William of Champeaux

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William of Champeaux (Guillelmus Campellensis, Guillelmus de Campellis, Willelmus Campallensis, Guillaume de Champeaux, Guillelmus de Champeaux, Wilhelm von Champeaux - ca. 1070-1122) was a scholastic theologian of the 11th century who taught at the cathedral school of Notre Dame in Paris and the monastery of St. Victor. He was a defender of realism in logic and metaphysics. He was a student of Anselm of Laon who, like others from his school, was committed to the view that articles of faith are beyond the capacity of reason to understand and of language to explain. This viewpoint brought him (and his student Bernard of Clairvaux) into conflict with his best known student Peter Abelard.


Most of what we know of William's life and work comes to us from Abelard, who tells us that William was a discredited, defeated, jealous, and resentful man. Abelard claimed to have humiliated William in debate, driving him from the Paris schools.



Primary sources

  • Commentary on Cicero's De Inventione ; excerpts edited and discussed in Fredborg 1976.
  • Commentary on Cicero's Rhetoric ad Herennium; excerpts edited and discussed in Fredborg 1976.
  • Commentary on Porphyry's Isagoge; the beginning of an early commentary edited in Iwakuma 1993
  • Introductiones dialecticae secundum Wilgelmum (ISW), ed. Iwakuma 1993; de Rijk 1967, vol II part 1: 130-46. (references above are to Iwakuma 1993)
  • Introductiones dialecticae secundum magistrum G. Paganellum (IGP), ed. Iwakuma 1993.

Sententiae (Sen), ed. Lottin 1958 vol V: 190-227; Lefevre 1898 (references above are to Lottin 1958)

Several of William's commentaries have been identified, although in some cases the attribution is tentative. (Numbers P*, C*, H* and B*, are those assigned in the list of commentaries in Marenbon 1993 and 2000, and Green-Pedersen 1984.)

  • Porphyry's Isagoge, P3, P14, P29
  • Aristotle's Categories, C8, C14
  • Aristotle's De Interpretatione, H3, H9, H11
  • Boethius' De Differentiis Topicis, B8

Reference in SEP

Secondary sources

  • Fredborg, K. “The Commentaries on Cicero's De Inventione and Rhetoric ad Herennium by William of Champeaux,” Cahiers de l'Institut du Moyen-Âge Grec et Latin 17 (1976): 1-39.
  • Green-Pedersen, N. The Tradition of the Topics in the Middle Ages. Munich: Philosophia, 1984.
  • -----. “William of Champeaux on Boethius’ Topics according to Orléans Bibl. Mun. 266,” Cahiers de l'Institut du Moyen-Âge Grec et Latin 13 (1974): 13-30.
  • Iwakuma, Y. “Influence.” In The Cambridge Companion to Peter Abelard. Ed. J. Brower and K. Guilfoy. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2004.
  • -----. “Are Argumentations Propositions?” In Medieval Theories on Assertive and Non-Assertive Language. Ed. A. Maierù and L. Valente. Rome: Lessico Intellettuale Europeo, 2004b.
  • -----. “Pierre Abélard et Guillaume de Champeaux dans les premières années du XIIe siècle: Une étude préliminaire,” in Langage, sciences, philosophie au XIIe siècle. Ed. J. Baird. Paris: Vrin, 1999
  • -----. “The Introductiones dialecticae secundum Wilgelmum and secundum magistrum G. Paganellum,” Cahiers de l'Institut du Moyen-Âge Grec et Latin 63 (1993): 45-114.
  • Marenbon, J. “Medieval Latin Commentaries and Glosses on Aristotelian Logical Texts, Before 1150 A.D.” In Glosses and commentaries on Aristotelian Logical Texts: The Syriac, Arabic, and Medieval Latin Traditions. Ed. C, Burnett. London: Warburg Institute, 1993; reprint in Marenbon 2000 with supplementary material.
  • -----. Aristotelian Logic, Platonism and the Context of Early Medieval Philosophy in the West. Variorum Reprints. Aldershot: Ashgate, 2000.
  • -----. “Glosses and Commentaries on the Categories and De Interpretatione before Abelard.” In Dialektik und Rhetorik im fruheren und honen Mittelalter. Ed. J. Fried. Munich: Shriften des Historischen Kollegs, 1997; reprint in Marenbon 2000.


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