1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Guibert of Nogent
GUIBERT (1053–1124), of Nogent, historian and theologian, was born of noble parents at Clermont-en-Beauvoisis, and dedicated from infancy to the church. He received his early education at the Benedictine abbey of Flavigny (Flaviacum) or St Germer, where he studied with great zeal, devoting himself at first to the secular poets, an experience which left its imprint on his works; later changing to theology, through the influence of Anselm of Bec, afterwards of Canterbury. In 1104, he was chosen to be head of the abbey of Notre Dame de Nogent and henceforth took a prominent part in ecclesiastical affairs. His autobiography (De vita sua, sive monodiarum), written towards the close of his life, gives many picturesque glimpses of his time and the customs of his country. The description of the commune of Laon is an historical document of the first order. The same local colour lends charm to his history of the first crusade (Gesta Dei per Francos) written about 1110. But the history is largely a paraphrase, in ornate style, of the Gesta Francorum of an anonymous Norman author (see Crusades); and when he comes to the end of his authority, he allows his book to degenerate into an undigested heap of notes and anecdotes. At the same time his high birth and his position in the church give his work an occasional value.
Bibliography.—Guibert’s works, edited by d’Achery, were first published in 1651, in 1 vol. folio, at Paris (Venerabilis Guiberti abbatis B. Mariae de Novigento opera omnia), and republished in Migne’s Patrologia Latina, vols. clvi. and clxxxiv. They include, besides minor works, a treatise on homiletics (“Liber quo ordine sermo fieri debeat”); ten books of Moralia on Genesis, begun in 1084, but not completed until 1116, composed on the model of Gregory the Great’s Moralia in Jobum; five books of Tropologiae on Hosea, Amos and the Lamentations; a treatise on the Incarnation, against the Jews; four books De pignoribus sanctorum, a remarkably free criticism on the abuses of saint and relic worship; three books of autobiography, De vita sua, sive monodiarum; and eight books of the Historia quae dicitur Gesta Dei per Francos, sive historia Hierosolymitana (the ninth book is by another author). Separate editions exist of the last named, in J. Bongars, Gesta Dei per Francos, i., and Recueil des historiens des croisades, hist. Occid., iv. 115–263. It has been translated into French in Guizot’s Collection, ix. 1-338. See H. von Sybel, Geschichte des ersten Kreuzzuges (Leipzig, 1881); B. Monod, Le Moine Guibert et son temps (Paris, 1905); and Guibert de Nogent; histoire de sa vie, edited by G. Bourgin (Paris, 1907).