Matthew of Vendôme

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Matthew of Vendôme (Matheus or Matthaeus Vindocinensis) was a French author of the 12th century, writing in Latin, who had been was a pupil of Bernard Silvestris, at Tours, as he himself writes.

Abbot of St. Denis, he was a close adviser to Louis IX of France.[1]


De Vendôme is known for his Ars Versificatoria, a theoretical work on (Latin) versification, and as the author of Milo, an elegiac comedy; and also wrote on the art of letter-writing, the Ars dictaminis, as with the poor student's begging letter: "I am in want. I have no books and no clothes. Paris drinks money. What tiger would refuse its kitten?"[2]

His works have been issued in a scholarly edition in three volumes: Mathei Vindocinensis Opera; edidit Franco Munari. 3 vols. Roma: Edizioni di storia e letteratura, 1977-1988. v.1. Catalogo dei manoscritti—v.2. Piramus et Tisbe, Milo, Epistule, Tobias—v.3. Ars versificatoria.

Appraisals of the Ars Versificatoria[edit]

According to E. R. Curtius,

... he lays stress upon brevity as characteristic of the modern stylistic ideal, in contrast to the ancients. [...] He is the first theoretician who consciously wants to be "modern".[3]

Helen Waddell however considered that "Matthew of Vendóme is responsible for perhaps the dullest Art of Poetry that has ever been written";[4] while the work has also been criticised for its lack of organisation.[5]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ J. B. Bury, Cambridge Medieval History (1929) VOL VI p. 333-4
  2. ^ Quoted in Helen Waddell, The Wandering Scholars (Fontana nd) p. 300
  3. ^ European Literature and the Latin Middle Ages, New York: Bollingen Foundation, 1953; p. 490
  4. ^ Helen Waddell, The Wandering Scholars (Fontana nd) p. 144
  5. ^ W. M. Purcell, Ars Poetriae (1996) p. 57

Further reading[edit]

E. Faral, Les Arts Poétiques du XIIe et du XIIIe siècle (Paris 1923)