Galdric (DNB00)

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GALDRIC, GUALDRIC, or WALDRIC (d. 1112), bishop of Laon and chancellor to Henry I, is probably the ‘Waldricus cancellarius’ who signs a charter to Andover Priory, Hampshire, towards the middle of William II's reign (Dugdale, vi. 992). Galdric was also chancellor under Henry I, and in this capacity signs at Salisbury (3 Jan. 1103) about three months after his predecessor, Roger, had been made bishop of this see (ib. vi. 1083, cf. pp. 1083, 1106, 1273, and v. 149, where he seems to appear—February 1106?—as ‘Walterus cancellarius’; Sym. of Durham, p. 235; Florence of Worcester, ii. 51). By August 1107 he seems to have been supplanted by Rannulf (Eyton, Itin. of Henry I), who was certainly chancellor in April 1109 (Dugdale, vi. 1180; cf. Sym. of Durhamii. 239, 241; Bouquet, xv. 66–7).

At the battle of Tenchebrai (28 Sept. 1106) a ‘Gualdricus regis capellanus’ took Duke Robert prisoner and was rewarded with the bishopric of Laon (Ord. Vitalis iv. 230). This identifies the chancellor Waldric with the famous Galdric ‘referendarius regis Anglorum’ who bought this see in 1107 (Guibert of Nogent, iii. cc. 1–4). At this time, adds Guibert, Galdric was a simple clerk; but now, through Henry I's influence, ‘although he had hitherto acted as a warrior,’ he was hastily made a sub-deacon and canon of Rouen. Anselm of Laon, the greatest theological teacher in Western Europe, headed the opposition to the new appointment; and Galdric had to appear in person before Paschal II. Finally, Galdric, who had engaged Guibert of Nogent to defend his cause before the pope at Langres (c. 24 Feb. 1107), was confirmed by that prelate (ib.; for date cf. Bouquet, xv. 36).

Nearly three years later Guibert accused Galdric of having planned the murder of Gerard of Kiersy, castellan of Laon, who was slain by Rorigo, the bishop's brother, at early dawn, 31 Dec. 1109, while praying at the cathedral altar. The royal provost drove the murderers from the city, with Galdric's archdeacons, Walter and Guy, at their head. Galdric, however, who had started for Rome before the murder, protested his innocence and bought the pope's pardon. On his return he summoned Guibert, who had excommunicated the murderers, into his presence at Conci; and there, openly surrounded by avowed accomplices in the crime, forced the abbot to promise to assist him in regaining Laon. When an attack upon the city failed he bribed Louis VI to effect his restoration, and immediately excommunicated all those who had helped to expel the murderers (Guibert, iii. cc. 5, 6).

Lack of money with which to pay the king's courtiers now drove him to ‘his friend’ King Henry. During his absence Archdeacon Walter and the nobles whom he had left as his deputies sold the people of Laon the right to establish a ‘commune.’ Galdric on his return was not allowed to enter the city till he had sworn to uphold the new constitution. But though King Louis had confirmed the new charter, the bishop and his nobles were bent on its abolition, ‘striving,’ says Guibert, ‘in Norman or English fashion to drive out French liberty’ (ib. iii. c. 7). Galdric now, in defiance of the canon law, caused his negro slave, John, to blind another slave—Gerard, a leader of the commune. For this the pope suspended him, till a second visit to Rome procured the restoration of his authority. From Rome Galdric returned, determined to destroy the commune. The French king slept in Galdric's palace on the night preceding Good Friday 1112 (18 April); and as the commune could only offer 400l. against the bishop's 700l., he quashed the old charter. Next morning the city was in open revolt. Louis had to leave early (April 19), and Galdric at once began to levy for his own use the contribution each citizen had made to the ‘commune.’ In spite of warnings from Anselm, he continued to enforce the impost, till on the following Thursday the burgesses, raising the cry of ‘Commune,’ burst into the bishop's court. Galdric fled to the cellars beneath the cathedral. One of his own serfs, Tendegald, whom he had offended by nicknaming him ‘Isingrinus,’ after the fox in the popular fabliau ‘Reynard the Fox,’ pointed out the bolted coffer in which he was hidden. He was dragged out by the hair and massacred (25 April 1112). Tendegald cut his finger off to secure the episcopal ring. The naked corpse was then cast into a corner where it remained a mark for stones and insults from the passers-by till the next day, when Anselm had it buried in St. Vincent's Church, outside the city walls (Guibert, iii. cc. 7–9). D'Achery has printed the fragments of his epitaph (col. 1192).

Galdric was a typical secular bishop, ‘unstable in word and bearing.’ He loved to talk of war and of the dogs and horses which he had learned to prize in England (Guibert, iii. c. 4, &c.). He was recklessly extravagant. Anselm, who visited England in his company, heard a universal outcry against his ill-gotten gains. He retained for his own use the gift which the English queen sent for another church. He was a fierce hater and returned Guibert's ‘History of the Crusade’ unread because it was dedicated to his enemy, Bishop Lissard of Soissons. He scorned the ‘commune,’ declaring ‘he could never perish by such hands;’ and on the day before his death boasted that the ‘commune’ leader would not dare to ‘grunt’ ‘if I sent my blackman John to tweak his nose.’

[Dugdale's Monasticon, ed. 1817, vols. i. vi. &c.; Orderic Vitalis, ed. Le Prevost, iv. 230 (bk. xi. c. 20); Guibert of Nogent ap. Migne, vol. clvi. cols. 911–12, &c.; Hermann of Laon ap. Migne, vol. clvi.; Sigebert's Chronicon Auct. Laud. ap. Pertz, vi. 445; Chron. Besuense ap. Pertz, ii. 250, and ap. D'Achery's Spicilegium, ed. 1665, i. 639; Jaffé's Regesta Paparum, p. 493. Bouquet, xii. 42, 174, 276, &c., xiii. 266, xiv; 66–7; Thierry's Lettres sur l'Histoire de France.]

T. A. A.