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Johann Tauler

Born: c. 1300
Birthplace: Strassburg, Germany
Died: 16-Jun-1361
Location of death: Strassburg, Germany
Cause of death: unspecified

Gender: Male
Religion: Roman Catholic
Race or Ethnicity: White
Occupation: Religion

Nationality: Germany
Executive summary: German mystic

German mystic, born about the year 1300 in Strassburg, and was educated at the Dominican convent in that city, where Meister Eckhart, who greatly influenced him, was professor of theology (1312-1320) in the monastery school. From Strassburg he went to the Dominican college of Cologne, and perhaps to St. James's College, Paris, ultimately returning to Strassburg. In 1324 Strassburg with other cities was placed under a papal interdict. Legend says that Tauler nevertheless continued to perform religious services for the people, but though there may be a germ of historical truth in this story, it is probably due to the desire of the 16th century Reformers to enroll the famous preachers of the middle ages among their forerunners. In 1338-39 Tauler was in Basel, then the headquarters of the "Friends of God", and was brought into intimate relations with the members of that pious mystical fellowship. Strassburg, however, remained his headquarters. The Black Death came to that city in 1348, and it is said that, when the city was deserted by all who could leave it, Tauler remained at his post, encouraging by sermons and personal visitations his terror-stricken fellow-citizens. His correspondence with distinguished members of the Gottesfreunde, especially with Margaretha Ebner, and the fame of his preaching and other work in Strassburg, had made him known throughout a wide circle. He died on the 16th of June 1361.

The well-known story of Tauler's conversion and discipline by "the Friend of God from the Oberland" cannot be regarded as historical. Tauler's sermons are among the noblest in the German language. They are not so emotional as Heinrich Suso's, nor so speculative as Eckhart's, but they are intensely practical, and touch on all sides the deeper problems of the moral and spiritual life. Tauler's sermons were printed first at Leipzig in 1498, and reprinted with additions from Eckhart and others at Basel (1522) and at Cologne (1543).

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