Robert Kilwardby

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His Eminence
Robert Kilwardby
Cardinal, Archbishop of Canterbury
Primate of All England
Robert Kilwardby
Appointed 11 October 1272
Term ended 5 June 1278
Predecessor William Chillenden
Successor Robert Burnell
Other posts Cardinal Bishop of Porto and Santa Rufina
Consecration 26 February 1273
by William of Bitton (II.)
Created Cardinal 12 March 1278
Rank Cardinal bishop
Personal details
Born c. 1215
Died 11 September 1279
Buried Dominican convent, Viterbo

Robert Kilwardby OP (c. 1215 – 11 September 1279) was an Archbishop of Canterbury in England and a cardinal. Kilwardby was the first member of a mendicant order to attain a high ecclesisatical office in the English Church.


Kilwardby studied at the University of Paris, then was a teacher of grammar and logic there. He then joined the Dominican Order and studied theology,[1] and became regent at Oxford University before 1261,[2] probably by 1245.[3] He was named provincial prior of the Dominicans for England in 1261,[4] and in October 1272 Pope Gregory X appointed him as Archbishop of Canterbury to end a dispute over the election. Kilwardby was provided to the archbishopric on 11 October 1272, given the temporalities on 12 December 1272, and consecrated on 26 February 1273.[5]

Kilwardby crowned Edward I and his wife Eleanor as king and queen of England in August 1274, but otherwise took little part in politics. He instead concentrated on his ecclesiastical duties, including charity to the poor and donating to the Dominicans.[6]

In 1278 Pope Nicholas III named Kilwardby Cardinal Bishop of Porto and Santa Rufina.[7] He then resigned Canterbury and left England,[5] taking with him papers, registers and documents belonging to the see. He also left the see deep in debt again, after his predecessor had cleared the debt.[8] He died in Italy in 1279 and was buried in the Dominican convent in Viterbo, Italy.[7] While in theory this was a promotion, probably it was not, as the pope was unhappy with Kilwardby's support of efforts to resist the payment of papal revenues and with the lack of effort towards the reforms demanded at the Second Council of Lyon in 1274.[9]

Kilwardby's theological and philosophical views were summed up by David Knowles who said that he was a "conservative eclectic, holding the doctrine of seminal tendencies and opposing...the Aristotelian doctrine of the unity of form in beings, including man."[10] Some sources state that he was the author of Summa Philosophiae, a history and description of the schools of philosophical thought then current, but the writing style is not similar to his other works, and Knowles, for one, does not believe it was authored by Kilwardby.[11]

It has been alleged that Kilwardby was an opponent of Thomas Aquinas. In 1277 he prohibited the teaching of thirty theses, some of which have been thought to touch upon Thomas Aquinas' teaching. Recent scholars, however, such as Roland Hissette, have challenged this interpretation.[12]


Writings on Grammar

  • Commentaria Priscianus minor (A Commentary on the books 17 and 18 of Priscian's Institutiones grammaticae)

Wrings on Logic

  • Notulae super librum Praedicamentorum
  • Notulae super librum Perihermeneias
  • Notule libri Priorum
  • Notule libri Posteriorum
  • Comentum super librum Topicorum
  • Notulae super librum Porphyrii
  • De natura relationis
  • Priorum Analyticorum expositio
  • Notuale super librum Sex Principiorum

Writings on Natural Philosophy

  • De spiritu fantastico sive de recptione specierum
  • De tempore

+Writings on Ethics

  • Quaestiones supra libros Ethicorum
  • Quaestiones in librum primun Sententiarum
  • Quaestiones in librum secundum Sententiarum
  • Quaestiones in librum tertium Sententiarum
  • Quaestiones in librum quartum Sententiarum
  • De ortu scientiarum

De tempore has been translated and edited by Alexander Broadie, and published as On Time and Imagination, Part 2: Introduction and Translation. A critical edition of De orto scientiarum was published by Albert G. Judy, for The Pontifical Institute of Mediaeval Studies in 1976.

Kilwardby was also the author of a summary of the writings of the Church Fathers, arranged alphabetically, Tabulae super Originalia Patrum, edited by Daniel A. Callus (Bruges: De Tempel, 1948).


  1. Lawrence "Thirteenth Century" English Church and the Papacy p. 146
  2. Knowles Evolution of Medieval Thought p. 288
  3. Leff Paris and Oxford Universities pp. 290–293
  4. Greenway Fasti Ecclesiae Anglicanae 1066-1300: Volume 2: Monastic Cathedrals (Northern and Southern Provinces): Canterbury: Archbishops
  5. 5.0 5.1 Fryde, et al. Handbook of British Chronology p. 233
  6. Moorman Church Life p. 371
  7. 7.0 7.1 Bellenger and Fletcher Princes of the Church p. 173
  8. Moorman Church Life p. 173
  9. Prestwich Edward I p. 249
  10. Knowles Evolution of Medieval Thought p. 249
  11. Knowles Evolution of Medieval Thought p. 287
  12. Burton,Monastic and Religious Orders pp. 206–207


  • Bellenger, Dominic Aidan; Fletcher, Stella (2001). Princes of the Church: A History of the English Cardinals. Stroud, UK: Sutton. ISBN 0-7509-2630-9.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  • Burton, Janet (1994). Monastic and Religious Orders in Britain: 1000–1300. Cambridge Medieval Textbooks. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press. ISBN 0-521-37797-8.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  • Clanchy, C. T. (1993). From Memory to Written Record: England 1066–1307 (Second ed.). Malden, MA: Blackwell Publishing. ISBN 978-0-631-16857-7.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  • Fryde, E. B.; Greenway, D. E.; Porter, S.; Roy, I. (1996). Handbook of British Chronology (Third Edition, revised ed.). Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press. ISBN 0-521-56350-X.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  • Greenway, Diana E. (1971). Fasti Ecclesiae Anglicanae 1066-1300: Volume 2: Monastic Cathedrals (Northern and Southern Provinces): Canterbury: Archbishops. Institute of Historical Research. Retrieved 11 September 2007.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  • Lua error in Module:Citation/CS1/Identifiers at line 47: attempt to index field 'wikibase' (a nil value).
  • Lawrence, C. H. (1999) [1965]. "The Thirteenth Century". In Lawrence, C. H. The English Church and the Papacy in the Middle Ages (Reprint ed.). Stroud: Sutton Publishing. pp. 117–156. ISBN 0-7509-1947-7.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  • Leff, Gordon (1975). Paris and Oxford Universities in the Thirteenth and Fourteenth Centuries: An Institutional and Intellectual History. Huntington, NY: Robert E. Krieger Pub. Co. ISBN 0-88275-297-9.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  • Lua error in Module:Citation/CS1/Identifiers at line 47: attempt to index field 'wikibase' (a nil value).
  • Prestwich, Michael (1997). Edward I. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press. ISBN 0-300-07157-4.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>

Further reading

  • Lagerlund, Henrik & Thom, Paul (eds.), A Companion to the Philosophy of Robert Kilwardby, Leiden: Brill, 2012.
  • Lewry, Patrick Osmund Robert Kilwardby's Writings on the Logica vetus Studied with Regard to Their Teaching and Method. Ph.D. diss. Oxford, 1978.
  • Thom, Paul, Logic and Ontology in the Syllogistic of Robert Kilwardby, Leiden: Brill, 2007.
  • Lua error in Module:Citation/CS1/Identifiers at line 47: attempt to index field 'wikibase' (a nil value).

External links

Catholic Church titles
Preceded by
William Chillenden
as archbishop-elect
Archbishop of Canterbury
Succeeded by
Robert Burnell
as archbishop-elect
Preceded by
John of Toledo
Cardinal Bishop of Porto and Santa Rufina
Succeeded by
Bernard de Languissel