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Vincent of Beauvais

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A short biography

Vincent of Beauvais was a French Dominican who lived in the thirteenth century. We suspect that he was born around 1200, but that is not certain. Vincent is best known as the author of the largest medieval encyclopedia, the Speculum Maius. He compiled his encyclopedia by order of his superiors in the Dominican order. In the Speculum Maius, Vincent tried to bring together all the knowledge of the time. He worked on it for more than ten years, tirelessly searching for the best form and text.

Presumably, Vincent was subprior among the Dominicans of the monastery in Beauvais. Nevertheless, he was asked in about 1246 to become a theology teacher at the nearby Cistercian abbey of Royaumont. French King Louis IX (1214-1270) had founded this abbey in 1228 and was a regular visitor there with his family. Thus Vincent got to know them and became a family friend of the royal family. The king repeatedly came to listen to Vincent's theological explanations for the monks. At the queen's request, Vincent wrote an educational work for the princes. Later he added a textbook to teach kings and other rulers about good governance.

When the French crown prince died in 1260, Vincent wrote a letter of consolation to the king. Vincent was no longer staying in Royaumont at that time. Scholars generally accept that Vincent died in 1264.

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