Claude Frollo

In truth, Claude Frollo was no ordinary person.

He belonged to one of those families which it was the foolish fashion of the last century to describe indifferently as the upper middle class or lower aristocracy.

The family had inherited from the brothers Paclet the fief of Tirechappe, which was held of the Bishop of Paris, and the twenty-one houses of which had, since the thirteenth century, been the object of countless litigations in the Ecclesiastical Court. As owner of this fief, Claude Frollo was one of the “seven times twenty-one” seigneurs claiming manorial dues in Paris and its suburbs; and in that capacity his name was long to be seen inscribed between the Hôtel de Tancarville, belonging to Maître Francçois le Rez, and the College of Tours, in the cartulary deposited at Saint-Martin des Champs.

From his childhood Claude Frollo had been destined by his parents for the priesthood. He had been taught to read in Latin; he had early been trained to keep his eyes downcast, and to speak in subdued tones. While still quite a child his father had bound him to the monastic seclusion of the Collége de Torchi in the University, and there he had grown up over the missal and the lexicon.

He was, however, by nature a melancholy, reserved, serious boy, studying with ardour and learning easily. He never shouted in the recreation hour; he mixed but little in the bacchanalia of the Rue du Fouarre; did not know what it was to dare alapas et capillos laniare,1

and had taken no part in that Students’ riot of 1463, which the chroniclers gravely record as “The Sixth Disturbance in the University.” It rarely happened that he jibed at the poor scholars of Montaigu for their “cappettes,” from which they derived their nickname, or the exhibitioners of the Collége de Dormans for their smooth tonsure and their tricoloured surcoats of dark blue, light blue and violet cloth—azurini coloris et bruni, as the charter of the Cardinal des Quatre- Couronnes puts it.

On the other hand, he was assiduous in his attendance at the higher and lower schools of the Rue Saint- Jean de Beauvais. The first scholar whom the Abbé de Saint-Pierre de Val caught sight of, established against a pillar in the école Saint-Vendregesile, exactly opposite to his desk when he began his lecture on Canon Law, was invariably Claude Frollo, armed with his inkhorn, chewing his pen, scribbling on his threadbare knees, or, in winter, blowing on his fingers. The first pupil Messire Miles d’Isliers, doctor of ecclesiastical law, saw arrive breathless every Monday morning as the door of the Chef-Saint-Denis schools opened, was Claude Frollo. Consequently, by the time he was sixteen, the young cleric was a match in mystical theology for a Father of the Church, and in scholastic theology for a Doctor of the Sorbonne.

Having finished with theology, he threw himself into canonical law and the study of the decretals.

From the Magister Sententiarum he had fallen upon the Capitularies of Charlemagne, and in his insatiable hunger for knowledge had devoured decretal after decretal: those of Theodore, Bishop of Hispalis, those of Bouchard, Bishop of Worms, those of Yves, Bishop of Chartres; then the decretal of Gratian, which came after Charlemagne’s Capitularies; then the collection of Gregory IX; then the epistle Super specula of Honorius III. He thoroughly investigated and made himself familiar with that vast and stormy period of bitter and protracted struggle between Civil and Ecclesiastical Law during the chaos of the Middle Ages, a period which Bishop Theodore began in 618, and Pope Gregory closed in 1227.

The decretals assimilated, he turned his attention to medicine and the liberal arts; studied the science of herbs and of salves; became an expert in the treatment of fevers and contusions, of wounds and of abscesses. Jacques d’Espars would have passed him as physician; Richard Hellain, as surgeon. He ran through the degrees of Licentiate, Master, and Doctor of Arts; he studied languages: Latin, Greek, and Hebrew —a thrice inner sanctuary of learning seldom penetrated at that time. He was possessed by a veritable rage for acquiring and storing up knowledge. At eighteen, he had made his way through the four faculties. Life for this young man seemed to have but one aim and object—knowledge.

  By PanEris using Melati.

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