Manuscript on paper entitled “Lebens-Geschichte der Durchlauchtigsten Fürstinn und Frau Frau Cunigundis Herzoginn in Bayrn.”. KUNIGUNDE OF AUSTRIA.
Manuscript on paper entitled “Lebens-Geschichte der Durchlauchtigsten Fürstinn und Frau Frau Cunigundis Herzoginn in Bayrn.”

Manuscript on paper entitled “Lebens-Geschichte der Durchlauchtigsten Fürstinn und Frau Frau Cunigundis Herzoginn in Bayrn.”

19 leaves, written in a neat & legible hand. Small folio (305 x 190 mm.), orig. green paste-paper boards (upper cover detached, some light staining). [Probably Munich]: 1796.

A most interesting and apparently unpublished manuscript of a biography of Kunigunde of Austria (1465-1520), sister of Emperor Maximilian I and wife of Duke Albrecht IV of Bavaria, written in a neat German cursive script. The individual chapters are headed “Kunigunde’s birth and upbringing,” “Kunigunde’s betrothal,” “Of our Kunigunde’s special virtues,” “Kunigunde’s generosity towards her abbey and the Poor Sisters,” “The Roman Emperor Maximilian I visits Kunigunde his dear sister in Püttrich abbey,” and “Kunigunde’s pious death.” The final leaf contains a postscript with notes on the ancestors and siblings of Duke Albrecht IV.

Kunigunde grew up in an educated and open environment at the Austrian court at Graz, where she learned to read and write and, more remarkably, received instruction in astronomy, mathematics, riding, and hunting.

There are several sources for the life of Kunigunde. For her life before marriage, there is an apparently contemporary biography published by the Viennese Jesuit Joseph Benedikt Heyrenbach in 1778. There is mention of Kunigunde in a number of Bavarian chronicles. An anonymous description of Püttrich abbey (Bittrich Voll deß Himmlischen Manna…), published at Munich by Johann Lucas Straub in 1721, includes an account of her life (pp. 27-59) that is probably based on a earlier text and focuses on her monastic life.

The period leading up to Kunigunde’s marriage to Duke Albrecht, thoroughly discussed in our manuscript, is hardly touched on in the Püttrich abbey text, as may be expected. However, the second part of our text has a number of close parallels to the abbey chronicle, especially regarding Kunigunde’s joining the abbey after her husband’s death, her piety, her daily monastic routine, her simple clothing and lifestyle, her donations to the abbey and to the Emperor Maximilian’s endowments, and, finally, her illness and death. The interdependence of our manuscript and the Püttrich abbey chronicle is suggested by the inclusion of identical phrases in several instances. However, more extensive literal conformity is found only in quotes from original sources, such as a letter written by the young duchess to mother superior Clara Loder.

Portions of our manuscript — for instance in the initial remarks on the character and the education of our protagonist — correspond word for word with a 1793 Augsburg publication entitled Geschichte des erbaulichen Lebens der Prinzessin Ludovika Maria von Frankreich, a life of Princess Louise-Marie of France. The author of this biography of King Louis XV’s youngest daughter has been identified as the monarchist Liévin Bonaventure Proyart (1743-1808). The anonymous German translator describes himself as “a Barefoot Carmelite of the Bavarian Province.” We cannot be sure if the author of our manuscript based his account on the Augsburg text. Perhaps he and Proyart’s translator are actually identical. In any case, the execution of our manuscript, dated 1796, was carried out at a time in which the survival of religious institutions such as Püttrich abbey was in jeopardy. In 1802, Püttrich abbey itself was dissolved in the wake of Bavarian secularization. We can therefore assume that our biography of Kunigunde of Austria, whose pious and godly life had brought honor to Püttrich, was meant to counteract the efforts of the enlightened Bavarian government, especially since the duchess was related to Bavaria’s ruling Wittelsbach dynasty by marriage.

In fine condition.

❧ A summary of the source material is provided by Karina Graf in her Mannheim thesis of 2000, Kunigunde, Erzherzogin von Österreich und Herzogin von Bayern-München (1465-1520). Eine Biographie, pp. 4-8.

Price: $4,950.00

Item ID: 6386

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