Academic journal article The Catholic Historical Review

Jacques De Vitry (1175/1180-1240) Entre l'Orient et l'Occident: L'évêque Aux Trois Visages

Academic journal article The Catholic Historical Review

Jacques De Vitry (1175/1180-1240) Entre l'Orient et l'Occident: L'évêque Aux Trois Visages

Article excerpt

Jacques de Vitry (1175/1180-1240) entre l'Orient et l'Occident: L'évêque aux trois visages. By Jean Donnadieu. [Témoins de notre histoire.] (Turnhout, Belgium: Brepols. 2015. Pp. 283. euro60,00. ISBN 978-2-503-55418-1.)

Jacques de Vitry was an exceptional figure within the medieval Church. Born in the late 1170s, Jacques spent his formative years at the University of Paris under the influence of Peter the Chanter and his circle, which included many leading churchmen and theologians of the time, such as the later Pope Innocent III. After Paris, he became a canon at St. Nicholas at Oignies, where he met Marie de Nivelles, and later became a preacher for the Albigensian Crusade and the Fifth Crusade, which he also accompanied to Egypt. By then, he had been elected bishop of Acre (1216-29) and finally crowned his career as cardinal of Tusculum (1229- 40), spending his final years as a key member of the papal curia under Pope Gregory IX.

Jean Donnadieu is particularly well suited to tell Jacques's life, having previously edited his Historia Orientalis (Turnhout, Belgium, 2008). He is well aware that we are not in a position to write a proper biography of Jacques. We primarily know him through his own writings, and there is very little outside information about his life or personality. Jacques left a great number of writings: two grand chronicles, a number of letters, a large collection of sermons, and a life of Marie (de Nivelles) of Oignies. In them, directly or serendipitously, Jacques describes and comments on the great changes occurring-particularly in the Church-during his lifetime. What Donnadieu does is to look at Jacques through his writings, using them as commentaries on the historical contexts that ruled Jacques's life. The subtitle, "l'éveque aux trois visages," refers to Jacques's roles as preacher, prelate, and writer, as these were the key aspects of his impact as a historical figure. …

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