Hildebert

Hildebert

Hildebert of Lavardin or Hildebert of Tours (c. 1055–December 18, 1133), was a French writer and ecclesiastic. His name is also spelled Hydalbert, Gildebert, or Aldebert.

Life

Hildebert was born of poor parents at Lavardin, near Vendôme, and was intended for the church. He was probably a pupil of Berengarius of Tours, and became master (scholasticus) of the school at Le Mans; in 1091 he was made archdeacon and in 1096 bishop of Le Mans. He had to face the hostility of a section of his clergy and also of the English king, William II, who captured Le Mans and carried the bishop with him to England for about a year.

Hildebert then travelled to Rome and sought permission to resign his bishopric, which Pope Paschal II refused. In 1116 his diocese was thrown into great confusion owing to the preaching of Henry of Lausanne, who was denouncing the higher clergy, especially the bishop. Hildebert compelled him to leave the neighborhood of Le Mans, but the effects of his preaching remained.

In 1125 Hildebert was translated very unwillingly to the archbishopric of Tours, and there he came into conflict with the French king Louis VI about the rights of ecclesiastical patronage and with the bishop of Dol about the authority of his see in Brittany. He presided over the synod of Nantes, and died at Tours probably on December 18, 1133. Hildebert, who built part of the cathedral at Le Mans, has received from some writers the title of saint, but there appears to be no authority for this. He was not a man of very strict life; his contemporaries, however, had a very high opinion of him and he was called egregius versificator.

Works

The extant writings of Hildebert consist of letters, poems, a few sermons, two lives and one or two treatises. An edition of his works prepared by the Maurist, Antoine Beaugendre, and entitled Venerabilis Hildeberti, prima Cenomannensis episcopi, deinde Turonensis arciziepiscopi, opera tam edita quam inedita, was published in Paris in 1708 and was reprinted with additions by JJ Bourass in 1854. These editions, however, are faulty. They credit Hildebert with numerous writings which are the work of others, while some genuine writings are omitted. The revelation of this fact has affected Hildebert's position in the history of medieval thought.

His standing as a philosopher rested upon his supposed authorship of the important Tractatus theologicus; but this is now regarded as the work of Hugh of St Victor, and consequently Hildebert can hardly be counted among the philosophers. His genuine writings include many letters. These Epistolae enjoyed great popularity in the 12th and 13th centuries, and were frequently used as classics in the schools of France and Italy. Those which concern the struggle between the emperor Henry V and Pope Paschal II have been edited by Ernst Sackur and printed in the Monumenta Germaniae historica. Libelli de lite ii. (1893).

His poems, which deal with various subjects, are disfigured by defects of style and metre, but they too were very popular. Hildebert attained celebrity also as a preacher both in French and Latin, but only a few of his sermons are in existence, most of the 44 attributed to him by his editors being the work of Peter Lombard and others.

The Vitae written by Hildebert are the lives of Hugo, abbot of Cluny, and of St Radegunda. Undoubtedly genuine is also his liber de Querimonia et Conflictu carnis et Spiritus seu animae. Hildebert was an excellent Latin scholar, being acquainted with Cicero, Ovid and other authors, and his spirit is rather that of a pagan than of a Christian writer.

References

  • Barthélemy Hauréau, Les Mélanges poetiques d'Hildebert de Lavardin (Paris, 1882), and Notices et extraits de quelques manuscrits latins de la Bibliothèque nationale (Paris, 1890–1893)
  • P. de Deservillers, Un évêque au douzième siècle Hildebert et son temps (Paris, 1876)
  • Edward Augustus Freeman, The Reign of Rufus, vol. ii (Oxford, 1882)
  • tome xi. of the Histoire litteraire de la France,
  • tome IV. of the Histoire littéraire du Maine (B.Hauréau).
  • H. Böhmer in Band viii. of Herzog-Hauck's Realencyklopädie (1900)
  • Adolphe Dieudonné, Hildebert de Lavardin, évéque du Mans, archévéque de Tours. Sa vie, ses lettres (Paris, 1898); see also : full text from Revue Historique et Archéologique du Maine, coll.DVD-RHAM, Société Historique et Archéologique du Maine, Le Mans, 2006.
  • Wilmart, A., Le florilège de Saint-Gatien. Contribution à l'étude des poèmes d'Hildebert et de Marbode, Revue Bénédictine 48 (1936) 3-40, 147-181, 235-258

External links

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