Netter, Thomas

views updated


Carmelite theologian, generally known as Thomas Netter of Walden; b. Saffron Walden, Essex, England, c. 1370; d. Rouen, France, Nov. 2, 1430. At an early age he entered the carmelite order at London where he was ordained in 1396. His subsequent studies at Oxford brought him into contact with Wyclifite teaching, the logic of which at first attracted him. He soon discovered, however, that J. wyclif was "an open counterfeiter of Scripture" and devoted much of his energy to refuting Wyclif and eliminating Lollardy. His main work on this subject, Doctrinale fidei catholicae contra Wiclevistas et Hussitas, was written c. 1421 at the request of Henry V. He was present at the trials of J. Oldcastle and other lollards and is reputed to have criticized Henry V for not proceeding more vigorously against Lollards; the same issues led him into controversy with Peter payne at Oxford. At the councils of pisa and constance he served as a delegate for his order, of which he was elected provincial for England in 1414. In 1419 he was sent by Henry V as envoy to Vladislav, King of Poland; Alexander, Duke of Lithuania; and Michael, Grand Master of the Teutonic Knights. Three years later he attended Henry V on his deathbed and preached the sermon at his funeral. Appointed confessor to the young Henry VI, Netter accompanied the king to France in 1430, and died in Rouen, where he was buried. Though Netter is notorious in English tradition as the hammer of the Lollards, he is remembered among the Carmelites as a distinguished scholar and restorer of the order's discipline.

Bibliography: b. zimmerman, ed., "Epistolae Waldensis," in Mon. Hist. Carmelitana (Lerins 1907) 444482. j. mercier, Dictionnaire de théologie catholique, ed. a. vacant et al., 15 v. (Paris 190350; Tables générales 1951) 15.2:350506. d. knowles, The Religious Orders in England, 3 v. (Cambridge, Eng. 194860) 2:146148. a. b. emden, A Biographical Register of the University of Oxford to A.D. 1500, 3 v. (Oxford 195759) 2:134344. j. a. robson, Wyclif and the Oxford Schools (Cambridge, Eng. 1961).

[d. nicholl]