Eckhart von Hochheim O.P., commonly known as Meister Eckhart, was a German theologian, philosopher and mystic, born near Gotha, in the Landgraviate of Thuringia in the Holy Roman Empire. Meister is German for "Master", referring to the academic title Magister in theologia he obtained in Paris. Coming into prominence during the Avignon Papacy and a time of increased tensions between the Franciscans and Eckhart's Dominican Order of Friars Preachers, 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. He was 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. In his study of medieval humanism, Richard Southern includes him along with Saint Bede the Venerable and Saint Anselm as emblematic of the intellectual spirit of the Middle Ages.