Imitation und Mimesis sind epochenübergreifende Kulturphänomene. Doch wie erkennt, analysiert oder bewertet man das Imitieren im Mittelalter? Der Band präsentiert unterschiedliche fachdisziplinäre Methoden und Ansätze und erläutert diese an einschlägigen Beispielen. Imitieren kann für das Mittelalter als bislang unterschätzte, höchst komplexe Kulturtechnik angesehen werden, deren Potential nicht nur darin lag, Traditionen zu konservieren, sondern durchaus Innovationen hervorzubringen.
Imitation is a semantic scheme for observing social behaviour. Its function lies in the control of conformity and deviance on the basis of similarities with given model and thus provides orientation for social expectations. However, not all similarities presuppose imitative contacts but may be the outcome of convergent developments despite different starting conditions. Furthermore, functional equivalents may serve as substitutes for imitation. For example, persons or artifacts can be exempted from either imitating or being imitated if they are considered to have a unique and incomparable quality. The semantics of imitation vary historically and thus provide also information about changes in practices of imitation and their social value.
This article deals with the writing of military technology using the example of the development of gunpowder technology, and in particular the Firework Book (Feuerwerkbuch, c. 1440). In the early 15th century, a corpus of technical recipes and instructions, written in Early New High German, which occupies a special position in the development of this type of writing. The Firework Book is both a collection of recipes that are comprehensive and comprehensible, as well as insightful guidance for master gunners. The article discusses the content of the Firework Book, the plausibility of the recipes and their transmission, and provides insights on possible authors and users of the Fireworks Book as well as a broader discussion about how the Firework Book was both innovative and at the same time a continuation of an already established tradition.
The Florentine humanist and theorist Leon Battista Alberti recommends in his painting treatise ‘De Pictura’ the principles of imitatio and aemulatio as decisive constitutive elements for a renewal or further development of the visual arts. Not only Italian, but also Dutch and German artists were concerned with these art-theoretical premises. Only when imitatio is surpassed by aemulatio, as is argued in this study, are works of art created whose narrative, compositional and material quality was able to satisfy the particularly demanding expectations of princes and kings and the courtly elites.
In the cultural and political world of the early modern period, the concept of imitatio and aemulatio cannot ultimately be thought of without the court context, which is why particular attention should be paid to this constellation in this article using concise case studies, with a special view of the Montefeltro diptych Piero della Francesca’s and a side glance at Rubens and Velàzquez. Based on these case studies it can be shown that the art-theoretical principles of imitatio and aemulatio in the sphere of court art were ultimately only able to exist in connection with the principle of political and dynastic representation.
The notion of imitation occupies a central place in the thinking of sociologists, historians and art historians. After examining several theoretical approaches, the author proposes to distinguish two modalities of imitation: one idealist (the imitation of an ideal model), the other objectivist (that of a material object). Medieval vocabulary traditionally hears the words imitatio or imitari in a rather idealistic sense, for example in sacramental theology (the mass as imitation of the Passion), in the typological tradition of “the figurative interpretation of reality” (Erich Auerbach) or in Christian spirituality (the Imitation of Jesus Christ by Thomas a Kempis). But between the thirteenth and the beginning of the fifteenth century, the “objectivist” conception of imitation progressed by focusing on the singularity of observable and imitable material realities. This development concerns innovations in the plastic arts (Villard de Honnecourt), the rise of the likeness of portraiture, the birth of landscape painting, the success of the “mystery” theater. It benefits from the rediscovery of Aristotle’s Physica, but above all results from a cultural mutation of much greater magnitude: a transformation of Western ontology by the gradual passage from medieval analogism to modern naturalism (Ph. Descola).
The article reconsiders plagiarism under the perspective of “re-usages” (Mehrfachverwendungen). Is it plagiarism, to say “I love you”? In a first step, the article lines out the many facades of use, re-use and abuse of motives. A further step is the analysis of the different contexts in which re-usages take place. Identical events are not possible (“One cannot step twice into the same river”), yet it is important to understand when, in which social context and how these events can be considered as repetition. Also phenomena like oblivion or chance influence the perception of events, ideas or music as repetition or innovative. Thus repetitions may not even exist and if they do, they always appear in an individual new context as is demonstrated with further literary and musical examples.
Rivalry and competition were among the main principles of princely existence. A key factor of utmost importance, if not for the development and formation, but for the consolidation of this competitive thinking, was the occurrence of the Imperial Diet. The resulting competition for self-representation, distinction and supremacy between different ruling princes and their courts yielded to versatile consequences. As an indirect consequence of this versatility, the upcoming and continually growing differentiation of courtly life must be mentioned. Furthermore, this process brought great changes to life at court, considering architectural, cultural, dimensional and organisational aspects. The princes residing at the royal court or participating at the Imperial Diet gathered their experiences in dealing with competitiveness and brought it home to their domestic court. From now on, they started to rule in adaptive imitation and steady altercation. In this article, Duke Bogislaw X of Pomerania (*1454; †1523) and Duke Henry V of Mecklenburg (*1479; †1552) serve as illustrative examples of adaptive imitation. Their personal stays at the royal court were certainly not without consequences for their domestic courts in the North. That can precisely be seen in numismatic and heraldic examples in the former case and by means of an energetically practised policy of remembrance for Duke Henry V.
The importance of Dante Alighieri’s, Francesco Petrarca’s, and Giovanni Boccaccio’s contributions to the construction of the humanae litterae are more than well known. Yet, there is still much to discover about the different positions of the three authors and about the dialogue that Petrarch and Boccaccio conducted about their famous predecessor Dante. Some undetected traces that lead us to a deeper understanding both of the “three crowns” and of their time are shown in this contribution on the actional and behavioral dimension of imitation (sequela and imitatio auctorum) in Petrarch’s ‘Secretum’.
There are some attempts to new research on the meaning and use of imitation in premodern culture, especially in philologies and sociology, not yet in history. Proofs for different interpretations of imitation can be found in historical sources, but hardly clear definitions. Apart from the religious traditions of an imitatio Christi, the difference between imitatio and aemulatio as well as between authority of tradition and outbidding independence or between character and role have been discussed in scolastic discourses and led to an wide perspective of interpreting imitation.