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Thomas of Bradwardine

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Born about 1290; died in London, 26 August, 1349. His birthplace is variously assigned to Bradwardine, Hertfield, or Cowden; but he himself states that he was born at Chichester. He was educated at Merton College, Oxford, and in 1325 was one of the proctors of the university who took part in the litigation between the university and Cardinal Galhardus de Mora, Archdeacon of Oxford. As a theologian he attained great fame, being known as the Doctor Profundus. His theological lectures delivered at Oxford were expanded into the famous treatise on grace known as "Summa Doctoris Profundi" or "De causa Dei contra Pelagium et de virtute causarum ad suos Mertonenses". Chaucer couples him as a theologian with St. Augustine and Boethius, a testimony to his popular reputation. In 1335 he was called to London by Richard de Bury, Bishop of Durham, who appointed him his chaplain and obtained for him the chancellorship of St. Paul's Cathedral. He also became one of the king's chaplains, and accompanied Edward III on his continental journeys and French wars. To his apostolical labours among the English soldiers many attributed the success achieved. After the victories of Crécy and Neville's Cross, he acted as a commissioner to treat of peace with King Philip. In 1348 the chapter of Canterbury elected Bradwardine to the vacant archbishopric; but the king, offended by their omission to wait for the congé d'élire, requested the pope to appoint John Ufford instead. Ufford, however, died of the Black Death before consecration, and Bradwardine was then elected with the king's approval. He was consecrated at the pope's court at Avignon on 19 July, 1349; and then returned to England. But the pestilence was raging there, and immediately on his arrival in London he fell a victim to it. His European reputation as a scholar was based not only on his famous theological treatise but also on his mathematical works: De proportionibus (Paris, 1495); De quadratura circuli (Paris, 1495); Arithmetica speculativa (Paris, 1502); and Geometria speculativa (Paris, 1530). Other works of a similar nature exist in manuscript.


SAVILE, Preface to BRADWARDINE'S De Causa Dei (London, 1618); PITTS, De Illustribus Angliæ scriptoribus (Paris, 1623); HOOK, Lives of the Archbishops of Canterbury (London, 1860-84); LECHLER, De Thoma Bradwardino Commentatio (Leipzig, 1862); STEPHENS, in Dict. Nat. Biog., s.v., Bradwardine, Thomas.

About this page

APA citation. Burton, E. (1912). Thomas of Bradwardine. In The Catholic Encyclopedia. New York: Robert Appleton Company.

MLA citation. Burton, Edwin. "Thomas of Bradwardine." The Catholic Encyclopedia. Vol. 14. New York: Robert Appleton Company, 1912. <>.

Transcription. This article was transcribed for New Advent by Gordon & Pat Hermes.

Ecclesiastical approbation. Nihil Obstat. July 1, 1912. Remy Lafort, S.T.D., Censor. Imprimatur. +John Cardinal Farley, Archbishop of New York.

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