Henry Totting of Oyta 1397

Marienkirche, Friesoythe 2009

Bibliography (Febr. 2020) on

Henry Totting of Oyta

by Harald Berger

Sources on Henry's life, works and reputation

Berlin, SB, folio 411, 101rb

One of the German philosophers in Prague and Vienna in the 14th Century, Henry Totting of Oyta, was renowned in the late scholastic and early modern periods. Henry is associated with Friesoythe in Ost-Friesland near Oldenburg and Bremen in Niedersachsen. As for most schoolmen of the medieval schools and universities, nothing is known about Henrys early life, and his origins remain unknown.

I. Oyta, Life and Works

We don't know where Henry was educated, but in 1365 he was mentioned as a master of arts and student of theology at the University of Prague.

On Sunday, September 14th 1360, Henry lectured on Aristotle's Meteora in Erfurt. This is the earliest known source. He was then a regent master of the Marienstift in Erfurt and probably a man in his 20s. Henry spent his entire career as a regent master in the schools of Erfurt and the faculties of Prague, Paris and Vienna, lecturing on the works of Aristotle, and as a theologian teaching in Prague and Vienna. He was producing Questions on Porphyry's Isagoge, on Aristotle's Categories, on Aristotle's On Interpretation and abbreviations of Aristotle's works: the Translationes. (Inaccurate 'pronunciation' of famous masters' views in philosophy were banned by the university authorities in Prague in 1367).

Henrys most famous work is his commentary on the Sentences, composed in Prague in the 1370s (William Duba), and his abbreviation of Adam Wodeham's Ordinatio, produced between 1373 and 1378 (Courtenay 1978, 147).

Henry was active as a regent master in Prague from 1365. Here he produced most of his works in philosophy, commentaries and abbreviations on Aristotle. These years Henry was the teacher of John of Holland to become known in the history of medieval logic (his works in logic are edited by Egbert Peter Bos).

In 1371-1373, Henry was in Avignon, where he was tried and cleared of heresy, before returning to Prague. He was teaching in Paris in 1377. Henry left Paris with the exodus of German scholars in 1381 - to return to Prague. He was now a master of theology in Prague. From 1386 until his death in 1397, Henry was preaching and teaching in Vienna.

Today, it is in their capacity as prominent reorganisers of the University of Vienna that the two schoolmen, Henry of Langenstein and Henry Totting of Oyta, are remembered. In 1397 both schoolmen died and were buried in the St. Stephen's Cathedral (Stephansdom): a burial place of prominence. But the two Henrys' achievements as schoolmen, active in philosophy, have been almost forgotten. But let us have a look at Henrys environment at the University of Prague

II. Medieval British Logic

III. Oxford Logic at the University of Prague 1347-1420

Many of the works by the British logicians are preserved in Prague manuscripts.

Bernadette Preben-Hansen