From Commonplacing to Expressing Confessional Identity: The Sturmian Paroemiology in Strasbourg and the Hungarian Albert Szenci Molnár

In the early modern period, commonplacing was a general method for structuring knowledge and taking notes. At the protestant gymnasium of Strasbourg, the disciples of Johann Sturm encouraged their pupils to compose their own handwritten commonplace-books to acquire a richness in subject knowledge and in idioms. This paper focuses on the annotations of one of their Hungarian students, Albert Szenci Molnár (1574-1634), a most important author of the Calvinist late humanism in the Kingdom of Hungary and in Transylvania. Analysing this unique source enables us to understand how the normative prescriptions of excerpting as a scholarly exercise were put into practice by students. The paper argues that Molnár’s commonplace-book follows the structure that his teacher, Johann Bentz determined in one of his textbooks. The manuscript seems to meet the general requirements of protestant education, it also documents Molnár’s interest in Hungarian contributions to international humanism and his serious conflict with Lutheran authorities about issues in communion theology. Hence, the notebook has, above its conventional contents, a more personalised layer where individual choices of readings become visible.

AUTHOR: Gábor Förköli

Published in: Journal of Latin Cosmopolitanism and European Literatures, 9 (2022), pp. 32–68