Peter Lombard

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Peter Lombard
Peter Lombard at work [1]
DiedJuly 21/22, 1160
Occupation Bishop of Paris
TitleMaster of the Sentences [2]
Academic background
Alma mater School of Reims
University of Bologna [3]
Academic work
School or tradition Scholasticism
Notable works

Peter Lombard (also Peter the Lombard, [5] [6] Pierre Lombard or Petrus Lombardus; [7] c. 1096, Novara [6] [8] [9] – 21/22 July 1160, Paris), [6] [8] [9] was a scholastic theologian, Bishop of Paris, and author of Four Books of Sentences , which became the standard textbook of theology, for which he earned the accolade Magister Sententiarum.

Novara Comune in Piedmont, Italy

Novara is the capital city of the province of Novara in the Piedmont region in northwest Italy, to the west of Milan. With 104 284 inhabitants (1-1-2017), it is the second most populous city in Piedmont after Turin. It is an important crossroads for commercial traffic along the routes from Milan to Turin and from Genoa to Switzerland. Novara lies between the rivers Agogna and Terdoppio in northeastern Piedmont, 50 kilometres (31 mi) from Milan and 95 kilometres (59 mi) from Turin.

Paris Capital of France

Paris is the capital and most populous city of France, with an area of 105 square kilometres and an official estimated population of 2,140,526 residents as of 1 January 2019. Since the 17th century, Paris has been one of Europe's major centres of finance, diplomacy, commerce, fashion, science, and the arts. The City of Paris is the centre and seat of government of the Île-de-France, or Paris Region, which has an estimated official 2019 population of 12,213,364, or about 18 percent of the population of France. The Paris Region had a GDP of €709 billion in 2017. According to the Economist Intelligence Unit Worldwide Cost of Living Survey in 2018, Paris was the second most expensive city in the world, after Singapore, and ahead of Zürich, Hong Kong, Oslo and Geneva. Another source ranked Paris as most expensive, on a par with Singapore and Hong Kong, in 2018.

Scholasticism A method of critical thought which dominated teaching by the academics ("scholastics", or "schoolmen") of medieval universities in Europe from about 1100 to 1700

Scholasticism is a method of critical thought which dominated teaching by the academics of medieval universities in Europe from about 1100 to 1700, and a program of employing that method in articulating and defending dogma in an increasingly pluralistic context. It originated as an outgrowth of and a departure from Christian theology within the monastic schools at the earliest European universities. The rise of scholasticism was closely associated with the rise of the 12th and 13th century schools that developed into the earliest modern universities, including those in Italy, France, Spain and England.



Early years

Peter Lombard was born in Lumellogno [10] (then a rural commune, now a quartiere of Novara, Piedmont), in northwestern Italy, to a poor family. [11] His date of birth was likely between 1095 and 1100.

Lumellogno is a settlement of some 1,500 people to the south-west of the city of Novara in the Italian province Piedmont. Administratively it is a quarter (quartiere) of the Commune of Novara; geographically it is separated from the town by paddy fields and the torrent Agogna.

Piedmont Region of Italy

Piedmont is a region in northwest Italy, one of the 20 regions of the country. It borders the Liguria region to the south, the Lombardy and Emilia-Romagna regions to the east and the Aosta Valley region to the northwest; it also borders Switzerland to the northeast and France to the west. It has an area of 25,402 square kilometres (9,808 sq mi) and a population of 4,377,941 as of 30 November 2017. The capital of Piedmont is Turin.

Italy republic in Southern Europe

Italy, officially the Italian Republic, is a Southern European country consisting of a peninsula delimited by the Alps and surrounded by several islands. Located in the middle of the Mediterranean sea and traversed along its length by the Apennines, Italy has a largely temperate seasonal and Mediterranean climate. The country covers a total area of 301,340 km2 (116,350 sq mi), and land area of 294,140 km2 (113,570 sq mi), and shares open land borders with France, Slovenia, Austria, Switzerland and the enclaved microstates of Vatican City and San Marino. Italy has a territorial exclave in Switzerland (Campione) and a maritime exclave in the Tunisian Sea (Lampedusa). With around 60 million inhabitants, Italy is the fourth-most populous member state of the European Union.

His education most likely began in Italy at the cathedral schools of Novara and Lucca. The patronage of Odo, bishop of Lucca, who recommended him to Bernard of Clairvaux, allowed him to leave Italy and further his studies at Reims and Paris. Petrus Lombardus studied first in the cathedral school at Reims, where Magister Alberich and Lutolph of Novara were teaching, and arrived in Paris about 1134, [12] where Bernard recommended him [13] to the canons of the church of St. Victor.

Cathedral school

Cathedral schools began in the Early Middle Ages as centers of advanced education, some of them ultimately evolving into medieval universities. Throughout the Middle Ages and beyond, they were complemented by the monastic schools. Some of these early cathedral schools, and more recent foundations, continued into modern times.

Novara Cathedral cathedral

Novara Cathedral is a Roman Catholic cathedral, dedicated to the Assumption of the Virgin Mary, located at the Piazza della Repubblica in Novara, Piedmont, Italy. It is the seat of the Bishop of Novara.

Odo or Otto, bishop of Lucca, the bishop of Lucca from 1137, was an early patron of Peter Lombard, responsible, as a letter of Bernard of Clairvaux makes clear, for sending Peter to the schools of Paris.


In Paris, where he spent the next decade teaching at the cathedral school of Notre Dame, he came into contact with Peter Abelard and Hugh of St. Victor, who were among the leading theologians of the time. There are no proven facts relating to his whereabouts in Paris until 1142 when he became recognized as writer and teacher. Around 1145, Peter became a "magister", or professor, at the cathedral school of Notre Dame in Paris. Peter's means of earning a living before he began to derive income as a teacher and from his canon's prebend is shrouded in uncertainty.

Peter Abelard French scholastic philosopher, theologian and preeminent logician

Peter Abelard was a medieval French scholastic philosopher, theologian, and preeminent logician. His love for, and affair with, Héloïse d'Argenteuil has become legendary. The Chambers Biographical Dictionary describes him as "the keenest thinker and boldest theologian of the 12th Century".

Canon (priest) Ecclesiastical position

A canon is a member of certain bodies subject to an ecclesiastical rule.

Lombard's style of teaching gained quick acknowledgment. It can be surmised that this attention is what prompted the canons of Notre Dame to ask him to join their ranks. He was considered a celebrated theologian by 1144. The Parisian school of canons had not included among their number a theologian of high regard for some years. The canons of Notre Dame, to a man, were members of the Capetian dynasty, relatives of families closely aligned to the Capetians by blood or marriage, scions of the Île-de-France or eastern Loire Valley nobility, or relatives of royal officials. In contrast, Peter had no relatives, ecclesiastical connections, and no political patrons in France. It seems that he must have been invited by the canons of Notre Dame solely for his academic merit.

The Capetian dynasty, also known as the House of France, is a dynasty of Frankish origin, and a branch of the Robertians. It is among the largest and oldest royal houses in Europe and the world, and consists of Hugh Capet, the founder of the dynasty, and his male-line descendants, who ruled in France without interruption from 987 to 1792, and again from 1814 to 1848. The senior line ruled in France as the House of Capet from the election of Hugh Capet in 987 until the death of Charles IV in 1328. That line was succeeded by cadet branches, the Houses of Valois and then Bourbon, which ruled without interruption until the French Revolution abolished the monarchy in 1792. The Bourbons were restored in 1814 in the aftermath of Napoleon's defeat, but had to vacate the throne again in 1830 in favor of the last Capetian monarch of France, Louis Philippe I, who belonged to the House of Orléans.

Île-de-France, is the most populous of the 18 regions of France. It is located in the north-central part of the country and often called the région parisienne due to containing the city of Paris. Île-de-France is densely populated and economically important: it covers only 12,012 square kilometres, about 2% of France's territory, but has an official estimated population of 12,213,364 and accounts for nearly 30% of the French Gross Domestic Product (GDP).

Loire Valley French World Heritage Site

The Loire Valley, spanning 280 kilometres (170 mi), is located in the middle stretch of the Loire River in central France, in both the administrative regions Pays de la Loire and Centre-Val de Loire. The area of the Loire Valley comprises about 800 square kilometres (310 sq mi). It is referred to as the Cradle of the French and the Garden of France due to the abundance of vineyards, fruit orchards, and artichoke, and asparagus fields, which line the banks of the river. Notable for its historic towns, architecture, and wines, the valley has been inhabited since the Middle Palaeolithic period. In 2000, UNESCO added the central part of the Loire River valley to its list of World Heritage Sites.

Priesthood and Bishop of Paris

He became a subdeacon in 1147. Possibly he was present at the consistory of Paris in 1147, and certainly he attended the Council of Reims in 1148, where Pope Eugenius III was present at the synod, which examined Gilbert de la Porrée and Éon de l'Étoile. Peter was among the signers of the act condemning Gilbert's teachings. [14] At some time after 1150 he became a deacon, then an archdeacon, maybe as early as 1152. He was ordained priest some time before 1156. On 28 July 1159, at the Feast of Saints Peter and Paul, he was consecrated as bishop of Paris. Walter of St Victor accused Peter of obtaining the office by simony. [15] The more usual story is that Philip, younger brother of Louis VII. and archdeacon of Notre-Dame, was elected by the canons but declined in favor of Peter, his teacher.

Subdeacon is a title used in various branches of Christianity.

Gilbert de la Porrée, also known as Gilbert of Poitiers, Gilbertus Porretanus or Pictaviensis, was a scholastic logician and theologian.

Éon de l'Étoile, from the Latin Eudo de Stella, was a Breton religious leader and "messiah." He opposed the Roman Catholic Church to the point of pillaging abbeys and monasteries and accumulating a large treasure during a period of eight years (1140–48). He was considered little more than an "illiterate idiot" by the Church authorities.

His reign as bishop was brief. [16] He died on either 21 or 22 July 1160. Little can be ascertained about Lombard's administrative style or objectives because he left behind so few episcopal acta. He was succeeded by Maurice de Sully, the builder of the Cathedral of Notre Dame. [17] His tomb in the church of Saint-Marcel in Paris was destroyed during the French Revolution, but a transcription of his epitaph survives.


Sententiae, 1280 circa, Biblioteca Medicea Laurenziana, Florence Bologna, pietro lombardo, sententiae, 1280 ca., pluteo 25 dex 1.jpg
Sententiae, 1280 circa, Biblioteca Medicea Laurenziana, Florence

Peter Lombard wrote commentaries on the Psalms and the Pauline epistles; however, his most famous work by far was Libri Quatuor Sententiarum, or the Four Books of Sentences , which became the standard textbook of theology at the medieval universities. [18] From the 1220s until the 16th century, no work of Christian literature, except for the Bible itself, was commented upon more frequently. All the major medieval thinkers, from Albert the Great and Thomas Aquinas to William of Ockham and Gabriel Biel, were influenced by it. Even the young Martin Luther still wrote glosses on the Sentences, and John Calvin quoted from it over 100 times in his Institutes .

Though the Four Books of Sentences formed the framework upon which four centuries of scholastic interpretation of Christian dogma was based, rather than a dialectical work itself, the Four Books of Sentences is a compilation of biblical texts, together with relevant passages from the Church Fathers and many medieval thinkers, on virtually the entire field of Christian theology as it was understood at the time. Peter Lombard's magnum opus stands squarely within the pre-scholastic exegesis of biblical passages, in the tradition of Anselm of Laon, who taught through quotations from authorities. [19] It stands out as the first major effort to bring together commentaries on the full range of theological issues, arrange the material in a systematic order, and attempt to reconcile them where they appeared to defend different viewpoints. The Sentences starts with the Trinity in Book I, moves on to creation in Book II, treats Christ, the saviour of the fallen creation, in Book III, and deals with the sacraments, which mediate Christ's grace, in Book IV.


Peter Lombard's most famous and most controversial doctrine in the Sentences was his identification of charity with the Holy Spirit in Book I, distinction 17. According to this doctrine, when the Christian loves God and his neighbour, this love literally is God; he becomes divine and is taken up into the life of the Trinity. This idea, in its inchoate form, can be extrapolated from certain remarks of St. Augustine of Hippo (cf. De Trinitate xiii.7.11). Although this was never declared unorthodox, few theologians have been prepared to follow Peter Lombard in this aspect of his teaching. Compare Pope Benedict XVI's encyclical Deus caritas est , 2006.

Also in the Sentences was the doctrine that marriage was consensual and need not be consummated to be considered perfect, unlike Gratian's analysis (see sponsalia de futuro ). Lombard's interpretation was later endorsed by Pope Alexander III, and had a significant impact on Church interpretation of marriage.



  1. Prof. Harold Tarrant & Prof. Godfrey Tanner (2001). The Cultural Collections Unit: 2nd Edition. University of Newcastle, Australia.
  2. Peter Lombard The Britannica -
  3. Peter Lombard (1095-1160)
  4. Jean LeClercq, 'Influence and noninfluence of Dionysius in the Western Middle Ages', in Pseudo-Dionysius: The Complete Works, trans. Colm Luibheid, (New York: Paulist Press, 1987), pp25-33
  5. Milman, Henry Hart (1857). History of Latin Christianity: Vol.VI. London.
  6. 1 2 3 W. and R. Chambers (1864). Chambers's encyclopædia: Vol.VI. London.
  7. Baur, Ferdinand Christian (1858). Lehrbuch der christlichen Dogmengeschichte. Tübingen.
  8. 1 2 Hegel, Georg Wilhelm Friedrich (1836). Werke: Vol.XV. Berlin.
  9. 1 2 Ginsburg, Christian David (1861). Coheleth; commonly called The Book of Ecclesiastes. London.
  10. Hödl, in Biografisch-Bibliografisches Kirchenlexikon.
  11. The few known facts of Peter's life are presented in Philippe Delhaye, Pierre Lombard: sa vie, ses œuvres, sa morale (Paris/Montreal) 1961.
  12. Hödl
  13. In a surviving letter, Ep. 410, Opera omnia viii.391, noted by Hödl
  14. Hödl.
  15. In his polemic Contra quatuor labyrinthos Franciae II.4.
  16. His successor, Maurice de Sully, was bishop by the end of 1160.
  17. Wikisource-logo.svg Herbermann, Charles, ed. (1913). "Peter Lombard"  . Catholic Encyclopedia . New York: Robert Appleton Company.
  18. Joseph Rickaby (1908). Scholasticism. A. Constable. p. 23.
  19. This is a central point of Delhaye 1961, who sees Abelard, rather than Peter, as the founder of scholasticism.

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