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Renaissance Truth and the Latin Language Turn$

Ann Moss

Print publication date: 2003

Print ISBN-13: 9780199249879

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: October 2011

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199249879.001.0001

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(p.88) (p.89) 5 Paris
Renaissance Truth and the Latin Language Turn

Ann Moss

Oxford University Press

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter discusses the intellectual exchanges of theology and logic in Paris, a European city that was said to be the long-established centre of intellectual life in northern Europe. The chapter focuses on isolated incidents in the intellectual history of the city, including three major works of synthesis created by Renaudet, de La Garanderie, and Rummel.

Keywords:   theology, logic, Paris, centre of intellectual life, Renaudet, de La Garanderie, Rummel

‘KNOWLEDGE IS ALTOGETHER twofold: knowledge of things and knowledge of words…As things are only known through verbal signs, anyone who is not skilled in the power of language will of necessity everywhere misjudge things.’ It was from these words at the beginning of Erasmus’ De ratione studii, published first in 1512, that we embarked on our investigation of reference books and manuals from which humanists and their pupils constructed their reinvented classical Latin. To such dictionaries of words and phrases Erasmus himself contributed abundantly, in his successively augmented Adages, in his collection of similitudes, Parabolae sive similia (1514), above all in his De duplici copia verborum ac rerum (1512) whose first publisher was Josse Bade at Paris. Erasmus, like other humanists, had adopted the distinction between verba (words) and res (things) that is inscribed in the classical rhetoric from which the reinventors of classical Latin took their theoretical models of composition. True and effective plenitude of discourse will be marked by subject matter of substance (res) articulated in appropriate, expressive utterance (verba). Only if words are adequate will things be truly known. This rhetorical understanding of the relationship between words and things is not that of Aristotle, for whom ‘words spoken are symbols [or signs] of affections in the soul [mental impressions or experiences]’.1 Aristotle and the scholastic philosophers who so systematically elaborated his ideas envisage a mental language of concepts that intervenes between the thing perceived and the word that signifies. The object of the formal logic of the scholastics is mental language or, rather, words arranged into propositions testable for truth under very stringent conditions. The rhetorical interconnection of ‘words’ and ‘things’ adopted by humanists is much more loosely defined, but for Erasmus, for example, words are clearly signs of things, and ‘things’ do include mental concepts or events through which perception of things is mediated: notions, images, feelings, acts of will, and so on (all subsumed, like objects in the world outside the mind, under res). Yet, our investigation of dictionaries and phrase-books has demonstrated that the object of the earlier humanists’ inquiry into language was not, or not typically, the mental language of concepts examined in logic. Words, not propositions, were their quarry, and that was because language acquisition was their focus, based on assembled examples of usage. This tended to promote exploration of the meaning of words in use and to diminish (though not entirely abolish) the medieval (p.90) philosophers’ stress on their formation into testable propositions. Early sixteenth-century humanists were unanimous in their antagonism to the ‘barbarous’ Latin of late medieval philosophy, but in the excitement of their enterprise of recovery and reappropriation of the classical tongue, in their delighted possession and manipulation of a verbal instrument that sang so beautifully, they were not inclined to analyse the theoretical implications of their methodology.2 Yet, even a cursory analysis of the language resources they compiled and exploited suggests that relations between words and ‘things’ were being modified, complicated, and extended.

First, the Latin words of the humanists were culturally freighted, a fact on which their dictionaries and phrase-books insisted by exemplifying usage in exact quotation. Along with their Latin words, the humanists’ pupils absorbed the ‘things’ of a historically located, well documented, yet fundamentally alien culture they were taught to admire, respect, and imitate. Language did more than symbolize things: it was potentially and, in many instances, actually, a medium of radical intellectual and cultural change. Secondly, Latin language acquisition was ceasing to be a preliminary and soon concluded stage in education. Continued reading continued exploration of the ways words were used and could properly be used. ‘Things’ came to mind because words produced them, and the perception of ‘things’ was at least nuanced by the words that conjured them and by the context in which those words were read. The linguistic symbolization of the world of ‘things’ might even take on a sort of autonomy, best glimpsed in the proliferating metaphors that were part of the need to adapt classical Latin to modern circumstances and that possibly reconceived those circumstances in the process of rewording them. At the very least, some measure of reversal became feasible in the one-way direction implicit in Aristotle's move from external objects to mental events to words. Thirdly, as Erasmus insisted, skill in the power of words entailed the capacity to judge things, and, as linguistic horizons changed, so too would evaluative perspectives on things be adjusted, altered, even ‘rectified’. Words, after all, remained arbiters of truth.

Nowhere were linguistically conditioned judgements likely to come into conflict more starkly than in areas where the opposing Latin speech communities, classicizing humanists and late medieval scholastics, each claimed a monopoly on truth. When each claimed there was only one way to speak the truth, one language to use, and insisted on the unique validity of their separate verbal universes, they invariably ended up speaking past each other, failing to engage debate because they had no common idiom.3 In the early sixteenth century, the disciplines that traditionally dealt in truth were logic and theology. It is with these two areas that Part II (p.91) of this book will be concerned, pinpointing representative exchanges in two of the most significant university communities active at the time, Paris and Leipzig, one the long-established centre of intellectual life in northern Europe, the other more on the edge of things, and that perhaps a cutting edge. We return first to Paris.4

A student guide to the University of Paris published in 1517, Robert Goulet's Compendium de multiplici universitatis parisiensis magnificentia and its supplements, named the two men considered to be the best logic teachers active at the time: John Mair and Jacques Lefèvre d’Etaples (Jacobus Faber Stapulensis, c.1460–1536).5 Before Mair had started to publish his commentaries on Peter Lombard in 1509, he had written numerous works on logic reflecting exactly the courses he taught to students following the arts curriculum at Montaigu. Their titles alone make clear that their linguistic affiliation, as well as that of the subjects they covered, was to the formal logic developed by the scholastics. Among them were a manual on exponibilia in 1499, one on praedicabilia and one on insolubilia in 1500, one on termini in 1501, one on propositions and one on sillogismi in 1502, and one on obligationes the following year. The logic texts Mair edited or annotated were the fourteenth-century Summulae of Peter of Spain (1505), which was the basic logic textbook in use in the Arts Faculty, the slightly later Summulae of Jean Buridan (1504), and the logic course of his own teacher, Jerónimo Pardo (1505).6 In his later career, Mair devoted himself primarily, though not exclusively, to the Sentences.

The works on logic by Lefèvre d’Etaples were moving in a rather different direction. In 1496, he published a work on supposition, predicables, divisions, predicaments, obligationes, insolubles, and the other constituents of the logic course, with the title Artificiales introductiones in logicam (Paris: G. Marchand). Under various titles and with various additions and revisions, this work was to be published regularly for about fifty years, supplying logic courses in the Arts Faculty well after the language and methodology of Mair's textbooks had made them unsellable in the later 1520s.7 Its virtues were twofold. Lefèvre's own very basic (p.92) manual consisted of short definitions of the traditional material of formal logic and rules for applying it to formulate and analyse propositions and to construct arguments. Appended to these were long commentaries written by Lefèvre's close collaborator, Josse Clichtove (Clichtoveus, 1472–1543). They were more technical, but they were sparing in their use of the logicians’ more tortuous jargon and their Latin would not be opaque to students coming up from a humanist's grammar class. Lefèvre's contribution is purely pedagogical and aimed at pupils just starting the logic course. Clichtove's commentaries are much more sophisticated, do actually advance the subject, and were clearly meant for teachers and students at a higher level. Up to the mid-i540s, his In terminorum cognitionem introduction more rigorously technical in language and content, was very frequently printed with his commentaries on Lefèvre's elementary manual. Here we have evidence that traditional formal logic was being studied and pursued at Paris during the first half of the century on a scale large enough to keep these works in print. Students were learning its concepts and the necessary technical jargon, though at a rather rudimentary level if they kept solely to Lefèvre's rules and definitions.8

The Lefèvre-Clichtove partnership covered other subjects besides logic, notably Aristotle's ethics. It went on for years, clearly with a view to infiltrating the university system with new-style textbooks suitable for students at different levels of attainment and at the same time deliberately easing transition between the humanistic Latin of the grammar class and the technical language demanded by the more advanced arts curriculum. Clichtove was probably the most able, certainly the most prolific, Parisian doctor of theology of his generation. Lefèvre never took his doctorate in theology and taught solely at the level of advanced study within the Arts Faculty, as the range of his publications demonstrate, taking in physics, arithmetic, geometry, music, ethics, economics, and politics. He was not, however, a professional grammarian. He did not write on the grammarians’ authors or study their rhetoric, and his own Latin is clear and serviceable, but (p.93) would not have met the criteria of the more fastidious humanists. However, he did see himself as a champion of humanist Latin discourse, even, or especially, within the disciplines at present occupied by the enemy speech community, logic and theology. For Lefèvre does seem to accept that there were two forms of Latin currently in operation. In a preface to the jointly authored logic manual, he bewails the Gothic plague of barbarous Latinity that infects every part of present learning. Yet he is obliged to admit that terms such as suppositiones, ampliationes, restrictiones, appellationes, exponibilia, obligationes, are the common currency of contemporary logic. Such language is essentially the language of non-Latinists, of a foreign and vulgar culture (‘peregrinae vulgaresque litterae’), of Goths and Gauls (or, rather, Belgians’, as this Frenchman prefers to call them). Its object of reference is a spurious logic of sophisms, whereas the language properly adapted to inquiry into truth is the language of true Latinity. Nevertheless, regrettably, that barbarous language is in use, and Lefèvre concedes that those who teach from his present elementary manual may need to supplement it from others which give instruction in the matters he does not include and to deploy the specialized vocabulary of their discipline.9 In other words, formal logic in its entirety could not be entirely divorced from the Latin idiom that had been specific to it and had constituted both the object and the instrument of its analysis. A new language may require a new logic.

Or, possibly, an old logic put into new language. In 1503, with a magnificently impressive title-page to advertise it, there appeared Lefèvre's complete edition of Aristotle's Organon: Libri logicorum ad archetypos recogniti, cum novis ad litteram comentariis, Aristotle's works on logic, checked against the Greek originals, with a new word-by-word commentary. Here Lefèvre is working in the manner of Italian humanists, particularly Aristotle's translator into humanist Latin, Ermolao Barbaro, whom Lefèvre had met in Italy in 1492. His title-page marks the book as a very superior production compared with his previous manuals designed as new textbooks for old courses. It invites the students of Paris and all schools everywhere to return to the pure source of Aristotle's unadulterated text, to discard false guides and intermediaries. If they apply themselves to logic in a spirit of humility (modestia), resisting displays of self-indulgent cleverness, authentic learning cannot fail to be restored, and, with authentic learning, integrity of life and all virtue. The title-page certainly has the authentic humanist ring, although the text the students will find inside turns out to be the Latin version by Boethius that was traditionally used by scholastic logicians, now revised against the Greek (recently made widely accessible by the Aldine press in 1495) and with its lexis modified to approximate more closely to usage recommended by humanists. They would also (p.94) find an imaginary dialogue between Lefèvre and one of his supporters, Germain de Ganay, that cites Italian predecessors in order to give the work an excellent humanist pedigree and then homes in on the two incompatible idioms of Latin currently straining against each other so as to fracture the curricular structure of the university:

Nowadays students emerge from the grammar class with refined and elegant linguistic habits and all prepared, like well managed land, to receive the good seed of philosophy; but they are immediately frightened away by the disgraceful barbarisms of logicians who are no logicians at all, and they either return with all the more pleasure to assiduous study of the grammarians, or, without having any idea about how to make proper distinctions between truth and falsehood, they flock to the law school.10

This dialogue, which dates from Lefèvre's partial edition of the Organon in 1501, confronts exactly the same issue that we have sensed elsewhere and met explicitly in John Mair's prefatory dialogue to his 1510 edition of his commentary on the first book of the Sentences. What Mair the theologian still felt able to brush aside in 1510, Lefèvre the logician and philosopher addresses by easing Aristotle's text into a Latin closer to the Latin approved by Valla. He also supplies a double commentary, one part of which is an ample paraphrase. In the paraphrase, there are no quaestiones to divert the student from the text and encourage him to quibble. There is no imposed schema running against the grain of Aristotle's own exposition. The stages of Aristotle's argument are marked by noting the definitions and divisions that constitute his own method of analysis, and his terms are explained by synonyms from normal classical Latin usage. So, when the Latin Aristotle in the De interpretatione says that words spoken are symbols (notae) of impressions (pas-siones) on the soul, Lefèvre explains notae as ‘signa, et quaedam expressiones, atque insinuationes’, and passiones as ‘conceptus notionesque’, which are either ‘things’ (res) themselves or images of things outside the mind. The paraphrase is admirably clear, but it is of the nature of grammar-class lectio, aimed at comprehension of a prior text, an explanation of what the author said, not primarily a criticism of it or a lesson in how to apply it. Such a reading equips the student very well with words, but less well with the instruments of argument. The other part of the commentary, the more tighdy formulated notae, provides a bridge back to familiar logic teaching, as it aligns the exposition of the Organon with the divisions, the diagrams, and some of the technical methodology of the curriculum textbooks. The principles of ratiocinative discourse are conserved, but the linguistic and logical ‘obscurities’ of the late medieval discipline, the suppositiones, the formulae for introducing quaestiones, and the syncategoremata, most expressly, are not.

Fifteen years later, in 1518, we find Lefèvre engaged in argument. Our interest now will be in how he argued and how his opponents replied to him. On one side, we have Lefèvre, closely identified with humanist culture that is text-centred, historically informed, linguistically knowledgeable, sensitized to niceties of meaning, (p.95) and free-wheeling in its argumentative procedure. On the other, Noël Béda (Natalis Beda, c.1470–1537), doctor of theology, director of the Collège de Montaigu, associate of John Mair, syndic (from 1520) of the Faculty of Theology, supporter of the traditional methods of the Paris masters, and opponent of all grammarians who presumed to apply their professional expertise to interpreting the scriptures or undermining the discipline of the Church.11 The subject of their debate is whether the story of St Ann's three husbands and three daughters is true.

It was Lefèvre who started the debate. That it should be started at all, and that it should be continued so vigorously, is a sign of a major cultural shift. Only two years previously, John Mair, so committed to applying authority and reason as criteria for testing truth, had obviously thought that St Ann's story was not worth testing. It was part of the tradition, it did not offend, Mantuan had retold it in language to please any critic. For Lefèvre it did matter whether it was true. That it did so matter is symptomatic of a profound change in the collective mentality, though the controversy about St Ann must be seen as a very minor manifestation of that change. Lefèvre's own reasoned attack on her story was in fact published as an appendix to the second edition of his rather more notorious work which argued that three separate women in the Bible had been conflated to produce a single saint, Mary Magdalen.12 The St Ann episode is part of the critical scrutiny Lefèvre had been applying to the basic documents of religious belief ever since he had turned his attention to the Old Testament with the Quincuplex psalterium of 1509 and to the New Testament with his 1512 commentaries on the Epistles of St Paul. It is also closely related to critical endeavours being prosecuted by others with perhaps more sharpness and more vigour. In 1516, in his Novum Instrumentum and its annotations, Erasmus had applied his greater philological expertise to revise the Latin text of the New Testament against the Greek. Elsewhere too, in Germany in particular, the practices of popular piety were being undermined in the name of philological exactitude. Lefèvre's little book on St Ann flows with this critical current, but its methodology may also be used to demonstrate the effectiveness, or otherwise, of the analytical instruments of the humanist Latin community when they were employed as stratagems of proof in argumentative discourse. For the story of St Ann is essentially a narrative and Lefèvre reads it to some extent as a humanist grammarian would do, in terms of enarratio, locating it in a historical and linguistic environment, as well as in terms of emendatio, correcting it as if it were text. We shall see later how the Paris masters fought him on the ground he had chosen.

A factor of major importance is the way Lefèvre presents his series of arguments. The humanist, Cortesi, as we have observed, laid out his commentary on the (p.96) Sentences as continuous prose. Mair replicated the quaestiones conclusiones objections, and replies of formal disputation. Lefèvre couches his treatise in clear, correct, non-technical Latin that has no pretensions to be pure Ciceronian, in continuous prose without paragraph breaks. Connections and subordinations within and between sentences are marked grammatically and syntactically as in classical Latin. Nevertheless, it is clear that Lefèvre has grouped his points with care (as would be entirely consistent with the methodology of definitions and precepts into which he had subdivided material for pedagogical purposes in his teaching manuals). There are paragraph marks inserted in the text to indicate stages of argument, and these are numbered consecutively in the margin. Moreover, the disputational procedure of objection and reply is still the pattern for dealing with counter-arguments. The way it is phrased attempts to dress it up politely as an intelligent conversation between author and reader: ‘You may ask’ (‘At forte dices’)…‘To which I shall reply’ (‘Ad hoc respondebimus’), a verbal relaxation of the rigid schema of the Paris masters, but not an innovative substitute for it.13

Lefèvre disputes the veracity of the traditional narrative of St Ann on two counts. He claims that she had one husband (Joachim), not three, and one daughter, not three. What he is attacking is a received idea, a story with textual support, but not manifest in a canonical text. In order to remedy the lack of a firm base-text for his own position, Lefèvre introduces a proxy one very early in his treatise, an anonymous and undated ‘little book’ (libellus) to which he refers as Apologeticus pro Anna.14 This is almost certainly the Defensorium Annae (given a title of slightly more respectable Latinity), written in the late thirteenth or early fourteenth century by a Dominican, John of Freiburg (d. 1314).15 It is a short tract, written in the non-classical Latin idiom of its time, but it does not follow the argumentative procedure of the late medieval theologians nor does it use their technical language. It proves its points largely by reference to authoritative texts and numerical calculations, articulated in linear fashion in a clear expository manner. Lefèvre uses this text as a spring-board for his attack on contemporary belief and practice with regard to St Ann, both to prove that his own views are not outrageously novel and to demonstrate that, contrary to the previous author, he himself gives support to the unique status of the Blessed Virgin Mary. He can manipulate the prior text in (p.97) this double fashion because he agrees with its author's contention that St Ann had only one husband, but disagrees with his opinion that St Ann had two daughters, the Virgin and a second Mary, the wife of Cleophas. Lefèvre the humanist here engages constructively with a prior text in medieval Latin, but the specificities of his own discourse and its postulates are thrown into interesting relief.

Both tracts have their authoritative texts, and they are largely the same. Neither dispute the authenticity of the generally accepted account of the events surrounding the birth of the Blessed Virgin, and Lefèvre, in particular, quotes sporadically from the Libellus de nativitate sanctae Mariae, which he calls Historia Annae, as a standard of decorum for the behaviour of his personages against which to measure deviations implicit in the apocryphal tale he is refuting. His trust in the Libellus is clearly unaffected by the magisterial edition of the works of St Jerome published by Froben in 1516, where it is printed in its usual place as an appendix to certain letters. Erasmus was responsible for the volume in which these letters appear, and he rates them among spurious works not worth reading. Whether this blanket condemnation is to cover the Libellus is deliberately left somewhat vague.16 Chief among other authoritative texts, for both John of Freiburg and Lefèvre, are the Bible and the early historians, Josephus, Hegesippus, and Eusebius. As far as the Bible is concerned, what Lefèvre can do, and John could not do, is to use his knowledge of Greek grammar and Greek orthography to make clear, for example, that ‘Salome’ cannot be used as a man's name (much the less the name of St Ann's third husband as the apocryphal story had it). Lefèvre is thus able to confirm, with better founded conviction, that ‘ignorance of languages’ (‘ignorantia linguarum’) lies behind ignorance of facts.17 The use of historians, particularly the reliance on the testimony of the early Christian historians, Hegesippus, largely as recorded by Eusebius, and Eusebius himself, is common to John and to Lefèvre, although Lefèvre quotes them more extensively. Moreover, the reason they both give for preferring the witness of these writers over later authors, however eminent, is exactly the same: they are historically prior and nearer in time to the events they record. Lefèvre's estimate of historical reliability and his criteria for it do not differ from those of his late thirteenth-century antecedent.18

As well as founding their arguments on authoritative texts, both authors found them on reason. Both rely a great deal on the incontrovertible evidence of basic arithmetic computing the relative ages of people in St Ann's nuclear family and (p.98) demonstrating the natural and logical impossibility of her extended one. Neither author expresses such arguments in terms of strict syllogism, but Lefèvre, especially, draws abundantly on less rigid argumentative stratagems. He uses argument from etymology: ‘Ann’ means ‘grace’, and that supports his contention that the Virgin, completely full of grace, was her only daughter (fo. 70v). He uses argument from analogy and comparison: other offspring in the Bible were divinely foretold and the parents in question never had a second child, Joachim and Ann were much more specially blessed than them, therefore (‘igitur’) it is not appropriate to hold fnon credi debet’) that Joachim and Ann had more progeny (fo. 69v). The argument from comparison merges with argument from biblical typology: the Virgin Mary is the antitype of Eve, Eve was created a single daughter of God through Adam (fo. 70v). To establish the full force of this argument, Lefèvre moves into a series of parallels and contrasts between Eve and the Virgin, reinforced by repetition and alliteration. The strongly rhetorical character of this mode of argument is also apparent in an extended meditation on a verse from the Song of Songs (6: 9): ‘My dove, my undefiled, is but one; she is the only one of her mother’. Not only does Lefèvre apply allegorical readings of this passage to the Virgin, but his language is invested with the hallmarks of the stylistic craftsmanship that humanists required of eloquence (fos. 70v–71v). This is rhetoric embroidering on a web of loose deductions from conventional premisses within a commonly accepted range of topics suitable to a particular subject. It is, in effect, epideictic rhetoric, the rhetoric of praise, and many a humanist sermon was formulated from its repertoire of stratagems for proving the case that someone or some thing is worthy of praise.

There is, however, a further element in the humanist rhetoric that structures Lefèvre's discourse of argument, and that is ethical decorum. Rhetorical arguments that were based on the ethos of characters made plausible inferences from premisses based on consistency of behaviour, or, in the specific case of epideictic rhetoric, allotted praise and blame in accordance with how far a person's conduct matched the qualities ascribed to virtues and vices. Lefèvre was much versed in ethical distinctions, which he and Clichtove had codified and exemplified in an Introductio to Aristotle's Nicomachean Ethics that figured among their most popular textbooks.19 In his book on St Ann, he frequently argues from what was appropriate to her, as an older woman, as a virtuous widow, and from what was appropriate circumstance for her daughter, conceived without sin and therefore necessarily untainted by any hint of concupiscence in her mother or degraded from her unique privilege by the presence of siblings (fos. 66v–69v). Once again, this form of reasoning, derived from rhetorical theory, is amplified and ornamented (p.99) with the language of rhetoric, in particular a succession of ‘rhetorical questions’: ‘nonne’…‘nonne’…‘nonne’ (is it not the case that?). John of Freiburg had produced a (for him) subsidiary argument to the effect that to make Ann so keen to take two other husbands, as the ‘made-up story’ does ‘without evidence of reason or constraint of authority’, is to contradict what was appropriate (‘decuit’). His language, however, kept well within the bounds of sober prose, and was grounded on technical distinctions and parallels that relate it to the exact science of theology rather than the probabilistic art of persuasion.20 He did suggest that if St Ann's chaste widowhood is maintained it is an example to all widows, but in Lefèvre's book that point becomes another instance for persuasive interaction with an implied readership. Lefèvre says that the apocryphal story provides an excuse for incontinent widows to cite, but his corrected version of events works as a strong argument for conversion to the truly Christian conduct prescribed for older widows that we can read in the true language of St Paul (fo. 86–86v). Lefèvre's reconstitution of the ethical truth about St Ann matches the truth of scripture, and he reinforces that truth for the edification of the people by means of an exhortatory rhetoric of the kind the humanists’ pupils would learn in parallel with the classical Latin that phrases it.

Lefèvre's discussion of St Ann is shadowed by a plurality of implied readers or listeners. Rather more than 200 years previously, the Defensorium Annae had implicitly located its readership solely within its own literate community of linguistically homogeneous Latin users. Lefèvre talks as one blessed with time for lettered pursuits, a peculiarly classical otium literarium that privileges intellectuals within the Church to inquire after truth and establish it.21 His examination of the legend of St Ann is an enterprise proper to the lettered and it is one to be conducted in writing. It is not a subject to be debated by the uneducated masses or judged by immediate oral response.22 Yet, in a way that John of Freiburg could not imagine, Lefèvre is consciously positioning his book within a linguistic spectrum.

First, there is a vernacular readership beyond the precincts of Lefèvre's Latin. His book is dedicated to Francois Du Moulin, a Franciscan who wrote in French and was an intimate of the royal circle. Immediately after its publication, Du Moulin paraphrased Lefèvre's tract on St Ann in his own Petit livret faict à l’hon-neur de Madame Saincte Anne, designed to parallel Lefèvre's book for an audience which did not have Latin, but could read his French or hear it read. His specific purpose was to defend and promote Lefèvre with the king's politically influential (p.100) mother, Louise de Savoie, and so to give Lefèvre's ideas legitimacy at court.23 This little book, unlike Lefèvre's printed volume, logs onto the contemporary, largely aristocratic, audience for manuscripts, and it utilizes another language in which manuscripts specialized: the language of pictorial illustration.24

More germane to our immediate interests, Lefèvre is from time to time concerned to demonstrate that the supporters of much-married Ann had couched their false ideas in bad Latin. Not only did they not know that ‘Salome’ is a woman's name, but in their eagerness to foist a third husband of some such appellation on St Ann they have derived from ‘Salome’ the totally unattested form ‘Salomas’. The mechanics of such a derivation is the one by which late medieval Latin derived non-classical forms. Moreover, Lefèvre finds his example of ‘Salomas’ in a rhyming stanza from a rhythmical hymn that demonstrates the ‘deviant’ Latin in which such false ideas were enunciated (fo. 65v). To replace such concoctions, ‘ficta, falsa, ridicula’, Lefèvre pleads for new or, at least, revised hymns and sequences, devised to fill the ‘untaught ears of the masses’ with truth, not falsehood (and coincidentally no doubt with more ‘authentic’ language respecting classical metres).25 So, by feeding into different language communities, the French of the non-Latinate aristocracy and the late medieval Latin of the liturgy, Lefèvre extends the influence of his ideas to practical effect in areas beyond the implied reading circle of his text. Nevertheless, the canonical expression, as it were, of these ideas remains his humanist Latin original with its idiom-specific strategies for persuasion. For readers of his Latin, Lefèvre further refines language difference. He claims that the only textual evidence produced by supporters of thrice-married Ann is the mnemonic verse that John Mair had also quoted from the Golden Legend in his first version of his commentary on the fourth book of the Sentences in 1509. When Mair silently dropped this quotation in his 1516 revision, (p.101) he passed no comment on its Latin. For Lefèvre, however, the same lines are ‘rough hewn by some ignoramus (though he might have been learned in his own time)’, they are unskilled Cimperita’), halting (‘hiulca’). Criticism of faults of language and style is not separable from criticism of faulty content. What, though, of the same ideas expressed in the elegant and correct Latinity of Mantuan? Lefèvre gives them no credence for all that, but allows that poets may repeat oft-repeated hearsay or talk their own idiom. The idiom of poets, as any humanist schoolboy would know from Cicero and Horace, is fiction, not fact.26

In the climate of 1518, with traditional religious certainties being assailed from so many quarters, Lefèvre's treatment of St Ann had to be addressed as part of a general policy adopted by the conservatives to let no attacks on their positions go unresisted. Yet, if truth was at stake, so was language. The effectiveness of the verbal instruments whereby St Ann's extended family was to be alternately attacked and defended, the verba of language and argument, was being tested every bit as much as the res of concept and doctrine. Lefèvre's collaborator, Josse Clichtove, came to the support of his book on Mary Magdalen, and its case that three Maries had been subsumed under that single name, in a way that corresponded to the commentaries he had previously appended to Lefèvre's textbooks on the advanced arts course. He took Lefèvre's arguments on board and transported them back to the traditional Latin idiom of the faculty, in this case, the Faculty of Theology. He does not compromise Lefèvre's ideas, but he inserts them into the conceptual universe of the Paris masters, verbally negotiating space for them within the distinctions that mapped that universe. So he distinguishes between the status of matters of faith and matters of fact, of authority and reason, of authority quo and quod (authoritative enunciator and authoritative enunciated), customary use, and magisterium. This conceptual manoeuvre engineered by words entails a linguistic accommodation that puts Clichtove's Latin outside the Latin of the humanist speech community to which Lefèvre’s, however unsophisticated, transparently belongs.27 Eventually, after 1520, Clichtove and Lefèvre were to part company in respect of their religious views as well as their language. Clichtove went overtly to the defence of the faculty. Lefèvre, following the prompting of the linguistic pluralism that he had first acquired from his excursions into Greek and afterwards in (p.102) his exploration of the writings of medieval mystics, devoted himself to translating the scriptures into French. We can only speculate how far linguistic pluralism affected his religious opinions, but, not unlike other polylinguists of the period, he refused to join a party.

If Clichtove bent Lefèvre's Latin to the Latin of the Paris theologians, Cornelius Agrippa (1486–1535) was to bend it more forcibly to a peculiarly humanist rhetoric of mockery and invective. In 1534, he belatedly published a defence of Lefèvre's views on St Ann that he had pronounced fifteen years earlier at Metz in a controversy with the Dominicans there.28 It is not possible to tell how much he had altered it for publication, but, as it stands, it attacks Agrippa's opponents primarily by rubbishing their Latin idiom and its logical stratagems. He can talk their language and manipulate their dialectic, but his purpose is parody. His dismissive ridicule denigrates scholastic Latin to such an extent that it is emptied of all meaning and his opponents are left speechless. His Dominicans are demolished with rhetorical panache, but there cannot be real debate where one side is linguistically disempowered. That, however, was perhaps at another time and certainly in another place. In the years between 1518 and 1523 in Paris, humanist Latin and late medieval Latin were equally voluble. Whether these colliding linguistic universes communicated with each other enough for meaningful debate can only be decided by exploring further the microcosm that was the controversy about Lefèvre's St Ann.

On the other side of this little world in the years between 1518 and 1523, entirely opposed to Lefèvre and his supporters, were Noël Béda and Pierre Cousturier, both noted for their antagonism to humanists and religious reformers alike. Béda (Natalis Beda, c.1470–1537), collèague of lohn Mair, was director of the Collège de Montaigu, of which he was principal between 1504 and 1514. From his appointment as syndic of the Faculty of Theology in 1520, he defended the religious status quo with all the considerable political pressure that the faculty could exert. He replied very quickly to Lefèvre's tract on St Ann, as he had done to Lefèvre's Magdalen book only shortly before. Clearly he thought that the man and his message posed a general threat of major proportions to the stability of Church order, faith, and morals, a threat deliberately disguised by Lefèvre as a focused debate on a specific issue. Béda brooked no compromise. Concomitantly, the language he adopted made no concessions to the speech of his adversaries. He published his Apologia pro filiabus et nepotibus beatae Annaecontra Magistri Iacobi Fabri scriptum in 1520 with Josse Bade. The insistence on Lefèvre's inferior title, master of arts, is significant, and there will be further references to Lefèvre's temerity in meddling in matters outside his professional competence. Significant also is Béda's choice of publisher. In the history of Bade's editions of documents concerning St Ann, it is possible to see him adjusting his business to the new, uncompromising (p.103) climate of ideas. He whose publications had nurtured both Latin language communities now finds that he can no longer give a voice to both, and chooses the conservative party of his religious, not his linguistic, preference.

Béda's own linguistic preference is emphatically for the usage current within the Paris Faculty of Theology. There is a world of difference between his Latin and Lefèvre’s, even though Béda rarely uses the precise professional language of contemporary logic. Even so, the lay-out of his argument immediately nullifies the rhetorically manipulative effect of Lefèvre's apparently loosely managed prose. Béda's book carefully incorporates Lefèvre's points so as to refute them, but he dismembers Lefèvre's text and reconstitutes it to fit his own three-part schematic division, each part containing seven propositions that will carry the force of his attack on the position adopted by his opponent. Schematic text division (divisio textus) used as a mechanism to order the analysis and resolution of problems raised by a text had its origins in the methodology of late medieval scholastic philosophy. Employed in less rigorously intellectual contexts than the quaestio, numbered division became an artistically wrought structuring device and functioned as a mnemonic. It underlies the patterning of late medieval sermons into numerically parallel divisions as well as of numerically coordinated expositions of liturgical material, such as hymns. Béda's Latin belongs to that mode of exposition and that register of speech. It is much less technical than Mair's elaborations on the Sentences meant for students immersed in theology. Béda's implied recipients are the much larger number of (mostly, but not entirely, clerical) Latin readers who are neither theologically and logically expert nor trained to classical usage, much less wedded to it. They are likely to identify with Béda when he voices suspicion of ‘inquisitiveness’ (curiositas) and ‘individualism’ (singularitas) and does so in a Latin idiom that reinforces their sense of solidarity as members of a speech community that is perfectly self-sufficient, operates efficiently, and needs no reform (however poor it may seem to a humanist Latin speaker in terms of grammatical coordination and lexical decorum): ‘Curiositatis et singularitatis…inter caetera signa haec traduntur, scilicet aliorum communes fastidire doctrinas, et ad inventiones proprias aut non examinatas positiones converti; et solidos et tritos minus appreciari doctores; et gaudere etiam in talium impugnatione.’29

Béda has no linguistic flexibility. He has no Greek and does not refer to Greek documents except to dismiss out of hand the historians Eusebius and Hegesippus on whom Lefèvre had relied heavily. For him, the irrelevance of arguments from the Greek text of the New Testament is amply demonstrated by the blatantly contradictory readings he finds in the so-called experts, Lefèvre and Erasmus (fos. LXXXIXv–XCv). Béda's own historical authorities for confirming his thesis of three-times-married Ann are mostly much later. They include medieval historians like Vincent de Beauvais and more recent ones like Platina. They include John (p.104) Mair in his commentaries, as well as contemporary narratives, eulogies, and poems that we shall examine later: a life of St Ann and related poems published by Bade, works by Trithemius and Mantuan (fos. LIXv–LXv). Béda is oblivious of certain distinctions that are axiomatic for humanists who had been trained to make them as part of their Latin language acquisition. He has no sense that writers nearer in time to the event described are likely to be more trustworthy. The minds of humanists honed on Valla's Elegantiae were framed to privilege certain kinds of writing because they were more authentic witnesses to what the Latin language was and should be. Because that ideal language was historically remote, they were used to making discriminations on a historical basis, rejecting the more recent and looking critically for their evidence in the past. Béda's world-view, like his Latin, assumes a synchronic universality that only meddling curiosity would call in question. Moreover, Béda's list of historians signals a very broad generic category. Historia will indeed continue throughout the sixteenth century to include ‘story’ (fables, legends, poems), but Béda's contemporaries reared on ancient rhetoric and poetic were already applying extensively a radical separation within historia between true and false history, between attested fact and poetic fiction. It is not that Béda is ignorant of such a distinction in theory. Referring to Lefèvre's condemnation of various hymns as ‘ficta, falsa, ridicula’, he recognizes, in tacit agreement with Cicero, that what is neither true nor truth-like is mere fable.30 But what he will label lying fable is pagan mythology and fictions like King Arthur. He is reluctant to submit religious writing to such definitions, wishing to retain anything that is conducive to popular piety, is not implausible, and can be accepted with moral certainty (fos. CIv, CVII–CVIIv).

Béda's argument rests primarily on two convictions: a largely implicit linguistic belief and an explicit ethical contention. His uncritical adhesion to the idiom of contemporary late medieval Latin and his sense that, like the documents written in it, it is perse a perfectly valid instrument for determining truth, surfaces in a discussion based on customary speech (consuetudo loquendi). St John's Gospel says that Mary Cleophas, Christ's mother's sister, was with her at the foot of the cross (19: 25). Lefèvre says that they were properly sisters-in-law, their husbands being brothers. Béda claims that Lefèvre, in reaching this conclusion, ignores the proper authorities (the interdependent late authorities Béda will cite later) and rests his case on reason, adducing as his only evidence consuetudo loquendi’. the fact that sisters-in-law customarily call each other ‘sister’.31 This brings Béda close to the notion of normative linguistic usage that was such a powerful factor in the humanists’ reconstruction of classical Latin, and there is no doubt that Béda knew where he was. So, how does he deal with consuetudo loquendi? Not by finding meaning in (p.105) use, but by analysing the circumstances of the utterance. The Maries would not in this instance have called each other ‘sister’, for they would be weeping in silence. So, if the utterance was not theirs, where should it be located? Would sisters-in-law be described as sisters in the language of official documents? Lefèvre should investigate the usage of the king's private secretaries or clerks to the Paris parliament, for it is their usage that will be closest to that of the very public document St John was writing, and they never confuse sisters and sisters-in-law. St John writes in the third person and uses language proper for describing in the third person a family relationship in which he is involved. He is not concerned with how the Maries customarily refer to their relationship with each other, for it is not their way of talking that he is relating, but his own narrative (fos. LVv–LVI). Béda has here unravelled quite effectively Lefèvre's argument from linguistic usage, but he has also made quite explicit that the criterion for usage he would employ is the Latin idiom of contemporary Paris clerks. Once again, it is clear that he inhabits a very different language universe from Lefèvre’s.

Béda's move from what is uttered to the circumstance of the utterance and the role of the one who utters is paralleled in the ethical objection he makes to Lefèvre's book. Lefèvre had made ethical decorum a strong premiss for adjusting the behaviour and relationships of the characters in his preferred version of St Ann's story. Béda is interested in Lefèvre's intentions in rewriting the narrative, and doing it so publicly and with so great a rhetorical zeal to persuade. He suspects his motivation, as well as rejecting his arguments. He brings in the problem of the discernment of spirits and makes it crucial, and in doing so displaces the ethical focus of Lefèvre's book from its narrative to its author. It is in response to Lefèvre's self-defence against those who may burn both book and author that Béda elaborates at great length on criteria for discerning spirits, criteria that make of caution and humility the moral qualities most desired in authors who venture into the sphere of doctrine and morals.32 They should look inward, examine themselves for sin, and distrust any speech of theirs not accompanied by signs of the Spirit, whose language of communication is a mental, non-verbal language. Lefèvre, in contrast, proclaims openly that he is committed to establishing objective truth, outside, in the minds of Christians clouded by error, and to total belief in his rhetorical language of persuasion. His ethical imperative is to utter publicly what he believes for good rational cause to be true: ‘Veritas et pietas me reddunt securum’.33

Béda had an ally in Pierre Cousturier (Petrus Sutor, c.1475–1537), another Paris doctor, but one who had entered the monastic life in 1511 and published his Disceptatio on St Ann's three marriages in 1523 from the relative seclusion of his Carthusian house.34 He claims that his work supports Béda's opinions, but was (p.106) written independently. Its organization is certainly different enough to confirm that it was. Cousturier says he read Lefèvre's book only when he was asked to debate its subject matter in a quaestio, and a quaestio is what we get, with Cousturier's two main propositiones confirmed by argument and authority, objections abstracted from Lefèvre's book, and replies to these objections. Lefèvre's much freer manner of exposition is thus converted to sophisticated scholastic procedures of ordered inquiry. Furthermore, within Lefèvre's diffuse arguments Cousturier discovers and lists a certain number of general headings: St Ann's multiple family contradicts reason, legal custom, and the practices current in her time; it is at variance with moral principle, with what is required of miracles, with biblical typology and prophecy; it offends the dignity of the Virgin and the honour of her mother; it disagrees with the Gospels. Cousturier proposes to use these heads to structure his own replies to Lefèvre's ‘objections’, and so introduce order where there was none. This is in itself a major statement about the gulf between the two sorts of discourse in conflict here and between the intellectual cultures they represent. Cousturier says that confused discourse is the product of a confused mind.35 He can only communicate purposefully with such a mind if he first rewrites Lefèvre's rhetorically motivated prose in the manner in which he himself thinks. This involves a sort of aggressive take-over, a translation of Lefèvre's language, an acculturation of the alien format of his book. There is no sense of a middle, common ground for argumentative discourse on which the writers may meet.

Cousturier concurs on many points with Béda, but his language is technically more precise. When Lefèvre, for example, translates ‘sisters’ into ‘sisters-in-law’, Cousturier rigorously applies a rule to the effect that the grammatical status of words in the Bible may not be changed, their literal sense not read ‘improperly’, that is, figuratively, save where reason or biblical authority compel. If any dabbler can arbitrarily adjust the sense of words of scripture to suit his purpose, the whole foundation of biblical authority crumbles (fos. iii, iiii–v). For this reason, the grammatical coherence of the Vulgate must not be disturbed in the interests of a ‘better’ Latin. Cousturier derives proofs from the grammar of the Vulgate, reinforced by the canonical glosses, by the ‘literal’ interpretation of Nicholas of Lyra, and by the ‘more mystical’ interpretation of Hugh of Saint Cher. He is totally and wilfully deaf to arguments from the Greek, not least because Greek manuscripts (p.107) differ and translators from the Greek disagree among themselves. Greek experts operate as individuals largely outside the academy, certainly outside the Faculty of Theology. There is no supervisory or regulatory mechanism, only a chaotic whirlpool, a vortex (‘turbo’) of linguistic variants. This verbal instability frightens Cousturier, as it would perhaps no longer have frightened to the same degree anyone brought up on humanist editions of classical texts with their notes of variant readings. Against it, Cousturier erects the immutable words of the Vulgate, and truth deduced by logic from ‘ipsae res’ (fos. liiii–lvi).36

Not only the words of the Vulgate Bible, but the senses in which they are customarily read must be protected. Lefèvre had elaborated with rhetorical copiousness on typological connections he perceived between Eve and the Virgin and on the ‘only dove of her mother’ in the Song of Songs. Reducing these to arguments from figure and from prophecy, Cousturier faults Lefèvre's unwarranted and purely arbitrary departure from the consensus of the interpreting authorities and from the rules governing typological analogies (fos. xxviiv–xxxiv). Eve is a type of Mary, but it cannot be inferred from Adam's production of Eve that he is a type of Ann (so proving Lefèvre's contention that Mary was Ann's only daughter by a special grace), because the mechanism of typology does not cross gender. Moreover, Lefèvre lets stylistic inventiveness lead him into doctrinal error: Eve was born of Adam by the will of God, but Mary by the will of God and the sexual union of her parents. In the case of the dove of the Song of Songs (6: 9), ‘the only one of her mother’ whom ‘the daughters saw and blessed, yea, the queens and the concubines and they praised her’, Cousturier points out that the word in the Vulgate is very precisely una, not unica. The text of the Vulgate permits no variants. Nor does it permit the sense Lefèvre would foist upon it, whether a historical or a mystical sense, because his interpretation does not cohere with subsequent verses in the text.

What we almost certainly have here is a clash of interpretative schemata, diverging as the Latin language communities diverge. Lefèvre invents an allegorical interpretation of the biblical verses according to a fairly free association of related ideas loosely woven together by a concatenation of repeated words and insistent questions that have a dramatically persuasive effect:

Quae porro columba ilia tarn singularis, tarn unica, tarn perfecta, longo intervallo reginas coelestes, et eas omnes quae infra ipsas sunt, in regno exaltatissimo antecedit: nisi virgo ilia super mulieres omnes, non modo huius mundi, sed etiam coelestes benedicta, communis cum deo patre, filii dei parens, regina reginarum et plusquam regina, beata beatarum et (p.108) plusquam beata, dei patris columba, dei patris perfecta, una matri suae Annae in illo regno summi amoris uni reginarum eminentissimae, electa genetrici suae?37

As allegorical interpretation merges into epideictic rhetoric, allegory becomes rhetoricized, a persuasive stratagem in itself, with more than exemplary function. We shall at a later point see how this occurs in allegorical interpretations of pagan texts being published at the same time as Lefèvre's rhapsody on the ‘only dove’. Even from the fourteenth century, it was customary to invent allegorical interpretations for pagan texts on the basis of verbal associations, but there was a well-understood difference between allegorizing pagan texts and reading the Bible allegorically. Cousturier is trying to hold to this difference, to prevent the manner of one interpreting community from infiltrating and subverting the other. It is incorrect, he says, to manufacture allegorical correspondences for every detail in a proposed comparison, as was often the case with the interpretation of pagan fables. That way, the notion of figura (or type) peculiar to scripture will be lost, for the subjects of comparison will be made identical, and the original text put in danger of being obliterated by the superimposed interpretation. This will demolish the argumentative force of figura, which, he claims, is in any case a very weak stratagem for proof, even though those who revel in making such associations are themselves much taken with it.38 The major difference, however, between allego-rization of pagan texts and the senses applied to the Bible is that the literal sense of the Bible is always true. The literal sense of pagan fable is always fiction. It follows that any ‘mystical’ sense applied to the Bible (in this case the Marian reading of the Song of Songs that had so influenced the liturgy) must cohere with the literal sense if it is to have the status of truth and so be used as proof in argument. Lefèvre's arbitrary reading of the ‘only dove’, developed in the manner suitable for reading pagan fictions, without regard for the established literal sense and supported by no authority, fails this test (fos. xxix–xxxiv).

Cousturier's arguments always have at least a veneer of logic and are often couched as syllogisms. He is quick to manoeuvre Lefèvre's points into a position where he can accuse them of dialectical fallacies. Collected under Cousturier's (p.109) head ‘legal custom’ (consuetudo legalis), is Lefèvre's contention that under Old Testament law older women did not remarry, a conclusion Lefèvre reaches because there is no documentary evidence that they did. Cousturier says his opponent here contradicts one of the most elementary rules of dialectic. The absence of testimony does not prove that something was not the case. It is, however, perfectly reasonable to hold that things not mentioned in scripture may have occurred.39 This latter form of argument, e silentio, was one to which before long proponents of tradition were to have excessive recourse, taking refuge in the very rickety redoubt of ‘why not?’ The minds of humanists had been inscribed with a very different notion about the presence or absence of authority, dating from their earliest training in language. For them, the fact that an approved authority does not use a word or linguistic form was proof positive that such words or forms should not be used.

Cousturier's authorities are the same as Béda’s, nearly all late, and, except for St Jerome, all interdependent. They include Mantuan's Fasti and the Golden Legend and the hymn Lefèvre had quoted so disparagingly. Cousturier in turn points out that Lefèvre had not countered the propositions of even these minor authorities with reasoned argument, but had evaded the issue by sidelining them into poetry and hearsay or by ridiculing their idiom. Cousturier himself seems uninterested in discriminating between authorities on grounds of historical priority, language, genre, or anything else (fos. xviii–xxii). It is their recognized status as authorities that gives them authority, backed by a consensus in the Church derived from practice, reason, and weight of numbers (fo. xxxviv). On the question of the validity of authorities, absolutely crucial to both sides of the argument, there is no meeting of minds, no common language, and, indeed, the experience of language is completely different.

Contemporary humanists had learnt (however rudimentarily) that to read Latin correctly and to write it in an authentic, and thereby persuasive manner, entailed reference to authorities judged more or less reliable according to certain recognized criteria. The humanists, though, were a culturally homogeneous élite, one with which Lefèvre identifies himself when he says the current debate should be reserved to the ‘literati, non vulgus’. The other Latin language community was, in terms of education, more diverse, and so were its attitudes to authorities. At one end of its spectrum were the Paris doctors teaching advanced theology, among whom John Mair, for example, promoted the exercise of reason (though not the criterion of historical anteriority) for determining cases where authorities were in conflict. The greater number of late medieval Latin users, however, did not have (or had forgotten) the subtleties of the scholastics. They were clerics in daily touch with the mass of the population whose experience of Latin was the ritual of the Church and to whom their priests mediated the Church's authorities, without (p.110) questioning them and so without needing the intellectual tools with which to question them. Indeed, Lefèvre recognizes this when he acknowledges that the debate will come out of printed books and go into the uncultured mouths of such clerics, in sermons based on readings of his book over which he has no control.40 Such oral communication, or perversion, of his writing, however, represents precisely the agency by which the ideas of the erudite élite were filtered to a popular audience, with its own preoccupations and its own discontents. Cousturier, a member of the broader speech community of late medieval Latin, was very wary of humanist élitism, and speaks with the voice of the ordinary cleric as well as of the Paris doctor of theology. This comes through even in the protest he makes about Lefèvre's insistence on the ethical argument of Ann's exemplary widowhood. An experienced priest, says Cousturier, knows full well the frailty of the human condition. Pastorally, a second or even a third marriage may well be right. Moreover, universally to decry remarried widows marks a failure to recognize that women who refuse to remarry may have less honourable motives than those who do (fos. xlixv–liiv). Here Cousturier shows himself well in touch with one of the strongest reasons for the popular cult of much-married St Ann at a period when socio-economics demanded the remarriage of widows with means and these women needed to know the Church affirmed them.41

Cousturier's book is perhaps more forceful in argument than Béda’s. Béda was a man of political action rather than words, and, as far as his career was concerned, ultimately perished by the sword he took. For Cousturier, words speak louder, and the battle is a battle of books. In the concluding section of his De triplici connubio, (p.111) he calls on teachers of ‘sacred letters’ to combat the errors of those who are troubling the ‘res litteraria’, the world of lettered learning. And how are they troubling it? By resorting to insult and anonymous pamphlets, by mocking the erudite, by dismissing syllogistic reasoning as mere sophistry, by laughing at theology and reserving their admiration for little collections of words and phrases. They talk about ‘good letters’, ‘humane letters’, and what they mean is what is learnt in the most elementary classes under grammar.42 He was, of course, quite right.

In the microcosmic, Paris-centred, debate about St Ann, linguistic worlds collide but are neither fused nor obliterated. In the macrocosm that was the general intellectual environment of contemporary Paris and its wider orbit, the two cultures of humanistic and late medieval Latin were hardly on speaking terms.43 Their mode of interaction was aggressive, uncompromising attack; their modes of self-defence confirmed their insulation. A brief overview of some famous documents contemporary with the St Ann debate, but not involved in it, will reinforce this general impression.

The Antibarbari of Erasmus was published at about the same time, in 1520, when Erasmus was at Louvain, on the periphery of the Paris orbit. The work had a long period of gestation going back to his earliest enthusiasm for Valla's Elegantiae round about 1488, but the form in which it was finally printed is emblematic of the relationship between the two speech communities in the years that witnessed the controversy over St Ann. Erasmus explains in his preface that the work had been planned in four books: the first to rebut the arguments against humane letters that had been concocted by cultural barbarians masquerading as supporters of religion; the second to give voice to an opponent of the humanist enterprise, invented so as to destroy the claims of rhetoric by using all the devices of vituperation of which rhetoric itself was capable; the third to reply to the objections of this personage; the fourth to argue the case for poetry.44 The Antibarbari as we have it in print is in effect only the first of these projected books. It is couched as a dialogue between figures already won to the humanists’ cause, talking in the humanists’ Latin, adducing arguments against the humanists’ programme only in order to prompt and stimulate the main speaker. That speaker dominates the dialogue with a splendid display of demonstrative rhetoric, confirming the humanists’ message in the humanists’ characteristic medium.

In the original second book (which he subsequently lost), Erasmus had risked the paradoxical strategy of Pico's letter to Barbaro and given his ecclesiastical opponents a persuasive voice, persuasive enough to convince John Colet that he should forsake classical eloquence. In 1520, however, in the version of what (p.112) remained of the original project, first printed at Basle but almost simultaneously in unauthorized editions at Cologne, Deventer, and Strasbourg, Erasmus silences the ‘barbarians’. Their language is not heard directly. It is only ridiculed, and ridiculed from the outset in a list of their learning resources (medieval versified Latin grammars, the theoretical grammar of the modistae, moral tags from the Vulgate Proverbs, the Catholicon) which had already been the butt of humanist invective on countless occasions.45 Their logical procedures for argument (quaes-tioy objections, and replies to objections) may well subtend the development of the discourse of the Antibarbari but they are converted into the named parts of a classical oration and camouflaged by an overlay of strategic manoeuvres derived from classical rhetoric. The participants invite their chosen speaker to take over their ‘dialogue’, willingly submerging their competing voices in his irresistible flood of persuasive eloquence. He speaks ‘probabiliter, id est plane rhetorice’, that is to say, he uses the methods by which rhetoric achieves reasonable conviction, if not absolute certainty.46 Any gestures towards dialectical disputation are swept away, and the rhetorical monologue pursues its essentially moral and cultural drive against ignorance and intellectual sloth disguised as religious conscience. The ‘truth’ it declaims is the synthesis it constructs between Christian charity and the knowledge to be gained from the study of antiquity. The only appropriate language for that truth is the Latin shared by ancient Roman culture and the early centuries of Christianity.47

For a modern reader one of the most attractive features of this ‘dialogue’ is its rural setting. Erasmus’ group of humanists are doubly removed from their ordinary urban environment. First, they are displaced to this rural retreat. Secondly, by a verbal magic known only to the culturally initiated, they are transported to the virtual world of ancient philosophical fiction, for this Dutch countryside is intertextually permeated with traces of the landscape in which Plato had located his Phaedrus. The point that concerns us here, however, is the way these loquacious humanists are displaced from their normal mixed speech environment, from all occasion of direct intercourse with the ‘barbarians’ they revile. As is the case with other dialogues by Erasmus, the antibarbari are a very closed, homogeneous group, marked by a common culture and a common language, but functioning in isolation, in a country of their own where philosophical banquets are offered only to chosen guests.

The preface to the Antibarbari was written at Louvain, and there seems little doubt that Erasmus’ decision to publish what he still had of the work was closely linked to his current position there. He resided at Louvain for most of the period (p.113) between 1517 and 1521, but his continuing work on the Greek New Testament and its Latin counterpart caused considerable tension with Louvain theologians opposed both to his philological work on the Bible and to the humanist enterprise in general.48 It was out of this environment that the Spanish humanist, Juan Luis Vives (1493–1540), sent a letter dated Louvain 1519, clearly intended for publication, and it was duly printed at Séléstat in 1520 under the title Ioannes Lodovicus Vives adversus pseudodialecticos.49 This little shaft of purest vitriol points us very directly back to Paris, for the pseudodialecticians Vives has in mind are the logicians of the Paris Arts Faculty, where Vives, like many another young Spaniard, had come to study at the Collège de Montaigu. There he had followed the logic courses of the Paris masters, presumably using the textbooks of John Mair. From 1512, after his departure to the Low Countries, his early enthusiasm for traditional formal logic was totally replaced by an enthusiasm just as passionate for the programme of the humanists, and from 1516 he was lecturing on ancient literature and rhetoric at Louvain, where he soon began an association with Erasmus, offering his support against the antagonism of the Louvain theologians.

Whatever role Vives's published letter may have been intended to play in Erasmus’ defence at Louvain, it is certainly the case that Vives chose to direct his assault on the very citadel of (pseudo)dialectic and to do so from afar.50 He centres his polemic round the question of language, in particular, that ‘new language’ that the logicians at Paris use to ‘dream up and devise for themselves absurdities’, ‘a language they alone understand’.51 This language is, of course, the specialized, technical Latin of late medieval logic. Vives feels its very vocabulary so deeply ingrained in him that it has imprinted on him a mind-set he fears may be indelible. Hence, perhaps, the violence with which he denounces that language and the vacuous propositions he claims are wangled out of it. He gives abundant examples, some of them authentic propositions from medieval logic manuals, some of them made up and functioning as parody. For Vives, there is a universal paradigm for syllogisms, oppositions, conjunctions, and disjunctions, for suppositions, ampliations, restrictions, and appellations, and for such propositions as ‘all men are sightless because some men are blind’. That paradigm is the riddle, a form of speech which, once understood, reduces both enunciator and respondent to (p.114) silence (or competitive replication).52 The universe of discourse inhabited by the Paris masters is a universe dedicated to closure.

In Vives's view, the language of scholastic logic is a totally artificial construction producing its own self-invented conundrums, and consequently it cannot be an instrument for discovering truth. Truth and falsehood, so Vives contends, are formulated in language or, more precisely, in languages commonly used and in the ordinary grammar of those languages. Dialectic then discovers what is true or false or plausible in this common speech (‘vulgaris sermo’).53 To a large extent, Vives follows Valla and his successors in opposing the ordinary usage of classical Latin, its commonly agreed ‘usus loquendi communis’, to the Humpty Dumpty language of scholastic logic with its universe of specialized meanings closed to outsiders. He also agrees that there is a rigorous standard of correct Latinity, a norm or ‘rectus verusque sensus orationum latinarum’, to be found in the Latin of Cicero and Quintilian. This properly formulated Latin is the Latin on which the analytical procedures of dialectic should be employed, not ‘ordinary language’ in the sense of the laxer use of the common people.54 Where Vives does seem to differ from Valla and from Erasmus, however, is in his openness to the possibility of logics formulated to fit modern languages, based on grammars that might be alien to Latin usage, but this foray into a world of linguistic relativism is soon cut short.55

What Vives does not envisage is the possibility of finding some common ground between the Latin speech communities. The form of his diatribe is a letter to a potential convert to the humanist cause, not an invitation to to a public debate. He attacks the Paris masters, but he does it at a distance, as one who has extricated himself from their territory. The mode of his attack is satirical, denigrating their language by ridicule and flailing their intellectual assumptions with righteous indignation. His indignation is at its strongest when he claims that his pseudolo-gicians have commandeered theology, allowing it no voice but their own language with its tissue of barbarisms and solecisms.56 They threaten to silence their opponents (p.115) in theological argument, just as they silence competing dialecticians with riddles. Vives responds with satire, a mode that inhibits reply. He and his targets do not exchange words. Indeed, he leaves his reader with a picture of his pseudo-dialecticians lost for words as soon as they are brought out from under their ‘scholastic roof’, shrinking from a language they do not understand, uncultured, unfit for the society of civilized men.57

The letter by Vives has parallels in many documents from the years either side of 1520. One of the most articulate is the letter from Thomas More (1478–1535) written in 1515 to Maarten van Dorp (1485–1525), a theologian at Louvain who was vacillating about his response to Erasmus’ philological critique of the Vulgate. More's letter did not appear in print until 1563, but it circulated in humanist circles centred on Louvain, was very likely to have been available to Vives, and, as More himself was pleased to recognize, certainly expresses the same ideas about ‘pseudodialecticians’.58 More's main objective is to support Erasmus in his application of ‘grammatical’ expertise to the Greek and Latin texts of the New Testament, but, like Vives, he knows that the theologians who are suspicious of truth claims based on the humanists’ linguistic expertise speak from an intellectual position bonded to a particular form of logic, a particular understanding of what constitutes truth, formulated in a particular language. He is very clear about the ‘two Latins’ problem and where it originates. The ambiguities and riddles that modern logicians introduce into the formulation of propositions, by way of their suppositions, ampliations, restrictions, and appellations, makes them understand sentences in a way peculiar to themselves. Yet the language they are using is Latin, which in normal use makes grammatical sense, serves as a transparent medium of communication, and resists their attempts to wrest words from the public domain and, in fact, misuse them.59 The consequence is that two incommensurable Latins articulate two incompatible mind-sets. Moreover, the gap goes deeper than mere words. It is not just a question of lexis. A theologian trained in logic and graduated to the Sentences of Peter Lombard will cite his ecclesiastical authorities piecemeal, knowing them only from quotations already aligned under quaestiones. More says that this is equivalent to learning the Latin language from a dictionary, even from a humanist vocabulary resource like Perotti's Cornucopia and Calepino.60 It is through immersion in texts, in the cultural resonances that pervade them, in the twists and turns of their argument, that a language is acquired and minds are trained to think.

(p.116) More gives dramatic illustrations of inhabitants of these two linguistic universes speaking past each other. He parodies a dialectician's abysmal attempt at conversational Latin. He describes a scene in which a theologian, learned in logic, makes a fool of himself at a dinner party by totally misjudging the speech milieu and applying syllogisms to any and every topic of conversation without any sense of decorum. Dialecticians talk to themselves. They do not communicate with other people; their words have lost contact with the world of things; outside their own speech community, they are reduced to silence.61

It was not just humanists who silenced their opponents. Dorp ultimately proved sympathetic to Erasmus and his ideas, but the Louvain theologians found a champion in another of their number, Jacques Masson (Iacobus Latomus, c.1475–1544), who had studied in the Arts Faculty at Paris before moving to Louvain (the two universities had long-standing connections, going back to Louvain's foundation). Masson's De trium linguarum etstudii theologici ratione dialogus, published in 1519 at Antwerp, engages primarily, as the title suggests, with Erasmus’ controversial work on the New Testament stemming from his study of the Greek text.62 Nevertheless, Masson is fully aware that, at a deeper level, the current debate is a manifestation of mutually antagonistic attitudes to language. The dominant voice in the second part of his dialogue is that of a wise old man, relayed by the scholastic theologian who in the first part had been arguing with a humanist ‘devoted to rhetoric and languages’. The old man expresses a view of language totally in accord with Aristotle's dictum that words are signs of things mediated through the mind, or concepts. Humanists would not necessarily have demurred, but might not have liked the conclusion he draws from this, namely that we can know more than we can say and that no amount of understanding of words (including Latin words) can ensure knowledge of things in cases where things are imperfectly known or concepts are false. Mental notions are the same for all men. Words are their expression, but, if those notions are correctly apprehended in the mind, the actual language in which they are articulated is of no consequence, provided it is intelligible within a given speech community. This argument, expressed in a very neutral Latin that does indeed pay scant homage to humanistic models of good style, is meant to cut the ground from under arguments for privileging specific languages and a specific idiom of Latin.63 By this stage of the dialogue, however, (p.117) the humanist who had had a role in the first part of the dialogue has been cut out altogether, leaving Masson's representative theologian, doubled by the old man's authoritative words of wisdom, to convert a student inquirer unopposed.

In dialogues of this period from northern Europe, humanists and late medieval Latin speakers tend to talk among themselves, separately. Letters, speeches, and treatises are couched as attacks, and replies as defence (apologia is perhaps their most common title). There is certainly no notion that translation might be a mode of crossing the linguistic divide between the two Latin idioms. Pico's nephew, Gian Francesco Pico, had thought this feasible as late as 1496 when he wrote of his intention to supply demands for his uncle's attack on astrology to be rewritten in the ‘Paris style’, formalizing the arguments and excising the ‘eloquence’, for the benefit of those who did not know the ‘Roman idiom’.64 Translation would have preserved the integrity of both idioms. In the years around 1520, however, the idioms had become identified with opposing sides in the religious stand-off. As Masson concluded in his dialogue, humanists wanted theology to be rhetoric, wanted to replace ‘distinctions and equivocations’ with grammar, wanted the liberty to advance opinions for discussion, but denied to their opponents the freedom to use any form of linguistic expression except ones that they themselves approved. Here Masson was largely quoting Erasmus, and the implication, as all through the dialogue, is that this ‘theology’ is deviant, different in substance as well as in language.65 Nevertheless, it would soon be crucial to find a mode of communication in which opposing ideas could be debated, and this would need an agreed procedure for argument conducted in a mutually acceptable idiom of what was still the common language, Latin. What was needed, in effect, was a new or, at least, a heavily revised logic.

One new logic that was available and well known at least by repute was Lorenzo Valla's Dialecticae disputationes, otherwise known as Repastinatio dialectice et philosophie or ‘remodelling of the whole of dialectic and of the fundamentals of philosophy in general, in which many sharp attacks are made on Aristotle, Boethius, and Porphyry, but many more on the modern philosophers’. This was Josse Bade's title for his 1509 edition of the work, reissued in 1515. He continued, ‘I do not doubt that the logicians Valla attacks have the wherewithal to defend (p.118) themselves’.66 Bade says in his preface that he had printed a thousand copies of the work, not because he considered it contained as much good fruit as the same author's Elegantiae, but because he knew many readers were very keen to have it. Moreover, he thinks that modern experts in dialectic (‘dialectici recentiores’) will find it a useful target on which to practise their skill. Its many trenchant observations, if they are taken on board, will enable the study of dialectic to proceed with greater economy fad dialectices compendium faciant’), and they are also relevant to modes of argument characteristic of rhetoric (‘ad rhetoricam disputationem conducant’). Bade, as usual, knew his market. The dialectici recentiores within the Paris orbit immediately went on the offensive, as well they might against a work that not only claimed to convict Aristotle himself of error but also to undermine the elaborate edifice of late medieval logic by demonstrating it rested on fundamental misunderstandings of the Latin language that it used as the object and the instrument of its investigation. In 1510, as we have noted, John Mair in Paris arraigned Valla's Dialecticae disputationes in the first edition of his commentary on book i of the Sentences. In the same year, Maarten van Dorp delivered an Or ado in laudem Aristotelis at Louvain, printed in 1514, in which he defended Aristotle against Valla's criticisms. The humanists, on the other hand, recognized the affinities that Valla's recasting of dialectic had with their own programme. He anticipated and fuelled their linguistic critique of late medieval logic. He moved away from its rigours in order to reclaim for dialectic the territory of arguments based on probable, rather than apodictic, reasoning, on plausibility and decorum, in other words he incorporated dialectic into their own discipline of rhetoric. Humanist writers were prone to drop Valla's name when reviling late medieval logic, but it is much less certain that they took up his very difficult book and read it Bade's speculation on Valla's dialectic was not a commercial success. Valla's dialectic, in the way Valla had formulated it, was not to be the logic of the future.67

From the point of view of Paris, the logic of the future seemed much more likely to be Aristotle, in particular, Aristotle revised according to Lefèvre's corrections from the Greek and available since 1503 in his magisterial edition of the Organon. (p.119) As an antidote to the confusing contortions of his pseudodialecticians, Vives proposes only the Organon, which for him has the virtue of consisting of short precepts which do not pretend to inaugurate a self-sufficient discipline, but merely give a mental training in preparation for more advanced study.68 In his 1515 letter to Maarten van Dorp, Thomas More acknowledges a debt to Lefèvre, ‘restorer of true dialectic and true philosophy, especially Aristotelian’: ‘would that the scholars of Louvain and Paris would accept Lefèvre's commentaries on Aristotle's dialectic, for, unless I am much mistaken, in both universities that discipline would be less prone to rows and rather less corrupt!’69 Just a few months before that letter was written, Dorp and a collaborator had seen through Dirk Marten's press at Louvain the first edition of a book that was to help to change the dialectic taught in schools and universities out of all recognition: the De inventione diabetica of Rudolph Agricola (1444–85).70 But its time was not yet, at least not in Louvain or Paris.

On the title-page, Dorp, in his function as chief editor, sells Agricola's work in the first place as support to rhetoric, addressing it to those ‘who are pursuing the true art of discoursing fluently and eloquently’ and looking for abundance of things with which to persuade and ‘probable’ (convincing) arguments with which to present a case. It is only then that Dorp refers to dialectic, saying that this is precisely Agricola's own definition of dialectic, quite distinct from the ‘chattering nonsense of the sophists’. For the science of argumentative discourse, as taught by Agricola, wrongly thought by some to belong to rhetoric, is here rightly called ‘dialectical invention’.71 In fact, the book is an examination and exemplification of how to employ ‘places’ or stratagems of argument with persuasive force, ranging from rigorous inference to the looser likelihoods of rhetoric. Places or ‘topics’, in this sense, were familiar from the rhetorical works of Cicero and from the Topics of Aristotle, which is the last but one book of the Organon. Place-theory does indeed, therefore, overlap the boundary between rhetoric and dialectic, as Lefèvre had already pointed out in his preface to his 1503 edition of the Topics: ‘there are many uses of this part of logic, both for philosophers, and for orators and poets, or for anyone working in any form of literary discourse whatsoever’. Yet, Lefèvre also notes that Aristotle himself rather disparaged this branch of his logic and advised the student not to spend much time on it.72 Agricola's De inventione dialectica and related texts were going to reverse its status in the dialectic (p.120) programme, but in 1515 it very probably seemed a fairly conventional development of elements already well established in the logic course, its obvious novelty consisting in its humanist Latin idiom and in its use of classical literary examples. Erasmus, indeed, seems to have hoped to be able to use it as a humanist alternative to traditional dialectic, but it was not he who was to bring this about. Vives, though writing against the pseudodialecticians from Louvain, does not mention it. Nor, as far as I know, does John Mair or any other of the Paris theologians. It would not be printed in France until 1529.

The most notable writer of humanist Latin at Paris in the first quarter of the sixteenth century, besides Lefèvre, was Guillaume Budé(Budaeus, 1468–1540).73 In 1508, Josse Bade had published the first instalment of Budé's annotations on the PandectSy in which he subjected the Roman law of the Digest to the philological scrutiny recommended by Lorenzo Valla in his Elegantiae. In 1515, Bade printed the first edition of De asse et paribus eius, Budé's painstaking investigation of the values of ancient coinage, interspersed with virtuoso digressions on the evils of materialism, financial corruption, abuses in the Church, and the sublime virtues of philosophy. Budé did not envisage dialogue with the late medieval Latin speech community. In the digressions to De asse, where he is not engaged with antiquarian minutiae, his discourse is thick with references to the culture of antiquity, esoteric even by the standards of contemporary humanists. It has word-forms calqued on the classical Greek in which Bude was so immersed that he clearly thought in that language and moved with ease between his two tongues in consecutive sentences. It is flamboyant in its use of figures of speech, especially metaphor, and, far from following the moves of dialectical or rhetorical stratagems for argument, Budé gives his metaphors full rein to lead his train of thought. It is declamatory, extravagant, impetuous, prophetic, and highly individual. In 1516, Erasmus and Bude exchanged letters of strained politeness on the subject of their respective projects and the style they wrote in.74 Significantly, what irked Bude was that Erasmus kept working within the confines of pedagogy and theology, and employed a ‘middling’, clear style to suit them. Erasmus, on the other hand, remonstrated about the difficult obscurities of Bude's digressions in the De asse. Bude replied that his obscurity was deliberate, to be compared with the enigmatic utterance of oracles, designed so that few should understand in order that he could deny what the uninitiated mass of readers thought he said. Moreover, he is no mere slave of the ‘theatre and the people’; he writes for himself and, even on rereading himself, does not repent that he has ‘obeyed the promptings of his own nature’.75 At this stage of his development, Bude revelled in rhetoric's potential for ambivalence, and his self-consciously personal adaptation of classical Latin was certainly not the (p.121) common-language, transparent mode of communication that enables the exchange of ideas, the ‘sermocinantis mos’ (conversational style) that Budé ascribed to Erasmus. On the contrary, it has the opacity of poetic discourse, and to such discourse argument is not an appropriate response.

Twenty years later, Budé poured into his De Transitu hellenismi ad christianis-mum (Paris: R. Estienne, 1535) the effervescent distillation of his conclusions on the possibility of a cultural synthesis between classical culture and Christianity.76 The schismatic Reformation was now pursuing its course. The very public threat to Church and state constituted by the Affaire des Placards of the preceding year had polarized opinion and it proved a watershed for a Catholic humanist like Budé. Yet Budé has no way of harnessing his rhetoric to explore and test the rival claims to truth. It would be more accurate to say that he doubts whether rhetoric can do it. From among the many metaphors and fictions that are the vehicles for Budé's ideas in the De transitu, the part-mythical, part-historical figure of Aius Loquens represents rhetoric as message, words that take no responsibility for what they communicate. Aius Loquens, in Roman legend, was the detached, disembodied voice that warned the Romans: ‘The Gauls are coming!’ By 1535, Valla's scenario for the triumph of classical Latin had been reversed. The ‘Romans’ now occupied most of the city of the ‘Gauls’, but the Gauls, functioning, whatever their idiom, as symbols for barbarian destroyers of social and political order, lurked ever at the gates. Budé's Aius Loquens, however, gives no clear message. At one stage it is a false prophet, the lying voice of the Protestant offensive and Protestant demagogy; at another moment it is the persona Budé adopts to cry against these lies; next, Aius Loquens, now qualified pejoratively as ‘cunningly fabricated, dishonest eloquence’, argues the good cause of free debate against the bad case of the Faculty of Theology and its powers of censorship; and, on several occasions, Bude, in his role as Aius Loquens, denounces corruption in the Catholic Church.77 What seems to be revealed by this ambivalent figure is that humanist rhetoric is essentially ambivalent. Aius Loquens is the voice of the Roman orator, trained to speak to either side of any question, but his fine language can be used equally effectively to good or evil purpose, to persuade and denounce, to praise and to blame, whether the cause be true or false. Rhetoric is protean, duplicitous, double-tongued. Bude, the accomplished trilingual, does not trust the language of debate, in which either side, particularly if they have the language skills of humanists, can adopt and twist the other's speech. The purpose of his De transitu is to transcend debate, just as its idiosyncratic patterns of expression take an extravagant turn away from the discourse of Cicero to a new Latin idiom for the Christianismum (p.122) that will subsume and transcend antiquity. The peculiar Latin style of the work is magnificent, but it defied, indeed repelled, imitation. More crucially, and this is generally true of other humanists from within the Paris orbit, Budé did not provide the basic dialectical weapons of argument with which to wage a war of words, hand to hand, on equal terms, to get at truth.

At Paris, the war was not being waged on equal terms. In the De transitu, Budé says that, if there were opportunities for debating ‘foecunde…et facunde’ (fruitfully and fluently), they have been scuppered.78 The fact was that the Faculty of Theology, applying its official right to censorship, silenced opposition by substituting the univocal language of legal judgement and authoritative decree for the plural strategies of arguments deployed in order to arrive at the truth by consensus. Books were censored, authors stifled, humanists forbidden from lecturing in spheres claimed by the faculty, documents composed to demonstrate why one must not dispute verbally with heretics.79 Only a few years previously, in the period roughly between 1510 and 1525, from which most of our texts from Paris have been taken, the Paris doctors had habitually vindicated the logical armature of their theology by claiming that it was necessary in order to argue rationally with heretics.80 Their whole training in logic was by public, oral disputation. A major shift has taken place to shake to this extent their confidence in their argumentative strategy and in the power of their specialized language skills to carry conviction.

There was, however, certainly one member of the Faculty of Theology whose written contestations of Luther's doctrines in the later 1520s and early 1530s talk a language that might have crossed linguistic barriers. Josse Clichtove, erstwhile coworker with Lefèvre, wrote purposefully against the Reformers, but the idiom he used to do so remains strikingly similar to Lefèvre’s, a sort of attenuated humanist Latin, but one that could not be confused with that of his faculty colleagues. Interestingly, we have the original manuscript version, dated 1517, of the arguments Clichtove employed against Valla and Erasmus in favour of the authenticity of the works ascribed to Dionysius the Areopagite mentioned by St Paul. This can be compared with its revision for inclusion in his Antilutherus, first published (p.123) in 1524. In the manuscript version, presumably written for faculty purposes just after Erasmus had iterated Valla's doubts about the Dionysian corpus in his edition of Jerome and in his New Testament (both 1516), Clichtove writes very much like Béda, Cousturier, or the later John Mair. He goes in an orderly way through points made by his opponents, and appends one by one his responses, all in a distinctly unsophisticated, non-classical idiom. In the printed tract against Luther, aimed at a different readership, more familiar with the Latin of the grammar class than the Latin of the faculty, he rephrases and amplifies all this in continuous prose skilfully and variously connected, and he translates the lexis and syntax of faculty Latin into the lexis and syntax of the humanists.81 Erasmus was not convinced by Clichtove's arguments against him, here or on other occasions, but he recognized in Clichtove ‘a former friend, not averse to the Muses’, and treated him as one with whom he had a common language and could use a common knowledge of rhetorical theory to justify his position.82 Whether this style, the style of Lefèvre as we saw it deployed in arguments about St Ann, was the style in which to debate effectively with the Lutherans may become clearer after we have turned our attention to Germany.


(1) De interpretatione (Peri hermeneias), 16a4–5.

(2) We have already seen, in Ch. 2, that Valla's Elegantiae reached a far, far greater readership than the Dialecticae disputationes that was its theoretical base; even granted the different audiences they targeted, the disparity in the reception of these two works by such a well-known humanist is symptomatic of the point we are making here.

(3) A recent article very eloquently makes a not dissimilar observation, although it phrases it in terms of intellectual method and cultural difference, rather than the language issue I see as fundamental to both: C. G. Nauert, ‘Humanism as Method: Roots of Conflict with the Scholastics’, Sixteenth Century Journal, 29 (1998), 427–38.

(4) In order to concentrate on detail, we shall inevitably be concerned with isolated incidents in the intellectual history of Paris at this period; three major works of synthesis provide the context in which they should be located: Renaudet, Préréforme et humanisme à Paris; M.-M. de La Garanderie, Christianisme et lettres profanes: Essai sur I’humanisme français (1515–1535) et sur la pensée de Guillaume Budé, 2nd edn. (Paris, 1995); E. Rummel, The Humanist–Scholastic Debate in the Renaissance and Reformation (Cambridge, Mass., 1995).

(5) There was also a third, George of Brussels (d. 1510), but he published little and does not have a place in our narrative. For an account of Goulet's Compendium, see M. Reulos, ‘L’Enseignement d’Aristote dans les collèges au XVIe siècle’, in Platon et Aristote à la Renaissance (Paris, 1976), 147–54; and for the text of a part of it, Heptadogma seu septem pro erigendo gymnasio documenta, see Lukács (ed.), Monumenta paedagogica Societatis Iesu, i. 618–26.

(6) For John Mair's logic in general, see A. Broadie, The Circle of John Mair: Logic and Logicians in Pre-Reformation Scotland (Oxford, 1985); and the same author's Notion and Object: Aspects of Late Medieval Epistemobgy (Oxford, 1989).

(7) For a bibliography, see E. F. Rice (ed), The Prefatory Epistles of Jacques Lefèvre d’Etaples and Related Texts (New York and London, 1972), 546–7; this book is probably the best repository of information on Lefèvre, to be supplemented by Renaudet, Préréforme et humanisme, passim, and by G. Bedouelle, Lefèvre d’Etaples et l’intelligence des Éentures (Geneva, 1976); also, on Lefèvre and Aristotle, see E. F. Rice, ‘Humanist Aristotelianism in France: Jacques Lefèvre d’Etaples and his Circle’, in A. H. T. Levi (ed.), Humanism in France at the End of the Middle Ages and in the Early Renaissance (Manchester, 1970), 132–49. Lefèvre's textbooks on logic and his treatment of Aristotle's Organon are reviewed by E. Kessler, ‘Introducing Aristotle to the Sixteenth Century: The Lefèvre Enterprise’, in C. Blackwell and S. Kusukawa (eds.), Philosophy in the Sixteenth and Seventeenth Centuries: Conversations with Aristotle (Aldershot, 1999), 1–21 (though its over-rigorous categorization of Lefèvre's pedagogical books should be treated with some circumspection).

(8) As the 16th cent, progressed, the study of formal logic came to occupy a smaller place in the curriculum, but it was far from dead. For the history of formal logic in the period, see W. Risse, Die Logik der Neuzeit, 2 vols. (Stuttgart, 1964–70), i. 1500–1640; E. J. Ashworth, Language and Logic in the Post-Medieval Period (Dordrecht and Boston, 1974); id., ‘Changes in Logic Textbooks from 1500 to 1650: The New Aristotelianism’, in E. Kessler, C. H. Lohr, and W. Sparn (eds.), Aristotelismus und Renaissance: In Memoriam Charles B. Schmitt (Wiesbaden, 1988), 75–87; id., ‘Traditional Logic’, in C. B. Schmitt, Q. Skinner, E. Kessler, and J. Kraye (eds.), The Cambridge History of Renaissance Philosophy (Cambridge, 1988), 143–72. A bibliography of changing Renaissance attitudes to Aristotelian logic is provided in C. H. Lohr's Latin Aristotle Commentaries, ii. Renaissance Authors (Florence, 1988). For some of Clichtove's significant contributions to the development of formal logic, see E. J. Ashworth, ‘Renaissance Man as Logician: Josse Clichtove (1472–1543) on Disputation’, History and Philosophy of Logic, 7 (1986), 15–29.

(9) The preface is reprinted in Rice, Prefatory Epistles, 38–41. Lefèvre had a high standing as a humanist among his contemporaries, Italian as well as French, expressed in their familiar code linking disciplines of thought (doctrinoy philosophia) with language (sermo, eloquentia), cf. ibid. 288: ‘Quae iam omnino latine loqui dedidicerant, ac longe ab Aristotelis ceterorumque vere philosophantium mente abierant, in pristinam et sermonis et doctrinae maiestatem [Iacobus Faber Stapulensis] restituit…Primus enim apud Gallos (ut Cicero apud Romanos) philosophiam rudem adhuc et impolitam cum eloquentia iunxit.’

(10) Libri logicorum (Paris: W. Hopyl & H. Estienne, 1503), fo. 78.

(11) For a summary of Béla's career, see Farge, Biographical Register.

(12) De Maria Magdalena, triduo Christi, et ex tribus una Maria disceptatio (Paris: H. Estienne, 1518), fos. 62v–90v; there was a reprint the following year. For the context of the dispute about St Ann, see J.-P. Massaut, Critique et tradition à la veille de la Réforme en France (Paris, 1974), which has a short section on Lefèvre's tract, pp. 75–80. On this and on all other documents in the controversies about St Ann at Paris and elsewhere exhaustive information is supplied in the excellent thesis by S. M. Porrer, ‘The Three Maries’.

(13) For examples, De Maria Magdalena, fos, 68v; 69v–70; 71v; 72v; 74v (all making slight alterations to the formula, ‘you may ask; I shall reply’, as students would have learnt to do when practising verbal variation for copia dicendi (abundance of speech) in the grammar class).

(14) Lefèvre explains that he was lent this book by a cleric of great piety and considerable standing, ibid. 63, and gives its title, fos. 77v and 82.

(15) There is a modern edn. of a manuscript originating in England and now at the British Library: G. Albert, J. M. Parent, and A. Guillemette, ‘La Légende des trois manages de Sainte Anne: Un texte nouveau’, in Études d’histoire littéraire et doctrinale du Xllle Siécle (Paris and Ottawa, 1932), 165–84. This manuscript is substantially the same as the only edn. in the 16th cent, in C. Wimpina, Farrago miscellaneorum, ed. J. Romberch (Cologne, 1531), where it is again part of a controversy about the truth of St Ann's extended family (one that we shall also investigate). The identification between the Defensorium and Lefèvre's Apologeticus is not absolutely certain, but the twin contentions of the Apologeticus are exactly those of the Defensorium. On the only two occasions when Lefèvre quotes his Apologeticus directly (both times to make the same point about the age of St John the Evangelist) he reproduces the Defensorium exactly.

(16) See vol. ii of the Opera of St Jerome (Basle, 1516), fos. 207–9. The De nativitate Sanctae Mariae is printed in the 3rd section of vol. ii, a section that appends for the sake of completeness texts ‘not worth reading that have been shamelessly ascribed to learned men’, but it is not absolutely clear whether that condemnation is meant to include texts other than those falsely ascribed to St Jerome and other named authors.

(17) De Maria Magdalena, fo. 77v.

(18) John of Freiburg is very clear: ‘Illi antiquiores sancti…beatum Ieronimum longo tempore precesserunt, ac per hoc huius rei veritatem [that Mary was the wife, not the daughter of Cleophas] certius cognoscere potuerunt’ (G. Albert et al., ‘La Légende’, 176). Lefèvre had already been interested in ‘Hegesippus’, but the text he had edited in 1510, Aegesippi historiographi fidelissimi ac disertissimi et inter Christianos antiquissimi historia (Paris: J. Bade), was in fact a version of Josephus abridged by St Ambrose.

(19) Lefèvre's Introductio in libros Ethicorum Aristotelis (Paris: W. Hopyl, 1496) was successively revised and enlarged and frequently published up to 1559; Clichtove's commentary, first added to Lefèvre's brief definitions and precepts for behaviour in 1502, illustrated them from history, the poets, the Bible, and the lives of saints, including Joachim and Ann. The principle of ethical and rhetorical decorum, understanding patterns of behaviour appropriate to types of persons and adjusting one's style to match, runs through humanist treatises on the art of composition, e.g. Erasmus’ De conscribendis epistolis, eventually published in 1522.

(20) ‘Nulli igitur docto fidei dubium esse debet quin sicut in matre Christi efiulsit singularis prerogativa mundicie virginalis ad exemplum omnium virginum, ita et in eius avia beatissima Anna si post Ioachim vixerat, enituit specialis prerogativa continencie vidualis ad exemplum omnium viduarum’ (G. Albert et al., ‘La Légende’, 182).

(21) ‘Praeterea nonne Deus omnibus temporibus iis hominibus qui mente valerent, quique in ocio versarentur literario, verum et falsum in medium proposuit discutienda?’ (De Maria Magdalena, fo. 85v). Lefèvre, it is worth recalling, never took his doctor's degree in theology.

(22) It is appropriate (‘decuit’) for his opponents to remember that ‘certamen hoc literatorum esse, non vulgi, quod maiorum more, scriptis, non inanibus acclamationibus nequicquam in aera profusis derimendum est’ (ibid. 87).

(23) The Petit livret is MS 4009 of the Bibliothèque de l’Arsenal; see M. Holban, ‘François Du Moulin de Rochefort et la querelle de la Madeleine’, Humanisme et Renaissance, 2 (1935), 26–43; and, primarily for the illustrations, M. D. Orth, ‘“Madame Sainte Anne”: Holy Kinship, the Royal Trinity, and Louise of Savoy’, in Ashley and Sheingorn (eds.), Interpreting Cultural Symbols, 199–227.

(24) The Petit livret is illustrated with pictures representing the ‘true’ story of Ann and Joachim (Lefèvre's version); small family groups of Mary Cleophas and Salome with husbands and children (to replace in the reader's mind the many church pictures of St Ann and her extended family); and a crucifixion in which St John appears bearded at the foot of the cross (to imprint an image of St John as Christ's coeval, not the usual unbearded youth). Lefèvre is not insensitive to the power of pictures. He argues that to depict St John as a beardless youth, even as a symbolic representation of his virginity, is impertinent. The only thing that matters is to observe the decorum of fact: his age and his masculinity. Lefèvre's horizon of reference as concerns the visual arts is some distance from the manuscript illustrations of the Petit livret and the artistic tradition they come from. His example of an ‘indecorous’ painting of St John is Leonardo's Last Supper, which he saw in Milan on his humanist tour of Italy (De Maria Magdalena, fos. 82v–83).

(25) De Maria Magdalena, fos. 87v, 88v–90; the linguistic, metrical, and doctrinal revision of the Church's hymns was an aim shared by most early humanists. Lefèvre's collaborator, Clichtove, had pursued it most lavishly in his Elucidatorium ecclesiasticum published at Paris by Henri Estienne in 1516 (see further A. Moss, ‘Latin Liturgical Hymns and their Early Printing History, 1470–1520’, Humanistica lovaniensia, 36 (1987), 112–37). Clichtove's aim was to improve the standard of clergy literacy and comprehension. One wonders how much the ‘untaught ears of the masses’ were affected by changes in Latin hymns, but evidence suggests that sequences (the only sort of hymn normally sung at mass) were widely known and widely loved by the Latinless laity.

(26) ‘Nunc protrita, nunc poetica sectatus [Mantuanus] est studia, aliis relinquens, quae vera essent, discutienda’ (De Maria Magdalena, fo. 72–72v). The lines Lefèvre quotes from Mantuan are from his Fasti, a calendar poem with narratives for saints’ days, in which he reports that St Ann is said to have had three husbands and three daughters.

(27) One of the distinctions Clichtove makes early in his defence, delineating areas where contrary opinions may be debated, gives a flavour of his Latin, much more like Mair's than it is like Lefèvre’s: ‘Siquidem in ea materia, quae apud sanctos patres et auctores sanctos, controversa est et implexa, neque satis adhuc determinata, liberum est cuique aut unam aut alteram illius controversiae agitare partem, rationibus probalitatem habentibus, sine fidei doctrinaeque catholicae detrimento’ (Disceptationis de Magdalena defensio (Paris: H. Estienne, 1519), fo. 3); there is a judicious synopsis of Clichtove's tract, which mainly concerns the Magdalen controversy, in Massaut, Critique et tradition, 81–96. During the course of it, Clichtove claims that many of the Paris theologians had been persuaded by Lefèvre's arguments. In particular, John Mair had told Clichtove in person that he had been led by the commotion over the book to read it with particular attention, and had found its views ‘sufficiently well-grounded in proof and consonant with the truth’ (fo. 87–87v).

(28) De beatissimae Annae monogamia…; Defensio propositionum praenarratarum contra quendam Dominicestrum (s.l., 1534); Agrippa provides detailed descriptions of the circumstances of his altercation with the Dominicans, of which he informed Lefèvre by letter at the time it occurred; for a full account of the affair, see Porrer, ‘The Three Maries’, 342–57.

(29) Noël Béda, Apologia pro filiabus et nepotibus beatae Annaecontra Magistri Iacobi Fabri scripturn (Paris: J. Bade, 1520), sig. A iiii; this is the third propositio of part 1. The signs of curiositas and singularitas are a tendency to despise received doctrine in order to pursue one's own ideas or untested theories, and a delight in decrying and attacking solid, well-tried authorities.

(30) ‘Fabula [est] quae non verum nee verosimile continet’ (ibid, fo. CIv); cf. Cicero, De inventione, 1. 19. 27, and Rhetorica ad Herennium, 1. 8. 13.

(31) ‘Caeterum dicet Iacobus [Faber]: esto hie non inducam sancti doctoris alicuius testimonium: tamen rationem pro me habeo ex loquendi sumptam consuetudine. Solent se (ait) duorum fratrum uxores vocare sorores’ (Béda, Apologia pro filiabus, fo. LVv); or, as Lefèvre had put it: ‘At quaeres: cur ergo Maria Cleophae soror matris dei dicitur? Ea certe consuetudine: qua uxores fratrum, se mutuo dicunt sorores’ (De Maria Magdalena, fo. 72v).

(32) Lefèvre's self-defence is very near the end of his book, De Maria Magdalena, fos. 84v–88v; discernment of spirits is the point from which Béda starts, Apologia pro filiabus, fos. Iv–V.

(33) De Maria Magdalena, fo. 85; Lefèvre goes on to identify his stance with the Greek and Latin Fathers whose writings champion truth; Béda finds his most articulate authority for discerning spirits in Jean Gerson, a writer for another age and another idiom.

(34) De triplici connubio divae Annae disceptatio (Paris: P. Vidoue for J. Petit, 1523). Cousturier was the Faculty's most outspoken critic of humanist alterations to the Vulgate text of the Bible; his De tralatione Bibliae et novarum reprobatione interpretationum (Paris: Jean Petit, 1525), directed against Erasmus, Lefèvre, and vernacular renderings, and his subsequent exchange of pamphlets with Erasmus, are analysed in E. Rummel, Erasmus and his Catholic Critics, 2 vols. (Nieuwkoop, 1989), ii. 61–79; see further the same author's Humanist–Scholastic Debate.

(35) Cousturier describes himself as desiring to ‘aptum quoque ordinem (quern adversarii confundunt, confusio etenim mentis confusionem scriptorum parere solet) servare’ (De triplici connubio, fo. xxvii). Cousturier's plural ‘opponents’ are Lefèvre and the book Lefèvre was using, i.e. John of Freiburg, which Cousturier does not seem to know at first hand. The pagination of the De triplici connubio is completely awry; I have transcribed it as it is printed, not as logic would demand. The plan of Cousturier's quaestio is on fo. iiiv; the list of heads of argument, to which he constantly refers, is on fo. xxvii–xxviiv.

(36) Cousturier was to develop these ideas in his De trcdatione Bibliae, published two years later. He also argues there against the retranslation of the Vulgate into humanist Latin (fos. LXIIIIV–LXIXV). Among his more interesting arguments is the notion mat such an enterprise would destroy the unity of the Church, partly because humanists would not agree on which model of Latin style to adopt, more importantly because there would be one version for an educated élite reading in private, another for the mass of Latin users (predominantly clerics with no better than utilitarian Latin) and for public use in Church ritual. Cousturier is very aware of the destabilizing effect of a plurality of competing language communities.

(37) De Maria Magdalena, fo. 71v: ‘What, then, is this dove so special, so singular, so perfect, who in the kingdom on high goes far ahead of the queens of heavenly places and the queens that are below? Is it not that virgin blessed above all women, not only those that are of this world, but those that dwell in heaven, that virgin joined with God the Father, mother of the Son of God, queen of queens and more than queen, blessed above all blessed women and more than blessed, the dove of God the Father, the undefined of God the Father, only daughter to her mother Ann, who is the highest queen in that kingdom of perfect love, Mary, the choice one of her that bare her?’ The reader who recalls Christ's ‘brothers’ mentioned in the Bible may wonder whether divesting Mary of her sisters may put in peril her perpetual virginity. Lefèvre has the answer. On the authority of Eusebius, Joseph was brother to Cleophas, so the children of Cleophas and Mary, his wife, were reputed cousins, or ‘brothers’, of the Lord, after the flesh, as Joseph, on the authority of Jerome, was his ‘father’ after the flesh (ibid 73–74v).

(38) ‘Etenim non semper opus est figuram et figuratum omnimode sibi correspondere, alioquin non figura sed potius identitas esset…Denique argumenta huiusmodi a sensu mistico sumpta parum vel nihil convincunt obluctantibus, licet multum virium habeant apud eos qui ea libenter amplexantur’ (De triplici connubio, fos. xxviiiv–xxix). In late medieval theology it was a truism that the historical, or literal, sense of holy scripture was the only one of its senses that could serve as a basis of logical inference (often with a reference to St Augustine, Epistolae, 93. 8. 24).

(39) ‘Lefèvre's argument, says Cousturier, is ‘argumentationis genus viciosum et ab ipsius dialecticae rudimentis prorsus abhorrens. Non enim locus ab auctoritate tenet negative. Itaque consequens non est, si non legatur, propterea non ita esse. Addo quod non omnia quae facta sunt potuerunt sacris literis comprehend’ (ibid., fo. xlv).

(40) ‘Qua propter eos qui hac de re ad populum verba facturi sunt, in charitate Christi oratos velim: ne aspernentur, diligenter et tranquillo pacatoque animo opusculum hoc evolvere, et omnia pro veritate loqui’ (De Maria Magdalena, fo. 87).

(41) A subsequent Latin defence of thrice-married Ann brought the arguments of Cousturier and Béda directly to an educated lay audience. There is no evidence of vernacular translations of their tracts, as in the case of Du Moulin soliciting royal protection for Lefèvre, and, indeed, there would be no need, for theirs was the established position. Their vernacular audience heard St Ann's extended family proclaimed loudly from the pulpit, saw it painted in churches, knew it from the liturgy and the prayers they were taught to repeat. In 1529, however, such security faced a more concerted threat than that mounted by a few Latin humanists. Jean Bertaut, a former student in the grammar classes at the Collège de Montaigu and a lawyer who had studied law at Toulouse, wrote his Encomium trium Mariarum (Paris: J. Bade, 1529) ‘against the Lutherans’. He acknowledges his debt to Béla and Cousturier, but Bertaut's style of exposition is very different from either. He supports his thesis by weight of quotation rather than by argument, and the main sources for his quotations are legal texts, to which he refers in the standard legal manner, indicating that his intended audience were laymen with a professional legal background, not theologians. The story of St Ann with which he and his audience felt at home was the one told by Josse Bade, who had Latinized a Dutch text in 1502, retaining the story-telling style of its vernacular source. I shall return later to Bade's text, which Bertaut knew from the version Cousturier had given of it in the course of his defence of the traditional account of her life (Encomium, part 3, fo. LII–LIIv). Between part 1 of Bertaut's book, an encomium in Roman type for St Ann on her feast-day in the manner of contemporary legal oratory, and part 3, again in Roman type, which is a legal inquiry into kindred and affinity focused on St Ann's extended family, there is further evidence of the scope of Bertaut's intended readership. This part consists of offices and a mass for St Ann and her daughters, printed in Gothic type and decorated with borders that have elaborate pictures and explanations in French. This makes this part of the book look like a typical Book of Hours, and, indeed, most of the borders are reused from the Grandes Heures of Simon Vostre printed by Philippe Pigouchet.

(42) ‘Obtrectatores ad contumelias confugiunt, famosos tacito nomine libellos efficiunt, doctissimos viros subsannant, rationes syllogismosque omnes despiciunt, sophismataque vocant, sacras literas rident, verborum flosculos dumtaxat demirantur, solas pueriles disciplinas hoc est grammaticas, proh pudor! bonas humanioresque literas nuncupant, et demum se doctissimos omnium arbitrantur, cumomnia despexerint, cum ceteros maledictis affecerint’ (fo. lix–lixv).

(43) For a generalized summary of the state of the disciplines and changes that were to affect them, see L. Giard, ‘Sur le cycle des “artes” à la Renaissance’, in Weijers and Holtz (eds.), L’Enseignement, 511–38.

(44) Antibarbarorum liber, ed. K. Kumaniecki, in Erasmus, Opera, i/i (Amsterdam, 1969), 36.

(45) Antibarbarorum liber, ed. K. Kumaniecki, in Erasmus, Opera, i/i (Amsterdam, 1969), 58–61; later in the book, the mere titles of medieval repositories of material for preaching and argument, Gemmula, Margarita, Floretum, Rosetum, Speculum (all genuine enough), provide sufficient cause to rubbish their contents (89–90).

(46) Ibid. 98; there is a graphic portrait of the orator readying himself to give his speech in a manner that recalls the demeanour proper to rhetorical delivery and entirely effaces any lingering image of the scholastic disputant (66).

(47) Ibid. 96.

(48) The point is well made by M. M. Phillips in her introduction to her translation of the Antibarbari (Collected Works of Erasmus, xxiii (Toronto, 1978), 11–14); for an examination of the many texts related to Erasmus and his standing at Louvain, see the first volume of Rummel, Erasmus and his Catholic Critics.

(49) There are two modern edns. of the work with English translation: J. L Vives, In pseudodialecticos, ed C. Fantazzi (Leiden, 1979), and Juan Luis Vives Against the Pseudodialecticians: A Humanist Attack on Medieval Logic, ed. R. Guerlac (Dordrecht, 1979).

(50) For the relationship between Erasmus, Vives, and also another crucial player, Thomas More, see L. Jardine, Erasmus, Man of Letters: The Construction of Charisma in Print (Princeton, 1993), 14–23.

(51) ‘Somniant et confingunt sibi ineptias ac novam quandam linguam quam ipsi soli intelligant’ (R. Guerlac (ed.), Against the Pseudodialecticians, 48).

(52) R. Guerlac (ed.), Against the Pseudodialecticians, 52. Supposition, ampliation, restriction, and appellation (together with distribution) were analytical procedures used in late medieval logic to denote, extend, restrict, and connote the reference of terms, depending on such things as their context in a sentence and the application of various kinds of qualifiers, modal, temporal, quantifying, and so on. Discussion of such ‘properties of terms’ formed the subject of parva logicalia, in origin the last section of Peter of Spain's Summulae logicales, which was the main textbook on logic.

(53) ‘Dialectica itaque in hoc vulgari, et qui est omnium in ore sermo, verum, falsum, probabilitatem invenit’ (ibid. 54).

(54) ‘Doctiores indulgent utcunque plebi in sermonis usu, ipsi inter se et aliter sentiunt, et loquuntur, quamvis haec non usque adeo multa’ (ibid. 68).

(55) ‘Sin vero latinam dialecticarn pollicemur omnes, ex instituto moreque latinorum significabunt voces, non ex nostro…Si dialecticarn vel hispane vel gallice essent tradituri [the (pseudo)logicians], quod tarn fieri potest, quam latine aut graece, num regulas suo ipsorum arbitratu, et non potius ex ipsius sermonis ratione formarent?’ (ibid. 66); he goes on to speculate, inconclusively, on the consequences for logic of differing usages concerning negatives found in different languages.

(56) ‘Hic sermo, barbarismis et soloecismis scatens, solus est quo res theologicae magistraliter diffiniri possunt; atque in hanc stultissimam et pestiferam opinionem plerique adducti sunt, ut philosophiam, ut theologiam, ut reliquas artes incorrupto sermone tradi non posse credant’ (ibid. 84); the use of the barbaric word ‘magistraliter’ for the Paris ‘masters’ is, of course, deliberate.

(57) ‘Adeo sicut sermo, ita et mores et actus omnes ab homine abhorrent, ut nihil illis cum ceteris hominibus commune praeter formam iudices’ (ibid. 92). The satirical mode is also characterized by exaggeration. There were other Spaniards who had quite a different impression of their adopted alma mater. Joannes Vaccaeus (?Juan Vacet), a close associate of François Du Bois at the Collège de Montaigu, left his native Murcia to study eloquence at Paris, not logic, and claims he found her there. She sings her own praises at length in his Sylva, cut titulus Parrhisia, argumentum de laudibus eloquentiae et claris utriusque linguae oratoribus (Paris: N. de La Barre, 1522).

(58) The Latin text and English translation of the letter are in The Complete Works of St Thomas More, ed. D. Kinney, xv (New Haven, 1986), 1–149.

(59) Ibid. 34; the discussion of logic and language is mainly at pp. 22–77.

(60) Ibid 68–71.

(61) The Complete Works of St Thomas More, ed. D. Kinney, xv (New Haven, 1986), 26–9, 50–5, 72–5.

(62) More specifically, it engages with the inaugural oration by a young associate of Erasmus, Petrus Mosellanus (Peter Schade, c.1493–1524), recently appointed to the first chair of Greek at Leipzig. His Oratio de variarum linguarum cognitione paranda (Leipzig, 1518) was strong in its support of Erasmus and his philological critique of the Vulgate ‘received text’ of the New Testament. For a thorough account of Masson's dialogue, see Rummel, Erasmus and his Catholic Critics, i. 63–93.

(63) ‘Tamen ne Unguis nimium tribuat aliquis, altius repetens dicebat [doctus senex] conceptus esse vocibus priores, et propterea non sequi quod necessario rem ignoret qui vocem nesciat et multominus qui primam vocem aut qui graecam vel egyptiam rei vocem ignoret, sed ediverso potius res ignorata facit vocem nesciri…Addebat [senex] quia notiones significant naturaliter et sunt eaedem apud omnes…Qui vero rem mente comprehendit, earn sermone potest exprimere communem linguam habentibus’ (De trium linguarum et studii theologici ratione dialogus (Antwerp, 1519), 17–19). Rummel points out that this passage implicitly contradicts a statement made by Mosellanus that puts a typically humanist view of the question: ‘I am amazed that there are men who have no scruples in stating that the nature and properties of things can be perceived without instruction in the meaning of words’ (Rummel, Erasmus and his Catholic Critics, i. 80).

(64) ‘Sed ignaris Romani idiomatis fortasse efficiemus Astrologiam iterum, sed Pariensi stylo qui crebras argumentationes exposcit et ornatum posthabet, quandoquidem non deesse multos scimus, qui ut negotium hoc suscipiamus desiderant, cum ob Pici eloquentiam a fructu quern ex libris disputationum eius eruerent praepediantur, demissionem scribendi modum praeoptantes et illi qui eis familiaris est persimilem’ (Gian Francesco Pico della Mirandola, De studio divinae et humanae phihsophiae, in Opera omnia Ioannis Pici Mirandolae, ii (Basle, 1573), 23–4; this book was first published in 1497 at Bologna and was very well known in northern Europe).

(65) Masson, Dialogus, 36; for a translation of this passage and references to corresponding passages in Erasmus, see Rummel, Erasmus and his Catholic Critics, i. 86–7.

(66) Dialectice Laurentii Vallae libri tres seu eiusdem reconcinnatio totius dialectice et fundamentorum universalis philosophic: Ubi multa adversus Aristotelem, Boetium, Porphyrium, sed plura adversus recentiores philosophos acutissime disputantur: non defore tamen credam quae ab illis respondeantur (Paris: Josse Bade for J. Marnef, 1515). This edn., like all the 16th-cent. printed edns., reproduces the second of three states of the text published in manuscript by Valla himself. It is much more developed than the first version, and close to the final version, which expands on some points. All states of the text are available in the modern edn. cited. There were perhaps two printings of the work prior to Bade's edn., and those were in Italy in the last years of the 15th cent. We have already considered Valla's work on dialectic in connection with his much more influential Elegantiae.

(67) Between Bade's 1515 reissue and the eventual inclusion of the Dialecticae disputationes in edns. of Valla's complete works in 1540 and 1543, there seem to have been only three edns., one at Paris and one at Cologne, both in 1530, and one at Cologne in 1541. Both the 1530 imprints come directly after editions of Agricola's De inventione dialectica (in Paris, at least, from the same press) and may perhaps be related to the current interest in remodelling the dialectic syllabus consequent on that work. The direct influence of Valla's dialectical work in the first thirty years or so of the 16th cent, has been somewhat exaggerated; correctives may be found in J. Monfasani, ‘Lorenzo Valla and Rudolph Agricola’, Journal of the History of Philosophy, 28 (1990), 181–200, and in Mack, Renaissance Argument, 114–16.

(68) Against the Pseudodialecticians, 78–9.

(69) More's letter to Dorp, 22–3.

(70) The work is perhaps most comprehensively analysed in Mack, Renaissance Argument, but a sense of how ‘dialectic, in Agricola, shifts from being a logic of disputation to a logic of inquiry’ is conveyed with great force in M. Cogan, ‘Rodolphus Agricola and the Semantic Revolutions of the History of Invention’, Rhetorica, 2 (1984) 163–94 The best introduction to the text itself is the volume of extracts and translation into French introduced by M. van der Poel, Écrits sur la dialectique et !’humanisme: Rodolphe Agricola, choix de textes (Paris, 1997). For the story of how Agricola's book eventually got into print, many years after its completion in 1479, and after a period when it was seen by very few, known only by repute, eagerly awaited, and extensively trailed prior to publication, see Jardine, Erasmus, Man of Letters.

(71) The title-page is reproduced and its context discussed ibid. 99–122.

(72) Rice, Prefatory Epistles of Lefèvre d’Etaples, 106–7.

(73) The most comprehensive account of Budés work is La Garanderie, Christianisme et lettres profanesy with a particularly pertinent analysis of his idiosyncratic style of writing at pp. 259–84; see also the penetrating chapter on Budé in S. Murphy, The Gift of Immortality: Myths of Power in Humanist Poetics (Madison, Wis., 1997) 191–241.

(74) Erasmus, Opus epistolarum, ii (1910), 272–6, 362–70, 390–405 (nos. 435,480, and 493)

(75) Ibid. 394, 399.

(76) Modern Latin/French edn., Le Passage de l’hellénisme au christianisme, ed. and tr. M.-M. de La Garanderie and D. F. Penham (Paris, 1993).

(77) Ibid. 53, 111, 130–3 (on the silencing of free debate: Budé’ tries to suspend judgement and the only effective counter to the arguments of Aius Loquens against the faculty proves to be the uncovering of the ‘atrocious conspiracy’ of the Affaire des Placards), 165–8 (Budé himself, as Aius Loquens, exposes corruption in the Church), 177 (criticism of such corruption must be heeded, even when murmured by Aius Loquens in the guise of the enemies of the Church), 201–2 (lament for the Church degenerate since apostolic times).

(78) Le Passage de l’hellénisme au christianisme, ed. and tr. M.-M. de La Garanderie and D. F. Penham (Paris, 1993), 108. Budé's ideal, moderate debaters (not named) from the other side, ones who speak ‘facunde’, in humanist Latin, seem to be Philip Melanchthon and Martin Bucer. Since 1532, at the instigation of François I, there had been plans afoot to stage an official debate between the Paris Faculty of Theology on the one hand and Melanchthon and Bucer on the other. By the time the De transitu was seen through the press, early in March 1535, those plans, on which many had set high hopes, seemed effectively scotched by the Affaire des Placards (Oct 1534). In Nov. 1535, the obstructive tactics of the faculty, along with various political factors, saw to it that the debate was cancelled. For the details of this episode, see Farge, Orthodoxy and Reform, 150–9.

(79) Part of the faculty's deposition on the inadvisability of the proposed colloquy with Melanchthon and Bucer was a Codkillus quo ostenditur non esse disputandum cum haereticis. For the ways the faculty exercised its authority, see the works by Farge, Orthodoxy and Reform and Le Parti conservateur, for the faculty's written altercations with its most vocal opponent, Erasmus, that began in earnest in 1526, see Rummel, Erasmus and his Catholic Critics ii. 29–59.

(80) e.g. Thomas More in his letter to Dorp in 1515 (70), talking about theologians armed with 10,000 of the thorniest quaestiones wonders to himself what use they are and then proceeds to demolish the customary answer that it is for disputing with heretics.

(81) The manuscript is transcribed, together with the appropriate chapters from the Antilutherus, in Massaut, Critique et tradition, 179–229.

(82) For exchanges between Clichtove and Erasmus, see Rummel, Erasmus and his Catholic Critics, ii 73–9; points at issue in the objections Clichtove's Propugnaculum ecclesiae of 1525 makes to Erasmus’Encomium matrimonii include questions of language use, rhetorical status, and rhetorical genre.