Ericus Iohannis

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Ericus Iohannis (de Ludosia, Vesgotus, conventualis Vastenensis), born around 1429, died 23 April 1508, curate and Bridgettine brother; scribe, preacher, poet and owner of a private library. Not to be confused with the Ericus Iohannis from Öland (d. 1447) who during 1401–1423 was confessor general of the Bridgettines at Vadstena.


Ericus is known to us through notes by his own hand in his manuscripts, his letter of ordination (Stockholm, National Archives, Riksarkivets pergamentbrev 24 February 1453) and entries in the Diarium Vadstenense (18 October 1478 and 23 April 1508).


As Ericus Iohannis was in his twenty-fifth year at the time of his sacerdotal ordination 24 February 1453, he ought to have been born around 1429. His place of birth and upbringing was Old Lödöse (Ludosia) in the diocese of Skara, in its time an important town of commerce and cultural exchange, as it was Sweden’s only port to the Western seas. On account of the vacancy of the see of Skara, Ericus was ordained by the Bishop of Västerås, >Acho Iohannis, who was also a Bridgettine brother. After his ordination, Ericus returned to his diocese as curate first in Bitterna, and a few years later at the church of St. Olaf in his home town Lödöse. The town was sacked and burned by the Danes in 1452 and 1455, on account of which the town council in 1472 decided to found a new town nearer to the sea, New Lödöse. Shortly thereafter the church of St. Olaf was shut down, which was probably one of the reasons for Ericus to take the Bridgettine habit in 1478. He remained in Vadstena until his death 23 April 1508, “senio gravatus” and fortified with the sacraments of the Church.

At the time of his entry into the Bridgettine order, Ericus brought his private library, which he bequeathed to the monastery. This library has – presumably intact – been preserved to our time and is now kept at the University Library of Uppsala, comprising the volumes C 36, C 170, C 181, C 196, C 202, C 273, C 574 and C 925, as well as the hand-written part of the incunable 35:214. The contents of the library testifies to Ericus’s many and varied interests. The books contain texts of rudimentary grammatical nature (Donatus, Priscian), theological works (John of Paris, Henry of Frimaria, Hermann of Schildesche, William of Lavicea), exegetical texts (William of Paris), juridical tracts (Johannes Andreae), sermon collections (James of Voragine), works on chess (Jacobus de Cessolis), medicine, computistica, an itinerary from Koburg to Rome, as well as anonymous works which may well be by Ericus’s own pen. (ANDRÉE 2000, BERGGREN 0000, MALINIEMI 1926, ODENIUS 1967, AF UGGLAS 1931, WALDE 1931)


In addition to a Chronologia regum Suecie written by Ericus, there are several anonymous or unidentified texts – theological tracts, sermons, commentaries and poems – in the books of Ericus’s library which may be by his pen.

(1) A brief chronology over Swedish kings, Chronologia regum Suecie.


Anno domini Mxl regnauit rex olauus skotkonungh …


… terram et ciuitatem cum castro rapuerunt. Anno domini Mcdltercio sabbato 4or temporum post cineres ego frater ericus iohannis conuentualis vastenensis fui ordinatus in presbiterum in fyholm a venerabili domino Akone episcopo arosiensi.


The Chronologia comprises one manuscript folio.


  • • PAULSSON 1974.
  • SRS I:1, 88 f.

Medieval reception and transmission

The Chronologia is extant in the manuscript Uppsala, University Library, C 36, fol. 134v.

(2) Tractatus de tribus virtutibus theologicis et cardinalibus

The Tractatus is partly a discussion of the three theological virtues based on excerpts from authorities such as Augustine and Peter Lombard, and partly a more or less verbatim rendering of the Formula vitae honestae by the Spanish bishop and moralist Martin of Braga (d. 580). Incipit Incipit tractatus de tribus virtutibus theologicis et cardinalibus. Virtus secundum Augustinum est bona qualitas mentis. Explicit Tunc enim, sicut theologice, sunt meritore vite eterne. Ad quam nos perducat Iesus Christus in secula benedictus. Amen. Deo gratias. Anno Domini mcdliiii. Size The Tractatus comprises ca. 10 printed pages Editions ANDRÉE 2000. Medieval reception and transmission The Tractatus is extant in the manucript Uppsala, University Library, C 574, fols 115r–120r. (3) A commentary on the Summula Raymundi A commentary on the Summula Raymundi – Raymund of Pelaforte – is preserved with the ascription to Ericus, “cum sentencia fratris erici johannis de ludosia”. The commentary proper is similar to that of Adam of Cologne but the text may have been further annotated by Ericus. Incipit Text: sumula de summa raymundi prodiit ista Commentary: In isto libro cuius subiectum est ius canocicum a sanctis patris institutum Explicit Text: In summis festis que quatuor esse videntes / corpora non aliqua defunctorum tumulentur. O species lepre. Commentary: vt per hanc figuram circularem proporcionetur enti perfectissimo domino glorioso qui sine principio et fine viuit … Amen. Size The text comprises ca. 100 folios. Editions GW 213 prints a similar text. Medieval reception and transmission The Summula cum sentencia is extant in the manuscript Uppsala, University Library, C 170, fols 3v–104r. (4) Sermons In the manuscript Uppsala, University Library, C 181, there are several collections of sermons (fol. 3r–6r, 26r–48v, 179v–84v, 225v–31v, 244r–96r, 296r–300v [in Swedish]), which may be by Ericus, or partly by him, amongst which one ad clerum, showing similarities with the pastoral letter Ad sacerdotes (see BERGGREN 0000; BERGGREN & HÄRDELIN 1997). The pastoral letter on fol. 179v–84v is being edited by BERGGREN 0000 and has the following incipit and explicit: Incipit Septem stelle [VII] angeli sunt septem ecclesiarum. Apocalypsis primo. Iohannes comparat sacerdotes VII stellis. Debent illuminare ecclesiam Dei et esse pleni VII donis Spiritus sancti … Explicit … quam Maria elegit, teneamus hic in uia per spem in speculo et enigmate, donec perficiatur in patria per apertam fruicionem, ubi uideamus Deum facie ad faciem. Size The pastoral letter comprises ca. 10 printed pages. Editions • BERGGREN 0000. (5) Poetry Eleven short verses – on the sack of Lödöse 1455, on life and death, on wine and meat and on the king – suggest that Ericus also wrote poetry. Incipit Est commune mori mors nulli parcit honori. Explicit brigida de suecia clara virtute refulgens. Size Two folios Editions None. (The four last lines, on St. Birgitta of Sweden, reproduce the beginning of a poem of twelve lines on St. Birgitta that appears in full in the manuscript Uppsala, University Library, C 15, and is edited in KRUSE 1892, 27–28. See further >Sancta Birgitta.) Medieval reception and transmission The verses are extant at the end of the codex C 574, fol. 145v–46v. Bibliography • ANDRÉE, A. 2000: “Ericus Johannis: Tractatus de tribus virtutibus theologicis et cardinalibus. Textutgåva med introduktion och anmärkningar,” unpublished MA-thesis, Department of Classics, Lund University. BERGGREN, M. 0000: BERGGREN, M. & HÄRDELIN, A. 1997: “Ad sacerdotes. A Pastoral Letter from Vadstena,” in Master Golyas and Sweden: The Transformation of a Clerical Satire (Runica et mediaevalia, Scripta minora 2), ed. O. Ferm & B. Morris, Stockholm, 365–406. GEJROT, C. 1988: Diarium Vadstenense. A Critical Edition with an Introduction and a Commentary (Studia Latina Stockholmiensia 33), Stockholm. JOHANSSON, H. 1956: Den medeltida liturgien i Skara stift: studier i mässa och helgonkult, Lund KRUSE, J. 1892: “Vita metrica S. Birgittae,” Meddelanden från det literaturhistoriska seminariet i Lund 1, in Lunds universitets årsskrift 28, 1891/92. MALINIEMI, A. 1926: “Studier i Vadstena klosters bibliotek,” NTBB 13, 129–50. • ODENIUS, O. 1967: “Från Koburg till Rom: Ericus Johannis från Lödöse och hans itinerarium [resedagbok],” Västergötlands fornminnesförenings tidskrift 6, 6. AF UGGLAS, C.R. 1931: Gamla Lödöse. Historia och arkeologi (Skrifter utgivna till Göteborgs stads trehundraårsjubileum 4), Göteborg WALDE, O. 1931: “De svenska bibliotekens historia,” Svend Dahls bibliotekshandbok 2, ed. S.E. Bring, Stockholm.

Alexander Andrée