William of Tyre’s Education, 1145/65
from the “lost” chapter of his History


Chap. 12: The Return of the Author of this History to his Fatherland is Described, and Various Things are Made Clear about his Life up to this Point.

            In the same year, I, William, suffered by the Lord to be an unworthy minister of the holy church of Tyre, writer of this history which he is compiling so that he may leave something of the past to those who come after, after almost twenty years without break in France and Italy in which I have most avidly pursued the academies of the philosophers and the studies of liberal disciplines and the edifying dogmas of heavenly philosophy as well as the wisdom too of law, both canon and civil, returning to my own things, was restored to the paternal home and the embraces of my pious mother (may her holy soul enjoy rest!) in holy Jerusalem beloved of God, where I had my origin and domicile from my ancestors[i]. In the middle of this period, we spent our youth on education in voluntary poverty in the lands across the sea, and dedicated that stage of our life[ii] to the study of letters. We had outstanding teachers, venerable men worthy of pious memory, vessels filled with knowledge, treasures of the disciplines, such as Bernard Brito, who was later bishop in Cornwall, the lane from which he originated, Peter Helias, a Poitevin by birth, and master Ivo, from Chartres by blood and birth. All of these had heard lectures of master Thierry [of Chartres], the most learned man of the older generation. master Ivo, the most recent of them, acknowledged the teaching of master Gilbert de la Porrée, bishop of Poitiers, with whom he had studied after master Thierry. We attended these men’s lectures for about ten years, on and off depending on whether their business permitted them to be there for us or not. We went also to hear other famous men who should be pursued with all praise, not quite so assiduously, yet pretty often and especially in search of disputation, masters like Alberic de Monte, Robert of Melun, master Mainer, Robert Amiclas, and Adam de Petit Pont who seemed among the greater luminaries[iii]. In theology, we diligently listened for six years to a man unique in that subject, one whose works the chorus of the wise embraces with veneration and cultivates with reverence, Master Peter Lombard, that is, who later was bishop of Paris. We also fairly frequently attended the lectures of Master Maurice, who succeeded him in that bishopric. In civil [ie Roman] law, we also had as teachers lord Hugolinus de Porta Ravennate and lord Bulgarus, jurists and men of supreme authority, and we also quite often saw their contemporaries the lords Martinus and Jacobus, most skilled of lawyers, and frequently got ourselves in to hear their expositions. These four seemed like four columns erected on solid bases to hold up the temple of justice.[iv] We further had for the exposition of [classical] authors, an older professor, Hilary of Orleans, and in geometry (especially on Euclid) master William of Soissons, a man with a speech defect but one of acute mind and especially subtle intellect. The memory of all these lives in blessings to this day and their fame survives, for they made learning comprehensible and while passing through multiplied its fruits, leading many to the justice in which they live for all time without ever being forgotten. Their light resembles that of the stars, according to the word of the book of Daniel, where it says: “Very many will pass through, and knowledge will multiply” [Dan., xii. 4: pertransibunt plurimi, et erit scientia multiplex] and again “The just will shine like the heavens, and those who teach much for justice will be like stars in eternity”[Dan., xii. 3: fulgebunt iusti sicut firmamentum, et qui multos erudiunt ad iusticiam quasi stelle in perpetuas eternitates]”. Let the Lord of all be merciful and compassionate and piously mindful of the reward due to the just. And may the eternal prize be allotted for all those things which they in their mercy conferred on us whom they raised up, at least to an extent, from the shadows of ignorance to the light of knowledge and justice[v].

            After we had returned to our own things at God’s instigation, the lord William, bishop of Acre, of fond memory, a Lombard by birth, a sensible and discreet man translated to that church from being archdeacon of Tyre, out of the generosity of his affection granted us immediately upon our entry a benefice in his church with the will and consent of the whole chapter. The lord king Amalric of good memory, whose deeds we have described in the present work, also seemed to have received our arrival with real pleasure and would apparently have at once assigned to us all his benefices, had not certain people motivated by spite raised impediments and to some extent turned the royal mind against us. Even so he did cease to exhibit solicitude on our behalf, and when he found opportunity pressed bishops to promote us to benefices without our knowing this. Moreover he recalled much in conversation with us. It was at his suggestion, which we gladly embraced, that we have written down the present memorial of events in the kingdom after the time of his liberation from the enemy’s hand. But let us now return to the history.

[William of Tyre, Historia, ed. Huyghens (CCMC), xix. 12, pp. 879-82]

[i]               II Tim., i. 3.

[ii]               Eccle., vi. 3.

[iii]              Gen., i. 16.

[iv]              Otto Morena records the same image for the four doctors in his chronicle. Cf. also Rom., iii. 26.

[v]               Sap., v. 6.