John of Salisbury

MRTS Texts for Teaching, Vol. 2

John of Salisbury

By Cary J. Nederman (Texas A&M University )
2005 | 124 pp. | 978-0-86698-331-0 | Paperback 6 x 9 in
MRTS 288 | $15 | £10 |

John of Salisbury (1115/20-1180) has earned a considerable and well-deserved reputation as an original philosopher as well as a prominent commentator on the vast intellectual and cultural changes experienced by twelfth-century Europe. John’s career was so varied that he proves difficult to classify. Educated in France by many of the best minds of the Twelfth-Century Renaissance, John turned to public affairs in the service of the English Church, and became an intimate of archbishops, popes, and kings. Yet amidst his political entanglements and intrigues, he still found time to compose several of the most important and influential philosophical and historical works of his time, including the Policraticus, Metalogicon, and Historia Pontificalis. In addition, he left a voluminous collection of personal correspondence. After surviving the ordeal of the conflict between Archbishop Becket and King Henry II, John spent his waning years as Bishop of Chartres. A large body of scholarship on John’s life and works, not to mention the definitive editing of several of his most important writings, have appeared during the last fifty years. We now possess a far more thorough appreciation of John’s source materials, his intended audience, his interactions with academic and political friends and foes, and his place in the medieval tradition of thought. Yet there has been no comprehensive biobibliographical examination of John since 1950. The present study attempts to distil and crystallize the latest advances in scholarship while making an original contribution to the literature on John. In particular, significant attention will be devoted to his attitude toward his teachers in Paris, the ordering and dating of his works, his relationship with Becket (including his efforts to canonize the martyr), and the interconnections between his career as an intellectual and as a political figure. Although introductory in nature, the study will also appeal to specialists in twelfth-century history. It will be useful to undergraduate and graduate students, as well as research scholars, in history, religious studies, philosophy, and political science.