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The Secular Clergy in England, 1066–1216$
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Hugh M. Thomas

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780198702566

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: October 2014

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198702566.001.0001

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Secular Clerics as Authors and Intellectuals

Secular Clerics as Authors and Intellectuals

(p.266) 12 Secular Clerics as Authors and Intellectuals
The Secular Clergy in England, 1066–1216

Hugh M. Thomas

Oxford University Press

During the long twelfth century, secular clerics authored increasing numbers of works in a variety of genres, including sermons, poems, chronicles, romances, and works on theology, law, and government. English clerics were particularly fascinated with the natural world, magic, and astrology, and played an outsized role in the transmission of Arabic learning into Europe. They not only fostered the flowering of Latin literature during the long twelfth century but also played a surprising role in the development of writing in French, and occasionally produced works in English. Clerics also put learning to use in practical terms, through teaching and the practice of law and medicine. Taken together, these works and practices underscore the contribution of secular clerics to the intellectual aspects of the twelfth-century renaissance. However, there was much controversy over the uses of learning in the period, and there was particular concern about the worldliness of so much clerical learning and writing.

Keywords:   secular clergy, intellectuals, learning, renaissance, literature, classics, astrology, magic, translation

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