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PhD defence Rombert Stapel in Leiden

Today at 15:00, Rombert J. Stapeldefends his PhD dissertation The Late Fifteenth-Century Utrecht Chronicle of the Teutonic Order: Manuscripts, Sources, and Authorship in the Academy Building of Leiden University.

Rombert Stapel (Hardenberg, 1983) studied medieval history at Leiden University. In 2008 he started his PhD at the Fryske Akademy and Leiden University, under supervision of Prof. Hans Mol. By studying the Utrecht Chronicle of the Teutonic Order, also known as the ‘Jüngere Hochmeisterchronik’, he aimed to examine the circulation of (historical) knowledge within the Teutonic Order at the end of the fifteenth century. Only decades earlier, the order suffered major defeats in Prussia and its former heathen enemies had become Christians.

It has been the underlying aim of this study to gain an understanding of the introduction of the order’s tradition of history writing to the Dutch Low Countries, far removed from the traditional production centres in Prussia and Livonia, as well as the effects this change of location, and accompanying change of perspective had on the content and purpose of such historical production within the order.

Ambitious project
In this dissertation, Stapel has been able to establish that the chronicle was written in Utrecht, in various phases from 1480 to 1491 and possibly the mid-1490s, by the Utrecht land commander Johan van Drongelen and his personal secretary. The material product of their collaboration is a manuscript kept in Vienna, which can now be classified as an author’s copy.

He has also shown in detail how the text was constructed, and that the author(s) managed to collect a wide selection of sources – including from locations hundreds of kilometres away from the city of Utrecht. We have therefore come much closer to understanding the specific circumstances under which the chronicle was written, as well as the preconditions of that environment which made it possible to undertake such an ambitious project.

Since 2013, Stapel works as a researcher at the International Institute of Social History (IISG) in Amsterdam.

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