Hales, Thomas (fl.1250) (DNB00)

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HALES, THOMAS (fl. 1250), poet and religious writer, was a Franciscan friar, and presumably a native of Hales (or Hailes) in Gloucestershire. Quétif and Echard, finding manuscripts of some of his works in the libraries of Dominican houses, without any further ascription than ‘frater Thomas,’ thought he might belong to that order, and other writers, as Bale and Pits, have given his date as 1340. But that he was a Franciscan is clear from the title of a poem ascribed to him in MS. Jesus Coll. Oxon., and from a prologue attached to a manuscript of his life of the Virgin, formerly in the library of the abbey of St. Victor. He is probably the ‘frater Thomas de Hales’ whom Adam de Marisco mentions as a friend (Mon. Franciscana, i. 395, in Rolls Series). The date thus arrived at is corroborated by allusions in his love song to ‘Henri our king,’ i.e. Henry III (l. 82; cf. l. 101), and by the dates of some of the manuscripts of his works which belong to the thirteenth century. Hales is said to have been a doctor of theology at the Sorbonne, and famous for his learning as well in France and Italy as in England; but nothing further is known as to his life. The following works are ascribed to him:

  1. ‘Vita beatæ Virginis Mariæ,’ manuscripts formerly in the libraries of the Dominicans of the Rue St. Honoré (sec. xiii.) and of the abbey of St. Victor.
  2. ‘Sermones Dominicales;’ in MS. St. John's College, Oxon. 190 (sec. xiii.), there are some ‘Sermones de Dominica proxima ante adventum,’ which may be by Hales, for the same volume contains
  3. ‘Sermones secundum fratrem Thomam de Hales’ in French.
  4. ‘Disputationes Scholasticæ.’
  5. ‘A Luve Ron’ (love song) in MS. Jesus College, Oxon., 29 (sec. xiii.); this early English poem, composed in stanzas of eight lines, is ‘a contemplative lyric of the simplest, noblest mould,’ and was written at the request of a nun on the merit of Christ as the true lover. It is printed in Morris's ‘Old English Miscellany’ (Early English Text Society). From the manuscript at St. Victor Hales seems to have also written
  6. ‘Lives of SS. Francis and Helena’ (mother of Constantine the Great). Petrus de Alva confuses him with the more famous Alexander of Hales [see Alexander, d. 1245].

[Bale, v. 49; Pits, p. 442; Quétif and Echard's Script. Ord. Præd. i. 490; Waddingus, Script. Ord. Min. p. 324; Sbaralea, Suppl. in Script. Ord. S. Francisc. p. 676; Fabricius, Bibl. Lat. Med. Æv. vi. 235, ed. 1754; Histoire Littéraire de la France, xxi. 307–8; Fuller's Worthies, i. 215; Ten Brink's Early English Literature, translated by H. M. Kennedy, pp. 208–11; Coxe's Cat. Cod. MSS. in Coll. Oxon.]

C. L. K.