Brothers of life together

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Georgius Macropedius in the costume of the brothers from the common life

The Brothers of Common Life , abbreviation CRVC for Canonici Regulares Sancti Augustini Fratrum a Vita Communi , originally Dutch Broeders des gemeenen levens , also called Fraterlords (from Latin frater "brother"), were a religious community that emerged at the end of the 14th century. The names Kogel- or Kugelherren or Kugelhaus were common regionally for their monastery buildings. These names were most likely derived from their headgear called Gugel . In Magdeburgthey were called Null Brothers or Lull Brothers . The female counterpart were the sisters of life together .



The brotherhood was a religious group that arose around Geert Groote in Deventer at the end of the 14th century , the members of which did not take monastic vows, but united in small, monastery-like communities ( Windesheim monastery near Zwolle , see Windesheim canons ) or so-called brothers or friars houses . The Fraterhaus Springborn in Münster (Westphalia) was the first branch of the Fraterherren in Germany .

They preached practical piety and were considered the most important representatives of the Devotio moderna . Their influence on intellectual life in the Netherlands and north-west Germany was significant up to the Reformation . They exercised this influence u. a. through their extensive book production, with which they also earned part of their living. They initially contributed to the spread of manuscripts, which they copied in large numbers, in order to then also use letterpress printing very early . In 1468 they set up the very first monastery printing house in Marienthal Abbey in Geisenheim . They were therefore popularly called brothers from the pen . The Fraterhaus in Rostock, also known as Michaeliskloster , ran one of the most important book printing companies in the Baltic Sea region.

Heinrich von Ahaus contributed to the establishment of various brother and sister communities, particularly in the Low German area. Georgius Macropedius was an important brother from our common life . The theologian Thomas von Kempen (Thomas a Kempis) can also be counted among this group. Gabriel Biel , cathedral preacher in Mainz and later rector of the University of Tübingen , was head of the Brothers House in Butzbach and initiated the establishment of the Königstein im Taunus convent in 1446, which existed until 1540.


The demonstrably temporarily existing Frater houses included (subsidiary foundations in brackets):

  • Münster / Westf. 1400 / 1408–1772 (Osnabrück 1417, Wesel 1435, Rostock 1462, Marburg 1477)
  • Osterberg [Lotte / Westphalia] 1410-1427
  • Cologne 1416–1802 (Marienthal 1464, Königstein im Taunus 1467)
  • Osnabrück 1417 – before 1426 (Herford 1427)
  • Herford 1427–1802 (Hildesheim 1440)
  • Wesel 1436-1808
  • Hildesheim 1440–1604 (Kassel 1455, Magdeburg 1482, Berlikum / Friesland 1483)
  • Kassel 1454-1527
  • Rostock 1462–1559
  • Marienthal [Geisenheim] 1464 / 1465–1554 (Butzbach 1468, Wolf 1478)
  • Königstein im Taunus 1467–1540
  • Emmerich 1467–1811 (founded from Deventer)
  • Butzbach 1469–1555 (Urach 1477, Wolf 1478)
  • Marburg 1476-1527
  • Kulm [Culm ad Weichsel, Polish Chełmno] 1473–1554 (founded from Zwolle)
  • Urach 1477–1517 (Herrenberg 1481, Tübingen 1482, Dettingen 1482, Tachenhausen 1486)
  • Wolf [Traben-Trarbach] 1478–1560 (Trier 1499)
  • Herrenberg 1481-1517
  • Tübingen 1482-1517
  • Dettingen ad Erms 1482-1517
  • Magdeburg 1482–1535
  • Tachenhausen [Oberboihingen] 1486-1517
  • Einsiedel [Kirchentellinsfurt, St. Peter in Schönbuch] 1491–1538
  • Trier 1499-1569
  • Merseburg 1503–1544

Decline in the 16th century

In the course of the Reformation and finally in the 17th century, these communities died out. The Fraterhaus Herford took a unique special development through direct intervention by Martin Luther .

In Marburg, the extensive complex of the spherical gentlemen from the late Gothic spherical house , which today contains the university's ethnological collection, and the spherical church have been preserved. The Erfurt auxiliary bishop Johannes Bonemilch von Laasphe consecrated an altar in the associated hospital ( infirmaria ) around 1500 . In 1527 the house, which also housed a Latin school , was transferred to the University of Marburg after Landgrave Philipp closed the branch and the school in which he himself had been a student.

In Rostock the former Fraterhaus has been preserved under the name Michaeliskloster . The building's choir is now a Methodist Church. In the main part of the building, in which the brothers operated Rostock's first printing works since 1476, are now the Theology / Philosophy Library and the special collections of the Rostock University Library .

New beginnings

The preoccupation with the lifestyle of these lay communities was groundbreaking at the beginning of the 20th century for the emergence of a brotherhood of the same name on common life in Switzerland, the first of the new communities to revive monastic ways of life in the churches of the Reformation. The founders were Gotthilf Haug (1875–1951), Jakob Schelker-Kellenberger (1868–1954) and Lina Schelker (1861–1936).

Since 1975 there is again a congregation of Brothers of Common Life in Germany , which is a member of the Confederation of Augustinian Canons (CRVC). Richard Lehmann-Dronke is the general superior of the community, which has its headquarters in Maria Bronnen Monastery in the Waldshut district . The community has been active in the Marian pilgrimage site of Waghäusel in North Baden since 2000 .

Individual evidence

  1. Zero Brothers . In: Theologische Realenzyklopädie , Volume 8, p. 614 line 45
  2. ^ Fraterherrenhaus Münster ad fontem salientem, Münster . Deeds from the archives of the Fraterherrenhaus in Münster . In the / digital Westphalian document database (DWUD), accessed on April 3, 2016.
  3. Cf. Wolfgang Oeser: The brothers of common life in Münster as book writers. In: Archives for the history of the book industry. Volume 5, 1964, p. 197 ff.
  4. Beate Großmann-Hofmann, Hans-Curt Köster: Königstein im Taunus. History and art . Koenigstein i. Ts. 2010, ISBN 978-3-7845-0778-1 , p. 19.
  5. ^ Wolfgang Leesch , Ernest Persoons, Anton G. Weiler (eds.): Monasticon Fratrum Vitae Communis . Volume 2: Germany , p. 6f.
  6. Otto Meyer: The Brothers of Common Life in Württemberg 1477-1517 . In: “Blätter für Württembergische Kirchengeschichte”, 1913, pp. 97–138 and 1914, pp. 142–160.
  7. ^ History , homepage of Waghäusel Monastery, accessed on August 4, 2014.


Overview representations

  • Florian M. Lim: The brothers from living together in the 15th century in Germany. From the Munster Colloquium to the Upper German General Chapter: A study of the history of canon law on the integration and form of community of the southern German canons. (= Vita regularis - orders and interpretations of religious life in the Middle Ages. Abhandlungen. Volume 71). LIT Verlag, Berlin 2017. ISBN 978-3-643-13802-6 ( digitized version )
  • Ulrich Hinz: The Brothers of Living Together in the Age of Reformation. The Münster Colloquium. (= Late Middle Ages and Reformation. NR 9), Mohr Siebeck, Tübingen 1987. ( digitized version )
  • Ernst Barnikol: Studies on the history of the brothers from common life. The first period of the German Brethren Movement: the time of Heinrich von Ahaus. Contribution to the development and organization of religious life on German soil in the late Middle Ages . Tübingen, Mohr 1917 (supplement to the “Journal for Theology and Church”, 1917).
  • Wolfgang Leesch , Ernest Persoons, Anton G. Weiler (Eds.): Monasticon Fratrum Vitae Communis , Volume 2: Germany , Archives et Bibliothèques de Belgique, Brussels 1979 (= Archives et Bibliothèques de Belgique / Archief- en Bibliotheekwezen in Belgie , extra number 19 ).

Individual branches

  • Franz-Josef Heyen: The brothers from living together in St. German . In: New Trierisches Jahrbuch . Trierisch Association self-published, 1962, p. 16.
  • Michael Matheus: Ludolf von Enschringen. A humanist between Trier and Rome . In: Sigrid Hirbodian / Christian Jörg / Sabine Klapp / Jörg R. Müller (eds.): Pro multis beneficiis . Festschrift for Friedhelm Burgard. Research on the history of the Jews and the Trier area, Trier Historical Research 68, Trier 2012, pp. 349–368, pp. 366f.
  • Otto Meyer: The brothers who shared life in Württemberg 1477–1517 . In: “Blätter für Württembergische Kirchengeschichte”, NF 17, 1913, pp. 97-138 ( digitized version ) and NF 18, 1914, pp. 142–160 ( digitized version ).

Web links

Commons : Brothers from Living Together  - Collection of pictures, videos and audio files