Caritas Pirckheimer: Sixteenth century chronicler

Joanne King Grafe, Fordham University


Caritas Pirckheimer was Abbess of the Convent of St. Clare in Nuremberg, Germany during the Reformation crisis between 1524-1528. During and shortly after this time she compiled and edited a chronicle, known as the Denkwurdigkeiten, of the Convent's successful struggle against the City Council's attempt at immediate dissolution. This dissertation examines Caritas Pirckheimer's position during the Reformation by tracing her intellectual development through her writing. Starting with her correspondence with prominent contemporary humanists and progressing to her work on two important chronicles, it studies the evolution of the content and style of her writing. Special emphasis is given to her two most important works, the Chronicle of her religious order, the Poor Clares, and the Denkwurdigkeiten, composed during and shortly after the Reformation crisis between 1524 and 1528. The Chronicle is a largely unstudied manuscript edited by Caritas around 1500. Importantly, it is a precursor to the Denkwurdigkeiten, her more widely known journal. This earlier work provides insight into Caritas's editorial skills, her development as a Christian humanist and chronicler, and a clearer understanding of the Denkwurdigkeiten. What emerges from this study is a picture of Caritas Pirckheimer as a prototype for women who stepped beyond their gender and circumstances to champion their beliefs through their writing. She used humanist scholarship to leave a successful defense of late medieval spiritual reform.

Subject Area

European history|Religious congregations|Biographies

Recommended Citation

Grafe, Joanne King, "Caritas Pirckheimer: Sixteenth century chronicler" (1998). ETD Collection for Fordham University. AAI9816344.