English Franciscan theologian; fl. Oxford, 1300 to 1313. He was a franciscan at the Oxford friary in 1300 at a time when his fellow friars there included John duns scotus, under whom he undoubtedly studied. He is known to have incepted in theology at the University of oxford by c. 1313. One of the foremost disciples of Scotus and his successor as lecturer on the Sentences (see sentences and summae) at Oxford, Cowton wrote a commentary on the Sentences, which was much in demand in England in the 14th and 15th centuries. The text shows that this commentary was based directly on Scotus's classes at Oxford between 1300 and 1302 and that it was written before Scotus drafted his final version of the Opus oxoniense. Cowton must have worked from Scotus's unedited notes or first draft, undoubtedly between 1303 and 1308. The commentary proves that Cowton was a scotist of high order. Like Scotus, Cowton criticized henry of ghent, whose work he probably knew only through his teacher. Cowton has often been likened to his contemporary Franciscan, william of notingham. About 1400 John Sharp and Richard Snetisham of Oxford made an abbreviated version of Cowton's commentary, which enjoyed a wide circulation, but the basic work remains unedited.
Bibliography: h. theissing, Glaube und Theologie bei Robert Cowton OFM (Aschendorff 1970). s. f. brown, "Robert Cowton, O.F.M. and the Analogy of the Concept of Being," Franciscan Studies 31 (1971) 5–40. a. g. little, "The Franciscan School at Oxford in the Thirteenth Century," Archivum Franciscanum historicum 19 (1926) 873–874. o. lottin, Etudes de morale histoire et doctrine (Gembloux 1961) 27–46.
[m. j. hamilton]