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THE DE ANIMA OF JOHN SHARPE We are fortunate that bibliographers in late-medieval England have left detailed records of works written in that country. Yet, if one searches for these works today, one discovers only a small fraction extant. Not many of them were printed, and many manuscripts containing them were lost through carelessness or wanton destruction. There is one writer, however, whose works have survived in some number: John Sharpe, whose writings have not yet been studied. Since there is such a scarcity of material available for studying the philosophy taught in late-medieval England, this study proposes to give an account of Sharpe's De Anima, perhaps his most interesting work, and probably the only extant De Anima written in England from the death of John Wycliffe (1384) until long after the Reformation. Life and Works Not a great deal is known of John Sharpe's life. He is not mentioned in the Dictionary of National Biography. Most of the information about him comes from Dr. Emden's A Biographical Register of the University of Oxford to A.D. 1500.1 Sharpe was of the diocese of Münster in Westphalia , and came from Hannonia, in present-day Belgium. He received his B. A. from the University of Prague in 1379.2 It is known that he was a fellow at Queen's College, Oxford, at least from 1391 to 1403, that he became a Master of Arts, and that he held various posts at the College, including that of provost. His admission to Queen's may well have been due to a recommendation by the College's patron, Anne of Bohemia, who was consort of King Richard II from 1382 to her death in 1394.3 John was ordained a secular priest in 1393 and admitted as a bachelor of theology in 1396—97. Though Dr. Emden does not mention that Sharpe obtained his doctorate in theology, there is evidence that he 1 (Oxford, 1957—59), III, 1680. 2 Monumenta Historiae Universitatis Carola-Ferdinandeae Pragensis, ed. Dittrich and Spirk (Prague, 1830—48), 1, 190—191. 1 am indebted to Dr. John M. Fletcher and Dr. Emden for this reference. 8 I am again indebted to Dr. Emden for this suggestion. 250LEONARD A. KENNEDY, C. S. B. did so. Two writers4 call him doctor, one of these being Thomas Gascoigne of Oxford, who was in a position to know about such a matter. Sharpe is also called a doctor of theology in two other manuscripts.5 The date of his death is not known. It would seem that in his day he was considered an important person. Thomas Gascoigne calls him doctor famosus* and a scribe refers to him as doctor eximius.1 Leland, Bale, Pits, and Tanner, the chief bibliographers of fifteenth-century England, all indicate that he established a reputation as a writer. His importance is also attested by the large number of extant manuscripts containing his works. None of his works has been printed. The certainly authentic ones include : (a)Questio de anima, in eight manuscripts.8 (b)Commentary on Aristotle's Physics, in seven manuscripts. ß (c)Questio super universalia, in four manuscripts.10 (d)Six anti-Wyclifite tractates in a Merton College manuscript at Oxford.11 The titles are : De orationibus sanctorum, De suffragiis viatorum, De pluralitate beneficiorum, De potestate sacerdotii, De adoratione imaginum , De peregrinationibus. G. F. Warner and J. G. Gilson think that the last two may be found in a revised version in another manuscript,12 but the initial words of these works in this manuscript are the same as those listed by Tanner among the works of the Franciscan William Woodford (d. c. 1399),13 and probably belong to Woodford. 4 Cambridge University Library, Ms. Ff. 3. 27, f. 45 ?; Balliol College, Oxford, Ms. 192, f. 2 v. 6 Bodleian Library, Oxford, Ms. Rawl. C. 677; Vatican Library, Codices Reginenses Latini, codex 392, f. 99 v. ß R. A. B. Mynors, Catalogue of the Manuscripts of Balliol College, Oxford (Oxford, 1963), p. 193. 7 Vatican Library, Codices Reginenses Latini, codex 392, f. 99V. 8 Balliol College, Oxford, Ms. 93; Merton College, Oxford, Ms. CI. 13; All Souls College, Oxford, Ms...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1945-9718
Print ISSN
0080-5459
Pages
pp. 249-270
Launched on MUSE
2015-07-01
Open Access
No
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