Goscelin (DNB00)

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GOCELIN or GOTSELIN (fl. 1099), biographer, is said to have been born at or near Terouanne (Hist. Lit. viii. 660, 673). He was originally a monk in the monastery of St. Bertin (Will. Malm. p. 521), and was brought over to England by Hermann, bishop of Salisbury (1045–77), possibly in 1058 (ib.; Wright, i. 518). He himself states that he accompanied Hermann to Rome shortly before the great council of Rheims (3 Oct. 1049), and as Hermann returned to England soon after Godwin's death (Easter Tuesday 1053), this is more probably the date of his arrival here (Hist. Trans. S. Aug. p. 755; cf. Will. Malm. De Gest. Pont. p. 183; Hermannus Contract. sub an. 1049; Mansi, xix. 727; Anglo-Saxon Chron. ii. 134, 183, 154; Will. Malm. De Gesta Regum, p. 521). He is found at various places in England: at Ely while Simeon was prior (i.e. between 1081 and 1093), at Ramsey before 1092, and at Canterbury in 1098 (Hist. Eliensis ap. Hardy, Cat. ii. 82; cf. Wharton, i. 661–2; Cont. Sym. Dunelm. ii. 254; Acta SS. 10 June, p. 268; cf. Wright, p. 58; Stubbs, Reg. Sac. p. 23; Hist. Lit. p. 661). He appears to have been at Ramsey or Canterbury at the time of the translation of St. Augustine (6 Sept. 1091). In 1098, being then a monk at Canterbury, he wrote his account of this ceremony, and dedicated his work to Anselm. He died on 15 May (Wharton, p. 8). The year is uncertain, but he was still living in 1099 (Hist. Lit. p. 662; Wright, p. 518; Hist. de Vita S. Aug. pp. 498–9; Trans. S. Aug'. p. 14; Will. Malm. p. 521).

William of Malmesbury speaks of Goscelin's industry in the highest terms, and made no small use of his labours. ‘He [Goscelin] went over the bishoprics and abbeys for a long time, and gave many places monuments of his surpassing knowledge; for indeed he was inferior to Bede alone in the art of praising the saints of England’ (Gesta Regum, p. 521). William then proceeds to commend him for having polished up the older writers, and even for supplying their lacunæ—a habit which has almost destroyed Goscelin's value for later times. Goscelin was also a skilled musician: ‘Musicæ … palmam post Osbernum adeptus.’

Goscelin's chief work is a life of St. Augustine of Canterbury. This work, which he professes to have based on older records, he divides into two parts, an ‘Historia Major’ (published by Mabillon, i. 497, &c.) and an ‘Historia Minor’ (published by Wharton, ii. 55, &c.). These histories consist of fifty-three and forty-nine chapters respectively. Goscelin also wrote a detailed ‘Historia Translationis S. Augustini,’ in two books. This work, which is dedicated to Anselm, contains some curious stories of contemporary wonders. It is printed in Mabillon (viii. 742–65) and Migne (clv. coll. 14–56). To this he added accounts of St. Augustine's successors, from Laurence to Theodore. These lives, and many other of Goscelin's writings, may be found in Cotton MS. Vespasian B. x. (Wharton, ii. 7). He also wrote a life of Grimbald (Acta SS. 8 July, p. 622; cf. Capgrave, fol. 167al); of St. Werberge (Cotton. MS. Calig. A. 8); of St. Lebard (ib. Vesp. B. 20); of St. Mildred (ib.); and a somewhat important account of St. Swithun (printed Acta SS. for 15 July). A life of St. Edith is dedicated to Lanfranc, and was therefore written in or before 1089 (Bodl. MS. Rawlinson, 938, fol. 1 a); this work seems to have existed in different forms, and its ascription to Goscelin may be a copyist's guess (cf. Macray, Cat. MSS. Rawl. ii. 510, and the life printed in the Acta SS. for 16 Sept. pp. 369–370). Goscelin's ‘Life of St. Ives’ is dedicated to Herbert [de Lozenga], afterwards bishop of Norwich (Acta SS. 10 June, p. 288); and the ‘Life of St. Etheldreda,’ now lost, was probably composed for the monastery at Ely (Hardy, ii. 82). Wharton wrongly ascribes to Goscelin a chronicle (ii. p. viii; cf. Thorn in Twysden's Scriptores Decem, p. 1783), and Fabricius a treatise entitled ‘Liber Consolatorius.’ For a full list of Goscelin's other works see ‘Hist. Lit.’ (pp. 662–77) and the authorities cited below. The ‘Bollandist Acta SS.’ for 26 May (pp. 375–430) contains the full text of the translation, life, and miracles of St. Augustine. Many of Goscelin's lives should be compared with the legends in Capgrave. The name Goscelin seems to be only a variant of Gozzilo or Joscelyn, a name not uncommon during the tenth century in Lorraine and the neighbouring countries (cf. Hermann. Contr. sub ann. 1044, &c.; William of Tyre, xi. c. 22; Albert of Aix, ii. c. 23, x. c. 36.).

[Histoire Littéraire de France, viii. 660–77; Mabillon's Acta Sanctorum Ordinis Benedict. i. 498–9, viii. 742–3; Bollandist's Acta Sanctorum; Migne's Cursus Patrologiæ, vol. clv.; Wharton's Anglia Sacra, vols. i. ii. preface; Fabricius's Bibl. Lat. ed. 1858, iii. 71–3; Hardy's Cat. of MS. Materials, vol. ii.; Capgrave's Legenda Angliæ; Planta's Cat. of Cotton. MSS.; Wright's Biog. Brit. Lit. i. 518–21; William of Malmesbury, De Gest. Pontif. ed. Stubbs (Rolls Ser.); Gesta Regum, ed. Hamilton (Engl. Hist. Soc.); Mansi's Councils, xix. 727; Hermannus Contractus ap. Migne, cxliii, 251–2; Anglo-Saxon Chron. ed. Thorpe (Rolls Ser.); Stubbs's Registrum Sacrum.]

T. A. A.