Peter of Blois pursued the life of a twelfth-century intellectual with vigor and passion tinged with anxiety. After a thorough education in the arts, theology, and law at some of medieval Europe's finest schools - including those at Chartres, Paris, and Bologna - he served in the courts of royalty and archbishops alike. He attended diplomatic embassies, advised princes, argued legal cases at the papal court in Rome, and may well have gone on crusade to the Holy Land. All the while, along with several treatises, he wrote, compiled, issued, and re-issued a collection of letters to the intellectual elite of Europe. These letters detail the spiritual and professional anxieties of an educated professional always looking for employment and in considerable despair over the fate of his soul. Peter's dilemma, essentially insoluble, was how to carve out a place in a rapidly changing intellectual and political landscape. ""The Clerical Dilemma"" is the first book-length study of Peter of Blois' life, thought, and writings in any language. John D. Cotts uses Peter's letters and treatises to recreate the thought of the twelfth-century literati, illuminating the ambiguities, contradictions, and fundamental dynamism of that world. Paying careful attention to the difficult manuscript tradition of the letter collection, Cotts explores how Peter brought classical, patristic, monastic, and scholastic traditions into an uneasy synthesis, and deployed them in letters whose recipients represent a cross-section of contemporary intellectuals - from cathedral canons, to prominent scholars, to cardinals and popes. The book will be of interest to all those interested in the religious, political, and intellectual history of the twelfth century, providing new avenues for studying the ways in which medieval writers composed and revised their texts.