Richard Rolle of Hampole

c.1295-1349. Born in Thornton Dale, Yorkshire, he studied at Oxford, leaving at nineteen to live as a hermit. Moving from place to place, and preaching, he spent his last years at Hampole near a convent of Cistercian nuns who were under his spiritual guidance. He left seven treatises in Latin, a dozen commentaries on and translations of books of Scripture in Latin and English, several letters, and a number of English lyrics. Standing within the late medieval mystical tradition, he left as his two major works Incendium Amoris and Melum Contemplativorum. Read until the Reformation, he directed his writing not to the cloistered community but to those in the world, expressly using the vernacular and simple language. He does not reckon with the higher degrees of the mystical life, not having experienced that, nor did he know contemporary German mystics and the Dionysian influence there. While at Oxford he rebelled against the Scholastic teaching, which explains the simplicity and lack of formal learning in his work, despite the seeming influence of Augustine, Hugh of St.-Victor, and Bonaventura. He comes down equally on piety and learning as well as worldliness and fashion, and views the hermit as not inferior to the prelate or monk. Later English mystics knew his work, and he did influence the Lollards.

See F.M.M. Comper, The Life of Richard Rolle (1928), and H.E. Allen, English Writings of Richard Rolle Hermit of Hampole (1931).