Robert of Cricklade (DNB00)

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ROBERT of Cricklade, also called Canutus (fl. 1170), historical writer, is said to have been educated at Oxford (Leland), where he joined the canons of St. Frideswide. He became prior on the death of Gymundus, probably in 1141 (Wigram, Cartulary of St. Frideswide, vol. i. p. xiii). In 1157 he visited Italy, and while there obtained from Adrian IV a charter (27 Feb. 1187–8) confirming previous papal grants to him as prior and to the canons (Wigram, Cartulary of St. Frideswide, i. 27 sqq.; Thomas Saga, ii. 95). He was chancellor of the university of Oxford in 1159 (Dugdale, Monasticon, ii. 135). Later he sojourned at Canterbury, and heard many tales of the miracles wrought at the tomb of Becket. He investigated them, and was subsequently ‘many a time a loving pilgrim to the holy Archbishop Thomas’ (Thomas Saga, ii. 107). He met there on one occasion an eastern primate, the archbishop of Negromonte, with whom he conversed (ib. p. 109), and on another he was restored when at the point of death after prayer to St. Thomas (Materials for History of Thomas Becket, ii. 96–7). He wrote a life of the martyr in Latin, which is known only through frequent references to it in the Icelandic ‘Thomas Saga.’ Many important details of the life and character of Becket are ascribed to the authority of ‘Prior Robert of Cretel.’ Such are the accounts of Becket's relations with Archbishop Theobald and of the saintliness of his early life. The personal experiences of the prior, which are also described in the ‘Miracula’ by Benedict (d. 1193) [q. v.], abbot of Peterborough, are relied upon to show the saint's power after death. It seems probable that all valuable matter in the Saga which cannot be traced to other known authorities is derived from Prior Robert's work. He also wrote a translation of Pliny's ‘Natural History,’ in nine books, which he dedicated to Henry II. Several minor historical works, now lost, are ascribed to him by Leland, who described them as extant in his time (De Scriptoribus Britannicis, i. 235).

Philip had succeeded Robert as prior in 1188. Leland states that Robert lived till the reign of John.

[Thomas Saga Erkibyskups, ed. Eirïkr Magnússon (Rolls Ser.); Materials for the History of Thomas Becket (Rolls Ser.), vol. ii. (Miracula S. Thomæ, auctore Benedicto); Cartulary of the Monastery of St. Frideswide, ed. S. R. Wigram, vol. i. pp. xiii, 10, 33 (Oxf. Hist. Soc.); Dugdale's Monasticon, ed. 1846, ii. 135; Leland's Commentarii de Scriptoribus Britannicis (1709), i. 234–5; Radford's Thomas of London, pp. 255–6; Hutton's St. Thomas of Canterbury, pp. 278–9.]

W. H. H.