Peter of Spain

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Frontispiece of work by Peter of Spain

Peter of Spain or, in Latin, Petrus Hispanus[1] (13th century) is the Mediaeval author of Tractatus, later known as Summulae logicales magistri Petri Hispani (Logical matters of Master Peter of Spain), a standard textbook on logic. There is a large volume of manuscripts and printed editions of that work, a strong indication that it enjoyed great success throughout European universities well into the seventeenth century. His is also often credited with a number of works on medicine.[2] Peter of Spain supported an investigation of teaching at the University of Paris which resulted in the Condemnation of 1277 issued by the bishop of Paris, which denounced Aristotelian propositions which conflicted with church doctrine.[3]

Peter's true identity remains debated. The word Hispanus refers to Hispania, often translated as Spain, but including the whole Iberian Peninsula (as a country, Spain has existed since the late 15th century). It is often assumed he was Pedro Julião (c. 1215 – 1277), the Portuguese physician known as Petrus Hispanus who in 1276 became Pope John XXI.[4] Another theory, usually sustained by Spanish authors, asserted the author of the Tractatus was Castilian, and a member of the Dominican Order. Other theories from the fifteenth century point to Petrus Ferrandi Hispanus (d. between 1254 and 1259), or to a Blackfriar (Dominican) from the late thirteenth or early fourteenth century.

Dialectica est ars artium, scientia scientiarum, ad omnium methodorum principia viam habens; sola enim dialectica probabiliter disputat de principiis omnium aliarum scientiarum, et ideo in acquisitione omnium aliarum scientiarum dialectica debet esse prior. "Dialectic [that is, logic, in Peter's terminology] is the art of arts, science of sciences, having the way to the principles of all methods; for in fact dialectic alone credibly argues about the principles of all other sciences, and therefore in [one's] acquisition (learning) of all other sciences dialectic must be prior." — Peter of Spain.[5]

English translation[edit]

  • Peter of Spain Summaries of Logic, Text, Translation, Introduction, and Notes by Brian P. Copenhaver, Calvin G. Normore, Terence Parsons, New York, Oxford University Press, 2014.


  1. ^ Literally "Spanish Peter" or "Peter the Spaniard", where "Spanish" and "Spaniard" refer to the Iberian Peninsula.
  2. ^ Spruyt, Joke (2001), "Peter of Spain", Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy. Revised 2007. Eprint.
  3. ^ Principe, Lawrence M. (2002) History of Science: Antiquity to 1700. Lecture 19. The Teaching Company, Chantilly, VA)
  4. ^ Michael Haren, Medieval Thought (1985), p.148 states that he was a pupil of William of Shireswood and a master of arts at Paris, taught at Siena, was bishop of Braga, and then John XXI. For a more recent defense of the identity between Petrus Hispanus and Pope John XXI, see the preface of W. Degen and B Bapst (2006), Logische Abhandlungen, Munich.
  5. ^ As quoted, for instance, in Papst Johannes XXI by Stapper, Richard, p. 5, collected in Kirchengeschichtliche Studien v. 4.

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