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Conrad of Leonberg

Cistercian monk and Humanist (1460-c, 1520)

Conrad of Leonberg (Leontorius), a Cistercian monk and Humanist, b. at Leonberg in Swabia in 1460; d. at Engenthal near Basle after 1520. He took vows at the Cistercian monastery of Maulbronn in the Neckar district, which, unlike most other Cistercian monasteries of those times, was then enjoying its golden age. In 1490 he became secretary to the general of his order. When the German Humanists began to revive the study of the Latin and Greek classics, as Conrad deplored the barbarous Latin in which the scholastic philosophers and theologians of Germany were expounding the doctrine of their great masters, he was in full accord with their endeavors to restore the classical Latinity of the Ciceronian Age. He also, by word and example, encouraged the study of Greek, but was especially attracted by the great Hebrew scholar Reuchlin (d. 1522) who inspired Conrad with his own enthusiasm for the study of Hebrew. Like Reuchlin, his friend and teacher, Conrad was convinced of the necessity of Hebrew for a thorough understanding of the Holy Scriptures, and became one of the few great Hebrew scholars of his time. He was in correspondence with the best writers in sacred and profane literature, and was highly es-teemed by the learned men of his period. For a time he appears to have been engaged as proof-reader in the celebrated printing-office of Amerbach at Basle. Besides writing numerous Latin poems, orations, and epistles, he published (Basle, 1506-8) the Latin Bible with the “Postilla” and “Moralitates” of the Oxford Franciscan Nicolas de Lyra, together with the “Additiones” of Paul of Burgos (d. 1435) and the “Replicae” of Mathias Thoring (d. 1469).

MICHAEL OTT


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