Robert Grosseteste

Robert Grosseteste (/ˈɡroʊstɛst/ GROHS-test; Latin: Robertus Grosseteste; c. 1175 – 9 October 1253)[n 1] 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 canonization 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".

Robert Grosseteste
Bishop of Lincoln
Grosseteste bishop
An early 14th-century portrait of Grosseteste[1]
Term ended1253
PredecessorHugh of Wells
SuccessorHenry of Lexington
Personal details
Bornc. 1175
Stow,[2] Suffolk
Died9 October 1253 (aged about 78)
Buckden, Huntingdonshire
Robert Grosseteste
EraMedieval philosophy
RegionWestern philosophy
Main interests
Theology, natural philosophy
Notable ideas
Theory of scientific demonstration

Scholarly career

An image of Grosseteste from a late-14th-century illuminated manuscript.[11]

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.

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.

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,[12] 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.

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.[13] 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.

Bishop of Lincoln

Bishop Robert Grosseteste, 1896
A 19th-century portrait of Robert Grosseteste in stained glass

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 year[14] at Reading.[15] 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."

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 Chapel
Grosseteste's Tomb and Chapel in Lincoln Cathedral

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.

Death and burial

Grosseteste died on 9 October 1253[14][16] He 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.

Reputation and legacy

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:

  • De sphera. An introductory text on astronomy.
  • De luce. On the "metaphysics of light." (which is the most original work of cosmogony in the Latin West)
  • De accessu et recessu maris. On tides and tidal movements. (although some scholars dispute his authorship)
  • De lineis, angulis et figuris. Mathematical reasoning in the natural sciences.
  • De iride. On the rainbow.

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.[17]

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 [18]


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.[19] 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.

Optics from Roger Bacon's De multiplicatone specierum
Optic studies from Roger Bacon's De multiplicatione specierum. The diagram shows light being refracted by a spherical glass container full of water.

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.[20]

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.[21] 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.[22]


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.[23] Attempts by the Lincoln bishops, the University of Oxford, and Edward I to secure a formal canonization, however, failed.[23] In most of the modern Anglican Communion, Grosseteste is considered beatified and commemorated on 9 October.[24] However, the Episcopal Church (USA) commemorates him with St. Hugh of Lincoln on 17 November.[25]


  • Versio Caelestis Hierarchiae Pseudo-Dionysii Areopagitae cum scholiis ex Graeco sumptis necnon commentariis notulisque eiusdem Lincolniensis, ed. D. A. Lawell (Corpus Christianorum. Continuatio Mediaevalis 268), Turnhout: Brepols Publishers, 2015 (ISBN 978-2-503-55593-5)
  • Opera I. Expositio in Epistolam sancti Pauli ad Galatas. Glossarum in sancti Pauli Epistolas fragmenta. Tabula, ed. J. McEvoy, L. Rizzerio, R.C. Dales, P.W. Rosemann (Corpus Christianorum. Continuatio Mediaevalis 130), Turnhout: Brepols Publishers, 1995 (ISBN 978-2-503-04301-2)
  • The Greek Commentaries of the Nicomachean Ethics of Aristotle in the Latin Translation of Robert Grosseteste, ed. H Mercken (Corpus Latinum Commentariorum in Aristotelem Graecorum VI), Leiden: Brill, 1973–1991
  • On Light, ed. C Riedl, (Milwaukee, WI, 1942)

Works in translation

  • Mystical theology: The Glosses by Thomas Gallus and the Commentary of Robert Grosseteste on De mystica theologia , ed. J McEvoy, (Paris: Peeters, 2003)
  • On the Six Days of Creation, tr. CFJ Martin, (Oxford, 1996)

See also


  1. ^ The name is the Norman French form of Robert Greathead (Latin: Robertus Capito, Capitus, Megacephalus, or Grossum Caput) or the gallicized Robert Grosstête (/ˈɡroʊsteɪt/ GROHS-tayt; Latin: Robertus Grossetesta or Grossatesta).[8] Also known as Robert of Lincoln (Latin: Robertus Lincolniensis, Linconiensis, &c.) or Rupert of Lincoln (Latin: Rubertus Lincolniensis, &c.).[9][10]


  1. ^ Brev. Hist. Ang. Scot. &c. (Harleian MS 3860, f. 48).
  2. ^ Richard of Bardney in his work 'The Life of Robert Grosstête' gives Stow as Grosseteste's birthplace, without mentioning Suffolk. R. W. Southern (1986, p. 77) notes that there are three Stows in Suffolk.
  3. ^ Steven P. Marrone, William of Auvergne and Robert Grosseteste: New Ideas of Truth in Early Thirteenth Century, Princeton University Press, 2014, p. 146.
  4. ^ Charles Edwin Butterworth, Blake Andrée Kessel (eds.), The Introduction of Arabic Philosophy Into Europe, BRILL, 1994, p. 55.
  5. ^ Hackett, Jeremiah M.G. (1997), "Roger Bacon: His Life, Career, and Works", Roger Bacon and the Sciences: Commemorative Essays, Studien und Texte zur Geistesgeschichte des Mittelalters, No. 57, Leiden: Brill, p. 10, ISBN 90-04-10015-6
  6. ^ Edith Wilks Dolnikowski, Thomas Bradwardine: A View of Time and a Vision of Eternity in Fourteenth Century Thought, BRILL, 1995, p. 101 n. 4.
  7. ^ Tom Sorell (ed.), The Cambridge Companion to Hobbes, Cambridge University Press, 1996, p. 155 n. 93.
  8. ^ G.M. Miller, BBC Pronouncing Dictionary of British Names (London: Oxford UP, 1971), p. 65.
  9. ^ "Grosseteste, Robert (1168–1253)", CERL Thesaurus.
  10. ^ Grosseteste, Robert 1175?–1253", OCLC WorldCat Identities.
  11. ^ Grosseteste, Dicta CXLVII &c. (Royal 6 E p. 116).
  12. ^ British History Online Archdeacons of Leicester accessed on 28 October 2007
  13. ^ John Freely, Aladdin's Lamp: How Greek Science Came to Europe Through the Islamic World, Alfred A. Knopf, 2009
  14. ^ a b Fryde, et al. Handbook of British Chronology p. 255
  15. ^ British History Online Bishops of Lincoln accessed on 28 October 2007
  16. ^ James McEvoy, Robert Grosseteste (Oxford University Press 2000 ISBN 978-0-19535417-1), p. 30
  17. ^ Archer 1885.
  18. ^ See the edition by D. A. Lawell, Versio Caelestis Hierarchiae Pseudo-Dionysii Areopagitae cum scholiis ex Graeco sumptis necnon commentariis notulisque eiusdem Lincolniensis (= Corpus Christianorum. Continuatio Mediaevalis 268), Turnhout: Brepols Publishers, 2015 (ISBN 978-2-503-55593-5).
  19. ^ Neil, Lewis,. "Robert Grosseteste". Retrieved 5 April 2018.
  20. ^ A reproduction of this text may be found on the website: The Electronic Grossteste Archived 2 November 2006 at the Wayback Machine – online Archived 27 June 2007 at the Wayback Machine
  21. ^ "Home : Nature Status". Retrieved 5 April 2018.
  22. ^ Michael Brooks, 'Master of Colour, New Scientist, 10 March 2012
  23. ^ a b Cath. Enc. (1910).
  24. ^ ASB (1991).
  25. ^ "Calendar of the Church Year, according to the Episcopal Church". Retrieved 5 April 2018.

Further reading

  • Baur L. (ed.) Die Philosophischen Werke des Robert Grosseteste, Bischofs von Lincoln in Baeumker's Beitradge zer Geschichte der Philosophie des Mittelalters series, vol. IX (Munster i. W.: Aschendorff, 1912).
  • Crombie, A. C. Robert Grosseteste and the Origins of Experimental Science. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1971, OCLC 401196. ISBN 0-19-824189-5 (1953).
  • Fryde, E. B.; Greenway, D. E.; Porter, S.; Roy, I. (1996). Handbook of British Chronology (Third revised ed.). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. ISBN 0-521-56350-X.
  • Ginther, James R. Master of the Sacred Page: A Study of the Theology of Robert Grosseteste (ca. 1229/30-1235). Aldershot: Ashgate Publishers, 2004. ISBN 0-7546-1649-5.
  • Goering, J. W. & Mackie, E. A. (eds.), Editing Robert Grosseteste, Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2003. ISBN 978-080-208-841-3
  • Luard, Henry Richards (1890). "Grosseteste, Robert" . In Stephen, Leslie; Lee, Sidney (eds.). Dictionary of National Biography. 23. London: Smith, Elder & Co.
  • McEvoy, James. The Philosophy of Robert Grosseteste. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1992. ISBN 0-19-824645-5.
  • McEvoy, James. Robert Grosseteste. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2000.
  • Southern, R. W. Robert Grosseteste: The Growth of an English Mind in Medieval Europe. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1986. ISBN 0-19-820310-1 (Oxford University Press, USA; 2 edition (1 February 1992) pbk)

External links

Catholic Church titles
Preceded by
Hugh of Wells
Bishop of Lincoln
Succeeded by
Henry of Lexington
Academic offices
Preceded by
New position
Chancellor of the University of Oxford
Succeeded by
Ralph Cole
Charles Glenn Wallis

Charles Glenn Wallis (1914-1944) was an American poet, and English translator of French, Classical Greek, and Latin.He graduated in 1936 with a BA from the University of Virginia. During 1936-37 he was a member of the Committee on Liberal Education at the University of Chicago, and from July 1937 until 1942 he was a tutor and editor at St. John's College (Annapolis/Santa Fe) Maryland. During those years while he was in his twenties he was the first person ever to translate numerous difficult late medieval, early modern texts into English from Latin, including Copernicus' On The Revolutions of the Heavenly Spheres, Kepler 's Epitome of Copernican Astronomy, and Harmonies of the World as well as the 12th-13'th century English Philosopher Robert Grosseteste 's On Light. He published at least one story, "The Return", posthumously in Nicholas Moore and Douglas Newton's Atlantic Anthology (1945). Like a number of his poems, it is homoerotic in content.

His parents were Benjamin Hayward Wallis and Eleanor Sewell Glenn. He was eight months old when his father died on Jan 4, 1915. Charles Glenn himself died when he was thirty at St Vincents Hospital in New York City on May 4, 1944 on or near his 30th birthday from an accidental fall.

Eye beam

In the physics inherited from Plato (although rejected by Aristotle), an eye beam generated in the eye was thought to be responsible for the sense of sight. The eye beam darted by the imagined basilisk, for instance, was the agent of its lethal power, given the technical term extramission.

The exaggerated eyes of fourth-century Roman emperors like Constantine the Great (illustration) reflect this character. The concept found expression in poetry into the 17th century, most famously in John Donne's poem "The Extasie":

In the same period John Milton wrote, of having gone blind, "When I consider how my light is spent", meaning that he had lost the capacity to generate eye beams.

Later in the century, Newtonian optics and increased understanding of the structure of the eye rendered the old concept invalid, but it was revived as an aspect of monstrous superhuman capabilities in popular culture of the 20th century.

The emission theory of sight seemed to be corroborated by geometry and was reinforced by Robert Grosseteste.In Algernon Swinburne's "Atalanta in Calydon" the conception is revived for poetic purposes, enriching the poem's pagan context in the Huntsman's invocation of Artemis:

In T.S. Eliot's rose garden episode that introduces "Burnt Norton" eyebeams persist in the fusion of possible pasts and presents like unheard music:

The New Zealand poet Edward Tregear instanced "the lurid eye-beam of the angry Bull"— Taurus of the zodiac— among the familiar stars above the alien wilderness of New Zealand.In computer graphics, the concept of eye beams is fruitfully resurrected in ray tracing (in which the bouncing of eye beams around a scene is simulated computationally).

Francis Seymour Stevenson

Francis Stevenson redirects here. For those of a similar name, see Francis Stephenson or Frances Stevenson

Francis Seymour Stevenson (24 November 1862 – 9 April 1938) was a British Liberal Party politician, author and scholar. He was elected at the 1885 general election as Member of Parliament (MP) for Eye in Suffolk, and held the seat until his resignation from the House of Commons on 19 March 1906 (after that year's general election) by becoming Steward of the Manor of Northstead.Stevenson resided at Playford Mount, Suffolk, and at 5 Ennismore Gardens, London. He was born in British Mauritius, where his father, William Stevenson, was Governor, and baptized at Moka, Mauritius. He was educated at Lausanne, Harrow, and at Balliol College, Oxford where he matriculated on 29 January 1881 at age 18. He was an Exhibitioner from 1879 to 1884 (Honors: 2 Classical Mods. 1882, and 1st class Literary Humanities 1884) with Bachelor of Arts 1884 and was a student of Lincoln's Inn in 1883. In Suffolk, he served as J.P and D.L, as well as M.P. for their Eye Division from 1885. He served as President of the Anglo-Armenian Association from 1892 and on the Civil List Committee in 1901. He was Parliamentary Charity Commissioner for England and Wales from 1894 to 1895. He also served as County Alderman for East Suffolk and was Knight Commander of the Greek Order of the Redeemer.Stevenson scholarly works include Parish Councils (1892); Historic Personality (1893); The Case for the Armenians (1893); Life of Robert Grosseteste, Bishop of Lincoln (1899); Poems: In Various Moods for Various Ages (1911); A History of Montenegro (1912); November Sunsets: And Other Poems (1919); and Conflict and Quest (1926).

Henry of Lexington

Henry of Lexington (or Henry Lexington; died 1258) was a medieval Bishop of Lincoln.


The term Hexameron (Greek: Ἡ Ἑξαήμερος Δημιουργία Hē Hexaēmeros Dēmiourgia) refers either to the genre of theological treatise that describes God's work on the six days of creation or to the six days of creation themselves. Most often these theological works take the form of commentaries on Genesis I. As a genre, hexameral literature was popular in the early church and medieval periods. The word derives its name from the Greek roots hexa-, meaning "six", and hemer-, meaning "day".

Using the Genesis account as a template, the days of creation are claimed as follows:


The firmament of Heaven

Separation of water and land, created plant life;

Sun, moon, and stars

Marine life and birds

Land animals, and man and woman.

The seventh day is reserved for rest (Sabbath), and so is not counted.Based on this framework, Christian and Jewish authors have written treatises that cover a wide variety of topics, including cosmology, science, theology, theological anthropology, and God's nature.

Saint Basil wrote an early and influential series of homilies around 370 AD which figure as the earliest extant Hexameron. Basil originally performed the work as a series of sermons, and later collected them into a written work which was influential among early church leaders.

Among the Latin Fathers, Ambrose and Augustine of Hippo wrote some of the earliest extant hexameral literature. Ambrose's Hexameron is heavily influenced by Basil's work of the same name. In contrast, Augustine wrote several works that serve as commentaries on the Genesis narrative, including the final section of The Confessions and The Literal Meaning of Genesis (published in 416). One of the more influential elements of Augustine's writings is his argument that God created the world all at once. At the same time, this instantaneous creation included a progression of events. Thus, creation happened over six days and in one single event.

Following these figures, medieval writers such as Thomas Aquinas, Bonaventure, and Robert Grosseteste wrote hexameral literature.

James McEvoy (philosopher)

James McEvoy (14 October 1943 in Larne, Northern Ireland – 2 October 2010) was an Irish philosopher and priest.He undertook his undergraduate studies at Queen’s University of Belfast and proceeded for theological studies to St Patrick's College, Maynooth receiving ordination in 1968 for service in the Diocese of Down and Connor. He was sent to Belgium for postgraduate studies and was appointed to the academic staff of Queen’s University of Belfast in 1974.

John Crakehall

John Crakehall (or John of Crakehall; died September 1260) was an English clergyman and Treasurer of England from 1258 to 1260.

Crakehall was from Crakehall in the North Riding of Yorkshire and may have been a younger son of Ellis of Crakehall. Ellis was a sub-tenant who held lands in the lordship of Richmond.Crakehall first appears in records when he was the attorney at Westminster for Hugh of Wells, the Bishop of Lincoln, over Easter in 1231. On 9 April 1231 he was installed as the rector of Somerton in Oxfordshire. Hugh named Crakehall as an executor of his estate in June 1233.Crakehell served Robert Grosseteste, who was the Bishop of Lincoln, from around 1235 to 1250, as the chief steward of the Diocese of Lincoln. As steward he was involved in a number of disputes, including one in 1240 over the rights of the bishop to visit and inspect the activities of the dean and cathedral chapter of Lincoln Cathedral. In 1241 Crakehall was Grosseteste's agent in negotiations with King Henry III of England over the prebend of Thame. In 1250 he went with Grosseteste to Lyons to meet with Pope Innocent IV. After leaving the steward's office, Crakehall remained close to the bishop, and in 1251 was appointed by Grosseteste to review the bishopric's finances, which had suffered under Crakehall's successor as steward.When Grossteste died in late 1253 Crakehall was present at the deathbed and his account of the event was the basis for Matthew Paris' account in the Chronica majora. Crakehall served as Grosseteste's executor. Besides his service to the bishops of Lincoln, Crakehall corresponded with Adam Marsh and was one of Marsh's close friends.Crakehall was a canon of Lincoln Cathedral sometime after 1233 or 1234. He was ordained a subdeacon sometime before April 1235. He also acquired a number of minor ecclesiastical offices by 1240 and in 1247 he was named rector of Eddlesborough in Bedfordshire (now in Buckinghamshire, although the parish church of St Mary remains in Bedfordshire). He was Archdeacon of Bedford by 18 November 1254 when he was named as such. He was also a prebendary of Rugmere in the Diocese of London, where he was installed sometime in February 1259. He was ousted from the Rugmere prebend when the papacy appointed another clergyman to the prebendary.Crakehall was appointed Treasurer of England on 2 November 1258. He owed his appointment to the baronial council that was formed under Simon de Montfort, which had recently taken power from the king's hands. As treasurer Crakehall worked to implement the reforms laid out in the Provisions of Westminster of 1259, including revamping the records of the exchequer. He also worked to improve the stability of the royal revenues and during his time in office there was a small increase in the proceeds paid into the treasury.Crakehall died between 8 and 10 September 1260, in London. He was buried at Waltham Abbey. His death was commemorated at Lincoln Cathedral on 5 September. Although Crakehall was ordained in major orders, which normally required celibacy, he had a daughter, Petronilla. Petronilla was married to Alan of Kingthrope. Petronilla and her husband inherited part of Crakehall's estate while the other part went to Crakehall's nephew, William of Cadeby.

John Sarrazin

John Sarrazin, also known as Johannes Sarracenus, John the Sarracen or John Sarrazen, was a twelfth-century scholar. He is known only from his translation of the writings of Pseudo-Dionysius from Greek into Latin.

John Sarrazin was probably a friend of John of Salisbury. He may have written his commentary on the Celestial Hierarchy of pseudo-Dionysius in around 1140. Then, in around 1167, he may have translated the works of Dionysius. Until this point, theologians in the Latin-speaking West had had to read Dionysius using the ninth-century translation made by Johannes Scotus Eriugena, which was not easy to understand. In contrast, Sarrazin produced a clearer version which was used by Albert the Great and Thomas Aquinas, and had a significant effect on later European mystical writing. Only in the thirteenth century, with the translation of Dionysius made by Robert Grosseteste, and then the fifteenth century translation of Ambrose Traversari, did Sarrazin's translation become superseded.

John dedicated two of his translations to the abbot of the monastery of Saint-Denis, near Paris. By his own account, he toured Greece for research purposes and was excited by the work of John of Salisbury. It is believed that he lived for a time in Poitiers.

John of Basingstoke

John of Basingstoke (d. 1252), also called John Basing, was an Archdeacon of Leicester in the 13th century. Basingstoke was an advocate of Greek literacy and seems to have been instrumental in introducing the apocryphal Testament of the Twelve Patriarchs to Robert Grosseteste, bishop of Lincoln. What is known of Basingstoke derives primarily from the writings of Grosseteste and another contemporary, Matthew Paris.

John of Tynemouth (geometer)

John of Tynemouth was a 13th-century mathematician and geometer.

Little is known of John's background, but he authored De curvis superficiebus or Liber de curvis superficiebus Archimenidis, a tract about Archimedes' measurements of spheres. This is an important work in the history of medieval geometry, as it helped transmit Archimedes' ideas to other medieval scholars. The work itself follows closely Archimedes' own reasoning, but with enough differences to lead modern historians to believe that John's work was dependent on a Greek text from late antiquity.De curvis survives in over 12 manuscripts, and was used by a number of other medieval scholars, including Robert Grosseteste, Jordanus de Nemore, Gerard of Brussels, and Roger Bacon.Certain stylistic choices in De curvis suggest that John was also responsible for a number of other works:

De circulo quadrando, a revision of another of Archimedes' works, the De quadratura circuli, which is now in Florence at the Biblioteca Nazionale;

De quadratura circuli;

De figuris isoperimetris, now in Oxford University's Bodleian Library as manuscript Digby 174;

a paraphrase of Euclid's Elementa from the translation of Adelard of Bath, later cited by Roger Bacon;

Quaelibet media proportionalia.

List of philosophers of science

This is a chronological list of philosophers of science. For an alphabetical name-list, see Category:Philosophers of science.

Malachy of Ireland

Malachy of Ireland (fl. 1279–1300), also known as Malachias Hibernicus, was a theologian and Archbishop of Tuam in 1280.

He was a friar of the Franciscan convent of Limerick and was elected Archbishop of Tuam, though never officially installed. He was first mentioned in a letter of 1279 from Nicol Mac Máel Ísu, Archbishop of Armagh, to Edward I of England, Lord of Ireland, asking that Brother Malachy be appointed to Tuam. The king granted this request in a letter dated 22 April 1280. However, five of the seven canons of Tuam chosen as electors voted for Nicol Mac Flainn, a fellow canon. This resulted in Stephen de Fulbourn being transferred from Waterford to Tuam. Malachy had by then abandoned his claim, and his election was annulled.

Malachy may also be the author of a treatise, De veneno, on the seven deadly sins, published in Paris in 1518 and alternatively attributed to Robert Grosseteste. It is stated as having been written "for the instruction of simple men who have to teach the people". The edition stated that he was a Franciscan preacher who was alive in 1300, "a doctor of theology, a strenuous expounder of the scriptures and a most zealous rebuker of vices." Apparently he also wrote a book of sermons, now lost. John Bale recorded that he was well received in Ireland, esteemed at Oxford, and preached before Edward II.

Matthew, Mark, Luke and John

"Matthew, Mark, Luke and John", also known as the "Black Paternoster", is an English children's bedtime prayer and nursery rhyme. It has a Roud Folk Song Index number of 1704. It may have origins in ancient Babylonian prayers and was being used in a Christian version in late Medieval Germany. The earliest extant version in English can be traced to the mid-sixteenth century. It was mentioned by English Protestant writers as a "popish" or magical charm. It is related to other prayers, including a "Green" and "White Paternoster", which can be traced to late Medieval England and with which it is often confused. It has been the inspiration for a number of literary works by figures including Henry Wadsworth Longfellow and musical works by figures such as Gustav Holst. It has been the subject of alternative versions and satires.

Nicholas Farnham

Nicholas Farnham (or Nicholas of Farnham; died 1257) was a medieval Bishop of Durham.

Farnham was probably a native of Farnham, Surrey. He studied at Oxford University before moving on to study at Paris and Bologna. At Paris he first studied theology, but later moved to medicine. He taught at the University of Bologna as a teacher of medicine before moving to England. He was at Paris when the riots of 1229 drove many teachers out of Paris. Farnham came to England because of King Henry III's offers of teaching chairs at Oxford to those displaced by the riots.Farnham was a royal physician before he became confessor to the king and queen in 1237. In 1239, the cathedral chapter of Coventry elected him Bishop of Coventry, but Farnham refused the office. He was elected to the see of Durham on 2 January 1241 and at first he wanted to decline the office, but Robert Grosseteste, Bishop of Lincoln persuaded him to accept. Farnham was consecrated as bishop on either 26 May or 9 June 1241.While bishop, Farnham continued to work for the king. In 1241 he was mediating with King Alexander II of Scotland, and in 1242 he was involved in the negotiations over the marriage of King Henry's daughter Margaret to the future Alexander III of Scotland. As a bishop, he became embroiled in a dispute with a dependency of St Alban's Priory, which was finally settled in 1248 in the priory's favour. The set of constitutions, or laws, he issued for the clergy of his diocese were heavily based on his predecessor's constitutions as well as Grosseteste's for Lincoln.Farnham was often ill. In 1244 he almost died, and had to go to the south of England where he received a miraculous cure from drinking water which had had bristles from the beard of Saint Edmund of Abingdon soaked in it. Once more in 1248, his health declined, and it was this illness that caused Farnham to seek a licence to resign his see from the pope. He resigned on 2 February 1249 and died in 1257. On his resignation, he had three manors assigned to him for his support, and it was at one of these, Stockton in County Durham, that he died, possibly on 31 July, which was the date his death was commemorated at Durham. He was buried in Durham Cathedral.

Oxford Franciscan school

The Oxford Franciscan school was the name given to a group of scholastic philosophers that, in the context of the Renaissance of the 12th century, gave special contribution to the development of science and scientific methodology during the High Middle Ages. This group includes such names as Robert Grosseteste, Roger Bacon, Duns Scotus and William of Ockham as well as Thomas of York, John Peckham, and Richard of Middleton.

Robert Grosseteste, was the founder of the Oxford Franciscan school. He was the first scholastic philosophers to fully understand Aristotle's vision of the dual path of scientific reasoning. Concluding from particular observations into a universal law, and then back again: from universal laws to prediction of particulars. Grosseteste called this "resolution and composition". Further, Grosseteste said that both paths should be verified through experimentation in order to verify the principles. These ideas established a tradition that carried forward to Padua and Galileo Galilei in the 17th century.

Under the tuition of Grosseteste and inspired by the writings of Arab alchemists who had preserved and built upon Aristotle's portrait of induction, Bacon described a repeating cycle of observation, hypothesis, experimentation, and the need for independent verification. He recorded the manner in which he conducted his experiments in precise detail so that others could reproduce and independently test his results — a cornerstone of the scientific method, and a continuation of the work of researchers like Albatenius.

Roger Weseham

Roger Weseham (also Roger de Weseham; died 1257) was an English medieval Bishop of Coventry and Lichfield.

Weseham was probably a native of Weasenham, Norfolk and was educated at Oxford University. He graduated with a master's in arts before 1233. He was then a lecturer at Oxford University. He was Archdeacon of Oxford by May 1237 until 1240, when he was appointed Dean of Lincoln by Robert Grosseteste, who had made Roger a protégé. He was nominated as a bishop and consecrated between 17 May and 4 July 1245.While bishop, Weseham wrote an Instituta for his clergy, in order to teach them Christian doctrine and help them select sermon topics. One of the subjects he wanted his clergy to cover the basics tenets of the Christian faith. To do this, he listed all the doctrines in the Apostle's Creed, and covered possible sermon themes relating to each doctrine. He also gathered learned men around him, including the Franciscan Brother Vincent, John of Basingstoke, a Greek scholar, and Ralph de Sempringham, who became Chancellor of the University of Oxford.Weseham resigned the see in November or December 1256 and died about 20 May 1257. He resigned due to paralysis. He was buried in Lichfield Cathedral.

Roger of Hereford

Roger of Hereford (or Rogerus Herefordensis, or Roger Infans, or Roger Puer); a medieval astronomer active in Hereford circa. 1178 - 1198.

Roger's nationality, year of birth, and education are unknown. The earliest record dates to a commission in 1176 by Gilbert Foliot, the former Bishop of Hereford and then the Bishop of London, of a computus for the calculation of ecclesiastical dates. In this treatise Roger criticizes the calculations of Gerland as used in the standard text of the time, and draws on Hebrew and Arabic learning.Roger's connection with Hereford are established by calculations in his tables setting the meridian at Hereford in 1178. It is probable that he and the Roger Infans attested in charters at Hereford (1186 - 1198), are one and the same.Roger's astronomical treatise, Liber de Quatuor Partibus Judiciorum Astronomie, draws on Raimond de Marseille, and translations of Arabic texts by Juan de Sevilla and Hermann of Carinthia. Additional works on astrology and alchemy, assigned to Roger in manuscripts, do not survive.A translation by Alfred of Shareshill is dedicated to Roger. Roger may be credited for a new method of calculating horoscopes.Roger's importance rests largely as a transmitter of the scholarship of Adelard of Bath and the ancient authors, including Robert Grosseteste, with whom Roger shared a household in his latter years at Hereford.


Stradbroke ( STRAD-brook) is an English village in the Mid Suffolk district of the county of Suffolk. The Census of 2011 gave Stradbroke a population of 1,408, after an estimate of 1,330 in 2005.

William de Thornaco

William de Thornaco was a Priest in the Roman Catholic Church.

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