The Letters of Gerbert, with His Papal Privileges as Sylvester II

The Letters of Gerbert, with His Papal Privileges as Sylvester II

The Letters of Gerbert, with His Papal Privileges as Sylvester II

The Letters of Gerbert, with His Papal Privileges as Sylvester II

Excerpt

The tenth century has been a neglected spot in history. So much of it has been lost, so much changed, and so much merged into the seemingly more striking following century. Fortunate we are, then, that Gerbert's letters survived, for life and movement pulsate through them, and the last quarter of this century comes alive with the same types of people to be met with anywhere, anytime. The universality of human nature is apparent in every one of Gerbert's letters.

In addition to this aspect of modernity in the letters they characterize a highly individual person, one who was passionately devoted to the ideal of a strong church and a strong political power--embodied by the German Empire--working together closely and harmoniously. The letters reflect his extensive travels and wide acquaintance. Conflict precipitated many of them and this fact heightens their dramatic impact. Even though individualized in these tenth-century letters they are the same universal conflicts resulting from political expediency, greed, ambition, indifference, treachery, envy. A few letters attempt to satisfy the intellectual curiosity of friends and pupils.

Through the years I have owed much to Professor John La Monte, who suggested the translation, to Professors Edgar Holmes McNeal and Paul Schaeffer for their helpful guidance in translation problems, and to Professor Austin P. Evans for his detailed, keen criticisms of the complete translation. I am grateful to Professor Father Joseph Fenton of Catholic University for advising me to include also the translation of Sylvester II's (Gerbert's) papal documents. Thus far, the number of such papal documents available in English has been very limited.

This translation could not have been completed without the valuable assistance of many librarians and the greatly appreciated use of the facilities of their libraries: Miss Donna Root, and Mrs. Arlene W. Colegrove, and the Cleveland Public Library; Mr. Walter B. Briggs, Miss Alice Reynolds, and the Widener Library of Harvard University; the University of Michigan Library; the Staatliche Bibliothek in Bam berg . . .

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