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Lorenz Welker

(b Ḃurg Schöneck, Pustertal, c1376; d Merano, Aug 2, 1445). South Tyrolean poet. His life is unusually well documented in archival material and his own autobiographical songs, and several portraits of him survive. He came from the noble south Tyrolean family of Villanders and Wolkenstein, and was the second son of Friedrich von Wolkenstein and Katharina von Trostberg, who had seven children in all. Much of Oswald’s life was spent travelling – he was already spending time away from home by the age of ten. He is known to have been in the Tyrol in 1400, when his father died, but he was soon on the road again. His second period of travel, during which he took part in King Ruprecht’s Italian campaign, led to financial difficulties which in turn led to a dispute with his elder brother, not the last time that he was involved in family arguments. However, he also forged links with the church and with secular authorities – his political activities were linked to his membership of the ‘Elephant League’ (...

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John Stevens, Richard Rastall, David Klauser and Jack Sage

John Stevens, revised by Richard Rastall

The many Latin terms used by medieval writers to refer to dramatic representations include ordo, officium, ludus, festum, miraculum (rare), misterium and, most frequently, representatio. Each vernacular has an equivalent variety. None of these terms is used consistently, nor is any used exclusively (cf English ‘play’) to denote a drama. The terms ‘tragedy’ and ‘comedy’ are very rare and are not applicable in their traditional meanings. Of the above terms, ordo and officium are commonly used to describe liturgical ceremonies as well as plays; this draws attention to a fundamentally important but elusive distinction between ritual and drama. When describing vernacular plays, medieval writers used the terms ‘miracle’ and ‘mystery’ without distinction; in this article, ‘miracle’ denotes a play based on the life of a saint, ‘mystery’ a play on a biblical or apocryphal subject. These may both be categorized as ‘historical’ as opposed to the ‘fictional’ character of the morality plays (see Knight, ...