Higbert (DNB00)

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HIGBERT or HYGEBRYHT (fl. 787), archbishop of Lichfield, was made bishop of that see in 779, and was doubtless consecrated by Jaenbert [q.v.], archbishop of Canterbury. At the request of Offa, the Mercian king, Pope Hadrian consented to the establishment of a Mercian archbishopric, and in 787 the legates George and Theophylact held a synod at Chelsea, at which after some dispute Jaenbert was forced to resign his rights over parts of his province, and Higbert was appointed by Offa to the new archbishopric. The new province is said to have been composed of the sees of Lichfield, Leicester, Worcester, Sidnacester, Hereford, Elmham, and Dunwich. Higbert attested the acts of the synod as bishop; but the next year, after having received the pall, attests as archbishop, and it is evident that he regarded himself as of equal dignity with the Archbishop of Canterbury. Though as Jaenbert's junior his name is placed after Jaenbert's in attestations, it is generally placed before that of Jaenbert's successor, Ethelhard [q.v.] In 798 Coenwulf, king of Mercia, and Ethelhard obtained from Leo III a declaration of the primacy of the see of Canterbury. Aleuin wrote to Ethelhard, requesting that Higbert, whom he calls `pater pius,' might not be deprived of the pall; but if, as seems fairly certain, the Higbert who appears as an abbot of Lichfield in the attestation of an act of the council of Clovesho held in 803 is the former archbishop of Lichfield, he must by that date have lost or resigned both his pall and his see. Aldulf was then bishop of Lichfield, but he was not archbishop, as stated by, William of Malmesbury (Gesta Pontificum, pp. 16, 308; see also Anglia Sacra, i. 430), nor was Humbert or Hunberht, who is incorrectly represented as Aldulf's immediate successor in the see (Vitæ Offarum), archbishop; indeed, Higbert was the only archbishop of Lichfield.

[Anglo-Saxon Chron. sub an, 785; Henry of Huntingdon, p. 731. Mon. Hist. Brit.; William of Malmesbury's Gesta Pontiff. pp. 16, 308 (Rolls Series); Wharton's Anglia Sacra, i, 430; Matt. Paris, Vitæ Offarum, pp. 976, 979. Wats; Kemble's Codex Dipl. i. cxxxvii, cxli-iii, clvi-clvii, clxiv-vil; Haddan and Stubbs's Councils and Eccl. Docs. iii. 444-7, 450, 520, 545; Dict. Obr Biog. art. 'Higbert,' by Bishop Stubbs.]

W. H.