Page:Dictionary of National Biography volume 12.djvu/202

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


thier shrine within it, and was one of those who with Alexander, brother of Eadgar, king of Scots, were commissioned to visit the relics to ascertain their genuineness (Symeon Dunelm. i. 258, cf. ii. 269, Rolls Ser.) It is curious that the clerk of Flambard should also be described as a special friend of Anselm. This may possibly point to some change in William's character, which ultimately led him, ‘gratia meliorandæ vitæ,’ as Symeon says, to renounce the world for the quasi-monastic position of a canon regular of the order of St. Augustine. This rule had recently been introduced into England, and found a special patron in Richard of Belmeis [q. v.], bishop of London, one of the most important of Henry I's ministers. Belmeis founded a house of Austin canons at St. Osyth or Chich in Essex, and made William its first prior.

On 19 Sept. 1122 Archbishop Ralph died. After an interval of nearly five months Henry I held a great gathering of magnates at Gloucester to deliberate as to the appointment of his successor (2 Feb. 1123). Besides a large number of bishops, earls, and knights, the prior and some of the monks of Christ Church were in attendance. The latter declared that they had resolved to elect a monk of their own body, and requested the king to mention which of them would please him best. The bishops, however, who were nearly all seculars, urged the king to appoint a clerk. The secular magnates, the earls and knights, sided with the monks, who for two days withstood the pressure of the bishops. But the will of Bishop Roger of Salisbury was all-powerful with Henry, and ultimately led him to adopt the policy of the bishops. At last four clerks were selected, and it was agreed that whomsoever of the four the chapter should select should be appointed archbishop by the king. One of the four was William, and on him the final choice of the monks fell, as an Augustinian canon was the nearest approach to a monk which circumstances allowed them to select. They had, however, great misgivings, because only three seculars had previously been appointed successors of St. Augustine; and, though a monkish writer admitted that he afterwards did nothing they ought to be sorry for, the relations between William and his monastic chapter were never very cordial (Symeon Dunelm ii. 269; Chron. Sax. s. a. 1123; {{sc|Will. Malm. Gesta Pontif. p. 146; Ordericus, bk. xii. c. 16, in Migne, Patrologia, clxxxviii. 896; Hen. Hunt. p. 245; Hoveden, i. 180).

Henry's ratification of the compulsory choice of the monks completed the preliminaries, but a new difficulty arose over William's consecration. Thurstan of York, who had recently succeeded in vindicating the independence of the northern archbishopric, offered to perform that ceremony. But William refused, except on the impossible condition that Thurstan would acknowledge him as primate of all England. Finally William was consecrated at Canterbury by his own suffragans on 18 Feb. Gervase says that he was consecrated by Richard of Belmeis, William Giffard of Winchester and other bishops assisting; but the continuator of Florence of Worcester says that the Bishop of Winchester consecrated him, while another authority asserts that the Bishop of London was already suffering from paralysis.

The disputes of the rival primates still continued. William at once proceeded to Rome to obtain the pallium, and Thurstan, fearing lest his enemy should obtain some advantage over him in the papal curia, started off on the same destination, on the pretext of a summons to a council then being held at Rome. King Henry, who seems to have done his best to support William, sent a strong embassy, including the Bishop of St. David's and several clerks, to Rome to help him. But Thurstan managed to get there first and to prejudice the curia against William to such an extent that on his arrival he found great difficulties in attaining the object of his mission. It was objected that he had been elected uncanonically in the royal court, ‘in curia quæ a cruore dicitur, ubi sanguinum judicia fiunt,’ that the chapter had not consented to his election, that the choice of a clerk was contrary to the orders of St. Augustine, and that he had not been consecrated by his brother archbishop. In addition the old question of the relations of York and Canterbury seems to have been revived. For seven days he was unable to obtain an interview with the pope, and Calixtus II in his previous patronage of Thurstan had already manifested his hostility to Canterbury (Gervase, i. 72). At last the strenuous intercession of King Henry and of his son-in-law, the Emperor Henry V, just released from excommunication, had its effects on Calixtus. Moreover, ‘they overcame Rome by what overcomes all the world, gold and silver’ (Chron. Sax. s. a. 1123). In a public audience William bitterly complained of Thurstan's persistent hostility and derogation of the rights of the see of Canterbury. Thurstan's unsatisfactory answer and inability to produce the documents on which he relied for the support of the liberties of his church induced the pope to confer the pallium on William, but he postponed making any decision as to the claims of the rival churches. Both prelates returned