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Peter of Blois

c.1130-c.1204. Author, ecclesiastic, and royal officer. Born at Blois of a noble Breton family, he was probably a student of Robert of Melun.* He studied law at Bologna, and theology and Scripture at Paris, gaining a reputation as a theologian. After acting as tutor and councillor for William II of Sicily (1167-69) and returning to France, he went to England to become archdeacon of Bath, and served also Henry II and Richard, archbishop of Canterbury, whom he represented unsuccessfully at Rome. After the death of Henry II he was secretary to Queen Eleanor (1191-95). His last years were bitter, especially when he was deprived of his offices. His writings include sermons in the allegorical style, commentaries on Scripture, attacks on the morals of the clergy, an appeal to the Third Crusade, and a diatribe against the Jews, among others. He is best known, however, for his letters, addressed to such notable contemporaries as Henry II, John of Salisbury,* Thomas à Becket,* and Innocent III.* Despite Peter's vanity, the letters are generally factual and full of historic interest.