Robert Grosseteste Dies October 9th, 1253

By Cavendish, Richard | History Today, October 2003 | Go to article overview

Robert Grosseteste Dies October 9th, 1253


Cavendish, Richard, History Today


DESCRIBED as 'a medieval Dr Johson in his powers of mind and personality', Robert Grosseteste (Bighead or even Fathead), Bishop Lincoln, was probably in his eighties when he died at his favourite manor house at Buckden in Huntingdonshire. A leading Biblical scholar and commentator also wrote extensively on philosophy and science, a his translations included Aristotle's Nicomachean Ethics and Physics.

Grosseteste came from lower ranks of society. He hinted himself up by his own bootstraps and he believed that the fundamental duty of the Church was pastoral, the care of souls. He explained what he meant at Lyons in 1250. 'The pastoral charge does not consist merely in administering the sacraments, saying the canonical hours, celebrating masses, but in the truthful teaching of the living truth, in the awe-inspiring condemnation of vice and severe punishment of it when necessary. consists also in feeding the hungry, giving drink to the thirsty, covering the naked receiving guests, visiting the sick and those in prison ... By the doing of these things is the people to be taught the holy duties of the active life.'

Lincoln was the largest diocese in England, stretching from the Humber to the Thames and containing about one fifth of the entire population of the country. Appointed bishop 1235, Grosseteste descended on it in the spirit of a bull ushered into a nice, neat china-shop. According to the chronicler Matthew Paris, eh regarded himself as personally responsible for the spiritual welfare of every individual in the diocese. Anything that stood in the way--civilised precedents, hallowed customs, accepted bendings of the rules--he attacked with a brutal truculence that aroused resentment and opposition, and he quarrelled fiercely with the clergy of Lincoln Cathedral. …

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Robert Grosseteste Dies October 9th, 1253
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