Capito Moves Away

(Illustrations from Illustrissimi Wirtembergici Ducali Novi Collegii Quod Tubingae qua situm qua studia qua exercitia Accurata Delineato digitized for the the Wolfenbüttel Digital Library by the Herzog August Bibliothek.)

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May 1512

I can’t sleep.  Two litanies of thoughts, like two acts of the same play, go through my head simultaneously.  One is comprised of scenes from my life here at the university since I returned in 1509; the other, the conversation we had at the Hog Snout tonight.

“I don’t think you should do it,” Zell said.  “The money is not everything.  We can get by.  I’ll soon be lecturing more.”

“How quickly life changes,” Michael said.  “I thought your plans were firm to stay here at the university until you secure your Doctorate.  Hubmaier is already gone,” he said sadly, “and now you’re leaving as well?”

“Stop it,” I said.  “You’re breaking my heart.”

“Why don’t you just become a Benedictine?” Michael asked.  “If you are going to be preaching in their church?”

“The canons don’t just preach,” Fabri said.  “They are advisors to the Bishop.  They handle the administration of the funds of the church and run the benevolent programs.  Doubtless, the Bishop of Speier wishes to surround himself with trustworthy men of scholarship.  That’s why he’s called our Capito to be canon and preacher to the Benedictine canonry.”

“The Bishop says,” I glanced at the letter I received earlier, “that I would perform errands and undertake missions for him.”

“This can be your first step to ecclesiastical politics,” Fabri said.  “You will meet important people, and they will recognize your talents.  It’s no small opportunity,” he added, “since we sons of blacksmiths have to make our own success—for we begin life with no title, no land, and no income.”

“What of your studies?” Zell said.  “Will you ever get your Doctorate?”

“I can continue to study,” I said.  The canonry is populated by the sons of poor nobility from the ‘castles of misery.’  They are not so devout as to want a sermon every hour.  I’ll have time to study.  I can still get my Doctorate from this university if I pass my trials.

Zell shook his head.  “You’re just trying to avoid this investigation.”

I shifted on the bench.  It was true that the victims of Eck’s graffitti campaign would not let the matter die, and they had howled to such an extent that the university prolonged the investigation.  I could be further implicated and punished, which would look bad on my record.  If I left, the matter would be dropped.

“Eck!” Zell said, as if it were distasteful in his mouth.  “First he lures Hubmaier to Ingolstadt.  Now you are leaving because of him.  He’s like a giant boulder dropped in a pond, and the ripples just go on and on.

“I need the money,” I said.  “It’s not that I want luxuries.  But I’m exhausted with keeping the wolf from the latchstring.  I want to repay my debts.  To buy books.  To eat regularly.”

“So you’ve decided then,” Zell said.  “You’re going to move to Bruchsal and work for the Bishop?”

“I think so.  I can still visit.  Bruchsal is not so far, just up the Rhine to the north.  I can come visit easily.  I can catch a boat.”

Michael lay his hand on mine.  “I shall miss you.”

Zell laid his hand atop ours.  “So shall I.  Especially as my roommate.  The snoring and farting.”

Fabri added his hand.  “We shall all leave someday.  Nothing lasts forever.”

Then the young monk lay his other hand on the very top.  “This is for Hub,” he said.  “We’re brothers all.  For all time.”

“For all time,” I said, my throat tight.

And the others repeated, “For all time.”

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