Ivo of Chartres

Saint Ivo of Chartres (also Ives, Yves, or Yvo; Latin: Ivo Carnutensis; c. 1040 – 23 December 1115) was the Bishop of Chartres, France from 1090 until his death, and an important canonist during the Investiture Crisis.

St. Ivo of Chartres
Bishop of Chartres, France and Confessor
Beauvais, France
Died23 December 1115
Venerated inRoman Catholic Church
Beatified18 December 1570, Saint Peter's Basilica, Papal States by Pope Pius V
Feast23 May
PatronageCanonists (?)

Ivo is claimed to have studied at the Abbey of Bec in Normandy under Lanfranc of Canterbury, where he would have met St. Anselm of Canterbury, the great scholastic theologian. In 1067 or not much later, he became, at the desire of his bishop, prior of the canons of Saint-Quentin at Beauvais. As Bishop of Chartres and a canonist he contended strongly against simony and opposed King Philip I of France's repudiation of his wife Bertha of Holland in order to marry Bertrade of Anjou in 1092. Ivo was briefly imprisoned for this opposition.

Three extensive canonical works, namely Tripartita, Decretum, and Panormia, are attributed to him. He corresponded extensively. His liturgical feast is observed on 23 May. It is not known whether or when he was canonized.


Ivo of Chartres was born in or near Chartres circa 1040 to a family of relatively low social status. He is claimed to have studied first in Paris, then in Abbey of Bec in Normandy where, according to the often unreliable Robert of Torigni, he studied under Lanfranc along with St. Anselm of Canterbury.[1]

Not much is known of him until some time after he was admitted to the Roman Catholic clergy. His first benefice was at Nesle in Picardy.[2] In 1067 Bishop Gui asked him to become the abbot of the new Augustinian house of St. Quentin at Beauvais. Ivo was skeptical of religious excess and always stressed moderation in practice. He remained at St. Quentin for twenty years and established himself as one of the best teachers in France. St. Quentin came to be known as a great school of theology.[3]

His knowledge of canon law, both as a lawyer and cleric, most probably earned him in 1090 the office of Bishop of Chartres, France. His predecessor, Geoffrey, had been removed from office by Pope Urban II. Geoffrey's relatives and supporters initially opposed Ivo's appointment, but with the backing of Pope Urban, King Philip, and the influential Stephen, Count of Blois, Ivo was eventually grudgingly accepted.[2] In light of the events preceding his appointment to the office, his strong opposition to the practice of simony may have been the impetus to his episcopal elevation.

His strong faith, piety, and principles led to some troubles for him during his twenty-five year episcopacy at Chartres. Circa 1092, King Philip I of France was married to Bertha of Holland, but wished to be rid of her so he could marry Bertrade of Anjou. Upholding the sanctity of marriage, relations between Ivo and the king became strained. Local baron Hugh Le Puiset took advantage of the situation to seize episcopal lands and imprison the bishop for a short time.[2]

The Gregorian reforms were not well realized until Ivo's episcopacy. He was an acquaintance of Countess Adele of Blois, who helped him reform the Abbey of St. Jean-en-Vallée. In addition, on several occasions he defended her decisions, most notably during the events regarding Rotrou III of Perche, when he refused to assert ecclesiastical sanctions against him.

During his episcopacy he wrote the majority of his extant works, for which he later became famous and considered among the greatest scholars of the mediaeval era. Salutati recognized him as an eloquent writer despite his affirmation that all the literature outside of Italy lacked eloquence.


St. Ivo was a prolific writer but is most known for his canonical works: the Decretum of seventeen books; the Tripartita, of very substantial material, divided in three parts, and attributed to him; and the Panormia of eight books attributed to him. All three are primarily works of canon law and center on the principle of caritas, that is, the Catholic theological virtue of charity, as taught by St. Paul. His works are replete with treatments of charity and dispensation in a pastoral manner regarding the Holy See. He thought that caritas was the solution for sin, and not harsh punishment without contrition. This theme is most evident in his Prologus, which is most often compared to the teachings of the Church Fathers than those of the scholars of his day. St. Paul's message of loving one's fellow man as one would himself is particularly prevalent in Ivo's works: "He was called to teach. His lesson was love. It was all that mattered.".[4]

However, Ivo is also famous for his 288 letters of correspondence. These letters often dealt with liturgical, canonical, and dogmatic questions and, much like his major works, are from the perspective of caritas. Several of his extant sermons, totaling 25, treat of the same topics as his other writings and letters.

It has also been suggested that his doctrines influenced the final agreement of the Concordat of Worms in 1122.

  • Yvo Carnotensis (1853). Sancti Ivonis Carnotensis episcopi opera omnia. J.-P. Migne (ed.), Patrologia Latina, Tomus CLXI (in Latin). Tomus primus (1). Paris: Aqud Editorem. [Decretum, Panormia]
  • Ivo (st, bp. of Chartres.) (1854). Sancti Ivonis Carnotensis episcopi opera omnia. J.-P. Migne (ed.), Patrologia Latina, Tomus CLXII (in Latin). Tomus secundus (2). [Epistles, Sermons]

Subsequent influence and veneration

Ivo's influence on the religious scholars following him was great. Most notably among them were Hugh of St. Victor, Landolfo Colonna, and Alger of Liège, who often quoted or cited the Prologus of his works. Many continued his emphasis of caritas and canonical thought. His influence on Peter Abelard’s Sic et Non and Gratian’s Concordia Discordantium Canonum (commonly denominated Decretum Gratiani) is obvious.[1]

Although it is not known when he was canonized, 23 May is his present liturgical memorial.[5] Before 1570 it was observed on 20 May.[1]


  1. Ghellinck, Joseph de. "St. Ivo of Chartres." The Catholic Encyclopedia Vol. 8. New York: Robert Appleton Company, 1910. 17 July 2016
  2. Rolker, Christof. Canon Law and the Letters of Ivo of Chartres, Cambridge University Press, 2010 ISBN 9781139485067
  3. Goyau, Georges. "Beauvais." The Catholic Encyclopedia Vol. 2. New York: Robert Appleton Company, 1907. 17 July 2016
  4. Vaughan and Rubinstein, Teaching & Learning in Northern Europe 100–1200, page 147.
  5. "Blessed Ivo of Chartres". catholicsaints.info. 24 January 2009.


  • Barker, Lynn K. "MS Bodl. Canon. Pat. Lat. 131 and a Lost Lactantius of John of Salisbury: Evidence in Search of a French Critic of Thomas Becket." Albion: A Quarterly Journal Concerned with British Studies, Vol. 22, No. 1 (Spring, 1990), pp. 26
  • Brasington, Bruce C. "Lessons of Love: Bishop Ivo of Chartres as Teacher". In Teaching and Learning in Northern Europe, 1000–1200, edited by Sally N. Vaughn and Jay Rubenstein. (Belgium: Brepolis Publishers n.v., 2006.) pp. 129–147.
  • Donovan, Richard B. "Salutati's Opinion of Non-Italian Latin Writers of the Middle Ages." Studies in the Renaissance, Vol. 14 (1967), pp. 191–192.
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  • Little, Lester K. "Pride Goes before Avarice: Social Change and the Vices in Latin Christendom." The American Historical Review, Vol. 76, No. 1 (Feb., 1971), pp. 46–47.
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  • LoPrete, Kimberly A. "The Anglo-Norman Card of Adela of Blois" Albion: A Quarterly Journal Concerned with British Studies, Vol. 22, No. 4 (Winter, 1990), pp. 582, 585, 586.
  • MacDonald Walker, Barbara. "King Henry I's "Old Men"" The Journal of British Studies, Vol. 8, No. 1 (Nov., 1968), pp. 15.
  • Merlet, Lucien, ed. (1885). Lettres de Saint Ives: évéque de Chartres (in French). Chartres: Garnier.
  • Rolker, Christof. "The earliest work of Ivo of Chartres: The case of Ivo's Eucharist florilegium and the canon law collections attributed to him." Zeitschrift der Savigny-Stiftung für Rechtsgeschichte, kanonistische Abteilung 124 (2007), pp. 109–127.
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  • Sprandel, Rolf. Ivo von Chartres und seine Stellung in der Kirchengeschichte (Pariser historische Studien 1), Paris 1962.
  • Wormald, Patrick. The Making of the English Law: King Alfred to the Twelfth Century. [city unknown]: Blackwell Publishing, 1999. pp. 471.
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