Walter Seitter



The Mathematical-Poetic Renaissance in Austria

(Johannes von Gmunden, Georg von Peuerbach, Regiomontanus, Conrad Celtis)




According to Hans Rupprich the first migration of the Italian movement of humanism into the German-speaking countries went by way of Prague, where the Emperor Charles IV (1316-1378) maintained direct contacts with outstanding Italian personalities such as Cola Rienzi (1313-1354) and Francesco Petrarca (1304-1374)(whose Renovatio Romae could be seen as the first formulation for „Renaissance“). In Prague the emperor founded the first more or less German university (1348). Some of its important employees were Heinrich von Mügeln (1319-1380)(who later moved to Austria) and Johann von Neumarkt (1310-1380)(who became bishop of Olomouc); both of them also wrote in German. The emperor’s son-in-law, rival and imitator was Rudolf IV (1339-1365), duke of Austria, who in 1365 founded the University of Vienna.[1]


The first informations regarding philosophical activities in Vienna indicate that the commentaries by Johannes Buridanus (1300-1358), particularly those about Logica vetus, Physics and De anima were treated at Prague and at Vienna.[2] In the eighties of the 14th century the statutes of the Viennese university stipulated that all of Aristotle’s works of had to be taught. In reality only logic, natural philosophy, ethics were cultivated. Thanks to the nominalistic school of „terminism“ logic flourished in Vienna.


Already in 1364, right before the university was founded, the commentary by Albert von  Rickmersdorf’s (1316-1390), the first rector of the Vindobonensis, of the  Aristotelian De caelo et mundo was copied. In the following decades Buridanus’ Physics was often interpreted. Heinrich von Langenstein (1325-1397), who was called „Doctor conscientiosus“, had come from Paris; he wrote a treatise about concentric spheres and epicycles. Johannes Stedler von Landshut interpreted the Aristotelian De generatione et corruptione and the Physica (1430). In the following decades the Aristotelian works on physics were the subject of numerous intrpetations. It is interesting to note that no big interest was shown for metaphysics.[3]


The third main emphasis was the interpretation of Aristotle’s Practical Philosophy; here the focus was on the individual ethics. However Andreas von Schärding commented on Economics. The most productive decades for the latter field were 1420 to 1460.[4]


At about the same time, in the first half of the 15th century, Austrian-born Johannes von Gmunden (1380-1442) raised the standardof the philosophy faculty in Vienna. He began with commentaries of Aristotelian works. Since 1419, he taught mathematics and astronomy and his speciality was to make graphic and three-dimensional models with cardboard. He produced planetary lists and calendars (one of which was the first printed calendar) and astrolabia and a great geographical map of the world, designed from a topographical list.[5] He published  a leaflet (in German!) against an apocalyptic prophecy.[6] With this activities he transcended the confines that until then had constricted the philosophical (or artistic) faculty: the seven disciplines of trivium and quadrivium and the Aristotelian books (as far as translated and disposable). He gave up the pure book work and worked with other „media“. We can say that Johannes von Gmunden introduced the „Mathematical Sciences“ in a broadder sense (and as chance has it this expression appears also in Aristotle’s Metaphysics with astronomy, geodesy as examples).[7]



He founded the „First Viennese Mathematical School“ and ushered in one of the very few great epoches of the University.[8]


His successor was Georg von Peuerbach (1423-1461), also Austrian-born (from Upper Austria). After his studies in Vienna he went to Italy where he met the cardinal and humanist Nikolaus Cusanus (1401-1464) and, of course, also became acquainted with Italian humanism. After his return to Vienna he led there a kind of dual life. At the university he taught rhetorics and poetics, on Vergil and Horace. As an astronomer and mathematician he found challenges and commissions working for the imperial chancellor Aeneas Silvio Piccolomini (1405-1464), Hungarian king Matthias Corvinus (1443-1490)(who had done his studies in Vienna), Emperor Frederick III  (1415-1493), as well as one or the other comet, the Greek cardinal and humanist Johannes Bessarion (1403-1472) who spent the years 1460 and 1461 in Vienna trying to persuade the emperor to launch a crusade against the Ottomans.[9] And in this connection his pupil Johannes Müller specially by his pupil Johannes Müller (who became his close collaborator and is also known under his posthumous name Regiomontanus) deserves special mention. He produced calendars, horoscopes, sundials, astronomical almanacs, lists of eclipsies, studies on comets, amendments and translations of ancient works (as, for instance, the Almagest of Ptolemy), separate treatises on astronomy and mathematics.[10]


Georg von Peuerbach worked on the level of both trivium and quadrivium, but he expanded explosively those frames. Just like renaissance and humanism in general his work was not an imitation of something preexisting – but a cascade of explosions. His dead – at the age of 39 years  - did not really interrupt that cascade. His work was continued and given to the just invented letterpress. His astronomical observations and measurements did not abandon the ptolemeic geocentrism, but they were someticulous, that they were also transmitted also by academic teachers like Albert de Brudzewo (1445-1497) in Krakow to Nicolaus Copernicus and Konrad Celtis.[11]


Johannes Müller (1436-1476, later called Regiomontanus), a native of Franconia, was a kind of child prodigy. At the age of 11 years he enrolled at the University of Leipzig, one year later he calculated an astronomical almanac, which was better than the one that had recently been printed by Gutenberg. In 1450 he moved to the best university of that time: Vienna.[12] Just when Georg von Peuerbach returned there from Italy. Johannes Müller became his private pupil and boarder. He participated in the projects of his master: horoscopes for the imperial family, composition of the Viennese Arithmetic Book, correction of the Almagest. In the year 1461 the cardinal Bessarion invited the both astrologers to Italy, Peuerbach died suddenly, and Müller went to Rome, then to Ferrara, Venice, Padova and wrote there De triangulis omnimodis and  dedicated it to the cardinal. He went to Buda (Hungary) and worked for the archbishop of Gran and the King Matthias Corvinus.[13] He should  find an employment at the new Hungarian university of Istropolis.[14] But he continued to work at Gran and Buda. Political problems in Hungary prompted him to go to Nuremberg,  where he combined theoretical work with developing  gauges and setting up a printing press. He published his Ephmerides which became important for the Portuguese navigators and for Christoph  Columbus.[15] Then the pope called him to Rome for working on the reform of calendar. There he died at the age of forty years.[16] He bequeathed an extensive legacy that Coppernicus wwaas to refer to when he worked out he heliocentric theses (which only in the year 1838 were proved by another „regiomontanus“ scholar: Friedrich Wilhelm Bessel (1784-1846)). Johann Gottfried Herder (1744-1803) in his humanistic diction: „Regiomontanus in his days was the torch in the world.“[17]


Regiomontanus continued Peuerbach’s work  and surpassed him in flexibility and speed. The two formed a great machine (stemming from Parisian-Viennese scholasticism, inspired by antiquisizing Italian humanism) that worked only 25 years – but it emanated further until the end of the century, when Vienna saw a second upswing of intellectual life; when Nicolaus Coppernicus studied at Krakow, Bologna and Padova; when Martin Behaim, the pupil of Regiomontanus at Nuremberg, went to Lisbon and participated there in the consultations on oceanic expeditions.[18] And a further emanation  could reach Piero della Francesca’s small panel depicting the Flagellation of Christ and to be found in Urbino. According to Berthold Holzschuh and to David A. King the epigram on the astrolabe built in 1462 by Regiomontanus and dedicated to cardinal Bessarion is a cryptographic or steganographic text that can help to decipher the very enigmatic panel: the young man in the scarlet cloth could well be Regiomontanus ...[19]


Helmut Grössing says that in the second half of the 15th century the university of Vienna yielded its position as the best quadrivium-school to the University of Krakow. Brudzewo, who was mentioned as teacher of Coppernicus and Celtis, had become well-known by commenting and teaching Peuerbach and Regiomontanus. [20]


In the last years of the 15th century, there was a new upswing of mathematical studies (in a larger sense: including astronomy, astrology, cosmography, cartography) in Vienna. Some of the leading figures included: Andreas Stiborius (1464-1515), Johannes Stabius (1468-1522), Georg Tannstetter (1472-1535), Heinrich Schreyber Grammateus (1492-1525)[21], Christoph Rudolff (1500-1543)[22]. These Viennese mathematicians that worked from the nineties until the thirties sometimes are summarized as „Second Viennese Mathematical School“.[23] A label that may be legitimate, since one of the protagonists, Georg Tannstetter himself formulated a historization of the Viennese intellectual life in his Viri Mathematici (1514) (reaching from Heinrich von Langenstein until himself).


The scientific achievements of those men were considerable. But they worked in very different circumstances (compared with the middle of the 15th century). The new emperor Maximilian I (1459-1519) was a dynamic, an expansive, an „actionistic“ ruler, who expected a lot from everyone – also from intellectuals. And he installed  an intellectual leader  - who was more a vagans than a clericus.


Before I turn  to the extraordinary figure of Konrad Celtis I will first look at the central decades of the 15th century, from 1420 until 1460, when the „First Viennese Mathematical School“ in a very productive manner combined the mathematical quadrivium with the modernized trivium. What was then the fate of the discipline we call „philosophy“. Its fate in Austria was – the avoidance, even the refusal of philosophy. As we saw: already in the first decades of the existence of the university the so-called philosophical – or „artistic“ – faculty realized its programme in a rather „positivist“ agenda which was well compatible with the profile of the seven „liberal arts“. And there the Aristotelian orientation hardly contradicted that direction.


Just in the 15th century there was a well known and very active philosopher, the already cited Nikolaus Cusanus, well- known because of his diplomatic activities between Rome and Constantinople, between Rome and Vienna. He was also bishop in Tyrol and therefore not very far from Austria. He knew Georg von Peuerbach and Regiomontanus – but they  discussed only on astronomy. His neoplatonist thinking was very idiosyncratic – inspired by mathematical and mystic traditions. In Austria it found only sporadic receptions.[24]


Konrad Celtis (1459-1508), a native from Franconia. Studied in Cologne. Travelled to the Hungarian court at Buda. Humanistic studies of poetics and rhetorics at Heidelberg. Study-trip to Padova, Ferrara, Bologna, Florence, Venice, Rome. Lectured poetics at Erfurt, Rostock, Leipzig. In 1487 at Nuremberg he was crowned by the Emperor Frederick III as „poeta laureatus“ (following the coronation of Petrarca in 1341 and the coronation of Aeneas Silvio Piccolomini in 1442). At Krakow Celtis founded the Sodalitas litteraria Vistulana – a group that engaged scientific and artistic activities. Further travels, in 1491 professor of rhetorics and poetics at Ingolstadt. Foundation of the Sodalitas litteraria Rhenana at Mainz and Heidelberg. In 1497 the emperor appointed him lector for rhetorics and poetics in Vienna where Celtis  founded the Sodalitas litteraria Danubiana. In 1501, contract with the emperor on foundation of the Collegium poetarum et mathematicorum in Vienna: an academic, semi-autonomous institution, with four professors: two for poetics and rhetorics, two for mathematical sciences; the final certificate was to be the coronation as poeta laureatus – by the „superintendent“ Celtis.[25] Celtis quasi-emperor.[26]


The four chairs provided by Celtis correspond to the medieval organisation of trivium and quadrivium and its humanistic aggiornamento.[27] Was Celtis only an organizer of sciences? What did he teach and write?


Celtis was primarily a humanist specializing in literature, in poetics, rhetorics – expanding the scope of his interests to also include medieval and recent authors. His intention  was not the pure history of literature but the encyclopedic use of texts, for which the antique term „chrestomathy“ was already coined.[28] He saw the utility of poetry in the civilization of the first nomadic human beings and in the popular disguising of philosophical truths about nature.[29] So philosophy and politics emerge as domains of questions – and that is a new level in the story I am just telling.


Was Celtis a philosopher? It seems he had philosophical ambitions, which he formulated in an only sketchy way. He calls himself the „doctor triformis philosophiae“, which means „philosophia spiritualis“, „philosophia moralis“ and „philosophia naturalis“.[30] He tends towards the third, which has to be executed in astronomy, geography, biology, mathematics.[31] And we may be astonished at reading, that he announced to his „academy“ mathematical-geographic lectures on the Ptolemeic Geography – lectures beginning at 8 a. m. in his appartment and spoken in Greek, Latin, German (simultaneously).[32] Announced in Latin verses. 


For Celtis „cosmography“ was an important term. Really geography was a method for his encyclopedic philosophy. That began with his journeys and that found its most material and most complex execution in the foundation of the Sodalitates litterariae at Krakow, Mainz and Heidelberg, Oppenheim, Istropolis (Preßburg, Bratislava), Vienna, Augsburg, Olmütz, Nuremberg, Ingolstadt, Basel and Straßburg, Speyer and Schlettstadt, Erfurt. Geography in the sense of real graphics in the earth of Europe, in the sense of a diagram empowering different towns. Celtis continues his geography with topographical works such as Norimberga (1495), Germania Generalis (1500), De origine, situ, moribus et institutis Norimbergae libellus (1502), Germania illustrata.


His most concentrated statement on philosophy is a rather baroque woodcut drawn by Albrecht Dürer and depicting the enthroned Philosophia surrounded by many little figures and inscriptions.[33] The question about the previous existence of philosophy is answered in a multidimensional manner: not simply historically. But by quoting four (or five) nations with  four (or five) different professions: the Egyptian and Chaldaean priests, the Greek philosophers, the Latin poets and rhetors, the German wise men.[34]  Celtis constructs a concept of philosophy that is not univocal but differential one that allows even to him to be a philosopher.[35]


His personal starting point is the double profession of the Latins: rhetorics and poetics. The two supplements to the lingustic trivium which forms the base of the seven liberal arts. As we have seen Celtis has a rather prosaic conception of poetry: he primarily sees  it as being descriptio, evidentia, expressio – of rather banal things: characters, actions, nations, countries, the course of the stars, the natures of things, the situations of souls ...[36]


Peregrinatio, eloquentia, descriptio are the most humble activities that can constitute something like philosophy. In the woodcut we find also a rather Aristotelian schematism: the Greek letter Phi is put underneath the stairway of the seven liberal arts and it indicates Physis or Physiologia (in the sense of physics) as the beginning of philosophy, while the letter Theta is put above the stairway and indicates Theos or Theologia.[37] Celtis conceives the philosophical activity as a  bottom-up-processing and he himself is active in the earthly zones.


In of Celtis’s macro-historic view the poets were the first philosophers and theologians.[38] The poets with their metric and staccato language and the myths with their figural, allegoric language. One of the greatest authorities for Celtis is Ovid – Ovid can can be read in the sense of interpretatio physica and a interpretatio ethica, because he is a physical and a moral philosopher. Celtis’ ambition is not only to give this interpretations but to write himself as poet. Like Platon, Ovid and Ficino he holds love as the most important subject of poetry.[39] And not love in the grammatical singular form.


The poema naturale is a literary form that Celtis took from Ovide and Lucrece, Manilius and Boethius where antagonistic cosmologies are discussed: cosmology of eternal order, cosmology of accidental and confusional movements.[40]


Celtis wrote one poems after the others, he composed collections of poems. The most famous entitled as Amores constitute with the Odes and the Elegies a descriptive and eloquent and self-fashioning and didactic autobiography or autography: the self-constitution of certain kind of intellectual.[41]



Celtis almost continues the Austrian evasion of philosophy. In any case he circumvents the main form of philosophy: the treatise-, tractatus-form we know from Aristotle and Kant et cetera. He performs a turn towards a very indirect philosophizing, an elementary philosophy, a philosophy for beginners, a performative philosophy linking different writing acts such as the inscriptions on woodcuts, the academic programmes, the topographic descriptions, the edition of antique or medieval texts.[42]


The basic activity of this discontinuous performative eloquence is traveling, the main form is poetic writing about all manner of subjects. Instead of the fluent writing forming a line Celtis realizes the positioning of words, the composition of word-figures, the combining of words and figures: a crafty script-writing, a „manneristic“ art of scripture, a bricolage of movable types or an emblematic writing – inspired by heraldry.[43]  


The love stories and the friendships he relates are anchored in the geography of whole Germany, of an enlarged Germany, that he will raise to the dignity of the other antique cultures. For Germany he invents even an archaic culture that was a Celtic-Greek, a Pagan-Christian syncretism, which now has to be revived. With such an fantastic construction Celtis works for the empowerment of the German culture.[44] So he moves very slowly from the Latin to the „German Renaissance“ with Nuremberg as the central metropolis, Würzburg as his native town: two alternative geographical centers (aside from Vienna, the imperial and academic center). All of this in Latin – and thus restricted to an elite public.[45]


Konrad Celtis died in the year 1508, but both his Collegium and the „Second Viennese Mathematical School“ worked until 1530. The next great epoch of the Viennese university was to begin after 1850.[46]











































































[1] See Hans Rupprich: Die Frühzeit des Humanismus und der Renaissance in Deutschland (Leipzig 1938): 7ff.

[2] See Mieczyslaw H. Markowski: Der Nominalismus im 15.-16. Jahrhundert, in: M. Benedikt and R. Knoll and J. Rupitz (eds.), H. Kohlenberger and W. Seitter (co-eds.): Verdrängter Humanismus Verzögerte Aufklärung. 1/1: Philosophie in Österreich 1400-1650 (Klausen-Leopoldsdorf 1997): 140.

[3] See Mieczyslaw H. Markowski: op. cit.: 144ff. Heinrich von Langenstein confirmed this tendency with publications against astrologists, apocalyptic prophets and beggar monks getting excited on Immaculate Conception; see Hubert Pruckner: Studien zu den astrologischen Schriften des Heinrich von Langenstein (Leipzig-Berlin 1933). Also other prominent (aristotelian) „nominalists“ in  the 14th century  did not interprete the Metaphysics – and were reserved to astrology (more than many (platonist) „humanists“); see also Helmuth Grössing: Humanistische Naturwissenschaft. Zur Geschichte der Wiener mathematischen Schulen des 15. Und 16. Jahrhunderts (Habil. Wien 1981): 63ff.; Helmut Grössing: Zur Biographie des Johannes von Gmunden, in: R. Simek, K. Clench (eds.): Johannes von Gmunden (ca. 1384-1443). Astronom und Mathematiker (Vienna 2006): 11ff. For the ascent of astrology with the platonizising humanists see Wolf-Dieter Müller: ‚Inclinant astra, non necessitant’. Horoskop und Individualschicksal im frühen 16. Jahrhundert, in: Helmut Grössing (ed.): Der die Sterne liebte. Georg von Peuerbach und seine Zeit (Vienna 2002): 173ff.; Pico della Mirandola should critizises the „magic turn“ of the neoplatonists: the celestial bodies have effects on the earth only by their course, their light and their warmth: loc. cit.: 180.

[4] See Mieczyslaw H. Markowski: op. cit.: 147ff.

[5] For the production of maps Johannes collaborated with the monastery of Klosterneuburg; the world maps were focused on Jerusalem, whereas one excellent map of Central Europe, the Fridericus-Map 1421), was centered on Hallein (Salzburg) (Peuerbach and Klosterneuburg are indicated); see Franz Wawrik: Die Beeinflussung der frühen Kartographie durch Johannes von Gmunden, in: R. Simek, K. Clench (eds.): op. cit.: 45ff.; for the tools see the essays in the same volume: 91ff.

[6] See Helmuth Grössing: op. cit.: 106ff.; Floridus Röhrig: Das frühe Auftreten des Humanismus im Stift Klosterneuburg, in: M. Benedikt und R. Knoll und J. Rupitz (eds.), H. Kohlenberger und W. Seitter (co-eds.): op. cit: 155f.

[7] See Helmut Grössing: op. cit.: 107; Aristotle, Met. III, 997b 3ff.

[8] For the radiation of those Viennese „mathematicians“ see Katherine Walsh: Von Italien nach Krakau und zurück. Der Wandel von Mathematik und Astronomie in vorkopernikanischer Zeit, in: W. Eberhard, A. Strnad: Humanismus und Renaissance in Ostmitteleuropa vor der Reformation (Cologne-Weimar-Vienna 1996): 278f.

[9] But the emperor had no time for a crusade. In that period no good Christian prince was willing to undertake such a dangerous operation. An exception was the little and bad and unlucky – excommunicated – signore Sigismondo Malatesta who in 1464 led a crusade to Greece where he  liberated his Holy Tomb: that of Plethon. I am indebted to him for the acquaintance of Plethon. And to another contemporary of Plethon and Sigismondo: the painter Piero della Francesca, whose fresco (figuring Saint Sigismundus, Sigismondo Malatesta and the Castellum Sismundum) had attracted me; see Walter Seitter: Piero della Francesca. Parallele Farben (Berlin 1992): 75ff.


[10] See Helmut Grössing: op. cit.: 116ff.

[11] For a good introduction into the mathematical works of Johannes von Gmunden and Georg von Peuerbach see Christa Binder: Die erste Wiener Mathematische Schule (Johannes von Gmunden, Georg von Peuerbach), in: R. Gebhardt, H. Albrecht (eds.): Rechenmeister und Cossisten der frühen Neuzeit (Freiberg 1996): 3ff.; Wolfgang Kaunzner: Über Georg von Peuerbach und die Mathematik des 15. Jahrhunderts, in: H. Grössing (ed.): Der die Sterne liebte. Georg von Peuerbach und seine Zeit (Vienna 2002): 43ff.; eine moderne Einschätzung von Peuerbachs astronomischen Beobachtungen versucht Hermann Mücke: Überprüfung von Beobachtungen Georgs von Peuerbach, in: H. Grössing (ed.): op. cit.: 105ff.

[12] According to David A. King: Astrolabes and Angels, Epigrams and Enigmas. From Regiomontanus’ Acrostic for Cardinal Bessarion to Piero della Francesca’s Flagellation of Christ  (Stuttgart 2007):234; for a summary of Vienna’s position see Michael Shank: The Classical Scientific Tradition in Fifteen-Century Vienna, in: F. J. Ragep et al. (eds.): Tradition, Transmission, Transformation (Leiden-New York-Cologne 1996): 115ff.

[13] The Hungarian king himself had studied at Vienna’s university together with Johannes Müller; see Eva Frimmová: Der Humanismus in Pressburg am Ausgang des Mittelalters, in: Helmut Grössing: Naturwissenschaften in Österreich im Zeitalter des Humanismus, in: M. Benedikt und R. Knoll und J. Rupitz (eds.), H. Kohlenberger und W. Seitter (co-eds.): 275.

[14] See Rudolf Mett: Johannes Regiomontanus, ein Schüler des Georg von Peuerbach, in: H. Grössing (ed.): Der die Sterne liebte. Georg von Peuerbach und seine Zeit (Vienna 2002): 94f.

[15] See Rudolf Mett: loc. cit.: 97ff.

[16] See Rudolf Mett: Regiomontanus. Wegbereiter eines neues Weltbildes (Stuttgart-Leipzig 1996): 29ff.; Menso Folkerts: Johannes Regiomontanus – Algebraiker und Begründer der algebraischen Symbolik, in: R. Gebhardt, H. Albrecht (eds.): op. cit.: 19ff.

[17] See Rudolf Mett: Johannes Regiomontanus, ein Schüler des Georg von Peuerbach, in: H. Grössing (ed.): 101ff. The preparation of heliocentric theses was preparated by the Viennese mathematicians and at the same time by Islamic astronomers by „freeing astronomy from philosophy“: see Michael Shank: Regiomontanus on Ptolemy, Physical Orbs and Astronimcal Fictionalism; F. Jamil Rageb: Freeing Astronomy from Philosophy – An Aspect of Islamic Influence on Science, in: Osiris 16 (2001): 49ff.; ibid.: Copernicus and his Islamic Predecessors: Some Historical Remarks, in: Filozofski vestnik XXV/2 (2004): 125ff. A simultaneous colleague of the Viennese astronomers was the Persian-Turk Ali Quishji (1403-1474).

[18] See Rudolf Mett: op. cit.: 153ff.

[19] See David A. King: op. cit: 120ff;


[20] See Helmut Grössing: op. cit.: 253; ders.: Naturwissenschaften in Österreich im Zeitalter des Humanismus, in: M. Benedikt und R. Knoll und J. Rupitz (eds.), H. Kohlenberger und W. Seitter (co-eds.): op. cit.: 260.

[21] See Manfred Weidauer: Über den Cossisten Heinrich Schreyber (Grammateus), in: R. Gebhardt, H. Albrecht (eds.): op. cit.: 107ff.

[22] See Wolfgang Kaunzner: Christoff Rudolff, ein bedeutender Cossit in Wien, in: R. Gebhardt, H. Albrecht (eds.): op. cit.: 113ff.

[23] See Helmut Grössing: op. cit: 261.

[24] See Stephan Meier-Oeser: Die Rezeption der Philosophie des Nikolaus Cusanus in Österreich, in M. Benedikt und R. Knoll und J. Rupitz (eds.), H. Kohlenberger und W. Seitter (co-eds.): op. cit.: 293ff.; Kurt Flasch: Nikolaus von Kues. Geschichte einer Entwicklung (Frankfurt 2008): 181ff.; Emerich Coreth: Philosophisches Denken in Österreich, in M. Benedikt und R. Knoll und J. Rupitz (eds.), H. Kohlenberger und W. Seitter (co-eds.): op. cit.: 36.

[25] Helmuth Grössing: Humanistische Naturwissenschaft. Zur Geschichte der Wiener mathematischen Schulen des 15. Und 16. Jahrhunderts (Habil. Wien 1981): 254ff.; Michael Benedikt: Denk- und Handlungsformen des Konrad Celtis, in: M. Benedikt und R. Knoll und J. Rupitz (eds.), H. Kohlenberger und W. Seitter (co-eds.): op. cit.: 319ff.

[26] See the inscription in the picture (made by Hans Burgkmair) Insignia poetarum: Jörg Robert: Konrad Celtis und das Projekt der deutschen Dichtung. Studien zur humanistischen Konstitution von Poetik, Philosophie, Nation und Ich (Tübingen 2003): 503; Kaiser Maximilian I. und die Kunst der Dürerzeit (Munich-London-New York 2012): 190f. 

[27] Here I can cite a personal experience, because  the last year the Austrian Federal President awarded me The Austrian Cross of Honor, that bears the inscription LITTERIS ET ARTIBUS (within a golden Laurel). It seems evident that these words mean „science“ and „art“ (although the order of the two is not so clear). This inscription could be thus also the legitimate successor of Celtis’ bipartition of his college. And the Cross the successor of the Laurel.


[28] See Helmut Grössing: op. cit.: 258.

[29] See Helmut Grössing: op. cit.: 260

[30] See Helmut Grössing: op. cit.: 267f. The topic of the „triformis philosophia“ corresponds with the neoplatonic idea of the three holy languages, the Hebrew, the Greek, the Latin;  in this point Celtis deviates from Florentine neo-platonism: „amongst the Hebrews I never found a real scholar“.

[31] See Helmut Grössing: op. cit.: 268.

[32] See Helmut Grössing: op. cit.: 263.

[33] See Jörg Robert: op. cit.: 104 and Kaiser Maximilian I. und die Kunst der Dürerzeit (Munich-London-New York 2012): 188.

[34] See Jörg Robert: op. cit.: 107ff.

[35] A few decades before Celtis the Greek philosopher Georgos Gemistos Plethon (1355-1452) had insisted on the geographical dimension of the „physical“ dispersion of wisdom –  thereby avoiding a strict ethnocentrism of truth; see Georgios Gemistos Plethon: Die Gesetze, in: Tumult. Schriften zur Verkehrswissenschaft 29: Georgios Gemistos Plethon (1355-1452): Reformpolitiker, Philosoph, Verehrer der alten Götter (2005): 21; Walter Seitter: Plethonische Anthropologe. Zwischen Politologie, Kosmologie und theologie, in: Tumult. Schriften zur Verkehrswissenschaft 29: Georgios Gemistos Plethon (1355-1452): Reformpolitiker, Philosoph, Verehrer der alten Götter (2005): 85.

[36] See Jörg Robert: op. cit.: 48, 66f., 77f.

[37] See Jörg Robert: op. cit.: 123ff.

[38] See Jörg Robert: op. cit.: 135ff.

[39] See Jörg Robert: op. cit.: 193ff.



[40] See Jörg Robert: op. cit.: 312ff. Georg von Peuerbach also wrote a poem of this kind.

[41] See Jörg Robert: op. cit.: 441ff. Celtis’ collections of poems belong to the kind of discourse that by Michel Foucault had described as „écriture de soi“ that contains certain specimens of memoirs, confessions, essays, diaries – from antiquity to modern times; see Technologies of the Self. A Seminar with Michel Foucault (Cambridge/Mass. 1988); Philippe Lejeune: Les brouillons de soi  (Paris 2013)

[42] For the concept of „performative philosophy“ see Antonio Cimino: Phänomenologie und Vollzug. Heideggers performative Philosophie des faktischen Lebens (Frankfurt 2013).

[43] An extreme example invented by Celtis is Der allegorische Reichsadler, engraved by Hans Burgkmair, in: Kaiser Maximilian I. und die Kunst der Dürerzeit (Munich-London-New York 2012): 192f. Regarding this paradigm see Ludwig Volkmann: Bilderschriften der Renaissance. Hieroglyphik und Emblematik in ihren Beziehungen und Fortwirkungen (Leipzig 1923) and about its place in the history of heraldry see Walter Seitter: Menschenfassungen. Studien zur Erkenntnispolitikwissenschaft. Mit einem Vorwort des Autors zur Neuausgabe 2012 und einem Essay von Friedrich Balke: Tychonta, Zustöße. Walter Seitters surrealistische Entgründung der Politik und ihrer Wissenschaft (Weilerswist 2012): 22ff. In the 20th century we saw such a processing of letters and words positioned horizontally and verticaly and diagonally by Jacques Lacan. In the text of the Menschenfassungen you can find the invention of distique words.


[44] See Jörg Robert: op. cit.: 378ff.

[45] Celtis’ German „nationalism“ occasionally had aggressive aspects see for instance Ivo Hlubil, Eduard Petru: Humanism and the Early Renaissance in Moravia (Praha-Olomouc 1999): 176. Emperor Maximilian promoted the „German Renaissance“ more radically with epic poems (in German) of autobiographical nature and imitating medieval epics. As the „last knight“ he would revive the Middle Ages – undoubtedly free of any philosophical ambitions, but not without the collaboration of scholars like Andreas Stabius (astronomer and geographer); see Stephan Füssel: Kaiser Maximilian und die Medien seiner Zeit. Der Theuerdank von 1517. Eine kulturhistorische Einführung (Cologne 2003);  Albrecht Dürer: Die Weltkarte des Johannes Stabius, in: Kaiser Maximilian I. und die Kunst der Dürerzeit (Munich-London-New York 2012): 202.

[46] See Helmut Grössing: Naturwissenschaften in Österreich im Zeitalter des Humanismus, in: M. Benedikt und R. Knoll und J. Rupitz (eds.), H. Kohlenberger und W. Seitter (co-eds.): op. cit.: 262. Vienna’s  scientific culture in the late 19th century was certainly futher developed than that of the 15th. Therefore philosophy could also finally emere – but with considerable difficulties and delays. See on this Walter Seitter: Zur Bestimmung österreichischer Philosophe, in: M. Benedikt und R. Knoll und J. Rupitz (eds.), H. Kohlenberger und W. Seitter (co-eds.): op. cit.: 55ff.