Catholic Encyclopedia (1913)/Ranulf de Glanville

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Catholic Encyclopedia (1913), Volume 6
Ranulf de Glanville

by Charles Thomas Boothman


Chief Justiciar of England; b. at Stratford, Suffolk, England, date unknown; d. before Acre, Palestine, 1190. He was of a baronial house which got its name from Glanville, in Normandy, and which in England held property in Norfolk and Suffolk. His father was William de Glanville, of whom he was a younger son, though eventually, on the death of an elder brother, he inherited the family estates and honours. Both before and after his appointments to the judicial bench, he held the shrievalty of various counties, which seems to betoken employment in the Exchequer; in particular he was Sheriff of the great County of York from 1163 till the death of King Henry II, save a short break, and in 1173 he became Sheriff of Lancashire. In the latter year, in concert with William the Lion, King of Scots, and the French king, there broke out the great rebellion of King Henry's sons against their father, and in the following year the Scottish king entered England with a mighty host, King Henry being then in Poitou. However, in July, Robert Stuteville, Sheriff of Yorkshire, and Glanville, the latter doubtless at the head of the men of Lancashire, encountered the invaders near Alnwick and utterly routed them, King William himself becoming Glanville's prisoner.

In 1176 we find Glanville a justice itinerant, and in 1180 he became Chief Justiciar of England. He had now reached the zenith of royal favour, which position he kept throughout the remainder of Henry's reign, being on occasion employed on various embassies, negotiations, and warlike expeditions, and in 1182 was appointed an executor of the king's will. In 1189 Henry II died. At the coronation of his successor, Richard I, the same year, Chief Justiciar Glanville was present, and when that prince took the cross, Glanville joined him, contributing a large sum towards the crusade. In the autumn of 1190 he died at the siege of Acre, a victim to the unwholesomeness of the climate. By his wife, Bertha, a daughter of a neighbouring Suffolk landowner, Theobald de Valognes, he left three daughters. Glanville is the reputed author of a celebrated work entitled "Tractatus de Legibus et de Consuetudinibus Regni Angliae", the oldest known treatise on English jurisprudence, more likely written by his illustrious nephew and secretary, Hubert Walter. Furthermore, he founded two abbeys, both in Suffolk, viz., Butley, for Black Canons, in 1171, and Leiston, for White Canons, in 1183; also a leper hospital at Somerton, in Norfolk.

C. T. Boothman.