Multiplicities of originals.
How the manuscripts of urban meeting records were used and transformed
Late medieval and early modern European history can be characterized as the age of assemblies. One famous type of assemblies are the Hanse diets, where the representatives of five to thirty cities of Northern and North-eastern Europe met on an irregular basis between around 1350 and 1669. They came together in different places, mostly in Lübeck, and discussed primarily, but not exclusively economic matters. The records of these diets, the so called Recesse, were written in middle low German and stated who had attended the meetings and which matters had been discussed. These were handwritten records which were never printed; the ultimate Recesse was issued in 1669. The records survived in large numbers, since most of the towns that had participated in a certain assembly received a copy. It is a hallmark of these manuscripts that each assembly produced not just one, but a number of Recesse, all of which were regarded as originals, and all with the same authority.
This project will analyze how this multiplicity of the Recesse was created and how they interacted, and in this way will contribute to the discussion of the role of originals in an administrative writing culture. It will elaborate on the concept of ‘the original’ as a special class of manuscripts by means of assembly records – documents whose role and nature has not been grasped by research so far. The project will analyze the manuscripts of the Recesse in a comparative perspective along layout, writing materials and storage – synchronically (different originals for the same meeting) as well as diachronically (their development during the 16th century).
In this respect, the study of the Recesse connects well to the Cluster’s research field Artefact Profiling and developments in material analysis. Eventually, their study also contributes to the research field Archiving Artefacts, since the ways in which they were and are stored play a significant role for identifying the character of the manuscripts. The aim of the project is to gain a better understanding of the Recesse by analyzing them as originals, and thus to enhance our comprehension of how those special documents worked and were used.