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June 2017 - Johann von Rintelen, Rector,1376,  St Petri Braunschweig,

Niedersachsen, Germany


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This month’s brass commemorates Johann von Rintelen who was Rector of St Petri

Braunschweig (HKC 1). It is situated on the south wall of the sanctuary of St Petri and comprises a blue/green slate slab with a central quadrangular plate 1905 mm. x 590 mm. and a detached marginal inscription, giving overall dimensions of 2280 mm. x 940 mm. The slab appears to be original although not the location.

    The central plate shows an elderly man with tonsure facing frontwards in Eucharistic vestments but with no amice – alb with apparel showing at the feet, chasuble, stole and maniple. His left hand grasps the base of a chalice which has a wafer above and his right hand hovers above this in the act of blessing. The figure is in low relief with this more pronounced as regards his facial features and with quite deep incisions for the folds of the vestments. There is a single cusped canopy above with crockets and pinnacles at the sides, but with no side shafts. Above, but designed as an adjunct to an ornate border, is a row of clerestory type windows, which on an English brass would ordinarily comprise a supercanopy or entablature. The border itself has roundels interspersed with individual rectangular design motifs showing various foliage, birds and animals – mainly canine. Between this border and the figure and canopy is a tiled background.

     The detached marginal inscription is in Gothic Majuscule with quatrefoil word spacers. Only two abbreviations are evident in the outer margins of the inscription. The lettering is very distinct and with echoes of Lombardic script, as though in transition between the two styles.

    At the end of the inscription in the top dexter corner is some finely engraved foliage, resembling a vine.

The inscription reads:




The provenance of the brass is unknown. It is possible that it came from a local workshop, with both Braunschweig and Hildesheim having craftsmen at that time capable of producing it.

     Low relief brasses are comparatively rare. There is another brass in Germany at

Fürstenwalde in Brandenburg to Bishop Johann von Deker 1455. This is a very large brass made up of 12 plates which includes a substantial canopy with side shafts containing saints and weepers, and like the principle figure these are in low relief. Poland certainly has a few, notably at Poznan, Gniezno, and Wroclaw with these illustrated in Creeny.

     Rintelen is a well- established patrician family from the district around Herford, a Hanseatic town in Nordrhein – Westfalen. Rinteln itself is a small town adjacent to the River Weser founded c. 1150 and which grew into a fortified town under the auspices of the Counts of Schaumburg.

     Johann was Rector of St Petri from 1357 until his death in 1376. He was given the Rectory by the Collegiate church of St Cyriakus which held the advowson of St Petri. There was a hierarchical arrangement with Johannes having a supervisory role. He took on a vicar to carry out all pastoral duties who in turn appointed a priest to dispense the eucharist and preach.

The Braunschweig Stadt Archiv holds documents which reveal;

1) A letter dated 30th March 1360 from the papal court at Avignon with a response

    from Pope Innocent VI to a dispute over the tenure of the Rectory of St Petri

  between Johann and Hildebrand Vluteman, a priest from Verden diocese. The     Pope ruled that Berthold, a priest of St Aegidien in Hannover should be provided     with the Rectory.

2) April 15th 1364. Confirmation from Avignon by Pope Urban V that the title of Dean     of St Moritz Hildesheim should be conferred on Johann who had been elected to     this post by the Chapter with the Bishop’s assent. There was a condition that the      Rectory of St Petri had to be abandoned.

3) The abandonment referred to above may not have happened since sometime     before Johann’s death on 20th April 1376, he made a Will. The record of this is       incomplete with both beginning and end missing but he remains styled as Rector of     St Petri in the document. He was clearly a quite wealthy man with bequests of      articles, sums of money and estates to various persons. A large sum of money was l     left to St Petri with an arrangement for an obit to be said and a lamp to burn     continuously in his memory. The Will could have pre-dated his confirmation as      Dean of St Moritz but this seems unlikely given that this was c. 12 years before his     death and the fact that his brass is in St Petri’s church with which he clearly had       strong ties.

 The church of St Petri was probably founded by Henry the Lion in the 12th century and was originally Romanesque. It was the victim of fires during its history with one in the middle of 13th C. and a city-wide fire in 1290. After the latter it was rebuilt in Gothic style with the help of numerous indulgencies, and a side chapel was erected in 1400 - the Annenkapelle - possibly using the money left by Johann. It was rich in monuments and embellishments with numerous additions in the Baroque period. Following another fire in 1811 a new tower was added, and a renovation in neo – Gothic style took place in 1888-91 providing a lavish interior with polychrome painting. Almost total destruction occurred on October 14th 1944 but miraculously the brass survived. The church was rebuilt in 1954 onwards and re-consecrated in 1959.


© Kevin Herring - Article & Photos


My thanks to our Member, Reinhard Lamp, for help with the German sources.


1. Deutsches Inschriften Online. DI 35 (Braunschweig 1) No. 56.

2. Urkundenbuch Stadt Braunschweig Repertorium A11103-A1113:23 Testament des Johann von Rintelen, Pfarrer zu St Petri. Band 7,      pp. 89-91.

3. “Die Kirche Sankt Petri zu Braunschweig” Christof Römer. Deutsches Kunstverlag 1982.


5. “A Book of Facsimiles of Monumental Brasses on the Continent of Europe” Rev. WF Creeny MA. 1884