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The Chronology of John of Salisbury’s studies in France (Metalogicon, 11.10)

  • Olga Weijers (a1)


It seems unnecessary to describe once again the importance of the famous tenth chapter of the second book of the Metalogicon. Many others have done so before me. It is not only the main source of our knowledge of the early years and education of John of Salisbury, but is of importance in any discussion of the school of Chartres. However, in spite of all the attention paid to it by many scholars, no consensus has been reached up to now about its structure and significance. The aim of this paper is to give a consistent interpretation of the text, and thus to show which conclusions drawn from it may be valid and which not.



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1 Liebeschütz, [H.], [Mediaeval Humanism in the Life and Writings of John of Salisbury] (London 1950) Appendix 1, pp 1113.

2 Poole, [R. L.], [’The Masters of the Schools at Paris and Chartres in John of Salisbury’s Time’, Studies in Chronology and History] (Oxford 1969) pp 2367 and 23940 (EHR 35 (1920) pp 333, 335); Brooke, [C. N. L.], [The] Letters [of John of Salisbury, 2 vols] (NMT/OMT 1955, 1979) vol 1 p XVI) Elswijk, [H. C.] van, [Gilbert Porreta, Spicitegium sacrum Lovaniense 33,] (Louvain 1966) p 25.

3 Southern, [R. W], (‘Humanism and the School of Chartres’, Medieval Humanism and Other Studies] (Oxford 1970) pp 6185.

4 Ibid, p 73.

5 Guth, [K.], [Johannes von Salisbury (1115/20-1180), Münchener Theologischen Sludien 1 Hist Abt vol 20] (St-Ottilien 1978) pp 37 and 404.

6 I am grateful to Dr. D. Howlett (Oxford) and Mrs. Th. Payr (Munich) for sending me the information wanted and to Mrs. A-M. Bautier for offering me once again hospitality in the office of the Novum Glossarium.

7 pp 78, 6; 79, 29; 82, 9.

8 pp 79, 19; 80, 13.

9 pp 80, 3; 81, 14.

10 Another example of postmodum in this sense is foundin Metalogicon i.5, p 16: magister Gilebertus, tunc quidem cancellarius Carnotensis et postmodum venerabilis episcopus Pictavorum.

11 Poole, p 239.

12 Liebeschütz, p 111; the same phenomenon is found in the Policraticus, see ibid p 112.

13 So Richard Episcopus is not to be linked with William of Conches locally, as has been done by Clerval, , Les Ecoles de Chartres au Moyen Age (Chartres 1895) p 182f, and Poole, p 237.

14 See Liebeschütz, pp 112-3. John may have visited Provins about 1148, see Letters, 1 p xvii and n 1.

15 See Poole, p 224; Guth, p 44.

16 Liebeschütz, p 112.

17 Schaarschmidt, [C.], [Johannes Saresberiensis nach Leben und Studien, Schriften und Philosophie] (Leipzig 1862) pp 245 ; Poole in his introduction to the Historia Pontificalis (Oxford 1927) p lxxii.

18 Letters 1 pp xiv-xvi.

19 See Saltman, A., Theobald, Archbishop of Canterbury (London 1956) p 172.

20 Schaarschmidt, p 22.

21 See note 3.

22 Dronke, [P.], [‘New Approaches to the School of Chartres’, Anuario de estudios medievales 6] (Barcelona 1969 [1971]) p 123.

23 Nothing of the kind is found, for instance, in H. C. van Elswijk (see note 2).

24 It is interesting to notice that Southern, in his response to the discussion aroused by his article (‘Further Reflections on the Schools of Paris and Chartres in the First Half of the Twelfth Century’, lecture at the International Conference on the Renaissance of the Twelfth Century, held at the University of California (Los Angeles) and Harvard University in 1977) does not stick to his opinion. Instead he remarks (note 28) that it seems as if William of Conches had already retired from teaching when John heard him and he asks ‘Why not at Conches?’ See now Renaissance and Renewal in the Twelfth Century (ed. R. L. Benson and G. Constable: Oxford 1982) pp 113-37 at p 129. This idea, based on Metalogicon i.24, pp 57-8, lacks all pro bability, for if William had retired, it is not conceivable that John attended his lectures for three years, as he states explicitly.

25 Dronke, pp 122-3.

26 Metalogicon i.5, p 16.

27 Dronke, p 123.

28 Häring, N., ‘Chartres and Paris revisited’, Essays in honour of A. Ch. Pegis (Toronto 1974) pp 268329.

29 Dronke, pp 117-40.

30 See note 3.

31 See Châtillon, J., ‘Les Ecoles de Chartres et de Saint-Victor’, La scuola nell’occidente latino delt’alto medioevo (Spoleto 1972) 2, 8001 . He also points out that Chartres was a rich diocese which could afford to pay important masters: ibid, p 803.

The Chronology of John of Salisbury’s studies in France (Metalogicon, 11.10)

  • Olga Weijers (a1)


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