The collection of 'Totenroteln' of the Benedictine monastery of Ensdorf, held by the provincial library of Amberg

The collection of 'Totenroteln' of the Benedictine monastery of Ensdorf, held by the provincial library of Amberg

Among its collections the Provinzialbibliothek (provincial library) Amberg holds some 'flotsam of secularisation' in the form of seven folio-sized volumes containing a total of 1497 so-called ‘Totenroteln’. These 'rolled-up documents of deceased persons' originally belonged to the former Benedictine monastery of Ensdorf in Upper Palatinate. The text type of the 'Totenrotel' goes back to the late-medieval custom of sending a message about the decease of a fellow brother to other monasteries allied through a prayer pledge, so that these could include the deceased in their remembrance of the dead and their prayers. These ‘remnants of monastic memorial culture’ – originally rolled-up strips of parchment and paper (thence the name) – were sent per messenger to said confederate monasteries in the form of broadsheets or as printed forms with handwritten entries starting at the middle of the 16th century. In the archive of a recipient monastery thus numerous messages were collected which came from different, partly very remote monastic communities. The Ensdorf collection thus comprises in particular the ‘Roteln’ from monasteries of the Bavarian Benedictine congregation, including i. a. Andechs, Benediktbeuern, St. Emmeram and Tegernsee. Regarding their content, these documents are more than mere messages that a brother had died in that they frequently also contained information about the brother's background (place of birth, Christian name, profession and sometimes the name of the father), his studies, his fields of activity in the monastery, as well as information relating to time (e. g. about the time span since ordination to priesthood) and a brief report about the last days of his life. Accordingly, they represent a rich source for prosopographic research.

The ‘Roteln’ compiled in the seven volumes refer to the years 1716 to 1789. For the sake of greater user friendliness in the digital presentation they are offered together with some structural data: an interlinked table of contents with personal names, home monastery and date of death.


showing: 7 of 7 (Time Period 750 - 1950)


showing: 7 of 7 (Time Period 750 - 1950)

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V. 3.6.5 | 09.10.2014