Around 1008 Bishop Wulfstan was born to Ealstan and Wulfgeova.
John of Worcester. 1058. Algar, earl of Mercia, was outlawed by king Edward (age 55) for the second time, but, supported by Griffyth, king of Wales, and aided by a Norwegian fleet, which unexpectedly came to his relief, he speedily recovered his earldom by force of arms. Pope Stephen died on the third of the calends of April [30th March]. He was succeeded by Benedict, who sent the pallium to Stigand, archbishop of Canterbury. Æthelric was ordained bishop of Sussex; and abbot Siward was consecrated bishop of Rochester. Aldred, bishop of Worcester, dedicated with great ceremony to Peter, prince of the apostles, the church [Map] which he had built from the foundations in the city of Worcester, and afterwards, with the king's license, appointed Wulfstan (age 50), a monk of Worcester, ordained by him, abbot of the new foundation. Then, having resigned the bishopric of Wilton, which he held in commendam, and restored it to Heriman, before mentioned, he crossed the sea, and went through Hungary to Jerusalem; a pilgrimage which no English archbishop or bishop is known to have performed before.
John of Worcester. 1062. Wulfstan (age 54), a venerable man, was made bishop of Worcester. This prelate, beloved of God, was born in Warwickshire, in the province of Mercia, of pious parents; his father's name being [his father] Ealstan, and his mother's [his mother] Wulfgeova, but he was well instructed in letters and ecclesiastical functions at the monastery of Peterborough. Both his parents were so devoted to a religious life, that long before their end, they took the vows of chastity, and separated from each other, delighting to spend the rest of their days in habits of holy devotion. Inspired by such examples, and chiefly induced by his mother's persuasions, he quitted the world while he was yet in his youth, and took the monastic habit and profession in the same monastery at Worcester where his father had before devoted himself to the service of God, being admitted by the venerable Brihteag, bishop of the same church, who also conferred upon him the orders both of deacon and priest. Entering at once on a strict and deeply religious course of life, he quickly became remarkable for his vigils, his fastings, his prayers, and all kinds of virtues. In consequence of this regular discipline, he was appointed, first, for some time, master and tutor of the novices, and afterwards, from his intimate acquaintance with the ecclesiastical services, his superiors nominated him precentor and treasurer of the church.
Being now entrusted with the custody of the church, he embraced the opportunities afforded him of serving God with greater freedom; and, devoting himself wholly to a life of contemplation, he resorted to it by day and night, either for prayer or holy reading, and assiduously mortified his body by fasting for two or three days together. He was so addicted to devout vigils, that he not only spent the nights sleepless, but often the day and night together, and sometimes went for four days and nights without sleep,—a thing we could hardly have believed, if we had not heard it from his own mouth,— so that he ran great risk from his brains being parched, unless he hastened to satisfy the demands of nature by the refreshment of sleep. Even, at last, when the urgent claims of nature compelled him to yield to sleep, he did not indulge himself by stretching his limbs to rest on a bed or couch, but would lie down for awhile on one of the benches in the church, resting his head on the book which he had used for praying or reading. After some time, on the death of Æthelwine, prior of the monastery, bishop Aldred appointed this reverend man to be prior and father of the convent, an office which he worthily filled; by no means abating the strictness of his previous habits, but rather increasing it in many respects, in order to afford a good example to the rest.
After the lapse of some years, on the elevation of Aldred, bishop of Worcester, to the archbishopric of York, there was unanimous consent both of the clergy and the whole body of the laity [of Worcester] in the election of Wulfstan (age 54) as their bishop; the king having granted them permission to choose whom they pleased. It so chanced that the legates from the apostolical see were present at the election, namely, Ermenfred, bishop of Sion74, and another, who were sent by our lord the pope Alexander to king Edward on some ecclesiastical questions, and by the king's orders spent nearly the whole of Lent at Worcester, waiting for the reply to their mission at the king's court in the ensuing Easter. The legates, during their stay, observing Wulfstan's (age 54) worthy conversation, not .only concurred in his election, but used their especial influence with both the clergy and people to advance it, and confirmed it by their own authority. But he most obstinately declined the office, exclaiming that he was unworthy of it, and even declaring with an oath that he would rather submit to lose his head than be advanced to so high a dignity. When he could by no means be persuaded to consent by the arguments frequently addressed to him by many pious and venerable men, at last being sharply reproved for his obstinate wilfulness by Wulfsi the hermit, a man of God, who was known to have lived a life of solitude for more than forty years, and being also awed by a divine revelation, he was compelled, with the greatest reluctance, to give his consent; and his election having been canonically confirmed on the feast of the Decollation of St. John the Baptist [29th August], and having accepted the office of bishop, he was consecrated on the day on which St. Mary's Nativity is celebrated by the church, which happened on a Sunday, and shone forth in the splendour of his life and virtues as bishop of Worcester. The consecration was performed by the venerable Aldred, archbishop of York, Stigand, archbishop of Canterbury, being then interdicted by the pope from performing his episcopal functions, because he had presumed to take the archbishopric while Robert, the archbishop, was still living; but Wulfstan (age 54) made his canonical profession to Stigand, the aforesaid archbishop of Canterbury, and not to Aldred, who ordained him. Moreover, Stigand having made a protest against its being a precedent in future, the archbishop of York, who ordained Wulfstan (age 54), was ordered to declare before the king and the great men of the realm, that he would not thereafter claim any submission, either in ecclesiastical or temporal affairs, in right of his having consecrated him, or of his having been his monk before he was consecrated. Wulfstan's (age 54) ordination took place when he was more than fifty years old, in the twentieth year of the reign of king Edward, and in the fifteenth indiction.
Note 74. Sedunensem—Of Seduniim, now Sion, the capital of the Valais.
In 1062 Bishop Wulfstan (age 54) was appointed Bishop of Worcester.
John of Worcester. Sep 1066. Meanwhile, earl William (age 38) was laying waste Sussex, Kent, Hampshire, Surrey, Middlesex, and Herefordshire, and ceased not from burning vills and slaughtering the inhabitants, until he came to a vill called Beorcham, where Aldred, the archbishop, Wulfstan (age 58), bishop of Worcester, Walter, bishop of Hereford, Edgar (age 15) the etheling, the earls Edwin and Morcar, and some Londoners of the better sort, with many others, met him, and, giving hostages, made their submission, and swore fealty to him; but, although he concluded a treaty with them, he still allowed his troops to burn and pillage the vills. The feast of our Lord's Nativity approaching, he marched the whole army to London that he might be proclaimed king there; and as Stigand, the primate of all England, lay under the censure of the apostolical pope for not having obtained the pall canonically, he was anointed by Aldred, archbishop of York, with great ceremony, at Westminster, on Christmas-day, which that year fell on a Monday; having first, as the archbishop required, sworn before the altar of St. Peter the apostle, in the presence of the clergy and people, to protect the holy churches of God and their governors, and to rule the whole nation subject to him with justice and kingly providence, to make and maintain just laws, and straitly to forbid every sort of rapine and all unrighteous judgements.
John of Worcester. 04 Apr 1070. In the octaves of Easter [4th April] a great synod was held at Winchester, by command of king William (age 42), who was present himself, and with the concurrence of the lord Alexander the pope; his legates, Ermenfrid, bishop of Sion, and John and Peter, cardinal-priests of the apostolic see, representing his authority. In this synod, Stigand, archbishop of Canterbury, was degraded on three charges: first, for having unlawfully held the bishopric of Winchester with the archbishopric; next, for having taken the archbishopric while archbishop Robert was living, and even sometimes, in saying mass, wearing the pallium which Robert left behind him at Canterbury when he was unjustly driven from England; and lastly, for having accepted the pallium from Benedict, who was excommunicated by the Holy Roman Church for having systematically usurped the apostolic see. His brother, Ethelmar;, bishop of the East-Angles, was also degraded; as were also a few abbots, the king doing his utmost to deprive the English of their dignities, that he might appoint persons of his own nation to their preferments, and thus confirm his power in his new kingdom. He also deprived several bishops and abbots, convicted of no open crimes either by the councils or the laws of the realm, and detained them in prison, to the end of their lives on mere suspicion, as we have said, of their being dangerous to his newly-acquired power. In this synod also, while the rest, aware of the king's bias, were trembling at the risk they ran of losing their appointments, Wulfstan (age 62), bishop of Worcester, boldly demanded the restoration of many of the possessions of his see which had been retained in his own power by archbishop Aldred, when he was translated from Worcester to York, and on his death had fallen into the king's hands; and demanded, not only from those who presided at the synod, but from the king himself, that justice should be done him. But as the church of York was silent, not having a pastor to plead her cause, it was decided that the suit should stand over until such time as, by the appointment of an archbishop, there should be some one who could reply to Wulfstan's (age 62) claims, and after hearing the pleadings on both sides, a clearer and more equitable judgement might be given. Thus the case was adjourned for the present.
John of Worcester. 24 Jun 1070. The feast of St. John the Baptist being near, earl Asbiorn sailed to Denmark with the fleet which had wintered in the Humber; but his brother Sweyn (age 51) outlawed him, because he had accepted money from king William (age 42), to the great regret of the Danes. Edric, surnamed the Forester, a man of the most resolute courage, of whom we have spoken before, was reconciled with king William (age 42). After this, the king summoned from Normandy Lanfranc (age 65), abbot of Caen, a Lombard by birth, a man of unbounded learning, master of the liberal arts, and of both sacred and secular literature, and of the greatest prudence in counsel and the administration of worldly affairs; and on the day of the Assumption of St. Mary, appointed him archbishop of Canterbury, causing him to be consecrated at Canterbury on the feast of St. John the Baptist, being Sunday. He was consecrated by Giso, bishop of Wells, and Walter, bishop of Hereford, who were both ordained at Rome by pope Nicholas, when Aldred, archbishop of York, received the pallium,—for he evaded being ordained by Stigand, who then held the archbishopric of Canterbury, knowing him not to have received the pallium canonically. Bishop Heriman, who had already transferred the seat of his bishopric from Sherbourne to Salisbury, also assisted at his consecration, with some others. Afterwards, Lanfranc (age 65) consecrated Thomas, archbishop of York. The suit of the reverend Wulfstan (age 62), bishop of Worcester, was again prosecuted, there being now a bishop who could advocate the cause of the church of York; and the affair was, by the aid of God's grace, decided at a council held at a place called Pedred, before the king, archbishop Lanfranc (age 65), and the bishops, abbots, earls, and lords of all England. All the groundless assertions by which Thomas and his abettors strove to humble the church of Worcester, and reduce her to subjection and servitude to the church of York, were, by God's just judgement, entirely refuted and negatived by written documents, so that Wulfstan (age 62) not only recovered the possessions he claimed, but, by God's goodness, and the king's assent, regained for his see all the immunities and privileges freely granted to it by its first founders, the holy king Ethered, Oshere, sub-king of the Hwiccas, and the other kings of Mercia, Cenred, Ethelbald, Offa, Kenulf, Edward the Elder, Athelstan, Edmund, Edred, and Edgar.
Archbishop Ealdred who signed "I concede" whereas other signatories signed "I subscribe".
Bishop Wulfstan (age 64).
Flowers of History. 1073. Gregory, who is also called Hildebrand, held a synod, and anathematized those guilty of simony. Some priests who had taken wives he removed from their holy office, by a new example, and as it seemed to many an inconsiderate prejudice, in contradiction to the opinions of the ancient fathers. The blessed Wolstan (age 65), who had been unjustly deposed by archbishop Lanfranc (age 68), was restored to his diocese, in consequence of a miracle. After he had fixed his pastoral staff on the tomb of the blessed Edward, no one except himself could draw it out again.
On 20 Jan 1095 Bishop Wulfstan (age 87) died.