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William of St-Amour

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A thirteenth century theologian and controversialist, born in Burgundy in the first decades of the thirteenth century; died in Paris about 1273. About the year 1250 he became professor of theology at the University of Paris, and, a few years later, became a leader of the so-called "seculars" at the university in their controversy with the mendicants. In 1256 he published his attack on the mendicants, entitled "De periculis novissimorum temporum", which was followed ten years later by the "Liber de Antichristo". In both of these he went outside the merits of the question in dispute and with merciless wit poured ridicule on the ways and manners of the friars, while he attacked the principle of mendicancy as unchristian and savouring rather of Antichrist than of Christ. The first of these treatises was condemned to be burned, and the author was banished from France in a decision rendered at Anagni by Alexander IV in 1256. In 1263 William returned to Paris and resumed his work as a teacher. For an account of the dispute at the University of Paris between the "seculars" and the mendicants, in which William of St-Amour took a most prominent part, see MENDICANT FRIARS.

In the course of time the work "De periculis", on account of the vehemence of its attack on the very foundation of the mendicant institutions, became a hindrance rather than a help to the advocates of the university's rights, while on the other side the Franciscans especially were embarrassed by the work entitled "Introductio in evangelium aeternum", commonly supposed to have been written by John of Parma, General of the Franciscans. It was only long after the death of William of St-Amour that the dispute was ended, although at Paris a compromise had been reached between the university and the Franciscans and, somewhat later, between the university and the Dominicans.



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