Bartholomeus Anglicus

Bartholomaeus Anglicus, also known as Bartholomew the Englishman and Berthelet, was an early 13th-century scholastic of Paris, a member of the Franciscan order. He was the author of the compendium De proprietatibus rerum, dated at 1240, an early forerunner of the encyclopedia and a widely cited book in the Middle Ages. Bartholomew also held senior positions within the church and was appointed Bishop of Łuków although he was not consecrated to that position.

Early life

Little is known of Bartholomew's early life. He is believed to have been born around the turn of the 13th century to unknown parents. The first record of him was in 1224 in Paris as a teacher, although he is also believed to have studied at Oxford University.


The work De proprietatibus rerum was written at the school of Magdeburg in Saxonia and intended for the use of students and the general public. Bartholomew carefully notes the sources for the material included, although, at present, it is sometimes impossible to identify or locate some of them. His annotations give a good idea of the wide variety of works available to a medieval scholar.
The original Latin work was translated into French in 1372 and a number of manuscripts of the Latin and French versions survive. The work was later printed in numerous editions. John Trevisa produced an English translation in 1397. Extracts were compiled by Robert Steele under the title Medieval Lore: an Epitome. A critical edition of Trevisa's translation appeared in 1988.
The work was organized in 19 books. The subjects of the books, in order, are God, angels, the human mind or soul, physiology, of ages, medicine, the universe and celestial bodies, time, form and matter, air and its forms, water and its forms, earth and its forms including geography, gems, minerals and metals, animals, and color, odor, taste and liquids.
Bartholomew was elected as Minister of Austria in 1247 and was then elected as Minister of Bohemia in 1255. This appointment included Poland where he resolved a dispute between Duke Boleslaw and the Cathedral Chapter at Kraków. Pope Alexander IV appointed him as Papal legate north of the Carpathians in 1256 and appointed him as the Bishop of Łuków. However, he was probably not consecrated in that position due to the second Mongol invasion of Poland in 1259. Bartholomew was appointed as Minister at Saxonia in 1262 and served in that position until his death in 1272.
He was at some point confused with Bartholomeus de Glanvilla, another Franciscan friar who lived a century later.