Gregor Reisch

Gregor Reisch (c.1467–1525) was a Carthusian scholar-monk from Germany who, during his lifetime, gained great renown as a polymath, educator, and counter-reformist theologian. His most significant achievement from a historical perspective was undoubtedly the publication of the Margarita Philosophica (The Pearl of Philosophy), the first encyclopedic work of knowledge ever produced. This work included individual volumes on grammar, philosophy, natural science, and ethics. It was used for general education at universities throughout Europe for almost two centuries, making it one of the single most influential books ever written.

Reisch spent most of his career in Freiburg, studying and teaching at the university there for many years and returning there as the prior of Freiburg Charterhouse towards the end of his life. From 1510, Reisch served as confessor to Holy Roman Emperor Maximilian I, and he was generally a fervent counter reformer and anti-Lutheran. This fervor was passed on to one of his most notable students, Johann Eck, who became an even more famous opponent to Luther’s teachings. Yet Reisch was also an early humanist, debating ethics and philosophy with the likes of Erasmus of Rotterdam, Jakob Wimpfeling, and Beatus Rhenanus.

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