Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Plechelm

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search

PLECHELM, Saint (fl. 700), 'the apostle of Guelderland,' was an Irishman of noble birth, who received holy orders and made a pilgrimage to Rome in the company of the Irish bishop St. Wiro and the deacon St. Otgar. Having been consecrated a bishop, perhaps by Sergius I, he returned home, and then started with St. Wiro on a mission to Gaul. They were well received by Pepin, whom the Bollandists identify with Pepin Herstal, or 'The Fat' (d. 714). Pepin gave the missionaries St. Odilia's or St. Peter's Mount, called also Berg, near Ruremund, and thither he went annually to confess to them. From Ruremund many missions were sent to the provinces between the Rhine and the Meuse.

The date of St. Plechelm's death is not known; his feast is celebrated on 15 July. His relics are venerated not only at Ruremund, but also at Oldenzel in the province of Over-Yssel, and at Utrecht. F. Bosch, the Bollandist, gives a long list of writers who make Plechelm bishop of Candida Casa or Whithorn, and identical with Pecthelm [q. v.], but he rejects the identification, although it is adopted by Pagi (Crit. Hist. Chron. ad an. 734) and by the author of 'Batavia Sacra.'

[Acta SS. Jul. iv. 50; O'Hanlon's Lives of Irish Saints, vii. 239; Forbes's Kalendars of Scottish Saints, p. 434.]

M. B.

PLEGMUND (d. 914), archbishop of Canterbury, a Mercian by birth, lived as a hermit on what was in those days an island, called from him Plegmundham, about five miles north-east of Chester. The island was said to have been given by Æthelwulf to Christ Church, Canterbury (Gervase, ii. 45), and is now called Plemstall. Being famed for his learning and religious life, Plegmund was called by Ælfred to his court, and there instructed the king and helped him in his literary work. In 890 he was chosen archbishop, and, going to Rome, received the pall from Formosus, who became pope the next year. It has been supposed that he compiled and wrote the first part of the Winchester codex of the ‘Anglo-Saxon Chronicle,’ now in the library of Corpus Christi College, Cambridge, in which there is a change of writing at the year 891, but this is mere supposition; nor is it certain that he resided for any length of time at the court before he became archbishop. Among the books that he helped the king to write was Ælfred's version of Pope Gregory's ‘Regula Pastoralis;’ his share in the work is acknowledged in the preface, and the copy that the king gave him is preserved, though in a much damaged state, in the British Museum (Cott. MS. Tib. B. 11). On the death of Ælfred in 901, Plegmund is said to have crowned his son Edward at Kingston (Diceto, i. 145). William of Malmesbury (Gesta Regum, book ii. c. 129) relates, quoting and altering a narrative in Leofric's ‘Missal,’ that in 904 Pope Formosus wrote threatening to excommunicate Edward and all his people because for seven years the West-Saxon land had had no bishop; that Edward called a synod over which Plegmund presided, that five bishops instead of two as beforetime were chosen and set over different West-Saxon tribes, and that Plegmund consecrated seven bishops in one day at Canterbury, five for Wessex and the other two for Selsey and the Mercian Dorchester. He proceeds to name them. The passage is full of blunders, as, for example, the introduction of Formosus, who died in 896. The story has been critically examined by Bishop Stubbs (Gesta Regum, i. 140 n. and ii. Pref. lv–lx), and his explanation, so far as it concerns Plegmund, is, in brief, as follows. The acts and specially the ordinations of Pope Formosus were annulled in 897, the sentence being confirmed in 904. This sentence, of course, affected the position and the acts of Plegmund and the bishops whom he had consecrated. It was perhaps known—it was certainly afterwards believed (Gesta Pontificum, pp. 59–61)—that Formosus had urged that English sees should be filled more quickly. The decision of 904 made matters urgent in 905—