Category Archives: Uncategorized

Oxford Research Associate vacancy: The Letters of John Aubrey

Applications are invited for a two-year full-time postdoctoral fellowship to assist with an edition of the complete correspondence of the seventeenth-century biographer, antiquary, and natural philosopher John Aubrey (1626–1697). The surviving corpus of Aubrey’s correspondence is significant, totalling around 900 extant letters, chiefly located in Oxford repositories. The successful applicant will assist Dr William Poole of New College, University of Oxford, in the completion of an annotated edition of this corpus, to be published in printed form across several volumes, as well as potentially to be made available electronically.

Aubrey’s letters have not been edited hitherto in their entirety, although portions of his correspondence have appeared in the complete editions of some of the figure with whom he corresponded, for instance Isaac Newton and Thomas Hobbes. Manuscripts of his letters are widely scattered, but the majority are to be found among the Aubrey, Tanner, and Wood manuscripts in the Bodleian Library. The successful candidate will be expected to take responsibility for the transcription and editing of the letters in MS Aubrey 12 and MS Wood F 39, and to divide the remainder with Dr Poole.

The closing date for applications is Wednesday, 27 April 2022; interviews will be held towards the end of May. For further details about how to apply, please see here.

Detail of letter dated 11 October 1673 from John Aubrey to Anthony Wood [Anthony à Wood]. (Bodleian Library, MS Wood F 39. fol. 232; see: http://emlo.bodleian.ox.ac.uk/w/500378)

Margaret Fell: a constant through difficult and dangerous times

Detail showing the signature of Margaret Fell, from a letter of 20 January 1660 (UK National Archives, Kew, SP 29/91 f.9; source of image courtesy of Gale Cengage, Stuart State Papers Online)

People willing and able to act as linchpins frequently prove themselves indispensable, not least in moments of crisis as individuals scatter and communication between the disparate and moving parts of a group becomes ever more complicated. The early Quaker Margaret Fell (1614–1702), some of whose correspondence has been collated and added to EMLO to create a ‘starter catalogue‘, emerged in the late-seventeenth century as one such crucial figure. Referred to frequently today as ‘the Mother of Quakerism’, this Lancashire-born woman established and maintained over decades a complex epistolary network that united members of the Quaker community across Europe and North America. Margaret Fell acted as the constant. Diligently she exchanged letters with the itinerant faithful during their extensive travels and relayed relevant, up-to-date information regarding the travels and travails of members of the movement, as well as providing all available details of the imprisonments and trials that preachers in the early Quaker church were forced to endure.

Thanks to today’s network of scholars working on women’s early modern letters both with and through Women’s Early Modern Letters Online [WEMLO], Marjon Ames contributed metadata describing a considerable number of Fell’s letter, each of which she had worked with during the preparation of her 2016 publication Margaret Fell, Letters, and the Making of Quakerism.1, 2016).] To the listing of these letters was added a further cluster of record describing Fell’s correspondence that survives in the Stuart State Papers at The National Archives at Kew, which has been a focus of attention during the recent Networking Archives project. Together, these letters form the beginnings of a significant catalogue for Fell and her fellow Quakers in EMLO and WEMLO, with each record including a text that summarizes the content in detail.

The past three years have been far from ‘run of the mill’ at EMLO as externally funded research under the aegis of the AHRC Networking Archives project has been conducted alongside EMLO’s more habitual workflows of collating, combining, and publishing descriptions of early modern scholarly correspondence. As EMLO switches this year into a fresh phase of work, momentum is building once again and users should expect to benefit from more frequent publication of new catalogues, together with the provision of increasing numbers of links directing them to both manuscript images and accessible texts hosted on a wide range of partner databases. We hope very much in addition that this body of early Quaker correspondence will increase during the coming year and extend from these foundation letters of Margaret Fell and her circle. Should anyone reading this post be interested in collating metadata for, or preparing texts of, early Quaker correspondence, we at EMLO should be delighted to strike up a conversation.

‘Bring up’ the transcriptions: the letters of Thomas Cromwell

Detail from the portrait of Thomas Cromwell by Hans Holbein the younger. 1532–3. (Frick Collection, New York, Henry Clay Frick Bequest; source of image: Wikimedia Commons)

One of the joys of working with a union catalogue that combines correspondence metadata drawn from the research and publications of a wide range of scholars and projects is watching letter records accumulate for early modern individuals who have not been, thus far, a focus of attention in Early Modern Letters Online. Unintended catalogues you might term these, or ‘starter catalogues‘ (as we refer to them at present), each of which requires further collation of letter metadata to bring the inventory as close to completion as possible. For the past three years, funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council [AHRC], EMLO has been involved in a partnership forged between the Cultures of Knowledge, the Networking Archives, and the Tudor Networks of Power projects with a focus on the correspondence identified in the UK’s early modern State Papers. The primary concern of this collaboration has been network analysis—including the development of customized investigatory tools—using metadata drawn from the Tudor and Stuart State Papers and running investigations on these data in combination with those contained in EMLO.1 As a result of the data-cleaning conducted during the initiative, a number of ‘starter catalogues’ are emerging at EMLO that draw upon letters from these hitherto disparate datasets and link them with manuscript letters preserved in other repositories. Some are being prepared for publication as basic inventories that contain no more than minimal descriptions; others include abstracts of the letters published in the State Paper calendars (for example, that of the art agent, miniature painter, architect, and diplomat Balthazar Gerbier [1592–before 1667]), or abstracts from EMLO’s Bodleian Card Catalogue (you will find these in the letter records for the Orientalist, antiquary, and librarian Thomas Smith [1638–1710]). And an increasing number of ‘starter catalogues’ are in the process of being worked up still further with full transcriptions of the texts attached, as—with this week’s publication—in the correspondence of Thomas Cromwell, Earl of Essex (c. 1485–1540), chief minister to Henry VIII (and, yes, he is the Thomas Cromwell of Hilary Mantel’s trilogy and Mark Rylance fame).

In this particular case, Caitlin Burge, a PhD candidate at Queen Mary, University of London (funded by the London Arts & Humanities Partnership, an AHRC consortium) and a participant at the Networking Archives project Training School, is transcribing a number of Cromwell’s letters as part of her ongoing research into ‘Letters, Networks of Power, and the Fall of Thomas Cromwell, 1523–1547’. Thanks to current funding at EMLO from the Packard Humanities Institute, a small pilot batch of Caitlin’s transcriptions for a selection of letters in the British Library and The National Archives has been released in EMLO where they sit alongside letters records from Cromwell’s incoming correspondence that have been itemized already by Mary C. Erler during research on the abbess Margaret Vernon for her publication Reading and Writing During the Dissolution: Monks, Friars, and Nuns 1530–1558.2 Further records describing letters in the correspondence of the towering figure in Tudor politics and Reformation England will be added on an ongoing basis as they become available, either with inventory descriptions or with Caitlin’s transcriptions. And, as ever, contributions of additional metadata or transcriptions of Cromwell’s letters in the care of other archives (for example, those in the Worcestershire Archive and Archaeology Service) will be most gratefully received for this burgeoning catalogue.

Meanwhile, by way of background reading, EMLO users who have not explored these biographies might be interested in Tracy Borman’s Thomas Cromwell: The untold story of Henry VIII’s most faithful servant and Diarmaid MacCulloch’s Thomas Cromwell: A Life.3 And please don’t neglect either Hilary Mantel’s compelling fictional account of the son of a blacksmith who ‘put an edge on anything’, or the BBC adaptation of the first two books in her trilogy, Wolf Hall and Bring Up the Bodies.4

  1. A range of outputs resulting from the Networking Archive project is in preparation for forthcoming publication and each will be announced on this blog post as it appears. The sheer volume of metadata cleansing, disambiguation, and reconciliation required for the project has led to an interruption in recent months of posts on this blog but, as we reach the end of the labour-intensive task and transition into a new phase, this will be remedied.
  2. Mary C. Erler, Reading and Writing During the Dissolution: Monks, Friars, and Nuns 1530–1558 (Cambridge University Press, 2013).
  3. Tracy Borman, Thomas Cromwell: The untold story of Henry VIII’s most faithful servant (Hodder & Stoughton, 2014), and Diarmaid MacCulloch’s Thomas Cromwell: A Life (Penguin Random House, 2018).
  4. Hilary Mantel, Wolf Hall (Fourth Estate, 2009); Bring up the Bodies (Fourth Estate, 20)12; and The Mirror and the Light (Fourth Estate, 2020).

Jeanine De Landtsheer: ‘In Pursuit of the Muses. The Life and Work of Justus Lipsius’

Famed for his ground-breaking philological, philosophical, and antiquarian writings, the Brabant humanist Justus Lipsius (1547–1606) was one of the most renowned classical scholars of the sixteenth century. In this forthcoming volume, Marijke Crab and Ide François bring together the seminal contributions to Lipsius’s life and scholarship by Jeanine De Landtsheer (1954–2021), who came to be known as one of the greatest Lipsius specialists of her generation.

In Pursuit of the Muses considers Lipsius from two complementary angles. The first half of the volume presents De Landtsheer’s evocative life of the famous humanist, based on her unrivalled knowledge of his correspondence. Published originally in Dutch, it appears here for the first time in an English translation by Jan Machielsen. The second half presents a selection of eight articles by De Landtsheer that, together, chart a way through Lipsius’s scholarship. This twofold approach offers the reader a valuable insight into Lipsius’s life and work, creating an indispensable reference guide not only to Lipsius himself, but also to the wider humanist world of letters.

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The four wives of William of Orange: a day of celebration

Visitors to the home page of EMLO will glimpse today portraits of three sixteenth-century women arranged in the ‘featured catalogues’ niches. The portraits will change at intervals through the day to showcase four in total. These are the wives of William of Orange (1533–1584) and publication of their correspondences in EMLO is celebrated this afternoon at the Museum Prinsenhof Delft.

The inventories of the correspondences of the four women have been collated as part of the ‘Epistolary Power: the Correspondence of the wives of William of Orange, 1552–1617, and of the wives of the Dutch and Frisian Stadtholders, 1605–1725‘ project, headed by Dr Ineke Huysman of the Huygens ING. With assistance from Annashireen Eslamimoghaddam and a contribution of metadata (for the correspondence of Anna von Sachsen) by Femke Deen, the letters have been described in EMLO and linked to images at the Koninklijke Verzamelingen, The Hague, where the majority of the manuscripts are conserved.

The launch of the letters in EMLO is being marked during the opening of a specially curated exhibition ‘Historische vrouwen. Vrouwen rondom Willem van Oranje en vrouwen van nu [Historical women. Women around William of Orange and women today]’ at the Museum Prinsenhof Delft, which may be visited until 20 February 2022. The celebratory event will be live-streamed and includes a short presentation on Early Modern Letters Online and Women’s Early Modern Letters Online.

In EMLO, the correspondences for each of William’s wives may be viewed separately: Anna van Egmond (1533–1558); Anna von Sachsen (1544–1577)—whose misfortunes gave rise to a tragic and lonely death; Charlotte de Bourbon (1546/7–1582)—who nursed William back to health from an assassination attempt in 1582; and Louise de Coligny (1555–1620)—who, with their young son, witnessed William’s murder in 1584. The four correspondences may be viewed also as a discrete collection or together with the correspondences of the seventeenth-century Stadtholders’ wives. As the presentation explains, these letters may, in turn, be viewed within the context of WEMLO, and of course this rapidly growing dataset of early modern women’s letters may be explored against the backdrop of the whole of EMLO. It is thanks to the hard work and collective endeavour of our wonderful network of scholars, students, archivists, interns, volunteers, and projects that that the voices of so many early modern women are finally beginning to emerge. Enjoy the celebrations!

 

A ‘starter’ instalment of Samuel Rutherford’s letters

In the midst of pulling together separate strands of multiple initiatives, it’s a delight to announce publication of the third in a trio of inventories collated during EMLO’s collaboration with the ‘Pastoral Care, Literary Cure, and Religious Dissent: Zones of Freedom in the British Atlantic c. 1630–1720’ research project. Dr Alison Searle (University of Leeds) and Dr Emily Vine (formerly a post-doctoral researcher on the Pastoral Care project and now at the University of Birmingham) have compiled metadata for a subset of letters in the correspondence of the Protestant covenanting divine Samuel Rutherford (c. 1601–61), and this fledgling catalogue now joins two catalogues published earlier this year under the aegis of the project: those for the correspondences of Richard Baxter and The Society for the Propagation of the Gospel in Foreign Parts.

Samuel Rutherford, attributed to Robert Walker. (University of St Andrew; source of image: Wikimedia Commons)

Rutherford’s letters have been regarded as a devotional and literary classic within puritan, pietist, and evangelical circles since their posthumous publication by his secretary, Robert McWard, as Joshua Redivivus, or, Mr Rutherfoord’s Letters in 1664. They have been constantly reprinted and translated. The current standard scholarly edition of the Letters (1848) is that produced by the Free Church of Scotland minister Andrew Bonar (1810–92). As part of the Pastoral Care project, examining how letters were used as a material technology for literary caregiving in early modern Britain, metadata from Bonar’s edition were extracted to create 365 new correspondence records in EMLO. The limitations of this legacy data-set are recognised, but incorporating it into EMLO helps to make visible the critical epistolary networks that underlay the covenanting revolution, and particularly the significance of women as agents of this process. Both religious data-sets and Scottish letter writers remain under-represented within digital recreations of the republic of letters, despite the exciting scholarship being produced on the political and literary cultures of covenanting Scotland. Work is underway at present on a much-needed complete scholarly edition of Rutherford’s writings, and the letter descriptions created by the project will form part of this, drawing on wider research into the cultures of manuscript dissemination and translation that have formed a key part of the long and rich reception history which shapes how Rutherford’s letters are read and used within a range of scholarly, religious, and political communities around the world today.

With Baxter’s and Rutherford’s correspondences currently at different stages in their preparation for publication in full editions, each stands testament to the value of EMLO’s inventories for scholarly editors whether the edited texts are intended for hard-copy or for born-digital publication. Many of the inventories collected in EMLO to date describe letters for which the texts are not published, and these cry out for further work. Additionally, as scholars, students, and research projects continue to contribute epistolary listings to EMLO, descriptions of letters coalesce around certain early modern individuals whose correspondences have not been a focus of study hitherto. Such ‘accidental’ catalogues stand incomplete and offer potential areas for study. Over the past three years, under the banner of the Networking Archives project, we have been assembling in EMLO a list of what are termed (for the present) ‘starter catalogues‘ in the hope that scholars, students, and projects worldwide will step forward to engage with an inventory and will augment it with new letters, helping to bring the listing to completion and, in many cases, engaging with the texts. EMLO’s list of ‘Starter Catalogues’ grows apace; if you would like to be involved with any one of these correspondences, you are invited most warmly to be in touch.

Ioannes Dantiscus: the Corpus of Texts and Correspondence


Publication in EMLO today of the inventory of the correspondence of Ioannes Dantiscus marks the culmination of a collaboration between two major international projects: the ‘Registration and Publication of Ioannes Dantiscus’ Correspondence’ project at the University of Warsaw and our own ‘Cultures of Knowledge’ research project here at the University of Oxford. In turn, this partnership was facilitated within the network of a third pan-European initiative ‘Reassembling the Republic of Letters, 1500–1800‘ (funded by the European Cooperation in Science and Technology (COST) [Action IS1310]) and, thanks to the fortuitous alignment, users of EMLO are able now to access records for 6,117 letters, each of which links to the relevant description and text in the ‘Corpus of Ioannes Dantiscus’ Texts & Correspondence‘ [CIDT&C] database hosted in Warsaw.

The humanist and neo-Latin poet Ioannes Dantiscus (1485–1548) rose to prominence in the service of the Polish King Sigismund I Jagiellon and Queen Bona Sforza as their most significant diplomat and—once ordained Bishop of Kulm (1530/33–1537) and subsequently Bishop of Ermland (1537–1548)—as an eminent politician. Dantiscus’s surviving correspondence embodies one of the largest epistolary collections of his age, and amongst his correspondents numbers an impressive array of rulers, noblemen, political and diplomatic figures, humanists, and scholars. The ‘Registration and Publication of the Correspondence of Ioannes Dantiscus’ project, led initially by Professor Jerzy Axer and now under the direction of Professor Anna Skolimowska, has overseen publication online of Dantiscus’s texts and correspondence. In Anna’s words, Dantiscus’s correspondence provides ‘a unique source of information for researchers of Polish and European Renaissance history, literature, culture, and history of ideas. It documents the role of Poland and Polish diplomacy in Renaissance Europe and provides valuable information on the cultural and intellectual elite of the time, who shared a community of spiritual formation defined by Latinity (Latinitas) and the Christian religion (Christianitas).’

Preparation of the metadata for upload to EMLO has been carried out in a number of stages, the first of which was in 2018 at a Training School—EMLO ‘on the road’—held in Tallinn with support from the Reassembling the Republic of Letters COST Action, and subsequently it was  scheduled around ongoing work in Oxford on the AHRC-funded Networking Archives project. Moving forward in partnership with CIDT&C, the intention is to update the metadata in EMLO at regular intervals to match the continuing editorial work in Warsaw. For the most up-to-date information, however, users of EMLO are urged to make use of the links provided in the letter records to consult the ‘Corpus’ database where, with an interface in English and Polish, they will find in extenso transcriptions of the primary sources, together with critical apparatus. We hope EMLO’s users will relish this opportunity both to examine Dantiscus’s correspondence in the context of EMLO’s union catalogue and to explore the texts in the ‘Corpus of Ioannes Dantiscus’ Texts & Correspondence‘.

The Society for the Propagation of the Gospel in Foreign Parts: a timely archival collaboration

As collaborative work within the AHRC-funded Networking Archives project continues between partners in Cambridge, at QMUL, and in Oxford, EMLO has been involved simultaneously over the past year with colleagues at the University of Leeds, at Lambeth Palace Library, in the Bodleian Libraries, and at the United Society Partners in the Gospel on a separate AHRC-funded research project: ‘Pastoral Care, Literary Cure, and Religious Dissent: Zones of Freedom in the British Atlantic c. 1630–1720′. Under the direction of Associate Professor Alison Searle, and with the dedicated assistance of post-doctoral researcher Dr Emily Vine, a number of new correspondences are in the process of being published in EMLO, the first of which is a ‘starter catalogue‘ for the correspondence of the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel in Foreign Parts.

The letters in the archive of the Society (which was known initially as the SPG and, from 1965, as the USPG) are divided between Lambeth Palace Library and—as a loan collection—the Bodleian Libraries. Following the launch of an initial listing of metadata for 109 letters to coincide with the release of an online exhibition, the fledgling correspondence catalogue may be consulted now in EMLO. The exhibition includes a fascinating and wide-ranging interview given to Rosie Dawson by Bishop Rowan Williams, and we are delighted that Alison and Dr Jo Sadgrove, Research and Learning Advisor at USPG, and Research Fellow at the Centre for Religion and Public Life at the University of Leeds, have agreed to contribute to this Cultures of Knowledge blog with an insight into how their research and collaborations have taken shape and developed over the course of a COVID-wracked year.

Institution and Archive: The Society for the Propagation of the Gospel in Foreign Parts

An AHRC-funded collaboration between USPG and the University of Leeds has explored themes of pastoral care both in SPG’s archive and in USPG’s contemporary global engagements during Covid-19. This collaboration attempts to take seriously the tradition of pastoral care—and the profound failures of care—for bodies and souls that SPG pioneered, and of which USPG and other faith-based organizations are inheritors. It reads the early history of SPG as offering an innovative, though often misguided and morally problematic, vision for the creation of a transatlantic community of care. The project’s aims include not only opening up to a broader public SPG’s earliest archival collections, but also understanding the struggles facing the SPG community in its earliest years and thinking about their connections to present-day mission. What was SPG doing in those early years that was distinct and deemed to be of value to those committed to its vision? How did the Society care for its members across the Atlantic? How should USPG as a twenty-first-century organization understand and communicate that history? How do the concerns of SPG as a nascent Society resonate with and continue to inform the life of the contemporary organization?

The oldest expressions of USPG’s relationships with those ministering in other parts of the world are found in their correspondence archives. For the first twenty years, the SPG was an organization connected by transatlantic letters. These letters were the means by which pastoral care was extended across the Atlantic—from the Society’s headquarters in London to missionaries in North America and the Caribbean, and through those missionaries, to a wide range of other community groups. What SPG generates in the early eighteenth century, as recorded in the letters, is an innovative, complex, deeply entangled transatlantic community of pastoral care. SPG was ambitious in its aims and limited in its attitude and approach to those whom it encountered in liminal zones across the early modern British Atlantic, but it forged a unique community seeking to engage with and care for those whom it encountered, however entangled and inequitable that ambition proved to be in reality.

Pastoral care within this diverse community was provided in a number of ways, as the letters indicate: enabling access to the sacraments for British settlers in North America and the Caribbean; resourcing communities through the provision of education; sending books and other material supports for spiritual life—both for the missionaries themselves and for the provision of spiritual care to others. Polemical works enabled missionaries to defend and differentiate the Church of England from other expressions of Protestantism in North America and the Caribbean and, in doing so, marked out the boundaries of Anglican orthodoxy. But pastoral caregiving was most powerfully expressed through the act of receiving and writing letters. Such letters offered encouragement and implicitly created solidarity, reminding missionaries and their fledgling congregations that they were part of a wider community of pastoral care, even though they often lived isolated and highly precarious lives.

Prior to the Covid-19 pandemic, few could have anticipated that questions about care would become the key moral, political, and economic questions facing communities globally. Who is entitled to care? What does good care look like? How should care be given? How are caregivers themselves cared for? How do we pay for care? How do we care when we are not able to be physically present? How do we care for those who are isolated? How do we care for those in precarious economic situations? These questions, which are now all too familiar, are similar to those that energized and confounded the early SPG missionaries.

The longevity of these questions across time and space means that a deepening understanding of SPG’s earliest archive is able to inform and shape its functioning in the twenty-first century. This archive, which evidences a discourse and genealogy of pastoral care developed over three-hundred years, offers a different grounding for USPG as a contemporary organization, perhaps making more visible the challenging dynamics that continue to influence its functioning and relationships. Thinking about the contemporary life of an organization in dialogue with its archives offers a distinct vantage point from which to reflect on the challenges of relationships over time. Our project has embodied a highly productive process of cross-sectoral discussion between academic research and historical and contemporary organizational praxis. Collaboratively rethinking this shared but conflicted and often painful history has the potential to bring new dimensions to relationships in active dialogue with some of USPG’s oldest partners within the Anglican Communion.

Pastoral care is a highly complex and power-laden dynamic: it appears in many different guises and is expressed in various ways across cultural contexts. What is perceived as pastoral care in one context can be interpreted as brutality in another. Critical questions arise here as to whether what is offered as pastoral care, particularly across contexts, is experienced and received as care? There have been times when the priorities of USPG as an administrative organization, embroiled in Western systems of bureaucracy and accountability, have jeopardized global relationships. As with other organizations, the relational and the administrative aspects are often in tension with each other. The early archive offers a caution about the issues of power that USPG as a twenty-first century organization continues to negotiate. How then might USPG better hold the tension between the administrative and the relational in ways that protect and nurture creativity and relationship? How might USPG be better at including the voices and experiences of partners in thinking about what it means to offer pastoral care for bodies and souls, across multiple contexts and inequities? How might excavating languages of pastoral care in SPG’s early archive enable different ways of thinking about languages and practices of pastoral caregiving in the present?

The online exhibition, which our cross-sectoral collaboration has generated, is a way of interrogating the most innovative and barbaric facets of SPG’s organizational history of pastoral caregiving. It reveals the commitment with which those within SPG sought to care for certain groups across the Atlantic, whilst catastrophically failing in their duty of care for others. It invites ongoing dialogue and reflection about the ways in which faith-based organizations, like USPG, and many others, still operating within the same global networks of relationship that were established during the early modern period, work towards deeper understanding of the history explored in this online exhibition.

Jo Sadgrove and Alison Searle
University of Leeds

Jeanine de Landtsheer (1954–2021)

 

The republic of letters lost a giant with the death of Jeanine de Landtsheer. Her generosity to others, her careful attention to detail, her philological pursuit of pure knowledge, and even a certain otherworldliness mark her out as a true member of that august community of scholars. She embodied its ancient ideals like few others, better even than the humanists she herself studied. She will forever be remembered for her work on the scholarly correspondence of the Leuven humanist Justus Lipsius (1547–1606), a project that she has shepherded for some thirty years, and it was in that capacity that she was affiliated to EMLO and to COST. Her sudden death at the young age of sixty-six has struck those who knew her as a thunderbolt.

My own personal recollections of Jeanine are shaped by her endless generosity. Jeanine had worked on Lipsius since I was in primary school, publishing her first contribution to the long-running Iusti Lipsi Epistolae (ILE) project in 1991. And yet when I began my graduate research in 2006, she unhesitatingly shared with me her unpublished transcriptions and annotations of the many letters Lipsius had exchanged with the Jesuit Martin Delrio—what would become the topic of my masters dissertation. I arrived at Delrio out of an interest in his famous book on witchcraft. It never mattered to Jeanine that I had not trained as a neo-Latinist or completed the Leuven cursus honorum, she patiently answered every question. When I discovered a short letter by Delrio to a fellow Jesuit about Lipsius’s reconciliation with the Catholic Church—the most contentious moment of the humanist’s biography—we published it together and I was able to look inside the editorial kitchen for myself. I was not special. Jeanine showed the same generous spirit to countless others. There was always a PhD dissertation on her desk that required a final read through before submission. She was instrumental in seeing the publication of ILE’s fourth volume to print after a twenty-five-year delay, even though she received very little public credit for it, and she translated the critical apparatus of another ILE volume from Dutch into English to help another colleague. The only thing in life that Jeanine passionately loathed was the international train service between Belgium and the Netherlands. Its endless delays and many cancellations often kept her from consulting her beloved Lipsius manuscripts in Leiden. (No one who has used that train service will blame her.)

Aside from her inability to say no, the other factor keeping her in-tray full was her widely admired attention to detail and her philological acumen. She really was, like Lipsius, ‘the darling of the Latin language’ (Latii Sermonis ocelle, a caption of a Lipsius engraving which inspired an exhibition in his honour). Yet her linguistic skill extended well beyond Latin. Once while we were together waiting for a flight at Heathrow airport, she struck up a conversation in modern Greek. (She had taken students there on field trips.) Whenever I encounter an ilógico or ilegal in a Spanish text, I am transported to our discussion of Spanish neo-Latinists and their apparent struggles with the double ‘ll’. Jeanine also possessed a remarkable felicity in the Dutch language. Her translations of Erasmus have won widespread praise. Her short biography of Lipsius, with its choice characterisations of people (especially his wife, the supposedly unmovable, ‘honkvaste’ Anna van de Calstere), still makes me smile. Jeanine’s meticulous attention to detail extended beyond the written word. She often emphasized to me that Lipsius was not Flemish. Born in Overijse, just outside of Brussels, he hailed from the historical duchy of Brabant. He was a Brabanter, like me (and ‘Jan,’ she rightly observed in an e-mail, ‘you wouldn’t want to be called a “Hollander” either!’).

Despite her often poor health and failing eyesight, Jeanine was widely travelled, faithfully attending the various international neo-Latin and Renaissance conferences. She and I met in Los Angeles, New Orleans, and New York among many other places. The last time I saw her was in the spring of 2019, when we had dinner in Toronto at the end of the Renaissance Society of America conference. In addition to the field trips with students, there were also various expeditions for Lipsius letters and invitations to teach. She was particularly excited by an invitation to Mexico City in 2017 which became even more exciting when an earthquake struck. I will remember, with particular fondness, her long-planned visit to Oxford in 2014 when she stayed in a New College guest room. The trip did not all work out as planned. Refurbishment of the dining hall cancelled a highly anticipated dinner at high table and sent us across the road to Edamame for Japanese instead (probably the better option). Ingrid de Smet also very kindly hosted us for a proper neo-Latin meal at her home. On my visits to Leuven we would always have lunch at Café De Appel. After coffee she would inevitably take the little plastic cups of condensed milk home with her for her cat.

There was never any pretence with Jeanine. She was always heartfelt, sincere. I suspect that early modern letters gave her comfort and clarity. Their words mattered and getting them exactly right mattered too. She was a phenomenal palaeographer. Lipsius’s scrawl was virtually indecipherable, even to his contemporaries, yet she always triumphed. I still vividly picture her in the Leiden Special Collections reading room deciphering a marginal note of his that I had come across and which to me looked barely more than a straight line. Yet I don’t think I ever persuaded her of Lipsius’s self-fashioning, that he was not guileless in the way that she was. Because she was truly sui generis. Her concerns and interests were fully and transparently her own. In our last e-mail exchange, last summer, after I started a fellowship in Dresden, she asked if I could keep any of the commemorative two-euro coins I came across, as the Germans did those so well (‘not the omnipresent eagle!’). I must confess that I did not start a collection, but I have looked at the back of every two-euro coin that has since come into my hands (and she was right about them).

Jeanine’s scholarship was not unlike that request. With her work on the Lipsius correspondence she was marching to the beat of her own drum. Recognition from others was never her concern, yet she was greatly enriching a wider world of scholarship in ways of which she was never entirely cognizant. She was doing vital work of which few are capable but which is badly needed. As long as I have been in academia, Jeanine was always there, working at her own pace, producing meticulously exact scholarship, a new volume appearing slowly but surely and accurately every few years. If a normal lifespan had been granted her, she would have completed her Lipsius edition, and much more besides. We have lost more than a valued friend and colleague. Her death means something vital and irreplaceable has been lost, as if a star has fallen from the firmament. We shall miss her in big ways and small.

Jan Machielsen
TU Dresden/Cardiff University

 

 

‘Reading Comenius’

With travel on this virus-ridden planet restricted at present, scholars in Prague have prepared a unique and apposite event to mark the three-hundred-and-fiftieth anniversary of the death of Jan Amos Komenský, known universally as Comenius. At midnight (Czech time) this coming weekend, as we slip from Saturday, 14th November into Sunday 15th, admirers of the Moravian-born pansophist and educator will begin an online relay of readings from his works. This marathon is due to criss-cross through five continents for a full twenty-four hours in a plethora of languages—from Czech and Latin (in which Comenius spoke and wrote), to Dutch, English, Esperanto, French, German, Hebrew, Hungarian, Italian, Japanese, Kashubian, Lithuanian, Polish,  Romanian, Russian, Slovak, and Spanish—as scholars, students, and teachers, each of whom has selected excerpts from his or her favourite works, read for an allotted fifteen minutes before passing the ‘virtual lectern‘ to a successor.

The texts selected will include passages from Comenius‘s well-known philosophical and educational treatises, including Labyrinth of the World and Paradise of the Heart, Didactica Magna, and The School of Infancy; there will be extracts from his textbook Orbis Sensualium Pictus, and from his pansophic works related to the idea of universal reform, for example Via Lucis and the General Consultation on the Improvement of Human Affairs. Interspersed amongst these published works and translations, will be readings of a number of his surviving manuscript letters.

Together with colleagues in the Department for Comenius Studies and Early Modern Intellectual History at the Institute of Philosophy of the Czech Academy of Sciences, the Comenius scholar Dr Vladimír Urbánek has planned this virtual pilgrimage to begin and conclude in Prague. The first text, which will mark the beginning of ‘the journey‘, Dr Urbánek explains, will be ‘a fragment from the Panegersia, or Universal Awakening, in which Comenius turns to citizens of the whole world‘. The day’s homage—both in its multiplicity of languages and in its global reach to a world wide audience—is a poignant reminder of the journeys Comenius himself, as an exile, undertook, of his own Via Lucis (The Way of Light), written in London during his visit in 1641–2 but not published until 1668 in Amsterdam, and of the spread and reach over time and across continents of his works and his ideas.

To coincide with the Reading Comenius Universally anniversary event, the BBC World Service is broadcasting Comenius: A Pioneer of Lifelong Learning. Featuring Dr Urbánek, Professor Howard Hotson, and Dr Yoanna Leek, this programme sets Comenius‘s long life (he died at the age of 78 in 1670) in the context of the war-torn continent through which he travelled and considers his contribution to modern thought and education today. Scheduled times for the programme‘s live broadcast vary by country and region, but it is available for download from the BBC’s ‘The Forum’ webpage, or it may be accessed via the Oxford platform Cabinet.

Vladimír, who also heads the team of scholars working towards a complete modern edition of Comenius’s work and who has overseen the compilation and curation of an inventory of the pansophist’s letters in EMLO, has worked with Howard to display on Cabinet a number of maps, based on metadata drawn from the surviving correspondence, that show Comenius’s movement across the face of Europe, the recorded places of sending and receipt of his letters, and the location of his extant manuscripts. Howard Hotson has provided in addition a detailed description of the title-page of Opera didactica omnia (Amsterdam, 1657), which was designed by Crispijn de Passe and engraved by David Loggan.

A number of passages from Opera didactica omnia will be read in the course of Reading Comenius Universally and everyone is both welcome and encouraged to tune in and witness the live-streamed event on the YouTube channel Comenius. This virtual journey on the world’s stage is set take us deep into thoughts and writings of one of the most relevant early modern thinkers, and it will end back where it began, in Prague, at midnight (CET) as Sunday, 15 November draws to a close.

Title page of ‘Opera didactica omnia’ (Amsterdam, 1657). (Source of image: MAnnheimer TExte Online)