Hunt, Walter (DNB00)

HUNT, WALTER (d. 1478), theologian, whose name was latinised as Venantius, is stated by Bale (Harl. MS. 3838, f. 92) to have been born in the West of England. He became a Carmelite friar, and, it is said, doctor and professor of theology at Oxford. In 1438, while still in the prime of life, he was, according to Leland, chosen for his eloquence, learning, and linguistic capacity, to represent England at the general council of Ferrara. When Pope Eugenius IV in January 1439 removed the council to Florence, Hunt went thither, and in the negotiations which led, after more than a year, to a temporary reunion of the western with the eastern church, he is said to have been one of the chief exponents of the Latin view. The church historians mention six, including two nameless monks. His skill in disputation with the Greek doctors on the procession of the Holy Ghost, and other subjects in dispute between the churches, won him general admiration and the special favour of Pope Eugenius. Leland accuses him of allowing personal friendship to carry him in subsequent works into an exaggerated view of the papal powers. Returning to Oxford, he spent nearly forty years in unremitting labour, continuing to teach and write, even when overtaken by the feebleness of age. He died of natural decay at Oxford on 28 Nov. 1478 (Harl. MS. 3838, f. 93; Leland says 20 Dec.), and was buried in the Carmelite friary there. He wrote in Latin some thirty treatises, grammatical, historical, philosophical, and theological, but none are known to be extant. Bale (supra) gives the opening lines of a number of them, and a complete list will be found in Tanner. They include a Latin vocabulary (Catholicon) and a treatise upon sounds; extracts from, and an epitome of, chronicles; several works on the proceedings of the councils of Ferrara and Florence; others in defence of the monastic system and of the friars, on the authority and dignity of the church, the preeminence of Peter among the apostles, and the universal lordship and superiority to general councils of the pope. He also wrote on the kingship and poverty of Christ, on predestination, and against preaching by women, besides sermons, disputations, and theological lectures.

[Leland's Comm. de Script. Britann. pp. 468-9, Oxford, 1709; Bale, Harl. MSS. 1819 and 3838, and De Script. Maj. Brit. cent. viii. No. 39; Pits, De Illustr. Angliæ Script, pp. 667-8; Tanner's Bibl. Script. Brit.-Hib. p. 423.]

J. T-t.