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Beatus Rhenanus (Beat Bild)

Beatus Rhenanus (Beat Bild)

Sélestat 1485 - Strasbourg 1547

Philologist, he received an aristocratic title from Charles V in 1523. His texts and translations were admired across Europe. He studied at the famous Latin School of Sélestat, under the guidance of teachers such as Crato Hofmann and Hieronymus Gebwiler. After working there for three years, he left Sélestat in order to study in Paris, where he obtained his bachelor's degree and the diplômes de Licencié et de Maître dès Arts. During his university years, he collected notebooks, which remain among the most valuable sources of information on the teaching systems of his time. During the period of his studies, he also worked at the printing shop of Estienne as a proofreader, and enlarged his personal library. Beatus bought his first books when he was only 15 years old, and by the time he was 22 he already possessed 253 volumes. Coming home in 1507, he continued to study and work in the editorial worlds of Strasbourg and Basel, where he attended the lectures on Greek language by Kuhn (or Cono). He collaborated on a number of publications at the Froben press in Basel.).
He worked with Lefèvre d’Etaples on an edition of Aristotle. He also published neo-latin texts, such as the works by his professor at the Sorbonne Fauste Andrelin. He edited the editiones principes of works by Velleius Paterculus and Tertullian. He also re-edited works by Pliny, Livy, the History of Goths by Procopius, Maxim of Tyre, the Historia Ecclesiastica, and the correspondance of Erasmus. He also authored the first biographies of Geiler of Kayserberg, and of Erasmus, who was his personal friend. In 1531, he published his most important work, a history of Germany, which was reprinted in 1551 with a biography of Beatus by Jean Sturm.

Bibliography: P. Adam, L'Humanisme à Sélestat : l'Ecole, les humanistes, la bibliothèque, Sélestat, Imprimerie Alsatia 1978; J.F. D'Amico, Theory and Practice in Renaissance Textual Criticism : Beatus Rhenanus Between Conjecture and History, Berkeley, University of California Press 1988; E Faye, Beatus Rhenanus lecteur et étudiant de Charles de Bovelles, in «Annuaire des Amis de la Bibliothèque Humaniste de Sélestat» (=AABS), 45 (1995), pp. 119-138; F. Hieronymus, Beatus Rhenanus und das Buch : biblio-biographische Flickstücke, AABS, 36 (1986), pp. 63-114; J. Hirstein, Beatus Rhenanus et les 'Avis au lecteur' signés 'Jean Froben' sur l'Histoire d'Ammien Marcellin et sur l'Histoire Auguste dans l'édition bâloise de juin 1518, AABS, 39 (1989), pp. 27-50; Idem, Tacitus' Germania and Beatus Rhenanus (1485-1547), Frankfurt, Peter Lang 1995; Idem, La bibliothèque de Beatus Rhenanus: une vue d'ensemble des livres imprimés, in R. De Smet (ed.), Les humanistes et leur bibliothèques, Paris, Peeters 2002, pp. 113-142; N. Holzberg, Beatus Rhenanus (1485-1547) : Eine biographisch-forschungsgeschichtliche Bestandsaufnahme, AABS, 35 (1985), pp. 19-32; A. Horawitz, K. Hartfelder (edd.), Briefwechsel des Beatus Rhenanus, Leipzig, Teubner 1886; G.C. Knod, Briefwechsel des Beatus Rhenanus, in «Centralblatt für Bibliothekswesen», 4 (1887), pp. 305-315; H. Meyer, Propos sur la bibliothèque de Beatus Rhenanus, AABS, 35 (1985), pp. 85-96; U. Muhlack, Beatus Rhenanus (1485-1547). Vom Humanismus zur Philologie, in Humanismus im deutschen Südwesten: Biographische Profile, Sigmaringen, Jan Thorbecke Verlag 1993, pp. 195-220; S. Musial, Beatus Rhenanus étudiant de philosophie à Paris (1503-1507), AABS, 35 (1985), pp. 271-279; P. Petitmengin, Les Livres de Beatus Rhenanus, in Histoire des bibliothèques françaises, Paris, Promodis 1989, pp. 298-301; Idem, Beatus Rhenanus et les manuscrits latins, AABS, 35 (1985). 235-246; L.D. Reynolds (ed.), Texts and Transmission : A Survey of the Latin Classics, Oxford, Clarendon 1986; E.F. Jr. Rice, The Prefatory Epistles of Jacques Lefèvre d'Etaples and related texts, N.Y., Columbia Univ. Press 1972; M. Sicherl, Johannes Cuno. Ein Wegbereiter des Griechischen in Deutschland: Eine biographisch-kodikologische Studie, Heidelberg, Carl Winter Universitätsverlag 1978; I. Suzeau, Un Extrait inédit du cahier d'écolier de Beatus Rhenanus, AABS, 41 (1991), pp. 101-118; R. Walter, Beatus Rhenanus citoyen de Sélestat, ami d'Erasme : anthologie de sa correspondance, Strasbourg, Oberlin 1986.

Bibliothèque Humaniste de Sélestat, le fonds légué par Beatus Rhenanus

Beatus Rhenanus’ library consists of both manuscripts and printed books. Since 1889, the collection has been located in the Halle aux Blès in Sèlestat, built in 1840s by Gustave Klotz. Beatus left his library to his hometown in his will, and the city of Sèlestat is still today in charge of conservation of the collection.
The library includes 432 volumes, which contain 1287 printed works, and 41 manuscripts bound together with printed texts. To these, we can add 264 manuscript letters and 33 volumes of manuscripts (94 works). Today the collection contains 1686 documents, conserved in Sélestat (there are also notebooks, letters, etc.). Every work presents a manuscript ex-libris of Beatus Rhenanus, which testifies to his affection for his library: «Sum beati rhenani Nec muto dominum» (I am property of Beatus Rhenanus and I do not change masters). After he obtained a title from Charles V in 1523, he placed his coat of arms on the books.
The collection includes many Parisian editions from the first half of the sixteenth century, many Aldine and Froben editions, but also works printed in Alsace, and books and manuscripts that Beatus inherited from his teacher Cuno. Cuno had previously worked for Aldo Manuzio in Venice, and died in Basel in 1513. Together, the books constitute the most important humanist library that has remained intact over the centuries.
Beatus’ annotations are numerous and very precise, a typical feature in the works of philologists. They include notes about earthquakes, a contract between Beatus and a peasant for a calf, and the costs for the funeral of Beatus’ father. The books themselves are written by a wide array of authors in a number of languages and cover a wide range of topics, which reflects the universalist outlook of the humanists. There are many works which Beatus obtained thanks to his network of contacts across Europe. Beyond Alsace he met great authors (Erasmus, Lèfevre d’Etaples, Budé), religious reformers (Melanchton, Bucer, Zwingli), printers (Estienne, Josse Bade, Matthis Schürer, Froben and Amerbach), but also princes (Charles V), important men (the Fuggers), high prelates (the bishop of Worms) and monks as well. In Sélestat there are several books which were employed as models for the publication of ancient texts across Europe.

Since January 2010, some of the books conserved at the Bibliothèque Humaniste have been made available online. The project is still in progress.

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