[St. Pachomius Library]

St. Fulbert of Chartres

X/XI Centuries
Born to a poor family in the north of France ca. 960, St. Fulbert became a student of Gerbert d'Aurillac and afterwards continued his teacher's scientific researches; he may also have practised medicine. He was consecrated bishop of Chartres in 1006, and was noted for his pastoral emphasis on oikonomia, his opposition to the bellicose conduct of Frankish hierarchs who saw themselves mainly as feudal lords, and his championship of the autonomy of the French church in the face of papal efforts at control. His scholarly activities attracted a circle of disciples, sometimes termed a college although it was probably completely informal; St. Fulbert himself was hailed as the "Gallic Socrates". Many of the early mediæval West's most noted scientists and mathematicians studied at Chartres under Fulbert; so, too, did the heretic Berengar of Tours, although Fulbert's own theology was conservative. The last decade of St. Fulbert's life was devoted mainly to an endless round of fund-raising; the ancient cathedral of Chartres was completely destroyed by fire on 1020 September 7, and the bishop was determined to see it rebuilt. (Among those who contributed generously was the Anglo-Danish king Canute.) A realistic-looking portrait of St. Fulbert survives, made only a year after his repose.

Norman Hugh Redington


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