William of Alnwick

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Franciscan theologian, philosopher and bishop; b. Alnwick, Northumbria; d. Avignon, March 1333. William was the 42nd master of the Franciscan house at Oxford, (c. 1316); previously he had been at Paris as well as Oxford, and had studied under duns scotus. The extent to which he collaborated with Scotus in preparing the latter's Ordinatio is still to be determined. Following the years at Paris and Oxford, he taught at Montpellier, Bologna, and Naples. In 1322, he participated in the Franciscan general chapter of Perugia and signed a document, De paupertate Christi, against Pope john xxii (see poverty controversy). In the following year the bishops of Bologna and Ferrara were ordered by the pope to proceed against "William the Englishman" as a result of this. This perhaps necessitated his departure to Naples, where he became a friend of Robert of Sicily. Sometime shortly before July 31, 1330, he was made bishop of Giovinazzo. Nothing survives of his episcopate with the exception of a single sermon.

William seems to have produced three redactions (one incomplete) on the first book of the Sentences and two on the second; the fourth is incomplete in the one copy extant (Assisi cod. 172). In addition, he has left innumerable Quaestiones, some of which are important for the interpretation of Duns Scotus and other contemporary thinkers. At least one manuscript (Vat. lat. 876, fol. 310va), credits him with the so-called Additiones magnae to the first two books of Duns Scotus' commentary on the Sentences.

In his writings William shows himself familiar with the outstanding doctors of his day as with those of the past. Above all, it is Scotus who is both master and model for William and often the object of severe criticism. Thus he criticizes, abandons or modifies positions that were considered fundamental to scotism, e.g., the formal distinction between the divine essence and perfections, the univocity of being, haecceitas, and Scotus' stand on the immortality of the soul (see immortality). William's De esse intelligibili (c. 1316) investigates the degree of being an idea possesses in itself as a distinct object of divine knowledge. In his later Determinations composed at Bologna, several questions reflect the presence of Latin averroism in that university; others show a growing interest in problems of physics. William of Alnwick was opposed by william of ockham, peter thomae, and perhaps by walter of chatton.

Bibliography: É. h. gilson, History of Christian Philosophy in the Middle Ages (New York 1955), 768. t. kÄppeli, "Predigten am Päpstlichen Hof von Avignon," Archivum Fratrum Praedicatorum 19 (1949) 388393. a. maier, "Wilhelm von Alnwicks Bologneser Quaestiones gegen den Averroismus," Gregorianum 30 (1949) 265308; "Das Problem des Kontinuums in der Philosophic des 13. und 14. Jahrhunderts," Antonianum 20 (1945) 331368. t. noone, "La Distinction Formelle dans l'Ecole Scotiste," Revue des Siences Philosophiques et Theologiques 83 (Ja 1999), 5372. a. wolter, "Alnwick on Scotus and Divine Occurrence," in Greek and Medieval Studies in Honor of Leo Sweeney, SJ. (New York 1995), 255283. j. m. m. h. thijssen, "The Response to Thomas Aquinas in the Early Fourteenth Century: Eternity and Infinity in the Works of Henry of Harclay, Thomas of Wilton and William of Alnwick, OFM," in The Eternity of the World, j.b. m. wissink, ed. (Leiden and New York 1990), bibliography.

[i. c. brady]