Robert Kilwardby

Robert Kilwardby

Cardinal, Archbishop of Canterbury
Primate of All England
Robert Kilwardby
Appointed11 October 1272
Term ended5 June 1278
PredecessorWilliam Chillenden
SuccessorRobert Burnell
Other post(s)Cardinal Bishop of Porto and Santa Rufina
Consecration26 February 1273
by William of Bitton (II.)
Created cardinal12 March 1278
RankCardinal bishop
Personal details
Bornc. 1215
Died11 September 1279
BuriedDominican convent, Viterbo
EducationUniversity of Paris
Ordination history
Episcopal consecration
Principal consecratorBishop William of Bitton (II.)
Co-consecratorsNicholas of Ely, Hugh Belsham, O.P., Walter Bronscombe, Godfrey Giffard, and Anian Schonaw, O.P.
Date26 February 1273
Elevated byPope Nicholas III
Date12 March 1278
Episcopal succession
Bishops consecrated by Robert Kilwardby as principal consecrator
Robert Wickhampton13 May 1274
Walter de Merton21 October 1274
Saint Thomas Cantilupe8 September 1275
Gerard Grandison29 March 1276
Bishop William Middleton29 May 1278
John Bradfield, O.S.B.29 May 1278

Robert Kilwardby (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 ecclesiastical 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, and became regent at Oxford University before 1261, probably by 1245. He was named provincial prior of the Dominicans for England in 1261, 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.

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.

In 1278 Pope Nicholas III named Kilwardby Cardinal Bishop of Porto and Santa Rufina. He then resigned Canterbury and left England, 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. He died in Italy in 1279 and was buried in the Dominican convent in Viterbo, Italy. 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.

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." 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.

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.


Writings on grammar

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

Writings 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 receptione specierum
  • De tempore

Writings on ethics

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

De tempore has been edited and translated 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.

The Notuel libri Priorum (on Aristotle's Prior Analytics), has been edited and translated by Paul Thom and John Scott (Oxford: Published for the British Academy by Oxford University Press, 2015; two volumes).

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. ^ a b Fryde, et al. Handbook of British Chronology p. 233
  6. ^ Moorman Church Life p. 371
  7. ^ a b 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

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