Encyclopædia Britannica, Ninth Edition/Hermann (2.)

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HERMANN, commonly distinguished as Hermannus Contractus, i.e., Hermann or Heriman the Lame, an old German chronicler and scholar, was born in 1013, a son of the Swabian Count Wolverad (Wolfrat) of Vehreningen (Veringen or Voringen), and died in 1054, at the family residence of Aleshusen near Biberach. Educated at the monastery of Reichenau, and afterwards admitted a member of the fraternity, he added greatly to that reputation for learning which the establishment had maintained from the time of Abbot Berno. Besides the ordinary studies of the monastic scholar, he devoted himself to mathematics, astronomy, and music, and constructed watches and instruments of various kinds.

His chief work is a Chronicon ab urbe condita ad annum 1054, which in its earlier portion consists of a compilation from previous chronicles, but between 1044 and 1054 furnishes important and original material for the history of Henry III. The first edition, from a MS. no longer extant, was printed by Sichard at Basel in 1529, and reissued in 1530; another edition appeared at St Blaise in 1590 under the supervision of Ussermann; and a third, from a Reichenau MS., forms part of vol. v. of Pertz’s Monumenta Germaniæ historica. A German translation of the last is contributed by Robbe to Die Geschichtsschreiber der deutschen Vorzeit. The separate lives of Conrad II. and Henry III., often ascribed to Hermann, appear to have perished. His treatises De mensura astrolabii and De utilitatibus astrolabii (to be found, on the authority of Salzburg MSS., in Pez, Thesaurus anecdotorum novissimus, iii.) being the first contributions of moment furnished by a European to this subject, Hermann was for a time considered the inventor of the astrolabe. A didactic poem from his pen, De octo vitiis principalibus, is printed in Haupt’s Zeitschrift für deutsches Alterthum (vol. xiii.); and he is sometimes credited with the composition of the Latin hymns Veni Sancte Spiritus, Salve Regina, and Alma Redemptoris.