Bartholomeus Anglicus

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Bartholomeus Anglicus (Bartholomew of England) (born before 1203–died 1272)[1] was an early 13th-century scholastic scholar of Paris, a member of the Franciscan order. He was the author of the compendium De proprietatibus rerum ("On the Properties of Things"),[2] dated at 1240, an early forerunner of the encyclopedia and one of the most popular books in medieval times.[3] Bartholomew also held senior positions within the church and was appointed Bishop of Łuków although he was not consecrated to that position.[1]

Early life[edit]

Little is known of Bartholomew's early life. He is believed to have been born around the turn of the 13th century, to unknown parents. The first record of him was in 1224 in Paris as a teacher, although he is believed to have studied at Oxford University.[1]


The work De proprietatibus rerum was written at the school of Magdeburg in Saxonia and intended for the use of students and the general public.[1] Bartholomew carefully notes the sources for the material included, although, at present, it is sometimes impossible to identify or locate some of them. His annotations give a good idea of the wide variety of works available to a medieval scholar.

The original Latin work was translated into French in 1372 and a number of manuscripts of the Latin and French versions survive. The work was later printed in numerous editions. John Trevisa produced an English translation in 1397. Extracts were compiled by Robert Steele under the title Medieval Lore: an Epitome (1893).[4] A critical edition of Trevisa's translation appeared in 1988.[5]

Stages of Life by Bartholomeus Anglicus (1486).

The work was organized in 19 books. The subjects of the books, in order, are God, angels (including demons), the human mind or soul, physiology, of ages (family and domestic life), medicine, the universe and celestial bodies, time, form and matter (elements), air and its forms, water and its forms, earth and its forms including geography, gems, minerals and metals, animals, and color, odor, taste and liquids.

Alhacen's De Aspectibus, a medieval Latin translation of Ibn al-Haytham's Kitab al-Manazir (Book of Optics), was first cited in this compendium, dated about 1240.[6]

Church positions[edit]

Bartholomew was elected as Minister of Austria in 1247 and was then elected as Minister of Bohemia in 1255. This appointment included Poland where he resolved a dispute between Duke Boleslaw and the Cathedral Chapter at Kraków. Pope Alexander IV appointed him as Papal legate north of the Carpathians in 1256 and appointed him as the Bishop of Łuków. However, he was probably not consecrated in that position due to the second Mongol invasion of Poland in 1259. Bartholomew was appointed as Minister at Saxonia in 1262 and served in that position until his death in 1272.

He was at some point confused with Bartholomeus de Glanvilla, another Franciscan monk who lived a century later.[7]


  1. ^ a b c d "Bartholomaeus Anglicus". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (online ed.). Oxford University Press. doi:10.1093/ref:odnb/101010791.  (Subscription or UK public library membership required.)
  2. ^ "De proprietatib[us] rerum". Rakow Research Library Catalog. Corning Museum of Glass. Retrieved 17 April 2014. 
  3. ^ Steele 1893, p. 1
  4. ^ Steele 1893, pp. 6–7
  5. ^ Trevisa 1988
  6. ^ *Smith, A. Mark, ed. and trans. (2001), written at Philadelphia, "Alhacen's Theory of Visual Perception: A Critical Edition, with English Translation and Commentary, of the First Three Books of Alhacen's De aspectibus, the Medieval Latin Version of Ibn al-Haytham's Kitāb al-Manāzir, 2 vols", Transactions of the American Philosophical Society (Philadelphia: American Philosophical Society) 91 (4–5), ISBN 0-87169-914-1, JSTOR 3657357 3657358 3657357, OCLC 47168716 , p.xx
  7. ^ Wikisource-logo.svg "Bartholomaeus Anglicus". Catholic Encyclopedia. New York: Robert Appleton Company. 1913. 

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