Search - List of Books by Walter Hilton

Walter Hilton (died 24 March 1396) was an English Augustinian mystic.

Little is known of Hilton's life: he was probably born ca. 1340-45, and attended Cambridge University; he is first recorded in January 1371 as a bachelor of law attached to the diocesan court of Ely, and again in 1375. In some manuscripts, he is described as a commensor or inceptor decretorum -- that is, he may have completed the studies and examinations that would have entitled him to become a Master of canon law, but without undertaking the regency that would have given him the latter title. At some unknown date, but probably before 1386, he rejected the legal and administrative career available to him in the court of Thomas Arundel, then Bishop of Ely, and retired from the world as a hermit; later, he decided that his true vocation was not to the heremitic life, but to a religious order. In 1386, he wrote the Latin epistle of spiritual counsel De Utilitate et Prerogativis Religionis for his friend Adam Horsley, a former officer of the Exchequer, who was about to enter the Carthusian Order. According to manuscript tradition, Hilton died as an Augustinian Canon Regular in the priory of St Peter at Thurgarton, in Nottinghamshire.

His spiritual writings were widely influential during the fifteenth century in England. The most famous of these is the Scale of Perfection, in two books, which survives in some sixty-two manuscripts (including fourteen of a Latin translation by Hilton's contemporary in Cambridge and Ely, the Carmelite friar Thomas Fishlake). In Fishlake's translation, the Scale became the first work written in English to circulate on the European continent. It Scale was printed by Wynkyn de Worde in Westminster in 1494, at the request of Lady Margaret Beaufort, mother of King Henry VII, and five more times before the English Reformation of the 1530s.

The Scale is distinguished by beauty of thought and complexity of expression; it is illustrated by homely, but effective imagery, and in spite of its high spirituality it is full of practical guidance. The first book, which is addressed to a woman recently enclosed as an anchoress, provides her with appropriate spiritual exercises; the bulk of its ninety-three chapters deal with the extirpation of the 'foul image of sin' in the soul...the perversion of the image of the Trinity in the three spiritual powers of Mind, Reason and Will (reflecting the Father, Son and Holy Spirit respectively, according to a tradition drawn from St Augustine) -- through a series of meditations on the seven deadly sins. The second book, which opens by addressing itself to Hilton's former reader, who, he says, has further questions, seems from its style and content rather to be addressed to a larger, perhaps more sophisticated audience; its major themes are the reformation of the soul in faith alone (which is necessary to salvation) and in both faith and feeling. This latter is described in an extended metaphor as a spiritual journey to Jerusalem, or 'peace' in meditation, a gift which is also its own giver, Christ. The first book of the Scale was apparently written some time before the second, and circulated independently.

Three of Hilton's letters of spiritual guidance, the Latin De Utilitate and De Imagine Peccati, and the English On Mixed Life (written to a devout layman of wealth and household responsibility, advising him not to give up his active life to become a contemplative, but to mix the two) distinctly echo parts of Scale I, and were probably written around the same time: that is, in the early 1380s. The Mixed Life occasionally occurs with the Scale in fifteenth-century manuscripts, and was printed by de Worde in 1494, as a 'third book' of the Scale (possibly at the desire of Lady Margaret) -- although the Mixed Life occurs in only half of the surviving copies of that printing. All later prints of the Scale also included the Mixed Life.

Hilton also wrote three other Latin letters of spiritual guidance, the Epistola de Leccione, Intencione, Oracione, Meditacione et Allis, the Epistola ad Quemdam Seculo Renunciare Volentem and Firmissime crede, and a scholastic quodlibet on the appropriateness of reverence shown to images such as crucifixes in churches (a practice criticised by Lollards). In English, he also wrote a short tract Of Angels' Song (a criticism of one aspect of Richard Rolle's spirituality), commentaries on the Psalm texts Qui Habitat and Bonum Est (Psalms 90.1 and 91.2), and perhaps on the Canticle Benedictus (Luke 1.68) as well; he also translated Eight Chapters on Perfection from a Latin text said to have been left at Cambridge by Lluis de Font, an Aragonese Franciscan who studied there in the mid-1380s.

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This author page uses material from the Wikipedia article "Walter Hilton", which is released under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share-Alike License 3.0
Total Books: 51
Scale  of Perfection
2012 - Scale of Perfection [or Ladder] (Paperback)Paperback, Hardcover
ISBN-13: 9781475142051
ISBN-10: 1475142056
Genre: Literature & Fiction
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The Scale  of Perfection
2010 - The Scale of Perfection [or Ladder] (Paperback)Paperback, Hardcover
ISBN-13: 9781456308445
ISBN-10: 1456308440
Genre: Religion & Spirituality
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The Goad of Love
2010 - The Goad of Love (Hardcover)Paperback
ISBN-13: 9781161353662
ISBN-10: 1161353666
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The Scale Of Perfection With An Essay On The Spiritual Life Of Mediaeval England
Treatise Written to a Devout Man
2010 - Treatise Written to a Devout Man [Paperback] (Paperback)Paperback
ISBN-13: 9781849028509
ISBN-10: 1849028508
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The Ladder of Perfection Scala Perfectionis
2009 - The Ladder of Perfection Scala Perfectionis (Paperback)
ISBN-13: 9781926777115
ISBN-10: 1926777115
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The Cloud of Unknowing
2009 - The Cloud of Unknowing (Paperback)
ISBN-13: 9780982330180
ISBN-10: 0982330189
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How The Passion Of Christ May Be Likened To Four Stirrings Of The Soul - Pamphlet
That Christ And His Passion Had Seven Blessings That The Gospel Speaks Of - Pamphlet
How A Man Shall Give His Heart Gladly To God - Pamphlet
2006 - How a Man Shall Give His Heart Gladly to God - Pamphlet (Paperback)
ISBN-13: 9781428692350
ISBN-10: 1428692355
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How A Man May Stir Himself To The Service Of God - Pamphlet
2006 - How a Man May Stir Himself to the Service of God - Pamphlet (Paperback)
ISBN-13: 9781428692367
ISBN-10: 1428692363
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Of The State Of The Blessed Souls In Heavenly Jerusalem - Pamphlet
2006 - Of the State of the Blessed Souls in Heavenly Jerusalem - Pamphlet (Paperback)
ISBN-13: 9781428692374
ISBN-10: 1428692371
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How Good It Is For A Man To Be Turned Into God
2006 - How Good It Is for a Man to Be Turned Into God (Paperback)
ISBN-13: 9781428692381
ISBN-10: 142869238X
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How A Man In A Short Time May Be Perfect
2006 - How a Man in a Short Time May Be Perfect (Paperback)
ISBN-13: 9781428692398
ISBN-10: 1428692398
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How Temptations Are Needful And Profitable
2006 - How Temptations Are Needful and Profitable (Paperback)
ISBN-13: 9781428692404
ISBN-10: 1428692401
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How A Man In The Passion Of Christ May Be Stirred To The Seven Deeds Of Mercy
How A Man May Most Profit And Most Please God
2006 - How a Man May Most Profit and Most Please God (Paperback)
ISBN-13: 9781428692428
ISBN-10: 1428692428
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How A Man Shall Order His Thoughts That He May Have God On His Mind
2006 - How a Man Shall Order His Thoughts That He May Have God on His Mind (Paperback)
ISBN-13: 9781428692435
ISBN-10: 1428692436
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How A Man In All Of His Doings May Be Contemplative
2006 - How a Man in All of His Doings May Be Contemplative (Paperback)
ISBN-13: 9781428692442
ISBN-10: 1428692444
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How A Man Shall Prepare Himself Before Receiving The Sacrament
2006 - How a Man Shall Prepare Himself Before Receiving the Sacrament (Paperback)
ISBN-13: 9781428692459
ISBN-10: 1428692452
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How Temptation Of Predestination Or Of Despair May Be Overcome
2006 - How Temptation of Predestination or of Despair May Be Overcome (Paperback)
ISBN-13: 9781428692466
ISBN-10: 1428692460
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2001 - The Ladder of Perfection [Penguin Classics] (Paperback)Paperback