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JOSIAS SIMLER (1530-1576)

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Originally appearing in Volume V25, Page 123 of the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica.
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JOSIAS SIMLER (1530-1576), author of the first book relating solely to the Alps, was the son of the former prior of the Cistercian convent of Kappel (Canton of Zurich), and was born at Kappel, where his father was the Protestant pastor and schoolmaster till his death in 1557. In 1544 Simler went to Zurich to continue his education under his godfather, the celebrated reformer, Heinrich Bullinger. After having completed his studies at Basel and Strasburg, he returned to ?iirich, and acted as a pastor in the neighbouring villages. In 1552 he was made professor of New Testament exegesis at the Carolinum at Zurich, and in 156o became professor of theology. In 1559 he had his first attack of gout, a complaint which finally killed him. In 1555 he published a new edition of Conrad Gesner's Epitome of his Bibliotheca universalis (a list of all authors who had written in Greek, Latin or Hebrew), in 1574 a new edition of the Bibliotheca itself, and in 157'5 an annotated edition of the Antonine Itinerary. About 1551 he conceived the idea of making his native land better known by translating into Latin parts of the great Chronik of Johann Stumpf. With this view he collected materials, and in 1574 published a specimen of his intended work in the shape of a monograph on the Canton of the Valais. He published in the same volume a general description of the Alps, as the Introduction to his projected work on the several Swiss Cantons. In this treatise, entitled De Alpibus commentarius, he collected all that the classical authors had written on the Alps, adding a good deal of material collected from his friends and correspondents. This Commentarius is the first work exclusively devoted to the Alps, and sums up the knowledge of that region possessed in the 16th century. It was republished by the Elzevirs at Leiden in 1633, and again at Zurich in 1735, while an elaborate annotated edition (prepared by Mr Coolidge), with French translation, notes and appendices, appeared at Grenoble in 1904. Another fragment of his vast plan was the work entitled De Helvetiorum republica, which appeared at Zurich in 1576, just before his death. It was regarded as the chief authority on Swiss constitutional matters up to 1798. See lives by G. von Wyss (Zurich, 1855), and in Mr Coolidge's book, pp. cxvvii.-clviii. (W. A. B. C.)
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