Catholic Encyclopedia (1913)/Johann Mechtel

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Chronicler; b. 1562 at Pfalzel near Trier (Germany); d. after 1631, perhaps as late as 1653 at Trier. He is often named Pfalzel after his native town where he first studied and then went to the university at Trier, conducted by the Jesuits, where the historian Christopher Brote acquired a lasting influence over him. After his ordination (about 1587), he was appointed pastor at Eltz, near Limburg; in 1592 he became canon at Limburg and as such administered for two years the troublesome parish of Camberg. In 1604 he was appointed dean, but soon got into difficulties with his canons and finally, by request of the elector of Trier in order to restore peace, he resigned, and accepted the canonry at St. Paulinus in Trier. In Limburg as well as in Trier he studied history assiduously and carefully, and conscientiously collected documents and records, as well as inscriptions on monuments. Many of his sources are now lost therefore his works almost possess the value of originals for us. Of his writings may be mentioned: "Limburg Chronicle", the "Pagus Lohenahe", and the "Introductio in Pagum Lohenahe." His chief work, the "Limburg Chronicle", was begun in 1610 and finished in 1612, but it was not edited until 1757 by Hontheim in his "Prodromus historiae Trevirensis", II, 1046-1166. This edition, marked by many mistakes and omissions, was published in its entirety by Knetsch, in the "Publications of the Historical Commission for Nassau", VI (Wiesbaden, 1909). It is a revision and continuation of the old Limburg chronicle, begun by the town clerk, Tilemann, but utilizes also many other sources both printed and unprinted. His chronicle is of great value because Mechtel utilizes various accounts which contain important information as to social conditions, the price of corn and wine, the cultivation of the vine, climatic conditions and wages. In treating German and early medieval history he does not rise above the level of the historians of the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries. Both his other works are as yet unpublished; Knetsch reviews their contents in his edition of the chronicle X-XVI.

CARL KNETSCH, Die Limburger Chronik des Johannes Mechtel (Wiesbaden, 1909), I-XXV.

PATRICIUS SCHLAGER