Flambard, Rannulf (DNB00)

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FLAMBARD, RANNULF (d. 1128), bishop of Durham and chief minister of William Rufus, was of obscure origin (Ord. Vit. iii. 310, iv. 107; William of Malmesbury, ii. 497), a phrase perhaps not to be taken too strictly in those days (cf. Ord. Vit. iv. 144). Domesday shows that Rannulf Flambard (Flamard, Flanbard, or Flanbart) was a landowner in Godalming hundred, Surrey, at Middleton-Stoney, Oxfordshire, and at ‘ Bile’ and ‘Becleslei’ in Hampshire. He was also tenant of a house in Oxford, and appears to have been dispossessed of part of his Hampshire property on the making of the New Forest (Domesday, 1 fol. 30b2, 157a1, 51a2, 154a1). He may also, as Mr. Freeman has remarked, be the Rannulf Flamme who holds land, in the Survey, at ‘Funtelei’ in Titchfield hundred, Hampshire (ib. fol. 49a2). Orderic says that he was the son of Turstin of Bayeux. His mother was still living in 1101, and his brother possibly in 1130–1, so that he could hardly have been settled in this country under Edward the Confessor (Ord. Vit. iii. 310, iv. 109–10), as has been sometimes held.

Rannulf seems to have attached himself in boyhood to the court of William I, where his comely person, intelligence, eloquence, and generosity soon cleared the road to success (ib. iii. 310; but cf. Cont. Hist. Dun. Eccles. i. 135). He pushed his way by flattery, treachery, and coarse indulgences (Ord. Vit. ib.). Though no scholar, he had a pliant wit and argumentative quickness. Even before the Conqueror's death he was feared by many nobles, whose failings he revealed to the king. Mr. Freeman suggests with probability that he is the Rannulf whom William I sent (c 1072) to force his ‘new customs’ on the bishopric of Durham, and who was driven from the diocese by the saint's vengeance (Simeon of Durham, i. 105–7; cf. Freeman, iv. 521). According, however, to Simeon's continuator, who appears to have possessed special knowledge as to Rannulf's early career, Rannulf was originally in the service of Maurice, bishop of London (1085–1107), whom he only left ‘propter decaniam sibi ablatam,’ and in the hope of doing better in the service of the king (apparently William II) (Cont. Hist. Dun. Eccles. i. 135). If so it was probably late in William I's days or early in those of William II that he acquired his surname or nickname, Flambard. The exact meaning of the epithet is very obscure, but appears to have some reference to Rannulf's ‘consuming’ greed and ambition (Ord. Vit. iii. 310–11; cf. Anselm, Epp. 1. iv. ep. ii. col. 201; see, too, Freeman, William Rufus, ii. 555).

All the direct contemporary evidence tends to show that it was in the early years of William II's reign that Rannulf came into prominence. He was plainly the prime mover of the shameless ecclesiastical policy which reached its climax when the see of Canterbury was left vacant for over four years, from 28 May 1089 to 20 Sept. 1093 (Florence of Worcester, ii. 45–6; William of Malmesbury, ii. 407–8; Simeon of Durham, ii. 231–2; cf. Henry of Huntingdon, pp. 232–3; and Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, ii. 203–4). Hence it is almost certain that he is the ‘Rannulfus’ who was sent down by the king to open a plea against Anselm at Canterbury on the day of that archbishop's enthronement, 25 Sept. 1093 (Eadmer, Hist. Nov. pp. 41–2).

Rannulf does not seem to have borne as yet any distinct legal office or title. He may have been the king's chancellor, but in contemporary documents and chronicles he is generally styled ‘Rannulf the chaplain’ or ‘the king's clerk’ (Rannulfus Cappellanus) (Dugdale, i. 164, 174; cf. Cont. Hist. Dun. Eccles. i. 135; and the ‘Rannulfe his capellane’ of the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, i. 364). Later he appears to have held all the authority of the twelfth-century justiciar, even if he did not enjoy this specific title, which is given him by Orderic Vitalis (iv. 107). But his position may very well have been somewhat abnormal, as the chroniclers give him various titles and run off into rhetorical phrases. In 1094 he sent back from Hastings twenty thousand English soldiers, whom William had summoned to Normandy, and confiscated the 10s. with which the shire had supplied each man for his expenses abroad (Florence of Worcester, ii. 35; Simeon of Durham, ii. 224; cf. Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, ii. 197).

Rannulf seems to have been mainly occupied in supplying the king with the money he required for his court, his new buildings, the wages of his stipendiary soldiers, and, in the latter half of his reign, for the purchase of Normandy and Aquitaine from their crusading dukes (Ord. Vit. iii. 476, iv. 80). According to Orderic he urged William Rufus ‘to revise the description of all England,’ a phrase which has generally been interpreted as referring to the compilation of a new Domesday Book. Both Dr. Stubbs and Mr. Freeman consider this to be a misdated reference to the Great Survey of the previous reign, in which they admit that Rannulf took a more or less prominent part. Though this is not improbable, Orderic's words refer more naturally to a revision of a previous survey. Orderic seems to imply that the main offence of this survey lay in superseding the old and vague measures of land by new ones made after a fixed standard (Ord. Vit. iii. 311; William of Malmesbury, ii. 497; cf. also Stubbs, i. 298–9; Freemann, Norm. Conq. v. 377–8, 'Will. Rufus, i. 331, &c.). Mr. Round seems to have shown that there was a special levy of 4s. the hide imposed for the purchase of Normandy in 1096. This might imply such stringent application of the Domesday records as would justify Orderic's words with reference to its revision (cf. Round, ap. Domesday Studies, pp. 83–4).

Florence of Worcester probably gives the true chronology of Rannulf's rise when he tells us that he began by buying the custody of vacant bishoprics, abbeys, and other benefices. For these he paid not only a sum of ready money, but an annual rent, and this system continued till the end of the reign, when the king ‘had in his own hand the archbishopric of Canterbury, the bishoprics of Winchester and Salisbury, and eleven abbeys all set out to gafol’ (Florence of Worcester, ii. 46; Anglo-Saxon Chron. i. 364). With these sources of wealth Rannulf's ‘craft and guile’ raised him higher and higher, till the king made him the head of his realm, both in matters of finance and justice. Once in this position Rannulf turned his hands against laymen as well as clergy, the rich and the poor (Florence of Worcester, ii. 46).

All the chroniclers recognise Rannulf as the mainspring of the king's iniquity (William of Malmesbury, ii. 497, 619; cf. Ord. Vit. iii. 311). His rule was one of violence and legal chicanery; in those days ‘almost all justice slept, and money was lord’ in the great man's courts (Florence of Worcester, p. 46). When William Rufus laid a tax upon the land, Rannulf levied it at twofold or a threefold rate, thus winning from the king the dubious compliment of being the only man who would rack his brains without caring about other men's hatred so long as he pleased his lord (William of Malmesbury, Gesta Reg. ii. 497; cf. Gesta Pont. p. 274). So great was the terror of these days that there went abroad a rumour that the devil had shown himself in the woods to many Normans, and commented on the doings of Rannulf and the king (Florence of Worcester, ii. 46).

It was perhaps towards the end of his ministerial career that Rannulf was entrapped by a pretended message from his old patron, Maurice, the bishop of London, on board a boat belonging to a certain Gerold, one of Rannulf's own vassals. He was carried off to sea in a larger ship, full of armed men; but, after three days, during which the manner of his death was disputed, he obtained his liberty by an appeal to Gerold's fealty and the promise of a large reward to the pirates. Gerold fled, distrusting his lord's word, while Rannulf, attended by a great train of knights, made an imposing entry into London, became a greater favourite with the king than ever, and was not entrapped again (Cont. Hist. Dun. Eccles. i. 135–8).

On the Whitsuntide festival of 1099 (29 May) William Rufus gave him the bishopric of Durham, which had been vacant since about New-year's day 1096 (Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, ii. 203; Simeon of Durham, Hist. Dun. Eccl. i. 133–5; Henry of Huntingdon, p. 232; Florence of Worcester, ii. 44). A week later (5 June) Rannulf was consecrated in St. Paul's Cathedral by Thomas, archbishop of York, to whom, however, he would make no profession of obedience (Cont. Hist. Dun. Eccles. i. 138; Simeon of Durham, Hist. Reg. ii. 230; Florence of Worcester, ii. 44). A year later William Rufus was slain (2 Aug. 1100), and, immediately after his accession, Henry I flung Rannulf into the Tower (15 Aug.) (Cont. Hist. Dun. Eccles. i. 138; Anglo-Saxon Chron. ii. 204; &c.), partly, as it seems, to gratify a private grudge (Ord. Vit. iv. 107).

Anselm, when he returned to England (23 Sept. 1100), found the people rejoicing over Rannulf's captivity, ‘as if over that of a ravaging lion.’ When brought up before the king's curia ‘pro pecunia … male retenta,’ Rannulf appealed to his ‘brother bishop,’ and Anselm offered to help him, though at his own risk, if he could clear himself of simony. Rannulf failed to do this, and was imprisoned in the Tower. He was not severely treated, and managed to escape by a rope conveyed to him in a wine-stoup, after having intoxicated his warders at a banquet. He reached the sea-coast, where he and his mother—according to Orderic, a witch who had lost one eye in communications with devils—embarked with all their treasure in two different ships. The mother, while trying to subdue a storm with her incantations, was taken by pirates and put ashore in Normandy ‘ moaning and naked’ (Ord. Vit. iv. 108–10; cf. William of Malmesbury, ii. 620; Anglo-Saxon Chron. ii. 205; Henry of Huntingdon, p. 234; Florence of Worcester, ii. 48). Anselm, writing to Paschal II early in 1101, says that the bishop has escaped into Normandy, ‘and, joining himself with the king's enemies, has made himself “Lord of the Pirates,” whom, as is said for a certainty, he has sent out to sea’ (Anselm, Epp. 1. iv. ep. 1; cf. Hermann of Laon, ii. c. 6).

Robert of Normandy received Rannulf eagerly, and made him ruler of Normandy (Ord. Vit. iv. 110, 116). Rannulf in return urged the duke to invade England (Florence of Worcester, ii. 48; William of Malmesbury, ii. 620; Ord. Vit. iv. 107, 110; Anglo-Saxon Chron. ii. 205). When the fleets of Robert and Henry were mustered, Rannulf counselled the bribery of the English sailors (Florence of Worcester, ii. 48). After the treaty of Winchester, August–September 1101 (Cont. Hist. Dun. Eccles.), or more probably after Robert's defeat at Tenchebrai (28 Sept. 1106), Rannulf obtained the king's favour. He sent envoys to the king, who came on to Lisieux, where the bishop received him with splendour. There Henry pardoned Rannulf's offences, and restored him the see of Durham (Anglo-Saxon Chron. ii. 205, 208–9; Cont. Hist. Dun. Eccles. i. 138; Ord. Vit. iv. 273–4; Florence of Worcester, ii. 49; William of Malmesbury, p. 625).

Rannulf seems to have been a fully ordained priest by the time Anselm left the kingdom (c 30 Oct. 1097) (Anselm, Epp. 1. iv. ep. 2); cf. Flor. of Worc. ii. 46), for the primate speaks of him as being ‘professione sacerdos.’ A somewhat apocryphal account shows us Rannulf, probably about the same date, as pulling down and rebuilding the primitive church at Twyneham (Christchurch, Hampshire), with its surrounding canon's houses (Reg. de Twinham, ap. Dugdale, vi. 303). After the peace of Winchester Rannulf seems to have returned to Normandy. Gilbert Maminot, the aged bishop of Lisieux, died in August 1101 (Ord. Vit. iv. 116), and in the following June Rannulf procured the appointment of his brother Fulcher, who, though almost an illiterate person, held the post till his death in January 1102 or 1103 (ib.) Rannulf then persuaded the duke to make his son Thomas, a boy of some twelve years of age, his successor, on the condition that should Thomas die the succession was to pass to Rannulf's second son (ib.) During the boyhood of these two children Rannulf, seemingly with Henry's consent, ruled the bishopric for three years ‘non ut præsul sed ut præses’ (ib.; cf. Ivo of Chartres, Epp. 153, 154, 157, and 159). At last, apparently on his final restoration to Durham, he gave up all claim on Lisieux (Ord. Vit. iv. 274; cf. pp. 116–17).

Rannulf was at times in England during this period, and was at Durham when the relics of St. Cuthbert and Bede were translated (August 1104). He was sceptical as to the discovery till the great day of the ceremony—perhaps till the arrival of Alexander of Scotland—when he preached a sermon to the people (Sim. of Durh. Auct. i. 252, 258, 260; cf. Sim. of Durh. Hist. Reg. ii. 236; Florence of Worcester, ii. 53). He took part in Anselm's great consecration of Roger of Salisbury, and the four other bishops at Canterbury (11 Aug. 1107) (Eadmer, Hist. Nov. p. 187). Next year he fruitlessly proposed to consecrate Thurgod to St. Andrews in Scotland, on the plea that Thomas, the new archbishop of York, could not legally perform the ceremony (ib. pp. 198–9). At the council of Northampton (1109) Henry confirmed Rannulf's claims against the men of Northumberland (Script. Tres, App. p. xxxii). Ten years later Henry sent him to the council of Rheims with orders to forbid the consecration of Thurstan to the archbishopric of York (19 Oct. 1119); but he arrived too late (Roger of Hoveden, i. 173–4). In 1127 he set out to attend the great ecclesiastical council at Westminster (13–16 May), but was forced to turn back through sickness, and in the same or the next year assisted his suffragan bishop of the Orkneys, Radulph, and Archbishop Thurstan in consecrating King Alexander's nominee to St. Andrews (Cont. of Flor. of Worc. ii. 86, 89; with which cf. Henry of Huntingdon, p. 247).

The concluding years of Rannulf's life were spent in architectural works. He completed to the very roof the nave of the cathedral, begun by his predecessor, William of St. Carilef [q. v.] He was a strenuous defender of the liberties of his see, and according to Surtees the charter is still extant in which Henry confers on him the privileges of his county palatine (Surtees, i. xx). He was never, however, able to recover Carlisle and Teviotdale, which had been severed from his see in the days of his exile; and we are told that King Henry's hatred caused William II's charter to be destroyed (Cont. Hist. Dun. Eccles. i. 139–40). He renewed the walls of Durham, and guarded against a fire by removing all the mean dwellings that were huddled between the cathedral and the castle. He threw a stone bridge across the Wear, and founded a great castle (Norham) on the Tweed to guard against the incursions of the Scotch. His restless activity, says his biographer, was impatient of ease, and he ‘passed from one work to another, reckoning nothing finished unless he had some new project ready.’ Two years before his death his health began to fail. As the dog-days drew on he took to his bed (1128). The fear of death made him distribute his money to the poor, and even induced him to pay his debts. The king, however, reclaimed all this wasted money after the bishop's decease. A month before his death he had himself borne into the church, bemoaned his evil doings, placed his ring upon the altar as a sign of restitution, and even attached his golden ring to the charter of his penitence (ib. pp. 139–41; cf. Surtees, p. xx, note 9). He died on 5 Sept. 1128 ({{sc|Simeon of Durham}, Hist. Reg. ii. 283; cf. Florence of Worcester, ii. 91; Anglo-Saxon Chron. ii. 225).

In earlier life Rannulf was of a comely figure (Ord. Vit. iii. 310); but in later years he became full-bodied, and Orderic gives a curious account of the difficulties he had in escaping from the Tower (iv. 109). He was generous to the poor (Cont. Hist. Dun. Eccles. i. 140), and munificent to his own friends (Ord. Vit. iii. 310; cf. Cont. Hist. Dun. Eccles. i. 135–40). Besides the Thomas mentioned above Rannulf had at least two other children: Elias, a prebendary of Lincoln Cathedral, and Radnulf, the patron of St. Godric (Dugdale, vi. 1273; Vita Sti Godrici, c. xx.), in whom Rannulf himself took an interest. Foss adds a brother, Geoffrey, ‘whose daughter is mentioned in the Great Roll of Henry I’ (Foss, i. 66; but cf. Pipe Roll, p. 79, where the entry is merely ‘Fratris episcopi’). Rannulf's charters are sometimes signed by his nephews, Osbern (to whom he gave Bishop Middleton manors) and ‘Raulf,’ or Rannulf. For his other nephews, &c., see Surtees, p. xx and App. pp. cxxv–vi.

Both Dr. Stubbs and Mr. Freeman consider Rannulf to have introduced into England the most oppressive forms of military tenure; and he is ‘distinctly charged with being the author of certain new and evil customs with regard to spiritual holdings’ (Freeman, v. 377–8). Under William I, on a prelate's death, his immediate ecclesiastical superior, whether bishop or archbishop, became guardian of the ecclesiastical estates. But under Rannulf's rule the king claimed the wardship, and kept office vacant until he had sold it for money (Ord. Vit. iii. 313). Thus under Rannulf's influence the theory arose that all land on its owner's death lapsed back to the supreme landowner, the king, and had to be ‘redeemed’ by the next heir; the old English heriot was transformed into the ‘relief;’ and there came into prominence those almost equally annoying feudal incidents as to marriage, wardship, and right of testament which Henry I had to promise to reform in his charter. These had existed in embryo under William the Conqueror, or even earlier; but during Rannulf's rule they stiffened into abuses, and in this respect his influence was permanent; for Henry I did not abolish the new customs, he only amended them (Freeman, Norman Conquest, v. 374, &c., and William Rufus, p. 4). Constitutionally speaking, the days of Rannulf's power mark the time when the definite office (of the justiciarship) seems first to stand out distinctly (Norman Conquest, v. 203).

[Orderic Vitalis, ed. Le Prévost (Soc. de l'Hist. de France), 5 vols. The chief passages relating to Flambard are l. viii. c. 8, x. c. 18, xi. c. 31; Florence of Worcester, ed. Thorpe (Engl. Hist. Soc.); William of Malmesbury, Gesta Regum Angl. ed. Hardy (Engl. Hist. Soc.), paragraphs 314, 394, and Gesta Pontificum, ed. Stubbs (Rolls Ser.); Simeon of Durham and his continuators (ed. Arnold); Historia Dunelmensis Ecclesiæ, &c., vol. i.; Historia Regum, &c., vol. ii. (Rolls Ser.); Eadmer, Historia Novorum, ed. Rule (Rolls Ser.); Letters of Anselm, ap. Migne's Cursus Theologiæ, vol. clix. coll. 201–2; Letters of Ivo, bishop of Chartres, ap. Migne, vol. clxii. coll. 162, &c.; Henry of Huntingdon, ed. Arnold (Rolls Ser.); Roger of Hoveden, ed. Stubbs (Rolls Ser.); Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, ed. Thorpe, vol. i. text, vol. ii. translation (Rolls Ser); Historiæ Dunelmensis Scriptores Tres, ed. Raine (Surtees Soc. 839); Domesday Book, vol. i. (ed. 1783); Dugdale's Monasticon, ed. 1817–30; Foss's Judges; Campbell's Lives of the Chancellors (1848); Hardy's List of Chancellors, &c.; Domesday Studies, vol. i. (1888); Stubbs's Constitutional History, vol. i.; Freeman's Norman Conquest, vols. iv. v.; William Rufus, vols. i. ii.; Surtees's Durham, vol. i.; Vita Godrici, ed. Raine.]

T. A. A.