Peter of Blois (DNB00)

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PETER of Blois (fl. 1190), archdeacon of Bath and author, was born at Blois probably about 1135. His parents, who were dead before 1170, belonged to noble families of Brittany, and his father, though not wealthy, enjoyed an honourable position (Epp. 34, 49). He had two brothers—William, who was author of some comedies and other pieces, and for a time abbot of Matine (Maniaci) in Calabria (ib. 90, 93); to the other's son one of his epistles (No. 12) is addressed. He had also two sisters—one called Christiana (ib. 36), and the other mother of Ernald, abbot of St. Laumer at Blois (ib. 131, 132). He calls William, prior of Canterbury, and Pierre Minet, bishop of Périgord from 1169 to 1182, his cousins (ib. 32, 34). It is unlikely that he was ever, as sometimes stated, a pupil of John of Salisbury [q. v.] (Schaarschmidt, J. Sarisberiensis, p. 59), but he perhaps studied at Tours, and was possibly a fellow-student of Uberto de Crivelli (Pope Urban III) under Robert of Melun [q. v.] (Stubbs, Epistolæ Cantuarienses, 556, n. 3). In Epistle 101 he describes his own studies as a boy, mentioning that he had to get the letters of Hildebert of Le Mans by heart, and read Trogus Pompeius, Josephus, Suetonius, Tacitus, Livy, and other historians. Towards 1160 he went to study jurisprudence at Bologna, and seems to have lectured there on civil law (Ep. 8). From Bologna in 1161 he proceeded to Rome to pay his court to Pope Alexander III; on his way he was taken prisoner and ill-treated by the followers of the antipope Victor IV, but escaped by being let down the wall in a basket without having ‘bowed his knee to Baal’ (Ep. 48). On his return to France he began to study theology at Paris, where he knew Odo de Suilly, the future bishop of Paris, and supported himself by teaching (cf. Epp. 9, 26, 51, 101, 126).

In 1167 Peter went to Sicily with a number of other French scholars in the train of Stephen du Perche, who had been elected archbishop of Palermo and invited to assist in the government during the minority of William II. He was appointed tutor to the young king in succession to the Englishman Walter, afterwards archbishop of Palermo [q. v.], and held this position for a year. He was also sigillarius or keeper of the royal seal, and, according to his own statement, the rule of the kingdom depended on him after the queen and Stephen du Perche. His position excited much rivalry, and his enemies endeavoured to remove him from court by having him nominated, first to the archbishopric of Naples, and afterwards, on two occasions, to the see of Rossano in Calabria; but Peter refused all their offers (Epp. 72, 131; the manuscripts read ‘Roffen,’ but cf. Hist. Litt. xv. 371). Peter made many friends in Sicily, including the famous historians Romuald of Salerno and Hugo Falcandus, and the Englishmen Walter and Richard Palmer (d. 1195) [q. v.]; to one of the latter he appealed against the intended injustice to the see of Girgenti. But the character both of the country and its people was distasteful to him, and he always refers to his Sicilian career with abhorrence, and refused an invitation from Richard of Syracuse to return (Epp. 10, 46, 66, 90, 93, 116). At the time of the fall of Stephen du Perche in 1169, Peter was lying ill, and was entrusted to the care of Romuald of Salerno. On his recovery he begged the king's leave to depart. William reluctantly granted him permission, and, as Peter did not like the idea of riding through Sicily and Calabria, obtained him a passage on a Genoese vessel. At Genoa he was well received by the magnates who had known him in Sicily (Ep. 90). Thence he proceeded to the papal court, and from there travelled as far as Bologna in the company of the papal legates who were going to England (Ep. 22; cf. Mat. for History of T. Becket, vii. 314–16, but though the letter dates from 1170 Peter may, perhaps, have been with Gratian and Vivian in 1169).

Peter probably returned to France some time in 1170 and resumed teaching at Paris. He was, however, in great straits for money, but was relieved by the timely assistance of Reginald FitzJocelin [q. v.], then archdeacon of Salisbury and afterwards bishop of Bath, whose friendship he had perhaps made at Paris five years before (Epp. 24, 163). Epistle 230, in which he applies for a prebend at Salisbury, may belong to this time, and Peter may have now received the prebend which he afterwards held in that church. His friendship for Reginald brought him into ill-repute with the supporters of Thomas of Canterbury, but Peter warmly defended his friend from the charges which were brought against him. A little later he received an invitation from William, archbishop of Sens, offering him a post in his court and a prebend at Chartres; Peter alleges that he was ousted from this post by one Master Gerard—probably Gerard La Pucelle—and that in his hope for it he had refused many advantageous offers. In replying about the same time to a similar offer from Pierre Minet, bishop of Périgord, he says that he had been waiting to see if a certain promise would prove illusory (ib. 24, 34, 72, 128). Not long afterwards he entered the service of Rotrou, archbishop of Rouen (ib. 33, 67), as secretary. In 1173 he was at Paris with Rotrou and Arnulf of Lisieux on a mission for Henry II (ib. 71, 153); he had perhaps already entered the service of the king, who, he says, first introduced him to England (ib. 127, 149). On 24 June 1174 Reginald FitzJocelin was consecrated bishop of Bath, and soon afterwards, perhaps in 1175, made Peter his archdeacon. When Richard (d. 1184) [q. v.] became archbishop of Canterbury, Peter, apparently without terminating entirely his connection with the royal court, became attached to him as cancellarius or secretary (ib. 5, 6, 38; see Ancient Charters, p. 72). In 1177 Richard sent Peter and Gerard la Pucelle as his proctors to the Roman court in the matter of his dispute with the abbey of St. Augusine's, Canterbury. Peter and Gerard were at the Roman court on 3 April 1178. Their mission was unsuccessful; but Peter remained at Rome till July in the vain endeavour to arrange the affair favourably (Chron. St. Augustine, 421–2, Rolls Ser.; Thorn, ap. Scriptores Decem, 1821–3; cf. Epp. 68, 158). In 1176 John of Salisbury became bishop of Chartres, and Peter, who was now a canon of that church, addressed several letters to him during the next few years. In one, Peter recommended the bishop's nephew Robert to John, but afterwards complained that Robert had received the provostship which he had hoped to obtain for himself (Epp. 70, 114, 130). Another of his friends against whom he found occasion to complain was Bishop Reginald of Bath, who had suspended Peter's vice-archdeacon, contrary to the privileges which Peter had obtained from the Roman court at the Lateran Council in 1179 (ib. 58). In the autumn of 1181 he was sent by the archbishop to the king in the matter of the see of Lincoln (Ep. 75). On 19 Aug. 1183 he was at Canterbury when Waleran of Rochester swore fealty to Christ Church (Gervase, i. 306).

In 1184 Baldwin became archbishop, and several letters written in his name by Peter in the next few years are extant (Epp. 96, 98, 99). Peter at first acted vigorously in defence of the archbishop's proposed church at Hakington. Gervase, mentioning Peter's presence at the conference at Canterbury on 11 Feb. 1187, describes him as the ‘shameless artificer of almost all this mischief.’ Soon afterwards Peter was despatched by Baldwin to the Roman court; but he stopped on the way to obtain support from important persons in France, and did not reach Verona until June (Gervase, i. 354, 356). Peter and his colleague William, precentor of Wells, were unable to effect anything against the inveterate hostility of Pope Urban, but remained at the court till the pope left Verona in September (ib. i. 366–9; Epp. Cant. 72, 81). Peter rode with the pope on his way to Ferrara, and importuned him on behalf of Baldwin. Urban, in wrath, replied, ‘May I never mount horse again if I do not shortly dismount him from his archbishopric!’ That very night Urban was taken ill at Sutoro or Futoro, and on 20 Oct. died at Ferrara (Ep. 216). Peter reported the news to Baldwin with indecent satisfaction, and announced the accession of Gregory VIII (Epp. Cant. 107). He remained at the court for some time longer in Baldwin's interest, and in all spent eight months to no purpose, except to incur a heavy burden of debt. A few years later he pleaded to Prior Geoffrey of Canterbury that he had only undertaken the business at the bidding of Henry II (Epp. 39, 238). However, he was present in the archbishop's service when the Christ Church envoys came to the king at Le Mans in February 1189, and by Baldwin's command broke the seal of the royal letter, that additional clauses might be inserted (Epp. Cant. 283). The news of the battle of Hattin and the fall of Jerusalem had arrived while Peter was present at the Roman court (cf. Ep. 224, which reports the former event to Henry II, and Passio Reginaldi, iii. 261), and from this his lively interest in the progress of the third crusade perhaps originates.

The death of Henry II in 1189 deprived Peter of his most powerful friend; in the following year Archbishop Baldwin went on the crusade, and Peter says he would have left England had it not been for the support he received from the bishops of Durham and Worcester (Ep. 127). In 1190, if not before, he received the royal deanery of Wolverhampton, for he appeals to Longchamp, as chancellor and legate, for aid against the sheriff of Staffordshire (ib. 108). Peter strongly condemned Hugh de Nonant [q. v.] for his share against Longchamp in October 1191 (ib. 87, 89). Almost immediately afterwards he went to Queen Eleanor in Normandy, and during the next few years acted as her secretary (ib. 144–6). Reginald FitzJocelin died in December 1191; Peter had perhaps been on bad terms with his old friend, for he was soon afterwards, if not previously, deprived of his archdeaconry (ib. 149, 216). But, as some compensation, he obtained, perhaps in 1192, the archdeaconry of London from Richard Fitzneale [q. v.], together with the prebend of Hoxton. After Hubert Walter became archbishop, Peter seems for a time to have resumed his position as secretary at Canterbury (ib. 122, 135). Peter's letters during his last years are full of complaints of his poverty, and suggestions that his merits had been unjustly slighted. Much to his distaste, Richard Fitzneale had made him take priest's orders (ib. 123, 139). The burden of his archdeaconry was too great for him, and it was so poor that, like a dragon, he must live on wind; and in 1204 we find him appealing to Innocent III to increase his revenues, and to relieve him from the annoyance caused by the pretensions of the precentor (ib. 151, 214, 217, 244; cf. Ralph de Diceto, i. pref. p. lxxxi, Rolls Ser.) His fellow canons at Salisbury unreasonably required him to reside, though his prebend was so poor that it would not pay his expenses (Ep. 133). The canons of Wolverhampton were unruly, and, though supported by the king and archbishop, he could not make the necessary reforms; in consequence he resigned his deanery to Hubert Walter, who proposed to introduce Cistercian monks (ib. 147, 152; cf. Dugdale, Monast. Angl. vi. 1443, 1446; Cal. Rot. Claus. i. 8, 25 b, 56; Peter's resignation may have been as late as 1204; after Hubert's death the king appointed a new dean on 5 Aug. 1205, ib. i. 44 b). The rents of a prebend which Peter had at Rouen had been wrongfully withheld from him for five years in 1197 (Ep. 141). Old age and the loss of friends and position made residence in England, where he ‘heard a tongue that he knew not,’ increasingly distasteful, and in one of his latest letters he begs Odo, bishop of Paris, to grant him some benefice, that if he could not live in his native land, at least he might be buried there (ib. 160). The last certain reference to Peter is in a charter which cannot be dated earlier than March 1204, where he is styled archdeacon of London (Academy, 21 Jan. 1893, p. 59). But he may be the Peter of Blois who held a canonry at Ripon, a piece of preferment which he might have obtained through his friendship with Ralph Haget, abbot of Fountains (cf. Epp. 31, 105). The Ripon tradition favours the identification (cf. Raine, Historians of the Church of York, ii. 480). Peter, the canon of Ripon, was alive as late as 1208, when he had his goods seized during the interdict (Cal. Close Rolls, i. 108 b). On 20 May 1212 an order was given that the executors of Peter of Blois, sometime archdeacon of London, should have free disposal of his goods (ib. i. 117 b); but there is no evidence how long Peter had then been dead. A jewelled morse (i.e. the clasp of a cope) and chasuble that had once belonged to Peter were formerly preserved in the treasury at St. Paul's (Simpson, St. Paul's and Old City Life, pp. 22–3).

Peter's letters reveal him as a man full of literary vanity, ambitious for worldly advancement, and discontented with his preferments, which he thought unequal to his merits. Probably his character rendered him unfit for a high position, though his undoubted, if superficial, ability made him useful in the humbler capacity of a secretary. Letter-writing came easily to him, and he boasted that he could dictate to three scribes at once while he wrote a fourth letter in his own hand, a feat with which no one else but Julius Cæsar was credited (Ep. 92). His learning was, however, varied and unquestioned; he had some knowledge of medicine (ib. 43), was an authority on both the canon and civil law (ib. 19, 26, 115, 242), and quotes with apparent knowledge the Latin classics, especially Virgil, Ovid, Seneca, and Juvenal, the Roman historians Livy and Suetonius, as well as later writers like Valerius Maximus and Trogus Pompeius. His chief interest was in history, whether ancient or modern, and he confesses that theology was a later study, though he shows some acquaintance with the Latin fathers. His writings, and especially his letters, display considerable literary merit, though rhetorical and overburdened with constant quotations. This last feature exposed him to adverse criticism in his lifetime; but Peter defended his method of composition, which placed him ‘like a dwarf on the shoulders of giants’ (Ep. 92), and boasted that he had plucked the choicest flowers of authors whether ancient or modern (De Amicitia Christiana, iii. 130).

I. Epistolæ. Peter's letters are the most interesting of his works, and, from the historical point of view, the most important. He professes that they were not written with a view to publication, and, in excusing their ‘native rudeness,’ pleads that as spontaneous productions they will possess a merit which does not belong to more laboured compositions (Ep. 1). The letters themselves suggest a different conclusion, and some were probably revised at the time of collection (Stubbs, Lectures on Mediæval and Modern History, p. 127). Others no doubt were written with elaborate care in the first place. The collection of his letters was originally undertaken at the request of Henry II (Ep. 1). The collected letters may not have been first published till some years later, but Peter's intention was known at least as early as 1190 (ib. 92). In a third letter he alludes to the difficulty of getting his letters correctly copied (ib. 215). There was not improbably more than one edition in Peter's own lifetime. A copy of Peter's letters was among the books which his patron, Hugh de Puiset [q. v.], left to Durham Priory on his death in March 1195 (Wills and Inventories, Surtees Soc. i. 4). Goussainville's edition contains 183 letters; the earlier editions gave twenty more, which Goussainville omitted as wanting in authority. In Giles's edition these twenty letters are restored, and others added, which professedly bring the total number up to 245 (there is an error in the numbering). But of the letters published by Goussainville, 162 and 165–183 are probably not by Peter (Hist. Litt. xv. 388, 399). Of those added by Giles 214–17, 219, 222–4, 230, 232, 234, 238–40, 244–6, and 248 are the most probably genuine; while 189, 200–2, 207–8, 211, 218, 225–6, 229, 231, and 236 have obviously no connection with Peter, and many of the others are very doubtful. Epistle 247 is a repetition of 134, and 249 a continuation of 15. To the letters in the collected editions must be added the letter written by Peter and William of Wells from the papal court in October 1187, which is printed in ‘Epistolæ Cantuarienses’ (pp. 107–8). The manuscripts of Peter's letters are very numerous; Hardy (Descript. Cat. British History, ii. 553–8) gives a list of over a hundred. A definitive edition of the letters has yet to appear. A full account of their contents as printed by Goussainville is given in the ‘Histoire Littéraire’ (xv. 345–400).

II. Opuscula. Peter was the author of a number of short treatises on various subjects, to which he refers himself as his ‘Opuscula’ (cf. Ep. 215). In his ‘Invectiva in depravatorem operum’ (Opera, ii. p. lxxxvi) he gives the following list, which he does not profess to be complete: ‘Compendium super Job,’ ‘Liber Exhortationum’ (i.e. sermons), ‘Dialogus ad Regem Henricum,’ ‘De Ierosolymitana Peregrinatione,’ ‘De Præstigiis Fortunæ,’ ‘De Assertione Fidei,’ ‘Contra Perfidiam Judæorum,’ ‘De Confessione et Penitentia,’ and ‘Canon Episcopalis.’ The following extant treatises are ascribed to Peter: 1. ‘De Silentio servando,’ a fragment (Giles, ii. pp. iii–iv). 2. ‘De Ierosolymitana Peregrinatione acceleranda’ (ib. pp. iv–xxi); written in 1188–9 to urge on the third crusade. 3. ‘Instructio Fidei Catholicæ ab Alexandro III ad Soldanum Iconii’ (ib. pp. xxi–xxxii). This is not a work of Peter of Blois; it is preserved by Matthew Paris (ii. 250–60), and is by him assigned to 1169. It has been wrongly confused with the ‘De Assertione Fidei,’ to which Peter, writing about 1198, refers as ‘opus meum novellum;’ the ‘De Assertione Fidei’ seems to be lost (cf. Opera, ii. p. lxxxvi; Histoire Littéraire, xv. 402–3). 4. ‘De Confessione Sacramentali’ (Giles, ii. pp. xxxii–liii). 5. ‘De Pœnitentia, vel satisfactione a Sacerdote injungenda’ (ib. ii. pp. liv–lxi). 6. ‘Canon Episcopalis, id est, Tractatus de Institutione Episcopi’ (ib. ii. pp. lxi–lxxxii). This treatise is addressed to John of Coutances, who was bishop of Worcester from 1196 to 1198, and may therefore be assigned to 1197. 7. ‘Invectiva in Depravatorem Operum Blesensis’ (ib. ii. pp. lxxxi–c). This treatise was written, apparently about 1198, in reply to strictures which had been passed on his ‘Compendium super Job.’ 8. ‘De Arte Dictandi.’ Giles only gives the prefatory epistle, since the tract is merely an abridgment of a work of St. Bernard. 9. ‘De Transfiguratione Domini’ (Giles, iii. 1–13); addressed to Frumold, bishop of Arras before 1183 (Hist. Litt. xv. 402). 10. ‘De Conversione S. Pauli’ (Giles, iii. 13–19). These last two treatises are included by Merlin in Peter's sermons, to which class they more naturally belong. 11. ‘Compendium super Job’ (ib. iii. 19–62); also styled ‘Basiligerunticon, id est Ludus Henrici senioris Regis;’ written at the request of Henry II, after the two previous pieces. 12. ‘Contra Perfidiam Judæorum’ (ib. iii. 62–129). 13. ‘De Amicitia Christiana et de Caritate Dei et Proximi: Tractatus Duplex’ (ib. iii. 130–261); also attributed to Cassiodorus, and included in his works in the ‘Bibliotheca Patrum Maxima,’ xi. 1326–1354, ed. Lyons. But the prefatory epistle seems to show that it is by Peter of Blois. 14. ‘Passio Reginaldi Principis olim Antiocheni’ (ib. iii. 261–89). This deals with the death of Reginald of Chatillon in 1187, and seems to have been written in 1188. Peter states that he obtained his information from letters addressed to the pope and archbishop of Canterbury (p. 278). 15. ‘Dialogus inter Regem Henricum II et Abbatem Bonævallensem’ (Giles, iii. 289–307). The last two were first printed by Giles. 16. ‘De Utilitate Tribulationum’ (ib. iii. 307–33). The numerous copies of this tract are mostly anonymous, though it is ascribed to Peter in two late manuscripts (Merton College, Nos. 43 and 47). M. Hauréau (Notices et Extraits, iv. 125–8) thinks that it is not by Peter, and was probably written at the end of the thirteenth century. 17. ‘Tractatus Quales sunt’ (Giles, iii. 333–40). This is probably not by Peter, but by William de Trahinac, prior of Grandmont (Hist. Littéraire, xv. 406–8). 18. ‘De Divisione et Scriptoribus Sacrorum Librorum’ (Giles, iii. 403–11). 19. ‘Remedia Peccatorum,’ omitted by Giles as being only a compilation from St. Gregory (ib. iv. 376). In addition to these works Peter wrote, 20. ‘De Præstigiis Fortunæ.’ This tract, which is several times mentioned in Peter's letters (Epp. 4, 19, 77; cf. Contra Depravatorem Operum, ii. p. lxxxvi), was written in praise of Henry II, and is perhaps the ‘Liber de actibus regis’ of which he speaks in Epistle 14 (Op. i. p. 46). It has unfortunately perished, though Oudin (De Script. Eccl. ii. 1647) thought he had seen a copy. The fragment printed by Goussainville appears to be really an extract from the ‘Policraticus’ of John of Salisbury. 21. ‘Vita Wilfridi.’ Leland (Coll. iii. 169) says that he saw a copy of this work, dedicated to Geoffrey, archbishop of York, at Ripon (cf. Raine, Hist. of Church of York, ii. 480); an extract preserved by Leland is given in the ‘Monasticon Anglicanum’ (ii. 133). Other treatises ascribed to Peter are merely copies of isolated letters, e.g. the ‘De Periculo Prælatorum’ is Epistle 102, and the ‘De Studio Sapientiæ’ Epistle 140.

III. Sermons. Sixty-five sermons are printed in Goussainville's edition, and in the third volume of Giles's edition. Bourgain praises them for their straightforward vigour (La Chaire Française, p. 63). In Busée's edition of 1600 some sermons of Peter Comestor were printed in error as by Peter of Blois.

IV. Poems. In one of his letters (Ep. 76) Peter mentions that in his youth he had written trifles and love songs, and in Epistle 12 refers to the verses and playful pieces he had written at Tours. But in his latter years he abandoned these pursuits, and, in reply to a request from G. D'Aunai, sent him a poem in his riper style (Ep. 57). This poem Dr. Giles (iv. 337–48) has printed, on the authority of some manuscripts, as two separate poems: (1) ‘Cantilena de Luctu Carnis et Spiritus;’ and (2) ‘Contra Clericos voluptati deditos, sive de vita clericorum in plurimis reprobata.’ The latter is given in a contemporary manuscript (Bodl. MS. Add. A 44) as four separate poems (see English Historical Review, v. 326, where a collation of this manuscript and of Bodl. Lat. Misc. d. 6 is given). Dr. Giles prints five other poems which are ascribed to Peter. But the ‘De Eucharistia’ is by Pierre le Peintre, and the ‘De Penitentia’ is probably by John Garland [q. v.] (Hauréau, Notices et Extraits, ii. 29, 65). The others are two short pieces, ‘De Commendatione Vini’ and ‘Contra Cerevisiam,’ from Cambridge University MS. Gg. 6.42; and a longer incomplete poem which occurs in the manuscript of the letters in Laud. MS. 650 after Epistle 111 (Ep. 148 in Giles's edition). Borel (Trésor de Recherches et Antiquités Gauloises) gives four lines of French verse professing to be by Peter of Blois; they may be either by the archdeacon of Bath or by the namesake to whom he addressed Epistles 76 and 77 (Hist. Littéraire, xv. 417).

Peter's epistles were printed in a folio volume published at Brussels about 1480, though neither the date nor place is given. Jacques Merlin edited the Epistles, Sermons, ‘Compendium super Job,’ ‘Contra Perfidiam Judæorum,’ ‘De Confessione,’ and ‘De Amicitia Christiana,’ Paris, 1519, fol. His ‘Opera’ were edited by Jean Busée in 1600, Maintz, 4to; Busée afterwards published a supplementary volume of ‘Paralipomena Opusculorum,’ Cologne, 1605 and 1624, 8vo, giving the tracts ‘Contra Perfidiam Judæorum,’ ‘De Amicitia Christiana,’ and ‘De Caritate Dei et Proximi.’ Busée's edition was reprinted in the ‘Bibliotheca Patrum,’ xii., Cologne, 1618. In 1667 Pierre de Goussainville edited the ‘Opera Omnia’ at Paris, folio; this edition was reproduced in the ‘Bibliotheca Patrum,’ xxiv. 911–1365, Lyons. In 1848 J. A. Giles published the complete works in four volumes. Goussainville's and Giles's editions form the joint basis of the edition in Migne's ‘Patrologia Latina,’ vol. ccvii. The ‘De Amiciccia Cristiana’ was printed [Cologne? 1470?], 4to, and the ‘Expositio … super Job’ [1502], 4to. The ‘Canon Episcopalis,’ together with several of the letters, is printed, under the title ‘De Vita, Moribus, et Officiis Præsulum,’ in Merlo's ‘Instructiones Selectissimæ’ (1681), pp. 488–559.

Peter of Blois was long credited with a continuation, to 1118, of the spurious chronicle of Ingulf [q. v.] According to the prefatory letter, Peter undertook the work at the request of the abbot of Croyland, at whose request he also wrote a ‘life’ of St. Guthlac. The continuation of Ingulf is a manifest forgery, and is not in Peter's style; it is printed in Fulman's ‘Quinque Scriptores,’ which forms the first volume of the ‘Rerum Anglicarum Scriptores Veteres,’ Oxford, 1684. The ascription to Peter of a ‘Vita Guthlaci’ (see Acta Sanctorum, April, ii. 37) is probably equally false. Epistle 221 (Giles, ii. 182) professes to be addressed by Peter to the abbot and monks of Croyland.

[The main facts of Peter's life are to be found only in his own letters; his exaggerated sense of his own importance makes it necessary to accept his statements with caution; but the independent allusions to him, so far as they go, corroborate the general truth of his own account without giving him a position of such prominence as he claims for himself. Some of the difficulties raised by statements made in the letters may be due to the fact that they were probably revised long after the date of their original composition. The Rev. W. G. Searle of Cambridge, from a careful study of Peter's works, is inclined to doubt the trustworthiness of many of the statements found in them; but the results of his investigations have not yet been published. Contemporary references to Peter of Blois are contained in Gervase of Canterbury's Opera, i. 306, 354, 356, 366–9, and the Epistolæ Cantuarienses (Rolls Ser.), and in the Calendar of Close Rolls, i. 108 b, 117 b; a charter, in which Peter appears as a witness in conjunction with Archbishop Richard, is given in Ancient Charters, p. 72 (Pipe Roll Soc.). See also Historia S. Augustini Cantuariensis, pp. 421–2; Materials for History of Thomas Becket (Rolls Ser.); Memorials of Ripon, i. 10, 255, ii. 253; and Memorials of Fountains, i. 133, 159–63 (Surtees Soc.) There is a very full account in the Hist. Littéraire de France, xv. 341–413. See also Wright's Biogr. Brit. Litt. Anglo-Norman Period, pp. 366–79; Stubbs's Lectures on Mediæval and Modern History; Hauréau's Notices et Extraits, &c., i. 137, ii. 29, iii. 226, iv. 125, v. 67–8, 213, 217; Church's Early History of the Church of Wells; La Lumia's Sicilia sotto Guglielmo il Buono, pp. 110–11, 230; Caruso's Bibl. Hist. Sic. ii. 287; Bourgain's La Chaire Française au Douzième Siècle, pp. 51, 63–4, 153–4; Hardy's Descriptive Catalogue of British History; Brit. Mus. Cat.; other authorities quoted.]

C. L. K.