St. Thomas Aquinas was one of the greatest scholars of the Middle Ages. He was born in Aquino, Sicily, in 1225, to an aristocratic family, and began his education at the age of five. At the age of 17 he decided to leave worldly wealth behind and join an order of poor Dominican monks. His family was so shocked that they kidnapped him on his way to join the order and held him captive for two years. His determination, however, remained unbroken, and eventually the family gave in, letting him go to Paris, where he came under the tutelage of the scholar monk Albert the Great (1206–80). Aquinas studied and taught in France and Italy, and in 1272, founded a studium generale (a type of university) in Naples, Italy. His many philosophical works were hugely influential in paving the way to the modern world.
Key works: 1256–59 Disputed Questions on Truth, 1261–63 Summa contra Gentiles, 1265–73 Summa Theologica