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MECKLENBURG


107


MECKLENBURG


sheets of paper, which she handed to the Dominican, Henry of Halle, lector in Rupin. The original, which was written in Low Gernjan, is not extant, but a South German translation, which was prepared by Henry of Nordlingen about the year 1344, is still preserved in the original manuscript in the hbrary of Einsiedeln, Codex 277. Mechtild began the work in 1250 and finished the sixth volume at Magdeburg in 1264, to which she added a seventh volume at Helfta. A Latin translation of the six volumes written at Magdeburg was made by a Dominican, about the year 1290, and is reprinted, together with a translation of the seventh volume, in " Revelationes Gertrudianie ae Mechtil- dianae", II (Paris, 1877), 435-707. The manuscript of Einsiedeln was edited by Gall Morel, O.S.B., who also translated it into modern German (Ratisbon, 1869). Other modern German translations were prepared by J. Muller (Ratisbon, 1881) and Escherich (Berlin, 1909).

Mechtild's language is generally forcible and often exceedingly flowery. Her prose is occasionally inter- spersed with beautiful original pieces of poetry, which manifest that she had all the natural gifts of a poet. She is never at a loss to give vent to her feehngs of joy and grief in the most impressive form. Often also she delights in aphoristic and abrupt sentences. It is some- times difficult to ascertain just how far her narrations are faithful reproductions of her visions, and how far they are additions made by her own poetic fancy. This is especially true of her realistic description of the hereafter. Writing on hell, she says, " I saw a horrible and wretched place; its name is 'Eternal Hatred'." She then represents Lucifer as chained by his sins in the lowest abyss of hell, all sin, agony, pestilence and ruin, that fill hell, purgatory, and earth, flowing from his burning heart and mouth. She divides hell into three parts; the lowest and most horrible is filled with condemned Christians, the middle with Jews, and the highest with Pagans. Hell, purgatory and heaven are situated one immediately above the other. The low- est portion of purgatory is filled with devils, who tor- ment the souls in the most horrible manner, while the highest portion of purgatory is identical with the lowest portion of heaven. Many a soul in the lowest purgatory does not know whether it will ever be saved. The last statement was condemned in the Bull "Exsurge Domine", 15 June, 1520, as one of the errors of Luther: " Animae in purgatorio non sunt securse de earum salute, saltem omnes". Mechtild's conception of the hereafter is believed by some to be the basis of Dante's "Divine Comedy", and the poet's Matelda ("Purgatory", Canto 27-33) to be identical with our Mechtild (see Pregcr, "Dante's Matelda", Munich, 1873). Whate^'er we may think of these and other statements in the work of Mechtild, much of it, no doubt, has all the signs of a special inspiration from above. 'That she did not seek the favour of man is evi- dent from her fearless denunciation of the vices of the clergy in general and especially the clergy of Magde- burg. Some authors call her saint, though she has not been canonized and apparently has never received any public cult.

Michael, Kulturzustiinde des deutschen Volkes wdhrend des IS. Jahrhunderts, III (Freiburg im Br., 190.3), 187-199; Idem in Zeitschrifl /fir Kath. Theologie. XXV (Innsbruck, 1901), 177- 180; Greith, Die deutsche Mystik im Predigerorden (Freiburg im Br,; 1861), 207-277; Stradch, Kleine Beitriige zur Gesckichte der deutschen Mystik in Zeitschrift fiir deutsches AUertum und deutsche Literatur. XXVII (Berlin. 1883), 368-381; PREGEn. Geschichte der deutschen Mystik im Mittelalter, I (Leipzig, 1874), 91-112; Stierling, Sludien zu Mechtild v. Magd. (Gottingen, 1909).

Michael Ott.

Mecklenburg, a division of the German Empire, consists of the two Grand Duchies of Mecklenburg- Schwerin and Mecklenburg-Strelitz .

History. — .\t the beginning of the Christian era, Mecklenburg was inhabited by Germanic tribes, but as early as the second century they began to leave the


district ; Slavonic tribes poured in, and by about a. d. 600 they had complete possession of the land. These Slavonic tribes were principally Wends, of whom the Obotrites occupied the western parts, the Lusici, or Wilzen, the eastern. Their chief occupations were forestry, cattle-raising, huntmg, and fishing. Their religion was a pure worship of nature. The chief god was Radegast Zuarasici, whose sanctuary at Rethra was the centre of his worship for the whole of Meck- lenburg until it was destroyed in the twelfth century, and replaced by Svantevit, the "holy oracle", whose temple was at .A.rkona on the Lsl.and of Riigen. After Charlemagne had brought the Saxons into subjection, the tribes of Mecklenburg became the immediate neighbours of the Prankish Empire, with which an active trade soon sprang up. Commerce was still fur- ther developed under the Saxon emperors (919-1024), the most important mart for the Slavs being Bardo- wiek.

Charlemagne's conquests in this region were lost soon after his death. Henry I of Gemiany (916- 36) was the first to force the Slavonic territory again to pay tribute (about 928) ; he also placed it under the jurisdiction of Sa.xon counts. With the dominion of the Germans, Christianity found ingress into the land. Bishop .4dalward of Verden brought the first Obotrite prince into the Church. Otto the Great (936-973) divided the territory of Mecklenburg be- tween the two margravates he had formed. Ecclesias- tically, the land belonged partly to tlie Dioceses of Havelberg and Brandenburg, partly to the Diocese of Oldenburg, that was erected in 968. However, there can hardly be said to have been a systematic attempt at conversion to Christianity, for the German author- ity had no secure foimdation. The early successes in conversion to Christianity were swept away by an in- surrection of the Slavs, after the defeat of the Emperor Otto II in Calabria in 928. The Obotrites under Mis- tiwoi, who had previously accepted Christianity, plun- dered and burned Hamburg, ravaged the whole of North Albmgia (Holstein), crossed the Elbe and ad- vanced as far as Milde. Every trace of Christianity was destroyed. There was much strife between Ger- man and Wend in the succeeding decades. It was not until the reign of Henry II (1002-1024) that the Lusici and Obotrites became allies of the German Empire against the Polish Duke Boleslaw. Towards the end of his life Mistiwoi turned in repentance once more to Christianity, and ended his days in the mon- astery of Bardowiek.

Archbishop Unwanus of Hamburg (from 1013) laboured with energy and success; but the Saxon dukes exacted a heavy tribute, which was the chief reason why the Christian teaching protected by them was regarded with little favour, even though the Wendio rulers Udo and Ratibor became Christians. Udo's son Gottschalk faitiifully supported Archbishop Adalbert of Bremen, and frequently explained Chris- tian doctrine at chnrrch to his people. Churches and monasteries rapidly appeared. New dioceses were founded in addition to the Diocese of Oldenburg, namely, Ratzeburg under Bishop Aristo, and Meck- lenburg under Bi.shop John, a Scot. The conversion of the entire country to Catholicity seemed assured. But the ferment of the old antagonism to the tribute to the empire and the Saxon dukes led to a heathen reaction. The first victim was Gottschalk himself, in 1060. On 15 July of the same year the twenty- eight monks of the Benedictine monastery at Ratze- burg were stoned to death ; in Mecklenburg the aged Bishop John and many other Christians were slain, and in a few months the German supremacy \yas thrown off. The Wends even plundered the Christian cities of Sohleswig and Hamburg, the bishop of the latter being obliged to transfer his see to Bremen. The bloody national god Radegast of Rethra became once more dominant.