John of Garland

John of Garland (b. c. 1185-d. c. 1272) was a master of the liberal arts who taught in the schools of thirteenth-century Paris and Toulouse (1229-1231). Of English origin, he studied at Oxford (1210-1213) under John of London, but spent most of his teaching career in France.  He is best-known for his handbook on the art of poetry (Parisiana poetria) and for his collection of miracle stories in honor of the Virgin Mary (Stella maris).  As the subjects of these two works suggest, his principal twin passions were poetry and praise of the Virgin, but he also wrote on grammar, lexicography, rhetoric, mythology, the history of England, including King Arthur, and the Crusades.  He was a lover of obscure vocabulary and complicated verse forms, making his poetry almost impossible to translate and nearly as difficult to edit.  His purpose in writing the works that he did was, however, above all to teach.  His Epithalamium beate virginis Marie, while primarily a theological treatise on the fall and redemption of humanity through the spiritual marriage of Christ and the Virgin, is a tour-de-force of philosophy, cosmology, psychology (dream theory), medicine (Galenic humoral theory), geography, botany, and sport (tournament).  He was particularly influenced by the works of Alain of Lille and the cosmological theories of the so-called school of Chartres; in turn (or so Antonio Saiani has argued), his poetical theories had a profound effect on Dante Alighieri.

For what is known of his biography in full, including his account of his time in Toulouse following the Albigensian crusade against the Cathars, see Thomas Wright, "Introduction," De triumphis ecclesiae, pp. v-xi; and Louis John Paetow, "Introduction," Morale scholarium, pp. 77-106. 

I am currently revising my translation of John's Epithalamium for publication.  Watch this space for further information on where it is going to appear!


1. Aequiuoca, many early printings from 1486.  Printed by J.-P. Migne as Opus synonymorum (Patrologia latina 150).

2. Ars lectoria ecclesiae siue Accentarius, ed. and trans. into French by Elsa Marguin-Hamon (Turnhout: Brepols, 2003).

3. Carmen de mysteriis ecclesiae (1245), ed. and trans. into German by Ewald Köngsen (Leiden: Brill, 2004).

4. Clavis compendii, ed. and trans. into French by Elsa Marguin-Hamon (Turnhout: Brepols, 2008).

5. Compendium grammaticae (1234), ed. Thomas Haye (Cologne: Böhlau, 1995).

6. De musica mensurabili, ed. Erich Reimer (Wiesbaden: F. Steiner, 1972); trans. into English by Stanley H. Birnbaum (Colorado Springs: Colorado College Music Press, 1978).

7. De triumphis ecclesiae (1252), ed. Thomas Wright (London: J.B. Nichols & Sons, 1856).

8. Dictionarius, ed. Barbara Blatt Rubin (Lawrence, KS: Coronado Press, 1981).

9. Epithalamium beate virginis Marie (1220-21, published at Toulouse 1229), ed. and trans. into Italian by Antonio Saiani (Florence: Leo S. Olschki, 1995).

10. Exempla honestae uitae (c. 1258), ed. E. Habel, Romanische Forschungen 29 (1911): 131-54.

11. Integumenta Ovidii, ed. Fausto Ghisalberti (Messina: G. Principato, 1933).

12. Morale scholarium (1242), ed. Louis John Paetow (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1927).

13. Parisiana poetria de arte prosaica, metrica, et rhythmica, ed. and trans. into English by Traugott Lawler (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1974).

14. Stella maris (1248/9), ed. Evelyn Faye Wilson (Cambridge, MA: Wellesley College and the Medieval Academy of America, 1946).

15. Synonyma, many early printings from 1485.

Complete list with manuscripts: Richard Sharpe, A Handlist of the Latin Writers of Great Britain and Ireland before 1540, with Additions and Corrections (Turnhout: Brepols, 1997), pp. 253-57.

More manuscripts: G.L. Bursill-Hall, "Iohannes de Garlandia--forgotten grammarian and the manuscript tradition," Historiographica linguistica 3 (1976): 155-77; "Iohannes de Garlandia.  Additional manuscript material," Historiographica linguistica 6 (1979): 77-86.

Excerpts of grammatical works: Tony Hunt, Teaching and Learning Latin in 13th-Century England, 3 vols.  (Rochester, N.Y.: D.S. Brewer, 1991), 1:136-51, 191-231, 323-48, 395-99; and 2:125-73.


A.G. Rigg, A History of Anglo-Latin Literature, 1066-1422 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1992), pp. 163-176.

Evelyn Faye Wilson, "A Study of the Epithalamium in the Middle Ages: An Introduction to the Epithalamium beate Marie virginis of John of Garland," Ph.D. dissertation (University of California, Berkeley, 1930).