Juan Tritemio

John Trithemius ( Trittenheim , 1 as February as 1462 – Wuerzburg , 13 as December as 1516 ) , also known as Johann von Heidenberg (in German) or Johannes Trithemius (Latin) – was a scholar, occultist, astrologer, mathematician, cryptographer and German Benedictine abbot . He was the founder of the secret society Sodalitás Céltica (Celtic Brotherhood) dedicated to the study of languages, mathematics , astrology and the magic of numbers. He is the author of the famous steganography or science to hide messages.


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  • 1 Biography
    • 1 Secret Society Sodalitas Celtica
    • 2 Death
  • 2 Historical works
  • 3 Sources


The abbot himself, in his Nepiachus , gives an account of his youth of suffering due to the cruel treatment of his selfish stepfather, who allowed the talented boy to grow up in complete ignorance until the age of fifteen, when he learned to read and write as well. like the rudiments of Latin in a fairly short time. He was forced to flee his home, and after a hard day managed to reach Würzburg , where the well-known Alsatian humanist Jacob Wimpheling (1450-1528) taught ; Here the ambitious young man continued classical studies until 1482. A short visit to the Sponheim monastery proved to be of decisive importance for the young Tritemio; barely the travelers had left the monks , when a snowstorm forced them to return to the monastery.

At the invitation of the prior , Henry de Holzhausen , who very soon had discerned the talents of the young guest, Tritemio remained in Sponheim; Eight days later he received the habit of the order and made his vows on December 8 of that same year. His life in the monastery was exemplary; He earned the respect of his brothers and the love of his superiors. The proofHis respect for everyone was the fact that although he was the youngest member of the community, and had not yet been ordained, he was elected abbot at the age of twenty-two, during his second year of life in the order. . His choice was a great blessing to Sponheim. With youthful vigor and a firm hand, he undertook the direction of the very neglected monastery. First he turned his attention to the material needs of the community, then he devoted himself to the very difficult task of restoring discipline. Above all, his own example, not only in the conscious observance of the rules of the order, but also in the tireless search for scientific studies, which brought the happiest results.

To effectively promote scientific research, he obtained a rich collection of books that included the most important works in all branches of human knowledge ; in this way he built the world-renowned Sponheim library , for whose enrichment he worked tirelessly for twenty-three years, until the collection reached a total of two thousand volumes. This library, unique in those days, made Sponheim known throughout the world of scholarship. The abbot’s attractive personality also helped spread the fame of the monastery. Among his friends were, not only the wisest men of his time, such as Conrad Celtes , Johannes Reuchlin and theBaron Acton , but also many princes — including Emperor Maximilian, who held him in high esteem. But the further his reputation spread, the greater the number of discontents among those who opposed discipline in the monastery.

Bas-relief of Johannes Trithemius.

He finally resigned as head of his beloved abbey , which had ruled for twenty-three years, and the one which had brought him to his very flourishing condition. After his departure the monastery sank into its former insignificance. The Order of Saint Benedict was indebted to this energetic abbot for his zealous promotion of the Bursfeld Congregation, for promoting knowledge in the order, and for his expensive advancement in monastic discipline. “The great abbot,” says one of his biographers, “was equally worthy of respect as a man, as a religious, and as a writer.” Of his more than eighty works, only a part has been printed. Most of them are ascetic writings dealing with religious lifeand they were published by John Busaeus, SJ, under the title “Joannis Trithemii opera pia et spiritualia” (Mainz, 1604); they are among the best works of devotional literature produced at that time. Marquard Freher published a part of his historical works as “Joannis Trithemii opera historica” ​​(Frankfort, 1601). However, this collection did not include the two famous folio volumes published in 1690 under the title “Annales Hirsaugiensis”. Tritemio also wrote interesting contributions on points of natural science, much debated at the time, and on classical literature. Still some critics debate whether Tritemio was guilty of intentional forgery by citing two otherwise unknown authorities (Megiahard and Kunibald).

  • (The Abbot Tritemio, the glory of the German race, whom this house shelters, deserved this statue).

Accused of being a great fan of magic, Emperor Maximilian I invited him in 1505 to the castle of Boppart , near Koblenz , to submit him to eight questions of faith. Tritemius responded with the publication of his Liber octo questionum in 1511. This same emperor asked for his political knowledge to help him and wanted to name him a historiographer of the Imperial House with a lifetime pension; He also promised him rich abbeys. But Tritemio was looking for the peace and quiet of a more withdrawn life, which he found as abbot of the Scottish monastery of St. James, in Würzburg(1506). There were only three monks there, so he had ample opportunity to carry out the same activity he had shown in Sponheim. He spent the last ten years of his life producing many important writings. He only left his monastery once (1508) for a short stay at the Imperial Court

Celtic Sodalitas secret society

He was the founder of the secret society Sodalitas Celtica (Celtic Brotherhood) dedicated to the study of languages, mathematics , astrology and the magic of numbers. He is the author of the famous steganography or science to hide messages.


He died on 15 of December of 1516 at age 54 and was buried in the church of the monastery of Saint-Jacques de Wuerzburg .

Historical works

He is the author of nine historical works, a treatise on the seven second causes (De septem secundieis, 1515 ), ascetic booklets, a work on the miracles of the Virgin Mary , two books of homilies and cenobitical exhortations, a work against curses (Antipalus Maleficorum comprehensus, published in 1555 ), of which absolutely nothing negative has been said on the subject of black magic .


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