Trithemius' Tomb


ABBOT of Sponheim, so named from his birthplace, Trittenheim, on the Moselle. After harsh treatment at the hands of his stepfather, he fled to Würzburg, where his intellectual powers developed rapidly and he came into close contact with the humanist movement. A chance visit to the monastery of Sponheim in 1482 led him to join the community, and in 1483 he was elected its abbot. Sponheim had been a part of the Bursfeld Congregation since 1470, and Trithemius worked at making Sponheim a paradigm of reform, attempting to make ac omplete education available to his monks through the monastery library. He rapidly brought about its reform, collecting a library of MSS which soon made it one of the most famous in Europe.

IN 1506, however, through dissensions caused by the stringency of his discipline, he was induced to resign his abbacy, and for his last ten years he presided over the Scottish abbey of St Jakob at Würzburg, which he affiliated to the Bursfeld reform. His writings include many useful historical compilations, e.g. De Viris Illustribus Germaniae (1495); works on natural science and cryptography, e.g. Steganographia (pub. 1606); and some fine sermons.

Theological writings first pub., Mainz, 1604 and 1605; Historical writings, Frankfurt, 1601; Letters, Dresden, 1536. Modern edn. of his De Laude Scriptorum by K. Arnold (Mainfränkische Heft, 10; Würzburg, 1973; repr., with Eng. tr., Lawrence, Kan., 1974). Studies by id. (Quellen und Forschungen zur Geschichte des Bistums und Hochstifts Würzburg, 23; 1971; 2nd edn., 1991) and N. L. Brann [in Eng.] (Studies in the History of Christian Thought, 24; Leiden, 1981), both with bibl. of earlier works. P. Séjourné, OSB, in DTC 15 (pt. 2; 1950), cols. 1862–7.

TASKS: Format excellent introduction from Dual-Lang version In Praise of Scribes; best of text is chapter 16

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