Jacques de Vitry  

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Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel
Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel

Jacques de Vitry (c. 1160/70 – May 1, 1240) was a theologian chronicler and cardinal from 1229 – 40.

He was born in central France (perhaps Rheims) and studied at the University of Paris, becoming a regular canon in 1210 at the church of Saint-Nicolas d'Oignies in the Diocese of Liège, a post he maintained until 1216. From 1211 to 1213 he preached the Albigensian Crusade, touring France and Germany with William, archdeacon of Paris and recruiting many Crusaders. In 1214 he was elected Bishop of Acre. He received episcopal consecration and arrived to his see in 1216. He was subsequentely heavily involved in the Fifth Crusade, participating in the siege of Damietta from 1218 to 1220. In 1219 he began to write the Historia Hierosolymitana, a history of the Holy Land from the advent of Islam until the crusades of his own day, but only two parts were completed. He returned to Europe in 1225. Between April 16 and July 29, 1229 Pope Gregory IX elevated him to the College of Cardinals and transferred him to the suburbicarian see of Frascati. With exception of short legation before Emperor Frederick II in 1232 he spent his last years working in the papal curia. He subscribed the papal bulls between July 29, 1229 and June 23, 1239. He died at Rome as Dean of the Sacred College of Cardinals. His remains have been transferred to Oignies and buried there in 1241.

From the document issued by Gregory IX on May 14, 1240 appears that Jacques de Vitry shortly before his death was elected Patriarch of Jerusalem, but this election was not ratified by the Pope.

Aside from the Historia, his works include hundreds of sermons, and letters to Pope Honorius III. He also wrote about the immoral life of the students at the University of Paris and the holy life of the Beguines of Liege and, in particular, the Life of Marie d'Oignies.


  • Vita B.Mariae Oigniacensis, publiée dans les Acta Sanctorum (23 juin).
  • Une Historia orientalis et occidentalis : histoire sainte (jusqu’aux croisades) et description de la terre sainte, suivie (second volume) d’un tableau, plutôt noir, de l’Occident.
  • Historia Hierosolymitana, publiée dans, Régine Pernoud, Un guide du pèlerin en Terre-Sainte au XVe siècle, Mantes, 1940. Recension sur Persée.
  • Des lettres qui sont d’intéressants rapports sur la croisade.
  • De nombreux sermons (Sermones de sanctis).

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