Ralph Luffa (DNB00)
|←Ralph (d.1123)||Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900, Volume 47
RALPH, called Luffa (d. 1123), bishop of Chichester, was consecrated to that see in 1091 by Archbishop Thomas (d. 1100) [q. v.] of York (‘Actus Pont. Ebor.’ in Historians of the Church of York, ii. 359, Rolls Ser.). He may be said to have founded the cathedral of Chichester, so fundamentally did he alter the original structure, and his work, characterised by massive simplicity, can still be traced in the more modern building (Stephens, Memorials of the See of Chichester, pp. 48–9). The church, which was consecrated in 1108 (Ann. Monast. ii. 43, Rolls Ser.), was injured by a fire which did great damage to the city in 1114 (Rog. Hov. i. 169, Rolls Ser.), but Ralph successfully peti- tioned Henry I for an exemption from taxes in order to restore the damage (Will. Malm. De Gestis Pont. Angl. p. 206), and several charters attest the good will of the king (Dugdale, Mon. Angl. vi. 1168). Ralph completed the organisation of the chapter by the definition of the offices of dean, precentor, chancellor, and treasurer. He greatly raised the dignity of his see, increased the number of his clergy, and enriched the church with gifts. Thrice each year he went through the diocese, preaching and rebuking, but receiving only voluntary offerings. With the famous abbey of Battle he was on friendly terms, and was present at the consecration of the church in 1094 (ib. iii. 246).
Of bold and determined character (De Gest. Pont. p. 205), Ralph resisted William Rufus in his quarrel with Anselm [q. v.], whom he helped to consecrate as archbishop in 1093, and is said to have offered to surrender his staff and ring rather than yield to the king (ib.) He likewise opposed Henry I in his efforts to tax the clergy, and even suspended divine offices throughout his diocese until the king relaxed his claim (ib.) At the election, in 1109, of Thomas (d. 1114) [q. v.] to the archbishopric of York, he was one of the bishops who insisted upon the submission of York to Canterbury (Eadmer, Historia, pp. 208 seq. Rolls Ser.)
Ralph died on 24 Dec. 1123 (Ann. Monast. i. 11), and a tomb inscribed with his name in Chichester Cathedral, at the entrance to St. Mary's chapel, is said to be his. But this tomb is of small dimensions, and Ralph was traditionally reputed to be of great stature (De Gest. Pont. p. 205).[See in addition to the authorities cited in the text, Symeon of Durham, ii. 235, &c. (Rolls Ser.); Twysden's Decem Script. p. 2369; Ord. Vital. ap. Migne's Patrologia, vol. 188, p. 721; Flor. Wig. ii. 51 (Engl. Hist. Soc.); Wharton's Anglia Sacra, i. 69; Stubbs's Regist. Sacr. Angl. p. 23; Le Neve's Fasti Eccl. Angl. i. 238, ed. Hardy.]