Grosseteste, Robert (ca. 1175–1253)
Bishop of Lincoln, England, from 1235, generally known as
Robert of Lincoln. A notable statesman and philosopher, he
was also rumored to be proficient in the art of magic. Born of
poor parents, he was compelled early to earn his own living and
even at times to beg for bread. He was at length ‘‘discovered’’
by the mayor of Lincoln, who was attracted by his appearance
and the shrewdness of his remarks and had him sent to school,
where his capacity for study was so great that he was able to
complete his education at Oxford, Cambridge, and Paris.
The illustrious Roger Bacon described Grosseteste and his
friend Friar Adam de Marisco as the most learned men of their
time. Grosseteste was well skilled in the sciences of mathematics
and astronomy and was a master of Greek and Hebrew. As a
member of the clergy he distinguished himself chiefly by his
vigorous denunciation of the abuses in the court of Rome, particularly
those of the pope, Innocent IV. Grosseteste did not
hesitate to point out the misdeeds of the ecclesiastical dignitaries.
He openly declared Innocent to be the Antichrist. In addition
to reputedly publishing a treatise entitled Magick (probably
a false ascription), legend also has it that he constructed a
brazen head that would answer questions and foretell the future.
(This story was also told of both Pope Silvester II and
Roger Bacon.)