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Monastic Landscapes, Elite Networks and Mendicant Communities in Late Medieval Austria and West Hungary, by: Christina Lutter and Judit Majorossy (Institute of History, University of Vienna)

Wednesday, February 26, 2020, 5:30 pm – 7:00 pm



Our work on mendicant communities in Central Europe has developed against the background of a large-scale project on mechanisms of medieval community building. Towns and cities are exemplary in showing both various forms of belonging and overlaps between “secular” and “ecclesiastical” cultures. In this presentation we look into the interactions of individual actors with religious communities to learn more about the entanglement of socially and spiritually motivated forms of belonging. Religious institutions played a key role in urban topography.


1) They took care of individuals´ and families´ memories, while their benefactions served the prosperity of the communities. 2) Kinship groups would strengthen their ties to religious houses through family members that entered these communities. 3) These overlapping forms of belonging to communities of kin and to religious communities were part of a complex framework of exchange: Families from all status groups used benefactions and memorial policies to make religious institutions integrative social “hubs”. 4) These relations corresponded with ties between members of kin groups who held positions in political organization and played an active role in forming political communities. Similar mechanisms connected kin groups to charitable institutions and confraternities.

Mendicant orders are an excellent case in point to explore these relations and their impact on urban politics: European-wide mendicant teaching and preaching in urban space substantially contributed to the variety of religious practices. Consequently, mendicants met competition and opposition by the “old” orders and clerics and kept being negotiated as confraternities and reform movements developed new cults that related to urban dwellers´ family and political economies. These intersections are in the centre of our questions.



Christina Lutter is Professor at the History Department, University of Vienna, Member of the Austrian Academy of Sciences, and PI of the project Social and Cultural Communities across Monastic, Urban, and Courtly Cultures in Central Europe within the SFB 42 Visions of Community (VISCOM): She holds a PhD from the University of Vienna (Politische Kommunikation in der Frühen Neuzeit, Vienna: Oldenbourg 1998), enabled by a research grant for archival research in Venice. Her habilitation Geschlecht & Wissen. Monastische Reformgemeinschaften im 12. Jahrhundert (Vienna: Oldenbourg 2005) won among others the 2006 Preis des Verbandes der Historikerinnen und Historiker Deutschlands. Her research interests cover medieval and early modern cultural and gender history, religious reform movements in medieval and early modern Europe, and comparative history. Recent books include: Kinship and Gender: Comparative Perspectives on Practices of Exchange and Belonging, with A. Gingrich (History and Anthropology (2020) London, NY: Routledge); Kulturgeschichte der Überlieferung im Mittelalter. Quellen und Methoden zur Geschichte Mittel- und Südosteuropa, gem. mit E. Gruber, O. Schmitt (UTB Vienna et al. 2017); Meanings of Community Across Eurasia, with W. Pohl, E. Hovden (Leiden: Brill 2016); Visions of Community. Comparative Approaches to Medieval Forms of Identity in Europe and Asia, with A. Gingrich (History and Anthropology 26/1 (2015) London, NY: Routledge); Zwischen Hof und Kloster. Kulturelle Gemeinschaften im mittelalterlichen Österreich, Vienna: Böhlau 2010.

Judit Majorossy received her PhD in Medieval Studies from the Department of Medieval Studies of CEU (and as a previous Marie-Curie fellow, with her doctoral dissertation received the title of European Doctorate in the Social History of Europe and the Mediterranean, too). She now teaches at the University of Vienna, as an associate post-doctoral researcher of the Institut für Österreichische Geschichtsforschung. She is the editorial board member of the Korall Hungarian Social Historical Journal and the Urbs Hungarian Yearbook of Urban History. In her dissertation, she dealt with the “practical” side of the religious life of fifteenth-century burghers of the free royal town of Pressburg (today Bratislava). As post-doctoral research fellow, she worked in several institutions in Budapest, and at the Institute of Advanced Studies at the University of Edinburgh, first on social urban elites and later, supported by the Humboldt Stiftung, at the Institute of Comparative Urban History in Münster (Germany) on comparative urban social topography. She has several publications in the field of late medieval social and religious life in Hungarian towns, edited several volumes and published the late medieval last wills of Pressburg in a two-volume source edition. Her book on Piety in Practice is in preparation. Recently she is working on a regional comparative urban network project.