John Peckham

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John Peckham (or Pecham) (c. 1230 – 8 December 1292) was Archbishop of Canterbury in the years 1279–1292. He was a native of Sussex who was educated at Lewes Priory and became a Franciscan friar about 1250. He studied at Paris under Bonaventure, where he later taught theology. From his teaching, he came into conflict with Saint Thomas Aquinas, whom he debated on two occasions. Known as a conservative theologian, he opposed Aquinas' views on the nature of the soul. Peckham also studied optics and astronomy, and his studies in those subjects were influenced by Roger Bacon.

In around 1270, he returned to England, where he taught at the University of Oxford, and was elected the Franciscan provincial minster of England in 1275. After a brief stint in Rome, he was appointed Archbishop of Canterbury in 1279. His time as archbishop was marked by efforts to improve discipline in the clergy as well as reorganize the estates of his see. Pluralism, or holding more than one clerical benefice, was one of the abuses that Peckham combatted. He served King Edward I of England in Wales, where he formed a low opinion of the Welsh people and laws. Before and during his time as archbishop, he wrote a number of works on optics, philosophy, and theology, as well as writing hymns. Numerous manuscripts of his works survive. On his death, his body was buried in Canterbury Cathedral, but his heart was given to the Franciscans for burial.


Early life

Peckham came from a humble family, possibly from Patchem in Sussex.[1] He was born about 1230 and was educated at Lewes Priory.[2] About 1250, he joined the Franciscan order at Oxford. He then went to the University of Paris, where he studied under Bonaventure and became regent master, or official lecturer, in theology.[3][4] While at Paris, he wrote a Commentary on Lamentations, which sets out two possible sermons.[5]

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