Somerville, Angus A. Andrew, ed. University of Toronto Press, ISBN: Find this book in a library. Author s : Adam of Bremen Dudo of St. Translation: Translated into English. Translation Comments: The editors acknowledge the assistance of Dr. Behnaz Mirzai with the Arabic texts included. Apparatus: Index Bibliography Facsimile Introduction. He was not content with recounting the story of the movements and doings of prelates and priests. He was also interested in the movements and doings of the peoples whom they sought to convert; in other words, to write the history of the Church in the North against the backdrop of the contemporary milieu.
To his history of the prelates of Hamburg-Bremen he therefore appended a geographical account of the Baltic, North Sea, and North Atlantic regions. For this task he was exceptionally well-placed in Bremen, a city visited by the northern merchants and sailors, men who could tell him things Svein Estrithson, with all his over-all knowledge and outlook, could not have known. Then, too, Adam had the advantage of access to the archives of his archbishops and to the books in their cathedral repositories.
Remarks dropped here and there in the Gesta make it possible to determine approximately in what years Adam wrote his history.
In Chapter xxvi 24 of the second book he noted Svein Estrithson as living, and two chapters further on as reigning. In Chapter xliii 41 , however, he refers to the king as one ever to be remembered. Adam, then, must already have been at work on the second book in the summer and autumn of , seven or eight years after he came to Bremen. In Chapter li 50 of the third book he noted that Butue and Henry, sons of the Slavic prince Gottschalk, had been born to the great destruction of their people. Since Butue met his end on August 8, , or more probably , Adam must then have been at work on the third book.
These concluding verses, therefore, were probably composed in or After composing a new dedication to the third book, Adam presented his work to Archbishop Liemar in the form noted below as codex a. Between and about , possibly even , Adam was busy revising and annotating his original manuscript, codex A , thus producing the codex X , from which ultimately stem most of the extant versions.
He must, then, have passed away that year or even as early as In the Dyptichon Bremense a magister Adam is noted as having died on October 12, but, as was the rule in such records, without mention of the year. Many were the writers whose sayings Adam remembered and whose books he perused.
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That he was an indefatigable collector of materials, often widely scattered, no one can gainsay. That he used them with perhaps more circumspection and insight than many of his contemporaries often showed must be admitted. But he had his faults and they come most clearly to light in the first book because many of the sources he used for it are still extant. Next to his convictions regarding the truth of the religion he professed, those regarding the greatness and efficacy of the missions of the archbishops of Hamburg-Bremen were strongest in his mind and heart. Naturally, then, he was disposed to exaggerate the importance of Hamburg, even making it the locus of events when, as a result of a Norse incursion in , it could hardly have been an inhabited place.
Not that Adam consciously misread or distorted his sources and combined statements from them which should not have been combined: as is evident from his history of the great Adalbert, his patron, he could be highly objective and critical. Nevertheless, Adam cannot be absolved from some carelessness and even from superficiality in the use of his materials.
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If haste may be alleged in excuse, certainly failing to check what he wrote cannot be offered in extenuation. Instances of his shortcomings may be noted in the footnotes accompanying the text and scholia. Indeed, he seems to have preferred what biographers had to say to what he could find recorded in annals and chronicles.
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His borrowings from it, however, correspond so often and so closely to the Translatio S. These annals he likewise entitled Historia Francorum , quoting them at times verbatim and citing them twice as authority in matters about which there is no mention in the extant text. Possibly the version he used had been amplified from other sources. His text of the Annales Corbienses also was fuller than the one known today. Adam also mentioned letters and documents of popes and emperors, sometimes directly, sometimes without noting them as such.
He had besides the Liber fraternitatis Bremensis ecclesiae and the Liber donationum Bremensis ecclesiae , which Ansgar probably began to compile. That Adam failed to detect forgeries is not to his discredit, for the falsifications of papal and imperial documents relating to Hamburg are many and baffling.
Did that astute prelate not trust his historian in his inner sanctum? In the course of his work, then, Adam apparently came to realize more and more that a history dealing with the Church and her missions was like a chart without indication of the cardinal points of the compass unless it took account of geography and ethnography, not to mention the life of the times. Classified by subject matter, some twenty-eight deal with the personalities of the archbishops except Adalbert and with matters of local interest to Bremen; twelve deal with the activities of the Church in Bremen, in particular its missions; thirty-one deal with geographical and ethnographical matters; thirty-four with the history of the northern lands, England, Norway, Denmark, Sweden, and Russia; and nine with Saxon and north German affairs.
Another twenty-seven are of a miscellaneous nature. Only fourteen additions were made to the first book, as compared with forty-six, forty-two, and thirty-nine to the second, third, and fourth books respectively. For nearly contemporary times he must have checked extensively with the older canons to emend his second book. For the period of Adalbert, Adam drew in part on his own knowledge and on that of those about him.
The fourth book he also checked partly with the canons and partly with others, who could correct data about which he thought Svein Estrithson was either in error or too biased in his views. Making allowances in the distribution of the several classifications, Schmeidler arrives at totals: seventy-one additions of geographical, ethnographical, and local interest, and fifty-six of a miscellaneous nature. Of exceptional biographical interest are the remaining fourteen that relate to Adalbert.
His geographical sources were, as has been noted, by no means all academic. Steeped in the classics, Adam naturally had recourse to the ancients for the wonders of unknown lands. And the ancients were sometimes not above adorning what they learned from travelers, merchants, sailors, and adventurers, who themselves were not above adorning what they related.
From one or another of these writers he culled the fantastic stories about Amazons, Cynocephali, Wizzi, Anthropophagi, Husi, Ymantopodes, and the other folk whom he distributes over little frequented or unknown regions much as early cartographers, abhorring blank spaces on their maps, used to picture monsters in places about which they knew little or nothing. Adam did, however, enlarge the scope of geographical science by consulting people whom he had reason to trust. There was the Danish king, Svein Estrithson, who called Adam son. The monarch was already of years when the historian-geographer visited him.
He had warred, too, in Slavia, whither he sent his daughter in marriage to the Abodrite chieftain, Gottschalk.
The data got from Svein Estrithson Adam tried to check and, if possible, to reconcile with what he could gather from memoranda on scattered sheets, papal and imperial documents, the ancient historians and geographers already mentioned, and other well-informed men. To some of the latter he referred indefinitely, as, for example, a certain Danish bishop, a nobleman of Nordalbingia, a number of Danes, and a Christian.
From the latter he learned much about the sees and bishops of the mission lands, about contemporaneous happenings in Sweden, and about the polar expedition of certain Frisian burghers. Adam says he could have written much more about the Atlantic Ocean and its islands but did not because it would have appeared too wonderful, even fabulous. Wondrous, indeed, but not altogether fabulous is the description of the far northern waters that rushed into an abyss only to surge forth again—tides, of course, of which Solinus and others also had heard.
Adam well merits being regarded as the earliest German, if not also the first mediaeval, geographer. He told what he knew frankly and in an orderly way. Nevertheless, he was not free of superstition. In manuscripts of classes B and C the book is broken up, disordered, and lacking in literary quality because of the many additions he made to the first draft. How Adam finally would have rewritten the book no one can tell. But he would tell the truth about Adalbert.
He had known the archbishop personally during the last five or six years of his life—the years, therefore, of his misfortunes—or had been able at least to study his personality and character at fairly close range. Indeed, a man of biographical instinct could hardly have considered them apart.
History of the Archbishops of Hamburg-Bremen
Events in Slavia, Scandinavia, England, even in Saxony and the Empire, over which neither Adalbert nor his enemies had much if any control, provided Adam with the setting for his tragedy. Adalbert was proud of the Greek blood he thought flowed in his veins, of his noble birth, worth, and wealth.
Hence, his wanting everything bigger and better and more splendid than anything others had, his extravagant hospitality, his grandiloquence, his tireless energy, and much else. Unable to comprehend actuality, he surrounded himself with flatterers, spurned men to whom the adulation he craved was nauseating, believed in prophecies that fitted in with his desires, in fables, in dreams, in the golden age he would bring about if he could direct affairs unhindered.
And yet the archbishop was free of the failings and vices of which many of the ecclesiastics of the day were guilty. His devotion to his Church and diocese was exceptional, his loyalty to the Salian dynasty boundless.