Yves of Chartres

Saint Ivo of Chartres
Bishop of Chartres
Born 1040
Chartres, France
Died 23 December 1115
Honored in Roman Catholic Church
Feast 20 May

Saint Ivo (Yves) of Chartres (c. 1040 – 23 December 1115) was the Bishop of Chartres from 1090 until his death and an important canon lawyer during the Investiture Crisis.

Ivo is claimed to have studied at the Abbey of Bec in Normandy under Lanfranc, where he would have met Anselm of Aosta, the great Scholastic. In 1069 or not much later, he became, at the desire of his bishop, prior of the canons of Saint-Quentin at Beauvais. As bishop of Chartres and a canonist he contended strongly against simony and opposed King Philip I's repudiation of his wife Bertha of Holland in order to marry Bertrade of Anjou in 1092. Ivo was briefly imprisoned for his opposition.

Three extensive canonical works—Tripartita, Decretum, and Panormia—are attributed to Ivo. He was an extensive letter writer. His feast has been kept since 1570 on 20 May; it is not known when or whether he was ever officially canonized.


Ivo of Chartres was born to a non-noble family based in or nearby Chartres around the year 1040. He is claimed to have studied first in Paris, then in Abbey of Bec in Normandy where (according to some sources) he studied under Lanfranc along with Anselm of Canterbury. We do not hear much of him until some time after he had joined the clergy, when around 1070 he was asked to become the prior of the canon at the Augustinian house of Saint Quentin at Beauvais by his bishop. From there he quickly established himself as being one of the best teachers in all of France during this time.

However, it was his knowledge in canon law as both a lawyer and a clerical operate that most likely won him in 1090 the position as successor of the previous Bishop of Chartres (who either had been removed from his position or had left it after a simony scandal). There are some discrepancies over who was Ivo's predecessor and successor; this is because different sources suggest that it was Geoffrey of Chartres for both positions, only that Urban II recommended Ivo in this position due to his knowledge of canon law. In light of the events that preceded his appointment to the office of bishop, his strong opposition to the practice of simony may well have played a role in his ascension to the higher office.

This firm beliefs and piety lead to some troubles for him during his twenty-five year reign as bishop of Chartres. Around 1092, Philip I was the current king of France and was married to Bertha of Holland but wished to be essentially rid of her so that he may marry Bertrade of Anjou. Believing in the sanctity of marriage, Ivo of Chartres was vocally against this to such a degree that he became incarcerated for a short time.

It is also important to note that we do not really see much in the way of the Gregorian reforms in this area until Ivo of Chartres receives the office of bishop. He was an acquaintance of Countess Adele of Blois, who helped him reform the abbey of St.Jean-en-Vallée. In addition, on several occasions he stood by her decisions when the questions were put to him, most notably during the events concerning Rotrou III of Perche when he refused to assert ecclesiastical sanctions against him.

It was also during his time in office that he wrote the bulk of his works, which he later became most noted for and as such, awarded him a place among the greatest thinkers of the medieval era. And is recognized by Salutati as an eloquent writer despite his affirmation that there is (or was) a degradation of eloquence of writing outside of Italy.


Ivo of Chartres was a prolific writer but is most recognized for his canonical works titled, Decretum (seventeen books in length) and two collections attributed to him, the Tripartita (very substantial material, divided in three parts) and the Panormia (eight books in length). All three deal primarily with ecclesiastical canon law and the issue of Paul's version of caritas, or love within the Christian faith. His works are filled with the issues of charitable love and dispensation in a pastoral manner within the Holy See. He felt that that caritas was the answer to sin, not harsh punishment without any remorse. This theme is most evident in his prologue, which is most often compared to the teachings and writings of the church fathers than the scholars of his day. Paul in particular and his message of loving your fellow man as you would yourself is what are most prevalent in Ivo of Chartres' written words. This is best captured in the quote taken from Vaughan and Rubinstein's book, Teaching & Learning in Northern Europe 100–1200, "He was called to teach. His lesson was love. It was all that mattered." (pp. 147).

However, Ivo of Chartres was not just known for his two books but also his 288 letters of correspondence. These letters often dealt with issues of liturgy, canonical matters and dogmatic issues, and, much like his other works, dealt with caritas. It has also been suggested that his ideas on doctrines influenced the final agreement in the Concordat of Worms (1122).

Several of his sermons (twenty-five in total) deal with much of the same things detailed in his canon law collections and his letters.

Later influence

Ivo of Chartres influence spans far and wide in the realm of the religious scholars following him. Most notably amongst them would be Hugh of St. Victor, Landolfo Colonna, and Alger of Liège;both of whom often quoted or cited the Prologus of either his works. Many of those listed also continued his theme of caritas and his teachings of canon law.

Although it is not known when he was canonized, the 30th of May is recognized by the Catholic Church as Saint Ivo of Chartres' feast day.


  • Barker, Lynn K. "MS Bodl. Canon. Pat. Lat. 131 and a Lost Lactantius of John of Salisbury: Evidence in Search of a French Critic of Thomas Becket." Albion: A Quarterly Journal Concerned with British Studies, Vol. 22, No. 1 (Spring, 1990), pp. 26
  • Brasington, Bruce C. "Lessons of Love: Bishop Ivo of Chartres as Teacher". In Teaching and Learning in Northern Europe, 1000–1200, edited by Sally N. Vaughn and Jay Rubenstein. (Belgium: Brepolis Publishers n.v., 2006.) pp. 129–147.
  • Donovan, Richard B. "Salutati's Opinion of Non-Italian Latin Writers of the Middle Ages." Studies in the Renaissance, Vol. 14 (1967), pp. 191–192.
  • Izbicki, Thomas M. "Review of Prefaces to Canon Law Books in Latin Christianity: Selected Translations, 500–1247. by Robert Somerville ; Bruce Brasington." The Sixteenth Century Journal, Vol. 30, No. 1 (Spring, 1999), pp. 314.
  • Little, Lester K. "Pride Goes before Avarice: Social Change and the Vices in Latin Christendom." The American Historical Review, Vol. 76, No. 1 (Feb., 1971), pp. 46–47.
  • Livingstone, Amy. "Kith and Kin: Kinship and Family Structure of the Nobility of Eleventh- and Twelfth Century Blois-Chartres." French Historical Studies, Vol. 20, No. 3 (Summer, 1997), pp. 435, 452.
  • LoPrete, Kimberly A. "The Anglo-Norman Card of Adela of Blois" Albion: A Quarterly Journal Concerned with British Studies, Vol. 22, No. 4 (Winter, 1990), pp. 582, 585, 586.
  • MacDonald Walker, Barbara. "King Henry I's "Old Men"" The Journal of British Studies, Vol. 8, No. 1 (Nov., 1968), pp. 15.
  • Rolker, Christof. "The earliest work of Ivo of Chartres: The case of Ivo's Eucharist florilegium and the canon law collections attributed to him." Zeitschrift der Savigny-Stiftung für Rechtsgeschichte, kanonistische Abteilung 124 (2007), pp. 109–127.
  • Rolker, Christof. Canon law and the letters of Ivo of Chartres (Cambridge Studies in Medieval Life and Thought, Fourth Series 76), Cambridge 2010.
  • Sprandel, Rolf. Ivo von Chartres und seine Stellung in der Kirchengeshicte (Pariser historische Studien 1), Paris 1962.
  • Wormald, Patrick. The Making of the English Law: King Alfred to the Twelfth Century. [city unknown]: Blackwell Publishing, 1999. pp. 471.

External links

  • Ivo of Chartres collection
  • WorldCat catalog)
  • Article from the Catholic Encyclopedia
  • Adela of Normandy.


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