Peter of Blois

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Peter of Blois or Petrus Blesensis (c. 1135 – c. 1211) was a French poet and diplomat who wrote in Latin. Peter studied law in Bologna and theology in Paris. It was probably during his student years that he composed a number of Latin sequences after the manner of the Goliards, some of which were preserved in the Carmina Burana collection. He also wrote Vacillantis trutine libramine.[1]

Peter went with Stephen du Perche and Walter of the Mill to Sicily in 1166 and there became the tutor to King William II of Sicily in 1167. He was one of the few Frenchmen to survive the tumult of Stephen's years as chancellor of Sicily. Around 1173, he went to England, where he served Henry II and successive archbishops of Canterbury, Richard of Dover, as a Latin secretary. He was appointed Dean of the College of Wolverhampton, which he found corrupt. Resigning around 1202, he launched an ultimately unsuccessful bid to replace the institution with a Cistercian abbey.[2] Around 1182 he was appointed Archdeacon of Bath, a position he held for 26 years, followed by appointment as Archdeacon of London (1202–1212).

He served as Latin secretary to Eleanor of Aquitaine, Henry's widow. Many of his letters still survive. He is incorrectly associated with Pseudo-Ingulf's Croyland Chronicle. According to historian R.W. Southern, Peter's letters were widely read until the seventeenth century, "for pleasure and instruction by cultivated readers". They conveyed "moral, legal and theological instruction, and...satire on men and institutions".[3] His brother was William of Blois, another poet, who is sometimes confused with William de Blois, the Bishop of Lincoln.[4]


  1. ^ William Doremus Paden - Medieval lyric: genres in historical context - Page 112 2000 - "Peter of Blois, "Vacillantis trutine," ed. Peter Dronke, The Medieval Poet and His World (Rome: Storia e Letteratura, 1984), 298-300. la Vacillantis trutine libramine mens suspensa fluctuat et estuat, in tumultus anxios dum se vertit et bipertit ..."
  2. ^ Victoria County History: Staffordshire: Volume 3, n.44.
  3. ^ Southern,R.W. The Making of the Middle Ages (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1953) ISBN 0-300-00230-0 pp. 213-214
  4. ^ Sharpe, Richard (2001). Handlist of the Latin Writers of Great Britain and Ireland Before 1540. Publications of the Journal of Medieval Latin 1 (2001 revised ed.). Belgium: Brepols. p. 754. ISBN 2-503-50575-9. 

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