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FRIAS Reflections with Henrike Lähnemann

Prof. Dr. Henrike Lähnemann
Medieval Studies, University of Oxford
Recorded on May 13, 2020


A note from the speaker

Many thanks for giving me the opportunity to zoom myself into FRIAS for an afternoon! My title is inspired by the letters of the Lüne nuns which I'm currently editing and where they eloquently speak in praise of their enclosure as the perfect rose-garden. When I saw the poster – thanks to whichever Verena chose it! – it occurred to me that the religious enclosure is only one of the confined medieval spaces with positive connotations. So I will talk about three forms of enclosed space: starting with the castle, going on to the cell, ending with the study.

To start with the image of the poster: this is the Palazzo Vecchio in Florence, finished in 1314 to shelter the members of parliament. The German word for castle, Burg, literally means a shelter, derived from the verb „bergen“: to come to a castle means to take refuge. I spoke three years ago at FRIAS about Reformation hymns, among them Martin Luther's paraphrase of Psalm 46, God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. This becomes „Ein feste Burg ist unser Gott“. The hymn then makes it very clear that this „burg“ is not a physical space but rather a secure place in God‘s kingdom which cannot be taken away by any means. The superiority of a spiritual space over a physical stronghold can be exemplified by the example of Annora. 

Thanks to FRIAS to being a spiritual castle with space to combine our many individual cells to a communal study

Link list

  1. Edition (together with Eva Schlotheuber) Netzwerke der Nonnen. Edition und Erschließung der Briefsammlung aus Kloster Lüne, Open access edition of the letters (introduction, facsimile, diplomatic transcription, critical edition and commentary) in the Digital Library of the Herzog August Bibliothek Wolfenbüttel. Short video feature on the project by the NDR filmed at Kloster Lüne and podcast by NDR 1 (4 March 2020)
  2. Lecture on "Ein feste Burg" by Henrike Lähnemann: Singing and Printing. On the Success Formula of the German Reformation (Humanities Colloquium at FRIAS July 2017). Podcast.
  3. Information on the anchoress of Iffley: http://the-history-girls.blogspot.com/2018/07/annora-of-iffley.html
  4. Edition of Jerome's letters (1511) with title woodcut by Dürer as digital facsimile
  5. Blog post about medieval advice on self-isolation: https://torch.ox.ac.uk/article/coronavirus-advice-from-the-middle-ages-for-how-to-cope-with-self-0