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Roderigo Ximenes as a polyglot
Home > Mezzofanti > Eminent linguists > Ancient period > Roderigo Ximenes

Roderigo Ximenes, Archbishop of Toledo in the early part of the thirteenth century, a native of Navarre, but a scholar of the University of Paris, was one of the representatives of the Spanish Church at that Council. A controversy regarding the Primacy of Spain had arisen between the Sees of Toledo and Compostella, which was referred for adjudication to the bishops there assembled. Xime-nes addressed to the council a long Latin oration in defence of the claim of Toledo; and, as many of his auditory, which consisted both of the clergy and the laity, were ignorant of that language, he repeated the same argument in a series of discourses addressed to the natives of each country in succession ; to the Romans, Germans, French, English, Navarrese, and Spaniards, each in their respective tongues. Thus the number of languages in which he spoke was at least seven, and it is highly probable that he had others at his disposal, if his auditory had been of such a nature as to render them necessary. The taste for the languages and literature of the East received a further stimulus from the foundation of the Chris- tian principalities at Antioch and Jerusalem, from the establishment of the Latin Empire at Constantinople, and in general from the long wars in the East, to which the enthusiasm of the age attracted the most enterprising spirits of European chevalry. The pious pilgrimages, too, contributed to the same result. Many of the knights or palmers, on their return from the East, brought with them the knowledge, not only of Greek, but of more than one of ' the oriental languages besides. The long imprisonments to which, during the holy wars, and the Latin campaigns against the Turks, they were often subjected, supplied another occasion of familiarity with Arabic, Syriac, Turkish, or Persian.

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