Petrus Comestor

Petrus Comestor, or Pierre le Mangeur (died 22 October 1178), was a twelfth-century French theological writer and university teacher.


Petrus Comestor was born in Troyes. Although the name Comestor (or Manducator, Latin; le Mangeur in French) was popularly attributed to his habit of devouring books and learning (it means 'eater'), it was probably, and more prosaically, a family name.[1][2] It did, however, give Peter a nice pun for his epitaph (supposed to have been composed by him): Petrus eram quem petra tegit,/ dictusque Comestor nunc comedor (I was Peter, whom this stone covers,/ called 'devourer', now I am devoured). (For a text of it, see Petrus Comestor.)

As a young man, Peter studied at Troyes Cathedral school, where he might have come into contact with Peter Abelard.[3]; sometime later, he was a student in Paris under, amongst others, Peter Lombard.[4] By 1147, he was back in Troyes, having been appointed dean of Troyes Cathedral. By 1160, Peter had returned to Paris to teach, holding the chair of theology at the university (from which he retired in 1169). He was made chancellor of Notre Dame in Paris around 1164, which put him, amongst other things, in charge of the cathedral school, and which post he held until his death in 1178.[5] Peter's reputation as an academic was such that Pope Alexander III exempted Peter from his ban on charging fees for giving licences to teach.[6]

Peter was buried in the Abbey of Saint Victor, and he may have retired and become a canon there; he was celebrated as such by the canons in their necrology.[7]


Historia ScholasticaEdit

Peter's most famous work was his Historia Scholastica: as Beryl Smalley called it, a 'great study of biblical history'.[8] The Historia was completed by 1173, Peter having spent some time writing it at the Abbey of Saint Victor. Peter dedicated it to William, bishop of Sens. The Historia was a core text during the following centuries, even being a source, perhaps, for The Canterbury Tales.[9]

Other worksEdit

Many of Peter's works are still unpublished. Among his works are:

Petrus Comestor presents the Bible Historiale to Archbishop Guillaume of Sens.


  • Petris Comestoris Scolastica Historia: Liber Genesis. Edited by Agneta Sylwan. Turnhout: Brepols, 2004, Pp. xc + 227. (Corpus Christianorum Continuatio Mediaevalis, 191). ISBN 978-2503049113


Historia scolasticaEdit

  • Épinal, Bibliothèque municipale, ms. 50 s. xiii
  • British Library, Harley 4132. s. xiii.
  • British Library, Egerton 272. s. xiii.
  • Durham Cathedral, B.III.20. s. xiii.
  • Hereford Cathedral, P.v.15. s. xiii in.
  • Lincoln Cathedral, 80. s. xii.
  • Lincoln Cathedral, 86. s. xiii

Other worksEdit

  • Hereford Cathedral, O.vii.3. Sermones s. xiii in.
  • Oxford, Bodleian Library, Bodley 494. Textus glosatus super Iohannem etc. s. xii/xiii. H.
  • Oxford, Bodleian Library, Bodley 748. Petrus Comestor s. xiv.
  • Oxford, Corpus Christi College 159. Peter Comestor s. xiv in.
  • Lincoln Cathedral, 153. s. xii ex.
  • Lincoln Cathedral, 159. s. xiv/xv.


  1. ^ Dalyn, S. R. (1957). "Peter Comestor: Master of Histories". Speculum. 32: 63.
  2. ^ Morey, J. H. (1993). "Biblical Paraphrase, and the Medieval Popular Bible" (PDF). Speculum. 68: 10.
  3. ^ Dalyn, 64
  4. ^ Clark, M. (2005). "Peter Comestor and Peter Lombard: Brothers in Deed". Traditio. 60: 85–142.
  5. ^ Morey, 10
  6. ^ Dalyn, 67, 70
  7. ^ Dalyn, 68
  8. ^ Smalley, B. (1964). The Study of the Bible in the Middle Ages. University of Notre Dame Press. p. 178.
  9. ^ Morey, 32-5
  10. ^ Luscombe, D. (1985). "Peter Comestor". Studies in Church History Subsidia. 4: fn.26.

Further readingEdit

  • M. J. Clark, The Making of the Historia scholastica, 1150–1200 (Studies and Texts, 198), Pontifical Institute of Medieval Studies, 2016 (ISBN 978-0-88844-198-0)
  • Gilbert Dahan, Les Intellectuels chrétiens et les Juifs au Moyen Âge, Paris, Cerf, 1990.
  • B. Smalley, The Study of the Bible in the Middle Ages, 2nd edn., University of Notre Dame Press, 1964
  • D. Luscombe, “The Place of Peter Comestor in the History of Medieval Theology,” in Pierre le Mangeur ou Pierre de Troyes, maître du XIIe siècle, ed. Gilbert Dahan, Brepols, 2013, 27–45

External linksEdit