Johannes Trithemius - Encyclopedia

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JOHANNES TRITHEMIUS (1462-1516), German historian and divine, was born at Trittenheim on the Moselle, on the 1st of February 1462. His name was originally "von Heidenberg," but according to the fashion of the times he adopted the name of his birthplace. After an unhappy childhood, he studied at Heidelberg, and at the age of twenty entered the Benedictine monastery of Sponheim near Kreuznach, of which, in 1485, he became abbot. He established an excellent library, and through his strict discipline and consummate scholarship soon raised the monastery to an educational institution of a high order. In 1506 he resigned, and was appointed soon after abbot of the monastery of St Jakob at Wiirzburg; and in this city he died on the 13th of December 1516. Trithemius was, though an accomplished scholar, untrustworthy as a chronicler, and his Annales hirsaugienses (1514), Annales de origine Francorum, as well as his Chronologia mystica (1516) are, on this account, of doubtful value. More reliance can, however, be placed on his De scriptoribus ecclesiasticis (1494) and the Catalogus illustrium virorum Germaniae (1491). He also wrote a fanatical book against sorcery, Antipalus maleficiorum (1508).

See Silbernagel, J. Trithemius (1868; 2nd ed., 1885); Schneegaus. Abt Joh. Trithemius and Kloster Sponheim (1882); and F. X. Wegele, in Allgemeine deutsche Biographic.

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