Life of Dorothea Von Montau, a Fourteenth-Century Recluse
This translation of the mystical tract Des leben der zeligen frawen Dorothee clewsenerynne in der thumkyrchen czu Marienwerdir des landes czu Prewszen (completed ca. 1404) enlarges the body of Middle High German texts available in English. This vita is the last in a series of works the Prussian theologian Johannes von Marienwerder compiled in service of the canonization of the housewife, lay mystic, and finally anchoress Dorothea von Montau (1347-94) as Prussia's first native saint. Its conflation of such divergent and frequently incompatible genres as the aggressive political polemic, the idealized, formulaic saint's life, the mystical tract, and the emerging genre of realistic biography reflects the transitional character of the late Middle Ages. It also provides interesting insights into the dispersal of mystical concepts in the borderlands of Christianity. Finally, it describes daily life on the farm, in the village, and in prosperous towns. The translation of this work which in 1492 furnished the text for the first book to be printed in Prussia also facilitates studies of textual authority and audience expectation and manipulation in medieval writing.
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