A Companion to Medieval and Early Modern Confraternities


After the State and the Church, the most well organized membership system of medieval and early modern Europe was the confraternity. In cities, towns, and villages it would have been difficult for someone not to be a member of a confraternity, the recipient of its charity, or aware of its presence in the community. In A Companion to Medieval and Early Modern Confraternities, Konrad Eisenbichler brings together an international group of scholars to examine confraternities from various perspectives: their origins and development, their devotional practices, their charitable activities, and their contributions to literature, music, and art. The result is a picture of confraternities as important venues for the acquisition of spiritual riches, material wealth, and social capital.

Contributors to this volume: Alyssa Abraham, Davide Adamoli, Christopher F. Black, Dominika Burdzy, David D’Andrea, Konrad Eisenbichler, Anna Esposito, Federica Francesconi, Marina Gazzini, Jonathan Glixon, Colm Lennon, William R. Levin, Murdo J. MacLeod, Nerida Newbigin, Dylan Reid, Gervase Rosser, Nicholas Terpstra, Paul Trio, Anne-Laure Van Bruaene, Beata Wojciechowska, and Danilo Zardin.

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Konrad Eisenbichler (University of Toronto) works on the intersection of literature, politics, and religion in Renaissance Italy, with a special focus in how this intersection operates within early modern confraternities.
List of Illustrations
Notes on Contributors

1 Introduction: A World of Confraternities
Konrad Eisenbichler

Part 1: Birth and Development

2 Confraternities as Such, and as a Template for Guilds in the Low Countries during the Medieval and the Early Modern Period
Paul Trio
3 Change and Continuity: Eucharistic Confraternities in Ticino and Switzerland before and after Trent
Davide Adamoli
4 The Development of Confraternities in Central Europe in the Middle Ages and Early Modern Period
Beata Wojciechowska

Part 2: Devotion and Prayer

5 The Ethics of Confraternities
Gervase Rosser
6 “A Single Body”: Eucharistic Piety and Confraternities of the Body of Christ in Sixteenth-Century Italy: Texts, Images, and Devotion
Danilo Zardin
7 Confraternities and the Inquisition: For and Against
Christopher F. Black

Part 3: Good Works

8 Guides for a Good Life: The Sermons of Albertano da Brescia and other Instructions for Citizens and Believers in Italian Medieval Confraternities
Marina Gazzini
9 Cities of God or Structures of Superstition: Medieval Confraternities and Charitable Hospitals in the Early Modern World
David D’Andrea
10 Confraternities in Late Medieval Ireland: The Evolution of Chantry Colleges
Colm Lennon

11 Confraternities and Capital Punishment: Charity, Culture, and Civic Religion in the Communal and Confessional Age
Nicholas Terpstra

Part 4: Confraternities in a Transcultural World

12 National Confraternities in Rome and Italy in the Late Middle Ages and Early Modern Period: Identity, Representation, Charity
Anna Esposito
13 At the Crossroads of Cultures: The Orthodox Confraternities of Central and Eastern Europe from the 16th to the 18th Century
Dominika Burdzy
14 Confraternities in Colonial New Spain: Mexico and Central America
Murdo J. MacLeod
15 The Generative Space of Jewish Confraternities in Medieval and Early Modern Europe
Federica Francesconi

Part 5: Arts and Letters

16 Singing Praises to God: Confraternities and Music
Jonathan Glixon
17 Serio Ludere: Confraternities and Drama in Central Italy, 1400–1600
Nerida Newbigin
18 Faith on Stage: The Chambers of Rhetoric and Civic Religion in the Low Countries, 1400–1700
Anne-Laure Van Bruaene
19 Confraternities and Poetry: The Francophone Puys
Dylan Reid
20 Iconography, Spectacle, and Notions of Corporate Identity: The Form and Function of Art in Early Modern Confraternities
Alyssa Abraham
21 Art as Confraternal Documentation: Homeless Children and the Florentine Misericordia in the Trecento
William R. Levin
All interested in medieval and early modern history, religion, charity, literature, and society. Keywords: medieval, Renaissance, religion, devotion, piety, charity, sociability, sodalities, guilds, corporations, brotherhoods, comforting, Catholic, Orthodox, Jewish