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Matthew Paris

c.1200-1259. English Benedictine historian and artist. A monk at St. Albans in England after 1217, be became chief of the epistolary section in 1236. An unsuccessful attempt to reform the abbey of St. Benet Holm in Norway in 1248-49 led to a friendship with King Haakon IV, whom he invited to join in a crusade with St. Louis of France. As a writer Matthew decorated his manuscripts with illustrations, including coats of arms and the events he was describing in the text. Among his works were Flores historiarum; Historia Anglorum; Abbreviatio chronicorum; and his major work, Chronica majora, which summarized the chronicle of Roger of Wendover up to 1235, but then relied on firsthand experiences and documents down to 1259. This work pointed up royal foibles, attacked mendicants, and decried the avarice of the papal court. Matthew replaced mere chronicling with a sense of history; he recognized the responsibility of the historian. Some of his information he secured from royal figures who visited the abbey. His account of contemporary times repeatedly mentioned the Beguines,* a new women's movement without a rule that originated in the vicinity of Liège but centered in Cologne. His chronicles blamed Rome for the schism with the Greeks. Wycliffe later took this line of reasoning to its extremes.