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King Alfrede. Pleimondus. Iohannes Scotus. Oxford.

But howsoeuer it chāced that the knowledge and study of good letters being once planted in this realme, afterwarde went to decay: yet King Alfrede deserueth no little praise, for restoring or rather increasing the same. After whose time they haue euer since continued, albeit not continually through euery age in like perfection. But this we may see, what it is to haue a Prince learned him selfe, who feeling and tasting the price and value of science & knowledge, is thereby not only the more apt to rule, but also to instruct & frame his subiectes, from a rude barbaritie, to a more ciuile congruencie of life, & to a better vnderstanding of thinges: as we see in this famous Prince to happen. Cōcerning whose first education & bringing vp, although it was somewhat late before he entred any letter: yet suche was the apt towardnesse & docilitie of his nature, that being a childe, he had the Saxon Poemes (such as were vsed then in his owne toung) by hart and memory. Who afterward with yeares and time grewe vp in such perfection of learning and knowledge, in so much, that as mine author sayeth, Nullus Anglorum fuerit vel intelligendo acutior, vel in interpretando elegantior. The which thing in him the more was to be marueiled, for that he was xij. yeares of age before he knew any letter. Then his mother, careful and tender ouer him, hauing by chance a booke in her hand, which he wold faine haue: promised to geue him the same, so that he wold learne it. MarginaliaEx historia Guliel. de Regibus Ang. Wherupon he for greedines of the booke, eftsoones learned the letters, hauing to his Scholemaister Pleimundus, after bishop of Canterbury. MarginaliaPleimondus teacher to king Alfred, and after Bishop of Canterbury. And so daily grew more and more in knowledge, that at length, as mine author sayth, Plurimam partem Romanæ biblothecæ, Anglorum auribus dedit, optimam prædam peregrinarum mercium, ciuium vsibus conuertens. That is. A great part of the Latin Librarie hee translated into English, conuerting to the vses of his Citizens, a notable pray of forein ware & marchādise. &c. Of which bookes by him and through him translated, was Orosius: Pastorale Gregorij. The historie of Bede: Botius de consolatione Philosophiæ. MarginaliaBookes translated out of latine by K. Alfrede. Also a booke of his owne making and in his owne toung, which in the English speach he called a hādbooke, in Greke called it Enchiridion, in Latine a Manuel. Besides the historie of Bede translated into the Saxons toung, he also himselfe compiled a story in the same speach, called the storie of Alfrede &c. which both bookes in the Saxons tounge I haue seene, though the language I do not vnderstād. And as he was learned himself excellently well, so likewise did he inflame all his countrey men to the loue of liberall letters, as the wordes of the storie reporteth, Illos præmijs, hos minis hortando, neminem illiteratum, ad quamlibet curiæ dignitatem aspirare permittens. MarginaliaNone permitted to haue any dignitie in the court except he were learned. Polycron. lib. 6. cap. 1. That is. He exhorted and stirred his people to the studie of learning, some with giftes, some by threates, suffering no man to aspire to any dignitie in the Court, except he were learned. Moreouer an other storie thus sayth, speaking of his nobles: Optimates quoq; suos ad literaturam addiscendam in tantum prouocauit, vt sibi filios suos, vel saltem si filios nō haberent, seruos suos, literis commendarent. That is. Also his nobles so much hee did allure to the embracing of good letters, that they set all their sonnes to schoole: or if they had no sonnes, yet their seruauntes they caused to be learned. Whereby the common prouerbe may be found not so common, as true. Such as is the Prince, such be the subiectes. He began moreouer to translate the Psalter in English, & had almost finished the same, had not death preuēted him. MarginaliaThe Psalter translated into English by king Alfrede. Guliel. de Regib Angl. In the Prologue of the booke intituled Pastorale Grego. thus hee wryteth: declaring the cause why hee was so earnest and diligent in translating good bookes from Latine into English, shewing the cause therof, why he so did, as foloweth: Quòd Ecclesiæ in quibus innumeræ priscæ bibliothecæ continebantur, cum libris a Danis incensæ sint: quodq; in tota insula studium literarum ita abolitū esset vt quisq; minus timeret capitis periculum, quam studiorum exercitia adire. Qua propter se in hoc, Anglis suis consulere &c. That is. MarginaliaThe cause why the king turned latine bookes into English. The cause was, for that innumerable auncient Libraryes which were kept in Churches, were consumed with fire by the Danes: And that men had rather suffer perill of their life, thē to follow the exercise of studyes: And therefore he thought thereby to prouide before for the people of the English nation. &c.

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It is tolde of him both in Polychron Malmesb. Ironalensis, and other storyes mo, whereof I haue no names: that he seing his countrey (namely Westward) to be so desolate of scholes and learning, partly to profite himselfe, partly to furnish his countrey & subiectes with better knowledge, first sent for Grimboldus a learned Monke out of Fraunce, to come into England. MarginaliaLearned men sent for and placed about the king. Also sent for an other learned man out from the partes of Wales, whose name was Asserion, whome he made Byshop of Shyreborne. Item out of Mercia, he sent for Werefrithus, bishop of Worcetor: to whōhe put the Dialogues of Gregoy to be translated. MarginaliaThe dialoges of Gregory translated. But chiefly he vsed the Counsell of Neotus, who then was counted for an holy man, and Abbot of a certaine Monasterie in Cornwal. MarginaliaNeotus an Abbot. By the aduisement of which Neotus, hee sent for these learned men aboue recited: and also ordained certaine scholes of diuers artes, first at Oxforde, and also fraunchised the same with many great liberties. MarginaliaThe scholes and vniuersitie of Oxford first begonne by King Alfrede. Guliel. Iornalens. Fabi. cap. 171. Wherof perhaps the schole, now called the new Colledge (first then begon of this Neotus) myght take hys name: MarginaliaThe newe Colledge in Oxford. which (afterwarde peraduenture) the Byshops of Winchester after a larger manner did reedifie, and inlarge wyth greater possessions.

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Moreouer, amōg other learned men which were about king Alfrede: histories make mention of Iohannes Scotus MarginaliaIoan. Scotus. (a godly Diuine, and a learned Philosopher) but not that Scotus, which nowe we call Duns. For that Iohannes Scotus came after this, many yeares. This Iohannes is described to be a sharpe wit, of great eloquence, and well expert in the Greeke toung: pleasant and mery of nature and cōditions, as appeareth by diuers his doings & aunsweres. First he comming to Fraunce out of his owne countrey of Scotland, by reason of the great tumultes of warre, was there worthily intertained: and for hys learning had in great estimation of Carolus Caluus the French king, whom he commonly and familiarly vsed euer to haue about him, both at table, and in chamber. Vpon a time the King sitting at meate, and seeing something (belike in thys Iohn Scot) which semed not very courtly: cast forth a mery word asking of him, what difference there was betwixt a Scot, & a Sot. Whereunto the Scot sitting ouer against the King, somewhat lower, replied againe sodainly, rather than aduisedly (yet merely) saying: MarginaliaThe aunswere of Ioannes Scotus to the French king. Mensa tantùm, that is, the table onely: importing thereby himself to be the Scot, and so calling the king a Sot by craft. Which word howe other princes would haue taken to stomake, I knowe not: but thys Charles, for the great reuerēce he bare to his learning, turned it but to a laughter among his nobles, & so let it passe.

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An other time, the same king being at dinner, was serued wyth a certaine dish of fish: wherein, were two great fishes, and a litle one. After the king had taken thereof his repast, setteth downe to Iohannes Scotus the foresayde fish, to distribute vnto the other ij. Clarkes sitting there wyth him: which were two tall and mighty persons, he himselfe being but a litle man. Iohannes taketh the fish, of the which the two great, he taketh and carueth to himself: the litle fish he reacheth to the other two. The king perceiuing this his diuision thus made, reprehended the same. Then Iohannes, whose maner was euer to finde out some honest matter to delite the King, answered to him againe, proouing his diuision to stand iust and equall. For here (sayth he) be two great, and a little, poynting to the two great fishes & himselfe: And likewise here again is a litle one and two great, pointing to the litle fish, & two great persons, I pray you (sayeth hee) what oddes is there, or what distribution can be more equall? Whereat the King with his nobles, being much delighted, laughed merely.

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At the request of thys Charles surnamed Bawld, the Frenche king, this Scotus translated the booke of Dionysius, intituled De Hierarchia, from Greeke into Latin, MarginaliaIoan Scotus translated Hierarchiam Dionitij. from Greek to Latine. worde for worde, quo fit (as my author sayth) vt vix intelligatur Latina litera, quum nobilitate magis Græca, quam positione construitur Latina. He wrote also a Booke De corpore & sanguine Domini, whych was afterward condemned by the Pope In Concilio Vercellensi.

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The same Iohannes Scotus moreouer compiled a booke of his own, geuing it a greeke title, xxx, that is, De naturæ diuisione. MarginaliaThe booke of Ioannes Scotus called xxx. In which booke (as sayeth my foresayd author) is contained the resolution of many profitable questions (but so) that he is thought to followe the Greeke Churche, rather then the Latine, MarginaliaIoannes Scotus adicted more to the Greeke Churche then the Latine. and for the same was counted of some to be an hereticke: because in that booke some thinges there be, which in all poyntes accorde not with the Romish Religion. Wherfore the Pope, wryting to the saide king Charles of thys Scotus, complayneth, as in his owne wordes here followeth:

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MarginaliaIoan Scotus accused of the pope for an heretike. Relatū est Apstolatui nostro, quòd opus Dionysij Areopagitæ, quod de diuinis nominibus, & de cælestibus ordinibus, Græco descripsit eloquio, quidam vir Ioannes (genere Scotus) nuper transtulit in Latinum. Quod, iuxta morem Ecclesiæ, nobis mitti, & nostro iudicio debuit approbari:[illegible text] præsertim quum idem Ioannes (licèt multæ scientiæ esse prædicitur) olim non sane sapere, in quibusdam frequenti rumore dicatur. &c. That is: Relation hath bene made vnto our Apostleship, that a certaine man called Iohannes a Scottish man, hath translated the booke of Dionysius the Areopagite: of the names of God, and of the heauenly orders, from Greeke into Latin. Which Booke, according to the custome of the Church, ought first to haue

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