Biography of Archbishop Thurstan 1070-1140

Around 1070 Archbishop Thurstan was born.

In Aug 1114 Archbishop Thurstan (age 44) was elected Archbishop of York.

Florence of Worcester Continuation. 20 Oct 1119. A Council held at Rheims. Pope Calixtus held a general council at Rheims, on Sunday, the thirteenth of the calends of November (20th October), at which there was a great concourse of archbishops, bishops, abbots, and lords of various provinces, and immense multitudes of the clergy and people. The English bishops who were at that time at the court of Henry in Normandy, namely, William of Exeter, Ralph of Durham (age 59), Bernard of St. David's, and Urban of Glamorgan (age 43) [Landaff], and also the bishops and abbots of Normandy, were sent by the king himself to the council. Ralph, archbishop of Canterbury, was prevented from being present by sickness. Thurstan (age 49), archbishop-elect of York, having requested the king's license for attending it, obtained it with some difficulty, upon pledging his word that he would on no account accept consecration from the pope. Bound by this pledge, he pursued his journey, and presented himself to the pope; but forthwith, regardless of his engagement, he gained over the Romans by bribes to espouse his cause, and through them prevailed on the pope to consecrate him bishop with his own hands. He was thus ordained to the see of York, and by the pope's command many of the bishops from France assisted at the ceremony. The English bishops had not yet come to the council; but when they learnt what had been done, they informed the king, who being very indignant, forbade Thurstan (age 49) and his followers from returning to England or Normandy, or any place in his dominions.

Anglo-Saxon Chronicle. 1123. About the same time departed the earl's (age 34) messengers149 in hostility from the king (age 55), reckless of his favour. During the same time came a legate from Rome, whose name was Henry. He was abbot of the monastery of St. John of Angeli; and he came after the Rome-scot. And he said to the king (age 55), that it was against right that men should set a clerk over monks; and therefore they had chosen an archbishop before in their chapter after right. But the king (age 55) would not undo it, for the love of the Bishop of Salisbury. Then went the archbishop, soon after this, to Canterbury; and was there received, though it was against their will; and he was there soon blessed to bishop by the Bishop of London, and the Bishop Ernulf of Rochester, and the Bishop William Girard of Winchester, and the Bishop Bernard of Wales, and the Bishop Roger of Salisbury. Then, early in Lent, went the archbishop to Rome, after his pall; and with him went the Bishop Bernard of Wales; and Sefred, Abbot of Glastonbury; and Anselm, Abbot of St. Edmund's bury; and John, Archdeacon of Canterbury; and Gifard, who was the king's (age 55) court-chaplain. At the same time went the Archbishop Thurstan of York (age 53) to Rome, through the behest of the pope, and came thither three days ere the Archbishop of Canterbury came, and was there received with much worship. Then came the Archbishop of Canterbury, and was there full seven nights ere they could come to a conference with the pope. That was, because the pope was made to understand that he had obtained the archbishopric against the monks of the minster, and against right. But that overcame Rome, which overcometh all the world; that is, gold and silver. And the pope softened, and gave him his pall. And the archbishop (of York) swore him subjection, in all those things, which the pope enjoined him, by the heads of St. Peter and St. Paul; and the pope then sent him home with his blessing.

Note 149. i.e. Of the Earl of Anjou (age 34).

Florence of Worcester Continuation. 16 Feb 1123. William (age 53), a canon of St. Osythe, at Chiche1, was named to the archbishopric of Canterbury at Gloucester, where the king held his court at the feast of the Purification of St. Mary; and he was consecrated at Canterbury by William, bishop of Winchester, assisted by many other bishops, on the fourteenth of the calends of March [16th February]. With his approval, the bishopric of Lincoln was given to Alexander, archdeacon of Salisbury. Afterwards, archbishop William (age 53), in company with Thurstan (age 53), archbishop of York, Bernard, bishop of St. David's2, Sigefred, abbot Glastonbury, and Anselm, abbot of St. Edmund's, went to Rome to receive the pallium.

Note 1. St. Osythe, in Essex, a priory rebuilt in 1118 for canons of the Augustine order, of which there are considerable remains.

Note 2. Henry of Huntingdon includes Alexander, the new bishop of Lincoln, among the archbishop's companions to Rome, and it is probable that the historian attended his patron. See his character of bishop Alexander, p. 253, of his history in the Antiq. Lib.

Florence of Worcester Continuation. 03 Jun 1123. Henry, king of England, went over sea after the feast of Whitsuntide [3rd June]. William (age 53), archbishop of Canterbury, having received the pallium from pope Calixtus, and Thurstan (age 53), archbishop of York, with their companions, on their return from Rome, paid a visit to the king, who was still in Normandy: after a short stay, archbishop William came back to England, and, on the eleventh of the calends of August [22nd July], at Canterbury, consecrated Alexander as bishop of Lincoln; and, on the seventh of the calends of September [26th August], in the church of St. Paul the Apostle, at London, consecrated Godfrey, the queen's chancellor, to the bishopric of Bath.

Anglo-Saxon Chronicle. 1125. In this same year sent the Pope of Rome to this land a cardinal, named John of Crema. He came first to the king (age 57) in Normandy, and the king (age 57) received him with much worship. He betook himself then to the Archbishop William of Canterbury (age 55); and he led him to Canterbury; and he was there received with great veneration, and in solemn procession. And he sang the high mass on Easter day at the altar of Christ. Afterwards he went over all England, to all the bishoprics and abbacies that were in this land; and in all he was received with respect. And all gave him many and rich gifts. And afterwards he held his council in London full three days, on the Nativity of St. Mary in September, with archbishops, and diocesan bishops, and abbots, the learned and the lewd;152 and enjoined there the same laws that Archbishop Anselm (age 92) had formerly enjoined, and many more, though it availed little. Thence he went over sea soon after Michaelmas, and so to Rome; and (with him) the Archbishop William of Canterbury (age 55), and the Archbishop Thurstan of York (age 55), and the Bishop Alexander of Lincoln, and the Bishop J. of Lothian, and the Abbot G. of St. Alban's; and were there received by the Pope Honorius with great respect; and continued there all the winter. In this same year was so great a flood on St. Laurence's day, that many towns and men were overwhelmed, and bridges broken down, and corn and meadows spoiled withal; and hunger and qualm153 in men and in cattle; and in all fruits such unseasonableness as was not known for many years before. And this same year died the Abbot John of Peterborough, on the second day before the ides of October.

Note 152. i.e. Clergy and laity.

Note 153. This word is still in use, but in a sense somewhat different; as qualms of conscience, etc.

Florence of Worcester Continuation. 1125. Simon, the queen's chancellor, and Sigefred, abbot of Glastonbury, both men of distinguished worth and piety, were chosen bishops while they were in Normandy; Simon being appointed to the see of Worcester, and Sigefred to the see of Chichester. Hugh, a man of great prudence, archdeacon successively to Samson and Theowulf, bishops of Worcester, died on the twelfth of the calends of April [21st March). After Easter [29th March], the bishops-elect, Simon and Sigefred, with the archbishops William (age 55) and Thurstan (age 55), and a cardinal of Rome named John, came to England,

Florence of Worcester Continuation. 12 Apr 1125. ... and Sigefred was consecrated as bishop of Chichester at Lambeth by archbishop William (age 55) on the second of the ides [the 12th] of April; there being present at this consecration the Roman cardinal, Thurstan (age 55), archbishop of York, Everard, bishop of Norwich, Richard of Hereford, Bernard of St. David's, David of Bangor, Urban of Glamorgan (age 49), and John, bishop-elect of Rochester.

Florence of Worcester Continuation. 09 Sep 1125. A synod held at London. A synod was held at London, in the church of the blessed prince of the apostles at Westminster, on the ninth of September, that is, on the fifth of the ides of that month, in which, after the discussion of various matters, the following canons, seventeen in number, were published with unanimous consent. John, of Crema1, a cardinal priest of the holy and apostolic church, with the title of St. Chrysogonus, and legate in England of the lord pope Honorius, presided at this synod; and it was attended by William (age 55), archbishop of Canterbury, and Thurstan (age 55), archbishop of York, and the bishops of different dioceses, to the number of twenty; with about forty abbots, and a great concourse of the clergy and people. These are the canons:-

THE FIRST CANON. Following in the steps of the holy fathers, we forbid, by apostolic authority, any ecclesiastical ordination being conferred for money.

II. We also prohibit the exaction of any fee for chrism, for oil, for baptism, for penance, for the visitation or unction of the sick, for the communion of the body of Christ, or for burial.

III. Moreover, we ordain and decree, by apostolic authority, that at the consecration of bishops, or the benediction of abbots, or the dedication of churches, no cope, or tippet, or maniple, or ewer, or any other thing shall be exacted by violence, but they are to be voluntary offerings.

IV. No abbot or prior, monk or clerk, shall accept any ehurch, tythe, or ecclesiastical benefice, by the gift of a layman, without the authority and consent of his own bishop. If he shall so presume, the gift shall be void, and he shall be subject to canonical censure.

V. Moreover, we decree that no person shall claim the patronage of a church or prebend by right of inheritance, or bequeath to a successor any ecclesiastical benefice; which, if he shall presume to do, we declare that it shall have no effect, saying, with the Psalmist, "O my God, make them like unto a wheel;" while they said, "Let us take to ourselves the houses of God in possession."2

VI. Furthermore, we decree that clerks holding churches or ecclesiastical benefices, who avoid being ordained in order to live with greater freedom, and continue to treat holy orders with contempt, after being invited thereto by the bishop, shall be deprived of their churches and benefices.

VII. No one but a priest shall be promoted to the office of dean or prior; no one but a deacon to an archdeaconry.

VIII. No person shall be ordained priest without a regular title. Whoever is ordained independently shall forfeit the degree he has obtained.

IX. No abbot, or clerk, or layman shall presume to eject any person ecclesiastically ordained to a church, without the sentence of his own bishop. Whoever presumes to do otherwise shall be subject to excommunication.

X. No bishop shall presume to ordain or judge a person belonging to another diocese, for every one stands or falls to his own master; nor shall any one be bound by a sentence which is not pronounced by his own judge.

XI. No one shall presume to receive into communion one who has been excommunicated by another. If he shall have done this knowingly he himself shall be deprived of Christian communion.

XII. We also ordain that two archdeaconries or dignities of another class shall not be held by one person.

XIII. We prohibit, by apostolic authority, priests, deacons, sub-deacons, and canons from living with wives, concubines, and women generally, except a mother, a sister, an aunt, or other females free from all suspicion. Whoever violates this canon shall, on confession or conviction, suffer the loss of his order.

XIV. We utterly prohibit usury and filthy lucre to clerks of every degree. Whoever shall have pleaded guilty to such a charge, or been convicted of it, is to be degraded from the rank he holds.

XV. We decree that sorcerers, fortune-tellers, and those who deal in divination of any kind, shall be excommunicated, and we brand them with perpetual infamy. XVI. We prohibit marriages being contracted between persons connected by blood or affinity, as far as the generation. If any persons thus connected have married, let them be separated.

XVII. We forbid men's being allowed to allege consanguinity against their own wives, and the witnesses they bring forward are not to be admitted; but let the authority of the fathers be maintained. "Are you content ?" "Be it so.' "Are you content ?" "Be it so. Are you content ?" "Be it so."3

Note 1. See Henry of Huntingdon, p. 252, Antiq. Lib., for a scandalous and well-known story of this cardinal. Crema, his native place, is a town in the Bolognese.

Note 2. Ps. lxxxiii. 12, 13.

Note 3. The question seems to have been put thrice, in the form still used in convocation: Placetne vobis? - Placet.

Florence of Worcester Continuation. 1126. King Henry returned to England at Christmas, and held his court at Windsor Castle [Map] with great magnificence, having summoned all the nobles of the realm to attend him there. On this occasion, when the bishop of York (age 56), claiming equality with the archbishop of Canterbury (age 56), offered to place the crown on the king's head2, as his predecessors had done, his claim was rejected by the decision of all who were present, and it was unanimously agreed that nothing pertaining to the royal crown belonged to him. Moreover, the bearer of the cross which he caused to be borne before him into the king's chapel, was thrust out of the chapel, with the cross he carried; for, by the judgment of the bishops and some learned men skilled in ecclesiastical law, it was established and settled that it was not lawful for a metropolitan to have his cross carried before him out of his own province.

Note 2. It will be understood that this was not the ceremony of coronation; the kings of England wore their crowns, when they kept court at the three great church festivals.

Florence of Worcester Continuation. 1127. A synod held at Westminster. William (age 57), archbishop of Canterbury, convened a general synod of all the bishops and abbots, and some men of religion from all parts of England, at the monastery of St. Peter, situated in the western part of London. At this synod he himself presided as archbishop of Canterbury and legate of the apostolic see; assisted by William, bishop of Winchester, Roger of Salisbury, William of Exeter, Hervey of Ely, Alexander of Lincoln, Everard of Norwich, Sigefrid of Chichester, Richard of Hereford, Geoffrey of Bath, John of Rochester, Bernard of St. David's in Wales, Urban of Glamorgan of Llandaff (age 51), and David of Bangor. Richard, bishop of London, and Robert, bishop of Chester1, were then dead, and no successors had yet been appointed to their sees. But Thurstan (age 57), archbishop of York, sent messengers with letters assigning reasonable cause for his non-appearance at the convocation. Ralph (age 67), bishop of Durham, fell sick on the road, and was not able to complete the journey, as the prior of his church and the clerks whom he sent forward solemnly attested. Simon, bishop of Worcester, had gone to visit his relations beyond seas, and was not yet returned. Great multitudes, also, of the clergy and laity, both rich and poor, flocked together, and there was a numerous and important meeting. The council sat for three days, namely, the third of the ides [the 13th] of May, the following day, and the third day afterwards, being the seventeenth of the calends of June [16th May]. There were some proceedings with respect to secular affairs; some were determined, some adjourned, and some withdrawn from the hearing of the judges, on account of the disorderly conduct of the immense crowd. But the decrees and statutes made in this synod by common consent of the bishops we have thought it desirable to record in this work, as they were there publicly declared and accepted. They are these:-

I. We wholly prohibit, by the authority of St. Peter, prince of the apostles, and our own, the buying and selling of any ecclesiastical benefices, or any ecclesiastical dignities whatever. Whoever shall be convicted of having violated this decree, if he be a clerk, or even a regular canon, or a monk, let him be degraded from his order; if a layman, let him be held outlawed and excommunicated, and be deprived of his patronage of the church or benefice.

II. We totally interdict, by the authority of the apostolic see, the ordination or promotion of any person in the church of God, for the sake of lucre.

III. We condemn certain payments of money exacted for the admission of canons, monks, and nuns.

IV. No one shall be appointed a dean but a priest, and no one but a deacon, archdeacon. If any one in minor orders be named to these dignities he shall be enjoined by the bishop to take the orders required. But if he disobey the bishop's monition to take such orders, he shall lose his appointment to the dignity.

V. We utterly interdict all illicit intercourse with women, as well by priests, deacons, and sub-deacons, as by all canons. If, however, they will retain their concubines (which God forbid), or their wives, they are to be deprived of their ecclesiastical orders, their dignity, and benefice. If there be any such among parish priests, we expel them from the chancel, and declare them infamous. Moreover, we command, by the authority of God and our own, all archdeacons and officials, whose duty it is, to use the utmost care and diligence in eradicating this deadly evil from the church of God. If they be found negligent in this, or (which God forbid) consenting thereto, they are for the first and second offence to be duly corrected by the bishops, and for the third to be punished more severely, according to the canons.

VI. The concubines of priests and canons shall be expelled from the parish, unless they shall have contracted a lawful marriage there. If they are found afterwards offending, they shall be arrested by the officers of the church, in whatever lordship they may be; and we command, under pain of excommunication, that they be not sheltered by any jurisdiction, either inferior or superior, but truly delivered up to the officer of the church, to be subjected to ecclesiastical discipline, or reduced to bondage, according to the sentence of the bishop.

VII. We prohibit, under pain of excommunication, any archdeacon from holding several archdeaconriesin different dioceses; let him retain that only to which he was first appointed.

VIII. Bishops are to prohibit all priests, abbots, monks, and priors, subject to their jurisdiction, from holding farms.

IX. We command that tithes be honestly paid, for they are the sovereign right of the most high God.

X. We forbid, by canonical authority, any person from giving or receiving churches or tithes, or other ecclesiastical benefices, without the consent and authority of the bishop. R2

XI. No abbess or nun is to use garments of richer material than lamb's-wool or cat-skin.

Note 1. The bishopric of Lichfield was removed to Chester in 1075, but again restored to its former seat. The present bishopric of Chester is one of the new sees founded after the Reformation.

Florence of Worcester Continuation. 1128. Thurstan (age 58), the archbishop, consecrated at York [Map], Robert, who had been intruded by Alexander, king of Scots, on the petition of David, his brother and successor, into the see of St. Andrew's. The archbishop had called in Ralph (age 68), bishop of Durham, and one Ralph, formerly ordained bishop of the Orkney islands, to be his coadjutors in the ceremony. This Ralph (age 68) having been ordained without the election or consent of the lord of the land, or of the clergy and people, was rejected by all of them, and acknowledged as bishop by no one. Being bishop of no city, he attached himself sometimes to the archbishop of York, sometimes to the bishop of Durham; he was supported by them, and employed by both as coadjutor in the performance of their episcopal functions.2 Robert, being consecrated by these bishops, was not permitted by the Scots, as it is reported, to make any profession of submission or obedience to the church of York or its bishop, although he was a canon of that church.

Note 2. This accounts for this Ralph's being called "bishop of Durham,' by Henry of Huntingdon and Roger of Wendover, who seem to have lost sight of his original and proper designation. The ubiquitous bishop forms a distinguished figure in the group sketched by the former author before the battle of the Standard, A.D. 1138, in which we are informed he was commissioned by the archbishop of York to supply his place. Henry of Huntingdon represents him as standing on a hillock, and addressing the army before the battle in a florid discourse, which the historian has preserved. See pp. 267—269, in the Antiq. Lib.

Flowers of History 1138. How the king of Scotland again invaded Northumberland.

Whilst king Stephen was thus engaged in the south of England, David king of Scots led an immense army into Northumberland. Here he was met by the northern nobility, who, under the command of Thurstan archbishop of York (age 67), planted the king's standard at Alverton1, and manfully resisted the enemy. The principal men engaged in this battle were William earl of Albemarle (age 36), William of Nottingham, Walter Espec and Gilbert de Lacy. The archbishop was prevented by illness from being present, but sent in his place Ralph bishop of Durham [Note. Possibly Bishop Radulf Novell, Bishop of Orkney?] to remind the people of their duty. His speech to them, from an eminence in the midst of the army, was after this fashion: "Brave nobles of England, Normans by birth, at whose prowess the bravery of France trembles, and to whose arms fierce England has submitted, under whose government rich Apulia2 has again flourished: Jerusalem, so famous, and illustrious Antioch have both bowed before you, and now Scotland, which by right is subject to you, dares to resist you, and displays a rashness which is not supported by her arms, fitter, as she is, for a riot than for a battle. Do not then be afraid, but rather be indignant that those, whom we have always sought out and conquered in their own country, have now, reversing the usual order, madly sought us out upon our own ground. But I, your bishop, tell you that this has been done as a divine warning, that those who have in this country violated the temples of God, polluted his altars, slain his priests, and spared neither children nor women with child, may on this same soil receive condign punishment for their crimes. Be brave then, ye polished warriors: and with the valour which belongs to your race, nay rather with the foreknowledge of God, repulse these craven foes who know not how to arm themselves in the day of battle3 Do not look out for any doubtful contingencies such as happen in war. Your breast is covered with your coat of mail, your head with the helmet, your legs with greaves, and all your bodies with your shields: the enemy cannot find where to strike you, for he beholds you surrounded on every side with arms. Why then should you hesitate unarmed and unwarlike? But the enemy are advancing in disorder and forbid me to say more, they are pouring forward in a scattered manner, at which I rejoice. Whichever of you shall fall fighting for God and your country, we absolve him from all punishment due to his sins, in the name of the Father, whose creatures the foe has so shamefully and horribly slain; of the Son, whose altars they have polluted; and of the Holy Ghost, whose grace they have set at naught, in perpetrating such enormous acts of wickedness." All the English army replied to this address with a shout, and the mountains and hills re-echoed Amen, Amen!

Note 1. North Allerton.

Note 3. The Normans in Naples.

Note 3. Is this an allusion the Scottish peculiarity of costume?

Battle of the Standard aka Northallerton

The Chronicle of Henry of Huntingdon Book 8. 22 Aug 1138. While the king was thus engaged in the south, David of Scotland (age 54) led an immense army into the north of England, against which the northern nobles, at the exhortation and under the command of Thurstan, archbishop of York (age 68), made a resolute stand. The royal standard was planted at Alverton1, and as the archbishop was prevented by illness from being present at the battle, he commissioned Balph, bishop of Durham2, to fill his place, who, standing on an eminence in the centre of the army, roused their courage with words to this effect:

Brave nobles of England, Normans by birth ; for it is well that on the eve of battle you should call to mind who you are, and from whom you are sprung: no one ever withstood you with success. Gallant France fell beneath your arms; fertile England you subdued; rich Apulia flourished again under your auspices; Jerusalem, renowned in story, and the noble Antioch, both submitted to you. Now, however, Scotland which was your own rightly, has tataken you at disadvantage, her rashness more fitting a skirmish than a battle. Her people have neither military skill, nor order in fighting, nor self command. There is, therefore, no reason for fear, whatever there may be for indignation, at finding those whom we have hitherto sought and conquered in their own country, madly reversing the order, making an irruption into ours. But that which I, a bishop, and by divine permission, standing here as the representative of our archbishop, tell you, is this: that those who in this land have violated the temples of the Lord, polluted his altars, slain his priests, and spared neither children nor women with child, shall on this same soil receive condign punishment for their crimes. This most just fulfilment of his will God shall this day accomphsh by our hands. Rouse yourselves, then, gallant soldiers, and bear down on an accrursed enemy with the courage of your race, and in the presence of God. Let not their impetuosity shake you, since the many tokens of our valour do not deter them. They do not cover themselves with armour3 in war; you are in the constant practice of arms in times of peace, that you may be at no loss in the chances of the day of battle. Your head is covered with the helmet, your breast with a coat of mail, your legs with greaves, and your whole body with the shield. Where can file enemy strike you when he finds you sheathed in steel? "What have we to fear in attacking the naked, bodies of men who know not the use of armour? Is it their numbers? It is not so much the multitude of a host, as the valour of a few, which is decisive. Numbers, without discipline, are an hindrance to success in the attack, and to retreat in defeat. Your4 ancestors were often victorious when they were but a few against many. What, then, does the renown of your fathers, your practice of arms, your military discipline avail, unless they make you, few though you are in numbers, invincible against the enemy's hosts? But I close my discourse, as I perceive them rushing on, and I am delighted to see that they are advancing in disorder. Now, then, if any of you who this day are called to avenge the atrocities committed in the houses of God, against the priests of the Lord, and his little flock, should fall in the battle, I, in the name of your archbishop, absolve them from all spot of sin, in the name of the Father, whose creatures the foe hath foully and horribly slain, and of the Son, whose altars they have defiled, and of the Holy Ghost, from whose grace they have desperately fallen."

Note 1. Allerton. This famous Battle of the Standard is also fully described by Roger of Wendover. See also William of Newbury and Trivet; but the MS. of the "Gesta Stepfani" after relating the irruption into Northumberland, becomes imperfect just in this place.

Note 2. Both the MSS. which I have consulted concur with Savile's printed text in the reading of "Orcadum;" but as Roger of Wendorer calls Ralph Bishop of Durham, and he was evidently a suffragan of the Archbishop of York, I have adopted that reading. Perhaps the bishop of Durham had jurisdiction in the Orkneys? [Note. Possibly Bishop Radulf Novell, Bishop of Orkney?]

Note 3. "Nesciunt annare se ;" and just afterwards the historian calls them "nudos et inermes!" Not that they went to battle unarmed, as the passage has been rendered, but the rank and file of the Scots used no defensive armour, and perhaps, like their posterity, they only wore the kilt.

Note 4. Arundel MS., "our."

Florence of Worcester Continuation. 21 Jan 1140. Thurstan, Archbishop of York, retires to Pontefract. Thurstan (age 70), the twenty-sixth archbishop of York in succession, a man advanced in years and full of days, put off the old man and put on the new, retiring from worldly affairs, and becoming a monk at Pontefract, on the twelfth of the ides of February (21st January), and departing this life in a good old age, on the nones [the 5th] of February, he lies buried there.