Peckham, John, Dd

Peckham, John, D.D., a noted English prelate of the Middle Ages, was a native of Sussex, and of very humble parentage. He was born probably in 1240. He received his early education in the poor-school of the Cluniac monks of Lewes. He then went to Oxford, and was there a favorite student of St. Bonaventura. To continue his theological studies, Peckham also went to Paris University, and had the honor to be a doctor of both these schools. He also made the tour of all the Italian universities, and in the pope's own palace lectured on sacred letters to a crowd of bishops and cardinals who were proud to be his attentive listeners, and who every day, as he passed through their ranks to his pulpit, arose from their seats to show him reverence. He subsequently became a Minorite friar, but was suddenly drawn from his retirement by the pope in 1278, and elevated to the archbishopric of Canterbury. The crown did not oppose the appointment, and Peckham so zealously discharged the duties of the primacy that al parties in England esteemed him. He began his administration by calling a provincial synod, and among its most memorable acts is the one enjoining every parish priest to explain to his flock the fundamentals of the Christian faith, laying aside all the niceties of school distinction. Peckham not only visited his whole diocese, but traveled over the greater part of England, informing himself of the exact state of ecclesiastical affairs in the country. He also took an active interest in the university reform at Oxford. He was such a rigid disciplinarian that he made many enemies, and was by them accused of a too great love of money, and of having favored his own family in the disposition of offices. But these charges seem unreasonable when we consider his simplicity of character and habits, and his studious application to the wants of all, poor or rich, exalted or humble. Thus he hesitated not to remonstrate with king Edward I for his tyranny and to rebuke the great earl of Warren for allowing his deer and cattle to trample down a poor man's field of corn. It is a significant fact that he always retained a prebend attached to the see of Lyons, in case he might at any time be forced to quit England; and Godwin tells us that after Peckham's time this benefice continued to be annexed to the see of Canterbury, in order to provide against the case of the more than probable exile of the primates. He died in 1292. He is spoken of in appearance as "stately in gesture, gait, and outward show, vet of an exceeding meek, facile, and liberal temper" (Harpsfield). Archbishop Peckham was a voluminous writer. Besides his theological and scholastic works, there are poems, treatises' on geometry, optics, and astronomy, others on mystical divinity, others on the pastoral office intended for the use of the parochial clergy, and some apparently drawn up to facilitate the instruction of the poor. His most important works are, Pithsani Archiepi-Canthuariensis, Ordinis fratrum minorum, liber de oculi morali (s. 1. et a.; but published by A. Sorg., c. 1475, fol.): —Perspectiva Communis (Venice, 1504, 4to; Norimb. 1542, 4to; Paris, 1556, 4to; Colon. 1592, 4to): — De Summa Trinitate, et Fide Catholica (Lond. 1510, 16mo):—-Collectanea Bibliorum, libri quinque (Colon.

1510, 1591; Paris, 1514). See Hoefer, Nouv. Biog. Generale, s.v.; Wood, Annals; Wharton, Anglia Sacra; Archceol. vol. x; Churton, Hist. of the Early English Church, p. 370 sq.; Collier, Eccles. Hist. of England, vol. i, bk. v, p. 484; Fleury, Hist. Ecclesiastique, 18:562; Green, Short Hist. of the English People, p. 174.

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