Gerson, John

, by some called Charlier, an illustrious Frenchman, and usually styled “Doctor Christianissimus,” was born in 1363 at Gerson in France. He was educated at Paris, after which he studied divinity for ten years under Peter D’Ailly and Giles Deschamps, and received the degree of doctor in 1392. Three years after he became canon and chancellor of the church of Paris and, when John Petit had the baseness to justify the murder of Louis duke of Orleans, which was committed in 1408 by order of the duke of Burgundy, Gerson caused the doctrine of this tyrannicide to be censured by the doctors and bishops of Paris. His zeal shone forth no less illustriously at the council of Constance, at which he assisted as ambassador from France, and where he distinguished himself by many speeches, and by one, particularly, in which he enforced the superiority of the council over the pope. He caused also the doctrine of the above John Petit to be condemned at this council. Not venturing to return to Paris, where the duke of Burgundy would have persecuted him, he retired into Germany, and afterwards got into a convent at Lyons, of which his brother was prior; and here he died in 1429. A collection of his writings have been published several times; but the best edition is that of 1706, under the care of Du Pin, in five vols. folio. In this edition there is a “Gersoniana,” which is represented as being curious. Thuanus has spoken highly of Gerson in the first book of his history. Hoffman, in his Lexicon, calls him, “ssBculi sui oraculum;” and Cave, in his “Historia Literaria,” says, that no man can be very conversant in his works, sine insigni fructu, “without very great benefit.” Some have attributed to him the famous book of “the Imitation of Christ” but for this there seems no | sufficient foundation. It is not in any edition of Gerson’s works; but its being attributed to Gerson, says Dr. Clarke, has led the friends of Thomas a Kemp is to doubt whether such a man as Gerson ever existed. The Gerson, however, to whom that work was attributed, is not the above John Gerson, but another, the abbot of Verceil, who lived in the twelfth century. 1

1

Dupin.—Moreri in Charlier.—Blount’s Censura.—Cave, vol. II.—Fabric. Bibl. Lat Med. vol. III, 4to.