Martin Gerbert

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Abbot Martin Gerbert with pectoral , painting in the refectory of the former Benedictine priory in Oberried

Martin Gerbert (born August 11, 1720 in Horb am Neckar as Franz Dominikus Bernhard Gerbert von Hornau ; † May 13, 1793 in St. Blasien ) was the prince abbot of the St. Blasien monastery . He was an important music historian and representative of early modern scholarly Benedictineism in the Black Forest .



Martin Gerbert came from the respected Horber family Gerbert von Hornau , who had been raised to the nobility by Emperor Ferdinand II (1578–1637), but not their side branch, which was raised to the Bohemian knighthood in 1686. Martin Gerbert did not write himself with the addition of Hornau , only on a gift to his baptismal church, the collegiate church of the Holy Cross in Horb, a chalice, he had his whole name engraved.

The father of the future abbot Martin Gerbert was the merchant and councilor Anton Gerbert from Horb am Neckar, who was married to Maria Magdalena Aumayer († 1705) from Rottenburg am Neckar . His mother Anna Maria Riegger was his father's second wife and came from an old Villingen family, through whom he was related to Paul Joseph von Riegger and Josef Anton von Riegger . One brother, Johann Franz Albrecht Gerbert (1706–1768), was bailiff and governor of the monasteries Tennenbach and Petershausen and later became councilor in St. Blasien. The godfather of Martin Gerbert and his brother was Abbot Plazidus Zurlauben . He had a total of 16 siblings. Through her and through his uncle, the goldsmith Johann Jakob Gerbert (1674–1746), he was also related to Paul von Schanz and Paul Leopold Haffner .

Training, travel and first works

As a five-year-old, he experienced the great fire of Horb on 17/18. January 1725, in which 201 of 280 houses burned down. His parents' house was probably the later Gasthof Schwarzer Adler am Aispachbrunnen, which was not affected.

He received his first lessons in arithmetic, writing, religion and music at the city school in Horb. This was followed by a visit to the Konvikt in Ehingen an der Donau , then he attended the Jesuit-run Latin school in Freiburg im Breisgau and the school in Klingnau . Shortly afterwards he came to the convent school in St. Blasien.

In the late summer of 1736 he entered the monastery, received his profession on September 28, 1737 and took the religious name Martin. His predecessor, Meinrad Troger , recognized his abilities and talents and encouraged him. He was now for about ten years professor of philosophy and theology (1746), during which he made special efforts to find more talented students. Meinrad immediately appointed him librarian and sent him on trips for further training, which took him to Germany, Italy and France. He collected materials on medieval liturgy and music history and the history of the monasteries and met many important personalities. Since Gerbert was initially entrusted with the administration of the monastery library, he began to study church history. The special object of his research was the history of church singing in the Middle Ages. As a result, he developed into an important music historian of modern times. His interest in music led to the acquaintance of Christoph Willibald Gluck , who became his friend. In 1760, on his travels, he collected copies of medieval treatises on music history and theory from monastery libraries. In Bologna he befriended Padre Martini ; both shared their rich experiences. The first result was the travelogue Iter Alemannicum .

This was followed in 1774 by the important two-volume work De cantu et musica sacra , the Monumenta and finally Scriptores ecclesiastici . The latter - a very extensive collection of sources in three volumes - comprises the most important music-theoretical writings from the 3rd century to the end of the Middle Ages and was of great importance for the study of medieval music history in the following period.

Act as abbot

On October 15, 1764 he was elected abbot. Under the reign of Martin II (because of the former abbot Martin Meister I. ) St. Blasien developed into an important center of methodological historical research. He published a three-part Historia Nigrae Silvae (1783–1788). On his instructions, the court chaplain Trudpert Neugart began to describe the history of the German dioceses , which continues to this day under the project name Germania Sacra .

In 1764 he had the construction of Bürgeln Castle in Markgräflerland completed and, after the fire disaster of 1768, the round church of St. Blasien, completed in 1783 . In 1765 Gerbert founded the "Waisenkasse Bonndorf", the forerunner of the Sparkasse Bonndorf-Stühlingen , which is the second oldest savings bank in Germany.

The cathedral in St. Blasien was built under Abbot Martin II.

His most important achievement and testimony to his energy was the rebuilding as a completely new creation of the cathedral of St. Blasien after the great fire of the monastery and the monastery church in 1768.

The solemn translation of the imperial-royal-also-ducal-Austrian highest corpses on November 14, 1770 was another church political measure initiated by Prince Abbot Martin Gerbert to preserve the Benedictine abbey of St. Blasien in the run-up to secularization. The already planned Habsburg crypt under the cathedral dome was never completed. The correspondence with Abbot Ignaz Speckle gives an insight into the following epoch .

In 1778 he acquired the Albbruck ironworks for the monastery . In 1791 he founded the Rothaus brewery - today “ Badische Staatsbrauerei Rothaus ” - as a measure to promote the economy in his Black Forest territory.

After the death of Maria Theresa , under the new Emperor Joseph II, a strict policy against the monasteries and pastoral communities took place, which ended in the fact that the income had to be given up and the studies had to be stopped (1783). Gerbert resisted this Josephinism of the Austrian sovereign: after the death of Emperor Joseph II in 1790, he traveled with a delegation to Vienna in order to obtain confirmation from the somewhat differently minded Emperor Leopold that his monastery would be preserved, but in vain. He lived to see the beginning of the French Revolution, but no longer saw its consequences: He died on May 13, 1793; his wish had been to be buried in front of the cathedral door so that everyone who entered the cathedral could pray for him. But his confreres couldn't do this, they buried him in the cathedral in front of the choir. Numerous personalities attended his funeral, and Father Johann Baptist Weiß gave the funeral address .


Gerbert coin (cropped) .jpg
Verhelst Gerbert 2 (cropped again) .jpg

Friedrich Nicolai compared the portraits of Gerbert on a commemorative coin (1783) with that of Egid Verhelst (1785)
Monument by Franz Xaver Reich from 1856 in the Martinsgarten in Bonndorfer (before the restoration in 2011/2012)

In 1778 he was elected an honorary member of the Göttingen Academy of Sciences . Since 1783 he was a foreign member of the Bavarian Academy of Sciences . Already during his lifetime, in 1783, a commemorative coin was published in honor of Gerbert. Gerbert's contemporary Friedrich Nicolai reports that, although the profile of Gerbert's head was hit well, he didn't have such meaty cheeks and such a lipless mouth. Nevertheless, the coin often served as a template for Gerbert portraits in the region around St. Blasien. Nicolai was more satisfied with the portrait of Egid Verhelst from the General German Library . Today there is a medallion with Gerbert's profile on a stone near the St. Blasien Cathedral. The Martinsgarten in Bonndorfer has been adorned with a monument by Franz Xaver Reich (1815–1881) since 1856 , which was restored in winter 2011/2012. In the course of this restoration, the missing crook was also replaced. However, the curve no longer points inwards, but outwards, as would be the case with a bishop.

The former Latin school in Horb Martin-Gerbert-Gymnasium was named after Gerbert . The Fürstabt-Gerbert-Schule and Fürstabt-Gerbert-Straße in St. Blasien and Horb a. N. bear his name. In Bonndorf, Martinstrasse, the main street of the city, is named after him.

The city of St. Blasien awards the Fürstabt-Gerbert-Preis . Previous winners:


  • De recto et perverso usu theologicæ scholasticæ , 1758 ( digitized version )
  • De æqua morum censura adversus rigidiorem et remissiorem , 1763 ( digitized version )
  • Iter Allemannicum, accedit Italicum et Gallicum , 1765 (German edition: The most revered gentleman, Mr. Martin Gerberts ... Travels through Alemannia ... , 1767; digitized )
  • with Franz Kreutter : Feyerliche translation of the imperial-royal- also ducal-Austrian highest corpses from their burial towns Basel and Königsfelden in Switzerland after the princely monastery St. Blasien in the Black Forest the 14th winter month 1770. , (Uffizin of the monastery St. Blasien) , St. Blasien, 1770, 38 pp.
  • De translatis Habsburgo-Austriacorum principum, eorumque coniugum cadaveribus ex ecclesia cathedrali Basileensi et monasterio Koenigsveldensi in Helvetia ad Conditorium novum monasterii S. Blasii in silva nigra , Typis San-blasianis, 1772; New edition in 1785 under the title: Crypta San Blasiana nova principum Austiacorum translatis eorum cadaveribus ex cathedrali ecclesia Basileensi et monasterio Koenigsfeldensi in Helvetia anno MDDLXX ad conditiorum novam monasterii S. Blasii in nigra siva.
  • De cantu et musica sacra, a prima ecclesiae aetate usque at praesens tempus , 1774
  • Monumenta veteris liturgiae Alemanicae , 1777–1779 ( digitized version )
  • Historia Nigrae Silvae ordinis Sancti Benedicti coloniae , 1783–1788 (digital copies: Vol. 1 , Vol. 2 , Vol. 3 ), also published in German since 1993, translated by Adalbert Weh
  • Scriptores ecclesiastici de musica sacra potissimum , 1784
  • De Rudolpho Suevico Comite de Rhinfelden, Duce, Rege Deque Eius Inlustri Familia Ex Augusta Ducum Lotharingiae , 1785
  • Ecclesia Militans Regnum Christi in Terris, in suis Fatis repræsentata , 1789 ( digitized version )
  • De sublimi in evangelio Christi juxta divinam Verbi incarnati œconomian , 1793 ( digitized version )

Most of the books written or edited by Martin Gerbert can be found in the original edition in the holdings of the Fürstabt-Gerbert-Collection of the monastery library in Oberried (Breisgau) . His books were almost all belonging to the monastery of St. Blasien Monastery printing house printed, the printing site is from 1764 indicated throughout with: Typis San-Blasianis


Web links

Commons : Martin Gerbert  - Collection of images, videos and audio files
Wikisource: Martin Gerbert  - Sources and full texts

Individual evidence

  1. Martin Steim: The time of Martin Gerbert. The origin and family of Prince Abbot Martin Gerbert , In: Heinrich Heidegger, Hugo Ott (Hrsg.): St. Blasien 200 years monastery and parish church. 1983, p. 111 ff.
  2. a b c Joseph König : Martin Gerberts descent in: Freiburger Diözesan-Archiv , Volume 26, 1898, pp. 299-302 ( digitized version ).
  3. ^ Karl Eduard Paulus : Description of the Oberamts Horb , Lindemann, Stuttgart 1865, p. 122 .
  4. ^ A b Alfred Lederle: The descent of Prince Abbot Martin II Gerbert of St. Blasien. In: Badische Heimat . Vol. 36, Issue 4, 1956, pp. 291–297, digitized version ( memento of the original from October 5, 2016 in the Internet Archive ) Info: The archive link was inserted automatically and has not yet been checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. . @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot /
  5. Martin Steim: The time of Martin Gerbert In: Heinrich Heidegger, Hugo Ott (Ed.): 200 years of St. Blasien - 200 years of monastery and parish church , 1983, p. 112.
  6. ^ Gerbert von Hornau Johann Franz Albrecht - detail page., accessed on October 21, 2016 .
  7. Wolfgang Kaiser: Horb a. N: Explored the roots of three families., August 9, 2013, accessed on October 21, 2016 (via Martin Steim's pedigree).
  8. Martin Steim: Die Zeit Martin Gerbert In: Heinrich Heidegger, Hugo Ott (Hrsg.): 200 years St.Blasien - 200 years monastery and parish church, 1983 p. 113 ff
  9. ^ Joseph Bader: Prince Abbot Martin Gerbert von S. Blasien. A picture of life from the previous century in: Collection of historical portraits , third series, III. Volume, 1877, Herder, Freiburg 1875, p. 23.
  10. Ludwig Schmieder, St. Blasien , p. 219, (details there)
  11. Joseph Bader: The former monastery of St. Blasien on the Black Forest and its scholars' academy. in: Freiburg Diöcesan Archive , Volume 8, 1874, p. 152 ff. ( digitized version ).
  12. Joseph Bader: The former monastery of St. Blasien on the Black Forest and its scholars' academy . in: Freiburg Diöcesan Archive , Volume 8, 1874, p. 122 ( digitized version ).
  13. Holger Krahnke: The members of the Academy of Sciences in Göttingen 1751-2001 (= Treatises of the Academy of Sciences in Göttingen, Philological-Historical Class. Volume 3, Vol. 246 = Treatises of the Academy of Sciences in Göttingen, Mathematical-Physical Class. Episode 3, vol. 50). Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, Göttingen 2001, ISBN 3-525-82516-1 , p. 91.
  14. ^ Member entry by Martin Gerbert at the Bavarian Academy of Sciences , accessed on March 8, 2017.
  15. ^ Franz Xaver Kraus: The art monuments of the Grand Duchy of Baden. Volume 3: The art monuments of the Waldshut district , Academic Publishing House Mohr, Freiburg im Breisgau 1892, p. 80 .
  16. Bonndorf: Martin-Gerbert-Statue starts makeover , October 31, 2011, accessed on November 19, 2011
  17. Report from the municipal council meeting on July 30, 2013 ( Memento of the original from April 2, 2015 in the Internet Archive ) Info: The archive link was inserted automatically and has not yet been checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot /
  18. Sebastian Barthmes: St. Blasien: Who will get the Prince Abbot Prize? , Badische Zeitung, April 26, 2013, accessed on September 21, 2015
predecessor Office successor
Meinrad Troger Prince Abbot of St. Blasien
Mauritius Ribbele