Page:Dictionary of National Biography volume 01.djvu/264

From Wikisource
Jump to: navigation, search
This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.
Aldred
Aldred
250

cessors had done before him. The next year Aldred set out for Rome for the second time, for the purpose of receiving the pall. With him travelled Tostig and his wife, and Gyrth and a gallant company. At Rome they found Gisa of Wells and Walter of Hereford, who had come to seek consecration, and who were charged, in conjunction with Aldred, with some business for the king. The two bishops obtained their wish. Aldred was not so fortunate. In a synod which was then sitting he was accused of ignorance, of simony, of having accepted translation without papal license, and of holding the see of Worcester along with the archbishopric. For these offences Pope Nicolas, with the consent of the synod, not only refused him the pall, but degraded him from the episcopate (Vita Edwardi, p. 411, ed. Luard, in Rolls Series). Aldred and his party left the city. They were robbed by brigands, and returned to Rome unhurt but penniless. Tostig turned this mishap to the advantage of Aldred. He rated the pope well for the disorders of his land, and threatened to tell all that had happened when he reached home, and then, he said, the king will no longer pay St. Peter's tribute. Nicolas yielded. The pope gave Aldred the pall on the sole condition of his giving up Worcester. Aldred fulfilled the condition, but managed to keep back twelve manors from Wulfstan, the new bishop. As archbishop, Aldred did not forget the lessons he had learnt at Cöln. He found his church still suffering from the effects of the ravages of the Northmen, and its poverty is made the excuse for his unfair dealing with the see of Worcester. This poverty caused the canons of his church to become careless in ecclesiastical matters; they lived apart in their own houses, dressed like laymen, and neglected their duty. Aldred introduced the Lotharingian discipline, which Leofric and Gisa adopted at Exeter and Wells. Greedy as he was, he did not grudge spending money for the cause of the church. At York and Southwell he built a refectory, so that the canons might eat together, and no longer frequent the market in unseemly dress. He bade them wear clerical garments, be attentive to almsgiving, and keep the festivals of the departed. At Beverley he finished both a dormitory and a refectory, which had been begun by his predecessors, Ælfric and Kinsy; for the Lotharingian rule required canons to live wholly in common. At York a dormitory certainly existed in his time, for it was repaired by his successor Thomas. He is said to have added prebends to Southwell; it is more probable that he gave estates to the church which were afterwards made into separate prebends. At Beverley he rebuilt a large part of the church, and covered it with a ceiling gorgeous in gold and colours, and set up a pulpit enriched with the work of German goldsmiths. At his bidding Folcard, a monk of Canterbury, afterwards abbot of Thorney, wrote his ‘Life of St. John of Beverley’ (Hist. of the Church of York, ed. Raine, in Rolls Series; Acta SS., May, vol. ii.)

It is maintained, on the authority of Florence of Worcester, that Aldred crowned Harold. As it was held that Stigand was uncanonically appointed, the question as to whether he or Aldred performed the ceremony became of great importance, as bearing on Harold's kingly position. In the face of the assertion that the coronation was performed by Stigand—made by the writer of the ‘De Inventione Crucis’ (c. 30), by William of Poitiers (Scriptores rerum gest. W. I., Giles, p. 121), and by Orderic (Hist. Norman. Scriptores, Duchesne, p. 492), and of the indirect witness of the Bayeux tapestry—it seems impossible to accept the statement of Florence, who, independently of his patriotic sympathy, had special reasons for magnifying Aldred; for the archbishop was the patron as well as the spoiler of the church of Worcester. (For the question argued at length in favour of Aldred as the officiating archbishop, see Freeman's Norman Conquest, iii. 42, 616.)

After the battle of Hastings, Aldred joined with the Earls Eadwine and Morkere at London in upholding the rights of Eadgar. The cause was hopeless, and he and the rest of Eadgar's party submitted to the Conqueror at Berkhampstead. In consequence of the defect in Stigand's appointment, Aldred was chosen to crown William. He dictated to him the triple oath, that he would defend the church, rule his people justly, and set up good law. He also crowned Matilda in 1068. Aldred was a loyal subject to the Conqueror; he was often at his court, and helped to maintain the peace of the kingdom. He was no tool of Norman oppression, and his courageous spirit is shown by the story of his resentment of an encroachment of the Sheriff Urse on the church at Worcester, expressed in the words preserved by William of Malmesbury—

Hightest thou Urse,
Have thou God's curse.

The story of his appearing before the king, reminding him of his coronation oath, and changing his blessing into a curse, on the occasion of an act of injustice, told differently by William of Malmesbury and by T. Stubbs, and of the king's fear and peni-