|Bishop of Lincoln|
|Predecessor||Hugh of Wells|
|Successor||Henry of Lexington|
|Born|| c. 1175|
|Died||9 October 1253 (aged about 78)|
|Theology, natural philosophy|
|Theory of scientific demonstration|
Robert Grosseteste ( // GROHS-test; Latin : Robertus Grosseteste; c. 1175 –9 October 1253) was an English statesman, scholastic philosopher, theologian, scientist and Bishop of Lincoln. He was born of humble parents at Stradbroke in Suffolk. Upon his death, he was almost universally revered as a saint in England, but attempts to procure a formal canonisation failed. A. C. Crombie calls him "the real founder of the tradition of scientific thought in medieval Oxford, and in some ways, of the modern English intellectual tradition".
The Kingdom of England was a sovereign state on the island of Great Britain from 927, when it emerged from various Anglo-Saxon kingdoms until 1707, when it united with Scotland to form the Kingdom of Great Britain.
Scholasticism was a medieval school of philosophy that employed a critical method of philosophical analysis presupposed upon a Latin Christian theistic paradigm which dominated teaching in the medieval universities in Europe from about 1100 to 1700. It originated within the Christian monastic schools that were the basis of the earliest European universities. The rise of scholasticism was closely associated with the rise of these 12th and 13th century schools that flourished in Italy, France, Spain and England.
There is very little direct evidence about Grosseteste's education. He may have received a liberal arts education at Hereford, in light of his connection with the Bishop of Hereford William de Vere in the 1190s and a recommendation from Gerald of Wales. It is fairly certain that Grosseteste was a master by 1192, but whether that indicated that he had completed a course of studies is unclear. Grosseteste acquired a position in the bishop's household, but at the death of this patron he disappears from the historical record for several years. He appears again in the early thirteenth century as a judge-delegate in Hereford, but there are no surviving details of where he resided or whether he had continued to study.
Liberal arts education can claim to be the oldest programme of higher education in Western history. It has its origin in the attempt to discover first principles – 'those universal principles which are the condition of the possibility of the existence of anything and everything'.
William de Vere was Bishop of Hereford and an Augustinian canon.
Gerald of Wales was a Cambro-Norman archdeacon of Brecon and historian. As a royal clerk to the king and two archbishops, he travelled widely and wrote extensively. He both studied and taught in France and visited Rome several times, meeting the Pope. He was nominated for several bishoprics but turned them down in the hope of becoming bishop of St Davids, but was unsuccessful despite considerable support. His final post was as archdeacon of Brecon, from which he retired to academic study for the remainder of his life. Much of his writing survives.
By 1225, he had gained the benefice of Abbotsley in the diocese of Lincoln, by which time he was a deacon. On that period in his life, scholarship is divided. Some historians argue that he began his teaching career in theology at Oxford in this year, whereas others have more recently argued that he used the income of his ecclesiastical post to support studies in theology at the University of Paris. However, there is clear evidence that by 1229/30 he was teaching at Oxford, but on the periphery as the lector in theology to the Franciscans, who had established a convent in Oxford about 1224. He remained in this post until March 1235.
A benefice or living is a reward received in exchange for services rendered and as a retainer for future services. The Roman Empire used the Latin term beneficium as a benefit to an individual from the Empire for services rendered. Its use was adopted by the Western Church in the Carolingian Era as a benefit bestowed by the crown or church officials. A benefice specifically from a church is called a precaria such as a stipend and one from a monarch or nobleman is usually called a fief. A benefice is distinct from an allod, in that an allod is property owned outright, not bestowed by a higher authority.
Abbotsley is a village and civil parish within the Huntingdonshire district of Cambridgeshire, England. It is three miles from St Neots and 14 miles from the county town of Cambridge. At the time of the 2001 census, the resident population was 425 people living in 164 households. increasing to a population of 446 at the 2011 Census.
The Diocese of Lincoln forms part of the Province of Canterbury in England. The present diocese covers the ceremonial county of Lincolnshire.
Grosseteste may also have been appointed Chancellor of the University of Oxford. However, the evidence for this comes from a late thirteenth century anecdote whose main claim is that Grosseteste was in fact entitled the master of students (magister scholarium).
At the same time he began lecturing in theology at Oxford, Hugh of Wells, Bishop of Lincoln, appointed him as Archdeacon of Leicester,and he also gained a prebend that made him a canon in Lincoln Cathedral. However, after a severe illness in 1232, he resigned all his benefices (Abbotsley and Leicester), but retained his prebend. His reasons were due to changing attitudes about the plurality of benefices (holding more than one ecclesiastical position simultaneously), and after seeking advice from the papal court, he tendered his resignations. The angry response of his friends and colleagues to his resignations took him by surprise and he complained to his sister and to his closest friend, the Franciscan Adam Marsh, that his intentions had been completely misunderstood.
Hugh of Wells was a medieval Bishop of Lincoln. He began his career in the diocese of Bath, where he served two successive bishops, before joining royal service under King John of England. He served in the royal administration until 1209, when he was elected to the see, or bishopric, of Lincoln. When John was excommunicated by Pope Innocent III in November 1209, Hugh went into exile in France, where he remained until 1213.
A canon is a member of certain bodies subject to an ecclesiastical rule.
Lincoln Cathedral, Lincoln Minster, or the Cathedral Church of the Blessed Virgin Mary of Lincoln and sometimes St Mary's Cathedral, in Lincoln, England, is the seat of the Anglican Bishop of Lincoln. Construction commenced in 1072 and continued in several phases throughout the High Middle Ages. Like many of the medieval cathedrals of England it was built in the Gothic style.
As a master of the sacred page (manuscripts of theology in Latin), Grosseteste trained the Franciscans in the standard curriculum of university theology. The Franciscan Roger Bacon was his most famous disciple, and acquired an interest in the scientific method from him.Grosseteste lectured on the Psalter, the Pauline epistles, Genesis (at least the creation account), and possibly on Isaiah, Daniel and Sirach. He also led disputations on such subjects as the theological nature of truth and the efficacy of the Mosaic Law. Grosseteste also preached at the university and appears to have been called to preach within the diocese as well. He collected some of those sermons, along with some short notes and reflections, not long after he left Oxford; this is now known as his Dicta. His theological writings reveal a continual interest in the natural world as a major resource for theological reflection and an ability to read Greek sources (if he ever learned Hebrew, it would be not until he became bishop of Lincoln). His theological index (tabula distinctionum) reveals the breadth of his learning and his desire to communicate it in a systematic manner. However, Grosseteste's own style was far more unstructured than many of his scholastic contemporaries, and his writings reverberate with his own personal views and outlooks.
Roger Bacon, also known by the scholastic accolade Doctor Mirabilis, was a medieval English philosopher and Franciscan friar who placed considerable emphasis on the study of nature through empiricism. In the early modern era, he was regarded as a wizard and particularly famed for the story of his mechanical or necromantic brazen head. He is sometimes credited as one of the earliest European advocates of the modern scientific method. Bacon applied the empirical method of Ibn al-Haytham (Alhazen) to observations in texts attributed to Aristotle. Bacon discovered the importance of empirical testing when the results he obtained were different than those that would have been predicted by Aristotle.
A psalter is a volume containing the Book of Psalms, often with other devotional material bound in as well, such as a liturgical calendar and litany of the Saints. Until the emergence of the book of hours in the Late Middle Ages, psalters were the books most widely owned by wealthy lay persons. They were commonly used for learning to read. Many Psalters were richly illuminated, and they include some of the most spectacular surviving examples of medieval book art.
The Pauline epistles, also called Epistles of Paul or Letters of Paul, are the thirteen books of the New Testament attributed to Paul the Apostle, although authorship of some is in dispute. Among these letters are some of the earliest extant Christian documents. They provide an insight into the beliefs and controversies of early Christianity. As part of the canon of the New Testament, they are foundational texts for both Christian theology and ethics. The Epistle to the Hebrews, although it does not bear his name, was traditionally considered Pauline for a thousand years, but from the 16th century onwards opinion steadily moved against Pauline authorship and few scholars now ascribe it to Paul, mostly because it does not read like any of his other epistles in style and content. Most scholars agree that Paul really wrote seven of the Pauline epistles, but that four of the epistles in Paul's name are pseudepigraphic ; scholars are divided on the authenticity of two of the epistles.
In February 1235, Hugh of Wells died, and the canons of Lincoln cathedral met to elect his successor. They soon were at a deadlock and could not reach a majority. Fearing that the election would be taken out of their hands, they settled on a compromise candidate, Grosseteste. He was consecrated in June of that same yearat Reading. He instituted an innovative programme of visitation, a procedure normally reserved for the inspection of monasteries. Grosseteste expanded it to include all the deaneries in each archdeaconry of his vast diocese. The scheme brought him into conflict with more than one privileged corporation, in particular with his own chapter, who vigorously disputed his claim to exercise the right of visitation over their community. The dispute raged hotly from 1239 to 1245, with the chapter launching an appeal to the papacy. In 1245, while attending the First Council of Lyons, the papal court ruled in favour of Grosseteste. Dean William de Thornaco is recorded as being suspended by Bishop Grosseteste in 1239, together with precentor and subdean in relation to the aforementioned matter.
In ecclesiastical politics the bishop belonged to the school of Thomas Becket. His zeal for reform led him to advance, on behalf of the courts, Christian pretensions which it was impossible that the secular power should admit. He twice incurred a rebuke from Henry III upon this subject although it was left for Edward I to settle the question of principle in favour of the state. The devotion of Grosseteste to the hierarchical theories of his age is attested by his correspondence with his chapter and the king. Against the former he upheld the prerogative of the bishops; against the latter he asserted that it was impossible for a bishop to disregard the commands of the Holy See. Where the liberties of the national church came into conflict with the pretensions of Rome he stood by his own countrymen.
Thus in 1238 he demanded that the King should release certain Oxford scholars who had assaulted the legate Otto Candidus. But at least up to the year 1247 he submitted patiently to papal encroachments, contenting himself with the protection (by a special papal privilege) of his own diocese from alien clerks. Of royal exactions he was more impatient; and, after the retirement of Archbishop (Saint) Edmund, constituted himself the spokesman of the clerical estate in the Great Council.
In 1244 he sat on a committee which was empanelled to consider a demand for a subsidy. The committee rejected the demand, and Grosseteste foiled an attempt on the king's part to separate the clergy from the baronage. "It is written", the bishop said, "that united we stand and divided we fall." [ better source needed ]
The last years of Grosseteste's life and episcopacy were embroiled in a conflict with the new Archbishop of Canterbury, Boniface of Savoy. In 1250, he travelled to the papal court, where one of the cardinals read his complaints at an audience with Innocent IV. He claimed not only that Boniface was threatening the health of the church but also that the pope was just as guilty for not reining him in and that that was symptomatic of the current malaise of the entire church. Most observers noted the personal animus between the bishop of Lincoln and the pope, but it did not stop the pope from agreeing to most of Grosseteste's demands about the way the English church ought to function.
Grosseteste continued to keep a watchful eye on ecclesiastical events. In 1251 he protested against a papal mandate enjoining the English clergy to pay Henry III one-tenth of their revenues for a crusade; and called attention to the fact that, under the system of provisions, a sum of 70,000 marks was annually drawn from England by the alien nominees of Rome. In 1253, upon being commanded to provide in his own diocese for a papal nephew, he wrote a letter of expostulation and refusal, not to the pope himself but to the commissioner, Master Innocent, through whom he received the mandate. The text of the remonstrance, as given in the Burton Annals and in Matthew Paris, has possibly been altered by a forger who had less respect than Grosseteste for the papacy. The language is more violent than that which the bishop elsewhere employs. But the general argument, that the papacy may command obedience only so far as its commands are consonant with the teaching of Christ and the apostles, is only what should be expected from an ecclesiastical reformer of Grosseteste's time. There is much more reason for suspecting the letter addressed "to the nobles of England, the citizens of London, and the community of the whole realm", in which Grosseteste is represented as denouncing in unmeasured terms papal finance in all its branches. But even in this case allowance must be made for the difference between modern and medieval standards of decorum.
Grosseteste numbered among his most intimate friends the Franciscan teacher, Adam Marsh. Through Adam he came into close relations with Simon de Montfort. From the Franciscan's letters it appears that the earl had studied a political tract by Grosseteste on the difference between a monarchy and a tyranny and that he embraced with enthusiasm the bishop's projects of ecclesiastical reform. Their alliance began as early as 1239, when Grosseteste exerted himself to bring about a reconciliation between the king and the earl. But there is no reason to suppose that the political ideas of Montfort had matured before the death of Grosseteste; nor did Grosseteste busy himself overmuch with secular politics, except insofar as they touched the interest of the Church. Grosseteste realised that the misrule of Henry III and his unprincipled compact with the papacy largely accounted for the degeneracy of the English hierarchy and the laxity of ecclesiastical discipline. But he can hardly be termed a constitutionalist.
Grosseteste died on 9 October 1253He was aged between seventy and eighty.
He is buried in a tomb within his memorial chapel within Lincoln Cathedral. Its dedicatory plaque reads as follows:
In this place lies the body of ROBERT GROSSETESTE who was born at Stradbroke in Suffolk, studied in the University of Paris –and in 1224 became Chancellor of Oxford University where he befriended and taught the newly founded orders of Friars : In 1229 he became Archdeacon of Leicester and a Canon of this Cathedral –reigning as Bishop of Lincoln from 17th. June 1235 until his death.
He was a man of learning and an inspiration to scholars a wise administrator while a true shepherd of his flock, ever concerned to lead them to Christ in whose service he strove to temper justice with mercy, hating the sin while loving the sinner, not sparing the rod though cherishing the weak –He died on 8th. October 1253.
Grosseteste was already an elderly man, with a firmly established reputation, when he became a bishop. As an ecclesiastical statesman, he showed the same fiery zeal and versatility of which he had given proof in his academic career; but the general tendency of modern writers has been to exaggerate his political and ecclesiastical services, and to neglect his performance as a scientist and scholar. The opinion of his own age, as expressed by Matthew Paris and Roger Bacon, was very different. His contemporaries, while admitting the excellence of his intentions as a statesman, lay stress upon his defects of temper and discretion. But they see in him the pioneer of a literary and scientific movement; not merely a great ecclesiastic who patronised learning in his leisure hours, but the first mathematician and physicist of his age. He anticipated, in these fields of thought, some of the striking ideas to which Roger Bacon subsequently gave a wider currency.
Bishop Grosseteste University, a stone's throw away from Lincoln Cathedral, is named after Robert Grosseteste. The university provides Initial Teacher Training and academic degrees at all levels. In 2003, it hosted an international conference on Grosseteste in honour of the 750th anniversary of his death.
Grosseteste wrote a number of early works in Latin and French while he was a clerk (see biography above), including one called Chasteau d'amour, an allegorical poem on the creation of the world and Christian redemption, as well as several other poems and texts on household management and courtly etiquette. He also wrote a number of theological works including the influential Hexaëmeron in the 1230s. He was also a highly regarded author of manuals on pastoral care and produced treatises that dealt with a variety of penitential contexts, including monasteries, the parish and a bishop's household.
However, Grosseteste is best known as an original thinker for his work concerning what would today be called science or the scientific method.
From about 1220 to 1235 he wrote a host of scientific treatises including:
In 1242, having been introduced to the Greek work by John of Basingstoke, Grosseteste had the Testament of the Twelve Patriarchs brought from Greece and translated it with help of a clerk of St. Albans:
for the strengthening of the christian [ sic ] faith and the confusion of the Jews [who were said to have deliberately hidden the book away] ... on account of the manifest prophecies of Christ contained therein.
He also wrote a number of commentaries on Aristotle, including the first in the West of Posterior Analytics , and one on Aristotle's Physics , which has survived as a loose collection of notes or glosses on the text. Moreover, he did a lot of very interesting work on Pseudo-Dionysius the Areopagite's Celestial Hierarchy: he translated both the text and the scholia from Greek into Latin and wrote a commentary
It has been argued that Grosseteste played a key role in the development of the scientific method. Grosseteste did introduce to the Latin West the notion of controlled experiment and related it to demonstrative science, as one among many ways of arriving at such knowledge.Although Grosseteste did not always follow his own advice during his investigations, his work is seen as instrumental in the history of the development of the Western scientific tradition.
Grosseteste was the first of the Scholastics to fully understand Aristotle's vision of the dual path of scientific reasoning: generalising from particular observations into a universal law, and then back again from universal laws to prediction of particulars. Grosseteste called this "resolution and composition". So, for example, looking at the particulars of the moon, it is possible to arrive at universal laws about nature. Conversely once these universal laws are understood, it is possible to make predictions and observations about other objects besides the moon. Grosseteste said further that both paths should be verified through experimentation to verify the principles involved. These ideas established a tradition that carried forward to Padua and Galileo Galilei in the 17th century.
As important as "resolution and composition" would become to the future of Western scientific tradition, more important to his own time was his idea of the subordination of the sciences. For example, when looking at geometry and optics, optics is subordinate to geometry because optics depends on geometry, and so optics was a prime example of a subalternate science. Thus Grosseteste concluded, following much of what Boethius had argued, that mathematics was the highest of all sciences, and the basis for all others, since every natural science ultimately depended on mathematics. He supported this conclusion by looking at light, which he believed to be the "first form" of all things, the source of all generation and motion (approximately what is now known as biology and physics). Hence, since light could be reduced to lines and points, and thus fully explained in the realm of mathematics, mathematics was the highest order of the sciences.
Grosseteste's work in optics was also relevant and would be continued by Roger Bacon, who often mentioned his indebtedness to him although there is no proof that the two ever met. In De Iride Grosseteste writes:
This part of optics, when well understood, shows us how we may make things a very long distance off appear as if placed very close, and large near things appear very small, and how we may make small things placed at a distance appear any size we want, so that it may be possible for us to read the smallest letters at incredible distances, or to count sand, or seed, or any sort of minute objects.
Editions of the original Latin text may be found in: Die Philosophischen Werke des Robert Grosseteste, Bischofs von Lincoln (Münster i. W., Aschendorff, 1912.), p. 75.
Grossesteste is now believed to have had a very modern understanding of colour, and supposed errors in his account have been found to be based on corrupt late copies of his essay on the nature of colour, written in about 1225 (De Luce). In 2014 Grosseteste's 1225 treatise De Luce (On Light) was translated from Latin and interpreted by an interdisciplinary project led by Durham University, that included Latinists, philologists, medieval historians, physicists and cosmologists. De Luce explores the nature of matter and the cosmos. Four centuries before Isaac Newton proposed gravity and seven centuries before the Big Bang theory, Grosseteste described the birth of the Universe in an explosion and the crystallisation of matter to form stars and planets in a set of nested spheres around Earth. De Luce is the first attempt to describe the heavens and Earth using a single set of physical laws.The 'Ordered Universe' collaboration of scientists and historians at Durham University studying medieval science regard him as a key figure in showing that pre-Renaissance science was far more advanced than previously thought.
Upon his death, he was almost universally revered as a saint in England, with miracles reported at his shrine and pilgrims to it granted an indulgence by the bishop of Lincoln. I to secure a formal canonisation, however, failed. In most of the modern Anglican Communion, Grosseteste is considered beatified and commemorated on 9 October. However, the Episcopal Church (USA) commemorates him with St. Hugh of Lincoln on 17 November.Attempts by the Lincoln bishops, the University of Oxford, and Edward
Bartholomaeus Anglicus, also known as Bartholomew the Englishman and Berthelet, was an early 13th-century scholastic of Paris, a member of the Franciscan order. He was the author of the compendium De proprietatibus rerum, dated at 1240, an early forerunner of the encyclopedia and a widely-cited book in the Middle Ages. Bartholomew also held senior positions within the church and was appointed Bishop of Łuków although he was not consecrated to that position.
A medieval university is a corporation organized during the Middle Ages for the purposes of higher education. The first Western European institutions generally considered universities were established in the Kingdom of Italy, the Kingdom of England, the Kingdom of France, the Kingdom of Spain, and the Kingdom of Portugal between the 11th and 15th centuries for the study of the Arts and the higher disciplines of Theology, Law, and Medicine. During the 14th century there was an increase in growth of universities and colleges around Europe. These universities evolved from much older Christian cathedral schools and monastic schools, and it is difficult to define the exact date when they became true universities, though the lists of studia generalia for higher education in Europe held by the Vatican are a useful guide.
Adam Marsh was an English Franciscan, scholar and theologian.
John Peckham was Archbishop of Canterbury in the years 1279–1292. He was a native of Sussex who was educated at Lewes Priory and became a Friar Minor about 1250. He studied at the University of Paris under Bonaventure, where he would later teach theology. From his teaching, he came into conflict with Thomas Aquinas, with whom he debated on two occasions. Known as a conservative theologian, he opposed Aquinas' views on the nature of the soul. Peckham also studied optics and astronomy, and his studies in those subjects were influenced by Roger Bacon.
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Walter de Cantilupe was a medieval Bishop of Worcester.
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Richard Rufus was a Cornish Franciscan scholastic philosopher and theologian.
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Thomas Gallus of Vercelli, sometimes in early twentieth century texts called Thomas of St Victor, Thomas of Vercelli or Thomas Vercellensis, was a French theologian, a member of the School of St Victor. He is known for his commentaries on Pseudo-Dionysius and his ideas on affective theology. His elaborate mystical schemata influenced Bonaventure and The Cloud of Unknowing.
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Robert Passelewe was a medieval Bishop of Chichester elect as well as being a royal clerk and Archdeacon of Lewes.
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Hugh Foliot was a medieval Bishop of Hereford. Related somehow to his predecessor at Hereford, he served as a priest and papal judge as well as being an unsuccessful candidate as Bishop of St David's in Wales. In 1219, he was appointed Bishop of Hereford. During his time in office, he mostly attended to ecclesiastical duties, but did occasionally serve as a royal administrator. He helped found a hospital and a priory, and died in 1234 after a months-long illness.
Patrick Osmund Lewry (1929–1987) was an English Dominican who made significant contributions to the history of logic and the philosophy of language in the thirteenth century. Lewry studied mathematical logic under Lejewski and A.N. Prior at Manchester (1961–2). From 1962–7 he taught the philosophy of language and logic at Hawkesyard. He was assigned to the Oxford Blackfriars in 1967. Dissatisfaction with teaching led him to work for an Oxford D.Phil. on the logic teaching of Robert Kilwardby. In 1979 he began the study of the history of grammar, logic and rhetoric at Oxford in the period 1220–1320. In 1979 he went to the Pontifical Institute of Mediaeval Studies in Toronto first as a research associate, then as a senior fellow. He died on 23 April 1987 at the age of 57 at the Oxford Dominican House.
European science in the Middle Ages comprised the study of nature, mathematics and natural philosophy in medieval Europe. Following the fall of the Western Roman Empire and the decline in knowledge of Greek, Christian Western Europe was cut off from an important source of ancient learning. Although a range of Christian clerics and scholars from Isidore and Bede to Jean Buridan and Nicole Oresme maintained the spirit of rational inquiry, Western Europe would see a period of scientific decline during the Early Middle Ages. However, by the time of the High Middle Ages, the region had rallied and was on its way to once more taking the lead in scientific discovery. Scholarship and scientific discoveries of the Late Middle Ages laid the groundwork for the Scientific Revolution of the Early Modern Period.
Thomas Wallensis was a Welsh Franciscan, archdeacon of Lincoln and then bishop of St. David's.
John Crakehall was an English clergyman and Treasurer of England from 1258 to 1260.
|Catholic Church titles|
Hugh of Wells
| Bishop of Lincoln |
Henry of Lexington
| Chancellor of the University of Oxford |