Ralph of St. Albans (DNB00)

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Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900, Volume 47
Ralph of St. Albans

by Mary Bateson
1904 Errata appended.
Contains subarticle Ralph Gobion or Gubiun (d. 1151) (w:Ralph Gubion).

RALPH of St. Albans or RALPH of Dunstable (fl. 1180?), learned writer, was probably a native of Dunstable and monk of St. Albans. By some writers he is called Robert. At the request of another monk, William, he turned into verse, with some amplifications, William's Latin prose lives of St. Alban and St. Amphibalus, which William had dedicated to the abbot Simon (1166–1188). Copies of Ralph's work are in the Cotton. MSS. Julius D iii. ff. 125–58 b, and Claud. E. iv. 3, ff. 47–58 b, and in MS. Trinity College, Dublin, E. i. 40 (Leland, De Script. iii. 163). In the ‘History of St. Albans’ by Thomas of Walsingham, Ralph is compared to Virgil (J. Amundesham, Rolls Ser. ii. 296, 304).

A contemporary, Ralph Gobion or Gubiun (d. 1151), abbot of St. Albans, was an English secular priest of good lineage, chaplain and treasurer to Alexander [q. v.], bishop of Lincoln (1123–1147), who obtained for him admission as monk of St. Albans, with leave to continue with the bishop. Alexander also promised Ralph succession to the abbacy, and secured his election in 1146. Ralph had attended the lectures of a certain Master Odo, an Italian, and was remarkable for his love of learning and his large collection of books. He visited France, met Eugenius III at Auxerre, and from him procured a privilege for his monastery. He freed the abbey from debt, improved the estates and buildings, and gave vestments. According to the historian of the monastery, he unjustly deposed his prior, Alquinus, whom he disliked, on suspicion of counterfeiting the seal of the house. In 1150 he fell ill, and on 18 June made the prior his deputy. He died on 7 July, and was buried at the east front of the chapter-house. He is probably the Ralph of St. Albans who wrote a Latin prose history in five books of Philip and Alexander, kings of Macedon, extracted from Pompeius Trogus, Orosius, Josephus, Jerome, Solinus, Augustine, Beda, and Isidore. A copy is in the MS. 154, Caius College, Cambridge, ff. 1–136 (cf. Bodleian MS. Greaves, 60). Pits observes that some say Geoffrey or Walter Hemlington, monk of St. Albans, wrote on Alexander and dedicated his work to Ralph (Vossius, De Historicis Latinis, 1651).

[Diceto's Abbreviationes, ed. Stubbs (Rolls Ser.), i. 258; John Amundesham's Annales, ed. Riley i. 434, and Gesta Abbatum (both Rolls Ser.), i. 93, 106, 110, 149; Matt. Paris's Historia Anglorum, ed. Madden, i. 276; Hardy's Catalogue, i. 6, 11, 13; Leyser's Poet. Med. Æv. 1721, p. 417; Ward's Catalogue of Romances, i. 121; Leland's Collectanea, iii. 58, 163, and Bale, De Script. Brit.; Notices et Extraits des Manuscrits, xiii. Paris, 1838, pt. ii. pp. 190–1; Wright's Biogr. Lit. ii. 212–14.]

M. B.

Dictionary of National Biography, Errata (1904), p.230
N.B.— f.e. stands for from end and l.l. for last line

Page Col. Line  
218 i 24 Ralph of St. Albans: for (d. 1151) read (d. 1150)