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June 2011 – Bishop Johann II von Schleinitz, Zeitz, Germany


The collegiate church of Zeitz is within the walls of the schloss, an unusual situation for a major church. Johannes II von Schleinitz was bishop of nearby Naumberg and two other brasses in the church at Zeitz likewise commemorate bishops of Naumberg. After studying for his doctorate at the University of Leipzig, he was dean of Bautzen, canon of Meissen, dean of Zeitz and in 1422 Bishop of Naumberg. When he died in 1434, he was succeeded as bishop by his cousin, Peter non Schleinitz, the subject of another brass at in the choir. Malcolm Norris noted that there were only half a dozen brasses of early to mid-fifteenth century date known to him in Germany and all were 'curious', making comparisons between them difficult. Nevertheless, the bishop's brass is an assured piece of design and engraving.


The brass was moved to its present position against the north wall of the choir in the late nineteenth century. Presumably the inscription was a marginal one like later rectangular brasses. It was recorded, with contractions expanded in brackets, as 'A(nn)o D(omi)ni MCCCCXXXIV in die S(ancti) Andreae obiit Reverend(us) in Chr(is)to Pater e(t) D(omi)nus Do(mi)n(u)s Johannes de Schlinitz Ep(isco)p(us) Eccl(esi)ae Numb(urgensis) hic sepult(us) est c(uius) a(n)i(m)a in pace req(ui)escat'. The Deutsche Inschriften volume for Zeitz also includes a verse epitaph for the bishop, recording the defences he constructed for protection against the Hussites. The bishop is shown beneath a low canopy with stars on the vaulting behind the arch, which is supported on columns that have spiral scrolls decorated with circles. A curtain with floral decoration hangs across the arch behind the bishop. Below the fringe at the bottom is a tiled floor, shown in perspective. The bishop's head is turned slightly to his right. The amice around his neck is decorated with the phrase 'Ave Maria'. He is dressed in mass vestments and holds a book in his right hand and his pastoral staff in his left. Before Malcolm Norris saw the brasses at Zeitz in December 1954, they were unrecorded in British publications. He subsequently wrote them up in the society's transactions, coming to the conclusion that this brass was made not long after the bishop's death,   as his overall impression of the bishop's figure was that it was very different from brasses of the 1460s.


References


Norris, M, 'Brasses at Zeitz', Transactions of the Monumental Brass Society, vol 9, part 5 (1955), pp 266-270.


Voigt, M, Die Inschriften der Stadt Zeitz (2001), pp 15-17.  


Copyright: Jon Bayliss