Bernard André

Bernard André (c. 1450–c. 1522) was a French humanist and Augustinian friar who accompanied Henry Tudor to England in 1485. Little is known of his career before that date except that he was a native of Toulouse and had earned a doctorate in canon and civil law. He at once demonstrated his ability to praise the victorious monarch in florid, extemporaneous verse, and the new king soon put him on his payroll. André continued to commemmorate in verse the important moments of the reign, such as the royal marriage, the birth of children, and battlefield victories.

In 1496 he was appointed tutor to Arthur, prince of Wales. That same year he began a massive commentary on Augustine’s City of God, treating one book a year, a work that André intended as an important contribution to humanist scholarship. Instead, over time the work shrivelled as André lost interest in it. In 1500 the king suspended his service as tutor because of the approaching wedding of Prince Arthur and Princess Katherine of Aragon. As recompense, Henry named André “royal historiographer,” a position that had first emerged at the court of Burgundy. André spent the next two years on The Life of Henry VII, only to abandon it soon after the death of Prince Arthur on 2 April 1502, an event that devastated him personally and shattered his professional goals.

André nonetheless continued to make annual offerings of his writings to Henry VII and then to Henry VIII, and published a volume of sacred poetry in 1517, his Hymni Christiani. But his reputation today rests heavily on the royal biography, which he filled with poems written for earlier occasions. He faded from view at court during the reign of Henry VIII and is presumed to have died around 1522.

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