Celtis, Conrad 1459–1508 German Poet

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Celtis, Conrad
German poet

Poet and scholar Conrad Celtis was one of the most important German humanists* of the Renaissance. As a young man, he received a degree in liberal arts at the University of Cologne. He then moved to the University of Heidelberg, drawn there by the presence of noted humanist Rudolf Agricola. He went on to teach poetry at several universities. In 1486 he published his first work, The Art of Making Verses and of Poems.

In 1487 Celtis began a ten-year period of travel. He visited several cities in Italy, where he had contact with other humanists, and studied science in Cracow, Poland. Eventually he settled in Vienna, Austria. There he persuaded ruler Maximilian I to establish a new college that would promote humanist studies. He also founded several humanist societies. Modeled after the academies of Italy, these groups gave members a sense of belonging to the larger humanist movement.

Celtis's most important work, and the only major one published during his lifetime, was Four Books of Love Poetry (1502). Written in Latin, the books were not only a collection of love poems, but also a geographical description of Germany. Many critics called them the most original contribution of German humanism to Renaissance literature. Celtis also edited and published several texts about German history and culture.

(See alsoGerman Language and Literature; Humanism; Poetry. )

* humanist

Renaissance expert in the humanities (the languages, literature, history, and speech and writing techniques of ancient Greece and Rome)