Gers, a S. W. department of France, formed from parts of Gascony and Guienne, bordering on the departments of Lot-et-Garonne, Tarn-et-Garonne, Haute-Garonne, Hautes-Pyrenees, Basses-Pyrenees, and Landes; area, 2,425 sq. m.; pop. in 1872, 284,717. The surface is in general hilly. It is watered by the Gers (which rises in Hautes-Pyrenees, and flows N. into the Garonne), Save, Adour, and several .other rivers. The most important vegetable products are the cereals, flax, and onions. Fruit is scarce. Large quantities of wine and brandy are made, but of ordinary quality. The minerals are of little consequence, but gypsum and a fusible spar used in making glass and porcelain abound. The only manufactures are brandy, coarse woollens, leather, bricks, glass, and earthenware. It is divided into the ar-rondissements of Auch, Mirande, Condom, Lec-toure, and Lombez. Capital, Auch.
GERSon Jean Charlier de, a French theologian, born at Gerson, near Rheims, Dec. 14, 1303, died in Lyons, July 12, 1429. At the age of 14 ho went to Paris to study the humanities and theology, and in 1387 he was selected by the university as one of its deputation to the antipope Clement VII. at Avignon upon the controversy concerning the immaculate con-ception. About 1393 he was made chancellor of the university of Paris. Charles VI. had just fallen into insanity, and while divisions menaced the state, the church was rent by a schism which produced two and afterward three pretenders to the pontificate. Gerson exerted himself for the reform of morals and the banishment of scholasticism from the university, combated astrology, and resisted the invasion of the pantheistic doctrines which then had their seat in Brabant. When the duke of Orleans was assassinated by the duke of Burgundy in 1407, Gerson denounced the murderer and delivered the funeral oration of his victim. Pursued by John the Fearless, he saw his house pillaged, and was obliged to conceal himself in the vaults of Notre Dame. He was present in the council of Constance as theologian of the bishop of Paris; and, as the.council had been convened for the purpose of electing a pope whom all Christendom would acknowledge, he urged the deposition of the two pretenders to the papacy, John XXIII. and Benedict XIII., in a treatise De Auferibilitate Papa. He wished to prove that there are circumstances in which the assembled bishops of the whole church can compel pretenders to the papal dignity to renounce their claim, and depose them if they refuse to abdicate.
The schism was at length ended, but Gerson's efforts to check the abuses which reigned in the church were ineffectual; and as civil dissensions did not permit his return to France, he retired to the mountains of Bavaria, where he wrote De Consola-tione Theologioe, and the Monotessaron, a harmony of the four Gospels. He returned to his country after a voluntary exile of two years, and found an asylum in a convent. Though one of the most active men of his age, he was also the most mystical of its thinkers. He was the first who sought to give to mysticism the character of a science. He recognized in the soul two classes of faculties: the cognitive or intellectual, whose highest act is simple intuition of divine things; and the affective faculties, whose highest act is ecstatic delight in God. To substitute this mystical philosophy for scholasticism was the aim of his writings. As many manuscripts of the Imitation of Jesus Christ" bear the name of Gersen, that work is often ascribed to Gerson. (See Kempis, Thomas a.) See Vie de Gerson (Paris, 1832); C. Schmidt; Essai sur Jean Gerson (Strasburg, 1839); and R. Thomassy, Jean Gerson (Paris, 1843). The best edition of Gerson's works is that of Dupin (5 vols, fol., Antwerp, 1700).