Geoffrey Hardeby (c. 1320 – c. 1385) was one of a number of notable English Augustinians in the fourteenth century, one who joined the Order of Saint Augustine before it was a hundred years old. He is somewhat of an enigmatic character, because much of the little that is known about him is secondary material from somewhat later sources.
Two generations earlier than both Osbern Bokenham and John Capgrave, Hardeby has not left very much primary material for later historians. This may not be surprising when we avert to the fact that he was born about twenty years before Geoffrey Chaucer (c, 1343 – 1400), the father of English language and literature.
In his Chronicle of England, completed about 1462, Capgrave provides the earliest-surviving reference to his fellow-Augustinian, Geoffrey Hardeby:
But at the time thgere was a Frere Augustine; thei clepid him Geffrey Hardeby, afterward Provincial and Confessoure to the Prince, which mad ageyn his opinion a notable book we clepe De Vita Evangelica.
(This sentence also happens to be the oldest-extant naming of Hardeby’s treatise by the title De Vita Evangelica, rather than as De perfectione evangelicae paupertatis.)
De Vita Evangelica is his only work of Hardeby that is extant, except for his magistral sermon preached at Oxford in the First Sunday of Advent, 27th November 1356.
Even the spelling of his surname has generated confusion, as there was a town of Herdeby or Hardeby in both Nottinghamshire and Leicestershire, although the latter is usually taken as the birthplace of this Augustinian friar.
Born about the year 1320, Hardeby joined the Augustinian Order possibly at Leicester, and at Oxford was a philosopher and Biblical lecturer and scholar. He became the regent master of studium generale of the Austin Friars at Oxford from 1357 to 1359.
He was a definitor at the Augustinian General Chapter at Padua in August 1359.
Other than the one treatise and the one sermon mentioned hereunder, Hardeby has sometimes been listed by later historians as the author of other books (especially exegetical works), although these books no longer exist and there is no certainty that these writings were actually by Hardeby. Surprisingly, the usually-thorough Alphabeticum Augustinianum of Thomas Herrera O.S.A. (Madrid, 1644), makes scant reference to Hardeby.
Photos (at right)
For a summary of the history of the Order of St Augustine (Austin Friars) in England and Scotland, click here.