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John of Victring

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Chronicler, b. probably between 1270 and 1280; d. at Victring, Austria, 12 November, 1347. Nothing is known of his early life. In 1307 he became abbot of the Cistercian monastery of Victring, in Karinthia (Austria), and was later both chaplain and confidential secretary to Duke Henry of Karinthia. On the latter's death in 1335, John journeyed to Linz at the request of the duke's daughter, Margaretha Maultasch, to defend before Louis IV her claims to her father's estates. But the two dukes, Albert II and Otto of Austria, took possession of the contested lands in her stead, and thus became the lords of Victring. They likewise soon learned to value the great ability of the abbot, and consulted him in all the more important matters of government. He frequently tarried in Vienna as their confidential secretary until 1341, when he withdrew finally to the quiet of his monastery to write the history of his own time. His chronicle, to which he himself gave the title of "Liber certarum historiarum," has come down to us under various forms. In its original form, as preserved in a manuscript at Munich, it is a history of Austria and Karinthia from 1231 to 1341, and is based for the earlier period on the rhyming chronicle of Ottocar of Styria, while the rest was written from data which he himself had collected in the course of his travels.

This work was enlarged the following year (1342) into a chronicle of the empire, which began with the year 1217 (published by Boehmer, "Fontes rerum Germanicarum," I, 271-450; German translation by Friedensburg in the "Geschichtsschreiber der duetschen Vorzeit," Leipzig, 1888). Once more he rewrote it in 1343, and this time he began with the Carlovingian period. This revised work has only reached us through a later compilation, the so-called "Chronicon Anonymi Leobiensis," published by Pez, "Scriptores rerum Austriacarum," I, 751-966. John ranks among the most important chroniclers of the end of the Middle Ages . He was a very learned man and well acquainted with the Latin and Greek poets. His narrative is lucid, and his judgments on the events of his own time show great impartiality. He is influenced by Otto of Freising, and condemns in his chronicle the anti-Roman policy of Emperor Louis the Bavarian (1314-47).

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