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Walter of Mortagne


Lat. Gualterus de Mauretania, theologian and bishop; b. Mortagne, Flanders, c. 1090; d. Laon, France, July 14 or 16, 1174. Son of the feudal lord of Tournai and Mortagne, Walter went to Reims with the future abbot, Hugh of Marchiennes (110258), and attended the school of Alberic (d. 1141), who had been a disciple of anselm of laon. Walter frequently embarassed his plodding teacher and, in competition with him, set up a school at the monastery of Saint-Rémy. This experiment seems to have been brief; about 1120 Walter was in Laon, where he conducted a school "with an iron rod," and those who "studied under him either acted well or were expelled from school." A remark by john of salisbury (Metalog. 2.17) has led some historians to think that Walter taught for a short time at the school of Sainte-Geneviève in Paris. About 1150 he was dean of the cathedral at Laon, and in 1155 he was consecrated bishop of that diocese.

His writings include Liber de Trinitate (Patrologia Latina 209:575590); De conjugio (Patrologia Latina 176:153174), which early found its way into the Summa sententiarum, formerly attributed to hugh of saint-victor; and 10 letters: (1) to William, a monk, on the efficacy of baptism administered by heretics, (2) on the meaning of assumptus homo est deus, "the man assumed is God," (3) to Master Theodoric on the nature of divine omnipresence, (4) to Master Alberic on the sadness and trepidation of Christ before His death, (5) to Peter abelard, courteously, but pointedly, requesting clarification on reports that his dialectics attempted to remove all mystery from the faith, (6 and 7) to Alberic on the legal effect of a promise to marry, (8) to Master Gilbert, probably Gilbertus Universalis (d. 1134, as bishop of London) discussing the effect of vows on the right to marry, (9) to Master Chrysanthus on various theological questions, and (10) to Hugh of Saint-Victor on the problem of knowledge in the soul of Christ.

Bibliography: Letters. 1 in Patrologia Latina. ed. j. p. migne (Paris 187890) 186:105254; 4 in e. martÈne, Veterum scriptorum et monumentorum ecclesiasticorum et dogmaticorum amplisima collectio (Paris 172433) 1:834848; 5 in Spicilegium Opera et studio, ed. l. d'achery, 13 v. (Paris 165577) 2:459479 (1723 ed., 3 v.) 3:520526. Literature. l. ott, "Untersuchungen zur theologischen Briefliteratur der Frühscholastik," Beiträge zur Geschichte der Philosophie und Theologie des Mittlealters 34.2 (1937) 126347. j. c. didier, Catholicisme 4:178485. Dictionnaire de théologie catholique, ed. a. vacant et al., (Paris 190350), Tables générales 1:1781.

[e. a. synan]

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