one pupil took editorial charge. In addition to translating the text, the pupils also studied its stylistic qualities. Excellent new photographs of the monument taken for MeMO by RCE photographer Chris Booms served as a useful tool for the translation team in Barneveld.

Whereas the efforts by Mrs Vos and her seventeen pupils are a welcome contribution to MeMO, the unexpected collaboration is in fact mutually beneficial. One of the explicit aims of the subject KCV (Klassieke Culturele Vorming) in the Dutch secondary education system is 'to make classical thinking accessible to the modern reader'. Together with MeMO the pupils and teacher in Barneveld are achieving this goal in a unique way. The result of their efforts will be incorporated in the MeMO database, thereby becoming available to the wider public.

At the moment of writing the translation by the Barneveld pupils is nearly completed. On 4 April the text will be formally handed over by the pupils to MeMO's Coordinator of Tomb Monuments, Dr Sophie Oosterwijk. The MeMO team are meanwhile looking out for other suitable Latin memorial texts to challenge and inspire future Latin classes.

Interview: An explosive growth in the online use of manuscripts

The Utrecht Archives (HUA) is responsible for keeping documents concerning the history of the Province of Utrecht and its cities, towns and people. It keeps governmental records of the city and province of Utrecht, as well as ecclesiastical, religious and private archives. Its titles include an extensive collection for the city of Utrecht. Its reading room for studying archives is housed in a pleasant, light building at Alexander Numankade in Utrecht. Digitisation is becoming increasingly relevant for HUA, as the number of online visitors is showing an explosive growth. MeMO went there to find out more about a new digitisation project that is announced on the HUA website, which is of course close to our heart.

We meet dr. Kaj van Vliet, Keeper of the Archives and Head of the Department of Archives. We ask Van Vliet to tell us more about their new digitisation project. He explains that HUA intends to make ten chronicles available online, in a series called Sleutels tot de Utrechtse geschiedenis, or Keys to the history of Utrecht. The chronicles cover the period of the fourteenth to the sixteenth century, and will be searchable by year, among other things. Why does HUA focus on chronicles? Van Vliet: "We wanted to make available what happened in and around Utrecht in any particular year in this period. Like a newspaper, really." He adds: "It can be real fun to read chronicles, because their contents range from occurrences on the personal and local level to national and even international events. The series provides all sorts of historical information that is interesting for a large public, regardless of any specific research topic." Chronicles are of great interest for researchers of memoria, as they can provide information on foundations, donations, memorial practices, etcetera.

The seventeenth and eighteenth century were also considered, but their inclusion would put a strain on the parameters of the project, which is ambitious enough as it is. Van Vliet: "We intend to complete this project in 2014. I realise that this is a very ambitious goal, but we are confident that we can complete the digitisation of at least eight of these chronicles by then." Two texts that will be available shortly are the Catalogus Episcoporum from the mid-fourteenth century and the sixteenth-century Chronicles of Henrica van Erp. A prepublication for the latter is already available on the HUA website. The idea for the Keys series was prompted by the recent publication of the latter as a book, as Kroniek van Henrica van Erp, abdis van Vrouwenklooster, translated into modern Dutch, edited and annotated by Anne Doedens en Henk Looijesteijn (also announced in this newsletter).

Keys to the history of Utrecht
1. Catalogus episcoporum Ultrajectinorum 695-1340 HUA, T218, inv.nr. 45a
2. Willem Heda, Historia Episcoporum Ultrajectensium 695-1524 UBU, Hs. 787
3. Bella campestria 1018-1301 HUA, T216, inv.nr. 52a
4. Kloosterkroniek kartuizerklooster Nieuwlicht (1) 1391-1407 HUA, T1006-3, inv.nr. 3
5. Kloosterkroniek kartuizerklooster Nieuwlicht (2) 1391-1580 HUA, T1006-3, inv.nr. 4
6. Kroniek van het convent St. Nicolaas 1399-1477 UBU Hs. 1260 en HUA, T708-20, inv.nr. 986
7. Henrica van Erp, Kronyk 1503-1583 UBU Hs. 1254
8. Hendrik van Bommel, Bellum Traiectum 1525-1529 UBU, Hs. 796
9. Johan Beijer 1566 1566 HUA, T216, inv.nr. 4370
10. Buchelius, Diarium 1593-1600 UBU, Hs. 798

Of the texts that made it through the selection five are kept at HUA, and five are from the collection of Utrecht University Library. Why has HUA selected manuscripts from the university collection as well? Van Vliet: "This project was conceived as a collaboration from the start. There is no categorical dividing line between these manuscripts. It can usually be traced how a manuscript ended up in the institution where it is kept today, and we see that their distribution has been rather arbitrary - some of ours might have ended up in the collection of Utrecht University, and vice versa." The real selection criteria for the digitisation project were the contents. The texts should be autograph, should focus on Utrecht and surroundings, and cover a period before the year 1600. And of course the material condition of the manuscripts needed to be such that they could be scanned.

The Buchelius files
The new project aims more or less to emulate the section on HUA website on Aernout van Buchel (1565-1641), known as Buchelius since he wrote in Latin. Three manuscripts written by Buchelius between 1610 and 1620 provide a wealth of information on descriptions and drawings of the tomb monuments, coats of arms, inscriptions and other historical data available in the churches and monasteries in the City and Province of Utrecht, as well as in other provinces in the Netherlands. These manuscripts are an invaluable source of historical data, because much of what he describes has been destroyed since.

The online Buchelius environment is very user-friendly; providing the component parts on one page - images of the original page with the option of enlargement, transcriptions, translations into Dutch, and footnotes with historical commentary. This is what the new series Keys to the history of Utrecht aims to achieve as well. Moreover, the series will have its own portal and its own look, and can also be consulted free of charge.

In the Keys series the introductions will also provide historical commentaries and an overview of the other types of texts that may be included in the manuscripts. This is a familiar practice for MeMO too, as the other texts included may provide important clues to how the texts functioned, and may even explain why they have survived. Since the digitisation and publication of the series is financed by the Province of Utrecht, it is targeted first and foremost at people in the Utrecht area, and the introductions and translations will therefore be in Dutch. But the availability of these chronicles on the internet can benefit foreign memoria researchers as well, combined with the descriptions in English in the MeMO database.
Moreover, seven of these ten chronicles are in Latin; these are transcribed as well.

Memorial registers
Earlier, MeMO had asked Van Vliet whether HUA would be willing to digitise the text carriers in its possession that contain memorial registers. We have now brought a list of almost forty manuscripts that include memorial registers from monasteries, a parish church, the Utrecht chapters and confraternities in parish churches and monasteries.

This is a matter for archives-on-demand, Van Vliet explains, a service provided by the HUA Archives Database, in which the text carriers are digitised in their entirety, including the cover. Van Vliet: "Your request appeals to me because it provides a systematic approach to the digitisation of manuscripts. Moreover, a variety of documents are bound with them - including chronicles." It needs to be checked is whether the physical condition of these manuscripts allows digitisation. If so, they will become available in the online Archives Database.

The digitisation of these manuscripts will be free of charge. Unfortunately, however, HUA has been forced to adjust its fee structure in that it will require a small payment for downloads. In combination with MeMO's descriptions of the content in English, downloading even a few pages will give the user a good idea of what to expect. One download out of every twelve will be provided free of charge by way of a preview, a subsequent contribution of 0.25 is charged for every spread (an image of two facing pages; a verso and the following recto) that is downloaded. One hundred percent of the revenues will be used for digitising more text carriers. Alternatively, users can still physically visit the Utrecht Archives at Alexander Numankade and consult the manuscripts free of charge.

- Jeannette van Arenthals and Truus van Bueren


The HUA website with manuscripts by Buchelius and Henrica van Erp can also be accessed through the links section on the MeMO website, http://memo.hum.uu.nl/.
The list of memorial registers currently known to us will become available on the MeMO website by the end of March.

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Other news

Calendarium-Necrologium of the Chapter of St. Plechelmus (Oldenzaal) available on the internet

During the research preceding the publication of the anniversary book Plechelmus. Zijn kerk, liturgie en kapittel te Oldenzaal (Zutphen 2005), of which I was co-author and editor, we frequently made use of the Calendarium-Necrologium of the medieval St. Plechelmus Chapter of Oldenzaal (Twente). This chapter was in function from 954 AD - when it was founded by the Utrecht bishop Balderik - until 1632 AD, the year of the dissolution and reformation of the church of St. Plechelmus.

The Calendarium-Necrologium dates back to the second half of the fifteenth century. This important manuscript lists the names of the people who were to be commemorated in the church, and the dates during which these commemorations were to take place. Out of roughly eight hundred entries, 75% are also from the fifteenth century. The manuscript was in use until 1632. In the nineteenth century it was transcribed by the vicar Johannes Geerdink and in 1887 it was published by his nephew Egbertus Geerdink in Archief voor de geschiedenis van het Aartsbisdom Utrecht. Unfortunately this edition remains incomplete and contains a fair number of errors.

Considering the importance of this manuscript with regard to the history of the city of Oldenzaal and the region of Twente, we set out to make a new edition. Fellow-author Gerard Bartelink, retired professor of Early Christian Greek and Latin and of Medieval Latin at Nijmegen, was willing to prepare a complete transcription and translation, complemented by explanatory texts and several indexes.

In Spring of 2009 the new edition of the Oldenzaal manuscript was completed, and we uploaded the text files to the website of the church of St. Plechelmus. By choosing to publish on the internet instead of in print we hope to increase the accessibility of this late medieval source.

In 2011 we were able to realise a second goal: completing the edition by adding photographs of the full manuscript. Visitors of the website can now search the calendarium by date, and view full screen photographs of the corresponding entries in the manuscript. The overviews include dates, liturgical feasts and inscriptions concerning memorial practices.

With this project we hope to have given full access to a remarkable late medieval memorial source; the only one preserved in the region of Twente.

Guus Goorhuis

Bianca Rubea, or death by tomb slab: an intriguing tragedy with wider implications

- Sophie Oosterwijk

A search through the online catalogue of the Amsterdam Museum (formerly Amsterdam Historisch Museum) for evidence of medieval tomb slabs that might have found their way into the museum collection, revealed an intriguing etching attributed to the Dutch engraver Jan Luyken. The Dutch caption identifies the scene as Bianca Rubea, widow of Baptista a Porta, engaged in crushing herself to death beneath the stone slab that covers her husband's grave. The etching also appears in the online catalogue of the British Museum, but neither website mentions the exact source of the etching.

The Dutch etcher and engraver Jan Luyken or Luiken (1649-1712) is best known in the Netherlands for his emblematic prints, and especially for his depiction of the various trades in Spiegel van Het Menselyk Bedryf (1694), which concludes with an image of a grave-digger. The etching of Bianca Rubea originates from a Dutch work by Laurens van Zanten (1630-1693) published in 1699 and entitled Treur-tooneel der doorluchtige vrouwen (transl.: Tragedy of illustrious women). Divided into four parts, the Treur-tooneel comprises a long series of short retellings of tragic tales chronologically arranged from antiquity (starting with Semiramis) to more contemporary sensation stories with a supposedly moral purpose. Besides the Bianca Rubea scene, the twelve etchings by Jan van Luyken include the executions of 'Anna Bulleyn' (Anne Boleyn) and Lady Jane Grey alongside a duchess of Burgundy being stabbed to death by her husband.

So how did Bianca Rubea come to be crushed to death in her husband's grave? According to the Treur-toneel the story took place around 1253 in 'Bassianum' (Bassano) near Padua after the town had been captured by enemy troops led by Aktiolinus. This evil conqueror promptly fell in love with the newly widowed Bianca, who threw herself out of a window in order to escape his advances. However, she recovered from her injuries only to find herself ravished by Aktiolinus. Like a modern-day Lucretia, Bianca felt unable to live with this dishonour and chose death instead, albeit in a rather unusual manner. She convinced friends of her desire to see once more the corpse of her late husband Baptista Porta, who had been killed during the capture of the town. After opening her husband's tomb by lifting the stone cover, she threw herself onto the corpse and pulled away the beam supporting the slab, thereby crushing herself to death.

There are no known contemporary sources for this story, which appears to have first emerged in the fifteenth century as an example of wifely virtue. In 1653 Angelo Matteo Buonfanti de' Cassarini wrote a lyrical poem entitled L'amor fedele di Bianca da Bassano, and the story became even more famous in the late eighteenth century when it was made into a play by Pierantonio Meneghelli, a ballet by Giuseppe Trafieri, and an opera by Vittorio Trento and Mattia Botturini. The heroine's name is usually given as Bianca de' Rossi or Bianca da Bassano, the husband's as Giambattista dalla Porta, and the villain's as Ezzelino or Ecelino da Romano. It may have been Van Zanten's choice to 'translate' the heroine's name de' Rossi as Rubea.

So what is the interest for memorial research in the Jan Luyken etching? First of all, it is a wonderful example of anachronism. Intramural burial was not as customary in the mid thirteenth century as it was to become later, at least not for lay people; it was usually the clergy who were honoured with burial inside churches, the exception being for lay founders. Yet the Luyken etching appears to present the church as literally paved with tomb slabs, as was customary in seventeenth-century Holland. And there are further artistic liberties. In order to allow the viewer to understand the scene, the artist has made the grave improbably shallow so that Giambattista's uncoffined corpse is clearly visible, his toes even sticking out slightly above the edge of the grave. In reality graves beneath the church floor were much deeper, often deep enough to allow two or three coffins to be piled on top of one another with a further two feet of space between the upper coffin and the slab. The grave would then normally be filled with sand. The position of the grave in the etching also makes sense only if one realises that the printing process has turned the original design into a mirror image. Corpses were normally buried with the feet pointing east and the grave thus appears to be situated in the nave. Yet the sunlight shining into the transept cannot come from the north, which means that the grave must have been envisaged as situated in the south aisle of the nave near the south transept.

Also interesting are the implements used by Bianca to open her husband's grave, especially the crowbar in the foreground. This was indeed the traditional grave digger's tool, as one may see in church interiors by Golden Age painters such as Emanuel de Witte and Hendrick van Vliet. To avoid breaking a slab the grave digger would ease the stone up with a crowbar, after which he would slide baulks of timber under the slab so that its weight did not rest solely on the narrow blade of the crowbar; he would then either roll the stone away across the timbers or sling a lifting device around the slab to move it. Yet in Luyken's etching Bianca seems to have single-handedly lifted the slab with a crowbar and used a timber to prop it up temporarily at an impossible angle.

Graves had to be reopened occasionally to allow new burials or the addition of sand to level the floor, and the use of crowbars is often indicated by damage around the edges of floor slabs. One can often still observe damage along the edges of floor slabs that may indicate the use of a crowbar. Yet in some churches the slabs instead feature a small rectangular wolfsgat (lewis-hole) near one edge in which the grave digger would fit a steenwolf (three-leg lewis) to lift the stone with. The use of a steenwolf was far from standard practice: recent photography sessions for MeMO in Delft revealed just a few lewis-holes, all in post-medieval slabs and some filled up with mortar. However, they are much more common in the Oude Kerk in Amsterdam, where the floors are literally paved with tomb slabs. Lewis-holes can also be found in other European countries, e.g. in England.

Much remains to be discovered about the production, transport and placement of memorial floor slabs. International research into burial customs across Europe may in time reveal interesting comparisons and differences. It is worth keeping an eye out for those tell-tale rectangular holes or the possible damage from a crowbar used to prise open the floor.

Bizarre though Bianca's self-chosen death may be, there is a further twist to her story. Jan Luyken's etching was incorrectly used as an illustration (pl. 3) in Christopher Frayling's 1991 book Vampyres: Lord Byron to Count Dracula with the caption 'A vampire rises from the grave, illustrating an early eighteenth century treatise on the undead'.

Necrological sources from Late Medieval rural Holland

- Kees Kuiken

Memorial registers are one of four types of sources that are being catalogued and described in the MeMO project. The list of memorial registers from religious and ecclesiastical institutions in the Netherlands compiled by members of the Signum Contact Group in the early 1990s served as a starting point for the project. Since the start of the project in 2009, new memorial registers have come to light. In the near future a completely revised and updated overview of the necrological sources will be published on the MeMO website. I am currently working on a comparative historical analysis of Late Medieval necrological sources from rural parish churches (excluding urban, monastic, and collegiate churches) in the former county of Holland. A recent discussion with members of the MeMO project and other expert colleagues on the problems and perspectives of the intended analysis resulted in the following provisional list of published and unpublished sources:

Baardwijk: a transcribed but largely unpublished register written in a missal in 1497 by parson Wouter Dorremans of Baardwijk, updated in 1526 by his successor Henricus Faber, now in the Bisschoppelijk Archief at 's-Hertogenbosch, where a transcription by A.F. Franken can be perused; some excerpts published in Met Gansen Trou 10 (1960).

Hazerswoude: an untranscribed register, dated 1517, of grave owners and memorial services, from the archive of the Haarlem Commandry of St. John, into which this parish church was incorporated in 1328; now in the Noord-Hollands Archief at Haarlem.

Koudekerk A: an unpublished and undated list of memorial services in a register of revenues of the parish church and the parson finished in or after 1458, previously in the archive of the Geestelijk Kantoor (Ecclesiastic Office) of the Estates of Holland in the National Archive at The Hague, now in the archive of the Chapter of St. Mary's at The Hague (the parish church of Koudekerk was incorporated into that chapter in 1374). A full transcript of the register by Mrs. A.A. van Poelgeest can be perused in the Streekarchief Rijnlands Midden at Alphen on Rhine.

Koudekerk B: an unpublished register titled Inkomst Coudekerck with 41 descriptions of undated memorial foundations and a register of revenues of the parish notarized in 1552, followed by a transcript of Koudekerk A (see above); now in the archive of the Chapter of St. Mary's, kept at the National Archive at The Hague. Mrs. A.A. van Poelgeest's full transcription of this and the preceding register can be perused in the Streekarchief Rijnlands Midden at Alphen on Rhine.

Kwadijk: an untranscribed memorial register, written in 1555 by the parson Mr. Jan Sybrantsen, now in the Noord-Hollands Archief at Haarlem. Further details of this register are forthcoming.

Middelharnis: a largely untranscribed calendar of memorial services in the parish church of St. Michael (probably an affiliate of St. Michael's Abbey at Antwerp), now in the Streekarchief Goeree-Overflakkee at Middelharnis. Of this very large and register (800 folia), some excerpts were published in Zuid-Holland by J.L. van der Gouw in 1958.

Poortugaal: a published register in the Gemeentearchief at Rotterdam, titled Memorilanden van Poortugal (traditionally known as Blaffaard van de memorielanden van Poortugaal), with 142 descriptions of dated and undated memorial foundations. J.L. van der Gouw's transcription was published in 1972.

Sloten: a largely unpublished Register van den kercken zaecken tot Slooten ('register of the church estate at Sloten'), written in 1597 for the Ecclesiastic Office (see above) by the verger Cornelis Jansz, including among other transcripts a Dutch translation of documents regarding a private memorial foundation of 1451 (foliis iv-vii, xviii-xx), an extract from a missal dated 1487 and listing seven memorial services (folio ix), and of rents and revenues of the altars of St. Anthony (the private foundation of 1451) and of Our Lady in the church at Sloten (foliis xxiii, xxx-xxxiv). A slightly different version of the text from the missal was published by P.M. Grijpink in 1908.

Vlijmen A: an unpublished register, finished around 1460, listing 87 sources of rents and revenues, often connected to memorial services, now in the archive of Berne Abbey, since 1285 the collator of the parish church of Vlijmen. Further details of this register are forthcoming.

Vlijmen B/C: two registers, partially published, finished in 1465 (63 entries) and around 1480 (17 entries) respectively, in the former municipal archive of Vlijmen.

Voorburg: a published register, titled Dit is't memoriboec van Voirburch, begun in 1435, finished in 1566 and listing 12 annual memorial services to be administered by the local Holy Spirit Board (heyghegheest-meesters, in charge of poor relief) and another 18 administered by the parish proper (van der kerken wegen), preceded by 378 entries describing rents and revenues of the said board, the parish, and the local confraternity of Our Lady respectively. The register is in the municipal archive of Leidschendam-Voorburg. A full transcription with an extensive introduction was published in 1991 by J.G.J. van Booma, who describes it as a 'memorial register cum cartulary'.

Warmond: a published register, titled Dit is dat memoriboeck te Warmondt, written in 1506 and updated in 1524, a memorial calendar with 100 services, 25 sponsored by the locally dominant Van Woude family, now in the Regionaal Archive at Leiden, where a full transcription in semi-diplomatic format by P. van Kessel (available as a data file from its author) can also be perused.

Wijk: a published early 15th-century missal, a copy of the Missale Traiectense known in Dutch as the Missaal van Wijk, originally in the church of Aalburg, after 1421 in the church of Wijk, now at Utrecht. Probably around 1434, a list of memorial services for the local aristocratic Van Wijk family and other locals was added. In 1906, the missal was transcribed by A.F. van Beurden.

Zoeterwoude: a published list of 18 memorial foundations, dated 1474-1482, in a missal acquired in 1484 by the parson Jan Willem Jansz (to 1514 also Commander of St. John at Haarlem) and the local churchwardens Dirk van Busch and Ewout Jansz. Together with Hazerswoude (see above) and other parish churches, Zoeterwoude was incorporated into the Commandry of St. John at Haarlem in 1328. The missal can be perused in the Noord-Hollands Archief at Haarlem. In 1879, C. Gonnet published a transcription of the 18 memorial entries, two of which mention a separate memorial register (sielboeck) which has not been retrieved.

The editions of the above sources published until March, 2012, are listed in the Medieval Memoria Online Bibliography. The above list of unpublished sources is very unlikely to be exhaustive. The archive of the Ecclesiastic Office mentioned above, for instance, quite probably holds many more hidden treasures such as the Koudekerk A register. Some of these sources may have survived inside general reports on local church holdings like the cartulary compiled for Sloten in 1597. The names under which these necrological sources have been filed sometimes create additional confusion. The Kwadijk register of 1555, for instance, has been archived erroneously as a book of hours (getijdenboek). Readers of MMR are kindly invited to contribute additions and corrections.

This said, the texts listed above represent a broad and variegated sample of Late Medieval necrological sources from a variety of village parishes in the northwestern Netherlands. In line with the principles of MeMO DS Text, a formal description of the above sources should begin at their functional use as far as can be derived from their structures and contents. By whom (priests? churchwardens? fraternities?), where exactly (on the altars?) and for which purposes were these necrological texts used? In the historical analysis, three types of comparison appear desirable: among parishes, among (groups or classes of) parishioners, and between necrological sources and collateral sources such as churchwardens' accounts. Koudekerk A and Koudekerk B, for instance, suggest that memorial masses were said only four times per annum (characteristically on Mondays). This is also documented in the town of Amersfoort for six fraternities in the collegiate church of St. George and for one religious convent. The context of this practice in a rural parish like Koudekerk (and perhaps in some other comparable parishes as well) requires further research.

As to the scope of the intended analysis, the works of O.G. Oexle, Pierre Bourdieu and Clifford Geertz provide valuable paradigms. Oexle has shown that Medieval memoria and memorial culture, traditionally framed in terms of pietas and fama, actually has many more social and political facets. Bourdieu's 'theory of practice' offers an analytical framework of these and other fields where economic, social and cultural capital are deployed in a lutte de classement between individuals and groups. The history of memorial culture in Medieval Holland, for instance, is rife with cases of rural parish churches, originally constructed as shared liturgical spaces, becoming contested spaces. Necrological sources can be expected to improve our insight into these 'church feuds'. As to memorial culture as a whole, with its variety of practices and sources, Geertz' idea of culture as a 'man-made web of public and shared meanings' appears productive.

There are at least two strategies for the integration and contextualisation of a study of necrological sources into an analysis of Late Medieval rural parish life as a whole. One focuses on 'religious economies' (zielenheilsmarkten in Dutch) in the context of social-economic history. The doctoral dissertations of Peter Hoppenbrouwers (1992) and Bas de Melker (2002) are typical of this approach. Rather on the other end of the spectrum is Eamon Duffy's classic analysis of Late Medieval traditional religion in The stripping of the altars (1993). In Geertz's terminology, the former two studies can be qualified as experience-distant and the latter as experience-near. Peter Margry has listed some topics for research based on local memorial sources: the function of the church in a local community; relations between church, parson and parishioners; piety; festivals and rituals; popular devotions and pilgrimage; the architecture of the church and its interior; treasures and relics; family history; social structures and elites; demography; and onomastics. The roles of translocal networks and of gender are logical additions to this agenda. Some parts of this research may benefit more from the 'religious economies' strategy, other parts from Duffy's. A combination of strategies is believed to be the most productive. This researcher welcomes further suggestions from MMR readers. The results of this private project, titled Necrological sources from Late Medieval rural Holland, will be published piecemeal over the next few years.

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This page was last updated on: March 6th, 2012

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The ninth issue of Medieval Memoria Research is now available! In this issue you will find many new book announcements and information on projects dedicated to digitising memorial registers.

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