1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Aelred
ÆLRED, Aired, Ethelred (1109–1166), English theologian, historical writer and abbot of Rievaulx, was born at Hexham about the year 1109. In his youth he was at the court of Scotland as an attendant of Henry, son of David I. He was in high favour with that sovereign, but renounced the prospect of a bishopric to enter the Cistercian house of Rievaulx in Yorkshire, which was founded in 1131 by Walter Espec. Here Ælred remained for some time as master of the novices, but between the years 1142 and 1146 was elected abbot of Revesby in Lincolnshire and migrated thither. In 1146 he became abbot of Rievaulx. He led a life of the severest asceticism, and was credited with the power of working miracles; owing to his reputation the numbers of Rievaulx were greatly increased. In 1164 he went as a missionary to the Picts of Galloway. He found their religion at a low ebb, the regular clergy apathetic and sensual, the bishop little obeyed, the laity divided by the family feuds of their rulers, unchaste and ignorant. He induced a Galwegian chief to take the habit of religion, and restored the peace of the country. Two years later he died of a decline, at Rievaulx, in the fifty-seventh year of his age. In the year 1191 he was canonized. His writings are voluminous and have never been completely published. Amongst them are homilies “on the burden of Babylon in Isaiah”; three books “on spiritual friendship”; a life of Edward the Confessor; an account of miracles wrought at Hexham, and the tract called Relatio de Standardo. This last is an account of the Battle of the Standard (1138), better known than the similar account by Richard of Hexham, but less trustworthy, and in places obscured by a peculiarly turgid rhetoric.
See Vita Alredi in John of Tynemouth’s Nova Legenda Anglie (ed. C. Horstmann, 1901, vol. i. p. 4i), whence it was taken by Capgrave. From Capgrave the work passed into the Bollandist Acta Sanctorum (Jan. ii p. 30). This life is anonymous, but of an early date. The most complete printed collection of Ælred’s works is in Migne’s Patrologia Latina, vol. cxcv.; but this does not include the Miracula Hagulstatdensis Ecclesiae which are printed in J. Raine’s Priory of Hexham, vol. i. (Surtees Society, 1864). A complete list of works attributed to Ælred is given in T. Tanner’s Bibliotheca Britannico-Hibernica (1748), pp. 247-248. The Relatio de Standardo has been critically edited by R. Howlett in Chronicles, &c., of Stephen, Henry II. and Richard I., vol. iii. (Rolls Series, 1886). (H. W. C. D.)