Gregor Reisch (1467-1525) was born in Balingen, Württemberg. He entered the University of Freiburg in 1487, graduating with the degree of magister in 1489. After his studies, he entered the Carthusian Order. From 1500 to 1502 he was prior at Klein-Basel. He then returned to Freiburg as prior, serving from 1503 to shortly before his death.
Reisch was well respected and served as confessor to Maximilian I. He was also acquainted with a broad network of Humanists, including Erasmus, Wimpfeling, Beatus, Rheananus, Udalricus Zasius, and the celebrated preacher, Geiler of Kaisersberg. These contacts admired Reisch’s wide-randing knowledge and insight.
Reisch is best known today for his Margarita Philosophica, the first modern encyclopedia to appear in print and a landmark in the history of modern science. Constructed as a dialog between teacher and student, the textbook served as a primer for the university curriculum. Reisch divided the text into twelve books: (1) Grammar, (2) Dialectic, (3) Rhetoric, (4) Arithmetic, (5) Music, (6) Geometry, (7) Astronomy, (8) Principles of Natural Philosophy, (9) Origin of Natural Objects (containing references to minerals, metals and mining), (9) Psychology, (10) Logic, and (12) Ethics. Alexander von Humboldt said of that Reisch's book "for a half-century, aided in a remarkable manner the spread of knowledge."
The Margarita Philosophica was also known for its full index and fine woodcuts. These included a world map, which is important to the history of cartography.