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Medieval Memoria Research


14 June 2018
10:30 - 11:45
Utrecht, Academiegebouw

Promotie Douwe Faber: dodengedachtenis in laatmiddeleeuws Leiden

In Leiden the principal parish church, St. Peter, was from 1268 served by priests of the Utrecht bailiwick of the Teutonic Order. They were introduced there by count Floris V of Holland, with the special charge to perform the commemoration (memoria) of the soul of Floris’ father. Douwe Faber explored in his dissertation what this has meant for the city of Leiden. Memoria turns out to be the main element in late medieval religion in Leiden.

Forms of memoria

The main forms of memoria in Leiden were founding and maintaining chantries for reading masses and prayers and engaging anniversaries for (in general) yearly commemoration of specified persons. Founders of chantries in St. Peter’s church wished to keep the presenting of chantry priests in their families, while the parish priests wanted to have this with the commandry, a latent cause for disputation. Engaging anniversaries in St. Peter could be arranged directly with the commandry, scarcely documented, but was mainly done by mediation by lay authorities such as the church wardens.

Interdependance between clerical and lay spheres

In either type of memoria we therefore find a marked interdependence between the clerical and lay spheres. This is evident in the work of the famous jurist Philips van Leiden who in his treatise De Cura Reipublice et Sorte Principantis severely criticized the commandry on its attitude concerning chantries. Philips was the leader of a group of Leiden clergy who founded the church of St. Pancratius as a collegiate church and chapter, making it a prestigious balance to the noble commandry of St. Peter.

Memoria shows Leiden’s religious community

In the society of Leiden religion and the Church were essential elements. Memoria had an important, visible role. The town government legitimated itself through religion and the townspeople participated with the clergy in the life of the Church. Together they formed a religious community as is especially clear when seen from the point of view of memoria. This permits us to look for relations between religion and matters which nowadays are considered purely from a secular angle.