Prokopiev, Andrei Yuryevich. In the service of the clergy and the world: St. Benno in the history of Saxony

Published Date:

For citation: Prokopiev, Andrei Yuryevich. In the service of the clergy and the world: St. Benno in the history of Saxony, in Studia Slavica et Balcanica Petropolitana. 2023. № 1. Pp. 28-38. DOI

Title of the article In the service of the clergy and the world: St. Benno in the history of Saxony

Prokopiev, Andrei Yuryevich – Dr. Sc. in History, Prof., State University St. Petersburg, St. Petersburg, Russia, Orc ID 0000-0002-8956-3699, Researcher ID M-8778-2013, Scopus ID 57195265881, SPIN-code 2328-9992; e-mail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

In the section  Commentarii / Articles
Year 2023 Issue 1 Pages 28-38
Type of article RAR Index UDK; BBK UDK 94 (929); BBK 63.3(4)42-7 Index DOI

The research was supported by the Russian Science Foundation, project Nr. 21-48-04402 «Saints and heroes from Christianization to Nationalism: Symbol, Image, Memory (Nord-West Russia, Baltic and Nordic countries)».

Until recently, historiography has lacked major comparative studies on the phenomen of Holy in Central Europe. Meanwhile, there were very vast regions in which there were no local saints until the end of the Middle Ages. One of these historical regions was Upper Saxony. What was the way of formation of the sacral cult here? What political or socio-cultural factors played a decisive role in the emergence of the cult of saints? And what were the functions of the saints in a changing society? The problems are studied on the example of St. Benno, Bishop of Meißen, who was canonized in 1523. He became the last saint of the medieval Latin Church and the first saint for the Wettin dynasty. The article shows the instrumentalization of his memory at various stages. From the 13th century he acted in the service of the bishops of Meißen, who aspired to become imperial princes. From the 15th century the princely dynasty of the Wettins (Albertine House) was busy about the canonization of Benno in order to strengthen their own authority in the Holy Roman Empire. The decisive contribution in this direction was made by Duke George the Bearded. Two events marked the efforts of the Saxon prince in the public space: the translation into German of the Life of St. Benno, made by Hieronymus Emser in 1517 and the transfer of Benno’s relics in the cathedral of Meißen in 1524. During the Reformation, the cult of St. Benno was called upon to oppose Protestantism. Paradoxically, however, he was able to play his role as a link between the dynasty and subjects only in Bavaria from the end of the 16th century.

Keywords St. Benno, Saxony, Holy Roman Empire, Meissen, Wettins, Georg the Bearded, Bavaria, Hieronymus Emser, dynasty, cult of holiness, historical memory
Full text version of the article Article language  Russian

Blaschke, Karlheinz. Geschichte Sachsens im Mittelalter. München: Beck Publ., 1990. 397 p. (in German).

Blaschke, Karlheinz. Der Fürstenzug zu Dersden. Denkmal und Geschichte des Hauses Wettin. Leipzig: Urania Publ., 1990. 224 p. (in German).

Bonifatius – Leben und Nachwirkung (754–2004). Die Gestaltung des christlichen Europa im Frühmit­telalter. Hrsg. von Franz J. Felten. Mainz: Gesellschaft für mittelrheinische Kirchengeschichte Publ., 2007. 449 p. (in German).

Brown, Peter. The cult of the Saints: Its rise and function in Latin Christianity. Chicago: University Chicago Press Publ., 1981. 204 p.

Brown, Peter. The Rise of Western Christendom. Blackwell Publishing Publ., 2003. 712 p.

Brown, Peter. Society and the Holy in Late Antiquity. Berkeley, Los Angeles: University of California Press Publ., 1989. 312 p.

Dänemark, Norwegen und Schweden im Zeitalter der Reformation und Konfessionalisierung. Nordische Königreiche und Konfession 1500 bis 1660. Hrsg. von Mattias Asche, Anton Schindling. Münster: Aschendorf Verlag Publ., 2022. 332 p. (in German).

Finucane, Ronald C. Contested canonizations: The last medieval saints, 1482–1523. Washington: Catholic Univ. of America Press Publ., 2011. 288 p.

Junghans, Helmar. Die Ausbreitung der Reformation von 1517 bis 1539, in Das Jahrhundert der Reformation in Sachsen. Hrsg. von H. Junghans. Leipzig: Evangelische Verlagsanstalt Publ., 2005. Pp. 37–69. (in German).

Kaiser, Alexander. Der Sächsische Jakobsweg und der Heilige Weg. Grillenburg: Verkehrsverein Publ., 2022. 24 p. (in German).

Kroll, Franz-Lothar. Geschichte Sachsens. München: Beck Publ., 2022. 128 p. (in German).

Ludwig, Thomas. Die Urkunden der Bischöfe von Meißen. Diplomatische Untersuchungen zum 10./13/ Jahrhundert. Köln, Weimar: Böhlau, 2008. 337 S.

Lutz, Wolf Rudolf. Heinrich der Erlauchte (1218-1288), Markgraf von Meißen und der Ostmark (1221–1288), Landgraf von Thüringen und Pfalzgraf von Sachsen (1247–1263). Erlangen: Palm und Enke Publ.,1977. 493 p. (in German).

Rittenbach, Willi, Seifert, Siegfried. Geschichte der Bischöfe von Meissen 968–1581. Leipzig: St. Benno Verlag Publ., 1965. 441 p. (in German).

Rogge, Jorg. Die Wettiner. Aufstieg einer Dynastie im Mittelalter. Ostfildern: Thorbecke Publ., 2005. 272 p. (in German).

Schlesinger, Walther. Kirchengeschichte Sachsens im Mittelalter. Bd.1. Köln: Böhlau Publ., 1962. 397 p. (in German).

Schneidmüller, Bernd. Gründung und Wirkung. Das heilige Kaiserpaar Heinrich und Kunigunda in seinen Bistümern Bamberg und Merseburg. Halle/Saale: Universitätsverlag Publ., 2015. 91 p. (in German).

Volkmar, Christoph. Die Heiligenerhebung Bennos von Meißen (1523/24). Spätmittelalterliche Frömmigkeit, landesherrliche Kirchenpolitik und reformatorische Kritik im albertinischen Sachsen in der frühen Reformationszeit. Münster: Aschendorff Publ., 2002. 234 p. (in German).

Volkmar, Christoph. Reform statt Reformation. Die Kirchenpolitik Herzog Georgs von Sachsen 1488–1525. Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck Publ., 2008. 701 p. (in German).

Tags: religious studies, Holy Roman Empire, 16th century, historical memory, COMMENTARII / ARTICLES, veneration of saints, Central Europe, Germany, cultural studies, Communication, 15th century , 13th century, 11th century, regional studies, PROKOPIEV A. YU.

  • Hits: 8