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HRABANUS MAURUS MAGNENTIUS (c. 776-856)

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Originally appearing in Volume V13, Page 842 of the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica.
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HRABANUS MAURUS MAGNENTIUS (c. 776-856), arch-bishop of Mainz, and one of the most prominent teachers and writers of the Carolingian age, was born of noble parents at Mainz. Less correct forms of his name are Rabanus and Rhabanus. The date of his birth is uncertain, but in 8oi he received deacon's orders at Fulda, where he had been sent to school; in the following year, at the instance of Ratgar, his abbot, he went together with Haimon (afterwards of Halberstadt) to complete his studies at Tours under Alcuin, who in recognition of his diligence and purity gave him the surname of Maurus, after St Maur the favourite disciple of Benedict. Returning after the lapse of two years to Fulda, he was entrusted with the principal charge of the school, which under his direction rose into a state of great efficiency for that age, and sent forth such pupils at Walafrid Strabo, Servatus Lupus of Ferrieres and Otfrid of Weissenburg. At this period it is most probable that his Excerptio from the grammar of Priscian, long so popular as a text-book during the middle ages, was compiled. In 814 he was ordained a priest; but shortly afterwards, apparently on account of disagreement with Ratgar, he was compelled to withdraw for a time from Fulda. This " banishment " is understood to have occasioned the pilgrimage to Palestine to which he alludes in his commentary on Joshua. He returned to Fulda on the election of a new abbot (Eigil) in 817, upon whose death in 822 he himself became abbot. The duties of this office he discharged with efficiency and success until 842, when, in order to secure greater leisure for literature and for devotion, he resigned and retired to the neighbouring cloister of St Peter's. In 847 he was again constrained to enter public life by his election to succeed Otgar in the archbishopric of Mainz, which see he occupied for upwards of eight years. The principal incidents of historical interest belonging to this period of his life were those which arose out of his relations to Gottschalk (q.v.): they may be regarded as thoroughly typical of that cruel intolerance which he shared with all his contemporaries, and also of that ardent zeal which was peculiar to himself;kings of the heroic age. In Beowulf, where he is called Hrothwulf, he is represented as reigning over Denmark in conjunction with his uncle Hrothgar, one of the three sons of an earlier king called Healfdene. In the Old Norse sagas Hrblfe is the son of Helgi (Halga), the son of Halfdan (Healfdene). He is represented as a wealthy and peace-loving monarch similar to Hrothgar in Beowulf, but the latter (Hr6arr, or Roe) is quite overshadowed by his nephew in the Northern authorities. The chief incidents in Hr6lfr's career are the visit which he paid to the Swedish king Attils (Beowulf's Eadgils), of which several different explanations are given, and the war, in which he eventually lost his life, against his brother-in-law Hiorvart5r. The name Kraki (pole-ladder) is said to have been given to him on account of his great height by a young knight named Voggr, whom he handsomely rewarded and who eventually avenged his death on Hiorvar5r. There is no reason to doubt that Hr6lfr was an historical person and that he reigned in Denmark during the early years of the 6th century, but the statement found in all the sagas that he was the stepson of Mils seems hardly compatible with the evidence of Beowulf, which is a much earlier authority. See Saxo Grammaticus, Gesta Danorum, pp. 52-68, ed. A. Holder (Strassburg, 1886); and A. Olrik, Danmarks Heltedigtning (Copenhagen, 1903).
End of Article: HRABANUS MAURUS MAGNENTIUS (c. 776-856)
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