Robert Kilwardby

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Robert Kilwardby (Robertus Kilwardby , Robertus Cantuariensis, Robertus Ridverbius, Robertus Anglicus, Robertus de Aucumpno, Robertus Parisiensis) was a medieval philosopher and theologian.


There are no details of his early life, although he is known to have studied at Paris. It is possible that he studied with Richard Fishacre at Oxford in the early 1240s, as some of their ideas are similar. He taught in the arts faculty of the University of Paris in the late 1240s but left around 1250 to study theology. As a member of the arts faculty in the 1240s Kilwardby would not have been allowed to teach theology or touch on theological issues. He had a reputation as an able commentator on Aristotle during this period, at at time when Aristotle was increasingly studied and taught in the Latin West.

He later came to be regarded as a theologian and his reputation, combined with his appointment in 1273 as Archbishop of Canterbury, made him powerful in the church. He had a reputation for conscientiousness in his clerical duties (not always a given in the Middle Ages) and for piety. He died at the papal court in Viterbo, Italy, on September 11, 1279.


Among Kilwardby’s most important works are De ortu scientiarum (1250); his Sentences-commentary (1252), and his Letter to Peter Conflans (1277). De ortu scientiarum is a defence of Christian Platonism. Like Bonaventure, Kilwardby argued that the inner reality of the physical world was music but unlike Bonaventure he claimed Aristotle as an authorities for his opinions. He derived the idea of music as a mathematical science from Aristotle’s position in the Posterior Analytics that music is a subordinate science to arithmetic, and so one of the scientiae mediae, lying between mathematics and physics.


Kilwardby is now best known for his intervention in the academic affairs of the University of Oxford in 1277, the Oxford condemnations.

Primary sources


  • De ortu scientiarum. Albert G. Judy, ed. London: British Academy, 1976.
  • On Time and Imagination. O. Lewry, ed. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1987.
  • Quaestiones in libros I-IV Sententiarum. Ed. Johannes Scheider (I); Gerhard Leibold (II); E. Gössmann, G. Leibold (III); Gerd Haverling (IV). Munich: Bayerisches Akademie der Wissenschaften, 1986–1995.
  • S. Ebbesen & H.A.G. Braakhuis (ed), Anonymi Erfordensis (= Roberti Kilwardby ?) Sophisma TANTUM UNUM EST. CIMAGL 1997
  • Commentary on 'Priscianus Maior' ascribed to Kilwardby, CIMAGL 1975
    • 1*-11* Jan Pinborg, Introduction to the text
    • 12*-17* Osmund Lewry, The Problem of the authorship
    • 18*-20* & 1-146 Karin Margareta Fredborg, Niels Joergen Green-Pedersen, Lauge Nielsen, Jan Pinborg (eds.), Selected texts


  • On Time and Imagination, Pt 2, Introduction and Translation, ed. A. Broadie, Oxford: Oxford University Press for the British Academy.


  • Commentary on Aristoteles, Praedicamenta>
  • Scriptum super librum Peryhermeneias
    • (MS, Madrid, Bibl. Univ. 73, 44r-66v)
    • MS Cambridge, Peterhouse 206
  • Commentary on Pseudo-Priscian, De accentibus>
  • Commentarius in libros Priorum analyticorum
    • In libros Priorum Analyticorum expositio, Venice 1516 (under the name Aegidius Romanus), reprint Frankfurt am Main: Minerva, 1968.
  • Commentary on Ethica nova und Ethica vetus>
  • Antwort auf 43 Fragen von Johannes Vercelli
  • Arbor consanguinitatis
  • Brief an Peter von Conflans OP, Erzbischof von Korinth
  • Commentarius in Barbarismum Donati
  • Commentarius in Categorias Aristotelis
  • Commentarius in De accentibus Prisciani
  • Commentarius in Isagoge Porphyrii
  • Commentarius in libum Elenchorum
  • Commentarius in Priscianum majorem
  • Commentarius in Summulas logicales Petri Hispani
  • Constitutiones
  • De confessione, satisfactione, misericordia
  • De conscientia
  • De fide
  • De imagine et vestigio Trinitatis
  • De lingua
  • De modis significandi
  • De natura relationis
  • De natura theologiae
  • De ortu et divisione philosophiae
  • De ortu scientiarum
  • De passione Christi
  • De praedicamento relationis
  • De spiritu imaginativo (De facultatibus animae)
  • Declaratio 43 quaestionum ad magistrum generalem
  • Divisiones super Boetium
  • Epistola ad novitios de excellentia ordinis Praedicatorum
  • Epistolae
  • Errores 30 damnati
  • Glossulae super tractatione magistri Petri Hispani
  • Imago Trinitatis
  • In Barbarismum Donati
  • In Donati Artem Maiorem III
  • In Ethicam
  • In Topicorum (?)
  • Intentiones Patrum (Conclusiones vel Capitula)
  • Lectura super librum Sex Principiorum
  • Logica vetus
  • Merton College Injunctions of Archbishop Kilwardby 1276
  • Notulae libri Analyticorum
  • Notulae libri Porphyrii
  • Notulae libri Posteriorum
  • Notulae libri Sex principiorum
  • Notulae Priorum
  • Notulae super Topica Boethii
  • Quaestio de dilectione Dei
  • Quaestio de necessitate Incarnationis
  • Quaestiones in libros I-VII Physicorum
  • Quaestiones in libros I-X Metaphysicae
  • Quaestiones in Metaphysicam
  • Quaestiones in Physicam
  • Quaestiones in Sententiarum
  • Rationes super Priscianum minorem (Commentarius in Priscianum minorem)
  • Responsio ad Petrum de Confleto
  • Scriptum super libro Topicorum
  • Sermones
  • Sophismata
  • Super De anima
  • Super De caelo et mundo
  • Super De generatione et corruptione
  • Super libros Physicorum
  • Super librum De causis
  • Super Metaphysicam
  • Super Meteororum
  • Super Parva naturalia
  • Syncategoremata
  • Tabula de concordantiis quorumdam originalium Patrum
  • Tabula de gradibus consanguinitatis
  • Tabula de rubricis Decretalis
  • Tabula super librum Algazelis
  • Tabula super librum De civitate Dei
  • Tabulae de Concordantiis librorum Sententiarum
  • Tabulae in Sententias (De divisione capitulorum Sententiarum)
  • Tabulae Patrum
  • Tractatus de confessione
  • Tractatus de conscientia et de synderesi
  • Tractatus de natura relationis
  • Tractatus de spiritu fantastico
  • Tractatus de tempore (De tempore)

Secondary sources

  • Judy, A.G. “Introduction.” In De ortu scientiarum. London: British Academy, 1976.
  • McAleer, G.J. The Science of Music: A Platonic Application of the Posterior Analytics in Robert Kilwardby, De ortu scientiarum. Acta Philosophica (2003) 12: 323–335.
  • McAleer, G.J. The Presence of Averroes in the Natural Philosophy of Robert Kilwardby. Archiv für Geschichte der Philosophie (1999) 81: 33–54.
  • Sharp, D. E. The 1277 Condemnation of Kilwardby. NewScholasticism (1934) 8: 306–318.
  • Sharp, D. E. The Philosophy of Richard Fishacre. New Scholasticism (1933) 7: 283–297.
  • Sommer-Seckendorff, Ellen Mary Frances. Studies in the Life of Robert Kilwardby. Rome: Istituto Storico Domenicano, 1937.


3 1215 1250 England 1279 Viterbo Italy