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Hildebert of Lavardin


Archbishop and Latin author; b. Lavardin, France, c. 1056; d. Tours, Dec. 18, 1133. After being educated at the cathedral school at le mans, he became archdeacon there in 1091. He was elected bishop of Le Mans in 1096 and archbishop of tours in 1125. Although he is best known as an important literary figure, his ecclesiastical career was a significant and stormy one. Most notable was his quarrel with King william ii of England shortly after his election as bishop of Le Mans. The king accused Hildebert of using his cathedral to attack his royal castle at Le Mans and forced him to come to England as a virtual prisoner in 1099. Freed to return in 1100, he proved himself an able administrator and a courageous bishop. He successfully completed the rebuilding of the cathedral, preached with great success in his see, and had the popular but heretical henry of lausanne expelled from the diocese. As archbishop of Tours, he was harshly treated by King louis vi of France, at the time under the influence of the notorious cleric-politician Stephen de Garlande (d. 1150). Hildebert presided at an important provincial synod at Nantes in 1127 and attended the First lateran council of 1123.

Hildebert's reputation, however, rests in large part on his literary work, for he represents the very pinnacle of the literary achievement of the cathedral schools, and his Latin style has been universally acclaimed by critics of his own day and after. peter of blois records that he had to put to memory Hildebert's letters as models of style. He wrote on a variety of topics, both religious and secular, but the collection of his works (Patrologia Latina 171:11458) contains much that is spurious. Southern cites him as an early influence in the development of political theory.

Bibliography: j. b. haurÉau, Notice sur les mélanges poétiques d'Hildebert de Lavardin (Paris 1878); Notices sur les sermons attribués à H. de L. (Paris 1887). m. manitius, Geschichte der lateinischen Literatur des Mittelalters, 3 v. (Munich 191131) 3:853865. j. de ghellinck, L'Essor de la littérature latine au XII e siècle, 2 v. (Brussels-Paris 1946), passim. j. de ghellinck, Littérature latine au moyen-âge, 2 v. (Paris 1939) 2:118124. v. besse, Dictionnaire de théologie catholique, ed. a. vacant et al., 15 v. (Paris 190350; Tables Générales 1951) 6.2:246668. a. wilmart, "Le Tractatus theologicus attribué à Hildebert," Revue Bénédictine 45 (1933) 163164; "Les sermons d'H.," ibid. 47 (1935) 1251. r. w. southern, The Making of the Middle Ages (New York 1953). h. o. taylor, The Mediaeval Mind, 2 v. (4th ed. London 1938). f. j. e. raby, A History of Secular Latin Poetry in the Middle Ages 2 v. (2d ed. Oxford 1957) 2. r. r. bolgar, The Classical Heritage and Its Beneficiaries (Cambridge, Eng. 1954). a. dumas, Catholicisme 5:737738. a. hamman, Lexikon für Theologie und Kirche, ed. j. hofer and k. rahner, 10 v. (2d, new ed. Freiburg 195765) 5:340.

[h. mackinnon]

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