Hermann of Reichenau (Hermanus Contractus)

See also Hermann of Reichenau

Author of the earliest extant universal chronicle. His father, Count Wolverad II of Altshausen in Swabia, entrusted him at the age of seven to Abbot Berno of Reichenau in Lake Constance, where he took vows in 1043. Although severely handicapped physically (hence the nickname), Hermann gained the reputation of the most scholarly man in eleventh-century Germany. He became proficient in theology, Latin, Greek, and Arabic, and achieved fame as poet, mathematician, astronomer, and musician. He was a faithful monk and a genial teacher, and students flocked to him. His greatest achievement is his chronicle, which is more interpretive and less strictly chronological in organization than its antecedents. His narrative, remarkable for accuracy, objectivity, and careful chronology, begins with the birth of Christ and ends with the year of Hermann’s death. He constructed timepieces and musical and astronomical instruments, wrote mathematical treatises, poems and hymns, and has often been credited with the famous hymns Salve Regina and Alma Redemptoris Mater.