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a man of great talents and influence in the tenth century, was

, a man of great talents and influence in the tenth century, was born in Aquitaine, of mean parentage, and was educated in a neighbouring convent. His original name was Gerbert. From his convent he passed into the family of a count of Barcelona, in which he prosecuted his studies under the care of a Spanish bishop, whom he accompanied from Spain to Rome. Here he was introduced to Otho the great, attached himself to Adalbaron, the archbishop of Rheims, whom he attended to his see, and returned with him about the year 972 into Italy. His progress in learning, which comprized geometry, astronomy, the mathematics, mechanics, and every branch of subordinate science, is said to have been prodigious; and his residence in Spain, during which he visited Cordova and Seville, had enabled him to profit by the instruction of the Arabian doctors. With such acquirements, he was promoted by Otho to be abbot of the monastery of Bobbio in Lombardy, but, finding no satisfaction in this place, he again joined his friend the archbishop of Rheims. Here he had leisure to prosecute his favourite studies, while, as his letters shew, his abilities were usefully engaged in different political transactions: in addition to the superintendance of the public schools, he was intrusted with the education of Robert, son and successor of Hugh Capet. He also employed himself in collecting books from every quarter, in studying them, and in introducing a taste for them among his countrymen. It is said that the effects of this enlightened zeal were soon visible in Germany, Gaul, and Italy; and by his writings, as well as by his example and his exhortations, many were animated to emulate their master’s fame, and caught by the love of science, to abandon the barbarous prejudices of the age. In his epistles, Gerbert cites the names of various classical authors, whose works he possessed, though often incomplete: and it is plain, from the style of these epistles, that he expended his wealth in employing copyists, and exploring the repositories of ancient learning.