#ESSHC2014: Convents, Consumption and Material Culture in Early Modern Central Europe: Abstracts

Die „European Social Science History conference“ findet vom 23. bis zum 26. April 2014 in Wien statt.
Programm und Abstracts sind online: https://esshc.socialhistory.org/esshc-user/program/

Die Abstracts der Sektion Convents, Consumption and Material Culture in Early Modern Central Europe:

Chair: Ute Stroebele
Organiser: Janine Maegraith

Discussants: Sofia Murhem, Göran Ulväng

Veronika Čapská: Books and Prints “pro foro externo” Published by Convents in the Early Modern Habsburg Monarchy

Ellinor Forster: The Self-conception of Convents and Chapters in Early Modern Times Reflected in their Material Culture

Janine Maegraith: Sugar, Spices and Coffee: Exotic Comestibles within Convent Walls and Changes in Consumption Pattern. The Case of Gutenzell 1670 – 1770

Christine Schneider: Between Monastic Vow and Economic Constraint: How Poor does a Nun have to be?

Igor Sosa Mayor: ‘Hygienisation’ of the Home? Sacred Objects in House Chapels and their Ecclesiastical Control

 

Books and Prints “pro foro externo” Published by Convents in the Early Modern Habsburg Monarchy

Author: Veronika Čapská

In this paper books will be explored both in the context of consumption and in creating ties between convents and the public. The motive of consuming a book, drawing on the biblical book of Ezekiel (3, 1), was well-known and popular among early modern preachers. Books and prints were not only textual and visual sources but also material objects which circulated in the market. They could have been donated or borrowed, bought or sold etc. And they also materialized social ties. This perspective will be pursued in the proposed paper.
Apart from the books and prints which were intended primarily for internal needs, “pro uso interno”, such as liturgical books, rules and constitutions, there was also a significant amount of printed material which was meant to reach the audience beyond the convent walls, “pro foro externo”, such as sermons delivered on convent festivities, textbooks of teaching orders, programmes of theatre plays amongst others. Although the boundary between both models of usage is not firm, it seems clear that some prints had a higher potential to reach an external audience and to represent the convent outwardly. The paper will explore the functions of the main types of prints “pro foro externo” and the social ties they make visible.

 

The Self-conception of Convents and Chapters in Early Modern Times Reflected in their Material Culture

Author: Ellinor Forster

Life in convents and chapters was mostly characterized by unification and simpleness – visible in plain furnishing of the cells, in unified habits and strict routines. When it comes to chapters this could differ, but early modern chapters were not so different from convents in respect to dress and living. However, convents and chapters stood in a larger context within the territory they belonged to. Therefore they were situated within a network of communication – and within this network they had to position themselves.

The assumption of this paper is that this positioning is legible through the material culture of convents and chapters. Pictures in common rooms, special liturgical devices as well as presents from important persons from outside the communities are regarded as materialized political communication that served to reassure the convent/chapter itself and to show the positioning externally if necessary – for example during visits from monarchs or representatives from befriended communities. In this last case questions of hierarchy were also an issue.

Geographically this investigation is located in the territories of the County of the Tyrol and the Grand Duchy of Wurzburg – at the change of the 18th to the 19th century. Convents and chapters – male and female – will be compared.

 

Sugar, Spices and Coffee: Exotic Comestibles within Convent Walls and Changes in Consumption Pattern. The Case of Gutenzell 1670 – 1770

Author: Janine Maegraith

The eighteenth century saw great changes in consumption patterns in Central Europe. More and more exotic materials and comestibles were sold to ordinary households by a growing network of retailers. Can this change be observed in monastic institutions as well? Ulrich Lehner established for the Benedictine monasteries regular coffee drinking in the context of the Enlightenment, for example. And there is evidence for the consumption of coffee and chocolate in convents as well. In 1755, the visiting abbot reprimanded the nuns and lay sisters of the Cistercian convent of Baindt for drinking coffee and chocolate in the afternoons. And the annual account books of Gutenzell list purchases of many different exotic comestibles for consumption within the convent. In this paper, the annual account books of the Cistercian convent of Gutenzell will be analysed in context of changing consumption patterns in Central Europe.

 

Between Monastic Vow and Economic Constraint: How Poor does a Nun have to be?

Author: Christine Schneider

The way nuns handled their personal possessions (allowance and material goods) was determined by the vow of poverty and the economic support they received from their families. Private property was considered incompatible with the vow of poverty. Therefore it did not exist officially in convents and was strictly forbidden. Her dowry as well as all the legacies and presents a nun received throughout her lifetime belonged to the convent. She could only use („borrow“) them with the permission of the Mother Superior. In return nuns were guaranteed a lifelong economic maintenance.
Many early modern convents could only afford a basic maintenance for their members. Many nuns were forced to live in poverty both by their vow and the poverty of their convent. And they had to provide themselves with some of their personal needs. These facts raise many important questions: How did families support their relatives in convents? How could a nun earn money? How did nuns spend their allowance? How was their personal standard of living? Were all nuns equal in their standard of living? What did the ecclesiastic authorities think about the (officially forbidden) personal income of nuns?

 

 

‘Hygienisation’ of the Home? Sacred Objects in House Chapels and their Ecclesiastical Control

Author: Igor Sosa Mayor

Cleanliness at home is one of the most salient features of modern houses. Cleanliness has not been however a valid normative concept for all times and spaces. During the Early modern period discourses about cleanliness in towns, related to medical issues such as the combat against plagues, came up in Europe. Cleanliness at home, one could argue, was not so much an issue at that time. Nevertheless, I will argue in my presentation that the claim to cleanliness at home arose at least partially out of ecclesiastical discourses in the early modern period. Catholic noble homes can serve as a domain in which these discourses were implemented. After the Concil of Trent parochial churches were meant to monopolize the community’s religious life, so that other religious and devotional spaces are under ecclesiastical control. By the mid of the 17th century private chapels came into the focus of an increased ecclesiastical control. In this context cleanliness and ‚decorum‘ became important concepts in shaping the arrangement of private chapels. It should therefore be analyzed to what extent ecclesiastical discourses and practices, such as chapel visits, contributed to and interacted with other discourses of cleanliness and to what extent these discourses contributed to a kind of ‚hygienisation‘ of the home.


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