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Peter of Candia (ca. 1340-1410)

The island of Crete gave birth to one of the great spiritual and ideological leaders of the Medieval Latin Church. Petros Philargis, orphaned from his Greek parents at a young age, was raised by Franciscans in the Venetian Territory of Crete (Candia). At the age of seventeen, Peter joined the Franciscan Order, and embarked on a career of study, passing through the Franciscan studium at Norwich before studying theology at Oxford. He had no small talent for theology, and the Order sent him to Paris, where he began lecturing on the Sentences of Peter Lombard on September 28, 1378, and taught as a Bachelor of the Sentences until 1380. In 1381, the University of Paris made Peter Master of Theology. In 1384, and again in 1385, Peter is found as lector of the convent of Saint Francis of Pavia, and moved in the humanistic circles of the Visconti. Already by 1385, he had become an advisor of Giangaleazzo, and Peter's fortunes rose with those of his patron: Peter became in successive years bishop of Vicenza, then Novara; as the latter, gave the sermon at the ceremony where Giangaleazzo was crowned Archduke of Milan. In 1402, Peter of Candia was elevated to archbishop of Milan; then in 1405, Peter was raised to the dignity of cardinal priest of the Church of the Twelve Apostles . In 1409, the Council of Pisa elected Peter of Candia pope, and deposed Gregory XII and Benedict XIII, the rival popes. While neither Gregory nor Benedict stepped down, and Alexander's election on 26 June 1409 effectively created three popes, Alexander enjoyed wider support than either of his rivals, and a reasonable claim to legitimacy. He died 10 months later, on 3 May 1410 at Bologna.

Peter's of Candia's intellectual legacy consists in large part in his commentary on the Sentences of Peter Lombard. The distillation of Peter of Candia's university lectures on theology, his Sentences commentary has served as a guide for scholars medieval and modern to the centuries of Scholastic thought that precede him.