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The Clerical Dilemma

Peter of Blois and literate culture in the twelfth century

John D. Cotts

Publication Year: 2012

The Clerical Dilemma is the first book-length study of Peter of Blois's life, thought, and writings in any language

Published by: The Catholic University of America Press

Title Page

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p. iii-iii


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p. iv-iv


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p. vii-vii

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pp. ix-x

This book is the product of over a decade of research, reflection, writing, rewriting, and professional development, and as a result my debts are many. I first must thank Marcia Colish, who through her unique combination of gravitas and passion, sparked my interest in medieval history at ...f

Abbreviations and Short Titles in the Notes

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p. xi-xi

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pp. 1-16

The letter that begins Peter of Blois’s letter collection may be an elegant fraud. Addressed to Henry II of England, it claims that the king himself asked Peter to compile the “letters I have written by and by to various persons” and “gather them into one little bundle.”1 Perhaps Henry sufficiently ...

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1. A Clerical Life

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pp. 17-48

This bitter complaint introduces the only letter in which Peter of Blois reveals any significant information about his early life. A canon of Chartres cathedral, where Peter himself held a canonry in absentia, was waging a campaign of slander against him, and in whispers had accused ...

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2. The Archdeacon and His Letters

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pp. 49-95

One can only guess what the canons of St. Paul’s thought of the author they found in the manuscript Bishop Baldock left behind, or how they reacted to the experience, erudition, and spiritual outlook of an archdeacon from a hundred years earlier. But Peter of Blois was in good ...

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3. The Formation of a Clerical Mind

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pp. 96-130

When Peter of Blois wrote his letters to Reginald de Bohun, he fashioned a relationship that was at once epistolary, professional, and intellectual. Although he and his ally interacted as fellow litterati who participated in the same clerical elite, their correspondence illustrates ...

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4. Courts, Administration, and Pastoral Duty

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pp. 131-175

If the world of schools and masters presented Peter of Blois with both opportunities and difficult choices, the choices posed even greater dangers as he left behind the “scholarly militia” for the “curial militia” in the courts of bishops and kings. The same regular canon who ...

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5. In Search of the Ideal Bishop

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pp. 176-213

Over the course of his career in the ecclesiastical courts of Normandy and England, Peter of Blois found himself ideally positioned to observe the successes and failures of the Church’s leaders. He arrived in Normandy during the culminating years of the Becket controversy, and ...

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6. The Piety of a Secular Cleric

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pp. 214-262

In the first decade of the thirteenth century, as Innocent III tried to eradicate heresy and Francis of Assisi touched the wounds of lepers, as England suffered an interdict, and the schools of Paris approached their formal incorporation as a university, Peter of Blois thought about ...

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pp. 263-267

One of the frustrating aspects of recent scholarship on the twelfth century is that it has placed so many expectations on its actors. Monks are expected to resist Scholasticism and write about charity, Scholastics to systematize everything, clerks to seek out bishoprics, and kings to centralize ...

Appendix: Problems in the Manuscript Tradition of the Letters of Peter of Blois

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pp. 269-288


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pp. 289-311


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pp. 313-320

E-ISBN-13: 9780813217826
Print-ISBN-13: 9780813216768

Page Count: 335
Publication Year: 2012