Biography:Dominicus Gundissalinus

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Dominicus Gundissalinus, also known as Domingo Gundisalvi or Gundisalvo (c. 1115 – post 1190), was a philosopher and translator of Arabic to Medieval Latin active in Toledo. Among his translations, Gundissalinus worked on Avicenna's Liber de philosophia prima and De anima, Ibn Gabirol's Fons vitae, and al-Ghazali's Summa theoricae philosophiae, in collaboration with the Jewish philosopher Abraham Ibn Daud and Johannes Hispanus.[1] As a philosopher, Gundissalinus crucially contributed to the Latin assimilation of Arabic philosophy, being the first Latin thinker in receiving and developing doctrines, such as Avicenna's modal ontology or Ibn Gabirol's universal hylomorphism, that would soon be integrated into the thirteenth-century philosophical debate.


Born presumably in the Iberian Peninsula around 1115–1125, Gundissalinus received his education in Chartres, supposedly following the teaching of William of Conches and Thierry of Chartres.[2][3] Since 1148, Gundissalinus is in Castile: the capitular archives of Segovia refer to him as archdeacon of Cuéllar, a small town not far from Segovia, where he presumably spent around 14 years, regarding which almost no information is available.[4] Following Ibn Daud's request to the archbishop of Toledo, John II, to start a series of translations into Latin of Avicenna's Kitab al-Shifāʾ, Gundissalinus moved to Toledo in 1161–1162, where he worked with Ibn Daud on the translation of Avicenna's De anima, realised before 1166.[5][6]

Gundissalinus remained in Toledo for twenty years, collaborating with Abraham Ibn Daud and Johannes Hispanus to the realisation of around twenty translations of Arabic works into Latin. In the Castilian capital, Gundissalinus also wrote his philosophical treatises.[7] The Toledan chapter names Gundissalinus for the last time in 1178 but he presumably remained in Toledo at least until 1181, when a document written in Arabic mentions his name.[8][9]

The last record witnessing Gundissalinus alive is the report of a meeting between the chapters of Segovia and Burgos, held in Segovia in 1190.[10] It is probable that the last years of Gundissalinus's life were spent in that Castilian town, and he died sometime after 1190.[1]

See also

  • Toledo School of Translators
  • Latin translations of the 12th century


  1. 1.0 1.1 Polloni, Nicola (2016-10-12). "Elementi per una biografia di Dominicus Gundisalvi" (in it). Archives d'Histoire Doctrinale et Littéraire du Moyen Âge Tome 82 (1): 7–22. doi:10.3917/ahdlm.082.0007. ISSN 0373-5478. 
  2. Fidora, Alexander, 2011, 'Le débat sur la création: Guillaume de Conches, maître de Dominique Gundisalvi?', in B. Obrist - I. Caiazzo (eds.), Guillaume de Conches: Philosophie et science au XIIe siècle, Firenze, 271-288.
  3. Polloni, Nicola (2015-01-01). "Thierry of Chartres and Gundissalinus on Spiritual Substances: The Problem of Hylomorphic Composition". Bulletin de Philosophie Médiévale 57: 35–57. doi:10.1484/J.BPM.5.110804. ISSN 0068-4023. 
  4. Villar García, L.M., 1990, Documentación medieval de la Catedral de Segovia (1115-1300), Salamanca, 91.
  5. Hernandez, J., 1985, Los Cartularios de Toledo. Catalogo Documental, Madrid, 130.
  6. Bertolacci, Amos, 2011, 'A Community of Translators: The Latin Medieval Versions of Avicenna’s Book of the Cure', in C. J. Mews- J. N. Crossley (eds.), Communities of Learning: Networks and the Shaping of Intellectual Identity in Europe 1100-1500, Turnhout, 37-54
  7. Polloni, Nicola (2017). Domingo Gundisalvo. Una introducción. Madrid: Editorial Sindéresis. ISBN 978-84-16262-34-2. 
  8. D'Alverny, Marie-Thérèse, 1989, 'Les traductions à deux interprètes, d’arabe en langue vernaculaire et de langue vernaculaire en latin', in G. Contamine, (ed.), Traduction et traducteurs au Moyen Âge. Actes du colloque international du CNRS organisée à Paris, Institut de recherche et d’histoire des textes, les 26-28 mai 1986, Paris, 193-206.
  9. Alonso Alonso, Manuel, 1943, 'Notas sobre los traductores toledanos Domingo Gundisalvo y Juan Hispano', al-Andalus 8: 155-188
  10. Villar García, L. M., 1985, Documentación medieval de la Catedral de Segovia (1115-1300), Madrid, 135.


  • Polloni, Nicola, 2017, Domingo Gundisalvo. Una introducción, Editorial Sindéresis, Madrid.[1]

External links