The world according to Hermann Weinsberg

Paper Memory: A Sixteenth-Century Townsman Writes His WorldPaper Memory: A Sixteenth-Century Townsman Writes His World by Matthew Lundin

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

In 16th century Cologne, the lawyer Hermann Weinsberg decided to make his household and his memory last. He worried about being forgotten along with much of mankind, and so he wrote a Gedenkbuch, an increasingly detailed record of his life, and tried to keep his estate from being divided at his death. He wrote during the turbulent time of the Reformation, a time of high hopes for reform (for both Protestants and Catholics), bitter confessional divides, wars, and witch trials, so he had a lot of interesting things to write about.

A few interesting things about Weinsberg: He was a Catholic in a heavily Catholic city, although he was not particularly interested in theology or debates about it. He shared the same complaints about the clergy that many people had at the time, but did not desire to leave the church. He was very worried how he would be remembered on earth and the persistence of his house and family line through chosen heirs (he had no legitimate children), and didn’t seem to find much consolation in going heaven after he died or the new heavens and earth after Christ’s return.

This was quite a good book that helped me to know Hermann Weinsberg and his time quite a bit better. I enjoyed the insight into historical memory, humanist education, and the middle class burghers in this time.

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