Johannes Aventinus

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Johannes Aventinus
illustration from 19th century

Johann Georg Turmair (or Thurmayr) (4 July 1477 – 9 January 1534), known by the pen name Johannes Aventinus (Latin for "John of Abensberg") or Aventin,[1] was a Bavarian Renaissance humanist historian and philologist. He authored the 1523 Annals of Bavaria, a valuable record of the early history of Germany.[2]


Having studied at Ingolstadt, Vienna, Cracow and Paris, he returned to Ingolstadt in 1507 and in 1509 was appointed tutor to Louis and Ernest, the two younger brothers of William IV, Duke of Bavaria, all three the sons of Albert the Wise, the late duke of Bavaria. Aventinus retained this position until 1517, wrote a Latin grammar (Rudimenta grammaticae latinae; 1512) and other manuals for the use of his pupils, and in 1515 traveled in Italy with Ernest. In his zeal for learning, he helped found the Sodalitas litteraria Angilostadensis, the "literary brotherhood of Ingolstadt", under the auspices of which several old manuscripts were brought to light;[1] however, it soon ceased to exist (1520).[3]

Historian of Bavaria[edit]

In 1517, William appointed him as Bavaria's official historian and commissioned him to write a history of the country.[3] Many of the important authorities that Aventinus collected for this purpose have been preserved only in his copies. He embodied a critical treatment of them in a complete history of Bavaria, Annales Bojorum ("Annals of Bavaria"). His condensed German version of it, the Bayerische Chronik, is the first important history in the German language.[3]

The Reformation[edit]

Aventinus remained a Catholic throughout his life, even though he sympathized with aspects of the Protestant reform.[4] He was in communication with Philipp Melanchthon and Martin Luther.[citation needed] He rejected auricular confession, objected to pilgrimages and indulgences, and opposed the claims of the hierarchy as excessive.[3] He showed a strong dislike for monks. On this account, he was imprisoned in 1528, but his friends soon effected his release. The remainder of his life was somewhat unsettled, and he died at Regensburg.[1]

Annals of Bavaria[edit]

The Annals, which are in seven volumes, deal with the history of Bavaria in conjunction with general history from the earliest times to 1460, and the author shows sympathy for the Empire in its struggle with the Papacy. He took pains with his work, and to some degree anticipated the modern historiography.[1] Another result of his nonconformity was that the Annals were not published until 1554.[3] Many passages were omitted in this Ingolstadt edition, as they reflected on the Roman Catholics.[1]

A more complete edition was published at Basel in 1580 by Nicholas Cisner. Aventinus, who has been called the "Bavarian Herodotus," wrote other books of lesser importance, and a complete edition of his works was published at Munich (1881–1886).[1]

In his Annals, Aventinus preserved some of the text of the now lost 8th-century chronicle of Creontius.

Teutonic genealogy[edit]

In his Chronik, Aventinus fabricated a succession of Teutonic kings stretching back to the Great Flood, ruling over vast swathes of Germany and surrounding regions until the 1st century BC, and involving themselves in numerous events from Biblical and Classical history.

These rulers and their exploits are mostly fictitious, though some are derived from mythological, legendary or historical figures. Examples of the latter are Boiger, Kels II and Teutenbuecher, whose joint reign is given as 127–100 BC, and who are based on King Boiorix of the Cimbri, the unnamed king of the Ambrones, and King Teutobod of the Teutons.

  Dynasty of Tuitsch
  Dynasty of Mader
  Dynasty of Brenner III
  Unknown dynastic affiliation
Ruler Ruler Ruler
Tuitsch 2214–2038 Adalger 1377–1328 Mader 644–589
Mannus 1978–1906 Larein 1328–1277 Brenner II & Koenman 589–479
Eingeb 1906–1870 Ylsing 1277–1224 Landein, Antör & Rögör 479–399
Ausstaeb 1870–1820 Brenner I 1224–1186 Brenner III 399–361
Herman 1820–1757 Heccar 1186–1155 Schirm & Brenner IV 361–263
Mers 1757–1711 Frank 1155–1114 Thessel, Lauther & Euring 279–194
Gampar 1711–1667 Wolfheim Siclinger 1114–1056 Dieth I & Diethmer 194–172
Schwab 1667–1621 Kels I, Gal & Hillyr 1056–1006 Baermund & Synpol 172–127
Wandler 1621–1580 Alber (& six unnamed others) 1006–946 Boiger, Kels II & Teutenbuecher 127–100
Deuto 1580–1553 Walther, Panno & Schard 946–884 Scheirer 100–70
Alman 1553–1489 Main, Öngel & Treibl 884–814 Ernst & Vocho 70–50
Baier 1489–1429 Myela, Laber & Penno 814–714 Pernpeist 50–40
Ingram 1429–1377 Venno & Helto 714–644 Cotz, Dieth II & Creitschir c. 40–13


Ludwig I of Bavaria had Aventinus' bust erected in the Walhalla temple. There is a German wheat beer named after him, made by G. Schneider & Son.


  1. ^ a b c d e f  One or more of the preceding sentences incorporates text from a publication now in the public domainChisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "Aventinus". Encyclopædia Britannica. Vol. 3 (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press. p. 53.
  2. ^ James Wood, ed., The Nuttall Encyclopædia, 1907; a modern biography in English is G. Strauss, Historian in an age of crisis: the life and work of Johannes Aventinus, 1477-1534, 1963.
  3. ^ a b c d e Herbermann, Charles, ed. (1913). "Johannes Thurmayr" . Catholic Encyclopedia. New York: Robert Appleton Company.
  4. ^ Chisholm 1911.

External links[edit]

Further reading[edit]

  • Beck, Heinrich; Geuenich, Dieter; Steuer, Heiko; Hakelberg, Dietrich, eds. (2004). Zur Geschichte der Gleichung "germanisch – deutsch": Sprache und Namen, Geschichte und Institutionen [History of the Equation "Germanic = German": Language and Names, History and Institutions]. Reallexikon der Germanischen Altertumskunde – Ergänzungsbände. Berlin: W. De Gruyter. ISBN 9783110175363. OCLC 54825128.
  • Georg Leidinger (1953), "Aventinus", Neue Deutsche Biographie (in German), vol. 1, Berlin: Duncker & Humblot, pp. 469–470; (full text online)
  • Eberhard Dünninger: Johannes Aventinus: Leben und Werk des Bayerischen Geschichtschreibers, Förg, Rosenheim 1977, ISBN 3-475-52190-3
  • Bayerische Landesbibliothek Online (BLO): Aventinus: Works: