Gilbert of Hoyland (DNB00)

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GILBERT of Hoyland (d. 1172), theological writer, has been the subject of much confusion with other Gilberts, and especially with his contemporary Gilbert the Great or the Theologian (d. 1167?) [q. v.], who was likewise an Englishman and a Cistercian. Gilbert of Hoyland was a disciple and friend of St. Bernard of Clairvaux, by whom he was admitted to the Cistercian order; in 1163 he became abbot of Swineshead in Holland in Lincolnshire, of which district he was probably a native. The supposition of some writers that he was a Scotsman, and of Mabillon that he was Irish, seems to have no further foundation than an idea that Hoyland meant Holy Island. According to the chronicle of Clairvaux, Gilbert died at the monastery of Rivour in the diocese of Troyes in 1172 (Migne, clxxxv. 1248). His name day is given as 25 May (Menologium Cisterciense, p. 172). We know nothing further as to his life, but in his thirteenth sermon he condemns the rival popes Victor and Alexander, though without mentioning any names; and in the forty-first he refers to Ælred, abbot of Rievaulx [see Ethelred, 1109?–1166], as lately dead, which fixes the date of this discourse at 1166. His forty-eight sermons on the Cantica Canticorum, chapters 4–5, are in continuation and imitation of those of St. Bernard, than whom, says Mabillon, he has scarcely less elevation. These sermons are printed in Mabillon's edition of St. Bernard's ‘Works,’ vol. ii., and in Migne's ‘Patrologia,’ clxxxiv., together with seven ‘Tractatus Ascetici’ in the form of epistles, four epistles and a sermon ‘De Semine verbi Dei.’ The sermons were printed separately at Florence 1485, Strasburg 1487, and Antwerp 1576. Bale and Pits also assign to Gilbert of Hoyland commentaries on the Epistles of St. Paul, the Psalms, St. Matthew (Gilbertus Abbas in Bodl. MS. 87), and the Apocalypse; ‘Sententiæ Theologicæ; De Statu Animæ;’ ‘De Casu Diaboli.’ These are, however, of doubtful authority. According to Oudin (ii. 1484) the commentaries should be assigned to Gilbert of Poitiers. The ascription to Gilbert of Hoyland of a share in the life of St. Bernard is also incorrect.

[Histoire Littéraire de la France, xiii. 461–9; Hardy's Catalogue of British History, ii. 551; Mabillon's Prefaces to vols. iv. and v. of St. Bernard's Works; Bale, p. 246; Pits, p. 269; Tanner, p. 317; Fabricius, p. 55.]

C. L. K.