Bradwardine, Thomas

, archbishop of Canterbury, is supposed to have been born at Hortfield, in Cheshire, about the middle of the reign of king Edward I. in the fourteenth century. He was of Merton colle’ge, Oxford, and was one of the proctors of that university in 1325. He excelled in mathematical knowledge, and was in general distinguished for his accurate and solid investigations in divinity, which procured him the title of the “profound Doctor.” He was confessor to Edward III. and attended that monarch in his French wars, often preaching before the army. Sir Henry Savile informs us that some writers of that time attributed the signal victories of Edward, rather to the virtues and holy character of his chaplain, than to> the bravery or prudence of the monarch or of any other person. He made it his business to calm and mitigate the fierceness of his master’s temper when he saw him eitherimmoderately fired with warlike rage, or improperly flushed with the advantages of victory. He also often addressed the army, and with so much meekness and persuasive discretion, as to restrain them from those insolent excesses which are too frequently the attendants of military success. | When the see of Canterbury became vacant, the monks of that city chose him archbishop, but Edward, who was fond of his company, refused to part with him. Another vacancy happen ing soon after, the monks again elected him^ and Edward yielded to their desires. The modesty and innocence of his manners, and his unquestionable piety and integrity, seem to have been the principal causes of his advancement. He was, however, by no means adapted to 'a court, where his personal manners and character became an object of derision, the best proof history can afford us of their excellence. Even when he was consecrated at Avignon, cardinal Hugh, a nephew of the pope, ridiculed the prelate by introducing into the hall a person in a peasant’s habit, ridiog on an ass, petitioning the pope to make him archbishop of Canterbury, but the jest was so ill relished that the pope and cardinals resented the indignity, and frowned on the insolent contriver. Bradwardine was consecrated in 1349; but not many weeks after his consecration, and only seven days after his return into England, he died at Lambeth. His principal work “De Causa Dei,” against the Pelagian heresy, was edited from the ms. in Merton college library by sir Henry Savile, 1618, fol. with a biographical preface, in which he informs us that Bradwardine devoted his principal application to theology and mathematics; and that particularly in the latter he distanced, perhaps, the most skilful of his contemporaries. These mathematical works are, 1. “Astronomical tables,” in ms. in the possession of Sir Henry. 2. “Geometria Speculativa, cum Arithmetica specuiativa,Paris, 1495, 1504, fol. The arithmetic had been prAited separately ia 1502, and other editions of both appeared in 1512 and 1530. 3. “De proportionibus,Paris, 1495, Venice, 1505, fol. 4. “De quadratura circuli,Paris, 1495, fol. Sir Henry Savile informs us that the treatise against Pelagius was first delivered in lectures at Oxford, and the author, at the request of the students of Merton college, arranged, enlarged, and polished them, while he was chancellor of the diocese of London. As Bradwardine was a very excellent mathematician, he endeavoured to treat theological subjects with a mathematical accuracy, and was the first divine, as far as I know, says sir Henry, who pursued that method. Hence this book against Pelagianism is one regular, connected series of reasoning, from principles or conclusions which have been demonstrated before; | and if, in the several lemmas and propositions, a mathematical accuracy is not on all occasions completely preserved, the reader must remember to ascribe the defect to the nature of the subject, rather than to the author. 1


Tanner.—Milner’s Church History, vol. IV. p. 82.—Henry’s History of England, fourteenth century.—Fabric. Bibl. Med. ad Inf. Ætat.—Dupin.—Cave.— vol. II.—Blouut’s Censura.—Saxii Onomasticon.