Johannes Eckhart O.P. (c. 1260–c. 1328), also known as Eckhart von Hochheim and widely referred to as Meister Eckhart, was a German theologian, philosopher and mystic, born near Erfurt, in Thuringia. Meister is German for “Master”, referring to the academic title he obtained in Paris. Coming into prominence during the decadent Avignon Papacy and a time of increased tensions between the Franciscans and Eckhart's Dominican Order of Preacher Friars, he was brought up on charges later in life before the local Franciscan led Inquisition. Tried as a heretic by Pope John XXII, his “Defence” is famous for his reasoned arguments to all challenged articles of his writing and his refutation of heretical intent. He purportedly died before his verdict was received, although no record of his death or burial site has ever been discovered. Well known for his work with pious lay groups such as the Friends of God and succeeded by his more circumspect disciples of John Tauler and Henry Suso, he has gained a large following in recent years. In his study of medieval humanism, Richard Southern includes him along with Bede and Saint Anselm as emblematic of the intellectual spirit of the late Middle Ages.
- R. W. Southern, Medieval Humanism. Harper & Row, 1970. pp. 19–26.