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Robert Grosseteste ( 1175 - 1253 )  Category ( Scientists ) [suggest a correction]

Robert Grosseteste, a bishop, philosopher, statesman, and scientist, was born in Stradbroke, Suffolk, England in 1175. Little is known to historians about his early life and his education. Some believe he began his training in liberal arts at Hereford because of his connection to the Bishop of Hereford. He is believed to have been a master by 1192 and most certainly held a position in the bishop's household. Between the death of the Bishop of Hereford and Grosseteste's position as a judge in Hereford in the early 1200s there is no record of his whereabouts.

By 1225, Grossteste, a deacon, had gained the benefice of Abbotsely in the diocese of Lincoln. He may also have begun teaching theology at Oxford or continued studying at the University of Paris. Historians remain divided on this point. He was definitely teaching by 1230. He lectured theology to Franciscans at Oxford. These lectures were collected and published as his Dicta. During this time, the Bishop of Lincoln appointed Grosseteste Archdeacon of Leicester. In 1232, he became ill and resigned his benefices of Abbotsely and Leicester, to the anger of his colleagues and friends.

Grossteste became the Bishop of Lincoln in 1235. The canons of Lincoln elected him as a compromise between two sides. As bishop, he instituted several changes including an expansion of visitations to all deaneries, which upset many people.

Always interested in reform, Grossteste wanted to make changes to the balance of power between church and state and between the English church and the papacy. This often brought him in to conflict with Henry III, the pope, and other religious leaders. In one example, Grossteste protested a papal mandate that the English clergy must pay Henry III a portion of their revenue to fund a holy crusade. He wrote an angry letter to the pope indicating his belief that the papacy can only command that which is in line with Christ's teachings.

In his time away from ecclesiastical duties, Grossteste worked on scientific pursuits. He is considered the first mathematician and physicist of medieval Europe and the first to lay out the scientific method, a logical and systematic approach for studying the natural world. He published works on astronomy, light, tides, mathematics, and rainbows. He also read the works of and wrote on Aristotle. He understood and agreed with Aristotle's ideas on dual scientific reasoning and the subordination of the sciences.

Grosseteste died on October 9, 1253. He left a legacy of ecclesiastical reform, but also of scientific thinking.

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Description : Robert Grosseteste (1168-1253)
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