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John of Salisbury in recent scholarship

  • David Luscombe (a1)


Twenty-two years ago the Historisches Jahrbuch published a review of recent studies of John of Salisbury. It was signed by H. Hohenleutner (1958) and it surveyed work done between 1948 and 1958. In that immediately post-war period there had appeared Daniel McGarry’s most useful translation into English of the Metalogicon (1955); Christopher Brooke had brought to completion an edition and translation of the early Letters of John of Salisbury covering the years 1153-61, and Marjope Chibnall had edited and translated with great success the Historia Pontificalis (1956). There had also appeared, apart from a number of short articles and chapters, Hans Liebeschütz’s book on John of Salisbury and medieval humanism and Helbling-Gloor’s study of John’s ideas concerning nature and superstition (1956).



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1 Many references made in this paper and in the accompanying notes consist simply of the author’s name and the date of publication. Fuller details will be found in the Bibliography.

2 Millor, Butler and Brooke (1955).

3 Liebeschütz, Hans, Mediaeval Humanism [in the Life and Writings of John of Salisbury (Studies of the Warburg Institute, 17: London 1950; repr Nendeln 1968, 1980).]

4 Millor and Brooke (1979).

5 Jeauneau (1966 repr 1973).

6 Millor and Brooke (1979) pp ix-xii (‘John of Salisbury 1955-1976’).

7 Jeauneau (1973) esp pp 267, 278, 282, 343. Also Jeauneau, E., Guillaume de Conches, Glostie super Platouem, critical text (with intr, notes and tables), Textes Philosophiques du Moyen Age, 13 (Paris 1965), e.g. p 98 note a, p 101 note f.

8 Jeauneau (1973) pp 357-9. Also Jeauneau in De Gandillac and Jeauneau (1968).

9 Struve (1978) pp 123-48.

10 Kerner (1976). Also Kerner (1977) pp 57-8, 176-81. On Robert Pullen see also Liebeschütz, Medieval Humanism pp 23-6 and his article cited in n 26 below.

11 Dronke (1969) pp 121-3. Dronke here argues that William of Conches taught John at Chartres in the years before 1141. The same view is taken by J. O. Ward (1972) pp 231-8.

12 Jeauneau (1973) pp xiii, xiv.

13 Häring (1974) pp 270, 295.

14 Saltman (1956) pp 169-73.

15 See Millor and Brooke (1979) p xii; Brooke, C., review of Pennington, K. and Somerville, R., Law, Church and Society. Essays in Honor of Stephan Kuttner (Pennsylvania 1977) in History, 64 (1979) p 262; W. Ullmann (1978) and also Ullmann’s review of Tilman Struve, Die Entwicklung der organologischen Staatsauffassung im Mittelalter (for reference to this review see in the Bibliography under Struve (1978)). See also Kerner (1977) esp pp 149-58.

16 Millor and Brooke (1979) pp ix-x.

17 Barlow (1979) p 253. See also pp 22, 140. John’s appreciation of the value of historical study in general has been underlined by Bohdan Lapid (1971) and a few remarks on John’s unusual catalogue of ancient historical writers, which is also found in letter 101 of Peter of Blois, are made by Glauche, G., Schullektürc im Mittelalter. Entstehung und Wandlung des Lektürekanons bis 1200 nach den Quellen dargestelh (Münchener Beiträge zur Mediävistik und Renaissance-Forschung 5: Munich 1970) p 126, n 49. B. Smalley commented briefly on John of Salisbury’s debt to Sallust (whom he prized most highly for his moral judgments) in her paper on ‘Sallust in the Middle Ages’, Classical Influences on European Culture, A.D. 500-1500, ed R. R. Bolgar (Cambridge 1971), pp 165-75 at p 166.

18 Professor Martin’s fundamental work is contained in her unpublished doctoral dissertation (1968) of which an abstract appeared in 1969. ‘Chippings’ from the dissertation have been developed and published in 1977, 1979 and 1980. See also her paper in the present volume (below).

19 The manuscripts are also discussed by Phyllis Barzillay in an appendix following her evaluation of the work (1964) at pp 26-8.

20 Miczka (1970) also considers the stages of composition of the Policraticus.

21 See further on this Jan van Laarhoven ‘Die tirannie verdrijven…’ (1977). Van Laarhoven also provides lists of passages in the Policraticus in which terms like tiratmus, tirannis and tirannicus are found; he provides too a tabular schema of the contents of the Policraticus. The order of contents in the Policraticus is very much the concern also of M. Kerner (1977).

22 Compare Beryl Smalley, Historians in the Middle Ages (1974), pp 111-13 (on John as a historian) at p 112.

23 J. C. P. A. van Laarhoven, ‘Iustitia bij John of Salisbury’ (1977).

24 See above note 18.

25 P. Lehmann (1956) had already poured cold water on John’s presumed knowledge of the text of Cicero’s De republica. Likewise Eberhard Heck (1966) esp pp 246-55, who shows that John did not have a full text of this work, but relied on intermediate sources such as Macrobius and Augustine.

26 Liebeschütz, H., John of Salisbury and Pseudoplutarch’, Journal of the Warburg and Courtauld Institutes, 6 (1943) pp 339 ; reprinted in England and the Mediterranean Tradition: Studies in art, history and literature, edited by the Warburg and Courtauld Institutes (London 1945).

27 Desideri (1958) edits on pp 79-92 the fragments of, and the references to, the Institutio Traiani which are found in the Policraticus.

28 W. Ullmann also stoutly rejects the argument that John forged the Institutio Traiani. See his review of T. Struve (1978) which is cited in the Bibliography under Struve (1978); also his article on ‘John of Salisbury’s Policraticus in the Later Middle Ages’ (1978), nn 10, 11.

29 It may be noted briefly that Brucker (1973-4) has directed attention to John’s coquettish manner of introducing Greek-sounding neologisms into his Poticraticus.

30 Letter 305, ed Millor and Brooke (1979).

31 Millor and Brooke (1979) pp lix-lxi. Compare now also Anne Duggan (1980) pp 85-7, 94-8.

32 Millor and Brooke (1979) p xlvii.

33 Ullmann’s article (published in 1944) was reprinted in 1975. Ullmann returned to this subject in 1978.

34 See note 33 above.

John of Salisbury in recent scholarship

  • David Luscombe (a1)


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