William de la Mare

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William de La Mare (Latin: Gulielmus de Lamare; fl. 1272–1279) referred to in the Middle Ages by the honorary title Doctor Correctivus, was an English Franciscan theologian and philosopher who represented the traditional Neoplatonic-Augustinian school.[1] He was a prominent critic of the Aristotelian ideas revived by Thomas Aquinas.


Little is known about William's early years.[1] In about the 1260s, he preached a sermon at the Franciscan Convent of Lincoln and wrote a Commentary on Sentences ("Commentary on the Sentences of Peter Lombardus"). He was probably influenced by contemporary authors John Peckham, who is considered his direct teacher, Walter of Bruges, Roger Bacon, and the Dominican Peter of Tarentaise. In his early works, the criticism of the Dominican Thomas Aquinas is still not very pronounced and remains within the framework of the usual school disputes. The later, fundamental criticism of heterodox Aristotelianism and of Averroes is not yet evident.

A member of the Franciscan Order, William earned his master's degree in theology (Master Regent) from the University of Paris around 1274/5.[2][3] As a professor in Paris, he represented the Augustinian school as continued by the renowned Italian Franciscan Bonaventure. In his Commentarium super libros sententiarum ("Commentary on the Books of Sentences" by Petrus Lombardus), written in Paris, and his Disputationes de quolibet, he also reflects on the process of cognition, which he conceives as the operation of an intrinsic power in the human mind, given to man by God at creation. The resulting human will to reunite with God and an inner illumination of the soul through which the eternal ideas and truths can be known form the basis of the doctrine of the soul for Wilhelm. His views on the theory of science resemble those of Roger Bacon, with whom he shares an interest in grammar, linguistics, logic, and empiricist ideas.

After teaching in Paris, he returned to England, probably to Oxford. There, in 1277/78, he wrote his well-known work Correctorium fratris Thomae ("Collection of Corrections to Brother Thomas"), which can be called the manifesto of the New Augustinian Franciscan school. In it he severely criticizes the teachings of the Dominican Thomas Aquinas. From the beginning it was attacked by the Dominican partisans of Thomas as a corruptorium ("pernicious writing"). It triggered the debate known as the Correctoria dispute.[4][5]

In 1310, de la Mare was classed with Bonaventura, Peckham, and others among the "solemn masters" of the order.[6]


The introduction of Aristotelian ideas in the late Middle Ages, especially by Thomas Aquinas, challenged the traditionally Neoplatonic scholars whose views had dominated until then. Thus, the goal of Wilhelm's writing Correctorium fratris Thomae is also to provide guidance to the followers of this school of thought on how to deal with Thomas's ideas. To this end, William picked 118 articles from Thomas' writings, primarily from his Summa theologiae ("Sum of Theology"), to show how Aristotelian thought leads to interpretations that contradict church teaching.

William's criticism of Thomas was adopted by the entire Franciscan Order in 1282,[7] when the Franciscan Minister General Bonagratia of Bologna (1279-1285) forbade the study of Thomas Aquinas' writings. In 1283, the Correctorium was also formally canonized at the Franciscan General Chapter in Strasbourg. Thomas' Summa theologiae could now be studied by the Minorites only on the basis of the criticism expressed in the Correctorium.

Soon after its publication, the Correctorium itself became the target of polemical publications by Thomists, who in turn corrected it. Especially the English Dominicans Richard Knapwell and Thomas Sutton and the French Dominican John of Paris responded with counter-pamphlets called Correctoria corruptorii.[8]

Inspired by Roger Bacon, William de la Mare also engaged in a critical edition of the Bible, the Correctio textus bibliae ("Correction of the Text of the Bible") and wrote a glossary of Hebrew and Greek words, the De Hebraeis et Graecis vocabulis glossarum bibliae ("On the Hebrew and Greek Terms of the Bible").[2] The glossary is considered one of the most learned of the Middle Ages.

Wilhelm saw theology as a guide to right action and thus as a "practical science". However, not in the strict Aristotelian sense of the word science, but as laws based on divine authority, ultimately dogmatic, which want to lead to faith and should lead the actions of man to beatitude. In this, too, William is in the early Franciscan tradition coming from Augustine.

Although William's major work represented an important step for Franciscan theology, the aftermath of his critique of Thomas Aquinas and the Aristotelian influence on theology was not lasting. His work on a critical edition of the Bible had a more lasting effect; it was received by John Duns Scotus and Peter John Olivi, among others.

De la mare also wrote in favour of a strict observance of the rule of St. Francis. Among his extant works are: Quæstiones de Natura Virtutis, Burney MS. Brit. Library, 358; and Commentaries on the first three books of the Sentences, manuscripts of which are in the Laurentian Library at Florence, formerly in the Franciscan library of Santa Croce.[6]


  • Commentarium super libros sententiarum
  • Disputationes de quodlibet
  • Correctorium fratris Thomae
  • Correctio textus bibliae
  • De Hebraeis et Graecis vocabulis glossarum bibliae


  1. 1.0 1.1 Marenbon, John. "Mare, William de la". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (online ed.). Oxford University Press. doi:10.1093/ref:odnb/18025.CS1 maint: ref=harv (link)<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles> (Subscription or UK public library membership required.)
  2. 2.0 2.1 William de la Mare, University of San Diego, archived from the original on 9 May 2008<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  3. Kraml, Hans (2006). "The Quodlibet of William de la Mare". In Schabel, Christopher (ed.). Theological Quodlibeta in the Middle Ages: The Thirteenth Century. Leiden: Brill. pp. 151–70.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  4. Hödl, Ludwig (1966). "Geistesgeschichtliche und literarkritische Erhebungen zum Korrektorienstreit (1277-1287)". Recherches de Théologie Ancienne et Médiévale. XXXIII: 81–114. JSTOR 26188003.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  5. Jordan, Mark D. (1982). "The Controversy of the Correctoria and the Limits of Metaphysics". Speculum. LVII (2): 292–314. doi:10.2307/2847458. JSTOR 2847458.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  6. 6.0 6.1 Little 1893.
  7. Emily Michael (2009), "John Wyclif's Atomism", in Christophe Grellard; Aurélien Robert (eds.), Atomism in Late Medieval Philosophy and Theology, BRILL, p. 192, ISBN 978-90-04-17217-3<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  8. Fitzpatrick, Antonia (2020). "The Unicity of Substantial Form in the Correctoria Corruptorii Fratris Thomae of Richard Knapwell, Robert Orford and John of Paris". In Sabapathy, John (ed.). Individuals and Institutions in Medieval Scholasticism. London: University of London Press. pp. 71–88.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>

Further reading

  • Bataillon, Louis J. (2005). "Guillaume de la Mare. Note sur sa Regence Parisienne et sa Predication". Archivum Franciscanum Historicum. XCVIII: 367–422.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  • Burbach, Maur (1942). "Early Dominican and Franciscan Legislation Regarding St. Thomas". Mediaeval Studies. IV: 139–48.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  • Caldera, Federica (2005). "Guglielmo de la Mare tra Bonaventura, Tommaso d'Aquino e Pietro di Tarantasia. Dipendenze testuali e originalità del Commento alle Sentenze". Archivum Franciscanum Historicum. XCVIII: 465–508.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  • Detlef Metz (1998). "Wilhelm de la Mare". In Bautz, Traugott (ed.). Biographisch-Bibliographisches Kirchenlexikon (BBKL) (in German). 13. Herzberg: Bautz. cols. 1247–1250. ISBN 3-88309-072-7.CS1 maint: ref=harv (link) CS1 maint: unrecognized language (link)<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  • Krizovljan, Hadrianus a (1961). "Primordia Scholae Franciscanae et Thomismus". Collectanea Franciscana. XXXI: 133–75.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  • Oliva, Adriano (2005). "La Deuxième Rédaction du Correctorium de Guillaume de la Mare: Les Questions Concernant la I Pars". Archivum Franciscanum Historicum. XCVIII: 423–64.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  • Pelster, Franz (1947). "Das Ur-Correctorium Wilhelms de la Mare. Eine Theologische Zensur zu Lehren des hl. Thomas". Gregorianum. XXVIII: 220–35.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  • Pelster, Franz (1955). "Einige ergänzende Angaben zum Leben und zu den Schriften des Wilhelm de la Mare OFM". Franziskanische Studien. XXXVII: 75–80.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  • Pertosa, Alessandro (2010). "La Disputa sulla Libertà del Volere alla Fine del XIII Secolo: da Guglielmo de la Mare alla Reazione dei Correctoria". Divus Thomas. CXIII (2): 144–67. JSTOR 45076272.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  • Vella, A. (1950). "Early Thomistic Controversies". Melita Theologica. III (2): 57–74.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>

 This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domainLittle, Andrew George (1893). [https%3A%2F%2Fen.wikisource.org%2Fwiki%2FMara%2C_William_de_%28DNB00%29 "Mara, William de" ] Check |ws link in chapter= value (help). In Lee, Sidney (ed.). Dictionary of National Biography. 36. London: Smith, Elder & Co.CS1 maint: ref=harv (link)<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>

External links