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Gerson, Jean De Charlier De (1363–1429)

  1. George Thomas Kurian

Published Online: 25 NOV 2011

DOI: 10.1002/9780470670606.wbecc1582

The Encyclopedia of Christian Civilization

How to Cite

Kurian, G. T. 2011. Gerson, Jean De Charlier De (1363–1429). The Encyclopedia of Christian Civilization. .

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 25 NOV 2011


French churchman, theologian, and spiritual writer, known to his peers as Doctor Christianissimus. Born in the village of Gerson, near Ardennes, Jean rose to become one of the most respected figures in the later Middle Ages. He studied under Pierre d'Ailly at the College of Navarre in Paris, earning a doctorate in theology in 1394 and succeeding d'Ailly as chancellor of Notre Dame in 1395. In 1397 he retired to Bruges as dean of the Church of St. Donatian. While there he wrote his treatise, “On the Manner of Conducting Oneself in a Time of Schism.” He was instrumental in the return of Pope Benedict VIII to the throne of St. Peter. Gerson returned to Paris in 1401 as chancellor of the university and was responsible for bringing back the Dominicans, who had been expelled because of their teachings on the Immaculate Conception. He was one of the leading figures in the Council of Constance (1414–1418), where he represented the university, the archdiocese of Sens, and the kingdom of France, and he shares the blame for the death of John Hus and Jerome of Prague who were burned as heretics. He encouraged the Council to continue its sessions after the flight of John XXIII. He asserted the superiority of the General Council over the pope and called for the doctors of theology to play a greater role in the Council. He helped to draw up the Four Articles of Constance, which later became the charter of Gallicanism. After the accession to the throne of the Duke of Burgundy, the enemy of his patron, the Duke of Orleans, he went into exile in the Benedictine abbey of Melk in Austria where he wrote his famous book, the Consolations of Theology, modeled on Boethius. In 1419 he returned to France on the death of the Duke of Burgundy and spent the last years of his life in seclusion in the Celestine Monastery in Lyons, where he died in 1429.


  • Gerson, Jean de Charlier de (1363–1429);
  • french churchman, theologian, and spiritual writer;
  • Mountain of contemplation, mystical theology