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Notker.—Among the various monks of St. Gall who bore this name, the following are the most important:
(1) Notker Balbulus (Stammerer), Blessed, monk and author, b. about 840, at Jonswil, canton of St. Gall (Switzerland); d. 912. Of a distinguished family, he received his education with Tuotilo, originator of tropes, at St. Gall's, from Iso and the Irishman Moengall, teachers in the monastic school. He became a monk there and is mentioned as librarian (890), and as master of guests (892-94). He was chiefly active as teacher, and displayed refinement of taste as poet and author. He completed Erchanbert's chronicle (816), arranged a martyrology, and composed a metrical biography of St. Gall. It is practically accepted that he is the "monk of St. Gall" (monachus Sangallensis), author of the legends and anecdotes "Gesta Caroli Magni". The number of works ascribed to him is constantly increasing. He introduced the sequence, a new species of religious lyric, into Germany. It had been the custom to prolong the Alleluia in the Mass before the Gospel, modulating through a skillfully harmonized series of tones. Notker learned how to fit the separate syllables of a Latin text to the tones of this jubilation; this poem was called the sequence (q.v.), formerly called the "jubilation". (The reason for this name is uncertain.) Between 881-887 Notker dedicated a collection of such verses to Bishop Liutward of Vercelli, but it is not known which or how many are his. Ekkehard IV, the historiographer of St. Gall, speaks of fifty sequences attributable to Notker. The hymn, "Media Vita", was erroneously attributed to him late in the Middle Ages. Ekkehard IV lauds him as "delicate of body but not of mind, stuttering of tongue but not of intellect, pushing boldly forward in things Divine, a vessel of the Holy Spirit without equal in his time". Notker was beatified in 1512.
(1) CHEVALIER Bio-bibl., s. v.; MEYER VON KNONAU in Realencyk fur prot. Theol., s. v.; WERNER, Notker's Sequenzen (Aarau, 1901); BLUME, Analecta hymnica, LIII (Leipzig, 1911).
In Kögel's opinion Notker Labeo was one of the greatest stylists in German literature. "His achievements in this respect seem almost marvelous." His style, where it becomes most brilliant, is essentially poetical; he observes with surprising exactitude the laws of the language. Latin and German he commanded with equal fluency; and while he did not understand Greek, he was weak enough to pretend that he did. He put an enormous amount of learning and erudition into his commentaries on his translations. There everything may be found that was of interest in his time, philosophy, universal and literary history, natural science, astronomy. He frequently quotes the classics and the Fathers of the Church. It is characteristic of Notker that at his dying request the poor were fed, and that he asked to be buried in the clothes which he was wearing in order that none might see the heavy chain with which he had been in the habit of mortifying his body.
(2) KELLE, Gesch. der deut. Lit. bis zur Mitte des 11, Jahrhunderts, I (Berlin, 1892), 232-63; KOGEL, Gesch der deut. Lit. bis zum Ausgang des Mittelalters, I, 2 (Strasburg, 1897), 598-626; PIPER, Die Schriften Notkers, I-III (Freiburg, 1882-3).
(3) EKKEHART (IV), Casus Sancti Galli, ed. MEYER VON KNONAU in Mitteil. zur vaterland. Gesch. (St. Gall, 1877) cxxiii, cxlvii; BURGENER, Helvetia Sancta, II (Einsiedeln, 1860), ; 132 sq.; SIRET, Dict. des peintres etc. (new ed., Paris, 1874), 640; WATTENBACH, Deutschlands Geschichtsquellen, I (7th ed., Stuttgart, 1904), 354; RAHN, Gesch. der bildenden Kunste in der Schweiz (Zurich, 1876), 139 sqq.
(4) EKKEHART (IV), op. cit., cxxii; MABILLON, Acta SS. O.S.B., V (1685), 21.
In Folcwin's opinion Notker's achievements surpass those of any of his predecessors: among the buildings erected by bim may be mentioned St. John's in Liège, after the model of the Aachen cathedral. Praiseworthy also were his services as a politician under Otto III and Henry II. He adhered faithfully to the cause of the romantic Otto, whom he accompanied to Rome. It was also he who brought back the corpse of the young emperor to Germany. The "Gesta episcoporum Leodiensium" have been frequently wrongly attributed to him, although he merely suggested its composition, and lent the work his name to secure it greater authority.
(5) WATTENBACH, Deutschlands Geschichtsquellen im Mittelalter, I (7th ed., Stuttgart, 1904), 425 sqq. A Vita Notkeri (12th cent.) is partly preserved by AEGIDIUS OF ORVAL; cf.. KURTH, Biogr. de l'eveque Notger au XII. S. in Bull. de la Comm. royale d'hist de Belgigue 4th series, XVII (189l), n. 4.; Biogr. de l'eveque N. au XII s. in revue benedictine VIII (1891), 309 sqq.
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