Peter of Blois (Petrus Blesensis)

Peter Of Blois (Petrus Blesensis)

so called from the place of his birth, a learned ecclesiastical writer, flourished in the 12th century. He studied at Paris, Bologna, and Oxford, and there was so interested in scholastic pursuits that he became a student of John of Salisbury. In 1167 he was appointed the teacher and secretary of young king William II of Sicily. Fear of assassination, prompted by jealousy of his success, made him leave Italy, and he remained for a while in France. In 1168 he was invited to England by Henry II; was nominated archdeacon of Bath, and afterwards became chancellor of Canterbury and archdeacon of London. For the space of fourteen years he was one of the most influential men in England, both as a politician and a churchman. He died in 1200. He is said to have first used the word transubstantiation. His letters are very interesting; they are admired for their elegance and perspicuity of language. Besides, Peter of Blois deserves to be pointed out as one of those ecclesiastics of the Middle Ages who dared to speak out against the abuses in school, Church, and State. He complains bitterly of the superficial ways of the clergy, who were then the educators of the world. He reproaches those who moot questions respecting time and space, and the nature of universals (universalia), before they had learned the elements of science. These charlatans strove after high things, and neglected the doctrines of salvation. Peter of Blois's writings have been collected under the title, Opera omnia, nunc prinum in Anglia ope codicum manuscriptorum editionumque optinzarum, edidit J.A. Giles, LL.D. (4 volumes, 8vo). See Wright, Biog. Brit. Litter. 2:366 sq.; Darling, Cyclop. Bibliogr. volume 2, s.v.; Baur, Dogmengesch.; Hardwick, Ch. Hist. of the Middle Ages; Neander, Hist. of Christian Dogmas. (J.H.W.)

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