Mathieu-Nicolas Poillevillain de Clemanges
French Humanist and theologian (1360-died between 1434 and 1440)
Clemanges, or CLAMANGES, MATHIEU-NICOLAS POILLEVILLAIN DE, a French Humanist and theologian, b. in Champagne about 1360; d. at Paris between 1434 and 1440. He made his studies in the College of Navarre at Paris, and in 1380 received the degree of Licentiate, later on that of Master of Arts. He studied theology under Gerson and Pierre d’Ailly, and received the degree of Bachelor of Theology in 1393. He had begun to lecture at the university in 1391 and was appointed its rector in 1393, a position he filled until 1395. The Church was then agitated by the Western Schism, and three methods were proposed to reestablish peace: compromise, concession, and a general council. From 1380 to 1394 the University of Paris advocated a general council.
In 1394 another tendency was manifest; i.e. both Boniface IX and Clement VII were held responsible for the continuance of the schism, and their resignations decreed to be the means of obtaining peace. To this end a letter was written to King Charles VI by three of the most learned masters of the university, Pierre d’Ailly, Gilles des Champs, and Clemanges. The two first prepared the content, to which Clemanges gave a Ciceronian elegance of form. The letter was unsuccessful, and the university was ordered to abstain from further discussion. Clemanges, forced to resign the rectorship of the university, then became canon and dean of Saint-Clodoald (1395), and later on canon and treasurer of Langres. The anti-pope Benedict XIII, who admired his Latin style, took him for his secretary in 1397, and he remained at Avignon until 1408, when he abandoned Benedict because of the latter’s conflict with Charles VI.
Clemanges now retired to the Carthusian monastery of Valfonds and later to Fontaine-du-Bost. In these two retreats he wrote his best treatises, “De Fructu eremi” (dedicated to Pierre d’Ailly), “De Fructu rerum adversarum”, “De novis festivitatibus non instituendis”, and “De studio theologico”, in which latter work he exhibits his dislike for the Scholastic method in philosophy. In 1412 he returned to Langres, and was appointed Archdeacon of Bayeux.
His voice was heard successively at the Council of Constance (1414), and at Chartres (1421), where he defended the “liberties” of the Gallican Church. In 1425 he was teaching rhetoric and theology in the College of Navarre, where, most probably, he died. Clemanges is also credited with the authorship of the work “De corrupto Ecclesim statu”, first edited by Cordatus (possibly Hutten) in 1513, a violent attack on the morality and discipline of the contemporary Church; hence he is sometimes considered a Reformer of the type of Wyclif and Hus. Schubert, however, in his book “Ist Nicolaus von Clemanges der Verfasser des Buches De corrupto Ecclesim statu?” (Grossen, 1882; Leipzig, 1888) has shown that, although a contemporary, Clemanges was not the author of the book. His works were edited in two volumes by J. Lydius, a Protestant minister of Frankfort (Leyden, 1613). His letters are in d’Achery (below) I, 473 sqq.
J. B. DELAUNAY