ERC-n° 771589: « Nicholas of Dinkelsbühl and the University of Vienna on the Eve of the Reformation - Archive ouverte HAL Access content directly
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ERC-n° 771589: « Nicholas of Dinkelsbühl and the University of Vienna on the Eve of the Reformation

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on the Eve of the Reformation A few years ago, the members of a search committee-two Austrian Byzantinists from the University of Vienna, a French medievalist, and an American-were sitting in a Syrian restaurant in Cyprus, discussing the Crusades in Modern Greek, when the conversation shifted to how certain professors in some Greek universities had been accustomed to sitting and reading their own textbooks aloud to their classes, year after year after year. One of the Austrians turned to the American and said (we translate): "Ever hear of Thomas Ebendorfer? He was a big guy in the Faculty of Theology at Vienna, several times the rector, in the first half of the fifteenth century. All he did in his lectures was read his own commentaries on Scripture over and over again every year!" From a modern standpoint, the early University of Vienna has been taking a beating recently. The latest research, including our own, has shown that, in the fifteenth century, instruction at Vienna seems to have consisted of the repeated reading of a standard text of recent composition or compilation, often with very little variation. 1 Knowing the basics of Viennese doctrine throughout the period often simply requires knowing this standard text, be it in ethics, logic, or biblical studies. This was the case with systematic theology as well, and the American in the conversation noted above was quite familiar with Thomas Ebendorfer's lack of originality. Yet this modern perspective does not approximate the late-medieval view of the new university, or of the practice of recycling old material. In 1391, Jean Gerson, chancellor of the University of Paris, traditionally considered the queen of universities, wrote a brief question entitled Pro unione Ecclesiae wherein he showed himself to be quite secure in the continuing prominence and even dominance of the University of Paris within the European intellectual landscape. For this reason, he remarked that it was in his university that one might find the "most famous doctors": "In no other college are there doctors as famous as those who are in the University of Paris, especially in theology." 2 Gerson was doubtless unaware that to the east of France, at that exact moment in 1391, Henry of Langenstein (ca. 1325-1397), a famous German theologian educated at Paris, was expressing the opposite opinion when he asked the following rhetorical question in a letter addressed to Duke Ruprecht of Bavaria: "Why is it that the universities of France are breaking up, that the sun of wisdom is eclipsed there? Learning
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hal-03175788 , version 1 (21-03-2021)


  • HAL Id : hal-03175788 , version 1


Monica Brinzei, Chris Schabel. ERC-n° 771589: « Nicholas of Dinkelsbühl and the University of Vienna on the Eve of the Reformation. What is New in the New Universities? Learning in Central Europe in Later Middle Ages (1348-1500), 2019. ⟨hal-03175788⟩
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