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Adam of Bremen (also: Adamus Bremensis) was a German medieval chronicler. He lived and worked in the second half of the eleventh century. He is most famous for his chronicle Gesta Hammaburgensis Ecclesiae Pontificum (Deeds of Bishops of the Hamburg Church).

Contents

Background

Little is known of his life other than hints from his own chronicles. He is believed to have come from Meissen (Latin Misnia) in Saxony. The dates of his birth and death are uncertain, but he was probably born before 1050 and died on 12 October of an unknown year (Possibly 1081, latest 1085). Gathering from his chronicles, he was familiar with a number of authors. The honorary name of Magister Adam shows that he had passed through all the stages of a higher education. It is probable that he was taught at the Magdeburger Domschule.

In 1066 or 1067 he was invited by archbishop Adalbert of Hamburg to join the Church of Bremen, since Adalbert believed he would improve the literary reputation of the diocese. Adam was accepted among the capitulars of Bremen, and by 1069 he appeared as director of the cathedral's school. Soon thereafter he began to write the history of Bremen/Hamburg and of the northern lands in his Gesta.

His position and the missionary activity of the church of Bremen allowed him to gather all kinds of information on the history and the geography of northern Germany. A stay at the court of Svend Estridson gave him the opportunity to find information about the history and geography of Denmark, and the Scandinavian countries.

Bremen was a major trading town, and ships, traders and missionaries went from there to many different locations. The earlier archbishopric seat in Hamburg had been attacked and destroyed several times, and thereafter the sees of Hamburg and Bremen were combined for protection. For three hundred years, beginning with bishop Ansgar, the Hamburg-Bremen archbishopric had been designated as the "Mission of the North" and had jurisdiction over all missions in Scandinavia, North-Western Russia, Iceland and Greenland. Then the archbishop of Hamburg-Bremen had a falling-out with the pope and in 1105 a separate archbishopric for the North was established in Lund.

Gesta

Adam of Bremen's best-known work is the Gesta Hammaburgensis Ecclesiae Pontificum (Deeds of Bishops of the Hamburg Church), which he began only after the death of the archbishop Adalbert. It consists of four volumes about the history of the archbishopric of Hamburg-Bremen, and the isles of the north. The first three mainly consist of history and the last one is mainly on geography. Adam based his works in part on Einhard, Cassiodorus, and other earlier historians, as he had the whole library of the church of Bremen at his fingertips. The first edition was completed in 1075/1076, but he continued to revise and update it until his death in the 1080s.

The first book gives a history from 788 onwards of the Church in Hamburg-Bremen, and the Christian mission in the North. This is the chief source of knowledge of the North until the thirteenth century. The second book continues the history, and also deals with German history between 940 and 1045. The third book is about the deeds of archbishop Adalbert and is considered a milestone in medieval biographical writing.

The fourth book, Descriptio insularum Aquilonis, completed approximately in 1075, is about the geography, people and customs of Scandinavia, as well as updates of the progress of Christian missionaries there. Adam was a supporter of converting the Northern people. Scandinavia had only just recently been explored by missionaries, and since the fourth book was perhaps created to inspire and guide future missionaries, its detailed descriptions make it one of the most important sources about pre-Christian Scandinavia. It is also the first known European record (in chapter 38) that mentions Vinland (Winland) island (insulam), a land centuries later possibly identified as Newfoundland, Canada, North America.

See also

Sources

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Adam of Bremen (also: Adamus Bremensis) was a German medieval chronicler. He lived and worked in the second half of the eleventh century. He is most famous for his chronicle Gesta Hammaburgensis Ecclesiae Pontificum (Deeds of Bishops of the Hamburg Church).

Contents

Background

Little is known of his life other than hints from his own chronicles. He is believed to have come from Meissen (Latin Misnia) in Saxony.[citation needed] The dates of his birth and death are uncertain, but he was probably born before 1050 and died on 12 October of an unknown year (Possibly 1081, latest 1085). From his chronicles it is apparent that he was familiar with a number of authors. The honorary name of Magister Adam shows that he had passed through all the stages of a higher education. It is probable that he was taught at the Magdeburger Domschule.

In 1066 or 1067 he was invited by archbishop Adalbert of Hamburg to join the Church of Bremen[citation needed], since Adalbert believed he would improve the literary reputation of the diocese. Adam was accepted among the capitulars of Bremen, and by 1069 he appeared as director of the cathedral's school.[citation needed] Soon thereafter he began to write the history of Bremen/Hamburg and of the northern lands in his Gesta.

His position and the missionary activity of the church of Bremen allowed him to gather all kinds of information on the history and the geography of northern Germany.[citation needed] A stay at the court of Svend Estridson gave him the opportunity to find information about the history and geography of Denmark, and the Scandinavian countries.[citation needed]

Bremen was a major trading town, and ships, traders and missionaries went from there to many different locations. The earlier archbishopric seat in Hamburg had been attacked and destroyed several times, and thereafter the sees of Hamburg and Bremen were combined for protection. For three hundred years, beginning with bishop Ansgar, the Hamburg-Bremen archbishopric had been designated as the "Mission of the North" and had jurisdiction over all missions in Scandinavia, North-Western Russia, Iceland and Greenland. Then the archbishop of Hamburg-Bremen had a falling-out with the pope and in 1105 a separate archbishopric for the North was established in Lund.

Gesta

Adam of Bremen's best-known work is the Gesta Hammaburgensis Ecclesiae Pontificum (Deeds of Bishops of the Hamburg Church), which he began only after the death of the archbishop Adalbert. It consists of four volumes about the history of the archbishopric of Hamburg-Bremen, and the isles of the north. The first three mainly consist of history and the last one is mainly on geography. Adam based his works in part on Einhard, Cassiodorus, and other earlier historians, as he had the whole library of the church of Bremen at his fingertips. The first edition was completed in 1075/1076, but he continued to revise and update it until his death in the 1080s.[citation needed]

The first book gives a history from 788 onwards of the Church in Hamburg-Bremen, and the Christian mission in the North. This is the chief source of knowledge of the North until the thirteenth century. The second book continues the history, and also deals with German history between 940 and 1045. The third book is about the deeds of archbishop Adalbert and is considered a milestone in medieval biographical writing.

The fourth book, Descriptio insularum Aquilonis, completed approximately in 1075, is about the geography, people and customs of Scandinavia, as well as updates of the progress of Christian missionaries there. Adam was a supporter of converting the Northern people. Scandinavia had only just recently been explored by missionaries, and since the fourth book was perhaps created to inspire and guide future missionaries, its detailed descriptions make it one of the most important sources about pre-Christian Scandinavia. It is also the first known European record (in chapter 38) that mentions Vinland (Winland) island (insula), a land centuries later possibly identified as Newfoundland, Canada, North America.

See also

Sources


1911 encyclopedia

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From LoveToKnow 1911

ADAM OF BREMEN, historian and geographer, was probably born in Upper Saxony (at Meissen, according to one tradition) before 1045. He came to Bremen about 1067-1068, most likely on the invitation of Archbishop Adalbert, and in the 24th year of the latter's episcopate (1043 ?-1072); in 1069 he appears as a canon of this cathedral and master of the cathedral school. Not long after this he visited the king of Denmark, Sweyn Estrithson, in Zealand; on the death of Adalbert, in 1072, he began the Historia Hammaburgensis Ecclesiae, which he finished about 1075. He died on the 12th of October of a year unknown, perhaps 1076. Adam's Historia - known also as Gesta Hammaburgensis Ecclesiae Pontificum, Bremensium praesulum Historia, and Historia ecclesiastica - is a primary authority, not only for the great diocese of Hamburg-and-Bremen, but for all North German and Baltic lands (down to 1072), and for the Scandinavian colonies as far as America. Here occurs the earliest mention of Vinland, and here are also references of great interest to Russia and Kiev, to the heathen Prussians, the Wends and other Slav races of the South Baltic coast, and to Finland, Thule or Iceland, Greenland and the Polar seas which Harald Hardrada and the nobles of Frisia had attempted to explore in Adam's own day (before 1066). Adam's account of North European trade at this time, and especially of the great markets of Jumne at the mouth of the Oder, of Birka in Sweden and of Ostrogard (Old Novgorod ?) in Russia, is also of much value. His work, which places him among the first and best of German annalists, consists of four books or parts, and is compiled partly from written records and partly from oral information, the latter mainly gathered from experience or at the courts of Adalbert and Sweyn Estrithson. Of his minor informants he names several, such as Adelward, dean of Bremen, and William the Englishman, "bishop of Zealand," formerly chancellor of Canute the Great, and an intimate of Sweyn Estrithson. The fourth (perhaps the most important) book of Adam's History, variously entitled Libellus de Situ Daniae et reliquarum quae trans Daniam sunt regionum, Descriptio Insularum Aquilonis, &c., has often been considered, but wrongly, as a separate work.

Ten MSS. exist, of which the chief are (1-2) Copenhagen, Royal Library, Old Royal Collection, No. 2296, of 12th to 13th cents.; No. 718, of 15th cent.; (3) Leyden University, Voss. Lat. 123, of nth cent.; (4) Rome, Vatican Library, 2010; (5) Vienna, Hofu. Staatsbibliothek, 413, of 13th cent.; (6) Wolfenbiittel, Ducal Library, Gud. 83, of 15th cent.

There are 15 editions of the Historia, in whole or part; the first published at Copenhagen, 1579 (the first of the Libellus or Descriptio Ins. Aquil. appeared at Stockholm in 1615), the best at Hanover, 1846 (by Lappenberg, in Scriptores Rerum Germanicarum; reissued by L. Weiland, 1876), and at Paris, 1884 (in Migne's Patrologia Latina, cxlvi.). There are also three German versions, and one Danish; the best is by J. C. M. Laurent (and W. Wattenbach) in Geschichtsschreiber d. deutsch. Vorseit, part vii. (1850 and 1888). See also J. Asmussen, De fontibus Adami Bremensis, 1834; Lappenberg in Pertz, Archie, vi, 770; Aug. Bernard, De Adamo Bremensi (Paris, 189J); Beazley, Dawn of Modern Geography, ii. 514-5 4 8 (1901).


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