Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Carpenter, Alexander

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CARPENTER, ALEXANDER, latinised as Fabricius (fl. 1429), is known only as the author of the 'Destructorium Vitiorum,' a treatise which enjoyed a considerable popularity in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, was six times printed before 1516, and was finally reprinted (at Venice) as late as 1582. Most of the editions bear simply the name of 'Alexander Anglus,' a designation which Possevinus (Apparatus Sacer, i. 31, Cologne, 1608) took to refer to the famous Alexander of Hales; but the edition printed by Koberger at Nuremberg in 1496 states in the colophon that the 'Destructorium' was compiled 'a cuiusdam fabri lignarii filio,' and begun in 1429. A similar note, giving the same date, appears at the end of a copy of the book written in 1479, and belonging to the library of Balliol College, Oxford (cod. lxxxi.) A more modern entry in this manuscript adds that the author was fellow of Balliol College, an assertion which was also made by Gabriel Powel (Disputationes Theologicæ et Scholasticæ de Anti-christo, præf. p. 39, London, 1606), but was discredited by Anthony à Wood on the ground that no evidence was forthcoming in the college itself (Hist. et Antiqq, Univ, Oxon. ii. 75 a, Oxford, 1674). Recent researches in the muniments have not discovered any trace of Carpenter's connection with the college.

Powel and after him Bale (Script. Brit. Cat. vii. 77, p. 566) claim Carpenter as a follower of Wyclifie; they both refer to book vi. ch. xxx. of the 'Destructorium' in proof of his theological position; but the language he uses in condemnation of sundry abuses in the church is not stronger than was frequently employed by the most correct churchmen of the middle ages, and does not permit us to describe him as a Wycliffite without more distinct evidence. Bale adds that Carpenter was the author of certain 'Homiliæ eruditæ,' of which nothing further is known.

[See also Tanner's Bibl. Brit. p. 155.]

R. L. P.