Adam of Bremen

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Adam of Bremen (also: Adamus Bremensis) was a German medieval chronicler. He lived and worked in the second half of the eleventh century. He is most famous for his chronicle Gesta Hammaburgensis Ecclesiae Pontificum (Deeds of Bishops of the Hamburg Church).



Little is known of his life other than hints from his own chronicles. He is believed to have come from Meissen (Latin Misnia) in Saxony.[citation needed] The dates of his birth and death are uncertain, but he was probably born before 1050 and died on 12 October of an unknown year (Possibly 1081, latest 1085). From his chronicles it is apparent that he was familiar with a number of authors. The honorary name of Magister Adam shows that he had passed through all the stages of a higher education. It is probable that he was taught at the Magdeburger Domschule.

In 1066 or 1067 he was invited by archbishop Adalbert of Hamburg to join the Church of Bremen[citation needed], since Adalbert believed he would improve the literary reputation of the diocese. Adam was accepted among the capitulars of Bremen, and by 1069 he appeared as director of the cathedral's school.[citation needed] Soon thereafter he began to write the history of Bremen/Hamburg and of the northern lands in his Gesta.

His position and the missionary activity of the church of Bremen allowed him to gather all kinds of information on the history and the geography of northern Germany.[citation needed] A stay at the court of Svend Estridson gave him the opportunity to find information about the history and geography of Denmark, and the Scandinavian countries.[citation needed]

Bremen was a major trading town, and ships, traders and missionaries went from there to many different locations. The earlier archbishopric seat in Hamburg had been attacked and destroyed several times, and thereafter the sees of Hamburg and Bremen were combined for protection. For three hundred years, beginning with bishop Ansgar, the Hamburg-Bremen archbishopric had been designated as the "Mission of the North" and had jurisdiction over all missions in Scandinavia, North-Western Russia, Iceland and Greenland. Then the archbishop of Hamburg-Bremen had a falling-out with the pope and in 1105 a separate archbishopric for the North was established in Lund.

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