Richard of Middleton (Mediavilla)

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Franciscan philosopher and theologian, honored with the title of Doctor solidus; b. c. 1249; d. Reims, March 30, 1302. Some hold that he is of English origin; others hold that he is French. On Sept. 20, 1295, he was elected provincial minister of the province of France [see H. Lippens, Archivum Franciscanum historicum 37 (1944) 347], a fact, however that does not settle the question of his nationality.

The earliest certain date in his life is 1283, when, together with other theologians, Richard was appointed to examine the writings of peter john olivi. In that year he held the degree of bachelor, but by the following year he had become a doctor of theology. He probably studied at Paris under Pietro Falco, william de la mare, and matthew of aquasparta. From 1284 to 1287 he was magister regens of the Franciscan studium in Paris. He is last heard of in 1296 when he was near Naples in the company of St. Louis of Toulouse.

Richard's principal work is his commentary on the Sententiae of peter lombard. He wrote also 45 Quaestiones disputatae, mostly unpublished, and three series of Quodlibeta that reflect the problems discussed by henry of ghent, godfrey of fontaines, giles of lessines, and giles of rome. Four of his sermons are extant. Richard's interest in the experimental sciences may be indicative of an English background. He often uses arguments drawn from experience and favors induction. In general, he remains faithful to Augustinian-Bonaventurian views, but on some points he tends toward Thomism or proffers personal opinions. He held that intellectual knowledge proceeds from abstraction, through the work of the intellectus agens, without a special divine illumination. He also attributed to matter the smallest degree of actuality so that, if God willed, matter could exist even without a form.

See Also: forms, unicity and plurality of.

Bibliography: s. brown, "Richard of Middleton, OFM on Esse and Essence," Franciscan Studies 8 (1976) 4976. p. van veldhuijsen, "Richard of Middleton on the Question Whether the World Could Have Been Eternally Produced by God," in j. b. m. wissink, ed., The Eternity of the World in the Thought of Thomas Aquinas and His Contemporaries (Leiden 1990), 6981. m. henninger, "Hervaeus Natalis and Richard of Mediavilla," in j. j. e. gracia, ed., Individuation in Scholasticism (Albany 1994) 299318. l. cova, Originale Peccatum e Concupiscentia in Riccardo di Mediavilla (Rome 1984), bibliography. a. perez-estevez, La Materia, De Avicena a la Escuela Franciscana: Avicena, Averroes, Tomas de Aquino, Pecham, Marston, Olivo, Mediavilla, Duns Escoto (Maracaibo 1998), bibliography.

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